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Then You Start Over | Two

October, 2019

It’s forty-five minutes out to the sleepy town of Gifford, where my own home sits comfortably within the seaside forest. As I leave my car in the driveway, I send a bright smile to a single lit window downstairs. I practically run inside, eager to be within the one place I truly feel at peace. I’m met with a warm welcome from my darlings, their relief vibrates heavy through the dusted air.

“Ah! Good afternoon, I apologize I had to go out again—of course it was horribly useless—a waste of my time. The bastard didn’t even show and now I’ve got this wretched package to dispose of. Goddess, I’ve such a migraine.” I groan, striding through my elegantly decorated living room; my pink floral wallpaper, the quaint pots and baskets I’ve got placed about that cradle my beautifully loving plants. All seventeen of them waver gently in my wake as I stride to a knit couch in the center of the room, collapsing across it exhaustedly. I kick my boots off and let my head lull back against a pillow. My prayer plant, Lilith, brushes my cheek with one of her cherry red leaves.

“Ah,” I sigh, reaching my hand up to cup her leaf in my palm. “My dear, you’ve grown so well, so beautiful,” I tell her. “I knew you’d love it by the center of the room better. That window was too bright… yes.” I caress her thin leathery skin. She sits in a purple pot, set right on the white vintage end table, with a tiny white vase of peonies beside her.

I let my hand fall to rest over the sore spot on my temple. The pain only surges on contact, and I quickly retract. It’s such a sickening prick that I become dizzy.

“There was this girl, Lilith.” She’s completely silent, waiting for me to continue. “She pretended to be a journalist and followed me, hoping I would kill her.” I recall bitterly. Lilith is shocked; at a loss for words.

I sigh as I slide my jacket off my shoulders and toss it over the back of the couch, leaving me in a simple grey turtleneck. My head rolls to the side, giving me a great view of my collection. A breathy laugh makes its way past my lips.

“If only those humans knew what I was really up to, then they’d quit coming up with their little rumors.” I muse, knowing fully well how detrimental that would be for us. Though, of course, it’s always fun to fantasize. The power, the divinity. It all rushes to my head hot and ripe.

A knock on the door makes me jump. Reluctant, I drag myself over to answer it and I’m met with that girl’s pale face again. Her eyes are red, gaze stuck to her shoes. In this light I can see that her nose points up ever so slightly and her cheekbones are softly defined. She opens her mouth to speak but is cut off by a helpless sob. Small apologies pass her lips as she tries to compose herself. I usher her inside and sit her on the couch beside me, holding her firmly by her shoulders.

“I can help you. I can’t kill you, but I can help you,” I assure her, seeing her pain flush bright in those grey eyes of hers.

“How?” She chokes out, throwing away her facade.

“Move your arms away from your chest,” I say. She does. I go on, “Just close your eyes and imagine a flower.” Her eyelids slip shut.

“Okay.” She sniffles.

“Tell me, what does it look like?” I press my palm flat to her chest. She breathes out as I do, trying her best to relax.

“It’s blue… a hydrangea. My mother… she kept them.” She speaks choppily, fighting through her strangled breaths. I hum, closing my eyes. I reach through her skin, past her ribcage with only my senses. I press into her heart—which beats rapidly—and I touch her soul.

It’s such a familiar thing, just muscle memory at this point. I take the faded thing into my grasp and give a tug. I try to guide it out into my palm, but it won’t budge. Instead I’m met with a blinding sting through my arm. I recoil it to my chest, finding that this pain only gets worse. It feels as if it could be eroding my very bone and flesh. I grit my teeth, glaring at her shocked expression.

I scour the girl’s neck, finding it to be unmarked on both sides. That only leaves one other explanation. I grab her left wrist and search her palm—finding exactly what I had expected—a dark black symbol sits in her skin, the same one I’ve got. An intricate marking of magick in the form of a four pointed gem.

“You’re a changeling!?” I shout, beyond disbelief.

“You—You’re one too?” She stammers.

“Yes,” I growl. “That means my magick is useless on you.” I press my palm to my forehead at that horrid pain.

“What were you going to do?!” She exclaims. Her back is pressed against the arm of the couch.

“I was trying to save you, why didn’t that hurt you too?” I groan as my head continues to pound.

“You were the one invading my body, my magick was probably protecting me,” She speaks, her voice flat.

“Shit, I’ve never met another changeling. I didn’t even know that.”

“Me neither.”

“Who was the faerie that changed you? Did she tell you her name was Christine?” I jerk my head back up.

