Theme 01: Introduction

She watched him, waiting with only the slightest indication of impatience. Admittedly, she had grown restless over the last couple of days... She drummed her fingers on the edge of her knees and studied the room critically. The bedside lamp cast dim loops of light over the room, circling slowly over the starched bedsheets; daylight reached only briefly beyond the blinds which were pulled tight over the window panes. The room smelled of bleach and the distant aroma of strawberries. And, in the wake of it all, was the boy, his face obscured by a mop of dark, unruly hair...It had been weeks now since the night that he had crossed the boundary line, and still she had drawn no conclusions. A turn and the occasional mumble her best leads. Frustrated, she pushed against the back of the chair she'd been sitting in, sneakers squeaking against the speckled linoleum.

This time, she decided, she was determined to ask. Nobody would hear.

Releasing a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding, she rested her palms against the mattress, her fingertips lightly prodding his arm. She bit her lip and slowly leaned towards him. It was now or never. "What will happen at the summer solstice?" Right away she knew that this was a stupid question. What would he know? More importantly, how was she expecting him to relay this to her? Through subconscious grumbles? She balked at her own stupidity, making to step away--

"What?" The voice was raspy and thick like syrup but easy enough to understand. Startled, she turned around, surprised to find he was awake.

Hasty, she planted her elbows on the edge of the bed and ignored the creases she was making in the faded blue quilt. "What's going on? What was stolen? We only have a few weeks!" she whispered, tripping over her own words. She watched with disappointment as he shook his head slowly, squinting at her increduously.

"I'm sorry-- I don't..."

But she didn't wait to hear the rest of what he planned to say. Whatever it was, it wouldn't be of any use to her. No need to torture the kid while she was at it. She stood up and smoothed the sheets where they had been rumpled, pacing toward the door. Her hand grasped for the knob, and it turned smoothly, heaving the door open with a soft creak. One foot already outside, she thought better of herself and pivoted on her heel.

"Nice to meet you."