Umbra

Umbra: Latin for shadow, shade, dark, dust, ghost. During a solar eclipse the world becomes the area of Umbra… the area in total darkness, but isn’t the eclipse what everyone wants to see, the rare beauty and intriguing flaw? The sun, necessary to the world’s life, completely hidden and everyone wants a bit of it, even though certain death would be imminent. The earth is caught between the contrasting moon and sun… Will it go for the sun- survival, life, warmth- or the solar eclipse- chilled, different, and ghostly? But of course, it’s not as simple as that, there are forces working against the world and things are not as simple as saying so. Umbra… What will she choose: is there a choice when it’s destined?

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7. Chapter Seven

 

"Hey Lili, over here!" a voice chanted in the corner of her ear as she gripped tightly onto her tray. It was Rachael Blair sitting smugly along with Amina, Aimee and Nadine, a slender girl with a boyish frame and auburn hair, Gracelynn had learned wasn't all too partial to social interaction.

Then Lucca caught her eye, as his hand saluted in the air to welcome her over, along with what appeared to be a highly drunk Mia.

And then of course there was Zeph, who had his body laid out on the chair suavely and effortlessly with Ceire fiddling with a pasta salad across the table.

The choice became simple enough: she'd spread her time out, socialising with each group. She walked carefully over to Rachael Blair, the closest table and signalled 'two minutes' to Lucca. The words she told him the previous night seemed to ring with him, as no unnecessary abuse what hollered.

As she sat down, she noticed each of the girls' faces beaming with anticipation, watching on at her, as if she were queen of the pride.

"So?" Aimee droned on.

"So what?" Gracelynn played out trying to get the greatest build up possible.

"Zeph, you damn girl." Amina play smacked the side of her face as if she had lost her mind during her sleep.

"I can't even begin to explain it," A smile beamed onto her face as she chewed at a mouthful of baguette leading to a not-so-flattering face. "He had candles everywhere, rose petals scattered on the bed."

"No way!"

"Shut up."

"I cannot believe this!"

These were the precise reactions she was expecting; gobsmacked, puzzled, surprised, happy. All except for Nadine who held a modest, pleasant look upon her face at all times.

"We watched Gone with the Wind and I swear, it was the most romantic moment of my life. I- I've never been quite so happy. There was a small mishap with someone throwing a stone in at Zeph, which left a cut and knocked a candle over, but we sorted that out soon enough."

"Oh my god Lili, a fire?" Rachael Blair screeched.

"No, I got a pillow to it quickly and I cleaned his wound up and-"

"Oh my, just like Florence Nightingale!" Rachael Blair slipped in, blossoming her theatrical reaction.

"Then we danced to Vera Lynn and... and I was so happy." Her face by now was a warm puce from the blushing, but somehow she didn't care.

They continued with the mindless and light gossiping while eating, that left Gracelynn feeling wanted. They included her in every aspect giving commentaries here and there in spots, she was not sure about. Of course, Mia was a discussed topic. How she would flee classes to go make out with her boyfriend, not under the bleachers, but his office, the head teachers office. Apparently it has become quite the scandal. However, it couldn't flee her mind that once upon a time she lived a similar, destructive lifestyle. But that was the past.

They finished of their lunch and sat for several minutes for an opportunity to discuss topics of interest. It seemed like the right moment for her to leave them to the heated conversation, to talk with Lucca, and so excused herself to head towards him.

"Lucca." She bolted up behind her cousin and gave him a hug around the neck.

"Gracie, you okay?" He said turning up to her with a fresh, wholesome grin.

"Are you sure she's your cousin, Lucca?" Niall sat down a few seats looking thoroughly pleased with his provocative joke. Gracelynn let her grip become loose as she felt her insides squirm; Lucca looked not at all pleased. His smile turned to a scowl and Niall's obnoxious confidence floated into some distant land.

