It was raining. The world seemed blank and dreary, with nothing promising in sight. Even the kids, like Cassie on the side of the road, were somber. I wondered what life was like outside of town. I watched Alea, the only person from outside of town. She was stepping lighter than anyone, as usual. I wondered what she was thinking. Did she remember her life outside the walls of rain? Alea was buying flowers. The flowers here were gray and wilted. I wondered why she wanted one at all. Alea thanked the store manager and skipped away. She didn’t seem to have a care in the world. I suppose there was nothing to worry about. Life was always the same. Life was always, always the same.
Yet I was afraid to wish for something different. In every story I had heard started with someone wishing for more than they had and ended with a brutal death. I began to shake. I wasn’t worried or surprised. This happened every day. I thought about wanting something different then began to shake. No else noticed either. Same as every day.
It was raining. The world seemed blank and dreary, with nothing promising in sight. I knew what was like beyond the town. This tiny, dreary town. It was worse than the monotony of this small town. But still I stepped light, knowing this was important. For the kids, like Cassie, who was watching me. I knew Ian was also watching me. I wondered what he was thinking. I bought a single flower. All the flowers here were wilted and gray. But I knew they were worth more than it seemed. I thanked the store manager and skipped away. I cared more, much more, than anyone was allowed to know. So I put on dim-witted cover. But it mattered little. Life was always the same here. Always, always the same.
But I knew better than to wish for something different. In every story I had ever seen or heard, including my own, started with someone wanting more than they had and ended with a brutal death. I continued on my way, listening to the pouring rain around us. No one noticed, as usual, but I did. I always did. Same as every day.
It was raining. The world might have seemed blank and dreary to others, but to me it was bright and promising. I want to know what’s beyond the wall of rain that surrounds the town. Although I’m only eight, I wanted to know about everything. I keep it inside my head. I watched the world go by quietly, waiting for something to happen. I saw Ian watching Alea. She was buying dull gray flowers, the only flowers the town. I wanted to see bright, colorful flowers. I wanted to see a blue sky, like I read about in my story books. But life in the town was the same every day. Every single day was the same.
And I tried to be careful about wishing for more than I had. Every story I have ever owned starting with someone wishing for something, and ended with a brutal death. I saw Ian starting to shake, like he did every day. Sometimes I wondered why he shook, but it didn’t really matter. It was the same as everyday.
The next day…
It wasn’t raining. I woke up at 7:46, like always. I didn’t brush my teeth, like always. I got dressed in the town colors, gray and black, like always. I went outside to get a drink of rain, like always. Except it wasn’t raining.
It wasn’t raining. I woke up at 5:51, like always. I layed there for 15 minutes, like always. I stood up and groaned in pain, like always. I went over to open the window to the rain, like always. Except it wasn’t raining.
It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t raining! I woke up at 7’o’clock sharp, like always. I ate plain gruel for breakfast, like always. I went outside to look at the cloudy, raining sky, like always, except it wasn’t raining!
Later that day…
The town came together for a meeting. This only happened when something happened. And something big had happened. It stopped raining. Everyone had different thoughts. Most people thought it was awful. Others thought it was just a break in the cycle. Others thought it was the end of the world as we knew it.
I wasn’t sure what to think. The logical part of my mind, the part I listened to, thought it was a bad thing. The part of my mind that wondered and wandered wondered what it meant. I wondered if it meant I could leave the town. I didn’t have any family here, like about half the town. I hoped it meant something different was going to happen.
The town came together for a meeting. This only happened when something happened. And something big had happened. It stopped raining. I was scared. But for different reasons than most of the town. Most of them thought it was awful, and I agreed. But for different reasons. I stayed quiet though.
I didn’t want to think about it. I had to force myself to stay calm. I couldn’t give anything away. But a tiny, tiny part of me was excited. Maybe it was time to leave the town. Maybe it wasn’t. But one thing was for sure. Something different was going to happen.
The town came together for a meeting. This only happened when something happened. And something big had happened. It stopped raining. It had actually stopped raining! I was excited. Others weren’t. Others were quiet. Others were very, very frightened. Others were hyperventilating.
