The rest of the night was a haze. Roe felt like a ghost drifting through her own life, watching as if through an unfamiliar pair of eyes, as this girl, who had saved her life using abilities she could not comprehend, chatted happily with this man, her grandmother’s new boyfriend, who had replaced the stolen generator she had lost. Roe had heard their words and apparently understood them, as her head would nod from time to time and speak in reply. But, whether it was her injuries or simply exhaustion, and she did not know which, she felt numb, unsure, isolated in a thick fog. But, before she knew it, the night’s kitchen table-set conversation had ended, and she had showered, swallowed a few pills handed to her by her grandmother, and landed softly in her bed.
It was a heavy, dreamless sleep. And, seemingly as quickly as she had fallen into it, she awoke.
Light glowed outside her bedroom window, as she stretched in the quiet stillness of morning. She found that the bruises on her face and shoulder had faded and their swelling subsided, as she dressed, her stomach growling loudly.
“Hello?” she called into the house, as she made her way into the kitchen, but nobody answered. The clock on the fridge read 11:33, as she began rummaging through it for some food. Tucked on the top shelf was the closed carton of steamed buns, and, with a “Thank god,” she found there was still one left. Ready to lay waste to the bun and a few other cartons of leftovers, she sat down at the table and tucked in.
“Finally back from the dead, I see,” Bell’s voice sounded, as she entered the kitchen, a smile on her face.
Roe nodded, unable to reply with her full mouth.
Bell pulled up a chair and looked over Roe’s face, “Looks like the bruising healed up nicely.”
Nodding and finally swallowing her cheek-full of food, Roe replied, “Yeah, what did you give me last night?”
“Sweetie,” Bell said with a chuckle, “That was two nights ago, actually. You were out all day yesterday.”
The leftover steamed bun half in her mouth, Roe muttered a muffled, “What?”
“Yep, I checked on you around noon, but you were still out, so I figured your body just needed the time to heal,” Bell shrugged.
“So is...“ Roe began, apprehensively.
“Yes,” Bell nodded, “She’s out front reading on the porch.”
“Once we got back,” Roe said, hesitantly, “I don’t really remember what we said about what happened, umm...“
Bell gave a small smirk, “You gave us the gist but...” She chuckled at Roe’s furtive expression. “Ari explained everything yesterday morning.”
“Oh, okay--good,” Roe leaned back in her chair with a sense of relief, “It was--I mean--it’s--”
“Yes, it’s a lot,” chuckled Bell, “It’s... a lot.”
As Roe nodded, unsure of what to say, Bell’s amused expression shifted into an earnest gaze.
“Zero... I think you should go with her.”