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Not sure if I remember what happens the rest of that evening. It all blurs in my mind, maybe because my emotions are so messed up right now. Logan walks me back to my dorm but we don’t say much of anything, and then he tells me to sleep tight. . . .

I get up to the girls’ dormitory floor and it feels like Friday night, even though I don’t even know what day of the week it is—they’ve been keeping us so cut off from everything normal this past month that we’ve lost track of days—but it feels like a party. We all know tomorrow is a precious free day, so everyone’s talking, laughing, squealing, a few pillows get thrown—as if there’s no tomorrow. Which is not that far from reality.

Laronda’s already in bed when I get to my cot. She looks grumpy from trying so hard to ignore the general ruckus. “Seriously, this is not summer camp, girlfriends. Cut out the happy.” She rolls her eyes at me, pulling her blanket up to her chin.

“Yeah, I know. . .” I say. “How are you? I think I’m going to bed early too.”

“Haayyl, yeah,” she says. “Tomorrow, I’m sleeping in—waaaay in. Like, all day. Anyone touches me, and they die!”

“I’m with you.” I get under my own blanket and squint up at the bright overhead light that’s striking right in my eyes.

For the hundredth time I think, I really should’ve picked a different bed on that first night. Yeah, I am such a moron.

* * *

When I wake up the next day, there are no claxon morning alarms. Furthermore, it is not morning. The noonday sun is shining brightly in the large glass windows, and for the first time in weeks I am not sick to my stomach with queasy sleeplessness, and I’m actually well rested.

Wow, I’ve slept past noon!

And apparently I am not the only one. Most of the beds all around the hall are still occupied with sleeping girls. A few are stretching and yawning. Most others are quietly turning over or just lying there in a kind of blissful stupor that is worthy of a weekend.

And so I stretch and yawn too, then get up and pad softly to the bathroom, then come back to my bed and lie right back down again.

Screw breakfast or lunch.

I turn over to my side, pull the covers over my head, and fall back asleep.

* * *

When I wake up again it is late afternoon. This time half the beds are empty, though I admit that there are still people sleeping or lounging around. I get dressed and go wander the dorm downstairs. It’s close to 3:00 PM. I suppose I should go look for my siblings. Bu I am in a strange lazy “relaxed” zone where everything is moving still, including time.

It’s like, at this rate, if I tarry and move slow enough, tomorrow will never happen.

Because tomorrow is it—Semi-Finals Day.

I am hungry and thirsty but I’ve slept through the first two meals, and it’s still more than a couple of hours until dinner. So I decide to go walk outside.

No one I know seems to be about—Laronda, Hasmik, Dawn, the guys. Wonder where they all are? A few lazing Candidates in the lounge give me uncurious glances as I pass by. A couple of teens stand before the smart-board wall with stressed looks, looking up Standing Scores for the umpteenth time. The alpha crowd is nowhere to be seen either.

Outside is a crisp afternoon, slightly windy, and my ponytail immediately becomes a mess of loose airborne tendrils. Candidates are walking past me, tokens lit up in all four colors, and no one’s in a hurry today. A stream of humanity seems to be moving in the vague direction of the Arena Commons super structure and the airfield.

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