Wednesday, 28 October 2009 - 10:48 pm

The uselessness of flowers

The escape effort is coming along in skips and steps and occasional great strides. I’m at the back, fretting and nudging, and trying to keep all these balls both in the air and out of sight. The more I think about it, the more shaky the ground beneath me feels. And every now and then I have to stretch for a curve ball.

I talked with Jersey and Tia late last night and explained my problems with being watched. I feel like there are eyes on me all of the time, and while it’s sometimes justified, I know that sometimes it’s not. I’m not paranoid enough to believe that all of Haven is out to get me; it just feels like that.

They said that they would sort out the supplies issue themselves. Some of Tia’s little friends work in the kitchens and she thinks she can get access to the supply store easily enough. Jersey can pick up boxes left out for her when she’s collecting trash and move them to her hiding place.

I feel awful putting this onto them. They should do something to help, of course, but they’ve taken on the whole task of securing us food and water. It’s dangerous; I don’t know what the punishment for hoarding supplies might be, but I doubt it’s as lenient as being put on sanitation duty. They’re happy to do it, even reserved Tia. I think she likes the espionage factor. Jersey enjoys the chance to stick a finger up at Haven, even silently; to her, it’s not just about leaving.

I guess a lot of what I’m feeling is guilt. I’m so useless in this, hampered by the chains of the attention I’ve gathered over the past few weeks. Everyone else is risking so much more than I am right now and I’m not used to it. I’m used to being in the front line, right out there with the rest of them, pulling my weight. I don’t like sitting back and waiting for others to do everything for me. It doesn’t feel right.

Matt told me to enjoy it while it lasts. No-one minds how much I’m doing; we all do what we can, he says. That made me feel worse and more useless than ever. Beholden to all of them. Life is hard enough here without people who don’t contribute, and it’s going to get harder for us.

Matt linked his fingers through mine and kissed my hair. We were sitting in the lopsided upstairs room again, watching the rain make tracks down the plastic-shielded window. There’s something not quite right about the way the liquid slithers.

“You’re the one that pushes us forward,” he said. “Without you, we wouldn’t be leaving at all.” He wasn’t exactly lifting the guilt with that point. “You hold us together – we need you for that. You’re coordinating – that’s something, too.” That was better.

Leaning back into his chest, things didn’t seem so bad. The uncertainty creeps in when he’s not there. It’s getting harder to let him climb out of the window, to let him go at all. I keep stopping myself from asking him to stay, because I know it can’t happen, not here. Not until after we’re far from here.


Jersey threw another complication my way tonight. She sat down on my bunk with a scowl that I thought was bad news, but was actually just building up courage to ask me for something. She isn’t used to asking anyone for anything.

“Iona should come with us,” she said finally.

I didn’t even try to hide my surprise. Disturbed Iona? With her plucking fingers and disconnected phrases? I have seen Jersey dealing with her – and defending her when Nadine or Mama Prusco came around looking for ‘volunteers’ for the nightly entertainment – but I didn’t know she felt that attached. I think she feels responsible for Iona and knows what might happen if she’s not there to fend off the deal-makers. I was mostly surprised that Jersey would put up with someone that dysfunctional and a little part of me wondered where the attachment was rooted. I’m fairly sure she doesn’t swing that way, crossdressing or no. Unless I miss my guess, she was once interested in Rico, the leader of her old Wolverine gang, and Terry more recently.

“I don’t think we can make that choice for her, Jersey,” I said.

“So we ask her.”

It was the obvious answer, and I think that we could get her to understand. She’s not that broken. There was, however, a ‘but’. “She says whatever crosses her mind. It’s risky, letting her know.”

“We don’t have to ask her now.”

Jersey had given this a lot of thought; she knew what I was going to say, the barriers in our way, and had responses ready for me. And she was right; if we waited until we were about to leave, the chances of Iona betraying us – accidentally or otherwise – were small. I couldn’t help smiling at her. “We’ll ask her closer to the time, then.”

She gave me an odd look, as if she couldn’t believe it was that easy, and I patted her shoulder. Not everything has to be a struggle.

“She’ll be your responsibility when it comes to it, though,” I said. That stiffened Jersey’s shoulders, but not in a bad way. “To keep her quiet.”

She thought about it for a moment, that scowl descending again. Finally, she nodded and pulled herself off my bed. That was the end of the conversation, apparently.

Iona came by a bit later on and gave me a hair band to tie my hair back with. My last one had broken a couple of days ago and the tie she gave me looked like it had never been used. Red, with a white plastic flower on it.

“Such pretty hair,” she said, holding it out. “Needs flowers.”

I took it and thanked her, and she smiled vaguely as she turned away. I don’t know if Jersey put her up to it or not, but I guess it didn’t harm her case.

This whole escaping business is getting prettier all the time.