The security guard fidgeted for the three thousandth time. “Look. I totally sympathize with you and Jay, but your thirty minutes expired fifteen minutes ago. I gotta get back to work.”
Maelin considered arguing for him to grant her another 30-35 minutes. But she saw the sense in his words. “Okay.” She pushed her chair back and stood. “Thank you so much for—”
He dismissively waved his hand. “Whatever.” He pressed some buttons to bring the monitors back to the current time. “Just go.”
She smiled and left the room. Her smile faded as she closed the door behind her.
Isellta will be disappointed.
A random crowd of people walked down the hall.
She turned her head to watch them pass. And her heart nearly stopped.
Jay was sitting on the floor half-way down the hall, looking like someone had randomly dropped him there and forgotten to pick him up again.
She ran to his side. “Jay?” She knelt. “Sweetheart. Are you okay?”
“She has him.”
She sat back on her heels. “What?”
Her heart sank.
His voice was heavy and flat as he spoke, “Isellta surrendered himself to her. She reactivated the barrier. He left with her. He went into her room with her. And I couldn’t do a thing to stop it. What could I do, Mae?”
“I’m not sure I understand. Why would he do that?”
He bowed his head and exhaled a raggedy breath.
Maelin guided him into her arms.
He hugged her and melted. His body shook as he broke down.
People passed by.
But Maelin held onto him and let him cry. She didn’t ask any more questions.
LM’s thoughts chased each other down spiral staircases and in self-perpetuating loops.
Stay with Raven or stay with Ambrose or stay with Jeff or go out in the world and do my own thing and become my own person. But where would I stay until I can afford a home of my own? Do I stay with Raven or stay with Ambrose or stay with Jeff or stay at a cheap hotel? But even the cheapest hotel demands payment. I would need a job in order to stay at a hotel. But where would I stay?
Kalyla closed his notebook. “I’m quite done here.” He tilted his head. “Do you need me to stay?”
LM shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter. I’ve been sitting here for the past hour and a half and I still have no answers.”
“Maybe you need smaller questions.”
LM puzzled that out. “Smaller…?”
“The questions you’re asking yourself right now – how are you going to live, who will ever love you, and so on – are important questions. But some of those questions are not ones you can answer.” He tapped the side of LM’s head. “The questions are here, but not the answers. They will answer themselves all in good time. Or they may never be answered at all. What you need to do is answer one question right now: What are you going to do when you leave this room? You can’t just hide in here all the time. You need to leave. So, where will you go?”
Right now, those are my only choices.
Kalyla put his notebook away and sat patiently, watching LM.
But no. He’s right. I’m thinking too broad. The lines are too thick. I can’t see if they’re one line or many. Simplify. Small. Narrow, perfect parallel lines.
“I guess I’ll go back into that hospital room. And then? I don’t know. I feel like living with Raven will be my best bet. But I don’t know. My days will be so empty and strange with nothing to do.”
“Take it one small step at a time. Don’t try to draw a mountain in all of its glory. Draw one line and then another and see where it may go.”
LM gave him a belligerent look. “And if I want to draw a mountain?”
Kalyla smiled. “Then, you will draw a mountain.”