CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY-SEVEN
“Well, can she?” Nash asked.
“No,” Heather said. “I’m sorry, Nash, what has been done cannot be undone.”
As if he’d just received a death sentence, Nash stared straight ahead. Heather touched his arm.
“Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” Heather asked.
Somewhere between angry and sad, Nash simply shook his head.
“Do you not like Nadia?” Heather asked.
“No, Nadia’s perfect,” Nash said. “I think about her all the time. When I see her, even on the computer screen, it’s like the whole world stops. Everything I thought of before I see her simply vanishes. It’s like what people say about wearing glasses. Everything gets clearer, easier, when she’s there. And, then she’s gone and I…”
Nash shook his head.
“And you?” Heather asked.
“I’m just some dumb kid,” Nash said. “Don’t say something otherwise. I really am a dumb kid. I haven’t done anything with my life. I don’t know anything. I haven’t even had that much life! And she…”
Nash shook his head.
“I understand,” Heather said.
“You do?” Nash asked. “Could you explain it to me?”
Heather chuckled and put her arm around him. He leaned over the dog and into her. Buster panted happily.
“No really,” Nash said. “Explain it to me. I really need… something to…”
Heather gave him a sideways look for a long moment before given a slight nod.
“I have actually been your age a number of times,” Heather said.
Surprised, Nash pulled back to look at her. Heather nodded.
“My mother would let me age until I was in my twenties or so, and then yank me back to being ten again,” Heather said. “She thought that if I could just grow up the right way, we wouldn’t need my father or grandmother. Particularly my grandmother. We hid from Olympia for more than a thousand years until my grandmother figured it out.”
“I think that my grandmother went looking for us because my father was really losing it,” Heather said. “The Black Arrows were part of him losing his mind.”
Heather shook her head.
“I’m losing the point,” Heather said. She sighed. “My point is that I know what it’s like to be on the verge of adulthood, but still be a child. I’ve done it in almost every human time. It’s always hard. Very hard. You don’t know what you’re going to be or do, but you feel like there’s something you need to do, something you were born to do.”
To contain her stronger emotions, Heather reached for a towel. Mimicking her, Nash began folding the warm towels with her. She didn’t say anything for a moment.
“In some eras, sixteen is an adult age,” Heather said.
“Some countries right now,” Nash said.
Heather nodded and continued.
“In the 1930s, we’d start working when we were three or four years old…” Heather said.
“What?” Nash asked.
“By the time we were sixteen, we were so old and tired that…” Heather sighed. “It was a really different world. Sixteen was an adult. But now, kids go to school. They have a chance to grow up. It’s a mark of the growth of human civilization that most countries have ended this kind of child labor, that kind of extreme poverty.”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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