The next day the seventeen year-olds tested. They did well, although the population had seemed to decrease since the last time they had assessed. Afterwards, Emmett passed by the new houses in the square. As he passed by the one the Roberts family was staying in, he paused, then hesitated. Then he raised a fist to the door and knocked.
Mrs. Roberts answered the door. "Emmett. What a pleasant surprise."
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Roberts. I've, um, come to visit Amy?"
"Ah. Yes, of course." She stepped aside to let Emmett in.
"Thank you, ma'am." He walked down the hallway and quietly opened her bedroom door. To his surprise, Amy was sitting up at a table, awake, painting a picture.
"You're awake," He said. She jumped, startled. "Sorry."
"It's okay." She returned back to her painting. Emmett pulled up a chair and sat facing her.
"What're you painting?" He looked at the paper. Her hands were a mess of colors. What he saw on the paper gave him chills-the exact image of the serpent he had seen in her dreams. "Why are you painting that?"
Amy looked down at it as if she didn't recognize it. "I don't know."
"Are you alright?"
"I think so." She didn't sound very convinced.
She didn't respond.
A penny for your thoughts?
I don't think you should worry about it.
He gently probed her mind, only enough to hear what she said. But he felt a wave of pain coming from her, and she tensed.
Amy. What was that?
I said don't worry about.
Emmett. Listen to me.
She looked him dead in the eyes and this time spoke out loud. "Don't enter my mind again. Okay?" He narrowed his eyes.
"Is there something you aren't telling me about?"
"Emmett. I told you not to worry about it. Promise you'll stop worrying about me. Look me in the eyes and tell me."
He swallowed. "I don't think I can."
"Alright. How about this." She shifted so that her entire body was facing him. "Stop worrying that I'm going to die. I can take care of myself."
"Good enough. Now go."
"Please. Go. It's not that I'm mad at you, I just need some time to think about things. Thanks."
"Fine." He stood up and left her bedroom.