Brida's legs were unused to walking for long distances, so by the time she reached the entrance to the asylum and thereby completed her trip around the place's borders, she was breathing rather heavily.

"Shale's going to be getting a cross word or two from me," Brida muttered, resting momentarily and rubbing her sore calves. Her task at the asylum was, for the time being, finished. Anyone who had not escaped the building would have been killed. Still, Brida knew that if Shale hadn't arrived at the meetingplace, she would go back to the asylum to search for her friend, once night had fallen and she could get around more easily without being seen. Until then, she would have to wait it out.

Forcing herself to walk back to the meetingplace, Brida tried to cut short any hope that rose in her spirit. What if she hoped to find Shale, and then there was no one at the tree? Her emotions would crumble again. Perhaps, she would be angry with herself, and something else would catch fire. Brida silently cursed her wretched abilities and dragged her feet along the grassy slope.

Shale would be there. Waiting. Smiling. Teasing, "What took you so long?" That was all there was to it; Shale would be there. There could be no other possible outcome.

Steps quickened at the thought of Shale waiting for her, Brida gritted her teeth and continued her trail. And when she reached the place where Shale would be waiting...

Nothing. No one. Shale wasn't there.

Exhausted, Brida collapsed against the tree. Finally, she hugged her knees to her chest and wept. She didn't know how to properly deal with her anguish, so she dug her fingernails into her scalp, until it matched the red tone of her hair. Disturbed by the feel of blood on her fingertips, Brida let out a small cry and began to wipe her hands on her clothes. The bloodstains would not wash out from under her nails. Still weeping, Brida gave up and rubbed at her eyes with the heels of her hands.

"You were supposed to meet me here, Shale!" Brida whispered, beating the back of her  head against the tree and breathing in choppy intervals. "You were supposed to be here! What am  I supposed to do?" She ceased her tantrum and curled up into a tight ball, covering her face with her hands and bemoaning her fate. She didn't know of any other course of action  to take. What else was she supposed to do?

The End

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