The doors of the hangar close too quickly, Toms' hurt expression no longer visible. Unfortunately, it is permanently ingrained in my mind. If only he could understand why I did what I did. I saw my mother transform into a Crank before my eyes. It was scarring for me as a child, and the image of seeing her covered in her own blood has never left my mind. Tom couldn't understand unless he had been there by my side. I hate Wicked yet at the same time I know deep down that their intentions are good. If it means destroying my relationship with Tom to save a large population, I have to support Wicked. Now I'm stuck with my decision. I wish I could've just ran away with Tom and never faced this myself, but it wouldn't've been possible for me to forget and leave the other struggling families to fend for themselves. I bury the hope of ever amending things with Tom and close my eyes, wishing for this nightmare to end. I actually wish I could have my memory wiped. Ignorance is sometimes the sweetest bliss.
Brenda, Newt, and I narrowly escape Wicked's clutches. I feel like I'm missing something by my side. I keep replaying the scene when Teresa left me. I have to forget about her: I tell myself. Newt yells to me, but I can barely hear him over my pounding heart.
"You can bloody slow down now shank. We lost them for good."
Brenda sprints in front of me and grabs my hand. "It's okay, Tom."
I halt to a stop and shake my head uncontrollably, the world around me shaking. Only Teresa calls me Tom. Teresa's gone. Teresa's gone.
"Okay," I say with a forced smile. We find a shed, with a partly collapsed tin roof. Even under the shade, I don't cool down. Hot anger and tender hurt is coursing through the blood in my veins. Brenda and Newt communicate something with their eyes and Brenda leaves to go outside. Newt comes over and sits next to me.
"Thomas," he mumbles, unsure of what to say next.
"I can't stop thinking about her. Newt, how could she do this? What happened?" I ask.
"I don't know but I'm sure there's some greater meaning behind this, Tommy."
Brenda walks back inside and sits down in front of me. Not being able to meet her eyes I say, "I'm okay. Let's just leave."
"It's still really hot outside. It would probably be a better idea to get some rest," Brenda says.
"Yeah, Tommy," Newt agrees.
"Well, I-I just need some fresh air," I walk quickly outside into the suffocating heat. Memories race through my mind. The Glade was so long ago and I know it's crazy, but I miss it. I miss it a lot. Everything was so much simpler. We didn't know who Wicked really was and what was wrong with the world.
I look out at the desert and see nothing but dry sand except for a few mountains in the far distance. I wonder where Teresa is now. I wish we could still communicate telepathically. I had never felt so close to her as when I could hear her thoughts clear in my head. I try sending her a message, but don't get a response back. I've never been in a dilemma like this before. I always have a plan and have a goal set for myself. This time I keep asking myself this question: "What do I do now?" I'm tired of being the leader and just want to give up. I don't feel motivated anymore to stand against Wicked. What if I've been too judgemental about their actions? What if they really are doing the right thing? What even is the "right" thing to do? I have no family and my closest friends are dead or separated from me.
I lay down on the sand and a slight breeze brushes some sand onto my parched lips. I open my mouth and I taste the bitter saltiness. It reminds me of the one kiss I've shared with Teresa. Her lips weren't soft, but rough. They were even a little salty. I crave one more kiss from her. She's like an oasis in this everlasting desert. Corny, I know. Brenda interrupts my train of thought and abruptly crouches down and kisses me. It's unexpected. Her lips are soft and gentle, nothing like Teresa's. Nothing burns inside my chest with a fiery passion like I once felt. I force myself to kiss her back and put my arms around her. It becomes easier when I pretend that she's someone else. The kissing gets more passionate and she is pushing me down, deep into the sand. I want to sink into the ground and never come up again. She makes me breathless, not getting enough air to breathe normally. I reach for her long, wavy, dark brown hair only to not grasp it. I jerk open my eyes to see that Brenda has short cropped hair. I'm messed up, my imagination always playing devious tricks on me. A single thought keeps repeating itself: "You're not her. You could never be her." The second time around, I'm not as stupid to say it outloud. Uncomfortable, I gently lean up, pushing her off me. Brenda's good for me, even if I don't love her. It's an easy and simple relationship, a path of no pain. There's definitely something wrong if love hurts. Right?