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"You are grand from your toes to your head. Take a deep breath and let that sink in."

almost 16

Slytherin || District 1 || Abnegation || Libra || Samwise Gamgee || Captain America ||

~daughter of hades and persephone~

Message to Readers

Hey, how are you? Thanks for pressing on this! I hope you stay a little longer and read it all even tho it's really long. Well, thank you for your time <3

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February 20, 2021

FREE WRITING

10
 I knew I was next. I couldn't keep burying them, but what could I do? He treats us like slaves, and always keeps us locked up, except for when it's our turn to bury. We started as 14, and now we're down to 5. He enjoys watching us fight for leftovers. He laughs when we beg for a sip of water.
Every nightmare I have is filled with his wicked grin. He lives for blood, and he loves to see others in pain. We all call him Hades, even though his real name is Henrise.  
I can't get these thoughts out of my head, so I gently push myself off the blanket laid on the ground, and look across the room. Everyone is sound asleep. They all look so happy when they sleep. No pain. No beatings. I wonder if they're having nightmares too. The suffering stops when you're asleep, but the fear never leaves. 
Every blanket is filled, except for one. I've never been too close with anyone here, so I nudge the boy on my right. He flinches at first, then slowly turns over wiping his face fast. I already know he's hiding tears. His emerald eyes look like glistening gems, and his freckled nose is red. I don't say anything about that, and instead point to the empty blanket. 
"Maya," he whispers, automatically knowing what my question was going to be. 
"The one with blond hair?" I whisper back, and his glassy eyes reply with tears. 
I understand the reason for his tears now. Hades was going to kill her.

"We have to stop him," I whisper, and his eyes become huge. We both know the consequences of staying up after bedtime, and the result of not obeying his orders. 
"Are you crazy?" He glares at me and I can already tell I'm not helping his pain. Who was she to him? His sister? His lover? No, not his lover. At least I hope not. When Hades adopted them they came together so I rest on the fact that she's his sister. 
"Was she important to you?" I whisper hoping he reveals how they know each other. 
"Yeah," he whispers, nodding fast. 
"Come with me then. . . ." I say, looking at the door nobody would dare cross at this time. 
 
I tiptoe through the wooden doorway, and I hear his gentle footsteps following me. Where was she? My eyes try to imagine how the stairs would look if the lights were on. We blindly walk down. I listen to his rushing heartbeat, and realize I can't show him how scared I am. My toes trip on the crooked edge, and I can feel the wind rush up as my body falls. I gasp, but before I crash onto the ground, I feel his hands wrap around my stomach. A few deep breaths later, I turn to face his green eyes.
"Get your hands off me!" I bark at him.
"Shouldn't I be getting a thank you?" He smirks, but the worry still lingers in his damp eyes.
I roll my eyes, and keep stumbling along until I hear a scream. A scream of help. My ears burn, and his heart starts beating fast once again, or is that mine? 
 
I look back to make eye contact and he puts his pointer finger over his lips signifying silence. I feel weak. How did he become so brave? He must care for her. I stay back as he takes the lead. We run as fast as we can in the direction of the scream, and try not to make a sound. I see light dancing on a blurred glass door, and know she's somewhere inside there.
"Pssst!" I hiss at him, and he looks back with a mask of confusion. I should know his name by now, but I had given everyone nicknames, and he had always been PrettyEyes to me. I point to the light-tinted glass, and his eyes widen. I slide over, crack the door ever-so-slightly; allowing one eye to peer through. All I smell is whiffs of cigarettes and beer. 
"Who is at the door?" I hear a rough voice demand from inside, and PrettyEyes and I freeze. 
 
"Come out. . .come out whoever you are!" Hades says in a singsongy voice. I'm sure my heart will burst out of my chest any minute now. Was this the end?  I'm about to let my eyes fill with tears when I'm pulled inside. Once I realize what's happening it's too late. PrettyEyes still has his hand around my arm, and I'm engulfed in the cloud of cigarette smoke. I had never been inside Hades's room before, and I feel odd and out of place.
"Sir we are here to inform you there is a cockroach in our sleeping room." I hear a voice to my side say. It's PrettyEyes. How is he so brave? 
"Can't you see I'm busy?" He gruffs, and I feel myself shake. Then I see her. On the other side of the bed crouching on her knees, and I can tell her vision is blurred by her tears. 
"What are you making her do?" I blabber looking him straight in the eyes. I feel PrettyEyes tilt his head to look at me.  He's surprised I talked back, and so I'm I. 
 
Hades moves his fingers to his chin and smiles. "What's your name again, darling?"
I feel trapped. I swallow the remaining saliva gathered in my mouth, but my throat is still clogged. I don't want to look weak.
"Her name is Dahlia," PrettyEyes answers as his eyes leave me to meet Hades. How in the world does he know my name?
"Well, my dear why don't you two head on up and I'll take good care of you later." He answers and there's a devilish look in his eyes. My mind floats to the past. It was maybe 3 weeks ago when Hades pierced a bullet through a child. He was younger than me. His chubby cheeks were drained from all warmth when Hades was done with him. I was so grateful that day I wasn't the one told to bury him. What if Hades does that to me? Will PrettyEyes be the one to bury me? 

"But the cockroach sir," PrettyEyes replies quickly, "we will not be able to sleep."
"Fine, I'll kill it," he says walking to the door. He stops himself to look at Maya, and points a finger at her. "You got lucky." 
He leaves, and so does part of my fear. PrettyEyes runs to Maya, and they hug in silence. I stay glued in place. 
"Cyan you really saved me!" She exclaims, and wraps her arms around him one more time.
His smile is bigger than ever. "She was the reason I could," he says, looking back at me, and before I can shrug it off like it was no big deal, Maya comes running in my direction. She hugs me, and I can feel her still shaking with fright. 

Panic starts to stir in my stomach as more time passes. PrettyEyes-I mean Cyan; It feels weird to call him that. Cyan and Maya keep on talking about how they're so happy, and how things could have gone worse tonight. 
"What now?" I say, invading their conversation. 
They both look at me like I burst their happiness all at once. "What is there to do?" Maya asks, confused. 
Cyan keeps looking out the door, and I can tell he's scared Hades will come back any minute. 
"We have to get out of here," I tell her and she laughs. Now I'm the confused one.
"Well duh, silly." she replies. "I will definitely not be sleeping in Hades room after that, we gotta go to our sleeping room."
I look at Cyan, and he has a small smile on his face. How are they laughing about something so serious? I feel like a joke until Cyan says "Dehlia's right. We have to get out of Epiphen." 

Maya looks disgusted at the thought of leaving, and it scares me. How can she still stay after everything we have been through. "And go where?" She asks. "Who's going to look after us?"
"We could go to Kirkly," PrettyEyes suggests, and it looks as though a memory is coming back to him; "my brother was adopted there."
"You guys were separated?" I whisper but he still catches it and nods. Families are not supposed to be separated, but it happens sometimes.  
I realize Maya and Cyan aren't siblings. My heart sinks, but I don't know why.
"Guys," Cyan speaks up, and his voice brings me out of my thoughts. "I might have a plan, but we won't be able to do anything tonight."
"When Hades comes down, we should go to bed as normal." I add.
There's still this look on Maya's face, but she replies in agreement anyway.

