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   Chapter 16 Miles To Go

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 6497

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:19


"What're you doing here?" I asked Vicki. The children had stayed by the car at her instructions when she saw I wasn't moving.

"It's a long story—Annie ran away. She didn't believe us when we told her you left, she said you wouldn't. She thought you were in danger."

"I'm not, tell her I'm fine. Take them back."

"I don't have the gas to take them back, and she's right here, tell her yourself, " she said, looking at me with curious eyes. "What happened?"

"Nothing happened, it's just not safe for you to be here."

"You told everyone we couldn't survive on our own and look at you now—you've never been so—"

"I can take care of myself, " I said. Vicki stood back and turned to the children.

"It's too late now, we can't turn back." She turned and started walking back to the car. I remained. She looked back to me. "Let's go, " she said. "We're burning gas."

#

We drove in silence, I sat in the front watching the mounds of untouched snow pass by in waves. From the reflection of my window, I could see Annie's eyes drift from the scenery outside towards the back of my head. "Turn there, " I told Vicki. She followed my direction as I read them off the map.

"What's that?" she asked, reaching for the map. She pulled Halter's drawing of the wolf from where I had hid it in between the pages of the atlas. "It's nice, did you draw it?"

I took the sketch back and buried it in the book again. "No, " I said. We turned into a dirt road in the woods and followed it until finally running out of gas. I recognized this as the same road we had used to get to the gas station where Joseph and I had come with Harry and his son searching for food. I knew it had only been weeks but it felt like years.

"Guess we're walking, " Vicki said, putting the car into park.

"I can get us there. It's not that far, " I told her.

I led the way into the forest. One by one, we filed down the snowy hills, each of us carrying a

feet away from the others. I ignited the lighter and brushed the flame over the scissor blades.

Pain stung my cheek as I pulled at the knots on my stitches. I slipped the scissors through the gap between the stitches and my cheek and cut the wire. Over and over I cut the stitches until they were entirely gone and all that remained was a scar.

"Do you need help?" Camden asked behind me. He took me by surprise but I didn't let it show.

"It's done, " I said and walked back to the others, Camden followed but he didn't talk to me again.

We trudged on, following the river for another full day. Every now and then I would hear the children whispering to each other, Camden would ask questions about me, Annie would lie to him, saying I was just tired or in pain. Vicki served as their guardian, following us from the rear.

I took point, moving ahead of the group, following the tracks in the dirt, eyes always forward.

As the sun was about to start its setting routine on our second day of following the river, we heard the bustling sounds of people building themselves a new camp. I stopped and took a breath as I realized I was much more anxious than I thought I would be. I raised my hands over my head, the others did the same, we walked through the brush and into my camp.

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