Author: Laura Schiller PM
AU. Lena encounters two kindred spirits in the Wilds.Rated: Fiction K - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Cassia R. & Lena H. - Words: 1,067 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 6 - Published: 08-14-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7287049
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
By Laura Schiller
Copyright: Ally Condie and Lauren Oliver
The fire snapped and crackled loudly as Lena sat down at the edge of one of the horizontal logs. It was a cool night for summer; even as she held out her hands in front of the fire for warmth, a cold breeze at her back made her shiver. All around, her fellow resistance fighters – she had found that they disliked being called Invalids – laughed and talked, toasting bread on sticks, coming and going at random intervals. Compared to dinner with the Tiddles, it was so strangely informal that Lena surprised herself with a stab of homesickness. Who'd have ever thought she would miss Carol and William's small talk, Jenny's whining, plastic tablecloths and macaroni from the Stop-n-Save?
Stop it, she told herself sternly. You should be used to this by now. There's nothing left for you back there.
"Hi. Mind if we sit?"
Startled out of her gloomy reverie, she looked up. A girl and a boy were standing next to her, probably her age or a little older. He was tall, black-haired and tanned, his eyes an indeterminate color in the firelight. She was a petite redhead with a welcoming smile on her freckled face; it was she who had addressed Lena, and the smile jogged her memory into place with a sudden click. She jumped up from her log.
"Cassia Reyes? Oh my God, is that you?"
She blushed furiously, embarrassed to be babbling like this even though they'd barely been acquainted. She remembered Cassia as an excellent student who'd won a prize for a Literature essay, and the third-fastest runner in the track team besides Lena and Hana. Her disappearance had been hushed up, her family transferred to another city, only weeks before the scheduled date of her cure.
It was good to see a familiar face here, cut off from everything she had known before.
"I'm sorry … do I know you?" Cassia squinted at Lena's face, frowned, then grinned. "Wait. Track team, right? Hana Tate's friend."
"Right." Cassia nodded, hesitated – possibly wondering why it wasn't Lena Tiddle, or speculating on Lena's all-too-public family history – but let it go, turning to gesture at her male companion. "This is Ky."
"Nice to meet you." He nodded, but kept his hands in his pockets.
As the three of them sat down together, Lena's mind raced. She'd never thought of quiet, studious Cassia Reyes as the rebellious type, not like Willow Marks with her rainbow hair and secret assignations, and she wondered if her quiet classmate's story was anything like her own. Was Ky her boyfriend? That would explain a lot.
Moments later, the casual way his hand covered hers answered Lena's question. She looked away, trying hard not to feel envious; every display of affection among the rebels hurt her now. Ever since losing Alex (he was not dead, she refused to believe it) she had nobody's hand to hold.
"I'm sorry," said Cassia, letting go of her boyfriend's hand. "You're still new, aren't you? We didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
"No, no, that's okay. I just …"
Cassia's warm green eyes, and Ky's dark ones behind her, broke a barrier in Lena's mind which had been slowly crumbling all along. She had never spoken to any of her new comrades about Alex, but something about these two felt trustworthy – perhaps because they were her age, perhaps because she felt a connection with Cassia as a former teammate and unexpected rebel.
"There was … a boy," she began. "We were supposed to escape together, but … I lost him. His name was Alex Sheathes – Alex Warren, in the city. Did you know him?"
They shook their heads, understanding and sympathy written on their faces even without knowing the details.
Alex. Even saying his name was painful now. Lena swallowed, fighting back tears.
"My parents were executed," said Ky. "For what it's worth, Lena Haloway … I know what it's like."
It was the longest sentence he had said yet, and his blunt, unaffected manner could not disguise the beauty of his voice. A lifetime ago, Lena might even have found him attractive; as it was, she nodded back at him with silent gratitude.
"Ky recruited me last year," said Cassia, in the clear, musical tone of a natural storyteller. "We used to meet on a hiking trail outside of town, and later in Deering Highlands. The only private places we could find. I was a model citizen to start with," with an ironic shrug, gesturing to her surroundings. "Headed for college, paired with one of the sweetest human beings I've ever known … but there was something missing all along. Something I never realized until ... Lena, have you ever heard of poetry?"
"Yes. Yes, I have." Lena could not keep the trembling from her voice. "How do I love thee?" she quoted softly, staring into the fire. "Let me count the ways … I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach."
"Beautiful!" If Cassia had been pretty before, she was positively radiant now. "Yes … my grandfather gave me a book of poems before he passed away. They were illegal, and they got to me like nothing else. Ky and I used to hide out together in the forest for hours, learning them by heart."
"Do not go gentle into that good night," Ky quoted. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Such is the nature of poetry that nothing more needed to be said.
Cassia and Ky linked their hands again, a gesture as natural as breathing. This time, Lena smiled. She recognized her own story, the story of two trapped and lonely souls who had found freedom in each other.
For all the lovers torn apart or lobotomized by the so-called cure, there were still those who had kept their bond intact. Those who were not afraid to hold hands in public, to laugh and cry and show that they were human. Those who raged against the dying of the light
This was what Alex had fought for, what Lena fought for now. This would be her reason to carry on.