x. celestial beings & stutters

15 1 7

	I had waited until Harlow had left for an errand before I crept out of the house

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I had waited until Harlow had left for an errand before I crept out of the house. Technically, I should still be at school. I skirted the streets and kept to the alleys as I made my way back to the woods.

A million unanswered questions swarmed in my mind, which presently felt like it was simultaneously battling an angry horde of wasps and a killer hangover. Between my father's sudden addition to the All, the revelation of an all encompassing superpower at my fingertips, and the police at my door, I could hardly focus on the ground beneath my feet. Before I could blink, I was at the gravel trail at the head of the woods once again.

The sunlight dappled easily on the swaying grass, almost hypnotic in its leisurely dance. I stepped through it, craning my head around the tall birch trees and searching for Sean.

The forest seemed quieter than usual, my steps echoing against the foreboding trunks. Even the usual chatter of squirrels in the treetops was absent.

"Sean?"

My voice rippled through the woods. In the far distance, I caught the faint ringing of the school bell — It must have been about lunch time, now. Maybe he'd gone back to the school already.

I was about to turn back when I heard a rustling in the bushes. Whirling around, I scanned the trees for Sean, who I hoped was trying to spook me by playing hide-and-seek. I called out again, this time in a low, trembling voice. With every second more that passed, I lost the conviction that it was my newfound accomplice in the trees.

Unthinkingly, I snuck my fingers into my pocket, curling around the smoothness of the Seed. Surely it would alert me if I was in any kind of danger.

I stepped further into the trees, fingering my lips with my free hand and glancing left and right. I knew I should have legged it when my call was left unanswered, but my feet carried me deeper into the woods anyways.

"Hey, Jenna!"

If I hadn't felt the delicate skin of my throat tear from my shriek, I would have bet my last dollar that my heart stopped there and then. My sneakers slipped on fallen leaves as I spun around, clutching at the jolting pain that squeezed my chest.

"Sean!"

What had meant to be a sharp reprimand came out in a squeak. Heat rushed to my cheeks as I crossed my arms, trying to hide how shaken I was from the grinning boy striding towards me.

Sean pulled the edge of his toque closer to his bushy brows, a lopsided smirk lighting up his face.

"I thought you'd left me for good," he said as he sauntered closer, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "I was just heading back to check the school, see if you'd ended up there somehow."

His eyes sparkled suddenly, and he reached out to grab my elbow, conspiratorially glancing side to side. "Where did you go? You jumped, right?" Pulling me under the partial shade of the undergrowth, his eyes scanned mine.

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