My backpack was rather empty. I only packed whatever wouldn’t be a burden to the Sands. I took small amounts of non-perishables (not enough for any significant scarcity) and whatever money was in my wallet. I also brought along a map of the country so I did not get lost, and a watch to keep track of rationing.
When Terminus Duscan struck, I made sure to stealthily escape from our bedroom while Wyatt was fast asleep. Luckily, Wyatt snored vehemently; he would never notice any unusual sound. All I had to worry about was the slight chance Wyatt woke himself up with his snoring. Which, lucky for me, he did not.
The hall was eerie and silent, only not as dark as my dream. It was certainly twilight, which comforted me. I will be leaving under clear skies this time, but this time, people will miss me terribly.
I felt my stomach twist when I walked by Mrs. Sands’ bedroom. She left the door open for some reason, like she knew I would not return. Maybe she wanted me to see her face one more time before I left. It was a golden opportunity, I thought.
I peeked into her bedroom, my head nestled between the doorway. I stared at her for a few moments to judge if she was awake. She was asleep, and that fact relieved me.
“Thank you,” I whispered. “Thank you...for everything.”
The woman that arranged to take me in when my parents disappeared, and my best friend’s grandmother too. I couldn’t ask for anything more. She gave up the last of her finances to support me, something that could have easily been salvaged for Wyatt alone. There was only one way to thank her hospitality: genuine gratitude.
And it was, in fact, genuine.
I left out of the back door, just because I always had trouble locking the front door, and I wouldn’t want a Dweller getting inside and causing problems. It didn’t matter to me when they find out I left; Wyatt will wake up to an empty bed anyways, so there was no point in being discrete.
Before I would leave Old Tenebris, I wanted to stop by a certain place. It was on the way out of the city, towards the eastern outskirts. When I got there, I felt a chill roll down my spine, and that combined with my knotted stomach made me queasy. Watching those rows of tombstones line the hill was disturbing.
The graveyard was expansive, if only just an acre. It seemed like an eternity to finally find the graves of my parents. And there they were, ten rows from the entrance: empty memorials of my parents. There was no need to dig them up; I knew both coffins were only filled with the pieces of my heart, stolen from me during the storm.
A decade did not seem like a decade anymore. Those ten years rushed from my longevity, fled from my memories. It was like none of it ever happened, because what mattered was that tragic day, and what happened next.
For the sake of my sanity, I pulled my head out of the gutter of the past and pressed forward, away from the graveyard, away from the Sands, away from Old Tenebris.
Mom, Dad, you could not keep your promise, but I am prepared to keep one for you: I will bring you home, no matter what.