“Is that Gaven?” Ingrid lifted a pale hand to shade her equally pale blue eyes and stared into the setting sun’s light.
Irritated, Elijah only nodded.
“He shouldn’t force the emissaries to act. They’ll just send him to the Farm,” Ingrid said.
Elijah squirmed uncomfortably. He couldn’t let Ingrid know how close he had come to crying. “Should we say something?”
She thought for a moment. “He lost his family today… leave him alone.”
Elijah was grateful for her empathy—a rare trait among a culture where deep emotions were deemed distasteful. The chastisement of Gaven’s actions was nothing more than rote; one of the strange laws they’d followed compliantly since the End nearly thirteen cycles prior.
Elijah often wondered what it had been like before the End, but he couldn’t picture it since he’d been born into the new world. Now, all he had to imagine the lives of his parents and siblings were pictures and remnants. He wondered if it was harder for the others who knew both, or for him not to have known it at all. The way they mentioned it was almost reverential; he was sad he would never understand.
In the village behind them, hushed whispers announced the coming of the emissaries.
At her hip, Ingrid’s hand tightened on the pommel of her short sword, and Elijah followed suit. Did someone already call them? He wondered. After a few minutes of fearful expectation, he forced his hand to unclench.
After all we’ve seen today, Elijah pondered as survivors turned and dissipated into the dark houses of the settlement, maybe they don’t want to cause more pain?
It wouldn’t last, though.
It never did.