Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies


"Hey, Winston."

Flore sits down next to Winston, on a picnic table.

"Hey," he greets her back. It is silent for a while.

Flore's hands are trembling, and though she tries to hide it, Winston still notices it.

"What's wrong?" he asks, curious but worried. What happened to her?

The redheaded girl shifts on her spot.

"Someone just nearly died," she says quietly.

Winston's eyebrows shoot up.

"Who?" he asks, startled. Of course he knew that something was going on – he could see the tense group standing near the Doors – but he didn't know what exactly was going on.

"A guy named Josiah," she says, still on the same quiet tone. "He nearly got stuck in the Maze. He was injured, and Tim could save him just in time."

"Tim? The Slopper?" Winston asks, surprised. He didn't expect the clumsy Slopper to save someone's life.

Flore nods. "They're both in the Homestead, now. I think that I'm going to go to them. I don't think that I can fall asleep tonight, if I don't know that they're all right."

The anxiety in her voice surprises Winston. Why is she so worried? She knows those boys for only a couple of hours, probably even less.

Without thinking, he lays a hand on her shoulder, just like he had done that afternoon. Small streams of electricity shoot through his hand where he touches her.

"Hey," he says softly. "It'll be all right. Josiah is one of the best survivors we've got here. He won't die that easily, believe me."

Flore nods absently and pricks in her food with her fork. She looks anything but hungry, and that thought gets confirmed when she pushes her plate to the side.

"I'm not hungry," she says, but Winston puts the untouched plate back in front of her.

"Listen, we've all had a hell of a first day," he says, sounding stricter than he had meant to. "But not eating is not the solution. It's only a matter of time before you pass out of hunger, and we don't want that, do we?"

He sees Flore hesitate, and he piles it up a little more: "I'm going to feed you if you don't do it yourself."

She smiles at that, a small, careful smile, and she picks up her fork and puts a potato in her mouth.

"Well done. Good girl," Winston says, as if she is a young child. She wrinkles her nose, a sarcastic 'ha-ha-ha-now-that's-funny'-face.

Winston watches her as her plate grows emptier and emptier, until there's nothing left to eat, anymore. By that time, she is looking a lot happier, showing him that his advice has worked. She grins at him.

"How did you know that?" she asks him. "I mean, that eating helps."

Winston shrugs. "I don't know," he replies. "But it's a fact. People get grumpy and sad when they're hungry."

"I'll have to remember that," Flore mutters, looking like she is making a mental note. Then she stands up, putting her hair behind her ears.

"I'm going to Josiah," she says. "Just to see if he's all right. Are you coming with me?"

Winston shakes his head, already shivering at the thought of just walking into a room and start talking to someone – he wouldn't know what to say. Besides, he and Josiah don't get along so well. Actually, he doesn't get along so well with everyone here.

"No, eh..." he says to Flore, thinking up an excuse to not go with her. "There's some work I've got to do."

You're a wimp, Winston, a small voice in his head whispers.

Flore shrugs. "Okay. See you later, then."

She turns around, but before she has even walked away, Winston has already run off.

You're a wimp, Winston.

You're an incredibly stupid wimp.

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