World of Radiation

A Safe Place

Continued from ‘Everyone’s Scared

“Stop!”

The older boy and Arabella stop scuffling on the floor. Both turn to me, one dark set of eyes and one light. Shock clings to both of them. Dai and the younger boy look to me also, eyes widen in confusion.

The loudness of my voice surprises even me. I don’t know where it came from, but it clawed its way out and I’m happy it did because the two finally stopped fighting. Yet, now they look to me expectantly. Am I supposed to say something else?

I glance between the younger boy and Dai like they will have the answer, like they will be the next to speak. Neither of them do anything but stare. My heart sinks. What’m I supposed to do now?

With my eyes settling back on Arabella and the older boy, I sigh. I have to say something. “Would you two just stop fighting?” My voice is but a whisper now. Embarrassment flushes my cheeks and I glance to the ground. “I mean… hasn’t there been enough fighting already?”

My hand tightens on Dai’s hand, hoping it will give me strength.

“You can’t keep me here!” The older boy snaps at me, like I’m the bad guy.

I meet his blue eyes. Fear from earlier glitters there, but I realize now it’s not fear for himself. It’s fear for his brother, the one he was trying to find.

“You want to find your brother.”

The boy nods, his jaw firm and determined.

I glance to Arabella. Her jaw hangs open in shock. “Can we help him find his brother?”

Her dark eyes blink at me rapidly before she clamps her mouth shut. “We can, but not right now.”

The boy shifts under Arabella and she refocuses her efforts on restraining him.

“Stop, please,” I mumble. “You can’t keep him here. You can’t keep any of us here.”

Something flashes across Arabella’s face and her arms release the boy.

He scrambles to his feet. His eyes widen and his knees bend like he’s preparing to be attacked again.

“It’s scary out there right now,” I tell the boy. “Are you sure you want to go alone?”

His blue eyes find me and his brows knit together in confusion. “I… don’t have a choice. I have to find my little brother.”

I don’t know what he feels right now. I don’t have a sibling. I don’t have anyone to look for.

“We know,” Arabella offers, climbing to her feet. “And we will help you find him, but we can’t go now. Clara is right. It’s scary out there. It’s not safe. If you go now, it will be impossible to find your brother.”

“But-“

“I know,” Arabella continues, stepping forward. She crouches in front of the boy. “I know you need to find him. I know you’re scared for him, but it’s better for him if you’re safe enough to find him. Going out right now is dangerous. Please, stay here for now and I promise we will help you find him.”

The boy stares down at Arabella, his chin inclined like he’s braver than he is. But before he answers, he glances to me. His eyes drop to the two children on either side of me. “Okay,” he whispers, his shoulders deflating.

A small victory smile spreads across Arabella’s face and she stands once more. “Alright. It’s been a long night. Who’s hungry?”

The three younger children pop up at talk of food. Yet, the two next to me don’t follow Arabella and the older boy into the kitchen. They stay next to me.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Dai asks, staring up at me.

“I’m not hungry,” I answer.

Dai nods, but doesn’t move. Neither does the younger boy.

“You two should go eat. I’m sure you’re very hungry.”

They both stare at me and each take a hand. “The older girl is scary,” the boy whispers, the first thing he’s said all morning.

They’re scared of Arabella. I can imagine why. She’s not the nicest, calmest person in the world and she was just fighting with the boy in the hall.

With a sigh, I nod and climb to my feet, one child on either hand. “Alright. We’ll go together.” I don’t want to go into the kitchen. I don’t want to eat or speak to anyone. I just want… silence, but I don’t think I’ll get that. For whatever reason these children think I’m safe. Why? I don’t know.

I’m not strong. I’m not brave. I’m small and scared and I can’t protect them. I can’t take care of them. They should be clinging to Arabella or her mother whenever she returns. I don’t know how to take care of anyone.

Arabella glances over her shoulder as the three of us wander into the kitchen where the older boy sits on the ground. He picks at the hem of his pants, head hanging low.

I set the two children down a little ways away from him, still wary of how he might act, before turning to Arabella. “Do you need help?”

She glances down at me, her brows drawing together. “How’d you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Get them to come to you?” Her attention shifts to the two children clutching each other.

I follow her gaze and shrug. “I… don’t know.”

Something changes in Arabella’s face, like she’s sad, but she nods and turns back to her work. “Could you speak to him?”

“Huh?”

She refuses to meet my gaze now as she prepares food. “The older boy. Could you speak to him and find out his name?”

One look over my shoulder at the older boy and I want nothing to do with him. I’d rather help Arabella at the counter.

“I’m… not good at this,” she whispers, her voice lower than before. “Mother wants me to be, but I don’t know how.” Her head hangs and her hands stop moving. “I need your help, Clara. I need you… to speak to them and keep the calm.” Her eyes find mine. “This is a safe place. Can you… make them see that?” Worry and disappointment fills her dark eyes, but I can’t understand why. Why would she be disappointed?

But it doesn’t matter right now. Her mother told me to help out and if that’s the only way to help Arabella, then I have to try. I nod and turn to face the three of them.

This series has been cancelled.

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3 thoughts on “A Safe Place”

  1. Ooo I like this. You create great atmosphere. Only one suggestion. When you wrote: I glance to Arabella. Her jaw hangs open in shock. “Can we help him find his brother?”
    Maybe don’t restate his brother part. The reader already knows that MC is thinking after stating what he sees in the guys eyes. Instead, maybe, put: I glance to Arabella. Her jaw hangs open in shock. “Can we help him?”
    Again just a suggestion but it reads a bit repetitive with describing the worry about his brother, asking about the brother and then asking if they could help find the brother. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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