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Sarah felt as though she was tumbling down through empty space. If only I had a gown to puff up like Alice in...

Her thought was interrupted as her body twitched bringing her into full awareness of her surroundings. Willow branches waved above her and she could feel Jason beside her. At least she hadn’t thrown up this time, although being outside it wouldn’t have mattered much. As long as she missed those that lay around her. Only, Sarah noted, the tree was now deserted, except for Jason and her.

“Jay?” she whispered looking over at him.

He shifted slightly in his sleep. Laying a hand upon his shoulder, Sarah gazed at his prone form. How long would it take him to heal, she wondered. Then again, how long had it taken her to heal? Sarah watched Jason breathe, comforted by the fact that he was clearly no longer dying.


Sarah quickly pulled back her hand and rolled to face the voice. It was the woman in white, who had helped her over the fence to see Jay.

“Yes,” Sarah’s stomach growled loudly and she grinned slightly, “and apparently hungry.”

“That’s to be expected. You have slept for a full day.”

“A full day?” Sarah’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Quite soundly,” the woman stated. She held out her hand and helped Sarah to stand. “I am Moyther Esther from Lakeville, I understand you have many names, like Lord Phoenix.” The woman began to escort Sarah towards the ramshackle barracks. “What name do you go by here?”

“Hopeful Smith,” Sarah responded wondering how many names Jay had.

She began to mentally count them off; his given name, his scout name, and she hadn’t heard him called Lord Phoenix before, so that was at least three. Four if she counted her own nickname for him.

“Well Hopeful Smith, why don’t you have some breakfast. I do believe there should be some left.” Moyther Esther helped Sarah over the fence again. “The kitchen seems to be the only place that wasn’t ruined,” Moyther Esther continued conversationally.

Sarah could see how true that was. The Classrooms had been demolished, though they looked as though it had been done on purpose. Probably to make that barricade Jay had mentioned. Looking around, Sarah could see the remnants of that barricade along with a lot more people than she expected. Some were Scouts and Hopefuls, others weren’t.

“Goodwoman Rebecca?” Moyther Esther called through the open kitchen door.

“Yes Moyther Esther?” the lass that Reed liked appeared in the door.

“Would you please see if there is some food for Hopeful Smith?”

“Of course,” Rebecca nodded. “We’re just clearing the leftovers from breakfast, come on in Hopeful.”

Moyther Esther let Sarah go as she moved into the kitchen. “I will be back to check on Hopeful Smith in a little while.”

Sarah stumbled slightly and took hold of the doorframe as things spun slightly.

“Are you alright?” Rebecca looked at her concerned. “You were the one next to Sergeant Phoenix under the Willow weren’t you?”

“Yeah.” Sarah struggled to get the world back in focus. “I’m just a little famished that’s all.”

“Well there’s a stool over there by the left table. Why don’t you sit and rest while I see if we can’t salvage some food for you.”

“That would be awesome.”

Sarah made her way cautiously to the table as Rebecca disappeared into the mess hall. Voices echoed though the open door and it wasn’t long before she held it open for someone laden with a heavy tray.

“Smith!” Reed exclaimed as he sat the platter before her.

“Hey Reed,” Sarah grinned.

Reed started at Sarah as she started heaping food on the plate Rebecca set down before her. He looked astonished.

Rebecca laughed. “Are you going to watch him eat or are you going to make yourself useful?”

“I just can’t believe Smith is alive that’s all.” Reed shook his head and looked to Rebecca. “So how can I make myself useful?”

“Well I need water to wash dishes.” Rebecca suggested slyly. “Or, you could finish bringing in the trays."

“And get commandeered to the work teams?” Reed smiled at Rebecca and winked. “I’ll start fetching the water.”

“Are you going to help her wash dishes too?" Sarah asked with a chuckle, wondering how far Reed would take his flirtation.

Reed shot her a startled look, to which Sarah responded with a wink. Puzzled, Reed shouldered the yoke and two buckets. Rebecca laughed as he headed out the door.

“I don’t think,” she glanced to Sarah, “that I’ve ever had a Hopeful help wash the dishes before.”

“Really?” Sarah asked and then chuckled. “No I suppose not, seems strange to me, then again I’m not from here.”

“Oh.” Rebecca did a double take of Sarah before she went back to her work.

The End

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