[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
When the darkness lifted, I was in bed, bundled in blankets, listening to the sound of distant crickets and the wind in the trees. Every inch of me hurt—hurt more than I wanted to countenance, but it was something I’d just have to deal with one way or another. Near as I could tell, night had fallen, but it was hard to know whether or not I was alone without moving.
I stared at the ceiling for a few seconds, breathing slowly and as deeply as I dared.
There was a rustling sound at the far end of the room. I closed my eyes, knowing it had to be one of my friends, stifling the urge to sigh. Anne’s voice came quietly.
“Are you awake?”
“No,” I lied. “I’m asleep. You’re hallucinating. Better get that checked.”
“You’re not funny,” she said, her footsteps crossing the room until she was standing at my bedside. “You scared the shit out of Tory.”
“He shouldn’t have chased me,” I said, not looking at her. “I’d have been fine if he’d just left well enough alone. I’d have made it back to bed without passing out.” I almost said something about popping stitches and bandages, but I held my tongue. She was upset enough already. I didn’t need to make it any worse.
“Was that the goal?”
“Pretty much.” I opened my eyes and winced slightly—the lamp she held in one hand was almost too bright, sending an ache lancing straight back through my skull. “It’s been a long day, Anne. Can’t I just sleep?”
“I just wanted to be sure you’re okay,” she said softly. “Tory went to talk to Mom and Uncle Matt. He’s not going to like what they tell him, is he?”
I swallowed hard. “I don’t know, Anne,” I said. “I don’t know because I don’t know what they’re going to tell him, but whatever they do tell him, he’s got to sort out for himself.”
“It’s never been that way for us, has it?”
“Things are changing,” I said, closing my eyes again. “We’ll just have to adapt.”
“Adapt,” she echoed softly, almost bitterly. I knew she shook her head without looking.
“Yeah,” I said, already fading back into sleep. “We’ll figure it out. All of us, in our own ways. Things are changing. You’ll see. We’ll all see.”