Epilogue: Cynara

It didn’t hit her until Howard had left for the plane home.

They all had plane tickets.  Round trip, arranged by their parents back when they came here.

She hadn’t come by airplane.  The closest her father had come to being involved in her coming here was trying to keep her away from this place — something she ought to thank him for at some point.

Some students had headed out to the village area; she wandered out there to see what was going on, only to see Wyatt getting into a car.

Cars, of course.  Not everyone would fly.  She looked around.

None of the cars looked like something her father would drive, but still she wandered towards each one until the person inside revealed themselves to be someone else, until someone else got in the car.

She didn’t want to try to Find him.  He was running late, probably.  That made sense, just running behind.  He did that.

She went to the Store and bought the biggest backpack they sold — a camping bag.  It seemed like a strange thing to have there; it was stranger for being the only one on the rack. Who needed a camping bag when they were stuck in an underground bunker?

Well, she did.  She bought some supplies from the grocery section, a few more changes of clothes that didn’t look or smell anything like Dysmas, and a simple gold necklace with a heart on it.

Wear things that people can remember, that are easy to shed.   That had been one of her father’s lessons.  Make sure they remember the lime green flannel shirt and not your face.

She couldn’t fit everything in her trunks into the bag, so she did a quick triage.  With luck, the trunks would still be here when she got back.  If not, she had everything she absolutely needed with her.

The resultant backpack was heavy but not unbearable.  She headed out the back door to the Village when nobody was paying attention and walked up to one of the cars.  

The parent inside was helping move someone’s — not Dysmas, not Dysmas —  Carter’s accumulated belongings into the back of their SUV.  “Hey.”  Cya tried an innocent smile.  “Do you think you could drop me off at the airport?  It’s just that I missed Luke driving there…”

“Cya, right?”  Carter popped his head out of the back of the SUV.

“Yes?”  She knew him.  He was Lydia’s boyfriend and Aviv’s friend.  But how did he know her?  The upperclassmen didn’t seem to pay any attention to the first-year students if they weren’t Keeping them.

“Leo — uh.  Leo talked about you when he was living with us.”  He looked apologetic.  She could understand why.

She smiled crookedly.  “I think he did that a lot.”

“Come on in.  Mom, we can help Cya here, right? The airport isn’t too far out of our way or anything.”

“Of course.  Hop on in — is that all you have?  Tch, are you sure that’s enough?”

“Oh, yeah.  I’m going camping with my dad.”  It wasn’t quite the truth, and she felt a little bad about it, but she was hoping to go camping with her dad.

“Oh, isn’t that nice.  Seems like a good way to spend the summer — far away from here.  Carter, is that everything?”

“This week.  Lydia and I have to — well, we’ve got to talk about that.”  He shrugged a bit.  “She said to call her in a few days.”

“I hope you two can work it out.  Ah, we can talk about that later.  Come on, dear.”

Cya hopped up obediently in the back seat.  “Thank you, ma’am.”

“Maria, dear, it’s just Maria.  Now, let’s get on the road before Carter realizes that he forgot something else.”

“Mom—” Carter protested.  Cya found herself smiling.  They worked. Even after Carter had been in Addergoole for four years, he and his mother worked.

She let small talk and school gossip, discussions of Carter’s child with Lydia and speculation about his classmates, all of it wash over her while she watched the road.  This, this is where they’d gotten to when they ran.  If they had to do it again, they’d go down that side road and muddle their trail.  And then there.  The airport was too obvious…

Oh!  She smiled at Maria as she the SUV pulled to a stop by the front gate.  “Thanks.  Safe driving home.”

“And you have a good summer, Cya.  It was nice to meet you.”

She waited until the SUV was out of sight; she waited until when she reached for the car with her power, it was nearly at the edge of her comfortable range.

Then she turned away from the airport and started walking.  She didn’t actually know where she was going, but she figured if she headed for a safe place to sleep, she had a decent chance of finding something.  And she was pretty sure that, even if she couldn’t find her way back to school in the fall, Luke would be able to track her down.

The sun was warm on her face and the air smelled better than anything she’d breathed in a long time.  She wished she had Howard and Leo and Zita with her, but it was going to be a nice summer anyway.

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