The morning broke but Cylee and Kelly were still asleep. Kelly whimpered slightly in her sleep from time to time, but seemed to have settled down from the previous night. Mitzi left around sunrise, and returned a few hours later.
Cylee woke when Mitzi came back in. Mitzi was carrying a suitcase that she set on the low table in their rented room.
“Mitz? You’re up early. Are you okay?” Cylee asked quietly. Sometime during the night Kelly had snuggled up close to Cylee and she stirred slight as Cylee talked. Cylee gently slid out of the bed around Kelly and stood up, stretching tall.
“I think I know where we need to be. Kelly’s got some memories of the place, and I think with some research I can figure out exactly where it is.” Cylee said, getting her boots on. She wanted a shower, but if Mitzi was already up there wasn’t time to lose.
“Cylee, listen…can we go in the other room?” Mitzi whispered.
“Sure,” Cylee said. They walked into the main room, closed the door softly, and Cylee said, “What’s up?”
“Listen, Cyl…This is all too much.”
Cylee looked down into her lap. She’d only known Doctor Patel a few weeks, but yes. It was. Mitzi continued.
“And…I understand what you’re doing, I know what you’re after, but…I can’t be a part of it. I can’t just go to Alaska. I can’t leave Seattle behind.”
“So…oh. So you’re staying here.” Cylee said.
“It’s just not my fight, Cyl. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad friend or whatever, but I can’t anymore. Anyway…here. This is for you.” Mitzi lifted the suitcase, it was astonishingly heavy.
“In there is $100,00, in $1,000 coins. I know it’s not a ton, but it’s enough to keep you on the road, I hope. I don’t know what’s out ahead of you, Cyl. I don’t know if we’ll ever see each other again…” Both women were crying at this point.
Cylee pulled Mitzi close and put her head on her friend’s shoulder.
“Mitz…you’ve done more and put up with more than any friend…any sister…any person I’ve ever met. I should have realized, I should have known that you weren’t—of course you can’t just drop everything and come with—“ Words felt difficult and unneeded at this point. They sat there, holding each other, for a while.
In the back of her mind Cylee “felt” Kelly wake up. It was subtle, quiet sense of extra awareness. She felt Kelly’s emotions sweep in, but this time they didn’t completely overwhelm her. Aunty Tamara was still dead, the hole in her heart was still a catastrophic pit, an un-fillable wound, but for now…it didn’t need to be her main focus. Tentatively Cylee reached out with her own mind to Kelly, trying to express what she was feeling. She felt Kelly’s curiosity, and then acceptance as Kelly learned what Cylee was feeling. One wound after another.
At length Mitzi leaned back and wiped away her tears. “So…when are you leaving? And how are you leaving?”
“We’ll take Tamara’s car, and I don’t know. But soon. We need to go. I don’t know who is looking for us, or how many people are looking for us, but we need to widen their search radius by a lot, and that quickly.” Cylee said. She heard Kelly get out of bed and walk to the door. Kelly walked into the room, gently brushed her hand across Cylee’s shoulder as she passed, then sat between them and hugged Mitzi.
“Thank you, Aunty Mitzi. For everything. For things you’ve done long before we met, to keep Cylee safe.” Mitzi burst into tears again and hugged Kelly.
“I feel so terrible leaving you two, but I really really just can’t go! I have a life here, my family,”
“We know,” Kelly said. “We’re going to find our family. Maybe when this is all over we can come back and meet up again.”
“Yeah,” said Mitzi.
“Yeah,” said Cylee. Nobody really believed it.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, until Cylee finally said, “well, we need to get going,” her tone as light as she could make it.
“Okay, yeah, I should go too,” Mitzi said. They both stood, and hugged tight for a moment longer. Then Mitzi left.
“Are you okay?” Kelly asked.
“No,” Cylee responded. So many words unsaid. Even now Cylee felt unjust bitterness sneaking into her mind, anger at Mitzi for being so selfish. Even though she knew Mitzi had every right to watch out for herself. Cylee had always said that she would never run with a crew, and Mitzi was doing the exact same thing. Cylee had just always thought hat Mitzi was her crew, even if it had been unspoken.
Maybe it should have been spoken.
Agent (Cylee): There’s one thing we can’t do, and that’s head straight up the Al-Can Kelly: The what-Can? Agent (Kelly): The Alaska-Canada highway. It’s one of the oldest well-maintained roads in North America. We’ll need to avoid it, especially around towns. They’ll be watching it. Kelly: All of it? That seems impossible. Agent (Cylee): Perhaps, but it’s still wiser to avoid it than to take it. There are fairly good roads through most of the route, and we can be on it from time to time. Perhaps somewhere along the way we can trade vehicles, and then we can use the Al-Can a little more.
“We can worry about our route as we get moving. For now we need to pack up and get gone,” Cylee said out loud. While they could have had the entire conversation via Spines or whatever, sometimes it felt better to talk. And faster. Kelly nodded and went back into the bedroom. Cylee started cleaning the front room and heard Kelly crying.
Cylee: What’s wrong? Kelly: Aunty Tammy’s still dead. I’m sorry, I know this isn’t the time… Cylee: It’s natural. It’s okay, you’re fine. Do…do you need anything?
Cylee suddenly felt helpless. And broken. Why wasn’t she crying? What was wrong with her emotions…wow, don’t open that can of worms.
Kelly: No, it’ll pass. I’m fine. Sorry again.
Cylee finished loading up their possessions and Kelly came out of the back room, wiping her eyes. “Okay, I’m ready.”
They went out to the car and drove away. Neither of them would ever see Seattle or Mitzi again.