"My gosh..." I said completely stunned. "What's your name?"
"No, your family name - last name."
"Wright…with a 'W'," she said. I felt my face pale. No…this can't be happening. "What?" She asked.
"How old are you now?"
"I'm seventeen. I'll be eighteen next week, actually."
"But that means it was nearly five years ago..."
"What, Kenneth? Just get to your point."
"It's just...I feel like it is my fault that your family was murdered…well I guess not directly my fault…"
"Well…because…uh, it was the Opposition to my father's government that killed them," I said quickly making it up on the spot.
"I already know this. It does not make it your fault, though. Don't blame yourself when it clearly has nothing to do with you."
"Okay...so what happened after?"
"After your mother gave you the piece of paper," I said. She lowered her eyes and picked at her food.
"That's a part of my life I don't like to speak about to anyone."
"It's fine. Everyone has something personal that they keep to themselves."
"Yeah," she said leaving the room in awkward silence.
"So..." I said trying to think of a topic. "Uh, when did you say your family moved here from England?"
"I didn't...but I was ten. So in the year 2138. I remember coming across on the boat; standing at the bow with the wind in my face, blowing my hair around...I felt free, you know? Have you ever had that feeling where you feel as if you can do anything...or ever felt truly free?" She asked with nostalgia in her voice.
"To be honest, no. I've always felt like I had little say in what happened in my life. But...this afternoon that changed. I'm free of my father, and although I love her, I am no longer the guardian of my sister, Emily."
"So you feel like your family had iron chains trapping you?"
"Total opposites, you and I. I'd do anything to be with my family. What were you and your sister doing before you were taken here?" She asked.
"Well considering the way you had to leave them, I can understand that. But me and Emily were Wanderers," I said darkly. I raised my face just enough to see her eyes widen.
"At such a young age?" She asked with concern in her voice.
"We were Wanderers for three years. I was fifteen and had just received news that my mother was killed and my father was taken by the 'Reprobates'. I didn't know what to do...I thought he would be dead within the hour so I told Emily we have to leave the family home and become Wanderers so that the bad people who took dad and killed mom wouldn't be able to find us and take us, too. I told her we had to keep the family name a secret. Even though I now know they are good people, they still managed to find Emily and me, and that really pisses me off. I was always so careful!"
"That's awful. Did the two of you have a destination? Or were you just literally wandering for the remainder of your days?"
"We were headed to the City."
"A couple of Wanderers in the City? Why?"
"We heard news of an uprising and that gave me hope for our futures. But I now know this is my future."
"And what exactly is 'this'?" Sophia asked. I shrugged.
"I don't know. But right now this is what I have. It was my decision and I need to make the best of it," I said. I looked up at her and was caught off-guard to see her big, blue, beautiful eyes looking back at me. Why did she want to be my friend? I'm not always the easiest person to have a conversation with…and a girl? I don't know how to act in front of a girl, especially one as beautiful as her.
"I like this," Sophia said to me.
"Talking to you. You're a good listener."
"Uh, well thank you…you're a great…talker?" I tried. A smile broke across her tear-stained face and she let out a beautiful sing-song laugh. This made me smile, knowing that I could make her happy. Eventually she stopped and continued to smile at me.
"Thank you, Kenneth…I don't remember the last time I truly laughed," she said with a grin plastered on her face, showing her dimples. Noise came from the other side of the door and Sophia whipped her head around to face the door as it opened and three men came inside.
"What's this?" A tall, thick-muscled, man said. He had dirt-brown hair that was in the style of a crew cut. His eyes were sharp and he wore a scowl on his face that made me feel like he was a cruel man.
"We were just eating dinner, Bradley," Sophia said with annoyance in her voice. Bradley looked at the plates which had food on them that was only half-eaten and a smirk spread across his face.
"Doesn't look you guys were doing much eating…" Bradley said.
"What's your problem?" Sophia demanded as she stood.
"Excuse me? Don't treat your elders with disrespect."
"Although you may be older, I've been in this group longer than you, so I have more seniority, therefore, I'm your senior. I could say the exact same thing to you, or better, I could take it up with Kraig."
"You have no power here."
