A few weeks later, Christian left a note in our secret place by my backyard bougainvillea. The sharp thorns dug at my shirt, and the bright pink blossoms tickled my cheek as I retrieved the paper. We were to meet by the side street coffee shop again.
I wandered the area for ten minutes, trying to look inconspicuous, before he finally showed up. With a brief glance over his shoulder, he pushed me roughly against the wall. He gave me a deep kiss, the kind of kiss meant to last a lifetime, then glanced over his shoulder. His agitation scared me.
“Degas is sick, Izzy, really sick. I know you’re happy here and you don’t want to leave, but if you change your mind—do you remember the instructions I gave you? Do you remember where all the blind zones are?” Christian’s grip tightened. “Well, do you?”
“Yes, but I—”
“The orphanage agents will be at my house within an hour. I had to see you before anything happens, one way or another.”
“Are you leaving?” I couldn’t believe it. Nobody left, or at least nobody succeeded.
Christian stared for a moment, assessing me, assessing the situation. “Don’t pay attention to me. I left, I would travel north. It’s easier, and I wouldn’t have to go through the desert. If I left, I’d go north. If someone asks then tell them. I would be long gone before they got close. I’ve found every avenue out of this city, in every direction, a hundred times.”
I stared at him. “What?”
He kissed me, long and hard. I think it was just a way to shut me up.
Glancing both ways again, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver ring with a small blue disc the size of a button. A tiny purple gem rested in the middle. He handed it to me. “This isn’t much, but it’s all I have. Keep it with you always, to let me know you care about me, okay? Keep it in a pocket so the school doesn’t confiscate it as unnecessary jewelry.”
The scuffled walk announced the arrival of the Watchboy. I pressed myself farther against the wall. Christian glared at him with defiance, then kissed me one last time. It was a long passionate kiss, the fingers of one hand in my hair while the other pulled me close. He groaned, hungry for more, and I pressed myself tighter against him.
The Watchboy’s monotone voice echoed between the close walls of the street. “You are in violation of ordinance three, two, four, one, dash, five, six…” The numbers continued without inflection.
I’d never heard a Watchboy speak before. It sounded so unreal, inhuman. As the kid finished the sequence, Christian turned and spit on the ground between them.
“Your profile has been recorded. You, Christian Montana,” the voice box droned, “and you, Isabel Jackson, will report to administration at the beginning of your next school day for instruction and you will refrain from further contact.”
Christian stroked my cheek. “Stay here for a couple of minutes then go home. I love you.” He ran to the other end of the street, and disappeared.
Colette Black writes a variety of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories from her home in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. The mother of five children, when not writing, her time is usually spent with family or keeping up with the kids’ three dogs, cat, and sand boa. Her first novel, Noble Ark, is due to release in April 2014.