Ancient Wolves - Prophecy of the Ruins

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Chapter 23

The conversation went surprisingly well. I didn’t expect it to end up the way it did, but I won’t complain. At least I wouldn’t have to face George for several weeks, wondering if my decision was right.

After leaving the office building, I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t dare to go back home, fearing George might still be in the living room where I left him. The only people coming to mind sheltering me for tonight were Gunnar and Tyra, but I was reluctant to ask for help again.

I walked towards the park’s center, shivering. I didn’t take a jacket with me, and it was getting cold now, with a strong wind. The center wouldn’t be open for much longer, but I stepped inside anyway, sighing in relief when the warmth greeted me. This might be the last chance for me to enjoy this place for a long time. I might as well take everything in while I still had the chance.

All the little stores were already closed, but the animals were still strolling around. The flamingos stood in the water, watching after me as I passed them. Dingo, the loud red parrot, screeched when he spotted me.

“Sorry, buddy, I have no treats for you today,” I told him. He eyed me with his intelligent eyes and bobbed his head. He probably didn’t understand what I was saying, but sometimes I like to believe he did.

This place had been my home for all these years, and it made me into the person I was now. I learned so much from observing the people here. Met so many nice people who brightened my day. All the unfriendly ones who taught me life lessons. I learned to deal with all sorts of complaints and moved on from it. Only a few days ago, I thought the obnoxious woman on the phone would be the worst I would experience this week, but now my life has taken such a weird turn. It almost seemed laughable how angry I felt.

I walked up the stairs to the bowling alley and looked through the windows at the swimming pool. It was almost empty, only a few people still jumped into the waves of the wave pool.

Very early in the morning, right when the pool opens, was when I usually went for a swim here. Early in the morning, barely anyone went to the pool, and I enjoyed the tropical environment as if I was alone. Imagining I would be on vacation somewhere far away. Sometimes I would help Michael take photos of the visitors in mermaid costumes or took part in diving courses. I could say a lot of things about working and living here, except one: boring. I was never bored. Every day was different, and I loved it.

I walked towards the bar, thinking about how George and the others sat here and spoke about us. My heart clenched imagining that, and I hurried past it to avoid all the feelings coming along with staying here.

Fiona greeted me from behind the bar while mixing a drink for a customer. I waved back and walked outside, making it seem as if I was busy. It would be even worse if I had to stop and speak to her. Who knows if she also heard about the things George spoke about with the others?

I also hurried through the arcade, because I knew if Felix stopped me, he would talk to me for ages. He has the skill of never going out of words. To my relief, he was busy fighting with one of the arcade machines and didn’t see me exiting through the glass door on the other side of the room.

Walking down the stairs, a large indoor playground for children came into view, and despite the time, a couple of children were still playing there.

I smiled. Sometimes George and I would stand here, and we would talk about our children playing in the playground, too. We imagined crawling through the small tubes ourselves, and George pretended his knees hurt from all the playing. Back then, we still believed everything we were dreaming about was going to come true soon.

I sighed and pushed off the railing to exit this room as well. In the background, a woman was singing. The evening event started. We didn’t do it often, but a few times we met with our colleagues and played bingo together. But usually, George and I spent time with each other instead with a group of people.

Everything here reminded me of us. This place was connecting us in so many ways, I didn’t bear to stay any longer.

The cold air hit me once I stepped outside. It was pitch black by now, and the small lights on the sides of the roads offered little light.

It’s good that this place is relatively safe, and I never heard of any incident happening here. If I didn’t know a tall fence separates us from the outside world, I would probably be concerned about safety. They should do something about this light though.

I hurried towards Gunnar’s and Tyra’s bungalow with the wind biting my skin. I cursed under my breath. Did they have to choose a bungalow so far away from the center?

When I finally reached it, I was ready for a hot bath. I knocked on their door, and it felt like forever until someone unlocked the door and opened it.

“Amalia,” Tyra said, her hair wild and all over the place.

I forced a smile. “It’s me. Once again.”

She opened the door wider and let me enter. “What happened?”

I stood in the small hallway, shivering. “I did it, Tyra.”

She arched a brow. “You did what?”

“I broke his heart, Tyra.” I barely got the words out before bawling my eyes out. She didn’t hesitate to pull me into a hug. She patted my back for a while before guiding me to the sofa in the living room.

“It will be fine. Come on, let’s get you warmed up,” she said, wrapping a blanket around me.

I pulled it closer, still shivering. Only a few hours ago I was sitting here, speaking to her about my options, and now it seemed as if there were no options in the first place. Like this was the only result.

I slipped off my shoes and curled myself together on the sofa. Tyra rummaged in the kitchen as my quiet sobs filled the room. I tried to be as quiet as possible, worrying I would wake the children that might already be asleep.

From the corner of my eye, a little wolf approached me. Svea, I believe, was her name. She nudged me with her nose, and I made space for her to jump up next to me. She stepped back and jumped up awkwardly, only half of her body landing on the sofa. I reached out for her and moved her up when she was about to flop back on the floor. She turned around a few times before laying down and pressing her back against me. I hugged her and sought comfort from her warmth.

Tyra placed a steaming tea on the table in front of us and sat down next to me. She ran her hand over my back in a calming motion and didn’t say a word, until my sobbing stopped and my eyes fell shut, drifting into a deep but restless sleep.

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