43: Country Roads

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After we dropped all of our stuff off at my apartment just off of campus, we headed back to the city for the ice cream cake I was promised.

I loved Paradise City, but grass was much more soothing than poop-stained rocks.

We wandered down a familiar road, and when I saw the sign Bar Harbor Rocks and Botany, I knew exactly where we were.

"Oh, Logan, look. That's the cute little shop where I got Blue and Racecar." I pointed out the building and tugged on his hand. "Can we go in? Please?"

He smiled. "You don't even have to ask."

We headed into the shop, and the wooden floor greeted us with a loud creak. Much of the selection was picked over, thanks to crazed tourists and vacation season, but I didn't want anything from the store. Just the building itself meant a lot to me. There wasn't much left to browse, but I let Logan go in his own direction as I looked at the different whale fossils.

There were fossilized teeth, bones, and plants, as well as other types of rocks and gems, which was all anyone needed for a good time.

I wandered back to the exit, and I looked over at the cash register, where the cashier handed a small bag over to Logan.

"What did you buy?" I asked.

"Just a souvenir for Racecar. I want the little guy to remember me when I'm not there," Logan said.

I smiled. He was cute, even if he didn't think there was anything to like about him.

"You should probably just keep some of your stuff at my place. For the children, not you and me," I replied.

He laughed. "The children, Blue and Racecar? There's something wrong with you. I don't even know what's going on in your head most of the time."

We headed out the door, and the warm August air smacked us right in the face. Ice cream cake had to be our next priority, since redheads and heat didn't usually mix.

I smiled anyway. "Neither do I."

A common misconception was that people like me thought we knew everything, and it simply wasn't true. I didn't know a thing besides that I wanted to be happy, and that was with whales and Logan.

After we bought the cake, we sat down in the grass, which I supposed was something that I missed about the regular human world. There wasn't any grass on the island, and now that it was available, I loved the way it cushioned the ground beneath me.

Maybe I could survive another year of classes before the next chapter of my whale-studying career. After all, I had somehow managed to live before it. Still, it didn't make leaving my old life behind once again any easier. It sucked.

But no matter what, no one could take the Paradise City feeling away from me. I just had to adapt to my new environment.

"How are you doing, Rea?" Logan finally asked.

Of course, he expected me to answer with a mouth full of ice cream cake, so I just nodded. It froze my teeth, but hopefully he would get the point.

I'd be okay. Eventually.

"Just think of it as a stepping stone to the next phase of life. At least you've got somewhere that you're going," Logan said.

I nodded.

I wasn't sure why he was expecting a conversation from me. I was really feeling the ice cream cake.

He smiled, then went back to his share of the cake.

He just got me. I couldn't explain it at all, but he was pretty much the only person who accepted me for the child of the ocean that I was. Even with my salt-damaged hair and permanent bags under my eyes from late nights of curiosity and work, he still cared.

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