On the TV, a reporter was talking about our town. “…and we have just received breaking news from our reporter stationed near Stockton. As he tried to drive into the small city, he encountered an army barricade. He reports that it is currently blocking traffic both into and out of the town. There are also troops forming a perimeter in both directions around the city.
Neither the state nor national government have answered our questions. But, our reporter at the scene has told us that there are numerous CDC personnel in the area taking air samples.”
We all sat still, barely daring to breathe. This wasn’t just dramatic news, this was dramatic news about us. Indirectly, anyway. The presence of CDC personnel was a bit frightening. That meant there was some kind of bio problem, like a virus. But then why would the internet and phones be down too? Shit. Whatever happened, it much have been pretty bad. It still seemed unthinkable that they would keep us here too long though.
The view on the TV switched from the news anchor at the station to the field reporter, who was near a place I had driven by many times. There were a ton of soldiers, on both sides of their vehicles, not letting cars pass through. They seemed to be in the process of packing up, and for a moment I thought they were going to start letting people past.
Then, as the first car drove towards them, the soldiers started gesturing to all the cars and people outside of them, motioning away from the currently erected barricade. I didn’t like where this was going. He should be opening it up and letting the people through, not making them move away!
The screen flashed to the reporter, and he said, moving back towards his news van, “It appears that the barricades have to be pushed back farther. It also seems lie the people on the other side right now are being asked to stay where they are and not follow the troops back to the new barricade location. No explanation has yet been given for any of this, but I’ll try to find out as much as I can. We will get a new video and audio feed going from the new location.”
He looked around surreptitiously, then rolled the microphone towards a gathering of officers.
From the TV, I heard snatches of conversation, mixing with the wind blowing past the microphone. “We need… quarantine… no one… out. No communications-“ The voice broke off as someone else yelled. There was a burst of static, then the microphone cut off. The troops approached the cameraman too, and the screen went dark, before the news station appeared again.
The anchor said, a smile plastered to her face, “We have lost contact with our reporter in the field, but hope to have it resumed as soon as possible. In the meantime, here is a commercial break.” I looked at everyone else assembled on the couches. Most of them had started to look afraid sometime during the last scene. Personally, my heart was beating much faster than normal, and since the news report had started I had been having a constant adrenaline rush. I couldn’t think of anything that would be bad enough that would make a full scale quarantine happen that wouldn’t have already killed us yet.
While we were all too shocked to move, Claire asked, “What if it’s zombies?” I started laughing at that, and the rest of them joined in. It was nice to lighten up the mood, and I released the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. Claire let out a little laugh too, but it seemed strained.
Jacoby gave her a look, and said, “Oh come on, Claire. There’s no such thing as zombies.” I was pretty sure it wasn’t zombies as well, but with how fucking weird things had gotten, nothing could be ruled out yet. Hopefully the news person would come back soon and finish telling us what happened. There still wasn’t an explanation to the internet and phones too. Claire shifted closer to her mom, who put her arm around her. I couldn’t think of anything reasonable that could cause all this, at least nothing specific. If it was a bad disease, then there would be extra Red Cross people and supplies coming into the town, not it completely shut off. If it wasn’t a disease, why would CDC people be there?
The commercials were still going when Jacoby stood up and announced, “I think I should get home. My parents will be freaking out by now. I’ll see you guys soon?”
I didn’t get why he wasn’t dying to know what happened. This was a huge news event, it could be the moment our lives changed forever, and he would miss it with no TV on the walk home. I was about to say goodbye to him, when I remembered my own parents. They would be frantic about me too. The effect of the news wouldn’t change if I waited to see it. There’d be a TV at both his and my houses. His was pretty much on the way to mine too, and I still wasn’t sure whether I could get home in one go. So I stood up as well, and turned to Jacoby.
“Could I come with you? Your house is on my way home.”
He looked surprised, but said, “Yeah, that’s fine. My mom might be able to drive you home from there if you want.” I didn’t think I would take him up on that, but it depended how late it got. I needed more time on my own to think about everything before having to face my parents.
“Ava, can you get your bikes home okay?” I asked her.
“Yeah, it will be fine. My mom will be able to come get me.” I didn’t remind her that there weren’t phones, so she would be able to contact her mom. I wasn’t going to ride a bike all the way back to Ava’s and then go home. Claire’s mom could handle it if there was actually an issue.
