It’s been a long time, diary. Sorry for the information overload. It took twelve whole sheets just to write everything down, I know, but I’d forgotten how small the pages were in my hands. My head aches just like my wrists do. All I want to do is curl up into a ball on my bed and take a nap for the next few years until the dizziness passes.
I’ve gotten so out of sync with this planet.
Mom’s shirt is in the wash. When we touched down in Limberstein headquarters, someone must have phoned ahead to tell my parents, because Mom and even absent Dad were there to greet me at the front doors of the hangar. And I know I shouldn’t have done this, especially since Sully was watching and unsteady on her feet and ready to cut the first person who poked fun at her- but I saw Mom’s face and her eyes lit up with recognition and I collapsed crying onto her shoulder. I was a little kid again, only six or seven with a scraped knee from rollerskating and tripping on the driveway. I was nine and had fallen on my bike and half-landed in the local marsh and gotten my favorite shirt full of moss. I was twelve and forced to delete a prized blog because it was making some of the local adults upset. And yet all the little tears I cried on all those occasions combined couldn’t dare to compare to the flood that emptied itself onto Mom’s shoulder in the entryway of Limberstein’s hangar.
“Liv’s dead,” I choked in between sobs. “Liv’s dead and it’s all my fault-”
“Shh.” Mom patted my back, aware that there were people watching the both of us, watching Sully regain her balance, watching Dad shuffle uneasily towards the double glass doors. “It’s gonna be okay, Eponine. Everything’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.”
“I could’ve saved her!” I wailed.
“It’s okay. There’ll be all the time in the world later to reflect on whatever it is. For now, I’m so glad you’re back, Eponine. I’m so glad I can hold my baby son in my arms again.”
My cheeks burned with embarrassment. I pulled away from Mom and slunk through the double glass doors, Sully following us out.
And then I immediately doubled over and puked onto the pavement.
I grimaced as my face flushed. The sun was too bright out, overbearing like a soccer mom trying to rush pizza rolls in the oven for her kids who needed to leave in fifteen minutes when the rolls needed twenty. My chest heaved, breath laborious. Sully helped me up, I think. Everything was too blurry to see. I think someone who worked there said they were going to clean it up. It took everything I had to blubber out an apology.
I gingerly opened the car door and slid in and unpinned the cape from my Providence uniform, which was starting to show sweat stains, and threw it into the third row seats behind me. I’d put it on so carefully after the effortless landing, wanting to make a good impression for whoever’d be waiting for us on the other side. But there wasn’t a rich CEO or a squad of men offering to take us under their wings.
My parents came instead.
My parents still came. They didn’t forget me. They didn’t pretend I was dead in a freak accident just to make themselves feel better.
I leaned back in my seat, stifling a moan as Sully slammed the door shut and slid into the seat beside me. She kept her distance. I don’t blame her.
“So who’s the lovely girl in the back?” my mom crooned as Dad started up the car and began to drive away.
“I’m Sully,” she answered. “Eponine’s friend. I helped him escape.”
I tipped my head to look out the window. My tired and weary eyes followed the clouds as they passed by, skipped along the trees flashing by on both sides of the road once we got onto the highway. Heavestone was about an hour away, and Sully’s help was a massive understatement.
“Do you have a family-”
Sully sucked in a breath. “No. I don’t. I was under the assumption that I could stay with you guys? You know, since Eponine- I mean-” She crossed her arms. “I suppose whoever runs Limberstein could probably find a place in their facility for me to stay, since I’ll be traveling back and forth from Heavestone almost daily…”
The car went quiet then. I think, eventually, Mom said she could find a family in Heavestone that would be willing to shelter her for the time being. She couldn’t promise anything permanent. Dad didn’t seem too happy about that, though. I think he wanted a daughter, even if she was a Miralayan.
I guess I failed him in that regard.
I don’t know why I expected there to be police tape in my room. Heavestone has something like a police force, but since we’re all from Miralay and we’re all trying to hide, there’s a general consensus that we’re not going to hurt each other- I wish other communities had that. Heavestone’s police don’t have the same kind of tools that other cities have. No forensics team was ever going to come into my room and quarantine everything off and take evidence to examine. Everything was just the way I’d left it the night Liv barged in and-
A few strands of her hair were left on my bed. Long and red with a slight wave to them. Nobody’s hair is naturally that shade of red. And there was still the faintest impression of her body on my carpet.
That’s all there was left of Living Wasteland.
And Mr. Greenland. Torn apart emotionally under the impression that his daughter would die before he would. None of us had the heart to tell him that his fears had already come true.
Actually, there’s one thing that’s different in my room. Dad must have put up white shelves on the far wall. I did some rearranging of things once I’d taken a ten-minute shower to wash off as many traces of Miralay’s sterile environment as possible- I almost slipped in the shower from vertigo- and dressed myself in something considerably more Earthen. An old but soft T-shirt from camp several years ago and a faded pair of jeans. The shelves now hold some drying doodads I made for camp to swap with other people and a few small plastic baskets of miscellaneous toys I haven’t the heart to ask Mom to put into storage.
It’s alright. I have at least sixty more years to live. The oldest any Miralayan ever got in Heavestone was about a hundred and twelve, and he only died because of a carbon monoxide leak while he was sleeping. Usually people here drop off at ninety. The average life span in the USA is somewhere around eighty.
That doesn’t make much sense. Nothing makes much sense anymore. But it’s reality.