                                                                                    ***                                                                                          
My eyes are shut when I'm awakened by soft, shaking hands. My eyes drift to the window to see that it's still dark out, but I notice the few specks of light. The sun is about to rise. I had always loved the sunrise even before I was sent to Epiphen. It told me how the day was going to go. If it was red, blood would spill that day. If it was purple or pink it would be a normal day. If it was orange or yellow something great would happen.
"Dahlia?" I hear a Cyan whisper. It surprises me how he can be so calm when his hands were so terrified. 
I fully come to my senses, and see everyone gathered around me. All five of us. 
"Cyan made us all wake up early," Maya says as she rolls her eyes, "It's not even six!"
"Yeah, and it better be for a good reason" A guy with pitch black hair says. I had given him the nickname Bolder because when he arrived, he looked the most well-fed. He even had a few shoulder muscles. 
Before Cyan answers, he looks to the ground and takes a deep breath.
"We have to get away from here." He finally states and I start to hear Bolder snicker. The others look surprised and confused, but mostly confused. 
"Do you realize Hades could kill you any time he wanted?" I shoot back, and Cyan looks at me with a little smile. The room is silent for a few seconds. I wonder if that was the first time I had ever spoken to everyone. 
"She's right," A girl with a pixie cut says. I had named her Pixie because of her hair, which I always admired. "Look at how many of us he has killed."
Cyan looks pleased. "Who wants to leave?"
I raise my hand and so does Cyan. Pixie gets the hint and she does the same. It takes a few seconds of thinking for Bolder to raise his but he does. We all look to Maya, but her hand remains in her lap. My eyes slide to the sunrise and it's filled with red sparks. 

"Why do you want to stay?" Cyan asks concerned. He looks at Maya with creased eyebrows. I don't know if he's about to cry or if he's just sad. 
She takes a few moments to think about the way she will answer, then says "Babe this is my home". Babe? 
My eyes shoot in Cyan's direction to see what he does, but he doesn't move. His face is still but his cheeks turn a light shade of pink. 
I might not be hiding my disgust well because Pixie looks at me and gives a laugh, but plays it off as a cough.
"Didn't we make a promise to stay together through everything?" Cyan looks hurt as he asks his question and my heart aches. 
I hate this feeling I have in my stomach so I interrupt them. "Tell the rest of us when you're done with all of this" I say as I move my hand around them. 
"I kinda wanna hear this couple fight" Bolder replies with a laugh. Couple? 
I start to get up when I hear Cyan say "Wait, we need to go over how to get away." 
"You guys can do that without me" I say and walk out of the room.

I stroll through the halls and my fingers glide along the brown walls. How could Cyan do that? I don't exactly know what he did but it still hurt. I hate looking weak even if I'm by myself so I force my tears to stay put. I shouldn't go that far because I don't want to come across Hades. Just thinking about him gives me the jitters. 
I keep on walking until I see a sliver painted room. It has purple flowers embedded onto the wall forming a heart. I wonder whose room this is. Before I walk inside I check to make sure nobodies around. I am welcomed in by the scent of lavender and a fruity substance. There's a white desk with a purple lace placed on top. I rub my hands on the bumpy lace. None of us at Epiphen have luxury items like scents or even more than 5 pairs of clothing. Right beside the lace sits a purple picture frame. The little girl is smiling and sits on top of a man's shoulders. A woman who I'm guessing is the mother is carrying a baby in her arms. They all look so happy and I can't stop myself from crying. A family is all I have ever wanted but the world is too cruel. Sadness turns into anger when I try to form my birth parents' faces in my mind but my head is too foggy. I don't remember them. 
I blink fast to rid of my tears when I hear footsteps. They're not that loud but I can still hear the thump of shoes moving. My mind starts to race. What if Hades finds me here? 
I pretend to look lost and wander out the room looking as if I was daydreaming. 
"Are you pretending you're lost?" I hear a voice say "cause you would not make a good actor"
A rush of relief comes over me when I see Bolder's face. His pointy nose and sharp jawline are good at intensifying his smirk.
A grin replaces my tears and I let out a laugh. "Shut up! I'm such a good actor" I say to him. I let him catch up to where I am and he laughs along.
"What were you doing in here anywhere?" He asks peeking at the sliver walls.
"I don't know. I just found it" I reply and give a little shrug. 
"Oh that reminds me," He says "they sent me to come to find you."
"They couldn't come themselves?" I make air quotation marks on 'they'. I know I sound so stupid at this point.
"Actually I don't think Cyan wants to face your rath" He jokes with me. I don't smile and he tenses up. "You looked pretty mad"
I don't answer him and let the silence fall between us. He tries to match the speed I'm walking at but I do walk pretty fast. That makes me smile. 
"I'm Dice by the way" He says when he sees my smile and relaxes a bit. 

"I'm Dehlia" I reply because it feels like the right thing to say. 
He laughs as he shows his teeth "Yeah I know, everyone was talking about you after you stormed out" 
"I did not storm out!" I say through a smile "It was just walking out"
"That's a weird way of walking out" He answers and I just roll my eyes. 
When we get to our room I stay by Dice's side and panic arises in my stomach when I see Hades. His unshaved beard and raged eyebrows make me want to hide behind Dice but I stay planted in place.
"Where were you?" He gruffs and my mouth becomes dry.
"We had to use the bathroom Sir" Dice says. His face makes it obvious he's lying. How could he call me the bad actor? 
"What are you smiling at?" Hades demands looking at me. I think he wants to look me in the eyes but he is too drunk to do so. I hadn't even realized I was smiling. I can feel the warmth that's coming from my face. 
It's like my brain stops working at the moment I need it most. I try to think of a reply but nothing comes to mind. I feel so weak.
"Sorry Sir," Cyan says "I was making a silly face at her"
Hades turns around so fast I hardly see it. "You? Huh?" Hades says and my eyes fall upon Cyans scared ones. 
"Yes sir" He stammers nervously. 
"You're making fun of me ey?" He scolds. He reaches into his pocket and takes out his gun he always uses. Cyan was going to die at the hands of Hades. I hear a loud crack and a cry. Hades pushes me and Dice apart as he stumbles out with a smirk. 

I run to Cyan and see blood and pain in his eyes. He looks at me with a tiny smile. This boy is crazy. 
"It's not that bad" Pixie says as she examines the bloody patch "Hades was too drunk to aim right"
"I'll be right back" Maya says running out of the room. How could she just leave Cyan like this? 
"That was really stupid of you" I say and press on the blood like Pixie instructs me to do. 
Before Cyan can reply Maya comes back with a purple lace in her hands. The same purple lace I saw in the room. Dice looks at me with a confused face and I realize he sees it too. 
"This is all your fault," she says as she warps the lace around Cyan's arm. She looks at me and her eyes are filled with anger. It frightens me.
I let her words sink in and they sting a little. "It's my fault?" I can hear my voice rising. "If we would have left sooner-"
"You're the one who walked out" she cuts me off and my face turns warm once again
"I thought you didn't wanna leave. Isn't this your home?" I mimic her and my voice is whiney. 
"You let him take a shot for you!" she says and that shuts me up. 
"You guys better hope Hades didn't hear you both screaming" Dice says and guilt falls over me.
"He doesn't have much time" Pixie says straight up. She looks up from his wound and her eyes are scared. That's the first time I have seen her look like that. 