"Christ’s sake Niall, I was giving my cousin a hug because I love her as my family." He became strong and defensive as he leaned across the full table leaving Niall with a lump in his throat. Gracelynn's heart warmed as he said this, her cousin, one of the best people she had ever met, one of her closest and dearest friends, had just placed himself out in the open to be ridiculed. She couldn't help but notice how incredibly different, in the best way possible, he was to these people, his moral compass true to north and heart warm and caring.

"Thanks Lucca, I better get going anyway." She said while staggering away from the conversation and disturbing Niall.

"Well look at the time, I better get going too. Can't leave Phillip waiting." Mia received indecisive faces, from the group congregated around the table, awkward and scrunched up as she left the hall staggering from the alcohol.

Zeph.

She saw him brush back his hair in the corner of her eye. A spring, sprung in her step as she headed towards him, her heart beginning to thump speedily with the excitement of meeting a new romance. Her voice rang as she called over to him and a smile, which was rarely saw by the rest of the school, leapt up onto his face. He slid his chair out from under the table and patted his lap for Gracelynn to sit on.

"How are you after last night." She stared into his eyes, to make that safe connection that she loved so much, and placed her hand caringly onto where the wound was.

"It's fine ho-" He said abruptly but kindly.

"Well let's see," She lifted up his chequered shirt, to her surprise, to find nothing at all. "Where is the cut? It was this side, right?" She became perplexed. The bruise the previous night was a rich indigo, which alone would last a week. But the cut, deep enough to produce a light bleed, had vanished also.

"Yeah," He became panicked, "My dad. He supplies me with plenty of creams. Arnica: clears it up straight away."

"Hi Lili. How are you today?" Ceire, who was sitting across from them, still making a mountain out of her pasta salad, pulled herself into the conversation. Gracelynn could obviously take the hint: the injury, or the speedy healing of it, was not a wanted topic of conversation. Possibly he had a condition; maybe it was classified medication he used; maybe he was squeamish; maybe it was her imagination, that was forever creating magical concoctions of situations, making a molehill out of nothing.

"I'm good Ceire, thanks," She said chirpily, while running her hands through his hair, "How about you?" She turned to share a pleasant look, but Ceire appeared nothing more than dazed and insane.

"I'm brilliant, thank you Lili. Today I'm going to the gardens to pick flowers for my flower arranging." Ceire replied while tilting her head to the side, in a mad fashion.

"I think I may go for a walk to the sycamores if you want to join me?" Zeph questioned in a highly pitched voice, hinting for her to go with him.

"I'd lo-"

"Hi Lili, thought we'd come over and join y'all, if that's alright." Rachael Blair burst out, interupting Gracelynn, with her brash Texan accent, Amina, Aimee and silent Nadine in tow. This is why she got on so well with her; the sarcastic and unsubtle attitude always brought a small slice of happiness into her life.

"That's fine." Gracelynn replied with a giggle.

"Hi Zeph. It is Zeph, right?" Amina blurted overly naively.

"Hi Amina, Aimee, Rachael Blair, Nadine," He nodded to each warmly, "Yes, I'm Zeph. I was in your maths class three years ago." Gracelynn could spot Amina cringing. She knew he didn't mean it in a bad way, the now permanent smile slapped on his face told her it was not malicious, it was just him letting her know he was aware. Hot insane, as some believed. Gracelynn still hadn't found a logical explanation for the reason people felt this. He was so charismatic, friendly, romantic around her. Maybe she was the spark needed to ignite him. But why?

Rachael Blair, Amina and Aimee continued innocently interrogating Zeph on each aspect of his life. Gracelynn could tell he never minded, in fact he seemed more pleased and willing to share considering it appeared they genuinely cared. Nothing's better than falling for a friend, she said it herself. Maybe if they were accepting him, and he was accepting them, that was exactly what she was doing.

"I'm sorry to break this off girls, but I think me and Lili are going for a walk."

