“But I didn’t mean anything, you know,” Anders sputtered. “I had just told him to stop talking about Danielle,” his voice trailed off, so that he barely whispered Danielle’s name.
Anders seemed even more distressed than a moment earlier. Freida stared at him, with no idea of what to do.
“I didn’t tell him to leave! I just…I just didn’t want to hear him talking about her like she’ll be back soon. Or ever. Well, he didn’t like that, as you might guess. He shoved me down. I yelled something at him—I don’t remember what. He yelled something back. Then he stomped off.”
Thoughtlessly, Anders slapped the knurled post again. Yelling out in pain, he tucked his stinging hand under his other arm.
Freida winced. The distress of seeing Anders’s self-inflicted suffering resonated with her own conflict.
“With Paign gone,” she choked out, “maybe we will see her again, Anders. Maybe soon.” Her eyes shimmered as she stared into his. “You know?” she pleaded. “To help find him,” she said, the words tumbling out in little gasps. “With Paign…gone.”
And then the fear that had been hammering hard against her heart finally swept over her. She collapsed to the porch floor, curled up on herself and sobbed against Anders’s legs.
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