Jacoby and I left, and began walking to his house. He was fine with the silence, so I tried to come up with some valid ideas about what could be happening. There was no one allowed in or out of Stockton. Earlier today the air raid sirens had gone off, which only happen if there is a serious disaster or problem. Phones and the internet were down, but television wasn’t. The air raid sirens indicated attack, while the CDC people would only be there if it was biological.
Yeah, that didn’t really tell me anything, but what there was didn’t look good. The disease or whatever could kill us by tomorrow. If it didn’t we were still trapped here for who knows how long. Viruses and bacteria were some of my worst nightmares, because you couldn’t see or fight them. Unlike the girls in the locker room, there wasn’t a firm limit to what they would do. I knew those girls wouldn’t kill me, hopefully. With a disease, it was a flip of a coin, a roll of the dice. It was completely based on luck. Fucking hell. The air seemed thick to breathe after that, as if it had an intent of its own, and the streets seemed narrower.
The real irksome thing, though, was the futility of all of it. I couldn’t do a thing. Maybe at Jacoby’s the government person would be on TV, and would actually know what the hell was going on. There was no other option other besides waiting, unless charging the soldiers at the barricade to get out seemed like a good idea. I thought it unilaterally did not.
The front door was unlocked when we got there. We walked in, still not having spoken a word since leaving Claire’s. As the spring pulled the exterior screen door closed behind us, I heard faint crying coming from the living room. I had no idea what was going on, yet again, but all I could think of was wanting to be somewhere else. It seemed like someone had died or something, and I had no idea what the hell to do or say. Soon, Jacoby would be crying and sad, and I’d have no idea how to help him. Jacoby’s dad entered from the living room, eyes red and still slightly damp.
“Jacoby! Thank God you’re safe!” He moved towards him and hugged him, before noticing me. “And you too, Elie.” He paused, as if unsure how to proceed, before saying, “I need to talk to Jacoby alone. You can go up to his room; I think it would be better if he had someone for support after this.”
What his father said pretty much removed all possibility of escape, so I slowly trudged up the stairs. I knew that whatever had happened shouldn’t affect me more than a stranger’s death, but something about the proximity shocked me. I didn’t think I would cry, but it would make me sad. I shouldn’t be sad, other than the general disappointment at a life ending, but sometimes emotions are overpowering. Oh well, it was something I could fix later.
Jacoby’s room was in between those of his two brothers, Leroy and Brian. All three doors were closed, but I heard sobbing from behind one, while the other was ominously silent. I opened his, and sat down at the bottom end of the bed. There was some sports equipment in the room, but it was also filled with mementos of each of us, his friends, and Sarah. That was new since the last time I was here. I was jealous that she got to be remembered here with us, but then my thoughts turned back to what to do when Jacoby came up.
Fuck. From my limited experience, I wasn’t good at dealing with grief. No one close to me had died, only one grandparent when I was still very young. Pets, well those had always seemed pretty expendable. Therefore, when I tried to console friends about their losses, I was clueless. No personal experience on the subject of death would normally be a great thing, but this was an instance where it sucked. Not that I wished my parents had died or anything, it just left me without an idea of what to do.
After a few more minutes looking aimlessly around the room, mind running in circles, Jacoby opened the door, then slammed it behind him. His eyes were bloodshot, and tears streaked his cheeks. I jumped up, and we stared at each other for a moment. Then he took two quick steps to the bed, before laying down and burying his head in the pillow. Muffled cries came through the stuffing. Shit. I was just standing there awkwardly, but didn’t want to risk sitting back down; he might need his space.
Fuck it, doing anything could help.
I sat down gently on the bed, and started rubbing his back. He didn’t flinch or pull away, so I took that as tacit permission to continue. This was going okay, at least I hadn’t made it worse so far. His shirt crinkled up under my hand, and I started rubbing under it. Only because skin on skin contact might help him, help keep him more grounded. There was nothing to say, especially since no one had told me exactly what happened, so I stayed silent.
I wished there was a television in the room, so I could see what was happening on the news. The end of the world could be announced, and I wouldn’t know. It didn’t seem that implausible that at least our, Stockton, world as we knew it was over. Would I act any different if I knew I was going to die? Feeling antsy, I almost got up, but didn’t want Jacoby to get even more upset. Sometimes microscopic events are more important than the larger ones, to certain people at certain times.
