Charlotte Jones is stuck in a world where love is looked at as a disease. She is caught talking about becoming a Shadow with her friends Talia and Madi. Shadows believe in love, which most think is bad. The three friends must now escape without getting caught. If they are caught, they'll be given a choice. A world without love or death?


7. Planning the Escape

It was a long walk home. A silent walk home. When we got home, finally, my grandma told me to sit on the couch.

“Have you been going to Lake Lu?” My grandma queries.

“Yes.” There's no use in lying.

“Talia and Madison with you?”

“It’s just Madi, and yes.” I felt like I needed to defend Madi’s name for some reason.

Terror rises in my throat.

“What do you do there?”

“We talk, I guess.” Again, not a lie, but I'm jumping around the truth.

“Talk about what?” She stared me straight in the eyes.

This question has me at a stand still. I can't think quick enough so I end up saying “Why the questions?” It's a lame response.

“I think you know.”

Her reply gives me nothing to go off of. Do I come clean? What if she actually doesn't know about what we talk about? Obviously she does. Why else would she be bringing Lake Luv up?

I don't respond so she continues. “Shadows?”

I'm doomed.

“Why on Earth would you want to become a Shadow?” Her voice is beginning to raise.

I think back to the stupid quarter sized black dot. A microphone. A damn microphone.

“You are just like your parents!” She yells.

Fire is burning at the back of my throat. I am enraged by her comment! “Better than being a brainwashed zombie like you!” I scream at her.

She grabs my hair and starts to yank me up stairs. Screaming would do no good. Everyone would side with my grandma. She practically threw me on my bed. She closed the blinds and shut my door. She was talking a in a whisper now.

“Listen,” her voice is soft now, “I have something arranged. You'll be okay. Things will just be different.”

I am confused. “What do you mean?” I ask with probably a very stupid look on my face.

“I'm working with the Shadows. They're going to take you in.”

My heart skipped a beat. Or two. Or one hundred. It felt like time itself has stopped.

“But…” Nothing makes sense. “But you have always hated love. I thought you, you, you wanted nothing to do with love.”

Usually the word “love” comes easily out of my mouth. Now, it sticks in my throat and feels weird coming out.

“I had to protect you.” She says as she sits next to me on the bed.

“Protect me? From what?!” Thoughts race through my head.

My grandma shushes me. “They are listening.”

“Who is listening?” I am suddenly worried by my own question.

They are listening. They heard you and your friends by Lake Luv. If you don't do what I say, they'll kill you.” My grandma states bluntly, yet she says it as if talking to a child. A young child. I'm not sure why her voice makes me more nervous now. My grandma seems like a new person.

“You… you just… you seemed so mad earlier.”

“Because they were listening.” She retorts.

“I just… I…” Everything I say tastes salty and I realize it's because I've started crying. “Will Talia and Madi be okay too?”

It seemed like an easy question to ask.

“Talia will be fine. She's going to be doing exactly what you will be doing if all goes well.” She answers.

This gives me a sigh of relief.

What about Madi though? If Madi would be okay she would've said Talia and Madi will be fine. My heart is racing.

“Madi however, I'm not sure. Her mother is trying, but her father is making it difficult. Her mother will try though.” She tries comforting me, but I pull away.

“What am I supposed to do then?” I ask as I choke down a sob.

“Tonight at 10:00pm you will go to Lake Luv. Two people, a man and a woman, will be waiting behind a rock wall.”

That's where Madi, Talia, and I meet up. I’ll at least know that.

“You have to trust them Charlotte!” She makes sure I understand this.

“If you do not trust them, it's simple. You won't even have a choice. It'll just be death.” She makes things sound so easy. I don't think this exactly will be.

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