I was excited. I wished I knew what to think, and wished I knew what was going on. I hoped and hoped that it meant I could leave the town with someone. I didn’t like it here. I didn’t have any family, or friends really either. I wanted to leave. I wanted something different to happen.
The next day…
The town elders had decided. Someone had to go. Someone had caused the rain to stop. And it wasn’t good.
The problem they had now was figuring out who was the problem. I wondered who it could be. They were quick to point out that Alea wasn’t from here. I wanted to defend her. I wondered why, and how. They were right, Alea wasn’t from here. I wondered if they would exile her. I wondered where she would go. I wondered if I could go with her.
The town elders had decided. Someone had to go. Someone had caused the rain to stop. And it was probably me.
The elders were quick to point out that I wasn’t from here. I glaced to Ian. I wondered what he thought about me. Mainly because he watched me everyday. Some people were quick to agree. They wanted to get rid of the problem, and quickly. I could deal with whatever they decided. It was my fault anyway. I knew it wouldn’t last.
The town elders had decided. Someone had to go. Someone had caused the rain to stop. And I wanted to know who it was.
The problem now was how to get myself into it. I wanted to leave. They thought it was Alea. She wasn’t from here. I wondered what would happen. I wanted to follow whoever left the town, or I would make something up like in my story books. It didn’t matter what happened after that. I wanted to leave.
Later that day…
I was very afraid now. Alea had offered to leave. She said it was okay. She said if it brought the town peace, she would leave. Today. I think I care more than I’d like.
I was afraid. I offered to leave. I said it was okay. As long as it brought the town peace. But I would never know if it would bring the town peace. If I was leaving, I was leaving permanently.
I was afraid. Alea offered to leave. I didn’t know how to get myself into it. I wanted to let the town be peaceful, but without me. Because I wanted to leave.
I offered to go with her. She looked at me. I nearly backed out. But I’m going with her.
Ian offered to come with me. I looked at him. I didn’t want to ruin his life. But he’s coming.
Ian offered to go with Alea. They were leaving in the morning. And I was going to follow them.
The next morning…
I was packed and ready to go. I was set to follow Alea wherever she decided to go. The decision was hers. I didn’t care. Not really.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wondered where we’d go. I wondered what we’d do. I wondered about a lot of things. I worried a lot too. I had never left the town. Before Alea came I didn’t know there was an outside world. I was ready to follow her anywhere, but where would that anywhere be? I knew Alea had a lot more to her than met the eye, and that she was hiding a lot of secrets. But I wouldn’t pry. Or wonder, not unless she told me.
I was ready to go. I had nothing to pack. I wasn’t sure where I was going to go. I wasn’t really sure of anything, actually. I was ready to go, but I was worried. Worried about what I had left. Worried about taking Ian. Worried about dragging him into it. Worried what it would mean for me. The outside world was awful. I had been hiding for as long as I could remember, and could hardly be trusted to tell the truth. And I was scared. So, so, scared. But I wouldn’t tell anyone, not unless something happened.
I was ready to go. I actually had packed months and months ago. I was ready to leave. I had Alice, my stuffed dog (named after one of my favorite book characters), and my books. I didn’t care where we were going, as long as it wasn’t here.
I was very, very excited, and I had no idea what to expect. But that just meant more excitement, and more things to learn. Alea had a lot of secrets, just like me, just like Ian, just like anyone, really. I was ready to go, unless someone stopped me.
I sighed. I was leaving the town for the first time. I walked slowly away from the town. I glanced at Alea. She seemed even more nervous than me, if that was possible. “So, where are we going?” I asked once we were out of earshot of the town.
“I don’t know.” Alea said, and that was that. We had never really talked. No one did unless necessary. It hadn’t been necessary until now.
Alea stayed to the shadows, skulking. She kept her eyes wide open, but her head down. She seemed wary and cautious, something I had never seen from her before.
I was wary. I knew the dangers that lurked out here, even if Ian obviously didn’t. I could keep him safe, right?
But he didn’t know the rules. No talking outside of your shelter. No getting close to someone. No entertainment. Along with other things, these were the main rules. The second rule scared me the most. It was one of my personal rules. I knew what would happen if you got too close to someone.