“No-No, he didn’t tell me his name.” She shakes her head meekly. Her eyes still absently drip with tears.

“What’s your name?”

“Claudia.”

“Sharp?”

“Yes.”

“You’re Claudia Sharp?” I check. She nods. I’m baffled I didn’t recognize her. She’d lived on the same street as me when I was a child. After she had left for college I became close friends with her mother. I heard so much of her accomplishments but I had never even met the woman.

“I—I’m not really that Claudia Sharp anymore. I haven’t painted in years.” She shakes her head. There’s an emptiness that begins to spread across her eyes.

“You don’t recognize me, do you?” I ask. That annoying pain seems to fade, to my pleasure.

“I did.” She nods. I know she doesn’t mean in the way I hoped she would.

“How long have you been a changeling for?”

“I don’t know.”

“How do you not know?”

“I don’t know!” She shrieks, placing her head in her hands. “I lost track of the days a long time ago, it’s too much. The seasons just go by over and over again and I’m stuck-I’m stuck and I can’t get out no matter what I do…” Her voice wavers as her eyes dance over the room behind me. “I’m so tired, I just need to-I need to—” She breaks off, her whole body shakes as she tries to hold herself together.

“Ah, you’re as sick as me,” I muse, reaching out to touch her shoulder. “But I’m quite ahead of you.”

“What?” She lifts her head to look at my hand. I let it slide down her arm, where I hold her marked palm in mine.

“You know I went through something shitty too, we all do. Some of us are ruined forever and some of us just have to wait it out.” I try to be consoling. What did I need to hear?

“What if it’s forever?” Claudia shivers, pulling back her hand and hiding it in her lap.

“Then…” I hesitate, thinking do I really have an answer to that? My gaze travels past my dormant darlings sitting about the room, and I say,

“Then you start over.”

“Start over?”

“Mhm,” I nod.

“That’s not how that works. You think it’ll all just go away if I change my name and cut my hair?” She makes a tight face.

“No, it took me five years and I’m not even close to well but… I’m better than I ever was.”

“I—I don’t know if I have the energy for years. I think I’m done,” She mutters. I scoff aloud, gaining a glare from her. “What?” She goes.

“You keep saying you’re tired, but you don’t wake up when you’re dead. You don’t get to feel rested. It’s like you’re settling in with this shitty feeling in your soul for the rest of eternity.” I’ve raised my voice, and Claudia looks like she could cry again.

“I don’t know, I don’t know what else to do.” She whimpers.

“Destroy what makes you feel like this.”

“Nothing makes me feel like this! It’s all around me.”

“You can’t heal if you stay in the same place that ruined you,” I state. That gets her silent, I can see in her eyes how quickly it sinks in. As if I’ve just slapped the stubbornness right out of her.

“Where do I go?” She draws out her words slowly. I almost smile at her willingness to accept the option of living.

“Anywhere you want. I chose Gifford cause your mother told me of it.”

“Did she? I wasn’t aware you knew her…” Claudia breathes. “What if—Do you mind if I stay here? It’s so late I mean.” She looks a little afraid of my answer. I give the kindest smile I can muster.

“Ah, yes. You can stay in Vita’s room, just be mindful of her. She’s alright, just on the dresser, but you can use the bed. She’ll be fine with it.”

She’s silent. So I stand, offering a hand to help her to her feet. I bring her upstairs. The wall going up is covered with pictures of Vita and her white cat, Vinca. The first room to the right is hers. I see she’s got the light on.

“Vita? Sorry! You don’t mind if my friend Claudia borrows the bed for tonight?” I look to her. She sits in a round, pink glazed pot over on that old rocking chair in the corner, a lacy grey scarf wrapped around it. She tips a rosy red petal in response.

Oh, dear! Of course! Tell your Claudia to make herself right at home! She smiles brightly. Her voice swirls around in my mind. Her carnation cheeks are dusted pink as always.

“Ah, perfect,” I hum, turning to Claudia. She gives me a strained expression. As if she’s either trying not to cry or laugh.

“That’s a… a pretty flower.” She says.

“Yes, she’s so elegant like that,” I agree. “Well, I should leave you.” I start towards the door. Claudia clings to my wrist.

“Wait—”

“Hm?”

