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   Chapter 20 Mother

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 11221

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:21


There was no grave. No marker. Nothing to say he even existed at all.

In the weeks following Camden's death, we were subject to rain storm after rain storm. Day after day we were marched to a field a few miles from Harrend and made to till the soil in preparation for the vegetable farm they were planning to grow once spring came.

We worked all day, every day. Those of us who tried to escape were shot down, those who fell and couldn't work were taken away and never returned. Annie and I were kept separate. Sometimes, through the curtain of falling rain, I would see her working between the others, but just as soon as I got a glimpse, she would disappear again. I wondered if she kept herself hidden from me on purpose.

The others blamed me. Some thought I had been followed to camp, others believed I had intentionally led them there. Even as I was surrounded by all the faces I had grown up with, I found myself more alone than ever before.

I was kept not only separate from Annie, but all the others as well. I was put in a tiny room which had once been a janitor's closet. There were no windows, no way to tell time. I lived in darkness.

Time and time again I would run my hands through the black, brushing the walls, searching for something, anything to help me find a way out. Find a way to Annie. But there was nothing.

One morning, I awoke, expecting to be taken to the field as always, but the hours rolled past and no one came. The following day, the same thing. No work, no explanation. I was left in the dark, alone.

I would be given a meal twice a day. Whenever there was meat, I refused it. After a while, they refused to give me anything else. "We don't only eat people, you know, " Gunner told me one day while picking up the full tray I'd left untouched. The next day when a new plate came with nothing but dark and light meat, it dawned on me, I would eat the meat or starve, and for three days, I did starve.

"Grace?" a voice whispered to me from the black. It was small and scared, it sounded from every corner of the room. "Don't let them take me, " he said. "Fight for me." Camden's voice was weak.

"I'm sorry, " I told him, reaching out but finding nothing. "I'm so sorry."

I lay on the floor and pressed my hands against my ears so I wouldn't have to hear his voice. Rain leaked from a crack in the ceiling. The sound of my clattering teeth echoed between the walls as the freezing water dripped on my back and bled through my clothes. I closed my eyes, unsure If I would ever wake again.

#

"The strong kill the weak, " I told Annie as I helped her line up a shot in the forest. She hesitated. The buck trotted in the clearing, gnawing on the open fields of grass. He was young, barely more than a fawn. "It's how we survive, " I said.

"It wasn't always, " she replied and put her eyes to the scope. She squeezed the trigger.

I awoke in tears. A new plate had been set beside me in the tiny room. I grabbed it with both hands and tore into it. I wanted to stop, but I couldn't.

The next morning, Gunner opened the door to take the plate away. I had to close my eyes as the daylight burned into the room. I could hear him chuckle when he saw that it was empty. "Finally, " he said. "Pick her up."

Two men came and grabbed me by both arms, dragging me through the halls. With no strength to

when I killed.

"How does a little girl get a bunch of wild men to listen to her?" I asked.

"I earned my way, I was smarter than the others. More fearless. We have to be don't we? After a while they began to respect me. When your father died, I was chosen."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because I want you with me."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it's what he would have wanted. And because you already are family. Your father made me what I am. He was as much my father as he was yours. That makes you my sister."

My chest tightened at the words. She came to me and knelt down by my side, gently laying both hands on my face.

"I'm not like you, " I told her.

"You are. They'll never understand you. You don't belong with them. I know you. I know your pain, your strength."

"But, Camden-"

"Gunner wasn't supposed to kill anyone. He disobeyed me and he's going to pay for it. I'm so sorry Grace."

"He was just a little boy..." My voice broke.

"I know, " she said and wrapped her arms around me. I cried, the warm comfort of her body was the closest I had ever felt to home. When she pulled back, she looked at me as if she was grieving the same way I was. In the daylight I saw her as if for the first time, despite her scars, she was beautiful. "Those people out there don't want you. They never did. That little girl you're trying to help-"

"Don't-- don't hurt her, please, " I begged, tears filling my eyes.

"No, of course not. I would never do that to someone you loved." She held me close as I sobbed into her shirt. She didn't move away like the women in my camp had when I was a girl. She stayed there, holding me, telling me everything was going to be okay.

"I need you sister, " she said. "Don't you want a real family?"

"I don't know, " I said, still crying. I cried for Camden. I cried for Annie. And I cried for myself. I cried for the girl who was ignored by those who should have loved her, the girl whose first kiss had been a lie, the girl who never had a home and never knew her mother's love. I wanted to keep Annie safe. I wanted to belong.

"Yes, " I told her. I watched as tears fell from my eyes and landed with a silent shattering on the tiled floor beneath us. "I do."

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