Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

Death Glare

It is lunch time when Flore sits down on a picnic table, near the kitchen.

Her head feels heavy; probably because it has been filled with lots of information, she thinks. Alby didn't let her ask any question while he was leading her around, causing her to bite her tongue so hard that it started to bleed at some point. When he was done talking, he had left, so that she still couldn't ask anything.

She feels like the boys here are not very well with girls.

She wonders how they treat that other girl, and where that other girl is; Flore hasn't seen her yet, but you would expect to recognize a girl in a place full of boys, wouldn't you?

A voice pulls her out of her thoughts, making her look up. Winston has sat down on the other side of the table. She hadn't even noticed him.

"Hey," he says. "How did it go?"

Flore rolls her eyes.

"I feel like my head's going to explode, but I still don't know the things I want to know," she says, pouting. "Alby didn't let me ask anything."

Winston shrugs.

"You can ask me, if you want," he says. "Alby isn't the only one who has answers. You could ask anyone here."

He gestures at the other Gladers – that's what they call themselves, Flore has learned – to make his point.

She chuckles.

"All right," she says, already searching in her mind for something she'd like to know.

"Eh..." She taps her fingers on the wooden table. "What's your dog's name?" she asks then.

Winston smiles, as if he likes the thought of his dog.

"That's easy," he replies. "His name's Bark. But don't worry," he adds, "he is actually really quiet. I don't know who came up with that stupid name."

He stretches his arms. "Next question."

Flore frowns, thinking. Her head is filled with things that she wants to know, but it's like she can't find the right words to speak it out.

A movement behind Winston distracts her; a long, blond boy is walking towards the table next to them. He is walking slowly and unstable, as if he is injured, and he looks tired, so incredibly tired. When he sits down, Flore can only see his back.

She points at the boy.

"Who's that?" she asks Winston, who turns around to see the boy. When he looks back at her again, he seems to have paled. Flore wonders what is going on here.

"That's Newt," Winston says, his voice lowered. "He was the boyfriend of the other girl here."

Flore frowns, confused. "What do you mean, 'was'? Did they break up or something?"

The boy behind Winston – Newt – shoots upright.

Shit, he has heard me.

Winston's face grows even whiter, and he shakes his head.

"No, they didn't break up," he says, his voice nearly a whisper, now. "She died."

Flore's mouth drops open, and then she closes it again to swallow difficultly.

A thousand questions and thoughts fly through her head – "How did she die?" "I want to get out of here! I don't want to die!" "Poor Newt..." – but she doesn't get the chance to speak them out, because she sees that Newt stands up.

She bites her tongue, knowing that someone is going to be angry at her if she says another word.

The blond boy slowly walks past her table and gives her a death glare before limping away. His eyes are red-rimmed, Flore notices, like he has been crying all day. Which wouldn't be strange.

Flore looks down at her lunch; toast with peanut butter. It has been standing there the whole time, waiting to be eaten, but she suddenly doesn't feel hungry anymore. She pushes her plate away.

A small, bitter voice sounds in her head, along with the sound of a sarcastic applause.

Well done, Flore, it says. Nice first impression.

She sighs.

"Well, I've messed that up," she says quietly, while not actually speaking to someone. She feels that someone puts a hand on her shoulder; Winston, probably. She doesn't mind.

"Hey, it's not your fault," he says, on the same whispering tone. "I think he's just having a hard time, you know. Attacked by Grievers, lost his job, girlfriend died... It must be hard to handle that all."

Flore nods, still not looking Winston in the eyes. "Yeah, I understand that."

It is silent for a while, and then someone shouts: "Lunch time's over! Get back to work!"

Immediately, all of the Gladers start to leave.

Flore looks up, to Winston. He is smiling comfortingly at her, but she has the strange feeling that there's something he hasn't told her. His eyes look like they are hiding something. Mentally shrugging, she puts the thought away. It doesn't matter, anyway. If he thought that it would be important for her to know, then he would have told her, wouldn't he?

Winston stands up, lifting his hand off her shoulder.

"I have to go," he says, turning into the direction of the Bloodhouse. "See you at dinner!"

"Bye!" Flore shouts back, though she actually doesn't want him to leave. She doesn't know anyone here, except for him, Alby and Newt, and she doesn't really want to talk with two of those people.

She sighs and watches him walk away, until he eventually goes into the farm and disappears.

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