"See you later. I'll text you when I come back to meet up." She capered off of Zeph’s knee and they cavorted hand in hand towards the door.

* * *

 

"So what do you think." She shone her eyes up toward his, with the memorable violet flecks, hoping for a positive answer.

"About what?"

"Rachael Blair, Aimee, Amina, Nadine?"

"Hello there. I'm Rachael Blair, a-e-l, not e-l. I changed it myself, my old name was not appropriate for show business." He spieled her accent and laid his hand out stiffly as she would, leaving Gracelynn bent over with laughter.

"Okay, okay, I see what you mean. But when you're around her a bit more, she becomes a bit more palatable."

"They seemed nice enough. Your friends are my friends." He held his arm around her shoulder pulling her tightly into his body, enveloping her in warmth, before leaving a small pecking kiss upon her head.

The pair walked for several more minutes, before the grandiose trees were in sight, looking as magnificent as ever, thanks to Angus.

They stood glaring up the towering stumps, Zeph appearing to be planning out a route. 

"Zeph?" She gave a wary look, realising what his intentions were.

"Yeah?"

"We're climbing up this, aren't we?"

"That was the idea." He brought his eyes back down to Gracelynn, his calculations complete. His smile was devious and daring, capturing her in a spell.

"I'm wearing loafers, how am I meant to do that?" She chirped, trying to bring him to his senses.

"I'll help you, I promise." He brought her hands together with his and held his gaze deeply into her.

"Seriously, the things you rope me into." She gave in. What was the worst that could happen? Zeph was there and he promised his help. Plus, she needed more adventures in her life, something liberating to do, to build up that abstract canvas. Maybe the way he left her weak was a good thing, it left her more approachable, happy, alive. She had never had this experience in London.

 

"You love it," He teased with a wink as he proceeded to hold onto the stump "I'll go first so I can pull you up at points, okay." He was already swinging onto a branch by the time he had finished, leaving Gracelynn with no choice but to accept. His two arms were carefully dangling from a sturdy branch, legs swinging in with the wind as he called, "Come on Lili. I've got you." She couldn't help but think he didn't even have himself in control in such a position. But he had proven someone to trust the previous week at bludgeonball.

She began wary, assessing each branch, as Zeph stormed ahead. Take a chance. She thought. He had made his way to the destination; a chunky branch, around eight meters off the ground, as she, growing less careful, was at three or four. It's safe. Her mind kept shouting. And she began trusting it.

"Lili, go to that branch." He began instructing, waving his hands about.

After four minutes of climbing she stood, only couple of moves away from Zeph. She steadied herself for a break as she examined her scuffed, muddied hands.

"I'm just coming." She shouted up, her senses blurred.

Suddenly, her footing became lost within the knots of the sycamore and disorientation captured her. A large, noir bird of pray, not known to her in London swerved out of the sky. She had no time to comprehend that it was for her. About to attack her. By the time she had a chance to barely whisper 'Zeph', she was tumbling through the sky in slow motion pace. The virulent bird had somehow dispersed into the air, no where to be seen. But Zeph, she did not know how, sprung into action; fierce and strong. His arms swung onto branch to branch, as if he were Tarzan fighting on his territory. Just below the ground he found himself equal with Gracelynn, her face knowing what was imminent, and desperate.

Her back thudded to the ground with a clear crunch coming from her left arm. Pain hit her like a train. Only moments later, he stood beside her eyes scattering around the ground for help.

"Someone, is anyone near by?" His voice, deep, booming and unnaturally concerned.

"Zeph, I think I've broke it. I think I broke my left arm." Her eyelids scrunched up to conceal the tears and prevent them from dripping. Showing her weakness.

Angus and a young boy, around the age of twelve appeared, standing by Zeph waiting for instruction.

"Can you call an ambulance please? I think she's broken her arm," He spoke to the boy calmly before turning to angus to say, "Can you get Mr Anderson or Miss Mulberry or a Nurse, just someone." And Angus darted off, leaving behind his rake.