"We have to get to Kirkly now, like right now!" Dice says looking up from Cyan's pale face. 
                                                                         *** 
About 15 minutes later Pixie and Dice come back with plastic bags they snuck up from the kitchen. I wanted to go with Dice and not be in the same room as Maya but Pixie insisted that I stay with Cyan. I don't think she trusts Maya.
I grab my belongings and shove them all into the plastic bag. Two shirts, 3 pairs of pants, and a small teddy bear that fits perfectly in my hand. It was the only meaningful thing I came to Epiphen with. 
I look over to Maya to see that she's also packing. It's great to know she has finally come to her senses. Her eyes flutter in my direction and before she catches me looking at her, I glance away.
"We can't just walk out the door," Pixie mumbles but it's loud enough for all of us to hear.
Nobody says anything. There is no way to escape. Hades will catch us anyway we try. The front door has cameras set up everywhere, The back door that leads to the grave is right outside Hade's window, and the third door on the side of the orphanage is blocked.  I call it an orphanage but it's not one of the real orphanages. Epiphen just like Kirkly is where kids are sent when the real orphanage is too full. There is no way to get in or get out without Hade's permission. 
I avoid looking at Cyan because his face is turning whiter as every minute passes by. It scares me at the thought of losing him.
"I might have a way to leave" Maya says after a long moment of silence. 
We all look up at her and it looks like she's telling the truth. Even Cyan looks up at her with all the energy he has. How will he even make it to Kirkly? He's so weak. Pixie has a face and now I'm definitely sure she doesn't trust Maya at all. 
"Where? How do you know?" Dice asks with a puzzled look. He seems flustered at her knowledge she hadn't shared earlier.  
She debates on telling us but when she takes a look at Cyan her eyes sink. "You all just need to follow me."

Pixie is wary about following Maya but she's the first one to start walking behind her. Dice holds Cyan in place, but it looks like he's struggling so I go over to the other side of him. All of us walk softly but fast at the same time. Cyan tries his best to go as quickly as we are but he still slows us down. He bites the inside of his cheek to stop himself from moaning. The pain is devouring him.
Maya leads us through the halls and my fingers trace the walls as we go past. She stops in front of the room with sliver walls. I see the purple flowers on the wall once again. Before we all walk in Dice gives me a suspicious look. We go by the picture frame and I sneak one more look. Maya keeps walking until she gets to a closet. She opens the door and there are no clothes, but instead a window. The sun shines through making the black closet full of light.
"Can you help me?" Maya turns back to look at Pixie. 
Pixie walks to Maya's side and with some struggle, they open the locks. A warm fresh breeze comes in. I squeeze through them to see the brown grass by the side of the grave.
"Hades can't see us when we go down?" I ask looking at Maya and back to the ground. There's a big gap between the window and the ground. It's scary looking down.
"He won't be able to, it's too far from his window" she answers, but it sounds like she's trying to convince herself. 
"Do we just jump?" Pixie says eyeing the ground
Dice looks down and his eyes become huge "Are you crazy?"
"No, I have a rope somewhere here" Maya replies as she walks back to the picture frame. Just like I did, she glances at the family. It was for just a second, but I know I saw her. She pulls out a tan old rope. Pixie helps her tie it to the window lock and she throws it down and it brushes the dead grass. 
"I won't be able to go down" Cyan says from Dice's side and his voice cracks a bit.

We all look back and Cyan's arm is more bloody than ever. I would never leave Cyan behind. That thought had never even appeared in my mind. 
"Shut it" Pixie says and It's like she reads my mind. "Everyone is leaving this hellhole, together"
"I can barely move half my body" He answers and his voice is as weak as he looks. 
"We're gonna get you down there" I assure him and he looks me in the eyes. That's when it hits me. I might actually lose him.
I stare into his eyes for a bit and block everything that's going on around me. Cyan was the only person who was kind to everyone, even if he didn't know them. I would never wish hatred upon anyone but for a split second, I wish Maya was in Cyan's place. 
"I have an idea, "Pixie says while she jumps up with a smirk "Cyan you up for a little fun?"
"We have to hurry" Maya says and there's a fearful look painted on her face. 
Pixie ties Cyan's knees to the rope and she keeps knotting it over and over until Cyan tells her it's tight.
"I'm gonna drop you down," She says as she ties one more knot attached to the window. "Headfirst"

I have no choice but to go along with the Pixies plan, we're running out of time. Hades will be up any minute telling us to clean up after him. With the smell of his blueberry pancakes, we would all scramble to find crumbs off the table. Not today, though.
Cyan confirms he's ready with a nod and Pixie lowers him down slowly. She grits her teeth together and Dice and I go over to help her. Cyan is really heavy, but we make it work. His dirty blond hair plays in the wind as he makes it to the ground. After he's down, only Pixie is brave enough to slide to the ground. She unties him and my heart gives a pump of relief.  
"Don't mind me" Dice says with a grin as he follows Pixies lead down the rope. It's hard not to burst out laughing at Dice's face. It's half-filled with thrill and the other side with fright. 
"Go ahead," I say even though I want to fly in the wind. Maya doesn't hesitate to twist her fingers around the brown rope and slide to the bottom.
I follow her and swing down. My fingers glue to the rope and they sting from the texture, but my shoulder-length hair flies in all directions. The soggy breeze plants kisses all over my face and I cover my eyes. I open them back up when my shoes hit the hard clammy ground.
"Yes!" Dice squeals in excitement, he sounds like a girl and even he notices it. His cheeks turn the color of roses and he deepens his voice to say "Let's go"
The smell of death arises from the ground as we run through the grave. The dead bodies under the grass are placed 6 feet apart and the water from the blue lake peers in between them, but when I run by it all looks like a blur.
I feel Pixies arm slam into my stomach and we all come to an abrupt stop. Dice looks around in confusion and Cyan who is just catching up to us has a fearful look on his face. Then I hear it, Hades's humming. He stands at the edge of the pit, and his eyes are fixed on the small waves in the lake. He hums a low, sweet tune. 

My body gives off a shiver and Dice wraps his arms around my neck. It seems like he's comforting me, but I know he's trying to settle down himself. Cyan gives a gruff and I look back with a death stare. He's going to get us caught.
"I don't think he sees us" Pixie whispers and I barely hear it. 
Hades confirms Pixie's guess when he takes a seat on the dirt and lets his fingers play in the lake. 
Pixie looks back and nods. We would have to go past him. It would be easy, right? I had tiptoed past Hades to go to the bathroom or to go to the lake to wash my clothes. 
"Piece of cake" Dice whispers into my ear and that makes my heart freeze for a moment. 
We tiptoe our way closer to hades and the wind starts blowing harder. It was like the wind was warning of our danger. 
That's when he sees us. His head spins around faster than I can see. A tide of anger floods his face.
"RUN!" I scream and grab onto both Cyans and Dice's hands. I make sure to take the one that isn't bleeding, but cyan's eyes show that it still hurts. 
Not too far behind, I hear Hades running after us. His boot makes a crunch on the grass with every touch. He would for sure catch us at this speed.
Pixie uses her mind faster than any of us can even fathom what's happening and yells, "Split up!"
Dice doesn't let go of my hand, but Cyan's hand slips away and Maya replaces my sweating palms. Dice leads me to where Pixie's headed and Cyan fades out of my vision.

My stomach begins to twist in circles and I gasp for air. My lungs feel like they're about to collapse. Hades's thumps get quieter as I see grey pebbles indicating that we've crossed Epiphen. Even though we see tall buildings from a distance we keep running until Pixie stops to look back. Her breathing pattern is so out of rhythm it's hard to tell what she's saying.
"Wheres Cyan?" She askes with a confused look. "And Maya?" She takes a few deep breaths.
"His hand slipped from mine," I say and my heart is still racing from all that running. If Cyan gets hurt it will be my fault. I couldn't keep him by my side. 
"They'll be fine," Dice assures me "he's with Maya". 
That's what I'm scared of. Pixie gives a little smirk and looks me and dice up and down. Is she judging me? Does my stomach look too big? A swarm of insecurities comes to me. 
"Why are you guys still holding hands?" She laughs. I look down to see Dice's hand still entangled with mine. 
My hand jolts out of his and I play it off with a laugh. I hadn't noticed that my hand was still in his, it almost felt natural. His hands awkwardly float to his side and he gives off a smile. 
Then my ears hear a crack and a nasty laugh. A gunshot. It wasn't from anywhere near us but I imagine Cyan's dead body next to Maya's. 

