Haven Page 38


I pressed my lips together to keep them from trembling. This was so not the time for this. But it was happening, and to stop it would have been disrespectful.


“Why? Why do you have to go? It’s dangerous out there.”


“Yes, it is. Dat’s true. But in here it’s dangerous too.” He looked down at the ground, holding onto the fence with his fingers above his head while he kicked the gravel with his toe.


“Not really. It’s safer here than most places.”


“Maybe for some things. But for my heart, it is not safe. It is destroying.”


I knew what he meant. Every day that I saw him moving around without me, doing his thing and smiling when I wasn’t a part of his life, a little piece of me felt like it shriveled up and died or something. It was a painful process, this one of letting go.


“Where would you go? To the Amazons’ place?”


“Maybe. Or maybe I will go to da Keys and make anudder contact point for us.”


“A pilgrimage?” I asked, kind of joking but kind of not. Maybe a road trip is what Bodo would need to get his head back on straight.


“I don’t know what dat is. But I needt to find my own place dat doesn’t have Paci dare.”


I sighed. “Why is it always about Paci? I haven’t done anything to be with him. I’ve been all alone since … since I found out about what you did. Since before that - since the day I told him I could never be with him because I was with you.”


He dropped his hands from the fence and looked at me. “But you are not with me. Not now.”


Tears were in his eyes and mine too. I shook my head. “No, you’re right. I’m not. I wanted to just forget that you lied. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. I was so disappointed in you, Bodo.” My words were barely a whisper. We were finally saying what had been cooking in our minds and hearts for two weeks. It was horrible but necessary.


“We both didt bad things.”


“Yes. We did. But I told you the truth, all of it. Without you even asking me about it. I’m not saying I’m guilt-free, but I think I did the best I could under the circumstances. And I told you so you’d have the option to make your choice about me. But you didn’t.” My voice trembled with emotion. “You outright lied. You kept things from me. Even when I confronted you, you continued to lie. If Kirsten hadn’t come here and visited us, I’d still probably be living under the shadow of your lies.”


His jaw clenched. “Kirsten.”


“Don’t be mad at her. She wants you for hers. She’s very up front and honest. You can’t blame her for trying to take you away.”


“I blame her for everything.”


It was like a light switch in control of a very dim and dying light finally flicked off. That was the moment I stopped feeling so terrible about Bodo wanting to leave. It was so simple. Just one sentence. Something deep inside me was glad he’d finally said it out loud.


“Kirsten is blameless. It’s you who’s to blame, Bodo. I hope one day you can look in the mirror and understand that.” He had so much growing up to do. Why hadn’t I seen that before?


He turned towards the building and shoved his hands in his front pockets, not looking at me anymore. “Do you needt help with da problem inside?”


“You can help if you want. I’ve asked Paci and Trip to do a trial of some sort with her. We need some kind of fair process to figure out her sentence or whatever.”


“I will take her to da Amazons with me if you want. Dat’s something I can do for you, if you let me.”


“I don’t want you to go. It’s dangerous. And even though you and I aren’t together anymore, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you anymore. You’re family. I don’t want you to put yourself in danger, especially not for an idiot like her.”


“I have to leaff. It’s too much pain for me here. Dat Paci is in luff with you and soon you will luff him too. He’s a good boy. Dat’s true. I don’t like it, but dat’s true. He iss very much like his brudder dat way. He will be good to you.”


Bodo started walking towards the building.


I ignored his foretelling of my future love life. I was in no position to be falling for any boy anytime soon. I wasn’t good at it. “If I can’t change your mind, I hope you’ll accept whatever we can offer to keep you safe on your trip … to the Amazon place or the Keys.”


“Yes, I will do dat. I don’t want to die. I just want to be happy.”


My heart spasmed with the pain, knowing that Bodo couldn’t be happy with me, anymore than I could be with him.


Maybe if our world had been like the old one, we could have moved on from the lies. But then again, probably not. In the old world I would have had my father’s wise counsel, and he surely would have told me that I couldn’t build a life with a person I could not trust.


Bodo was a good guy, and I knew he’d always have my back. But the boy I chose to spend my life with had to have not just my back, but my heart, too. He had to protect it with everything he had, not be careless with it.


Lies were carelessness in fancy packaging. I was done with all of that useless garbage.


Chapter Eight


PETER HAD MANAGED TO GET a good portion of the kids who weren’t busy working or guarding the perimeter to gather in the main dining hall. Trip, Paci, and I sat at a long dining table and Gail stood in front of us, her handcuffs off. Flick and Derek stood behind her and Ronald and Jamal stood at her sides. Everyone else rested at tables and benches around the room.


“Gail, do you know why you’re here?” asked Paci. His voice and expression were the picture of patience. He sounded so much like his brother, it was spooky. As soon as the first word was out of his mouth, the murmuring of the gathered crowd stopped.


“Yes. Because of her,” she said, gesturing at me.


“No, you’re here because of you,” said Trip, annoyed. “And your behavior that’s put all of us in a bad spot. Now we have to decide what to do with you.”