“I—I think I want you to stay,” Her voice is small. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

“Don’t worry about it, just rest.” I start to move away, but she clings to me. I’m caught furious, jerking my elbow away to get her off of me. She stumbles back, tripping over the bedpost. She lands on her ankle with a strangled noise. As she tries to sit up a gasp leaves her. Some ugly scrapes cover her leg from the metal bed frame. She takes her hand and quickly swipes her thumb across the pad of her fingers as if she were to strike a match. A purple mist sputters to life, sparking with black points around her fingertips. She brings the mist close to her ankle, but doesn’t dare let it touch.

I silently watch as the gritty wounds heal over. Only blood from seemingly nowhere remains.

“I’m so so sorry,” She says as she rises to stand. “My head is so screwed up right now.”

“You need to rest, clearly.” I hold back a hiss, beyond livid. Unlike me, she was able to heal herself. But then again, I don’t care. I try to push it out of my mind. “But you’ve made Vita uncomfortable and she’d like the room to herself. There’s a blanket on the couch downstairs, you can use that.” I announce.

“Sure, sure.” Claudia rushes past me through the door. I sigh deeply once she’s gone.

“I apologize for that, she’s a mess.” I go to the edge of the bed and sit facing Vita. “Poor girl doesn’t even know how to handle herself. What was she thinking?” I sigh sharply. Vita doesn’t seem as amused.

It looks like she’s trapped in a dark place, Jasmine. She counters. I lean back on my arms with a huff.

“I know that, I’ve been through that shit.” I say, but then I kind of get what she’s trying to tell me.

She needs someone right now, she just doesn’t know how to say it.

“Right, yeah… like how you were with me,” I breathe. “When you would sleep by my side and shit, I cried like that too—every night—and you never got angry.” I realize my hypocrisy.

I start to my feet, stepping quickly down the stairs. I find her sitting up on the couch, that wool blanket around her shoulders. She turns to give me an ashamed look as I sit next to her.

“Claudia,” I say. “I shouldn’t have been so harsh. Come—come here.” I extend my arms out towards her, thinking of what I would’ve wanted in her place. She hesitates, but eventually lets herself fall into my arms. I embrace her tightly.

“Vita helped me and I’m gonna help you, alright?” I whisper gently.

“Do you really mean that?” She asks. “You don’t even know who I am.”

“Of course, It doesn’t matter.” I assure her. Claudia hesitates, but eventually returns the embrace and settles. I can feel the broken shards of her heart meld back as I hold her together. “You probably think all these horrible things about me from the news and all, but I really can be caring. I only get violent when I have to be—obviously. But I can help you, I want to help you.” I speak softly so that she isn’t startled. She says something but I can’t quite hear her, her voice muffled behind my hair. I feel her draw her arms to her chest, but she still leans against me.

“Hm?” I go.

“I said I’m not usually like this.”

“Ah, of course you’re not.”

“I want you to see the normal side of me,” She whispers. “I promise I’m not as messed up as I look.”

“I know you’re not,” I reply. She hums and I feel her voice vibrate through my chest. “That’s why I’m doing this. I want to know who you’re supposed to be.”

“Good luck, I don’t even know that.” She adds a little breathy laugh.

“You will.” She doesn’t say anything more, only breathing in a timely rhythm as she rests against me. I can tell she’s fallen asleep after her nose begins to whistle softly and my whispers don’t get any responses. I slowly wiggle myself out from under her, pulling that wool blanket up to her chin. As I start away I feel a deep pang of pity, as well as my own empathy for her—but I’ve done all I can for now—so I decide to put myself to bed. Not without saying goodnight to Vita first and making sure she’s settled.

⦁⦁⦁

October, 2014

My consciousness runs through a flipbook of dreams. As I awake they dilute to faint impressions and faded afterthoughts in the back of my groggy mind.

I take my time recollecting my things and packing them into my bag, then sliding the ragged thing over my shoulder. I find the left side of my body begins to ache deeply. I even uncover a speckling of bruises on my leg and side. I’m not surprised. I go to leave, but pause in the hallway by the door, listening. There’s a light plucking just outside. It’s a familiar tune, but I can’t seem to recall it. I step out onto the sidewalk, leaning up against the door behind me. The sun shines down quietly from the sky. A single ginger haired boy sits on the ground in between a potted plant and a freshly painted support beam. He cradles a ukulele in his hands as he strums out a lowly song. His head is bowed in concentration. I notice the back of his neck is covered in freckles, his skin a very pale white.

I listen for a while, finding it nice. My ears eat up every little sound that thing makes. Partnered with the light breeze it almost feels perfect. Though of course the song ends—as it does—and the kid just stares silently at his hands. Positioning them this way and that upon the strings.

