“What do I need to do?” I ask.
“We need to get you out of here. You should be somewhere safe.”
“I can’t go home.”
“That’s right. I’m—”
“Sorry,” I finish. “Yeah, I got that.”
He smiles weakly. “I honestly wish there were more I could do. I wish I could fix this situation somehow. It’s all a big mess. We’re in over our heads.” He chews the inside of his cheek. “You have no business being a part of this. I wish it hadn't happened.”
“That makes two of us,” I say.
All my life, I've wished for some excitement. What’s it gotten me? Two dead parents, a dead brother, and possibly my own destruction. On top of that, I’m growing up in a society that will never accept me. I’ll never be able to achieve my full potential—all because of my eye color. It’s insane.
Julian sizes me up. “I’d hug you if I thought you’d let me.”
I want to let him, but I can’t. It feels wrong. I hope he understands.
“What are we going to do?” I ask.
“Malcolm wants to make sure you’re safe,” he says.
“And you do, too.”
He exhales. “And I do, too.”
We settle into silence. He sits down beside me on the bed. Again, I catch a whiff of mint. I wonder whether it’s his cologne or something else.
“You and Malcolm can come stay with me. As far as I know, Silver doesn't think I’m involved.”
Of course, that makes sense. Julian is a government official, after all, and he’s also at the top of society. Why would someone with that much power want to beat the system? His disguise is perfect.
I can only see one flaw.
“What if someone sees Malcolm and me?” I ask. “We both have brown eyes. There’s no way we’d be safe in your part of town if word got out that we were staying with you. Come to think of it, you probably wouldn't be safe either.” More than that, he’d essentially be raising Silver’s suspicions—giving himself away. “I don’t think we should risk it.”
“We don’t have much of a choice,” he replies. “Don’t worry about me, Damita. I've lived a privileged life. Society has let me get away with so much—it’s time I made a difference in the world. So what if I put my life on the line? We've all got to die sometime, right?”
The last part stings, and I can tell from the shock on his face that he wishes he hadn't said it. “Oh, God. I’m so sorry.”
“Please don’t,” I say.
He gets up from the bed, goes over to the door, and leans against the frame. “We’ll be waiting for you next door. Just come when you’re ready, whenever that is.”
Without another word, he lets himself out. I get up and lock the door behind him, wondering if I’ll ever be ready.
I flop down on the bed, roll onto my stomach, bury my face in the pillow, and scream.
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In @brianawrites' MUD EYES, Damita must find somewhere to hide. If not, she'll be discovered by her brother's killer. (Click to tweet)
"All my life, I've wished for some excitement. What's it gotten me?" - MUD EYES by @brianawrites. (Click to tweet)