Talia takes Solace’s arm and walks him with purpose back in the direction he came. To his dismay she completely bypasses the short cut. “We started this town when the McWrither’s came, they did a whole lot of damage in a short period of time.”

“I still don’t fully understand how they could have done that. This isn’t the Wild West where a couple of gun toting vagrants can run the sheriff out and bury their flag. Did the cops do anything?”

“Sure they did, but it didn’t help. The McWrithers are smart, the first thing they did was buy the governor and all the mayors. The police just sort of followed, not all of them mind you. But the ones who did the right thing were killed outright or persuaded.”

“Military?”

“Ha, yeah I remember them. All they did was scare the shit out of the innocent and give the other mercenaries something to steal. I mean they couldn’t find you so what else would they have done.”

“If I had known this was going to happen…” he stops and looks at her. “How did you know they were after me?”

She takes out her phone and pulls up a tabloid page. His face stares back at him with the caption ‘Inspiration gone too far’, he takes it from her and reads the article. There is a hate building inside him that he has never felt before. He hands the phone back to her, any longer and he would have smashed it.

“Why are they saying these things?”

“Because they don’t know the truth.”

“And people buy into these things?”

“Hey look on the bright side, your book sales must be through the roof.”

That’s right, he used to be a writer before all of this happened. Now he is an unintentional media sensation. How could he be dating a movie star he never met, or be part of an organization of writers that used their gift to change the world by writing the greatest speeches of all time? The worst was the theory that this was all performance art taken too far.

“I can’t believe this.”

“There are some of us that think you’re an ok guy, Solace.”

He looks back up at her, she is smiling again. Not the same school teacher smile but a bright caring smile. She hugs him and lightly kisses him on the cheek. He stands there awkwardly fidgeting with his cane while she wipes the lipstick off of his skin.

“How do you know who I am?” the question was meant to be a distraction, but he found himself rather curious.

“Big fan of your work.”

“Really, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything.”

“I love We Were People, it was the first book I bought in high school.”

“Really, wait how old are you?”

“Eighteen last week.”

“So this guy you were taking me to, are we close?” Solace looks around for arrows on the ground or a sign, anything.

“We’re here,” she says pointing at a derelict home across the street. She takes his arm again and walks him across the empty street. They reach the door before she lets him go.

She smiles again, he can see why she looked older. Up close her skin looks bright and young but the faint appearance of worry lines age her. She lost someone, a boyfriend. No, he recognizes the crease between her eyebrows as one of sadness not anger, so family. There are few laugh lines, so an older relative. If it were a sibling there would be signs of stupid-stunt-memory lines. Like the kind Cas gets when he talks about his brothers. This was a deep sadness, a parent maybe. Yes that’s it, it’s the same crease he has, the one that started when Abigail died and fully formed when Janette followed. It the mark of lost security.

“Did they take her?”

Her eyes widen, she looks around in surprise. Her lip gives the slightest tremble, she stops it but has no control over the tears. She nods and whispers the word Gran before looking away from him completely. She haven’t had the opportunity to mourn, she is still fighting it. He hugs her and she cries. There is never a right place to mourn, there is only the place where it happens. For Talia it is in front of an abandoned home with a writer who is no better at this then she is.

“Can I ask you a personal question?”

She wipes her eyes with her sleeve and looks up at him, “anything.”

“Do you really have wooden leg?”

She laughs through the tears and snot, shakes her head and pulls the bottom of her coat apart. Both her legs are intact under a ruffled skirt. “I just wanted you to come down the pole.”

“Great, tricked by an eighteen year old.”

“And a blond at that, well not naturally.”

“Well, I don’t give in to assumptions.”

“Sure you don’t.”

“Look kid, I have a bad leg. Am I seeing this guy or not?”

“He knows you’re here, just walk in.” she smiles again and steps aside.

“See you in a bit.” He grabs the handle and opens the heavy door.

“Solace,” she calls out before the door completely closes, “Thank you.”

He smiles at her and closes the door. He turns to face what may be his last ruined foyer he may ever see as the smell of mold wafts over him. “I should have stayed outside with the pretty girl.”

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