“You’re pretty good at that thing.” I say, finding that my voice is a little scratchy from sleep. He cranes his neck to peer over at me. His face is very round, as if his jaw wasn’t even there, just letting his skin hang down as it pleases. Though his cheeks are sharp and his frame is thin. Making him look very odd. I follow his green eyes as they stick to my scar.

“Oh, thanks. I got it a few weeks ago. I’m just a beginner.” He shrugs. His voice is lower than I’d expect, but it’s got a very monotone cadence to it that seems to dip and rise as it goes.

“What song was that?” I wonder.

“‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, it’s the only song I can almost do straight through without messing up.” He tells me, starting to zip the ukulele away in its case.

“Ah, it sounded pretty good to me.”

“I only played the chorus, it’s a pretty solid way to learn I guess. Just playing the same part over and over to get the notes down.” he says.

“You play anything else?” I ask, a little excited. I can’t believe I’ve created a conversation so normal.

“I used to play the drums when I was in this band with my friends, it was really fun but they needed a bass so I’m trying to learn that one too.” His nails tap about the rim of his shoes.

“What’s a bass?”

“Bass guitar, it’s a lot harder than a ukulele.”

“Mhm, I like the ukulele better. Sounds pretty.” I take two strides forward and sit cross legged beside him.

“Me too, it’s really just for fun. I’m really trying to get good with the bass so my friends’ll let me back in the band.” He gives a laugh.

“They sound like a bunch of assholes.”

“Nah, they’re not. I stopped playing drums on my own.” He seems to strain against the beam that he sits against as if he’s recoiling away from me.

“Ah, right. You got a name?”

“It’s Kerick, what’s yours?” He asks.

“Evelyn,” I reply. “Evelyn Murphy. I’m eighteen years old.”

“You’re eighteen? I’m only fifteen! You look younger than me.” He exclaims as he studies me with his eyes. I almost laugh aloud, I didn’t think he was that young.

“I get that a lot. It’s ‘cause I’m so skinny, right?” I move my boot across the concrete to crush an ant that was getting a little too close.

“Nah, you just look my age,” he says. “That makes you a senior though, right?”

“In what, high school?” I laugh sharply. It echoes through every point and angle of the building.

“Well, yeah…” Kerick furrows his brows, looking uncomfortable.

“I dropped out of that shit years ago. I don’t even know where I’d be.” I add a more composed reply, picking at a pink string on my sleeve.

“Oh,” is all Kerick can seem to say. His silence makes my heart kind of sting. There’s a dull click behind us and a tall woman with features like his appears from the door next to my room.

“Kerick, dear, breakfast is ready!” She sings, seeming to be only in her late twenties.

“Oh, alright,” he says as he rises to his feet, I stand.

“Do you mind if I join you?” I ask, looking at his mother.

“I can whip up another plate of eggs, are you a new friend of his?” She questions.

“Yes, my name’s Evelyn.” I nod with an artificial smile, my stomach hungrily controlling my actions.

“It’s nice to meet you! Come on in you two!” She chirps, leading us inside their hotel room. There isn’t really a table, so we just sit on the beds with our plates on our laps. I sit next to Kerick’s mom because I like her small whispery voice. She gives off a very calm, innocent air. You can just hear it over the news in the background of our conversation.

“So how come you’re alone here, Evelyn?” She asks me. I examine the freckles on her cheeks.

“I’m eighteen so I decided to move out cause I’m on my own now. I liked the idea of living in Gifford,” I answer simply, but I don’t want to elaborate. So I go, “Do you live around here?”

“We live in New Oak,” Answers Kerick. “We’re vacationing here.”

“Yes, yes. It’s such a wonderful place we’ve been coming for what—four years now?” She looks to Kerick who nods as he shovels some eggs into his mouth. I take a bite of mine too, tasting how creamy and salty they are.

“It’s my first time.” I announce.

“I can assure you’ll enjoy it,” she sings. My ears melt to her voice.

“What’s your name?”

“Me? Oh, it’s Emeline. You can call me just Em though.” She waves her fork daintily in the air.

“Is she always nice like this?” I turn to Kerick.

“I’ve been told I have a ‘peachy’ personality.” She smiles. My heart jitters in my chest and I feel a slash of jealousy for Kerick. To have a mother like that.

Em silently collects our empty dishes and discards them in the sink, on her way back into the room she opens her mouth to speak her sweet words again—though she doesn’t speak at all—her attention is drawn to the television.

