Chapter 38- Dying in the City (Dying in LA)

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"What is this place?" Poppy asks breathlessly.

"I don't really know," Sidney admits, "but I found it years ago and no one has really used it since... so I figured it'd be the perfect place for Jordan to live for a while."

"Is it safe?" Jordan wonders in disgust, the roof sagging in places. In the distance, she can see the fence line marking the city limits. "Especially since it's so close to the edge of the city... it has to be government property."

"We'll never find out its past unless we go inside," Poppy holds the door open and jumps back in surprise when it comes off entirely.

"Wow, that's inviting," Alex comments, taking the first step into the building complex.

The rest pile in behind him, the doorway a gaping hole yawning into the field. Dust hangs in the air like snow. Memories hang on the walls, pasted on every surface like desperate wallpaper, clinging to life. The images are fading now, the sun drying their tears out, hanging their emotions like laundry out to dry. Small bullet holes let sunlight through, casting shadows all over the wooden floor.

"What's the story of this place?" Jordan says, her words filling the empty space.

Alex picks up a stray crayon on the floor, the tip worn and dull now. "I think... it was a school."

The holes in the walls used to hold up drawings penned by young children. A piece of paper sits in the corner all alone. In colored pencil, a simple message is sketched.

"But nobody knows you now when you're dying in the city. Nobody owes you now when you're dying in the city. Oh, the power of the city."

A signature is scrawled underneath with an age.

"Who wrote this?" Poppy picks up the note, reading it aloud for everyone to hear. The building seems to hum in approval.

"Maybe a student? Seems like a poem. Is there any more?" Sidney glances at the paper in her hands.

"Yeah... do you want me to read it?"

"Please do."

Everyone gathers around and Poppy clears her throat and begins to speak slowly.

"The moment you arrived they built you up

The sun was in your eyes

You couldn't believe it

Riches all around, you're walking

Stars are on the ground

You start to believe it."

Tears slip out of her eyes and run down her face.

"I'm sorry, I can't do this." She looks at Jordan.

"Why?" Jordan asks, concerned. "What's wrong?"

"It says who wrote it on the bottom and when."

"So?"

"Jordan..." Poppy stops as everyone else looks down at the paper and then looks at her again in disbelief. "You wrote this... when you were ten..."

"That's impossible! Maybe it's another Jordan. It's a common name you know. Let me see!" She demands, reaching for the paper.

Sure enough, she sees her own name written by a hand she can't remember.

"Jordan Castaldi. My name. It's my name. But... how?" She looks up at her friends desperate for answers.

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