She looked up at him, and over to me, her eyebrows drawn together as she considered this. Then Zu shrugged, like, Sure. Got nothing better to do.
They said the good ones were the ones that died, she said, and I noticed a faint scar running down her left cheek, a narrow, spiraling pink line. What could have left a mark like that, other than someone intentionally scratching it into her skin? That we were all wrong and we’d—we’d never get out. But they never did anything to help us. I want—I want to be fixed, we all did, we did everything they asked, but it wasn’t enough.If they made you feel that way, then they were the ones who were wrong, I said. It took me a moment to realize why the words came so easily. Clancy. How was this any different from what he kept trying to tell me? I shifted uncomfortably, trying to think of Cate instead, how she had talked me down after I escaped Thurmond. The most important thing you ever did was learn how to survive. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you shouldn’t have, or that you deserved to be in that camp.
You were in one, too? Rosa asked. You got out and things got better?They’re getting there, I told her. Your mom is helping us.There. One small, trembling smile. Has she been wearing her red suit?
Rosa nodded, finally sitting back against the seat. Mom had this dark red suit she always wore when she had to go in for a big vote or debate. She said it scared the old white dudes who kept trying to shut her up or make her sit down.No, I said, but you know what? I don’t think she really needs it anymore.
The girl spread her fingers over her blue uniform shorts. And you’re totally...you’re sure she wants to...I mean, I would understand if she didn’t want to see me. I was with my Gran when they came. Mom never saw me after I got damaged—changed, I mean.
She wants you, I said, the words spilling out from some place I hadn’t dared to touch since I’d left Thurmond. More than anything. It doesn’t matter what you can do, or what any of the people at that camp told you. She’s there and she’s waiting for you.The holiest always have the farthest to fall.
For weeks, he’d been hunting for evidence that his sister had killed him. For weeks he had wanted that evidence, so he could prove once and for all that her approach to leadership was wrong—and Merik’s approach was right.That was the truth of it right there, wasn’t it? He’d seen what he’d wanted to see, even though, in the deepest furrows of his mind, he’d known Vivia was not the enemy. He had simply needed someone to blame for his own failings.
Your friend, Vivia said, mooring him back in the present. The girl? I sent her to Pin’s Keep. We can go there, but I need to tell the Royal Forces what’s happening underground— She broke off, her forehead suddenly creasing. She twisted toward the gate, toward the city.Then Merik heard it too. A wind-drum was pounding, its song almost lost to the black tempest overhead, where lightning crackled from a spinning heart.