It’s a breaking news update on an ‘incident’ that happened yesterday afternoon. The camera lies centered on a blonde, bleached white anchorman as he stands just feet away from the ruins of a family home. The thing has been reduced to a pile of smoldering ash and singed debris. A scattering of firemen stand about the scene, investigating silently.

“Channel Four first response news is here on Bright Water island, down Chester Road where a house fire is just now sputtering out,” he describes. “As of this morning, all but one resident has escaped safely. The daughter of Marie Koval, homeowner, has been presumed dead although the search for her remains has yet to come to a close. This morning, we’re learning that the girl was only seventeen,” He begins. His voice rattles around like razor blades in my head as a thumbnail photo of me is pasted up in the corner of the screen. “Her name is Jasmine and she is described by her family as quiet, loving and—“

“Turn that off,” I gasp. My ears rush with my own heartbeat. Em and Kerick are silent, switching between watching the screen and giving me a collection of horrified looks. “Turn it off!” I shout, my voice strains feebly. Em jumps a little, but shakily finds the remote and switches it to black.

I get up, making a whimper as my left leg screams in pain. Those two keep frozen as I stumble to the kitchen sink. I rest my head on my hands, desperately trying to choke down a burning in my throat.

“Evelyn?” I hear Em squeak. I let the faucet run, smothering my face in it’s icy wash. Just make it all go away. A dizziness sends me sliding to the floor, my head in my hands.

“Oh my…” Em goes. I hear her feet tapping on the tile as she rushes over. “Kerick, could you grab some water for her?” She requests, kneeling beside me.

“Here.” Kerick hands her a bottle of water. I didn’t think he could get any paler, his hands quivering at his sides.

“Thank you, there, just have a little.” She presses the bottle into my hands. I just blankly watch the condensation roll down the side of it. Kerick fearfully slinks back a few steps. I don’t blame him.

“Bright Water is far from here,” Em begins. “How long have you been away for?”

“I don’t know.”

“You didn’t tell anyone you were moving out?”

“No.”

She’s quiet for a second. Her gaze shifts to Kerick. He awkwardly picks at a bit of skin on his thumb.

“We’ll get this all figured out, I’m sure it’s a simple misunderstanding. Would you like to use my phone to call your parents?” She offers kindly.

“Yes, thank you,” I nod.

“Of course,” she replies, helping me to my feet. She leads me carefully to sit on the edge of a bed. She goes to a purse sitting on the dresser and fishes out a thin black phone. She places it in my hands with a sympathetic smile. I plug in the number, the one I’ve got memorized deep in my heart.

“Mrs. Sharp here!” Phillipa answers in that red, sparkling tone of hers. I feel like I could cry at the sound of it.

“It’s Jasmine,” I tell her. “I’m—I’m okay. I’ve made my way to Gifford and I’m safe.” My voice is brittle.

“You have? Oh, thank the moon, my dear. Was the ferry alright?” She checks in sweetly. I feel myself nodding as if she were here to see it.

“I just saw the news.” I breathe out a thin breath, forming my fear into the devastated horror that Em sees it as.

“I too,” She sighs deeply. “I assume you’ve left by three, haven’t you?” Her voice has a hard edge.

“I left at twelve, I’m sorry—I’m so sorry.” My chest aches deeply.

“I told you not to do anything irrational.” She scolds.

“It wasn’t me,” I whisper so that the other two can’t hear me. They’ve both sat next to each other now. Em speaks to Kerick softly about what they’re to do with me.

“Don’t lie to me, dear. You should’ve just left quietly and quickly as we discussed. I’m disappointed that you’ve sunk to such places. Don’t tell me you were aiming to hurt anyone.” She almost pleads.

“It wasn’t me,” I repeat, getting up to shut myself outside with the call. “I boarded the ferry at one. I was gone by the time any fucking fire could’ve started,” I hiss.

“Hush, hush. Just keep yourself calm, now.” I can almost hear her head spinning as she rethinks her trust in me.

“I’m so scared, Pippa.” A sob breaks out of me.

“You’re okay, Jazzy. Just take a breath,” She brings her voice to a dove’s coo. I hold the phone so close to my ear that it’s humming buzz almost hurts. “I’m not angry. I swear to you I couldn’t be more proud of how far you’ve made it. I’ve called Claudia to let her know you’re down there. I know you haven’t met her, but she said she’s more than happy to help you. She’s offered to let you stay at her apartment if you decide to.” I don’t say anything.

