Standing under a tree, Kitty contemplated the situation. Five minutes ago, she had silently left, the pub, tears streaming down her face, making certain that no one noticed her.
It was raining.
Drip, drip. Her poor choice in trees meant that she was standing under a dripping one, which was much worse than one with few branches. Ten minutes after a rain storm began, some trees
would collect water in their leaves, letting it roll off in fat, cold drops. She flinched as another one hit the top of her head.
This wasn't a light rain. In the two blocks it was from the pub to the park, Kitty had gotten fully soaked, her hair hanging down in limp strands, her skirt getting caught around her knees,
hanging straight down, adding to the lost look of her. She didn't have the Coach bag that she stole from the mall last year, didn't even have a book. In her left hand she held a metal tin of
It was these pencils that had guaranteed that someone would find her, once they put two and two together. Kitty was missing. More importantly, Ashling's pencils were missing. Oh, dear, Kitty must
have taken Ashling's pencils. She ran the scene through her head, adding her own sarcastic narration, exaggerating everything, making it seem foolish, almost childish, as they panicked about the
In her mind, nobody cared about Kitty.
She opened the case, turning it upside-down, letting each pencil fall into the mud with a reassuring plop. 2B, B, F, HB, 2H. She threw the case down after the pencils, splattering mud onto the
bottom of her skirt, her legs, and her bare feet. She had left her shoes inside.
She turned and walked away from the pencils, deciding that she'd stay dryer if she found a piece of sky to stand under, where she wouldn't get dripped on by the trees.
She didn't entirely remember why she was so angry at Ashling anymore. Standing in the rain and thinking the situation through, she mused, tended to take the wind out of any argument's sails. She
was really very cold by now.
She sighed again. There was one good thing to say about this. Standing in cold rain, having left her jacket and her shoes inside, she was getting as close to a shower as she'd had in weeks. No
soap, but it was better than nothing. She rubbed her arms, trying to regain some feeling in them, watching in mild fascination as the dirt and blood that covered everyone melted off.
She looked up, letting the rain fall on her face, rubbing it, running her fingers through her sodden hair, then holding them up to the sky, watching as the dirt melted off of them.
"Catherine Elaine Harper, what on earth?"
She turned around, bowing her head, looking much less like Kitty and more like a dog that expected to be hit on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, though in this weather the newspaper would
disintegrate on impact.
"Your pencils are over there." She pointed.
"Hell with the pencils. Why are you standing out here in the freezing rain?"
"Why are you?"
"Because I'm yelling at you for scaring everyone in the pub half to death!"
Kitty's voice had risen to a scream. She still didn't remember why she was angry, but just now that didn't really matter. "And I'm yelling at you for yelling at me and asking you questions to
make you as angry at me as I am at you!"
Ashling's voice dropped to a half-whisper. "Why are you angry at me?" She was genuinely concerned.
"I don't know!" Kitty yelled. "And that's what's making me so angry!"
"Kitty, how old are you?"
"I'll tell you when you tell me."
"What year is it?"
"Hell if I know. Second Year, I think."
"If I don't know the year, what makes you think that I'd know what month is it?"
"When was the last time they airlifted in supply crates?"
"About..." Ashling began using her fingers to count, "...Two months ago."
"Well, that'd be Halloween, so then I'm probably 13."
Ashling stepped over to Kitty's side, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Then it's hormones, nothing more."
"Well, you're a nurse, make them go away."
"Come back to the pub. You have no shoes, no coat, and you must be freezing."
"No, I won't. I'm going to stay out here and freeze to death even if it kills me."
"You know any minute now they're going to send someone to look for us."
"Well, good luck to them. I'm staying here. Feel free to go back and tell them that I'm perfectly happy to stand in the park and wash myself as best as I can in this rain." Words notwithstanding,
she began gathering up the pencils.
"Okay, Kitty, let's go back. I left Jason in charge of babysitting Brian--"
"--He'd do a better job than some,"
"And I don't want them to find your hair-care products."
Kitty sighed again, rolling her eyes, handing the wet and mud-soaked pencil tin back to Ashling.
"I won‘t be able to serve the patio, you know. I can't. There is water falling from the sky."
"You just stood in it for twenty minutes."
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