Loopholes, Chapter 31

(Start here.) (Or just go backwards.)

“I just want to be clear: I didn’t say I would do it, OK?” I said as we hurried through the tunnels, shining my pig light ahead of us to show our way, grabbing the letter in my other hand. “I didn’t. I just said—.”

“Don’t.” Emily kept walking. “Just don’t, OK?”

“But.” I swallowed hard. Because when I was saying it, it seemed like it made sense. “Wasn’t that what the lizards wanted me to do, help me find my mother? Maybe it’s just a solution, did you ever think of that? Maybe the shadows aren’t so bad, and they just, you know, needed this. And so I give it to them.” I turned to Adam, and to Emily both, stopping in the middle of the tunnel even though we didn’t have the time. “Besides, what would you have done?”

No one spoke for a moment. “You don’t have to apologize to me,” Adam said. “I’ve done the worst thing anyone could ever do, I’m not going to judge you.” It made me look away.

“Emily?” I said. And I realized how much I wanted her to forgive me. But I knew that if she was trying to be perfect—well, I never stood a chance with that anyway.

She just looked at me. “I don’t think this is what the lizards meant. I mean, look.” She held up her arm so I could see it in the faint yellow light from the pig, whose batteries were almost dead. She was almost transparent now, like spider webs.

I didn’t say anything because I felt a wave of shame so big I couldn’t quite breathe. “I’m sorry, OK?” I managed finally. “I just—it’s just what I did. It’s not that big a deal. It might even be fine.”

Emily looked at me, and for a second I thought she really liked me, the way she looked at me, except then I realized it was pity. She felt sorry for me, because I’d turned out to be worse than her. Worse than Adam too. “Maybe it is what I would have done, too,” she said. And this should have made me feel better, except it didn’t.

Adam turned and started walking again. “Come on,” he said. “Maybe we can still figure out…. I don’t know, something. I mean, when it comes down to it, if we even find it, you don’t have to give it to them.”

“That’s what I was thinking!” I said, even though it wasn’t exactly. “If we can just find another way….”

And the only thing that made me feel any better was to remember one thing: Phoebe was coming. She was probably here already. And maybe she would save me, because I for sure wasn’t able to save myself.

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