Pixies voice awakens me from my thoughts and I look at them both to see their eyes set on me. 
"The only other way they could've gotten out of Epiphen is from the east side" she explains. I try to listen, but my mind keeps thinking about Cyan. 
"Ok, let's go" I reply without hesitation. 
Dice ruffles his hair before he whispers, "What if there died?"
I feel disgusted. "How could you say that?" I ask and it almost sounds like I'm yelling.
"Calm down" Pixie answers before he can. I stare at him in the eyes. His gray eyes seem to look everywhere else but into mine. 
"They could be". He answers like it's the truth.
"Dice, how can you be so stupid?" I spit at him. I wonder where all my anger is coming from.
"Do you want to see their dead bodies?" He asks calmly at first, but I hear his voice rising, "I've seen too much of that."
He takes a few moments and says, "I thought leaving Epiphen... it would be different."
I know where he's coming from but there's no way I'm not looking for Cyan. Even though there's a slim chance he's still out there.
"You coming or not?" I ask and regret it right away. What if he says "no"? Will I actually leave him? 
"Of course I am" He says and that makes me feel better. Would I have left him? 
We walk towards the east without another word. The sun's rays burn my head.  
"Where are we?" Dice asks interrupting the silence. 
I don't answer because I'm still mad at him and also because I don't know myself.
"We're in Bonegap" She answers, wiping sweat off her forehead. 
"How do you know?" I question confused. 
"I had parents once," she smiles, but I still notice the pain in her eyes. "We would go road trips through the cities."
We don't stop walking and the sun doesn't stop shining. "That's what killed them," Pixie says after a long moment. The Sound of pebbles grinding under my shoes is the only response she gets from me. 
"A car accident?" Dice asks and his dumbness makes me want to smile, but my face stays still, I don't want to hurt Pixie. I don't know how she feels so it's hard to find the right thing to say. 
"Yes" She laughs and I uncover my smile with her permission. 
I know we're getting closer to the east exit because there are trees and bushes. There are even some mushrooms, but I don't see any sign of Maya or Cyan. 

The smell of raspberries surrounds us and I make sure to walk in a pattern to avoid stepping on any mushrooms. The pink dots become clearer on the bushes and I reach for a plump one, but my fingers stumble upon a thorn.
"Ouch!" I yelp while sucking the blood from my finger.
"You're such a baby" Dice grins and I stick my tongue out at him. 
"And you're a loser" I reply. I look over in Pixies direction expecting a smirk at my horrible comeback, but she has a frightening look on her face.  
"What's wrong?" Dice asks as he notices too.
"Do you guys hear that?" she questions looking at the bushes in the distance. 
"Hear what?" I ask looking towards the same spot.
Without another word, she walks like she's summoned to the spot.
Dice and I follow her and she keeps walking, letting her ears guide her. Then I hear it, a soft moaning sound.

Cyan. I run past Pixie and use my hands to move the bushes out of the way. There he is but he's not alone. Maya sits right next to him, her head laid on his shoulder. Her long hair slides down to his chest. 
I kneel in front of Cyan and give him a hug. "You're okay" I whisper and smile. 
He smiles back. "She's not okay" He replies, nodding in Maya's direction. 
"Is she sleeping?" Dice asks, moving her hair out of her face. I hadn't noticed that her eyes were shut.
"What happened to her?" Pixie asks while helping Cyan up from the ground. 
"We were running and Hades pulled me back" He uses his hand to hold his bloody patch. "Maya got between us and-- I don't completely remember, but..."  He looks down at Maya. Her head tilted towards the ground without Cyan's shoulder. "I thought he was going to take his gun out and shoot her, but he pulled out a syringe" 
"Was it the normal sleep syringe, he uses?" Pixie asks after Cyan finishes explaining. 
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure" He answers.
If Hades shot her with a sleep syringe she could be out for many hours. Hades usually uses it on himself when he can't sleep or on us if he doesn't want to kill, just put us out. He has never done it to me, but I remember when he did it to a little girl. She was crying too loud that night and Hades came up. He shot her with the syringe but ended her life anyway a week later. 
I know what Pixies thinking because she hesitates to say, "We have to leave her here"
"No!" Cyans exclaims and has the same look I had given to Dice. 
"Alright, let's vote then," She says right back "Dice?"
"She should-um stay," He says and looks at me. Both Pixie's and Cyan's eyes glide in my direction.
"What?" I ask hurriedly. 
"Should she stay or do we leave her?" Pixie asks, she sounds irritated by my absence in the conversation. 

"Oh" I reply looking at Maya my face full of pity. I don't want to hurt Cyan, but I don't want her around him. 
"No one gets left behind" I conclude and Pixie sighs. With all the strength he has Cyan leans in for a hug.
"I guess she can come," Dice says. I pull out of the hug and ask, "you're switching your vote?"
"Yeah" he gushes messing his hair up and when I smile, he looks satisfied with what he said. 
"Dice, help me pick her up" Pixie reaches for Maya's arm and directs Dice to do the same. Cyan and I stroll behind them while they lead the way. The sun starts to melt into the sky and Cyan keeps stopping for breaks. Dice, Maya, and Pixie are at a distance where it's enough for them not to hear us.
"Why did you let go of my hand?" I croak as my voice was dry from walking in silence.
Cyan looks to me his hand over his bleeding shoulder. "Dice already was taking care of you," he says when he realizes I actually want an answer. "There was no need for me"
"Are you stupid? You could have died" I blurt out.
"It was actually a smart move, " he smirks and I shake my head to the side. Is this all just a joke? "Plus Hades went after us, so you guys were safe" he adds and it makes me even madder. 
"Do you not care about your life?" I growl at him "All you talk about his taking care of others--"
"And is that so wrong? " he interprets and his lips still form a smirk.
"Cyan you took a bullet for me" I whisper and realize that's this is the first time Cyan and I have had a real conversation alone. 
"You should know that I would do that for anyone, " he says puzzled "why are we even talking about this?"
"You're being selfish" I grunt at him. He stops and doesn't move an inch. "Another break?" I ask looking ahead to see Dice looking back at us. I wave to let him know we're fine and I can faintly see a smile. 
"You called me selfish?" he asks. His face is now serious. "For caring about you?"
"No!" I exclaim "that you can just die and leave"
He gives a laugh and says, "I'm dying for a good reason though"
Even though I will never agree with what he saying, I don't answer. 
We keep walking and start to see glass buildings. They look like they're touching the clouds. I see that Dice and Pixie have laid Maya on the ground and I walk faster and Cyan tries to keep up. I don't want to keep them waiting. 

Cyan starts grunting from the pain in his arm. They're still a distance away so I look back to say, "Don't worry, you'll be okay, We'll find something for you. "
He smiles "It's fun to hope isn't it?"
Hope? What does that mean? My eyebrows move in confusion, but before I can say anything Dice calls my name. We run a bit faster to them and this time I give my arm as support to Cyan. 
"Where are we?" I ask approaching the group. Their faces are red and sticky, and Dice's hair almost looks like he took a shower. Maya lies on the grass between Dice and Pixie. Even she looks like she's sweating. 
"Kirkly" Pixies sighs "But to get to the building... I don't know". 
"We can just ask around, right?" Dice asks, looking around the streets. I do the same to see a few people lying on the cement. They look dirty, and a cardboard sign is almost in front of all of them. 
"If Hades hasn't told the adoption center" I answer "Or they'll be looking for us."
"We need to get you some medication." Pixie states looking at Cyan. 
"I can manage" he answers and I want to punch him. How can he say that? The blood looks dry, but there's still more coming out and I can't even imagine the inside damage
"Look at you! You're dying" I yell at him. I'm furious now and the heat coming off of my face shows it. 
"You do care about me!" he exclaims and I want to punch him even more.
"I definitely don't! " I blurt out and try to keep my smile hidden. 
"We're gonna have to steal?" Dice mumbles changing the topic. 
Pixie nods as a reply. "From that store over there" she answers, pointing to the building on the next block. 

