Maelin stood in the doorway and watched Jay comfort Isellta.
I should be with him. I should be at his side.
But I can’t go in there. Just standing here makes me want to run.
It’s not like me to be afraid like this. So irrationally afraid.
Maelin looked towards the monitors.
Her fear surged so fast and hard it made her wings emerge.
Her breaths came and escaped in short bursts.
run away. runrunrunrunrunrunRUNRUNRUNRUN!
She shook her head. “This is irrational. This doesn’t make sense.” Her body trembled with the need to run, but Maelin held her ground. “It’s nonsense. Simple and basic nonsense.”
She stepped into the room.
I will not yield to nonsense.
Maelin pulled her wings into her back and headed over to Jay and Isellta.
Isellta sniffled again as Jay rubbed his back.
Jay makes me feel so safe. He would never hurt me. I know he’ll never hurt me. If he did, I don’t know what I’d do.
Who would I turn to for comfort?
“I can’t look at that monitor, Jay. Look and tell me if he’s there. Has he come?”
Jay raised his head.
“Do you see him?”
“No. Not yet. If you want, I can rewind back again and see if we missed him.”
Isellta blinked quickly. “Could you?”
Jay smiled. “Anything for you, kid.”
The fear crescendoed as Maelin approached the monitors. She knelt beside Isellta. She bowed her head and struggled to regain her normal calm.
Isellta gently touched her arm. “Are you all right?”
What is this? What am I so afraid of? It doesn’t make any sense. There are no images, no sounds, no…anything to this fear. It’s just fear.
Wordless, breathless fear.
But I am able to think.
It doesn’t make sense.
“Maelin? Are you all right?”
I need to face it. I need to understand it. I need to pry it apart and dissect it. I need to know.
She stood. “I’m fine, Isellta.”
I can face it.
I will face it, even if it knocks me down to my knees.
She approached Jay. The fear filled her throat like water, like something solid, something hard. It made her feel like she was about to choke or about to drown.
“All creatures are made out of lines, Mael Yinga.” her mother said. “Some are straight lines. Some are crooked lines. Some are poorly drawn. If you focus hard enough, you can see them.”
“See their lines?”
Her mother smiled. “Yes, see their lines.”
“How? Show me how.”
Maelin took a deep breath and looked straight ahead at the outside monitor.
The fear strengthened into something savage and breath-stealing. Her nerves vibrated and she just wanted to run. More than anything else, Maelin wanted to run.
But she held her ground.
She looked at the monitor.
See the lines.
“Everything has lines.” She focused on the monitor and she saw it.
So many lines. Broken, torn, frayed, and fried lines.
Loose and knotted lines.
Badly colored and badly shaped lines.
Lines that did not match up.
Lines that did not make sense.
Except for one red and one gold. They weren’t the same color, but they matched up perfectly into a smooth, perfect line.
And she understood.
“This is all about the monitors.”
Another line matched up — gold with gold.
“This fear is to keep us from getting too close to the monitors.”
Another pair —- lavender with lavender.
“It’s to keep us from watching the monitors.”
Tan with raw sienna.
“From watching the outside monitor.”
Jay looked back at her. “Preyuna?”
Maroon with silver.
“Yes. She’s hiding something.”
Isellta struggled to stand, but it was just too much. He gave up with an unhappy, “Uh.” He settled back into a sit. “It’s Robin, isn’t it? Robin is here.”
Jay gave her a questioning look.
“I will need to talk to Preyuna.” she said. “I probably won’t get a single worthwhile answer from her. But I’ll try.”
“And I’ll keep watching.” Jay said. “Since it doesn’t seem to bother me.”