Friday, 9 October 2009 - 10:05 pm


Jonah, my cutout keeper, wanted to shove me back in the dorms before the rain today. I don’t know if it was orders from on high or just a personal preference, but before he managed to chivvy me out of the infirmary door, Dad turned up with dinner.

Jonah was about to insist when Dad clapped him on the shoulder and said, “It’s all right, son.” And that was the end of that.

Poor Jonah was left nonplussed while Dad led me off to one of the back rooms to eat. I felt a little sorry for the cutout; we don’t make his job easy. I try not to take out my frustration on him because I know he’s been ordered to be here, but I think it slips through anyway. I should try to be kinder to him; he seems like a nice enough guy, even when he has to tell me it’s time to leave.


Dad caught me up on what’s happening with the Seekers in the boys’ dorm. Thorpe is Thorpe, as stoic as ever. He hasn’t been back to have his ribs checked in a while and Dale is getting increasingly worried about him, so I asked Dad to get him to come see me. The big fella would say he was fine if his own hair was on fire; I wish he looked after himself as much as he did his friends. Maybe Dad can give him that extra nudge and ease all of our worries.

Terry is doing all right. Dad frowned when he mentioned the tensions going on right now – things are still awkward between Terry and the Sharks. I don’t know how much Dad knows about what blew up between the Sharks and the Seekers, but he knows enough to scowl and shake his head, wishing that it wasn’t there. I wanted to tell him all about it, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to mention the threat of rape that’s hanging over those boys. It’s just not the sort of thing that wants to fall out of my mouth around my dad.

He said that Matt’s settling back in all right, and shot me a sideways glance. As if he knew that something had happened. Whether he knew or suspected something, my blush gave me away. I’m sure I caught a little smile before he changed the subject and asked how the patients were doing.

We talked about the accident that caused the infirmary to be so full, and I shivered because the rain was beating at the roof over our heads by then. It felt like the rain might hear us.

“Don’t worry,” Dad said, patting my wrist. “The infirmary was one of the first roofs they sealed. Army’s got its priorities.”

“What about where you’re working? Have they made sure it’s safe yet?”

He had one of his little pauses, the ones that aren’t sure if it’s right that I check up on him so much. Like when I used to check that he’d eaten during the day. “They’re checking all the buildings now,” he said. “Making sure that nothing’s loose or being eaten into.”

That was something. He told me that the machine shop that came down was the one responsible for making the parts for the Converter, the machine that’s going to save all of us. Everyone is feeling low, partly because of the sudden deaths and the awful injuries we’re struggling to heal. Dad didn’t say much about that; I think he knew the guys in that workshop, the ones that have died, and he didn’t want to talk about that. I didn’t push him.

Also, it’s going to take time to dig out the equipment and convert another space so that the work can be resumed. It could have put the schedule back by months. He didn’t seem particularly worried by this setback; in fact, he was very calm about it. It’s taking time for people to come around to working again, to pushing on towards making this thing happen. But they will, he said. They’ll pick it up and run with it again. They just need time. Because let’s face it: what else will we do?


Dad went back to the boys’ domain after the rain stopped, and I smiled at Jonah when he came to escort me. He looked at me sideways, unused to it. I suppose that’s my own fault; nice came too late for comfort.

It occurred to me on the way over that I’m probably the safest person who wanders around Haven now. I always have a cutout with me and company is a powerful level of protection. While Jonah might not be the most pleasant company in the whole world – I’m lucky if he says three words together to me – he isn’t unpleasant either.

On the way back tonight, he said the most that he’s ever spoken to me at once before. “You’re lucky. Having family here.”

I skipped around a puddle and glanced at him. “Yeah, I am.” I know that only too well, sometimes. It grabs me by the chest and it gets difficult to breathe, because I’m still afraid to believe it’s true. In case it turns out not to be.

I felt suddenly sorry for Jonah. It’s easy to forget that everyone here has lost someone they care about. The people we love slip through our fingers so easily in this time After the bombs, even if we clench our hands and try to hold on. We’re all damaged and grieving, in our own ways. He saw me with my dad and must have thought that things were so bright for me. But they’re not. It’s not like I haven’t lost people, too.

“It’s not all roses, though,” I said. He frowned at me, so I went on. “I barely see him. And while it’s wonderful that he’s here, I still…. It scares me.”

Jonah’s look turned quizzical.

I sighed and said, “He’s one more that I can lose.”