I had never been taught how to read well so I can barely comprehend the bold words on top of the store. I only understand the first half, which reads 'gas'. My eyes claw at the rest of the letters trying to sound them out, but it's no use. The adoption center took care of me for as long as I can remember. It wasn't that bad until some of us were sent to Epiphen or Kirkly. Maybe there's more of them, I don't know about.  
"Who wants to go in with me?" Pixie presses her lips together. She raises her eyebrow and waits for one of us to answer. Cyan and Maya are out of the question. 
"I'll go" I offered, knowing Dice wouldn't do anything like that. He looks like the typical bad boy, but he's the complete opposite. "Dice look over them" I direct looking at Cyan. He's barely alive.
"Yes Ma'am!" Dice yells as we walk to the story. 
Many eyes guide in our direction as we pass more people. Some drive by in cars and others on bikes. I look back to see Cyan's arm camouflaged in the shade and not many eyes on them. Thank god. 
Pixie pushes the door in and It chimes. 
"Good day!" the guy at the checkout station hollers. 
"Hi! Do you know where the pain killers are?" Pixie asks, wandering up to him and I do the same. The store has brights lights even though the outside looks dim. 
"Sure thing! They are back there to the left " He uses his hand to show us and his enthusiasm makes me want to puke but I smile along. 
"Thanks!" Pixie says matching the amount of happiness as the man.
We head to the back and I see a whole shelf full of chips. Oh how long it has been. My taste buds water for a lick, but I turn my head to see Pixie picking out the right pills.
She hands them to me and gives a little nod. My fingers clasp the bottle and I tuck it into my jacket. She strolls past the shelf and slowly grabs a candy bar and shoves it into her underwear. 
I remember Cyan's pale face and whisper, "Water".  
She shuffles over to a glass fridge door and takes a bottle out. It's big and this one won't fit in her underwear. Her eyes move faster than I can see and they stop when they see a mirror. She turns her back and twists her head to it. She somehow fits the plastic bottle into her jeans. 
"Ew" I whisper but she just smiles.
We walk towards the exit when the man at the station says, "Wait!"

"What?" Pixie growls at him. "We got places to go!"
I can't stop grinning. How can she be so confident? He looks us up and down and my heart starts to race and his examining look sweeps the grin off my face.
"What's in your pocket, ma'am?" He asks coming closer to us.
"Mine?" I quickly blatter but he shakes his head no and I take a breath of relief. 
"Hers." He answers mysteriously and nods his head in Pixies direction. 
She smirks "Come check yourself." I get nervous for her, but her smile stays planted on her face.
He walks over to face her. "Um. . . I--"
"Yeah, put your hands in my pockets," she interprets him and he gives a bewildered glance at me, but slowly reaches into her coat pockets using both hands. They stand still and I laugh into my sweating palms. He hears and quickly pulls his hands away.
"You're free to go!" He bursts out and his red face highlights his embarrassment. 
We walk out of the store and I ask still giggling "Why'd you that?" 
"It's fun to mess with people," she replies and gives a laugh. 
Pixie's light pink hair matches the color of the sunset and I start to admire it even more. The sun has almost set and a warm breeze blows past as I try to find the group. I see cyan and his face is blurred with anger. Maya is in the same position we left her, but there's no sign of Dice.
Pixie points to the other side of the road. "You might wanna talk to him," she says, "I'll go to the others".  I tilt my head to see what she's pointing at. Dice is sitting on the concrete with a lady. She looks old and she has worn down clothes. 
"Okay," I mumble and we part ways. She goes straight and I stroll to the right. 

I walk to the edge of the road and wait for a red car to speed by. I don't think Dice has noticed me yet because his eyes are glued to the ground, and the lady looks as if she's just blattering words. I cross the street and feel as if I interpreted a deep conversation.
"Go for it..." the lady's voice fades away when her grey eyes meet mine. 
Dice looks up and his cheeks turn pink. "Hi," he says and pats the ground on the other side of him. 
"You want me to sit down?" I ask making sure I don't make the wrong move.
"Yeah sweetheart, that would be great" the lady smiles and beckons for me to sit "I don't get much company"
I take a seat and cross my less. "Why don't you get company?" I ask and her sweet smile turns into a frown. 
"I'm homeless you see," she says and puts her hand over two plastic bags. "This is all I've got"
I remember when the adoption center took me in, I had felt like I owned nothing. The helpless feeling comes back to me and I pity her. 
"Oh," I reply.
"Don't you worry though, I'll be okay!" She winks and laughs. She reminds me of Mrs.Claus. We once watched a movie at the adoption center and it was about Christmas. Even though we didn't get gifts as the movie showed, it was fun watching the snow fall to the ground. The grass had looked like a white blanket. 
"We better get going, Mrs.Rinas" Dice says glancing in my direction.
"You're right, you both better run along," she answers and Dice stands up before I can. He holds his hand out to me and
I grab it for support. 
We walk a few steps away and I say awkwardly, "she was so nice".
"Yeah, I feel bad for her though." he replies and smiles "What did you guys steal?" 
I let out a laugh. "I was such a nervous wreck in there!" 
He smiles and says "You're not a good actor so of course, you were nervous!"
I just roll my eyes and as we walk to the group I remember Cyan's angered face.
"Why were you not with the group?" I ask "Didn't I tell you to watch them?"
He nods and I see his jaw clench. "Cyan said he didn't need my help."

I sigh moving strands of hair out of my face. "Why'd he say that?" The wind blows and this time the trees dance along. 
Dice looks at me and raises his eyebrow "Do you really want to know?"
Yeah?" I say confused. "Why would I not want to know?"
"You look at him like he's some type of god-"
"A god?! What?" I argue. Do I think of him as a god? My heart breaks a little the way Dice sees me. 
"I mean I just don't want to mess up the way you look at him" He gazes at the group and I do the same. Cyan holds his hand and Pixie drops something in his palms. It's the pills I guess and I watch as Cyan gulps it down. 
"Okay" I mumble going along with his words. 
"Cyan, he's a jerk" Dice flat out says and I laugh assuming he's joking but his face only forms a tiny smile.
"Why?" I question while holding my hair in place so it doesn't move into my face. I should have really stolen a hair tie too. 
We are much closer to the group and Pixie stares at the sky and has a grim look on her face. Cyan has his eyes fixed in our direction.
"He just tries to look better than his competition" Dice sneers and shakes his head.

"Competition? You guys are playing a game?" I ask confused but he just laughs.
"I wouldn't call it that" Dice ruffles his hair and changes the topic by saying, "Let's go"
We jog towards the group and we're greeted by Pixies smirk and Cyan rolling his eyes while asking, "What took so long?"
I look at Cyan and his face relaxes a bit. What's his deal? 
"I actually know how to get to the building" Dice declares proudly. I look at him as this is news to me.
"You do?" Pixie asks surprised and she stops picking the grass with her fingers. There is an entire pile of pulled blades of grass beside her now. 
"The lady I was talking to said it would be helpful if we took the north bus" Dice explains "We could go now and get there by morning."
"Will the bus be open?" I ask. "It's dark out".
"She said it opens 24 hours" Dice replies looking at me. 
"Well the bus stop isn't far from here," Pixie says. She sighs a sigh of relief as she adds "I thought we would have to sleep in the rain". I look up at the sky to see steady clouds forming above. 
"Cyan how's your arm?" I ask as Pixie and Dice start to pick Maya up. Her hair doesn't look as neat as it used to be. I wish she would wake up. When she's around, Cyan is so calm. 
"It's better, don't worry" he replies and smiles a little. 
"That's good" I smile back but I have a feeling he's lying. There's still pain smudged in both eyes. 
                                                                              ***
The bus driver is dumb enough to say yes when Pixie asks if it's okay to pay at the end of the ride. It's also odd that he doesn't question the state of Maya or Cyan. He has a bottom tooth missing but he smiles as if he has the best teeth in the world. I can't help to smile too. Dice leads us to the back and before we can sit down the bus starts moving. Maya loosely sits between Dice and Pixie in the only three people seat. I climb into another row for just two people and take a seat closest to the window. Cyan sits right beside me. 
 
