= 14 =

I woke up with a start. A heavy feeling on my upper body that throbbed every time I let in a breath. I forced myself to sit up, but that didn't do any good as I flopped back down. It was uneasy. It took me a moment to realize what happened. What happened before I passed out, but that was all. Nothing else. All I could recall was the resonate sound of the gunshot and the world turning black. 

Was I dead?

Couldn't possibly be it. If I were, I wouldn't be condemned in this worthless life - as worthless as it'll ever be. Since when did I ever contribute to society, much less anyone? Mioun and Lore were exceptions. They were the only exceptions quite frankly.

I forced myself up again, only to have the nauseating feeling come back. 

Where else did they shoot me? This felt more than being shot in a specific spot.

I winced as the fabric hit said area. I blinked a bit, clearing the pain before readjusting myself so that the cloth did not hit me as I went for another attempt to stand up, and after several successions, I finally found myself upright, though wobbling a bit.

I grasped the headstand and placed a hand over my forehead lightly. The world was spinning, yet I willed myself to get to the door. No later did I grab hold of the handle did it turn to reveal a nightmare come true.

If the wound wasn't there, it would have made it simpler to accept that this was all a lie, but the blatant fact was staring me right in the face, and I knew there was no escape.

"Dian," she acknowledged me, stepping around, so that she could set the tray of food and water on the desk set on the right of the bed. 

"You should rest," she suggested, but I made no incline to do so. "Your wounds aren't healing. You haven't been eating much have you?"

Still, I refused to respond. I just stood there, staring at her blankly, thinking how topsy-turvy this life was. How I should just continue to complain, until everything went back to normal, but I had a feeling it wouldn't. I had a feeling that this life would remain no matter how much I willed it differently.

She brushed a hand over her face and tired look spread across her features. Her shoulders were hunched over and the atmosphere in the room grew musty as if too much had been revealed in the span of the day...if it even was a day. It could have been weeks, since I was unconscious. Maybe, even months. Worse, a year.

As if reading my thoughts, she said a tired, "Three days...three days since you acquired your wound."

I stood there, contemplating about what could have happened between that timeframe. What happened to my family? Were they wondering where I was when news got to them that I had suddenly disappeared? Or maybe, it hadn't got to me. Maybe, Lore and Mioun didn't realize, but it was impossible. Mioun and Lore would have known. In the state I last left them, they would have realized I went missing. They probably made a fuss about it. They probably got the tabloids going. I could almost imagine Mioun going around, shouting at the press for answers, even if it wasn't their jobs.

"They're alright," she said bluntly.

I stared at the wall.

At least, they were alright. At least, their life wasn't going to be torn apart. I wasn't even sure if I was living anymore. I could have been dead, and they all could have been feeding me lies.

A newspaper clipping caught my attention on the bedside, ignoring Jhiabett's refusal to grant me access. She could have ripped it out of my fingers, but she didn't.

I read the article and frowned as I delved into the contents deeper.

"This is a joke," was all I said. There was no emotion behind my voice, only an empty void.

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