"I'm so glad this is over," Jordan thinks, her hands throbbing from writing so much. "I can't wait to go home." She looks over at Riley, whose entire body is shaking.
"Hey," Jordan whispers, looking around to see if anyone is listening. "God forbid that I get in trouble again."
"What- what do you want?" Riley stutters, not even turning around. Her legs bounce nervously as her hand continues to desperately scribble the same phrase over and over and over.
"You okay?" Jordan asks, putting her hand on Riley's shoulder. She can feel her muscles twitching underneath her skin.
"No," Riley murmurs, keeping her eyes glued to her paper. An almost immediate change seems to wash over her as Alwin's eyes scan the room. "I'm fine. Just... leave me alone."
Jordan leans back in her seat, content to leave Riley be. "I mean, she did say that she's fine." She looks at Riley's shaking hands and sighs. "Damn it, of course she lied. That's exactly what I would've done. I don't even know why I'm surprised. I... just... I wish she didn't have to go to detention. It changes you, and I don't know, maybe I liked her innocence, the way she reminded me of my past." Jordan looks down at her paper in disgust, the scrawled letters like a brand on the paper's white skin. "I wish there was something I could do."
The bell rings and the two guards step away from the door and leave. Alwin turns to address the four students still distracted by writing sentences.
"Well, I hope you enjoyed your first day of detention." He remarks sarcastically, checking his watch. "See you tomorrow at the same time, people! Don't be late!"
With that, Alex and Poppy bolt out of the room, Poppy holding onto Alex's arm. He's shaking almost as bad as Riley, his eyes darting this way and that. Riley stands up too quickly, falling back into her chair. Her knees shake slightly as she tries to stand a second time, her arms like weak twigs bending under the weight of her upper body.
"Here, let me help," Jordan says as she stretches out a hand towards Riley. For a second, she's afraid that Riley won't accept her help and instead force herself to do it on her own. "Please don't be like I was," She thinks, her empty hand still in the air. "Take my hand, it's okay to accept help. God, you don't have to do this by yourself. There are people here for you. I'm here."
As if Riley somehow heard what Jordan was thinking, she takes her hand.
"Thanks," She mutters, carefully walking towards the door. "I don't know what's gotten into me."
"I do," Jordan thinks, but doesn't say anything as they walk through the school. "I know exactly what you're going through because I went through it too. Chances are, you used to be a "savage" and lost your family. Chances are, you live in poverty and you're only here because they make you go. What are you supposed to do when you've lost who you used to be and the people that made you whole?"
Finally, she forces herself to say something.
"I'm sorry for what happened in there, I know how hard it can be. They do something to you in there, something weird, unnatural even."
"I just... I don't understand," Riley says as she holds the door open for Jordan. They step out into the cold night air, a blanket of stars overhead. The usual smoke from the factories no longer fills the air and you can clearly see each and every freckle in the night sky overhead. "I don't get this place. I don't get how you guys don't see the stars every night like this, how you can write the same thing over and over and not call it a waste of time. There are so many things that I wish I could understand."
YOU ARE READING
Meet the first wanderer, Jordan. She's the lost one, the one with no home, nowhere to go back to. Just an old, dusty trailer and a trash heap- quite literally. Keeping her head down and her earbuds in, she lives her life alone, just the way she like...