I lean my head against the window and the bumpy road makes it bounce up and down.
"Where y'all coming from," the bus driver asks in his southern accent. I perk up waiting for Pixie to answer, but instead Cyan yells back, "Epiphen."
"Far from here," he replies and eyes us suspiciously.
"Yes, sir," Cyan says and the driver doesn't ask any more questions. I look out the window and it looks as if the trees are running with us. The crescent moon is shining now and my eyes begin to drift off to the sound of silence. 
I walk beside pixie and she has a grin painted on her face. Her hair attracts butterflies from all over. She looks at me and the grin slowly fades into an evil smile. Her face turns into Hades and she begins to run. I try to catch her, but I'm too slow, too weak. My arms reach for her arm, but she doesn't try to grab it. The sky slowly melts to the color of ink. There's a cliff in front of us and without a bye, she jumps.
"PIXIE!" I scream with tears in my eyes. Cyan wraps his arms around me and whispers that it's okay. I swing my head back to see Dice's concerned face. Pixie looks confused, but she's alive. 
"Are you okay?" She says and I take a deep breath. Tears still fall from my face and I give a nod. 
"But who's Pixie?" she asks, raising her eyebrow "If she's hurting you, just know I'll knock all her teeth out." She smiles and it makes me smile as well. I look at Cyan and he's also confused, but he pulls his sleeve and brings it up to my face. I allow him to wipe my tears even though it feels odd.  
"You are Pixie," I say, turning my head back to her.
"Me?" she laughs, "You think I'm some kind of fairy? "
I laugh and nervously explain, "Well, I didn't know you--you all I mean" I look at both Cyan and Dice, "so I kinda made nicknames"
Dice's lips curve into a smirk "What was mine?"
"Bolder," I say and I feel my face get warm. 
He laughs and says, "that's not that bad". 
Before I can reply the bus driver yells back "We're gon need to make a stop. The oils down, I gotta bucket here"
He opens the door with a button and carries a bucket, he pulled out from under. He goes down the stairs and yells, "Y'all stay still"
We do what he says but Dice's eyes follow him. 
"I guess Pixies my new name," Pixie says and smiles "I wasn't into my real one anyway."
Cyan looks at me and wonders if he should ask, but he does, "What did you call me?"

I sit back in my seat so Pixie and Dice can only see the top of my head. Cyan does the same, his eyes scanning mine for answers. 
"PrettyEyes" I mumble and hope he hears because my face is already warm. He smiles a little and his cheeks are the color of light berries.
"My eyes are pretty?" He questions and I nod, wondering if I should explain why. 
He keeps on looking at me so I turn my attention to the window where I see the driver as he picks up the bucket and tilts it into the side of the bus.
I hear a gasp from the back and it startles me. Before I can take in what is happening Cyan is out of his seat kneeling in front of Maya.
"Water?" Pixie yells in my direction. Water? I come to my senses when I hear Maya's uneasy breathing. Realizing the stolen bottle is still in my pocket I take it out and pass it to Pixie. She holds it up to Maya's mouth. With every sip, I hear the water trickle down her throat. 
I watch as Cyan moves Maya's hair behind her ears so he can see her better and from the corner of my eye I catch dice stealing glances at me. 

After a few long breaths, Maya finally speaks, "Where are we?" Her voice is raspy and she adds, "I feel like sleeping beauty." 
Pixie rolls her eyes and passes the half drank bottle back to me. I catch it with both hands and place it back in my pocket. 
"How do you feel?" Cyan asks her. She rubs her eye and scrunches her nose.
"Fine, wait where are we?" She asks again and looks around the bus. Dice gets up from Maya's side and walks over to mine. As he walks, he says "Somewhere in Kirkly".
"How?" She asks, confused, and before anyone can answer the bus driver comes back onto the bus with a thump as his boot hits the little stairs. 
"All set!" He yells to us and starts the engine. "Y'all headed to the building Kirkly right?" He asks, looking up at us from his rearview mirror. 
"Yeah," Pixie says as Dice and reaches his arm to hang on to a silver bar.
"I heard that place is under lockdown," he says and starts driving. 

"What?" Pixie asks as all our heads spin towards the bus driver.
"Yeah, got drones flying all over that place," he states and adds as he lowers his voice "they try'n catch some people"
I look at Pixie and she has a dissatisfied look on her face. Are we the people they want to catch? I want to ask him so many questions but I keep my mouth shut. What if I mess up and give it away?
"Catch who?" Dice asks almost too casually. He ruffles his hair as the bus driver looks up once more, "I got no clue just heard whispers about it at the station"
And that's when the bus goes silent. I nervously bite the inside of my cheek. Drones? Hades must have informed the adoption center. My heart drops as I realize the truth: if we were to get caught we would end up right in Hades's oily hands. 
"Maya, sit with Dehila," Pixie says locking eyes with Maya.
"Why?" Maya asks with her whiny voice looking at me up and down.
"I have to sit by her?" I gruff at Pixie, hoping she changes her mind.
"Yeah, why can't I sit with Cyan?" Maya says as she smiles at him. I get an uneasy feeling in my stomach and I'm pretty sure I'm going to throw up. 
"Pixie probably has a reason," Cyan says turning Maya's smile into a frown. He looks at me but I look away.
"I do," Pixie says finally looking away from the clouds above. "Maya and Dehila look the most normal here. Cyan you're arm, they'll know we're the kids if they see my hair, and Dice um just stay back here"
"Sounds good to me," Dice says as he shrugs and Cyan nods in agreement.
"But" Maya groans. "Then why can't I sit with Dice? Anyone else but her." She sneers at me and I grit my teeth. I'm not the fighting type but I'll do what I have to.
"No!" I crunch my eyes under my eyebrows. Am I mad about her sitting next to Dice? 
"It's only a few more hours," Pixie says rolling her eyes "You'll be fine"

I crouch by the window as Maya takes a seat grumpily next to me. She has taken Cyan's place and I don't feel as uncomfortable. We sit in awkward silence as I hear Pixie's voice from the back.
Maya dramatically sighs. "Sooooooo" she says like she's announcing something. 
"What?" I ask picking off the dirt under my nails. I can't do with small talk. I'm not as confident as Pixie or as bratty as Maya. I'm not as caring as Cyan and no way am I as sweet as Dice. I'm just awkward. Nothing special. 
"Are you not getting the hint?" She asks flaps her hands in the air. "I'm trying to start a conversation"
Her attitude makes me snap, "I have nothing to talk to you about". I give myself a high five in my mind when I see her glare at me. 
"Rude" She hisses and I roll my eyes. My hands are sweaty so I wipe them on my jeans. She smirks and I get self-conscious about myself. I hate when I make myself feel so weak.
"I know something you should talk to me about," she taunts and the smirk remains on her face. "Cyan" she adds in a whisper.
My intestines group into knots. 
"Why don't we talk about that room?" I reply, remembering the silver-painted walls she knew about. Now she's the one with a knot forming in her stomach. Her face looks like it has lost every sign of life. 

