[This post is from Kailey Astoris’s point of view.]
Clutching a book against her chest, Kailey ducked through the gates and headed for the orchards beyond them. They still stood open, which meant either Lin was wrong about whatever decision her father was making about their safety or the decision hadn’t been made—or communicated—yet. She chewed hard on her lower lip, staring at the grass as she walked up the short hill toward the spot where gnarled fruit trees grew, some of them already edging closer and closer to their season, others with their season already gone.
What do we do if he’s right and Dad tells us that we have to stay inside the walls? We’ll go crazy, I just know it. She had to force herself to stop chewing her lip, shivering slightly as she came to the edge of the orchard. It was quiet except for the birds in the trees and the sound of wind through the branches—though she could easily tell that the wind was picking up, probably a precursor to a storm that was still well off. She resolved that she wouldn’t go back unless it began to rain hard, though, or if someone came out to get her.
Let them find me and tell me the bad news first. Until then, I’m just going to pretend.
It was easier that way, made her heart ache less. She didn’t really want things to change, at least not that much.
She walked on, along the path through the orchard, picking her way through fallen fruit and the roots of the trees, climbing higher on the hill until she came to her favorite tree. It was one of the oldest in the orchard, planted around the time she was born—an apple tree that seemed somehow sturdier than most. She took off her shoes and left them among the roots—it was too hard to stay in the tree with them on. Carefully, silently, book tucked under one arm, she climbed up into its branches to the saddle among them where she liked to sit. She leaned against the trunk, settling the book against her thighs, letting one leg dangle. She could smell the faint scent of rain in the distance, almost lost under the scent of the trees.
Just let me have a little more time out here before the worst happens. Just a little bit more. Please.