"I don't?" She questioned.
"I take that as a challenge."
"I wouldn't fight you, Sophia."
"It's too late for you to back down now, Bradley. I will speak to Kraig tonight and we will have an 'in-house tourney'."
"You have no friends, you have no team," Bradley said. Dick move, what an ass.
"She has me," I said standing up.
"You?!" Bradley asked. He and his little gang laughed. "You're a scrawny kid! If that's all, I'm not worried at all…not even if it's against her."
"Don't speak about me like I'm not here," Sophia barked.
"You will never amount to anything."
"I don't see why you have to insult me," Sophia said as her voice steadily rose. "One day you act as if you love me," she said – Bradley's face turning red, "and others, like right now, you see that I have finally found someone who likes me and you hate it! Why can't I be happy for once?" She yelled.
"You don't deserve happiness," he said. I saw Sophia's shoulders fall and could only imagine how broken her face might look. I don't know what made me do it, but I walked up to Bradley, formed my right hand into a fist, and threw everything I had into a punch that made contact with his jaw. Ouch! Holy hell! Is that what punching people feels like?
I hardly made a dent in Bradley's ego when a fist slammed right back into my face. I fell to the ground and looked through the spots in my vision to see Sophia – lightning fast – attack Bradley and force him to the ground. "You do not touch my friends," she hissed dangerously. I smiled to myself. Friends.
"Fine, just let me go," Bradley whined.
"Still want the 'in-house tourney'?" Sophia teased.
"Screw you," Bradley said as he clumsily got up and left the room. Sophia rushed over to me and helped me into a sitting position. Her fingers lightly touched my temples where I was struck, the touch was soothing.
"I am so sorry!" She said.
"Nah, it's okay," I said as a headache budded to the surface. "What's his problem though?" I asked as I rubbed my temple
"When he came here three years ago we became quite close. I told him my story and everything that happened to me. He and I got into a fight and since then he has used my secrets against me. Since then I've had better judgement over the people I call friends. That's how I know you're a keeper," she said smiling at me.
"You deserve way better than how he was treating you."
"Thank you...and I have better – I have you."
"Well I don't know how much I'm capable of, but thank you," I said as she gave me her hand and helped me up. "So how old is he?"
"And picking on people smaller than him? He's a dick."
"He can be..." She said quietly.
"You sound defensive of him," I said with confusion.
"Something you need to know is that everyone who is here – who is part of the group was led here. We've all had hard lives and we want to make other people's lives better than our own. Bradley can be a jerk sometimes, yes, but I can be a bitch on some days...and I'm sure you can be a jerk. I've noticed that what we judge in other people, we often can't accept about ourselves."
"Yeah, I get it. Jeez, are you sure you're eighteen with a brain like that?"
"Is that a compliment?" She asked with a laugh.
"Or maybe I just get people…but thank you. Actually…I should probably get going..."
"Well first of all," she said as she collected the plates, "I don't want to wash these myself, and second...you need to rest that head of yours. If it causes you any problems, find someone and get them to take you to the hospital wing."
"Good night, Kenneth," she said as she walked towards the door. She paused and then bounded back and threw her arms around my neck, embracing me in a strong hug. I can't remember the last time I was shown affection… "Thank you," she whispered before pulling away and leaving me standing on the floor speechless.
"Good night, Sophia," I said into the emptiness of my room. I lied down on my bed and imagined what kissing her would be like…what kissing any girl would be like.
I knew how she felt with the whole 'no friends' thing. My father was already the Prime Minister when I was born, so I got to live a life of luxury. I was homeschooled by the country's best tutors. I never had any friends either…
But her family…they were her friends. And my father destroyed them. She would kill me if she ever found out…the Opposition took the fall. But it wasn't them. I cannot let her or anyone else find out. I sat up in the bed.
Kraig. I would bet my life that he knows. He swore to help her avenge them, didn't he? But why wouldn't he just give her my father…or maybe…she did something to defy Kraig so he wants to punish her…but what have I done? Why would he want to punish the both of us?
"No," I said out loud. "I'm overthinking. That's what I always do," I mumbled as I lied back down and closed my eyes, falling into an uneasy sleep.