"It's okay Zeph." She muttered as he crouched down beside, caressing her cheek. Gracelynn knew he had done everything in his power to help her. There's only such a speed a human could go at: and it was even as if he went faster than that. But what truly scared her, was leaving. Leaving this amazing, if not bizarre, place behind and the new people and new friendships and the new kinds of friendships.

Attempting to numb the pain, she blocked out the world except for Zeph's comforting touch, until the alert of sirens crept up the driveway.

"Who's injured?" A professional voice called. Gracelynn opened her eyes to find a congregation of students watching on; gaping mouths and gasps.

"Down here, she fell out of the tree. Her name's Gracelynn. I think it's her left arm. I think it's broken."

"Zeph."

"Hi Gracelynn."

"Zeph?" Gracelynn's voice was deteriorating into nothing more that small breaths.

"No, I'm Dr Wilson, I'm a paramedic. You fell out of this tree, yes?"

"Yes." She groaned, unable to produce anything more.

"Okay I'm going to get you up onto the stretcher and we're going to take a look."

She sat in the unpleasantly chilled ambulance for the next two hours, with Zeph by her side, being prodded and poked. She could tell Zeph felt guilty his cupped hands, supporting his heavy head.

"Zeph, don't feel bad." She managed to make herself heard, as she recovered in the couple of hours since the accident.

"It was my fault. I shouldn't have started all this." He shook his head in shame, eyes drooping. He appeared to be desperate to announce something that just couldn't escape his straight, plump lips.

"You have done nothing wrong. You couldn't have predicted that bird. Plus my clumsiness doesn't help." He clenched onto his mouth with his teeth, frustrated now more than ever.

"Do y-..." He said with a sigh, "I just want you to be safe Lili, okay."

"You did as much as you could, I saw how fast you got down off that tree."

"But I could have done more." He snapped, not at Gracelynn but at his own mistake, that she could not see.

Dr Wilson came back into the ambulance announcing she would have to stay in hospital for the next several days while they took x rays, placed on casts, possibly even some pain relief drip. Zeph's refusal to leave her seemed almost fearsome, but ever just as flattering to Gracelynn. She had never had someone quite so protective and caring about her in this way: not Adrian and surely not Will.

The journey to the hospital was gruelling, as the jittering road, outside the careful paving of Quinciple, caused her arm to shake about. Along with her arm, her back suffered from severe bruising, a sprained ankle and a bump to the head, leading to all over pain that shot right through each cell in her system. The drip was well looked forward to. But visiting a hospital again, after merely a month out from a five month stay, was daunting. The souls that were close to sinking away to oblivion: death, pain residing in every corner. 
The day, which was planned to be full of kisses and hugs and Zeph had now become one filled with meetings with doctors and such, which forced Zeph to be left alone beside her bed.

Diana had been contacted and by the time Gracelynn had been excused and left to relax she was half an hour away. However Zeph lay carefully by her side like an obedient dog. She had never seen him act in quite a way, softer, weaker in some ways, the same effect he had on her.

"Zeph, you should get going now. You have school tomorrow." She held his cheek with her undamaged arm.

"No chance I am leaving you Lili. I'll get excused from classes." His back became straight and uptight, as if danger were around the corner.

"It's only just been over a week I've known you, and I know your trying to be kind, and it feels like we've been together, or whatever, for an eternity, but I'm not having you miss school for me. For my stupid mistake."

"Have you ever heard of reincarnation, Gracelynn?" His face grew rigid.

"That Buddhist concept?" She tried to pick up old thoughts from the back of her mind.

"It's not just them. It's Jainism, Hinduism, the Celts, Judaism, Taoism and early Greece. Do you not think there's something in it? You know, if so many people around the world, so many cultures have prophesised it?"

"You're tired, I can tell. Go on, you need a good rest after today."

