May 19, 2019 2:38 PM
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Meanwhile, Jamie gives up on trying to sleep anytime soon and taps Val on the shoulder to see if he’s awake.

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"Hi. What's up?"

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“I keep thinking about what it would be like to be a king.” She doesn’t sound like she thinks it would be a great experience.

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"It doesn't sound like much fun. Why?"

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“It doesn’t, but I’m wondering if I could handle it. Or anything else Dama’s been through.”

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"I... guess you could if she's basically you. Maybe you'd have to be older, I don't know."

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“She was like a year older than me when they lost the war.”

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"Not much older."

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“I just want to be strong enough to protect my people, but I’ve never had a lot of people. She’s always had the whole country. I don’t know. It’s stupid. I’m not jealous, exactly, I just... I think she’s better at being me.”

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"Maybe you could get more people. If you want them."

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“Not if I can’t keep them safe. I’m not even sure I can keep you guys safe.”

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"Maybe we should work on being easier to keep safe. What are you worried about?"

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“I guess I’m worried about you being taken away from me even though I don’t think that’s going to happen here.”

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"Taken away how?"

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She shrugs. “The shit that happened back in the system. You probably don’t want to know.”

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"Why don't I want to know?"

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“Cause it sucked, a lot, and you shouldn’t have to think about it.”

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"Why shouldn't I have to think about it?"

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“It’s not like there’s anything we can do about it now.”

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"If you don't want to talk about it that's your business but I avoided it by lying about my age and I want to know if that was the right choice."

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“Yes. One hundred percent. I’m glad you did.”

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"I would have died if not for you, even if I hadn't gotten kidnapped."

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“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

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"I lost my job and then got evicted and then I... felt so bad about myself I couldn't try to fix it when the first few things I tried didn't work."

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“I was one of the lucky ones. A lot of people in the system were there because they weren’t what their parents wanted, and it was worse for them. I mostly just got ignored a lot and that was bad enough, but then I caught someone’s attention and I started being in trouble all the time, for anything and everything. So I started making trouble cause I was going to pay for it whether I did or not. It kept the focus off the other kids I lived with, but I don’t even know if that was a good idea, maybe if the adults had interacted with them more they’d have realized how brilliant so many of these kids were. Or maybe they wouldn’t have. I do know that they didn’t listen to the kids who tried to come forward about things that were done to them, and didn’t believe the ones they did listen to. They only listened to me because I had the bruises to show for it, and half of them told me I deserved it and the other half told me I’d gotten in a fight and made up a story. It’s a place that destroys people. You wouldn’t have done any better there.”

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