Eventually his crying slowed down, and finally stopped. At that point I removed my hand, and he rolled over onto his back. His face was a mess, as could be expected. I handed him the box of tissues from the bedside table, and he took a few and started cleaning himself up. That was when I noticed his chest was still heaving; the sobs had just become silent. Shit, that meant anything I did could set him off.
When most of the tears were dried, he threw the tissues away, and said, “Thanks.”
After a few seconds of silence, he announced, “It was my brother, Brian. He was caught in the blast; there was an explosion. It was pretty small, and only got ten people, but it got him. He had to be one of the ten…”
I had no idea how to respond. I couldn’t just say I was sorry. That was useless. It was completely unfair that his brother was one of the people. Why did any of the people who died have to be close to me? I knew that was the selfish way of looking at it, but fuck, it didn’t matter. He just wanted his brother back. As much as I wanted it not to have happened though, I couldn’t think that I would switch his brother for someone else. That would be going too far.
I settled for, “That really sucks. It’s fucking stupid, fuck, only ten people…” Hopefully my cursing could express my emotion and sympathy adequately. It was such a shitty situation.
A hint of a smile appeared on his lips. “Thanks, it is. Fucking stupid.”
“Yes it is.” I didn’t want to grin, that would feel inappropriate, but keeping a still face would just make him more depressed. “Do you want me to stay, or…” I trailed off. Maybe he wanted me to go, which I would like, but I would stay if he needed me. This was an exception to my empathy circle being limited to myself, but I could deal with clearing up my morals later.
He looked panicked for a second, then almost yelped, “No! Please stay. I just need someone here, and my parents are so wrapped up in each other.” At that a few sobs managed to break through. He sat up, shoulders shaking, and hugged me. I tried to envelop him in my arms, make him feel safe, but I wasn’t sure I managed. It must have gone well enough, since he kept clutching me.
“It’s okay,” I whispered, while stroking his back. This wasn’t too bad. I had imagined holding Jacoby like this before, tight to me. In fact, he was resting his head on my chest. It wasn’t quite big enough to function as a pillow, and besides, it wasn’t very comfortable like that, so I laid back, adjusting his head down to my stomach. Hopefully that was firm enough that he didn’t sink in too much. I liked having him like that, and kept holding him, one hand on his head, one on his shoulder. His breathing became more even, and I thought he was asleep. The world ending right now wouldn’t have been the worst thing. I might have dozed off a little myself, but my stupor was broken when he got up, and without facing me, started wiping his face dry again. He then turned towards me with a big smile on.
“Thank you so much just for being here right now. It’s hard, and I don’t know… I don’t know what would have happened if you weren’t here. I just needed someone whose attention was focused only on me, didn’t have a wife or husband or kids to worry about.” He paused, then grinned even larger. “Or do you have a secret family?”
It seemed like he was back then, at least as much as he could be. I hadn’t had anyone close to me die, but didn’t mourning normally take longer? He was probably just repressing it for now, starting to cope. Well that was good. Life has to go on. No matter what.
So, I decided to joke a little back. “Maybe I do have a secret family. What if I say you’re the father?”
He just laughed. “I think I would know if I’d had sex with someone as beautiful as you.”
I blushed. It didn’t matter how much I knew I was pretty, people rarely told me. I just wished it was a situation where I could do something in return.
“I’m not so sure, you were pretty drunk. Your dick wouldn’t stay up, so was it hard to do anything, but I managed.”
“Oh, sure. I thought you were responsible, what happened to the condom and birth control pills?” He smirked at me. From sad to happy so quickly… And I still had that nagging fear about a localized apocalypse in the back of my mind. Nothing to do but keep joking.
“I actually have this deep seated desire to have children that I just needed to fulfill, so I didn’t use them. You seemed like the best match, with pretty good genes yourself. “
“Well I hope this didn’t actually happen, since I can’t pay for child support right now.”
“Oh don’t worry, I can handle it. I am responsible in some ways.”
His laughter burst out like a river over a dam, and I joined in, though his smile never quite reached his eyes. If he could still do that, then he’d be okay in the long term. The giddiness bubbled up in me, and coursed through my veins. This was always so fun, and distracted me from worrying about the quarantine. He leaned on me, but this time it was happy, not sad. Then he looked up, a hint of seriousness in his eyes.
“Can I kiss you?” he said.
I involuntarily jerked backwards. Where the hell did that come from? I hadn’t been acting more provocatively than normal, and he hadn’t been acting any different either. He did look handsome though, and was pretty hot… not to mention nice and all that other stuff, but neither of us was looking for a real relationship – I bent down, cupped his chin in my hand, and kissed him.