It had to of been getting close to curfew. I started looking for a rock wall to make a lean-to or even better, a cave. I saw a mountain in the distance. There was a cave near the bottom, and it was maybe a 15 minute run. However, I knew Ian would never be able to keep up, at least not without motivation.
I followed Alea and Ian closely. I didn’t know anything about this outside world, but if it was at all like the Middle Earth, I was in trouble.
I copied Alea, staying to the shadow and thick, leafy foliage. I saw Alea whisper something into Ian’s ear and then they both took off into run, and I scampered after them. For all I knew, there could be a wild animal, or worse!
They ran into a cave. I went into the cave also, hoping there would be a rock or something to hide behind. I wasn’t sure how Ian and Alea would react.
I was not happy. I didn’t know anything about this world, and Alea refused to tell me. She said ‘later’ was a better time. When would later be?!
I frowned. I could hear a bear snoring in the back of the cave. I wasn’t sure what time of year it was, or what species of bear. Both were important to knowing if this was a safe cave.
There was a rock. I was still scared, though. I was pretty sure we were still close enough to the town that they could march me back if they found out about me. I was hoping to avoid that.
Alea turned to me. “Stay here.” was all she said. Alea walked farther back in the cave, then turned around to look me in the eye. “And stay quiet. On your life.”
I stood there gaping like a fish. She was very serious. Alea was running farther into the cave, quieter than I would’ve thought possible. I was going to stay quiet. I would’ve been anyway, though. It was quiet. Eerily quiet.
Maybe I was a little quick in deciding to come with Alea. Maybe I should have thought a little longer and harder before deciding to come. After all, this world was obviously different than our little, secluded town.
I ran into the back of the cave. I was completely quiet. The snoring was very, very quiet, but it was blaring at me like a siren.
I was pretty sure Ian wasn’t able to hear it. He looked at me a little strange. But I had to make sure he --and anyone else in the cave-- would stay quiet. No matter what.
I saw a bear. It was ghost-like, and with every exhale the bear would be see-through. I knew this kind of bear. It was a spirit bear. We had to stay low, but we were probably fine.
I saw Alea run into the back of the cave. I saw Ian sit down, putting his head in his hands. I felt the same. I hadn’t thought very much before following those two.
I hid behind the rock, securing my hiding place. I clutched Alice, hoping everything would be okay. For him at least.
My mind was racing. I had to clear it, or I would make a dumb mistake. Like showing myself out. I was actually considering leaving. I knew I would never do it, though. I was way to set on leaving that horrible little town.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Alea had returned safe and sound. When she had warned me, I thought she was a goner. And if she was gone, I was definitely dead.
“Are you okay?” Alea asked me, whispering. I looked at her.
“Yeah. Yeah, are you?” I replied. She didn’t look good. I mean, she did, but she also seemed like she was terrified.
“Of course. Sorry for scaring you like that. I couldn’t risk you doing anything foolish. One wrong move and and-” she drew finger across her throat. I gulped. This wasn’t going great.
I had to stay strong, or at least pretend to be. I was worried about Ian, the bear, the probe droids, and on top of all that, I thought someone else had joined us in the cave while I had been checking the bear. I told Ian so. He didn’t believe me.
“Wouldn’t one of us had noticed someone?” he asked, glancing around.
“Did you notice that there was a bear in the cave?” I returned. I couldn’t have him getting cocky. Ian turned pale.
I mostly ignored him. “If someone is in here, come out. We won’t hurt you. I swear.”
A young girl --Cassie-- crawled out from behind a large rock. I gasped.
I was embarrassed. I couldn’t believe that I had already been caught. I stood up, trying to seem confidently. It didn’t work, and I supposed it was because I was terrified.
“Please don’t take me back to village!” I pleaded. “I can’t go back, it was awful!”
Alea studied me, then nodded. “She’s right. She can’t go back. None of us could, even if we wanted to.”
“What?” Ian exclaimed.
“Really?” I asked.
Alea nodded again. “Yes. Now, shut up. There are some rules, and right now the biggest one is be quiet.”