My alarm either didn't go off or I hadn't set it, because, rather than waking up to that familiar, annoying, relentless beep, I opened my eyes to my mother calling my name.
I sat up, rubbing the sleep dust out of my eyes and checking the time on my phone.
I wasn't that shocked despite the fact that I would normally have been up by nine. Normally an early riser, I was used to going to bed rather early. However, I had stayed up until two in the morning, reading that book that Nova had let me borrow. I was in awe of the beauty within science that I had never bothered to look for before. Science was not a main concern for anyone other than the Surface-Seers. We had learned about simple things like gravity, types of rocks and their uses, and the science of our bodies so we would recognize certain health issues and understand how to treat them.
I supposed that there were more important things for us to learn in school. The overall success and unity of Caldera was more important than useless facts about orbs of light in deep space, especially if we were never going to be able to see them anyway. I had realized that bitter fact halfway through my late night reading session, but I couldn't understand why it made me so sad. I'd gone eighteen years of my life without stars and, if I had been completely content without them for that long, who was to say I couldn't go the rest of my life without them? I'd slowly realized that it wasn't necessarily myself that I was worried about, but Nova. If she had learned about this as part of her training, then what other beautiful things could she have seen in those other textbooks. Surely some part of her yearns to be able to go to the surface, even if it is now in ruin. But she wouldn't risk her life...and certainly not the lives of others which exiting the community would cause. The smallest opening being created for the shortest amount of time could put the entire community at risk. Nova was a daredevil and a risk-taker, but she was by no means irresponsible or selfish. Still...I wondered what went through her mind when she read about those beautiful things that we didn't have.
My mother's voice brought me out of my thoughts. This time she was at my door.
"Estelle? Is something wrong?"
"No, mom! I'm fine, I just stayed up late last night."
"Alright...I wish you wouldn't stress so much over this song. I know you'll do fine. Will you be decent in a few minutes?"
"Nova's here. She said she wanted to talk to you."
I frowned. Nova wasn't one to "want to talk to" someone without it being something serious or negative (or both in most cases). She'd never used that phrase with me before, so, of course, I began to worry as I got dressed.
What if something she's learned has upset her? What if...no, I thought. No more "What if's". I was tired of fretting about things that I knew nothing about. It wasn't worth the stress unless I knew it was something to be stressed about.
I walked out into the living room about five minutes later. Nova was sitting on the couch. She looked quite troubled by something. I sat down next to her and spoke gently.
"Hey. I didn't know you were going to come over."
"That's because I didn't tell you. And I didn't know I was coming over today until I went home last night. I need to take the book back because of it."
I sighed. Something must have happened with her father. They would have arguments from time to time and Nova tended to take those to heart when they weren't that big of a deal.
"Was it your father? Nova, you know whatever he said in the heat of the moment he probably didn't mean. I hope I didn't get you into trouble..."
"No, it wasn't you fault. It wasn't a normal argument either...I've never seen him that angry before. His face turned really red and...he said something...really weird. It didn't make any sense."
"Sometimes when people let their emotions get the best of them they don't make sense."
"It wasn't a nonsense statement, though. When he lets emotions get the best of him, he tends to go quiet, because then he knows he will say things that a government official should never say if they want to keep their diplomatic status. This was a coherent sentence it just...didn't make sense with..."
I raised an eyebrow. Nova wasn't one to beat around the bush. This was clearly something difficult for her to say...how crazy had he gotten?
She looked up at me with a hint of fear in her eyes.
"Can we discuss this in your room? I don't really want anyone to hear this other than you."
We walked down the hall to my room and I shut the door. She locked it and looked around the room nervously, before awkwardly staring down at her feet.
"You know you can trust me, Nova."
"I know...it's just..difficult for me to wrap my brain around this and you might not...get it...I don't even get it. You really have to promise me that you won't tell anyone."
"No, of course I won't!"
Now I was definitely worried about her. Did she think other people would deny what she said? Did she think that I would blow up at her statement? No, that wouldn't make sense. She trusted me with everything. This...this was an entirely different territory. It was like she was going to tell me something completely insane.
Was I right about her wanting to attempt the unthinkable?
Did she actually want to leave?