Alwin stops, "I'm sorry if I touched a nerve. I didn't mean to. I'm just..."
"You worry a lot," Noah finishes for him, "We know. It's okay. Let's just uh... calm down and take a step back."
"Seems like a good plan, though I don't know why Vincent would want to help us." Sidney stands up, brushing the dust off of his pants. "I get that he's your brother and all, but doesn't he have a job? How will he find the time?"
"I mean," Alex stumbles over his words, "I think I have a plan."
"A plan to get him to agree?" Poppy asks.
"Yeah, something like that."
"Well," Jordan laughs, "what are you waiting for? Spill it! I can't sleep on Alwin's couch forever."
"He'll help if there's something in it for him."
Sidney sighs, "But we don't have anything left to give him, remember? We spent all of our money on getting Jordan out of jail and paying her taxes. We don't have anything left."
"It doesn't have to be money."
"Well, who in their right mind would work for free?" Alwin asks, skeptical.
"He might do it if we help him with the labor. We only need him to tell us what to do after all."
"Are you sure that would work?" Poppy wonders aloud, getting up off of the couch. "This place looks like it's going to need a lot of work before it's done. It's not something we can just get done in a day... and I don't know anyone who would be up for that kind of commitment for nothing."
"Maybe it's time you guys meet my brother. I've never known him to refuse to help someone in need, no matter the cost. If he can help, he will. Trust me." Alex reassures them.
"But..." Alwin mutters.
"No buts. I know my brother." Alex walks towards the doorway, the door still lying in the grass outside. "You guys coming?"
"Coming where?" Riley asks, standing up.
"To meet my brother. Where else would we be going?"
Without another word, he exits the old school and begins walking through the field. The noon sun beats down on them from above as they wander through the grass towards town. The fence behind them bristles in the slight wind, daring anyone to come near. When no one does, it sighs and stares at the sun longingly.
The calls of the city pound against their ears, the rumble of feet on pavement and exhausted factories pouring across the field.
"It's kind of peaceful out here," Noah comments, "I don't know why, but I don't really want to go back into the city."
As they keep walking, Riley is left behind. Jordan is the first person to notice, pausing when she only counts five people ahead of her.
"Where did Riley go?" She whispers quietly, looking around.
Far behind them, Riley stands alone in the field.
"What are you doing back there?" Jordan yells, walking back to grab her.
"Shh..." Riley murmurs, wonder in her eyes. Jordan stops in her tracks when she sees what she's so fascinated with. A small butterfly sits in her hands, its wings flapping slightly in the cool breeze. At the sound of Jordan's voice, it stirs impatiently.
"Don't leave," Riley whispers, one of her fingers carefully touching its wings. "Please stay."
The butterfly almost appears to laugh before it flies off. The bright red and white pattern of its wings shines in the sunlight.
"Come back!" Riley chases after it.
"Catch me if you can!" It calls back at her, its tiny eyes looking at Jordan. Riley comes close several times, her fingertips almost brushing the butterfly's belly. Jordan watches from a distance.
"Can you see it?" The butterfly says, flitting next to her face. "Can you see it yet?"
"See what?" Jordan replies silently, unconsciously reaching out for it.
The butterfly was gone as suddenly as it came, and yet, when Jordan looks back at Riley, it's almost like she's dancing in the sunlight. A determined smile rests on her face as she tramples over the field. It's reckless and at first glance, there's almost no pattern to it. But as she looks closer, Jordan notices the beauty in it.
"Sometimes the most beautiful things are the messiest. You don't have to be perfect to be beautiful," The butterfly whispers in her ear. "You don't have to have the perfect past to have a beautiful future. Stop trying to fix what isn't broken."
"Hey, it was right by your head!" Riley yells, sporting a wide grin.
"It was?" Jordan fakes being surprised, her mind somewhere else.
"Are you okay?" Riley waves a hand in front of her face to get her attention.
"Yeah, I just thought we should catch up to everyone else." She gestures at everyone who's still waiting for them, clearly impatient.
"Hey!" Alex shouts, "You guys coming or what? We don't have all day!"
"When did you become so impatient?" Jordan yells back as they run to catch up.
"Since you walked slower than your average grandma."
"Nah," Riley says, "That's just plain rude to grandmas."
"True, that's insulting them!" Alex laughs, still walking at a quick pace. "Can't have that, now can we?"
"You okay?" Sidney asks, looking at Alex weird.
"Yeah, I'm just excited and nervous, that's all."
"More excited or more nervous?"
"Bro, I don't know."
Poppy does her best to cheer Alex up and distract him when Sidney's attempt to help him fails.
"Come on," She pleads, "I'll race you there!"
"I don't really want to run today." Alex mutters, his mind somewhere else.
"Since when do you not want to run?" Poppy whispers to herself, confused and concerned.
They finish the walk to Alex's place in silence. The confidence he'd had at the school fades and drips off of him like cheap cologne. He wrinkles his face at the silent smell and scowls. Then, just in time, he sees the shop where he lives with Vincent.
"Is this the place?" Poppy asks, her eyes wide in wonder.
"Yeah," Alex grunts, a certain shame filling him. "Something like that."
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...