His face was smooth, no stubble growing yet. His lips meshed with mine. They tasted slightly salty, the residue of tears, but that didn’t matter. Our mouths molded together, working in furious ecstasy, while I reached my arms behind him and pulled him closer to me. He leaned back on the bed, and suddenly I was on top of him. We broke apart, taking deep gasps of air, before plunging in again.
My arms clutched his chest. One of his started working its way through my hair, down barely past my shoulders. His other one, plucking at the back of my sports bra, reminded me that I still had my stinky gym clothes on. Even though we were locked together, a laugh escaped me, and he let go. I sat up a little. Whoa, that was a rush. And shit, that was a good kiss. The blood rushed back to my head as I came back down to earth, leaving me dizzy.
“I just remembered, we’re both still in our gym clothes. Practically the stereotype of sweaty, stinky teenagers with out of control hormones,” I said, as way of explanation.
“Do you want us to compete that stereotype?” he asked, glancing down at my shorts. Oh fuck no.
I scrambled up from the bed. “You fucking dick! I’m sorry about your brother and all, but I’m not having sex with you! Period. You’ll just regret it.” If Sarah’s picture on his dresser hadn’t reminded me, I probably would have done it. As it was, I was sorely tempted, but managed to resist.
He pleaded, “But we already made out. I… I just think it will really help me right now.” Jesus, that wasn’t how he normally was. Not so pitiful and needy. I could see now that he was still pretty messed up. Pure escapism, and sex would just be the next logical step. Escapism that, so far, had been very enjoyable for me. In the back of my head I realized that I should be taking advantage of the situation, but I couldn’t bring myself to.
“No.” I stated, more resolutely this time. “I won’t let you be such a deuce. You could explain away the making out as just part of the grief, but this would be too far. It would just make you feel even worse than you do now. As much as I want to, I can’t like this.” I turned and ran down the stairs, already feeling the regret well up. Jesus, was my sex drive really such an uncaring bitch? Wanting to fuck my best friend when his brother just died? And did I really just tell Jacoby I wanted to have sex with him?
Once I was out the door and had calmed down, I could think about it clearer. The pavement seemed to pass rapidly away under me, moving much too fast. When I got home I would have to confront my parents, which possibly could end even worse than the time at Jacoby’s house had. The sky seemed to be looming low and ominous.
The thing that happened with Jacoby was probably my fault as much as his. He was the one who had just had his brother die, while I was only a bit depressed about a probably temporary quarantine. It was a bit of an escape of my part too, but our situations weren’t even comparable.
We had never gone that far before. There were a few pecks during spin the bottle and related games back in middle school, and maybe a goodbye cheek kiss before summer or something like that, but never full-on making out. At least he didn’t start feeling me up. That be too awkward to ever go back to normal afterwards.
After a few minutes, by which time my pace slowed to a crawl, the situation with him seemed salvageable. We could just dismiss it as caused by the collective external pressure. Not that we wouldn’t cross that line again now that we had crossed it once, I just hoped that maybe a next time would happen when one of us didn’t have the mental faculty equivalent to being stoned. I did want to go farther, it was just that he would regret it because of Sarah. I didn’t want him to wreck their relationship over me, at least not when he couldn’t be fully culpable for his decision.
My moral code said that I should do what’s best for me. That was the only way to make sense of the world, if I thought about logically. There were at least two instances where I didn’t act like that in Jacoby’s room. Other people, except as interacting with them benefits me, shouldn’t factor into my decision making. As hard as I tried though, I couldn’t bring myself to be entirely self-interested.
Fuck, it all went back to Rick. My goddamned over-the-top altruistic brother, who had to fucking leave. How the hell could he do that to me? I couldn’t imagine if he died. It was simply not within the realm of possibility. My brain literally couldn’t think of the world without him in it. The issue with him was, there were probably hundreds of other people by now who thought of him that way too. It was just completely unfair. I was his sister.
Shit, back to reality. I recognized the street I was on as one adjacent to mine. How would I explain to my parents why I was getting home when it was nearly dark, the day of the apocalypse? In their view we should be weathering the storm, whatever it was, together as a family. If given the choice, however much I loved my parents, I would choose to spend my last hours with Claire, Ava, and Jacoby. If I told my parents I was with my friends, though, they would be furious and disappointed at the same time. I couldn’t stand that combination. I would feel inferior and angry, and when that happened, I normally lashed out. No, better to tell them about the concussion only, and that’s it. They would then be sympathetic to me, and I could just say I was at school the whole time. Then I could figure out why the hell all of this was happening.