"Lili, the philosopher, Plato told the myth of Er. Er was a young man who died in battle. However, after twelve days of being declared dead, his body did not decay and he was revived as he lay upon his pyre. He explained how he was different, he had seen a glorious place. Not heaven, no. His soul when fled from his body, journeyed to a mysterious region where there were two openings side by side in the earth, where grand judges sat at either side. They said to Er, that after his judgment they would dictate whether each were to go right and up to the heavens, or left and downwards. But when Er approached the judges he was told to remain, listening and observing in order to report his experience to mankind. Meanwhile from the other opening in the sky, clean souls descended, telling tales of wondrous sights. Others, returning from the earth, haggard and tired, crying in despair when recounting the horrific experience, as each was required to pay a tenfold penalty for all the wicked deeds committed when alive. After a week in the judgement meadow the souls along with Er were required to travel further. Another four days passed, they reached a land where they could see a rainbow shaft of light, brighter than any seen before. Taking a day to reach it they discovered this was the spindle of Necessity. Several women, including Lady Necessity, her daughters and the Sirens were present. The souls were then organized into rows and were each given a lottery token, apart from Er. Each token received gave them the chance to come forward and decide their new life. He watched on at the first man, a man who had not witnessed the horrors of below but had came from the sky, quickly chose a powerful dictatorship. Er found that this was often the case, with those from the sky. The story appeared to be the opposite who had came from below and begged for a better life. Once the process was complete, each was assigned a guardian spirit to help them through life before passing under the grand throne of Lady Necessity, to the Plane of Oblivion, where the River of Lethe, or Forgetfulness, ran. Each was required to drink from the spring, leading them to forget... all except Er. They lay down and their souls lifted up to different coordinates for rebirth, thus completing their journey. That's when he reawakened on the pyre to tell the story of the afterlife, knowing what he was destined to do for eternity."

"Oh Zeph," Gracelynn sat through the story unsure how to react, not sure what he meant. There was something there he wanted her to read, but it was just too abstract. "Stay here then. I'll call the nurses to get you a spare bed." She leaned over precariously to get the buzzer.

"Leave it. Just let me stay here with you, please?" He held onto her hand eyes wide open. How could she deny him and his forever caring nature.

"Get in." She flipped over the bed sheets to let him in when a flashback occurred. Back to the fifteenth of November, last year. The day she first kissed Adrian, the day she lay in his bed with him, so carefully. Too carefully. Too much could have gone wrong. But now nothing could, simplicity was the key, as she cuddled in with Zeph, his skin still smelling of the roses he did the previous night. His breath warm and soft on her face, sweet. The twilight left everything more beautiful than in the harsh daylight.

Although she was desperate to see Diana, sleep won the war, and she drifted of lightly along with Zeph.

It wasn't until during the night when the soft call of a telephone ring radiated through the ward and Zeph shifted out of the sheets. She debated whether to get up also but the strenuous effort it would involve seemed like all too much, just for him to take a phone call.

"Hello?" She heard him hush. "Ceire, it's the middle of the night and I'm in a hospital... Yes I know... Crying out loud, I know Lili's her... Doesn't take that much effort... Why?... That'll cause too much trouble... I know we need to do something... Of course it's started again... I can't unmeet her, Ceire sometimes I just don't know what to do with you... Yes... Yes, okay... I love you too... Bye sis," Not hearing both sides of the conversation, as well as Zeph's obvious stress and fear in his voice, only led to her confusion multiplying. After he lay his phone down in his corduroy jacket he came back and lay in her bed whispering, "Do you love me?"

Still in a disorientating state she grumbled a "Sure." without really thinking at all. Maybe an unconscious mind was the honest one. In no time, she drifted off into a land of lullabies until the auburn sunrise appeared.

* * *

She awoke, stretching out her legs but unable to flex her left arm which was left rigid in the cast wrapped around it. Her eyelashes beating together, to adjust to the brightness of fluorescent lighting. Zeph was sitting, back leaning against one armrest, legs propped up against the other, face engulfed in a book.

