Chapter Thirty Three

Chapter Thirty Three

Nora knocked on Jacques’ name sign. It was the first time she’d been to his house. “Jacques?” she asked, voice barely above whisper level.

“What?” He stuck a head out of the tent.

“Is Sheen there?”

He looked rather bemused at the idea. “No. I think she’s at home. Why?”

“I just—I need to talk to her.” Nora started to turn away.

“Are you ok?” he said.

“Yeah. I’m fine.”

“I can call the Council if it’s something important.”

She laughed harshly. “The Council? Jacques, some of us gave up on the Council a long time ago.”

“We did?”

She patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell Sheen you still believe in fairies.”

***

Nora stopped at her house to guide her sleepy sister onto her back. Then she made her way the Dirty Hills.

“Sheen? I can’t do this anymore.”

Sheen sat with Nora in front of the home before answering. “What are you doing about it?”

Nora fiddled with Petto’s ear. “The prairie. There’s a tree that way.” She pointed at the horizon.

“How long?”

“I’ll come in for supplies if we need them.”

“Nora. How long.”

“Forever,” she whispered.

“No,” Sheen said fiercely. “You can’t. We’ll pull the colony together. Talk to Atkin, and those mountain people.”

Nora shook her head vehemently. “No. No, that’s not it. I don’t give a damn about the politics. I’m sure you can handle it. Talk to Zena. Tell Jacques I’m sorry.”

“Look at me.” Nora did. “What’s wrong? Did someone hurt you?”

“Don’t blame them; it wasn’t their fault. They had no choice.” She paused. “I can’t take anymore leaving. I can’t. My mom, Cragg…I don’t see my sister nearly enough these days. You mean well. I hope the Irkas come back. I hope the colony is fully integrated one day. I would almost come back, if that were so, but what if there were a fire? A plague? A new group of pioneers come to kick us out?”

“I can’t promise that won’t happen, Nora, but—“

“I know. That’s the point. And you’re all welcome to be brave and stick it out and make the world a better place. You’re welcome to take whatever shit happens to you, but I can’t take this anymore. I just can’t.”

“We can’t control the future, that’s true, but people have to count for something.”

“People suck, Sheen, and you know it. Even if they don’t mean to. That’s just the way it is. A group of people like this, and hearts are going to get broken. God knows mine is.”

Nora stood up. As she left, she said over her shoulder, “tell Trish she can have my house. I’m leaving.”

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