As I walked up the steps, there were butterflies in my stomach, no matter how solid my plan seemed. My mom opened the door as I was reaching out for it, and stood there, glaring at me. She didn’t wait for me to get inside before she started yelling at me.
“Where have you been? We’ve been worried, and had no idea where you were. You know that if there’s an emergency you’re supposed to come straight home! You were probably with your friends instead of family, you know both of us have people we care about and want to see if are okay? But neither of us wanted to leave, not knowing if you were all right.” Her eyebrows were furrowed, mouth pinched in a straight line. I could see my dad standing farther back, arms crossed. I guess I’d underestimated the extent of their anger.
He moved forward a few steps and laid a hand on my mother’s shoulder. He looked at her tenderly, and said in measured voice, “At least let her come inside before laying into her. We need to discuss this calmly.” She turned towards him, outraged at his pseudo-betrayal, and haughtily marched past him, into the living room.
I looked at my dad sympathetically. Maybe I could turn them against each other and get him on my side. He grimaced back. Yeah, that was working. Always good to have multiple avenues of attack.
When we got into the living room, my dad started talking to my mom in a hushed tone. I sat down on the sofa, letting them conspire. The longer I waited before telling my concussion story, the sorrier they would feel after.
With a united plan, they sat down on the couch. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Now they weren’t mad at each other anymore, and could launch a two front assault easier. I still had the trump card though. Just a little bit longer…
My dad spoke first. “You really need to get your priorities straight here. We are your family, we raised you, and all we want is some contact. Just for you to us know before going to a friends after school. Since I presume you know the phones are down, all we needed is for you to come home first before going off to who knows where.”
Now was the time to do it. Pull their whole argument out from under them. “I knocked my head against the wall when everyone rushed out of the room, when the siren went off. I was knocked out, and woke up in the nurse’s office twenty minutes ago, and came straight home. So I also don’t know how my friends are. I’m also worried, and when I woke up I immediately thought of you guys.” I didn’t include any anger, nothing vehement. That would just give them an excuse to berate me over something else. My mom was shocked, and immediately stood up and came over to me.
She sat down and hugged me, saying, “Oh sweetie, are you okay? I’m so sorry we yelled at you.” I basked in the attention, but my dad was still on the couch, frowning.
He said, “Well that’s good then, and we’re all here safe. Any news from school today? I want to go see if everyone’s okay, which of your friend’s families should we check on first?”
I needed to reassure him. Maybe a helpful hint would relieve his attention. “Jacoby’s brother’s died in the explosion, they might need something…”
Shit. My mom immediately released me. The explosion happened after I was knocked out, so I couldn’t know about Jacoby’s brother if I had come straight home. She glanced at my dad. He looked furious, but at the same time barely suppressing a smile. He thought he was so fucking superior, that he got the best of me once again.
He said, looking at her but directed at me, “I think we need to go upstairs and discuss your punishment.”
Fuck this. Now I was in serious trouble, as if the day wasn’t already bad enough. I also felt vaguely guilty that I had tried to use Brian’s death as a way to get out of trouble, but I guess the karma bit me in the ass. Stupid air raid sirens and pretend earthquakes.
Stockton, in its eternal idiocy, had made its air raid sirens combine with a very small earthquake generator, because that supposedly would help people realize bad was happening. The people would then get to safety faster. Instead, what they got was much more panic there would be otherwise. The worst thing was they hadn’t changed it, ever.
Now I just had to wait for my punishment to descend from the heavens. Might as well find out why all this awful shit was happening in the first place. I turned on the TV, and switched to a news channel.
On screen, the Secretary of Homeland Security started speaking.
“Hello all, especially those in Stockton, the people most affected by this horrid event. I hope that the circumstances there aren’t too bad.
Two days ago, we received word that there may be a potential terrorist attack in the upcoming days. Thought all the branches of government pooled their resources and collaborated, we were not able to stop the attack from happening. We were warned that an Iranian bioweapon facility was going to be broken into, and an extremely potent weapon released in the United States. We tried to destroy this biologically hazardous weaponry, but were evidently unsuccessful, or too late.