"Good morning, what are you reading?" She called over in a soft, groggy voice. Even though she had been in a less than comfortable hospital bed, it was one of the most soothing and calming nights sleep in a long time, leaving her refreshed.

"Lili, Treasure Island. How are you today?" He snapped shut his book and sat up in an upright position. Gracelynn went to her broken arm to asses the pain. What pain? There was no pain. And it wasn't an accept it and get on with it even though you're in agony type of pain. No: healed. It couldn't be possible; but with Zeph things just didn't appear to be impossible.

"I- I can't feel anything. There's no pain." Her brow fell into her eyes as she rotated the arm around to get a full accurate analysis. She could tell he was trying to hold back a grin so settled for a small smile. His cut the previous night had too been healed miraculously, he was even being able to dance once she returned from Lucca's room. She was desperate to question it, but considering she would be accusing someone who cared for her during the night, and the week, of mysterious behaviour, it didn't seem appropriate. She too settled for a smile.

"Maybe I should notify the nurses, you know, just in case I can get an early discharge?"

"Do you want me to get Dr Wilson for you then?" He was all too willing, leaving his book on the chair where he sat, and hands slouching in his jean pockets.

"Uh, sorry, yes please. Thanks." She hesitated, still searching around her previously agonising arm. He was back within a matter of minutes, while she continued, Dr Wilson leading in front of him.

"Hello, Gracelynn. Is there anyway I can help you?"

"Right, I know I'm going to sound crazy, and no doubt you've seen my medical records, but," she began with a laugh "My arm, it's fine."

"Your left one? Gracelynn, love, I'm sorry but that's impossible." Dr Wilson walked up to her bedside bending over to have a more private conversation.

"But look." Gracelynn flapped her casted arm around as much as possible, leaving Dr Wilson clenching her teeth together and looking concerned.

"Be careful, you'll hurt yourself even more." Her voice growing stricter and harsh.

"I'm afraid Doctor, I'm done with 'hurting myself'. Now may I please get the cast off? Possibly transfer into a sling, if you wish me to?" Gracelynn threw back, she was done being spoken down to, and being spoken to doctors in any way. This admission, she had a voice and she was going to use it to her advantage. She knew, somehow, it had healed, feeling stronger than ever. Zeph's reaction to this out of the blue confidence, led him to snort a laugh in the background as he sat on his chair, causing Dr Wilson to give a disapproving look with folded arms.

"I'll go order another x ray and get your mother. She stayed over last night." Although it had barely been a fortnight since they were separated, but Gracelynn had grown to love and rely on her mother an incredible amount after her recovery.

"Where did that come out from, Lili?" He sat on the edge of the bed to kiss her on her blushing cheek once Dr Wilson left.

"I have had it up to here with doctors," She raised her free hand to the necessary height. "And whatever my mum says, please ignore her. She'll come out with some embarrassing anecdote." She rolled her eyes with a smile, indicating that she was not completely serious.

"This maybe isn't the place I thought I'd be 'meeting the parents', but I'm sure I'll love her."

Gracelynn had never experienced the infamous situation before: for with Will she never truly met him and with Adrian, well what was it she had with him? There had been no other relationships other than two or three juvinile crushes where nothing happened. Then there was the whole immediate repairing arm she had to explain to ever inquisitive Diana. Oh the joys. She thought. She loved her mother, she really did. It was just some of her less positive qualities contrasted with hers.

"Oh my god Gracie," She could here the unrhythmic clashing of heels to the laminate flooring and a voice that could only belong to a concerned mother. Zeph leaped off the bed to let Diana in, her arms stretched out.

"Mum,"

"Sweetheart. Goodness me, are you okay?" Diana examined each inch of her face, turning it about with her hand.

