When Devin came back with the blanket and toothbrush he’d described, I was still standing in the exact same position. I hated the insecurity that flashbacks always gave me. Maybe that was why I worked so hard to look invincible or at the very least, fierce. I didn’t want to be the helpless one.
“Here.” He said as he handed both articles over. “I’ll show you your spot.” He walked towards the group, letting me follow slowly behind him.
As I walked, I forced deep breaths. I blamed my nervousness on the lack of decent sleep rather than the fact that I was still working my way back to being Calypso. I was stuck as Callie and I hated it.
“Hey, guys!” Devin said as we walked. The group turned. Devin gestured to me. “Calypso is going to be joining us.”
The whole group stared at me in unison, which was, to say, nerve-racking. Some of them seemed interested, others were just about the opposite.
“Hi,” I said uncomfortably.
No one replied for a moment. “Well, hi.” One of the girls said finally. A couple of them cracked smiles. “We’re already half asleep, sorry.”
“Oh.” Relief ran through me. “Okay.”
She smiled. “I bet you don’t remember any of our names, do you?”
I hesitated. “I actually think I still know all of you guys’ names.”
Each of them looked at me in surprise. One of the guys smirked in a challenge. “Who am I, then?”
I looked at him. “When you phrase it like that, it’s almost suggesting I can choose. Would you like me to do that or answer the question I know you meant to say?”
There were a few snickers from the group and even Devin cracked a smile.
“The last one.” The boy half growled.
“Let’s see.” I tapped my lips as though I was thinking. “You’re Amaya.” I pointed to the girl who’s spoken. “And then there’s Adrienne, Cecelia, Marlee, May, and Zoe.” I went down the list of girls in a different order just to mess with him. “There was Devin,” I jabbed my thumb at him. “Edmond, Nick, Leo, and...” I made a face and turned back to the boy. “Well, what do you know? I don’t remember!”
The girls burst out in giggles, especially Zoe.
Don’s face flushed red. “You know my name.” He gritted out.
I smiled at him. “I do, but you’re being rude.” I shrugged. “I’ve got some rules.” I smiled sweetly at him. I looked around. “So, none of you should try to kill me in my sleep, otherwise we may have a funeral to put on, but other than that, I should be safe.” I glanced at Don again. “To some people.”
Devin coughed in what I almost suspected was an attempt to cover a laugh. “Okay. Marlee, could you show Calypso where her spot is?”
Marlee nodded and walked off. I followed her, conscious of Don’s eyes boring holes in my back. Not that I cared all too much. I was pretty used to it.
“I’m not sure you should’ve done that,” Marlee said softly when we got out of earshot.
I glanced over at her. “I do a lot of things I shouldn’t do.”
I meant it as a joke of sorts, but Marlee took it at face value. “We all do, but Don’s a force of nature. Only Dev and Nick dare tease him.”
I studied her, a bit startled by the fact that she seemed somewhat worried for me. I looked away. “I can take care of myself. I meant what I said about not touching me in my sleep. I might break someone.”
Marlee didn’t look convinced. “If you say so, I guess.” She stopped right next to a pile of stuff. “This is my spot,” She pointed to the neat area. “And that’s Zoe’s.” She pointed to another pile of stuff a short distance away that was considerably messier. “You’ll be between us.”
I nodded slowly, slightly confused. “So, we still have designated spots to keep our stuff?”
Sadness flashed in Marlee’s eyes for a second. “Whatever stuff you have, yes.”
I nodded, feeling slightly bad for having made her remember something. I knew how it felt to be pulled back into a memory. “Thanks.” I looked at the blanket in my hands, suddenly unsure.
“I can help you,” Marlee said, noting my hesitation.
I bit my lip, looking back up at her. “I...” I looked back at the spot on the floor and closed my eyes. “Sorry. I’m fine.” I crouched down and unrolled it, not bothering to make sure it’s all flat. The wrinkles and folds that didn’t come undone grounded me.
I stood back up and refused to meet Marlee’s empathetic gaze. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to...” I broke off abruptly, my words catching. I just held up the toothbrush in my hand to try to get my point across.
“Oh.” Marlee paused. “I can bring you or I can get one of the other girls to go with you. I’ve already brushed my teeth, though.”
I still didn’t meet her eyes. “Whatever you want.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her shoulders slump. “I’ll go get one of the girls.”
As she walked away, I felt guilty. I refused to let it show on my face, though. I stared at the other side of the room, watching people move around until someone came to get me.
“You want to go brush your teeth with me?” I looked over to see Cecelia.
Mutely, I nodded. I didn’t miss how all the girls were trying to welcome me into the fold. I also didn’t miss the fact that my mood was changing so quickly, none of them were doing so good. It wasn’t their fault, but I was having a rough time.
“Sorry about Marlee. She’s really nice, but sometimes she’s a little bit harder to be around. I think for me, it’s her perkiness that drives me up the walls.”
I almost didn’t say anything. “I just hate memories.” I didn’t look at her, but I saw her grimace.
“Ah, well. That’d do it too.” She made a rueful face. “All of us are going to be on your bad list if we keep talking to you, won’t we?”
Now I felt pretty bad about everything. “No, I mean, I don’t want you to be, but...”
Cecelia managed a shrug. “I get it. We’ve all got pasts. We all know that sometimes people need their distance. We’ll also be there for you if you need us.” She turned down a hall and ducked under a fallen beam, walking on.
I barely had to duck but I scrambled to keep up with Cecelia’s strides. I must just walk slow. “I’m sorry. I’m not used to...” I swallowed. “No, that’s not true. I just miss my family.”
Cecelia didn’t say anything but led me outside. Outside the opening, she stopped and forced me to look at her. “I’m not going to ask what happened and I’m not going to pry, but eventually you’re going to need someone and all of us are willing to be that person if you need us to.”
Don came to mind and I opened my mouth to say something, but she stopped me.
“Even Don.” She said, her lips twisting into a wry smile. “We don’t all act like it, but we know that everyone needs someone and certain people struggle more than others. We won’t judge you because we don’t know what you’ve been through. It’s not our business and most of us have pasts that we just want to forget.” She cocked her head. “Now, ready to have the oddest teeth brushing of your life?”
I blinked at her in confusion. “I, uh... Thanks? What?”
She laughed slightly. “Come here.”
I walked closer to her and she pointed at the ground. There was a small stream, so tiny that one might miss it. Yet, it was just large enough to have pools of water. “Oh.” I couldn’t decide if the feeling in my stomach was nausea or nervousness. It could be both.
Cecelia laughed louder this time. “I’ll show you.”
I looked down at the water then glanced back at my toothbrush. “Right.” I pasted a smile on my face. “Teach on.”