I spent my days as a bookseller on the late shift now. Agrona hadn't let up with her antics, and I needed a job that wouldn't care if I worked with hollow eyes and bruising, because everyone was already dreaming of their beds and their family while they paid. They didn't notice the shell of the girl left behind, because they passed everything off as tiredness, as shadows of the light.
I was stacking gilted books on the Classics section, daydreaming I could slip inside and live someone else's life, become a heroine of my own design, when the shelf collapsed, a screw hitting the floor. I sat among the scattered books, not even attempting to pick them up, and leant my head back against the ridge of the broken shelf. My eyes fluttered shut, and I slept for the first time in two days, my head lolling forward onto my hand. A back handed slap across the face awoke me, her eyes boring into mine.
"Agrona, please," I said, getting up and picking up books. Sometimes, if I kept working, she drifted away, flicking at light switches as she went. I bore her, you see. I bore her with how little I care about her. The only person she could hold to ransom against me was safely ensconced far, far away, I'd imagine. His parents were going mad, papering the town with his face to catch me wherever I went. But she stayed, her eyes holding an expression I'd never seen before; pity. "He's safe, you know. Safe where he can make a new life." "His family would disagree. They want him back." They'd sold the house I'd hidden in, eaten in, to fund the search, but now they had given up, living in a cottage on the outskirts of the town, only emerging to touch up the layer of posters about and to shop for the little food they ate anymore, from the poky market across the street from the bookshop I worked in.