“Let’s get this done,” said Paci. He sounded very tired. “I need someone to tell us what happened.”


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Peter stood up and moved to Jamal’s side. “I’ll tell you what I saw.”


“He’s just going to give everything from her side. They’re both in on it,” argued Gail.


“You’ll get your chance. Just wait,” said Paci. “Peter, please go ahead and tell us.”


“Gail had come to us again to ask if she could work with Jenny and the EWS, like she has many times before, and we told her no. She complained that other people get special treatment - she mentioned Fohi - and accused us of playing favorites and being unfair. And then she started slinging insults and got Bryn upset, so Bryn went up to her and then Gail brought out a knife.”


Several kids gasped out in the audience.


“And she threatened to kill her with it or a bullet.”


“She attacked me! She hit me! It was self-defense!”


“Gail, wait your turn,” said Paci. Turning to Peter, he said, “Is that all?”


“Yes.” Peter sat down.


Paci turned to me. He spoke louder than he needed to for the benefit of the crowd. “Is this all true?”


“Yes.” I nodded to everyone who was looking.


“What was the insult? What got you upset?” asked Trip.


I thought about it for a second, but decided it was just too inflammatory to say. She needed to be judged on her behavior, not her stupid hangups. “It’s not important.”


“If it made you angry enough to approach her, it’s important,” said Trip. “I need to know if you were justified in doing what you did.”


Peter stood. “I’ll tell you what she said. It doesn’t bother me, just for the record, even though it’s as ignorant as cannerism.”


I shook my head slowly at him, but he ignored me.


“She called me a gayboy.”


I glanced at Trip and knew that it was a done deal for him. Gail was a goner.


“She shouldn’t be punished for being ignorant,” I said.


Paci stood, putting one hand on Trip’s shoulder and one on mine. “I think I speak for almost everyone here when I say that prejudices are the simple disguises of hate. And we don’t tolerate hate in Haven. Hate breeds negativity and anger and pain. Nothing good comes of it. Gail, you’ve been open with your hostility towards Bryn, Peter, Trip, and many others since the day you arrived. You’ve made no secret of your intention to leave one day.”


She opened her mouth to interrupt, but Paci held up his hand to silence her.


“We will take a vote here today to decide whether you stay or go. But before we do that, do you have anything you want to say? I suggest you come up with something that will allow us to show you some mercy.”


“Mercy? That’s a joke. What I have to say is this: you people are all deluding yourselves. You think you can just hand pick who you want here and who you don’t? Bullshit. If I want to be here, I’ll be here. If I want to go, I’ll go. You can try to kick me out, but I’ll come back, and I’ll bring friends. None of you is safe here. None of you gets to decide for me what I do with my life.”


Paci raised an eyebrow. “That was your plea for mercy? Interesting.” He looked at Trip and then me. “What’s your vote? Stay or go?”


“I vote go,” said Trip. “No question. She’s a disease.”


Gail’s face burned crimson. “Figures. You gayboys stick together, don’t you?”


Trip’s hands clenched on top of the table.


“Easy, brother,” said Paci under his breath. “She’s nothing to us.”


“Bryn? Stay or go?”


All eyes were on me. Trip was right. She was a disease. She was trouble. She’d threatened to kill me. But I couldn’t just send her out to die, could I?


I caught Bodo’s eye. He nodded at me and pointed at himself. I will take her, he said, mouthing the words.


I bit my lip as I considered the option. He was going to leave anyway. And she knew he wasn’t with me, so she had no problem with him. I didn’t worry that she’d kill him on the way to the Amazon’s. I nodded my head at him.


“I vote she goes. But know this - Bodo has already volunteered to escort her to the Amazon place. I’m not sure if I could have voted for her to go if we were just going to send her outside the gates.”


Paci stood. “I vote she goes, escort or not.” His eyes swept the room and stopped on Gail. “Gail, you are hereby expelled from Haven for a period of one year. You can ask to come back after that period if you wish, and we’ll consider your request with open minds and hearts.”


“Fuck you,” she said, right before she spat at him.


The crowd broke out in angry shouts. Ronald and Jamal closed in, stepping nearer to Gail in a protective gesture. She shoved them away, acting like she was going to make a run for it.


Flick ended her scheme by tackling her from behind, taking her down and wrestling her arms behind her back. With Derek’s help he snapped on some cuffs and stood her back up.


Ronald’s eyes bugged out of his head and he pointed at Flick. “That’s it! I remember now! You played that kid cop in that Disney movie! Ha!”


Gail had a cut on her lip where she’d landed, and the blood was running down her chin and smearing gruesomely across her teeth.


Flick stood next to Gail, his hand on her shoulder, rolling his eyes at Ronald. “Not now, dude.”


Gail had zero interest in Flick’s former life. She was practically foaming at the mouth, she was so angry. Blood sprayed out with every word. “Fuck you, Bryn! Fuck you, Paci! Fuck you, gayboy! You can’t send me out of here! You can’t send me out!”

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