My heart falls into my stomach. Her eyes are fixed straight ahead and I regret opening my mouth to talk to her. 
"I'm sorry, " I whisper and she keeps looking ahead, but I see tears trying to escape her eyes. "I didn't mean to--" I start, but trail off when she looks at me. Tears start to slide down her dimpled cheeks.
"Cyan is all I have" She chokes out. She looks helpless and it breaks my heart, but this doesn't feel right. I don't want to sound selfish, but I say, "None of us really have anyone."
She wipes her tears from her cheeks with her sleeves. She looks at me and shakes her head as if she's disappointed. 
"What?" I ask trying not to sound too defensive. We all have gone through pain. No one's pain is greater than another, right? 
She puffs out a snicker, "I can't expect someone like you to understand"
Someone like me? I dwell on the thought as Maya falls asleep.  

                                                                                    ***                                                                                 

By the time we get there the stars look like tiny holes in the sky. I was 6 or so when I was at the adoption center and I caught a firefly. Its bright tail brightened the jar and I poked holes on the top so it could breathe. What if the stars are just holes for us humans?
"This is y'alls stop!" The bus driver yells from the front and I focus on the gray building. It doesn't look much different from Epiphen but there is no lake. There's a lady at the front like she's been waiting for us. Her chestnut hair with gray streaks touches her shoulders and her eyes are the color of honey. Like the bus driver had said, drones fly all over the building. They're small and look like flying blackberries. 
"Thank you, sir, "Pixie smiles as Maya strolls out of the bus and Cyan follows her. Dice waits for me to get out of my seat as he says "Ladies first".
"Dummies last," I mumble smirking and he smiles, but my smirk changes into a worried look when we get off. 
"Where's my money?" The bus driver barks at pixie as she's the only one still on. His smiling face has turned into a boiling hot face. I hear footsteps coming towards us, but the bus blocks my view. 
The lady comes into view and smiles, "welcome". Her voice is like a long breath: every letter is pulled out.
The bus driver looks at her and he starts to yell "Them buffoons haven't given my money!"
"I will take care of it, " she breathes and pulls out money from her pocket. 

His toothless grin appears on his face once again as he smoothes the money out. 
"Thank you!" He beams and the bus door closes as the wheels roll away at a steady pace. 
"Why did you do that?" Dice asks, trying to seem polite but the way he says it sounds harsh. She looks at him and smiles.
"It's rude to keep company hanging," She says as she looks up at the drones. They're pointed right at us. Will we get sent back to Hades? A shiver crawls down my back.
"How did you know we were coming here?" Pixie asks suspiciously. The dark sky makes her hair look a different color.
"Let us talk inside," the lady says and gives a tiny nod as a sign of respect. Her slightly wrinkled fingers gently take Cyan's good arm.
"Shall we go?" She asks, looking at each one of us. 
"Where are you taking him? He wants to be with me at all times! " Maya whines and her voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard. 
"He looks like he's in pain, he will be going to the hospital." The lady breathes out and Maya's cheeks turn bright.
"Oh." She answers in embarrassment.   

There's a huge wooden door with two yellow circles in the middle. The lady pulls on one of them and it opens. A cool breeze from inside comes over me and it smells like pine trees. Many kids are in groups chatting and it surprises me how happy they look. Everyone stops talking as we walk in and the silence makes me nervous. Their eyes track our every move. 
"Canyon?" The lady asks, looking over at the group of slightly older boys. A head pokes out and his face is filled with freckles. He walks over to us and smiles until his eyes land upon Cyan's arm. His eyebrows move into a worried crease.
"Can you take this young man to the hospital panel, please?" She calmly asks looking over Cyan. Cyan gives a welcoming smile and Canyon gives it back. We watch as Canyon leads him away. I feel as if I have just defused a bomb. Cyan's going to be okay. 
"Please follow me" the lady beckons us her way. We walk by the groups and each one of them gives a tiny nod. Why are they showing respect to us? I smile back and try to make eye contact with everyone, but I probably look crazy swinging my head back and forth. Dice smiles at me as he shakes his head.
The lady leads us into a small room with couches and a chandelier shining from above. Pixie is the first to take a seat and I do the same. 
"You all must have many questions and I will answer them all," she assures us as she flattens out a cushion.  

"Are we going to get sent back?" I blurt out and Dice slowly puts his arm around me. I feel safe for a moment. 
"You don't need to worry about that," the lady replies as she looks at her watch. It seems like it's filled with high-tech equipment and I remember seeing a few kids wearing it. "but the adoption center is full. It always has been. More children will be dropped off in Epiphen"
"With Hades?" Dice asks hurriedly. His warm hand stays still on my shoulder. 
The lady's calm face changes into a grin. "I'm guessing that is what you call Henrise?" she asks.
"Yes" Pixie confirms but she looks as if she doesn't trust the lady. "Who are you anyway?" 
"My name is Echo and I am one of the founders of this place." She looks down at the stringed carpet "My heart breaks for every child sent to Henrise"
"Then why don't you stop it?" Pixie gruffs and looks Echo straight in the eyes.
"One person cannot change a corrupt system. when I heard you all disappeared, I knew change was coming. If you had decided to live on the streets all hope would have been lost, but you guys came here. I want to ask why... What if this place was like Epiphen?"
I look around because I don't have the answer. Why did we come here? Cyan gave us the idea, but we didn't have to follow through. 
"I guess we just hoped for the best" Dice answers after a long moment of silence.
"then I think I will do the same," she breathes out and I hear footsteps approaching us. I flinch at first but look back to see a boy almost the same age as us. His eyes match Cyan's eyes. 
"You wanted to see me, ma'am?" He asks and looks around but makes a disappointed frown. 
"Yes, Sky, Your brother is in the hospital penal and I want you to meet him"
  
"My brother?" Sky questions "Cyan?" His face lights up and I nod to keep his happiness alive even though I don't think he sees me. 
"Cyan" Echo confirmed as she looks down at her watch. "Better be quick, It's bedtime," she adds and he looks down at his watch as well.
"Thank you,"  He says and smiles. With a nod, he runs out of the room.
Echo waits a few seconds before she says anything. It seems like she's waiting for something. 
"So what's the plan?" Pixie urges looking around annoyed. Echo's honey-colored eyes become big and she holds her pointer finger to her pink almond lips. 
"We'll talk when it's safe," she whispers just as I hear a woman's voice bickering outside. 
I look up at Dice but he just shrugs. A woman with smooth chestnut skin comes into view. I catch a few words from her mumbling: "These kids", "Stupid", and "tired of this". 
The woman looks up and a perplexed expression appears on her face. "Why are these kids out of bed?" She sighs at us.
"These are the children who have come from Epiphen" Echo explains reaching for a box on the stool next to her. She opens the lid and fumbles inside of it. 
The woman hits the top of her mouth with her tongue to make a sound and she does that over and over. It's what people do when they are disappointed, I saw it in a movie once. 
"You children just want to cause trouble ay?" She asks investigating each one of us with a long glare. Her eyebrows come closer together when it's Maya's turn to get stalked. The woman walks over and grabs Maya's face in her hand. 
Maya struggles to get out, but the woman keeps a tight grip. Dice holds me closer as to say 'don't worry' but even if I don't like Maya, she's been on this journey with us.
"Let go of me" Maya shrieks and Echo looks up as she flashes her eyes at the woman.
"Leave her alone Oral," Echo says calmingly, and the woman releases Maya.
"Doesn't she look familiar?" Oral questions mysteriously. 