"Mum I'm fine," She reassured. "In fact I need to get out this cast. It couldn't have been broken like they said, maybe some bruising."

"When are they doing this?" Diana sounded outraged with the staff at this lack of knowledge.

"I don't know, Dr Wilson said she would order me an x ray. So soon, I guess." It was time, she could see Zeph standing awkwardly away from the scene waiting for his call. "Mum I'd like for you to meet Zeph." Gracelynn said while laying her hand out in his direction.

"Nice to meet you Mrs Daniels." He gave a small, controlled salute. Gracelynn could tell he was making an effort to be calm and reserved in front of Diana.

"Oh don't be silly. Miss, Miss Daniels." She propped her hand to shake with his.

"Mum!"

"Call me Diana though." She turned to him with a smile to say she was only joking. Gracelynn couldn't help but feeling embarrassed. She knew what her mother had gotten up to, with multiple young me after the death of her father, Robin. "So what's a young boy here doing in hospital with Gracie?" Gracelynn could feel herself cringe as she pulled her hand down her face in exasperation.

"I was just making sure she was okay. We were going out a walk together to the sycamores when she fell. I'm sorry it was completely my fault."

"Zeph it wasn't your fault. The bird," Gracelynn snapped at him. None of it was his fault; it was her own clumsiness and the bird that catapulted into her. "There was a bird that flew into me when I was climbing, I lost my balance by myself. He had nothing to do with it."

"Well, just as long as your fine now."

"I am."

"That's what's important. It was nice meeting you Zeph, but I have to call Ingrid. I'll be back as soon as possible love." She said while blowing a kiss to her daughter and a cheerful look to Zeph.

"I am so sorry about her." Gracelynn laughed at the situation that had just occurred, hoping he didn't mind her antics too much.

"She seems lovely, Lili." He took his seat on the side of her bed again, stroking her hair, preparing for a kiss. It was warming, as if she had just had a cup of cinnamon coffee in winter. Somehow the fragrant roses still lingered on his skin along with the new scent of tree sap. His hair felt soft in her free hand like a bouquet of raven feathers.

It was all too short.

"Oh my. Sorry not to interrupt anything, I think I left my phone there Gracie." Diana. If she hadn't gotten the hint previously, she had gotten it now. Her cheeks turned a pink mauve colour and her mouth was stiffly straight, trying not to smile, before she backed away.

Gracelynn and Zeph shared a look together that could mean nothing other than 'oh well', before exploading into laughter.

"Hello Gracelynn, I'm afraid I've spoken to my boss and we cannot discharge you. It was a bad break and we've reassessed the previous x ray. There's noting else it could be. We'd like to keep you in another week, just to asses and keep a close eye on you." There was another, now very frequent, kick in the stomach applied to her from what she had just been told. More school being missed, hardly the positive new life she was vying for.

"Surely she has a say, Doctor?" Zeph intruded in, noticing her shoulders deflating with disappointment and the smile on her face, vanish.

"Of course. But it would be ludicrous to let someone one with such a bad break at this moment, also Miss Daniel's age comes into account. As does her previous medical situation."

"You have to be kidding me." Gracelynn whispered under her breath, a tear appearing unwantedly in her eye.

"I'm not leaving you Lili. I promise." He could feel her shake with the tears and so ignored Dr Wilson and her I-am-superior-to-you attitude. His eyes seemed to sink into her heart, so honestly, truthful. Amazingly. He never even questioned her previous hospitalisation. She wanted to thank him, but that'd only defeat the purpose.

She came to realise there was no changing a doctor's mind; the only way of being released early was through good behaviour and doing as they said. Gracelynn of all people knew that and it would be have to put into practise. It was a relief to her it was only a week and not five months like previously. Although there was no Nurse Sophie, there was Zeph. She considered telling him to return to Quinciple, but it would only lead to an argument and he appeared to be more than willing to stay. I was a win, win situation for the both of them. Or as good as it could get.

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