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Chapter 58

“And another left,” Amaya hummed as we came to yet another intersection of tunnels. One had to wonder how she kept being so perky even when we were rounding at least our twentieth corner and we still haven’t found a staircase to bring us upstairs.

We also hadn’t found a torch so that we could see ourselves as we walked around this dirty place. We were no doubt going to be covered in dirt and dust and old pieces of things that I don’t want to know what they are.

I was starting to understand why the tunnels never seemed to get cleaned.

“Can you stop telling us what turns we’re taking?” Marlee asked tiredly, “I think we know which way is left and right still.”

For once, she was finally agreeing with me.

“Fine,” Amaya sighed. “Can you guys stop being such downers, though? It’s not exactly easy for me to be enthusiastic about leading us down yet another dark tunnel, but can we at least do something else other than huff every other breath?”

I felt oddly targeted.

“I’m not trying to huff every other breath,” I protested, “I just—”

“But you’re doing it again!” Amaya exclaimed, stopping and causing me to bump into her. In return, Marlee ran into my back, causing Amaya to stumble a second time.

“Maya, didn’t we agree not to stop anymore?” Marlee asked her patiently. “Now we’re going to have to go through the whole starting to walk process again and I’m not sure Calypso will be happy about me stepping on her foot again.”

“I won’t,” I confirmed.

“Will you two stop it?” Amaya shrieked. “I’m trying so hard not to freak out but I think that I’ve just gotten us lost in this tunnel and I don’t know how to get us out and we haven’t seen anyone since we’ve entered so we might be stuck here forever and you two keep…” she cut off and the tunnel fell into silence. It took a moment, but then I heard slight choking noises and realized that she was trying not to cry.

“Maya…” Marlee caught on first and pushed past me, feeling for my other arm, which led her to Amaya. “I’m sorry.”

Somehow, I got the sense that I was intruding on a suddenly intimate hugging moment. At least, that’s what I assumed they were doing. All I knew was that they’d both let go of me and Amaya’s sniffling was muffled.

“I mean, technically I was the one to get us lost,” I said, trying to make it better in my own clumsy way. “I just messed up badly enough that you couldn’t fix it.”

For some reason, that made Amaya cry harder.

“Look what you’ve done now, Calypso,” Marlee said in annoyance, still trying to comfort Amaya. “What did you even think that saying that would help with?”

“I…” I trailed off, suddenly feeling really bad. “I don’t know. I’ve never had to comfort anyone before. Why are you blaming me for all of this, anyway?”

“Because you’re the one who made it so much worse!” Marlee shrieked back.

“Stop it,” Amaya hissed, sounding like she was starting to get angry. “You two act like friends and then something goes wrong and you start fighting like you’re enemies. What is wrong with you two?”

“I mean, I call her my frenemy in my head,” I said, then realized that I probably shouldn’t have.

“She’s the one who’s messed up in the head,” Marlee growled.

I heard a scuffle and Marlee grunt slightly. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but the odds of them still hugging were slim.

“Why are you two so determined to throw each other under the bus at the first sign of a problem?” Amaya demanded. “Why did I even bother come with you two?”

For a moment, there was silence between all of us, but then Marlee broke it.

“Because you were the only one who could counteract out insanity,” she said softly. “And you might be the only one who’s willing to shove me against a wall when I’m being a jerk.”

For some reason that I couldn’t understand, I began laughing. “She pushed you against the wall? I thought you were hugging!”

“We were,” Marlee muttered, “until I opened my mouth and said something that displeased her a bit.”

“A bit?” Amaya asked incredulously.

“A lot,” Marlee amended, “now, let’s think for a moment. What should we do from here?”

I thought for a moment, just as she’d said. “Well, we have food, but I suggest we keep going until we can’t anymore because if we don’t, we’ll get thirsty and we don’t have anywhere to get water from.”

I sensed them nodding, judging from the slight breeze that brushed my face.

“Alright,” Marlee crept back to her spot at the rear and took my hand again, “once you’re ready, Maya.”

Amaya took my other hand and squeezed it tightly.

“Let’s do this.”

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