"She must have one of those faces," Echo answers as she takes a few watches out of the box and hands us each one.
"I'm not wearing this" Pixie sneers at Echo. "You just wanna track us"
For a moment Echo looks confused, but when Maya swings the watch around saying "This does not look cute!" she seems to understand.
"This is not to track you" She explains "It's your schedule. All the children here have one. We split up the work. For instance, some days you will have to wash the dishes or take the trash out. It also tells you when you should wake up or go to sleep." 
"What if we don't follow the watch?" I nervously ask when she finishes. She smiles at me and thinks for a second.
"Well, that has never happened. Maybe I'll make you work extra hard?" She says as she laughs. I smile, taking in a breath of relief.  
"These kids are already thinking of causing more trouble" Oral sighs and shakes her head as she walks over to a brown door. She steps in and yells Goodnight as she shuts it. 
"Don't worry about her" Echo says, looking back at us from the closed door. 
Dice puts his watch on still having his arm around me in an odd position. 
"I will take you to your rooms," Echo says as she gets up from her seat and I stand up as well. We walk out to a long hallway and up the stairs. The quality of the building is much better than Epiphen and the stairs don't make any creaks. A dark green carpet is laid across the hall as small light bulbs stick to the walls. We pass many rooms and I look around curiously, I think Echo notices because she says "the smaller kids sleep on the first floor and the second floor is for the older children." 
I nod my head and hope Echo sees. We keep walking and I can see the moon shining through a window from the room ahead.

"That's the hospital panel" Echo whispers. I try to glance inside to catch Cyan, but It's no use. We keep going and I stumble when Maya abruptly stops in front of me. 
"Dice you will sleep here and when Cyan comes he will join you," Echo says, pointing to the closed door in front of us. She then points to the other door right next to that and says, "Pixie and Maya this is your room--"
"How do you know our names?" Pixie interrupts.
Echo just smiles and says, "I can't let strangers in here, can I? Plus, I looked in the system."
'Creep' Dice mouths at me and I let out a giggle. 
Echo looks at me and I'm afraid she saw him, but she just shakes her head and smiles. "Dehlia you will be sharing a room with somebody who is already here."
I nod as a response and pick at my nails. A person I haven't met yet? What if they don't like me? I can feel myself start to sweat.
"I think you two will be great friends" Echo assures and It's like she has read my mind. She points to the door across the hallway and says, "That's the one."
"Thank you," I say because I am grateful for what she has done. Maybe I could even take a warm shower here. 
"Of course" Echo gives a tiny nod and strolls down the stairs. I wait for her footsteps to disappear and say, "You guys are lucky"
Pixie laughs and points her head to Maya "You sure about that?"
I smile and Dice gives me a side hug "It will be fine".
We all exchange 'goodnights' and I slide into the room Echo had pointed to. Inside I see six golden lights shining from off the walls and the carpet is laid neatly. There's a bookshelf and golden laces are decorated around it.  
I see a girl with a light brown braid fumbling with her blanket. She looks up and we make eye contact. I hate meeting new people.  

"Oh gosh! You nearly gave me a heart attack! I thought you were Oral!" She exclaims and she takes a book out from her covers.
I smile "My name's Dehlia".
"I'm Ash," she says opening her book up. "Are you okay with having the top bunk?" 
"Yeah, that's fine," I say and put my plastic bag down on the ground. 
"Oh, also clean clothes and a towel are on the bed if you need it" Ash mumbles as she keeps her eyes on her book.
"Okay, Thanks," I say and she looks up with a grin.
"I also put one of my favorite books up there for you"
I try not to frown. "I don't know how to read"
Her jaw flies open. "Are you serious?" she asks almost shouting.
I reply with a nod.
"Dehlia reading is the best thing ever! I have to teach you! Can I? I mean not now, but tomorrow?" She asks in one breath and I laugh. 
"Yeah, sure, " I answer and she looks back down at her book with a satisfied smile. 
I walk over to the top bunk and take the neatly folded clothes in my hand and add the book on top. The blanket is soft and has dandelions on it. I come back down and put it in the plastic bag. 
Ash looks up and smacks her forehead "I forgot to tell you about your closet." She gets off her bed, book in hand, and walks over to a drawer. I follow her with my bag. She opens it up and I see clothes filled on one side. 
"The left side is yours, so you can put everything in here," she explains and she mindlessly walks back to her bed with her head in her book.
I stack all my belongings into the left side and step up to my bunk. I wrap myself in the blankect and let out a yawn.
"I'll turn the lights off" I hear Ash say from the bottom. She points a remote to the wall and the room goes black. 



 
I will be editing and adding to this every day. I hope you actually liked it and it was worth your time! 

Big thanks go to alwayswriting and An-Po Chen for their amazing reviews! 
I have edited almost half of this (I have so much more to change!) with the help of the wonderful Jason_claire :) 
Big thanks go to ~Anya~ for her super helpful review! It has given me so much to improve on! You're amazing!! <3
Also thank you so so so so so much in_love_with_writing [maybe coming back from the hiatus?] for taking the time to write an amazing review! <3 <3
I STILL HAVE LOTS TO EDIT!

I got some bad news: I might stop posting more of this story because I gotta focus more on school but my goal still is to publish this by the end of the year! I will still try to post tho because y'alls feedback is just so wonderful to read! 

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12 Comments
  • U S E R N A M E S (W R IT I NG HIA T US)

    ooop! They wen't from living like prisoners to living the good life!
    Also, I forgot Dahlia couldn't read!


    1 day ago
  • Jason_claire :)

    I love the new additionssss! They are so gooood. I can't wait for more and I terribly sorry for getting back so late. Hahaha, you're welcome.


    2 days ago
  • ChimChim_1

    WHAT SHE HAS A REMOTE TO TURN OF THE LIGHTS???... THEY LIVIN GOOD


    2 days ago
  • Emi

    Wow, that's a surprise. Though I guess it would make sense that they can't read, being with Hades and all.


    3 days ago
  • mindfruit

    Re: thank you!


    3 days ago
  • Nikki

    oooo! i am liking ash! i hope she isn't evilllll :)
    re: thank uuu! haha yes i'm very clumsy! very true, next time i'm awake i will surely text/comment here :3
    another thank you! your comment made my smile so big!
    also, i dont know if i mentioned this last time, though i have a feeling i did, is it snowing there?


    4 days ago
  • in_love_with_writing [on hiatus]

    O MY GOSH DID I NOT LEAVE A COMMENT THE LAST TIME?!?! I'm so sorry!! As I metioned, we're on a road trip right now, so I'm in the car a lot. I just woke up I'm so so so sorry!!
    Anyway, this is great!! You have a way with personalities. You keep adding characters (which is so awesome, I love very single one--except for maybe Maya :)) but every single character's personality is still totally different. This is so going so well! As usual, I love this!!!


    4 days ago
  • barelybear

    I absolutely love ash!! Ngl as soon as Sky came in I was like oop now there’s one for Dehlia too gah. Idk whether I want her to get with cyan or dice or nobody. But Pixie is definitely my favourite :D
    Thanks for letting me know, and for the super sweet comment


    4 days ago
  • GraceWritesTheWorld

    I like this girl Lol


    5 days ago
  • GraceWritesTheWorld

    Re: Thanks for letting me know!! <3


    5 days ago
  • Busssy.Beee

    Ash is absolutely right!! Reading is spectacular!! :D

    Re: YESSS PINEAPPLES ON PIZZA!! i mean sure it's fruit, but still!! Yeah, i know right! Once we were in a camp and she skinned the cheese off haha. My other friend and I were absolutely horrified. But i guess its just a weird quirk she has lol! Do you know any weird quirks/habits?


    5 days ago
  • Syzygy (#words) (J.A.M)

    Yes! The addition is nice!

    The only thing I’d say that I noticed mistake wise was “Dehlia reading is the best thing ever!...”. I think Dehlia has a comma behind it, but I could be wrong.

    Loving ittt!!!


    5 days ago