The Center of Gravity

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Episode 7: Paired

The two of us began to pedal down the road on two bikes I found in my garage. Though I did feel comfortable wandering around my neighborhood, it was weird with Seth. He described the place he waking up to, which was surprisingly close to my house.

“Even if you did crash in a helicopter, wouldn’t I have known about it?” I asked as he began to cruise beside me.

“I don’t know! I just need to find it.”

“But why?” I protested. “If it causes you this much pain--”

“Rowin, I need to know that it’s real and I didn’t just dream it,” he said firmly.

I nodded and kept pedaling. I felt the same about a lot of things when I alone.

His statement hit me. All of this could just be a hallucination. Seth could just be here because I was going insane and making him up. Was I riding biked with a made up, pretend, fake friend? What if none of it was me living?

He could be a figment of my imagination, and not be real at all.

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By the time we reached the “crash site”, my cheeks stung from the frigid air and clouds had quickly covered the sky. My fingers and toes had gone numb while Seth’s ears were pink, color only returning to his face because he was cold.

I paused in front of the house that was about five miles from mine. It had taken us an hour or so to reach it, maybe more because of the weather. From the front of the house, it was absolutely undisturbed.

“Are you sure this is it?” I sighed.

“It has to be,” he whispered.

He got off his bike and ditched it in the front yard. Shoving his hands in his pockets, he walked up to the house. I could see his legs wobbling and began to worry. Was he sick?

“Seth, wait!” I called after him, following quickly. It worried me that he was suddenly desperate to find parts of him.

He didn’t wait for me.

I stopped in my tracks, staring at the front door. My heart grew heavy as I feared what would happen. I didn’t have the compass anymore, so I couldn’t give him anything. I was never the best at comforting people.

We were in this together now, whether he liked it or not. Whether I liked it or not. No matter what, we had to stick together, even if there were more people on earth.

Gathering my courage, I went after him. Half of the house was demolished, the back totally wiped out. Shingles barely clung to the roof and snowflakes were catching on abandoned furniture. At the edge of the drop off into the backyard stood Seth, arms limp at his sides, not moving.

Cautiously, I approached him. My footsteps hit the worn wood firmly until I ended up at the edge as he was. I looked to him first.

Tears were running down his cheeks from pools of them gathered. His clear, faded eyes shone, unblinking. He sucked in a breath through flaring nostrils and trembling lips.

“Seth, I’m right here.”

I placed a hand on his arm and he leaned into my touch. Without thinking, I pulled him into a tight embrace.

“What’s this?” he breathed.

“A hug,” I answered quietly. “It’s what you do when you care about someone.”

“Oh,” he replied. A moment passed before he slipped his arms around me then choked out, “I care about you, too.”

I closed my eyes, a tear leaking out. He buried his head into my hair, letting out a sob.

“It’s real,” he breathed in my ear.

I turned my head to see the wreckage of the house below. I rubbed his back as he continued to cry. My eyes grew wide.

Trees were torn down, half of the house was in the dying grass. Seth’s warmth made my heart speed up. Cold wind cut my exposed skin, but through all the distraction I saw it.

A helicopter.

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