“Our screening efforts for such a weapon focused mostly on population centers, where an attack would do the most damage. Stockton, along with hundreds of other cities across the US, were deemed too small by our analysts to be a target. Again, let me stress that every precaution was taken, and we did everything in our power to prevent such an attack.
“Around 11:30 this morning, we received word from law enforcement in Stockton that a small explosion had gone off, but more importantly that a gaseous vapor was released. The Tyron Medical Research Facility was one of the bodies assigned to research the biological agent brought back by our troops from the base in Iran. When the explosive went off, they started preforming tests of the air in the surrounding area. At 11:53, the Tyron facility n told us that air samples were now matching those taken from the Iranian weapons base. We had National Guard troops on call, ready to be deployed to any area in the event of a quarantine. As soon as we knew where the bioweapon had been released, we started enforcing the quarantine, with a one mile radius to begin with. We set up a perimeter with guards ready to stop anyone going in or out of the city. We also enacted an information lockdown, to prevent alarmism and widespread panic. This may have been a mistake, and I am sure in the coming days we will analyze the situation so that we can perform better in the instance of a future attack.
“Now, there is no need to panic, as the Tyron facility has one of the best research labs in the world. We have full confidence that they will quickly develop an antidote to the disease released. In the meantime, since the disease requires exposure to an activation agent for it to start attacking the body, everyone will be fine as long as the quarantine is enforced. It will be lifted after the weaponized agent is deemed neutralized. The communications blackout will continue for the foreseeable future to lessen the possibility of a breach, either outwards or inwards, of the quarantine zone. Residents of Stockton, we are truly sorry that this awful attack has occurred, and that we could not prevent it.
We will work tirelessly to make sure that you are fully supplied with anything you may need. All normal shipments, anything that would normally go into the city by truck or trail, we will now try to airdrop in, though there may be temporary shortages of non-essentials until we appropriate aircraft as necessary. We urge you to resume your normal lives, and try to instill a sense of normalcy in those around you. Weather the storm, and stand strong. Thank you, and God bless you.”
I was stunned by the news, and literally didn’t move until my parents came back down. My thoughts weren’t so much racing as frozen: information overload. It seemed like something from a science fiction or apocalyptic book, except happening in the real world. At least we would still get food and everything, but did we really have to school? That was fucking ridiculous. I hated this place, and now I was stuck here. I was trapped with these people with no internet and no phones for who knows how long. Fuck, this sucked.
My parents came back downstairs, looking stern. They moved so my mom was sitting down in a chair, my dad leaning against it. I sat up straight; I was going to receive my punishment with dignity. It couldn’t be that bad; nothing could be worse than the quarantine.
My dad started. “So, Elie, you need to start acting like you actually care about us. All we want is a little compassion. A little caring. An acknowledgement of our existence once in a while.” His voice rose in pitch through what he was saying.
They were staring at me expectantly, so I said, “The quarantine is going to last until they cure the disease from the bio-attack, and the communications blackout will go on too.”
I was hoping they’d be surprised, but was disappointed. “Don’t think you can distract us from the real problem here. You’re grounded for two weeks.”
Wow, that was the longest they’d ever grounded me. It could have come at a worse time. At least now there wasn’t anywhere to miss out on going to. I would probably not be able to go to friends’, but I still would see them at school. There were also no electronics to take away, since those were down.
With the punishment phase done, I just wanted the conversation to be over. “Okay. I’m sorry for what I did.”
Both of them looked upset, probably because I wasn’t throwing a tantrum. Well I wasn’t going to satisfy their petty desire to feel superior. I’d take it like an adult.
“You don’t sound very sorry. How about you go to your room and think and maybe work up some remorse. You have no idea how worried we were,” my mom said.
In response, I stomped up the stairs. That was some bullshit; how did they think I felt when I woke up in the nurse’s office alone, my last memory of the air raid siren going off? I was freaked out too, and also couldn’t go very far.
It was stupid for them to expect me to walk all the way home after that. I know they wouldn’t have liked if I had passed out along the way. They wanted me to be safe, yet also wanted me to go see them. It was only natural for me to go to Ava’s, then Claire’s, then Jacoby’s. I had to stop, or else I might have fainted, and their houses were at least marginally on the way home.
I hadn’t even stayed longer than I needed to. At Ava’s I just told them what happened, then got on my way. At Claire’s we talked, then watched TV. At Jacoby’s, I literally couldn’t leave. Of course, I also fell asleep and made out with him, but that was its own problem. So even if I had lied to my parents at first, I had done what they should have wanted me to do.