Cast out in the cold rain, the two of us stumble along in alleys and ditches for what seems like hours, tripping over cast out trash and peeking through windows to see some of our friends eating dinner with their families.
We don't stop until we find a mysteriously small, octagonal concrete tunnel. Looking cautiously inside, Jaedan decides to crawl inside to get away from the torrents of rain that are soaking us to the skin, and I follow suit. My body slumps to the floor from exhaustion and I wring my hair out.
My wavy black hair fell down my left shoulder with slight curls, I could say I was envious of the other girls in my coterie with naturally straight hair. At least their's wasn’t so hard to tame like my own.
After several minutes, I wander around to examine my surroundings.
The tunnel’s path turns abruptly to the right and stops. The tunnel is short, and on the last few feet of the concrete shelter sit train tracks made out of shining, clear glass that continue on into a space that is brightly lit with a soft whitish gold light. There’s also a glass platform with slightly curved sides on the tracks. It is about two and a half feet in length and it sits there, blinking at us with tiny reflections of the steady light coming from the space beyond.
I squat down, and a numbing feeling spreads through me, reaching up from the cold concrete on which I crouch.
I sit quiescently and stare at the interesting sight before me and realize that I am scared. A waterfall of emotions crash through my brain, muddling my thoughts. My knife sheath digs into my side.
When I wearily turn my head to the wall, brown eyes set in delicate features stare back at me from a cracked piece of mirror glass embedded in the concrete.
Jaedan keeps his distance from my huddled form with an arrogantly disdainful look on his face. We were from the same coterie, but we have ignored each other for all of our lives. Now, we had unspokenly decided, was not the time to become friends. Instead, I wanted to leave Jaedan to his own fate and go off by myself. Besides, he wouldn’t care. I was positive that Jaedan felt the same way.
Suddenly, Jaedan glares at me and asks, "What are you going to do? You can't just sit there and sleep!"
Although I am irritated, I look at him with a calm, collected expression and say, "Nothing. We need rest. We need to find food. Water is plentiful because of the rain. Shelter is right above our heads. Also, there must be a way to conceal ourselves from patrollers."
Jaedan scowls and replies, "Whatever, I don't want do what you're suggesting. There might be food out there. And why hide from patrollers or Karnii when you can run away instead? Shelter is useless! We are already as wet as a rug left in the rain. Oh yeah, and there’s no ‘we’, got that? You stay here and I'll go, we'll see if I come out alive."
He slowly advances toward the platform. Only by the time he lays his upper body on it and gives the platform a small shove forward do I decide to say, “You are being foolish to go with no idea where it leads to. Especially since you have shelter where you are. This foolish ride will probably bring you to your death! Anyways, I wish you well and hope that your ride will be fast.”
For some reason, it seems as if these simple sentences kindled a spark of warmth deep inside Jaedan, because he stops the platform and answers instead of simply ignoring my words as I assumed he would have. “Why would you hope my ride will be fast?”
“Oh, because . . . . because. . . .” I pause. “I don’t know why. I just said it. It’s weird. I guess it was just an impulse. Forget that I said anything.”
He sighs slowly, then says “You know, it doesn't matter if I die. My banishment is a big shame to my reputation. Besides, banishment is just a nicer way of executing an execution for us," he says, his usual contempt back.This was followed by an uncomfortable silence that neither of us knew how to break.
After what feels like a long period of quiet, Jaedan pushes off again and rides to the end of the tunnel. A tingling feeling crawls up my spine. Something is wrong.
Slightly nervous, I pick myself up from the corner and follow cautiously behind. Jaedan’s curly brown head disappears into the light while I stand frozen and dazzled by what my eyes are presenting to me.