“So, how do I do it?” LM said. “How do I let go? How do I start living on my own, relying on just me? Can I even live like that? If I live alone, who will help me dry my wings when they get wet? Who will I turn to for guidance? Who will care about me in that day-to-day sort of way?”
Kalyla didn’t even try to answer. Maybe he didn’t think of them as genuine questions.
Or maybe he just didn’t know the answers.
LM frowned as the fey kept drawing. “Can I live without any of that? Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not in the right head space to really think these questions through. I feel so empty and alone right now.”
Even that didn’t merit a response from Kalyla.
LM considered grabbing the fey’s notebook and throwing it as far as he could. He flapped his hands in an irritated gesture. “I don’t know, okay? I just don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life and it scares me.”
Kalyla stopped drawing and looked up at him.
LM quickly looked away. “I…I mean…There’s just so much I don’t know. Capernaum and I never talked about this eventuality. I never brought it up. I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense, but I. I never expected The Institute to be burned down. I thought it would always be there. The great and powerful Institute with all of their amazing, clever scientists. Capernaum. Antioch. Carthage. And so many others. How could it fall? How could it burn and choke and die from one XQ?”
Several more dark gray feathers fell from his stiff wings.
“Antioch always said, ‘With enough XQ’s, we could burn down the whole world.” LM shook his head. “He was wrong. We just needed one.”
Silence passed between them.
“I hate feeling like this.” LM wrapped his arms across his stomach. “I’ve been tossed into that hole again. The tarp is covering the top. And I’m in the dark. I don’t know how big the hole is. It’s just too dark. I can’t move, but I need to. I can’t just sit still. Sitting still doesn’t make sense. I must move or the darkness will take me.”
Kalyla was so quiet LM wondered if he’d teleported himself out of the conversation. He shot a look at the blond fey.
Good. He’s still here.
LM scowled at the fey’s expression.”You don’t have to look at me like that.”
“Oh, so you do still speak. Wonderful. You don’t have to look at me like I’m some tragedy to weep over. That is not what I want. I don’t want sympathy. I want action. I want movement. I want to move forward with my life.”
LM frowned. “And what? What more can I say? What do you expect me to say?”
Kalyla didn’t respond. He continued with his sympathetic looks.
“Fine. You want to know the truth, the full truth? FINE! Capernaum was the only person I knew who saw me and treated me as an equal. That’s why I feel so adrift. I know I will never find anyone like that again. People will always look at me and see The Freak.” His wings bristled erratically.”And it will start all over again with orders and demands to turn into anyone who isn’t me. No one will ever want just me.”
Kalyla looked down at his drawing.
“So, how do I move on?”
Kalyla traced the boy’s drawn jawline with his fingertip and he didn’t respond.