Ellie didn’t even realize how much that girl made her world go round until she was gone. For weeks, Ellie was utterly lost. She missed her so much that it literally hurt, like a black hole in her chest constantly threatened to consume her. She didn’t have any other friends, really—no one else at the military school got Ellie. Not like Riley did. Without her, she was alone. She spent every night replaying their last conversation in her head, trying to comprehend what had made Riley say such cruel things and walk right out of her life.
And then, suddenly, she came back, with a Firefly pendant around her neck and that stupid smirk on her face.
It took Ellie all of fifteen seconds to forgive her. In the back of her mind, a stern voice that sounded an awful lot like Marlene warned her to be careful with this girl, to remember the reason why the past forty-six days were hell, to stay on guard.
By the time Riley jumped onto a bench and ran across, arms spread out like an airplane, the little voice began to fade. By the time she convinced Ellie to fucking roar with a werewolf mask on her head, the voice was barely audible. When they sat in that photo booth, so close that Ellie was sure ...
... middle of paper ...
...to finding a cure?”
Ellie shook her head, looking away. What use was a cure if it couldn’t save Riley?
“I… This is so fucked up.”
“Please, Ellie.” Pinpricks of blood had crept into the corners of her eyes.
Ellie clenched her jaw to try to stop herself from shaking.
“Okay. I will.”
Riley sighed in relief, trying and failing to fight down another coughing fit.
“I’m so tired.” There was a finality to her words that made Ellie’s stomach drop.
She closed her eyes and leaned back against the air vent. The sun had set, and the humid summer air grew chilly. They both shivered. Ellie watched Riley’s face twitch and contort as she struggled to rest. She ran a hand across her feverish forehead, gently pushing her hair away from her face.
“I’m right here,” she said quietly. Riley’s hand clutched hers like it was the only thing left tethering her to this world.
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