I barely slept that night. I thought I would, considering how tired I was, but as soon as my eyes closed my dreams took me back in time. I tossed and turned on the hard floors of the restaurant. For some reason I dreamt of my Grandmother. She had stayed at my house for a few months before she died. I was eight and I would watch as everybody focused on her. I felt so ignored and it felt unfair, even though I knew that she wasn’t well.
One day, I was sitting by myself on the porch when my Mother came out. She sat beside me and said, “What’s wrong honey?” I huffed and asked her, “Why is Grammy getting all the attention?” She smiled lightly and patted my back. “Because, dying stars shine the brightest.”
I jolted up and wiped the sweat from my forehead. That dream was getting to me and I couldn’t figure out why. I gingerly walked around the others and went to the bathroom. I sat on the cool tile and tried to calm down. I told myself that it was just the thought of my family, that maybe seeing them in a dream and waking up where I was had got me depressed.
As I walked back into the main room though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was something more. The pale blue sky was starting to peek through the windows and I decided to stay awake since it was probably sometime in the early morning. I jumped as the floor creaked behind me. But it was just Ali. I turned around and saw her propping herself up against the wall groggily.
“How are you feeling?” I asked as I sat kneeled down beside her. “Thirsty.” She smiled, avoiding having to talk about everything else she was feeling. I took a water bottle from the kitchen and gave it to her. She drank gratefully. I waited until she was done to talk again. Before I could, a moan came from a few feet away and I saw that the woman had woken up. It felt strange not knowing her name, but at the same time I knew I had no use for it. Especially if she was going to kick us out any minute.
She scratched her head and rubbed her eyes and stretched before eventually making her way over to Ali and me. She knelt directly opposite of Ali. “Will you show me?” Her voice was so soft, not like when we first saw her. Ali lifter her shirt and the woman inspected the bandages carefully. “It isn’t bleeding too badly,” She said. “But you’ll have to get going soon if you want to find a hospital.” She added.
Peter yawned and sprung up. “Can’t we stay here until the rescue teams come?” Ali asked. I nodded along with her. Peter shook his head, “We’re on the outskirts of the valley. This is one of the last places they’ll come. You need to get to one of the more populated areas; you’ll have better chances there.” I glanced over at Ali, who trying to keep her composure.
“It should only take a few hours to bump into a rescue boat.” The woman said handing us pre-made sandwiches. We ate slowly, knowing that when we were done we would have to leave. When we were done I helped Ali stand up and they all waved goodbye, smiling. I’ll never know what to think of the woman and Peter and the waitresses. It was if they all wanted to help but they didn’t want to do it themselves.
“Just keep moving forward.” Peter called down after us.
I lead Ali down the stairs and cringed as I lowered myself down into the water. It hadn’t gone down an inch. That wasn’t the worst part. After that we had to go outside, where the water was at our shoulders. Ali scrunched her nose up. “It smells worse than yesterday.”
“I guess everything’s had time to settle.” I agreed, and we waded through the now brown waters, Ali keeping a firm holds on the back of my shirt. I swatted in front of me in the water, afraid of bumping into who knows what. I stopped suddenly as I saw something brightly coloured in the distance “What is it?” Ali asked. I walked slowly closer and saw what I was hoping so badly wasn’t really there. A van painted with bright flowers was sitting in the water, only a few inches off the top showing.
There was only one van like this. “My best friend’s Mom runs a flower delivery service.” I explained. I didn’t need to say anything else. Ali was smart enough to connect the dots. I braced myself for a pessimistic comment from Ali, but she said nothing. Instead she wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. It didn’t seem like she was doing it just because she didn’t know what to say. Even though she was silent, I felt more comforted than if she had said anything.
When she finally let go, I stared at the van. Part of me wanted to dive under the water and look through the windows. But I kne that what I would find down there could haunt me forever. I decided to leave it a mystery. Hopefully Louis Mother had gotten out of the car in time.
Alice grabbed my hand and took the lead. Just like Peter had said, we kept moving forward. Forward might have been North, South, East or West but at least we were moving.
The sun started to fade away and streaks of pink lined the sky. We had officially spent the entire day wading through the water, and I was really feeling it. I knew Ali was too. She was lagging behind. My stomach grumbled and I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach as I looked around and n0thing was there.
I noticed Ali’s hand wasn’t gripped on the back of my shirt anymore and I turned around to check on her. My heart dropped as I saw that she wasn’t there.
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