“You’ll be okay,” Pippa assures again. “Do you wanna tell me about the porch? Remember, you said you’d like those purple potted flowers—Oh, what were they called?” She prompts.

“Vinca,” I say quietly. “Vinca vines, but they’ll be in a low, wide pot so they can crawl as they please over the dirt.”

“Mm, I’ve always loved how they did that. They’re almost like a sweet floral blanket aren’t they?” She hums lightly.

“Yeah. They protect the earth in its most vulnerable places, you told me that.” I recall it mindlessly.

“Not just Vincas but low lying plants and mosses, that’s their job to mother earth, dear,” She says. “Tell me about the wicker chairs.”

“They’d be white with pink cushions to match the curtains.” I picture. “I imagine sitting there in those plush seats, watching the forest chittering and flickering across the way. It would be a hot summer night, but a cool breeze would keep us. My love would be right beside me and we’d only speak to each other. We would be calm and okay. I would never have to hear her yell.”

“Never,” Pippa assures. I filter out a sigh, my mind feels a bit jittery at the possibility of the existence of this perfect scene.

“I met some people this morning.” I tell her.

“Really? Were they kind?”

“They invited me in for breakfast, but they saw the news too.” I begin to worry about that as it resurfaces in my mind.

“Ah, I see.”

“The woman, her name is Em, she thinks I’m on the phone with my parents right now. They can’t know I’m alive, can they? I don’t want them to, I kind of like the idea of not being alive to anyone but you and maybe Claudia…” I trail off.

“Well, they could—I mean, I do agree that this ruling is in your favor—though you could persuade these particular people not to say anything about it. I’m sure they’d even be up to helping you. That depends on what you’re open to telling them, of course.”

“I don’t want to tell them anything.” I stubbornly state.

“You don’t have to.” She sighs. “Just please be careful with how you speak.”

“I know.”

“If you approach them with hostility they’ll only return it,” She reminds me.

“I’ve been good with them. Em is really nice and I like her.”

“Good, good…” She says, trailing off to speak to James. I hear his familiar pointed voice in the background. ‘Is it Jasmine?’ He asks. ‘Yes, she’s here.’ Pippa tells. ‘Oh, dear…’

“Can I call you later?” I ask.

“Of course! Anytime, I’ll always be here,” She promises. “Do you have your phone?”

“Yes, I do. I’m using Em’s,” I clarify.

“Ah, see I didn’t recognize this number. I thought you might’ve lost it, but yes, I’ll text you Claudia’s address.”

“Thank you.” I breathe.

“So you’ll go stay with her?”

“I don’t know. I’d just like to have the option.”

“Ah, of course.” Pippa chirps.

“I should go…” I say, thinking of what I’m to say to the two people inside.

“Yes, go ahead. Good luck, dear. I’ll be thinking of you when I see the moon tonight.” I can hear the smile shine in her voice.

“Bye.” I whisper, pressing my thumb firmly on the button to hang up. I drop my arm limply to my side before shuffling back into the hotel room like some wounded animal. I can tell immediately by the look on her face that Em knows I’ve been crying. I hand her back her phone carefully.

“What did they say?” She asks, curious.

“They said that…” I run dry on what lies to create. My head strains for some excuse or cover up. So I pretend. “That it’s okay I’ve left and that they understand why I did it. They’re not angry with me. They’re only ashamed of themselves for starting such a reckless fire.”

“Oh, I can imagine how upsetting that could be. They lost just about everything from the looks of it… gosh, I would never forgive myself,” She muses.

“I could,” I say. “It’s just material.”

“I guess…” She trails off.

“Do you mind if I lie down? My room’s already been checked out.” I blurt. Em nods.

“Sure, sure. Go ahead.” I stride to one of the beds and I place myself comfortably on top of the covers. I pull my sore arms to my chest with a sigh.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be out soon.” I huff.

“Oh no, don’t worry you’re fine. Kerick and I are going to the beach anyway so you can rest as long as you like,” She tells me. I don’t respond, my eyes have already shut themselves and I’m about three-fourths of the way asleep. I feel myself sinking deep into the mattress for a long while. Various noises echo about the room; the clinking of utensils as Em makes sandwiches to bring to the beach, a tapping of feet back and forth, hurried whispers and quick conversations to aid my rest.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Coming of Age, Culture and Current Events, Fiction, Horror, LGBTQ+, Poetry, Romance, Young Adult (YA)

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