Boundless Page 39

I’m tired and can’t help but laugh at her joke.

“That’s why I don’t bother with men,” she says. “I don’t have the patience.”

Right. She doesn’t deal with mere mortals, she means.

“It’s Phen,” she says then.

“The father, you mean?”

She starts like my question surprises her, then hesitates for a split second before she says, quietly, “Yes. But you already knew that.”

“Uh, yeah.”

“But it’s also Phen in my vision,” she goes on to say. “The man in the gray suit. It’s Phen.”

Shock ripples through me. “Are you sure?”

She nods enthusiastically. “I can’t believe I didn’t recognize him before. All those times I had the vision, but I didn’t think it was about me.”

“Yeah, visions can be tricky that way.”

“I wasted so much time feeling sorry for myself,” she says. “I thought, since this happened”—she nods at her baby bump—“that I’d wrecked everything. But I didn’t. It was supposed to happen this way. It was meant to be.”

I turn over onto my stomach. “So what are you supposed to do?”

“I’m supposed to tell him about our baby,” she says. “The seventh is ours.”

This strikes me as a very bad idea, given all I know about Phen. He’s just not trustworthy, for all his charm. But Angela’s not going to want to hear that right now. She doesn’t listen to reason when it comes to Phen.

“Okay, let’s say that you’re right—” I start slowly.

“Of course I’m right,” she says.

“Of course you’re right,” I agree. “But how does Phen know to come? How will he know to meet you there?”

“That’s easy. I sent him an email.”

I try to get my head around the idea of an angel with a Gmail account. “But Ange—”

“He’ll come, and I’ll tell him,” she says firmly. “Don’t you see what this means, Clara?”

I don’t.

“It means,” she says serenely, curving her arm around the crook of her swollen belly, “that everything is going to be okay.”

I highly doubt that. But for once, I hope she’s right.

11

ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK

I’m in the dark again. Hiding.

I’m crying. No doubt about it this time. My face is wet. Strands of my hair stick to my cheeks. Tears gather under my chin and drip down. Something’s happened that I can’t get out of my brain, but I only understand it in terms of sounds: a strangled moan, a sob, a few whispered words.

God help me.

I put my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming. The Clara that is me in the future feels helpless. Useless. Lost. The Clara that is me now doesn’t know where I am. I only know the darkness. The fear. The sound of voices coming. The smell of blood.

It’s no use hiding. They’ll find me. My fate has already been decided. I just have to wait for it all to play out. I have to be brave, I think, and face it.

God help me, I think, but I feel so very little faith that God will.

I come to under a tree. There’s something hard poking me under my back, and I feel for it: the book I was reading before the vision got me. I glance around to see if anybody saw me go comatose in the grass, but nobody, as far as I can tell, is looking. I wipe at my eyes. Crying again. Panicky, my heart drumming, my palms sweating, with what feels like one big knot in my stomach.

I’ve got to figure this vision out before I drive myself crazy.

I take out my phone and stare at Christian’s name in my contact list for a long time before I sigh and put it back into my backpack. Christian hasn’t said two words to me for more than a month, not even in fencing class. His pride is wounded. I get that. I’d be mad too if I’d been about to kiss him, to lay my heart on the line like that, and he went and thought about another girl.

I pick up my book, flip to the page I was on before my brain took a quick trip to the future. It’s a novel, one of the epic dystopians that’s so popular these days. I’m liking it—it puts things into perspective. Sure, I might have occasional visions of doom, a mysterious, soul-crushing pain in my heart, a premonition of death, but at least I’m not scrounging the post-apocalyptic countryside looking for shelter, my only friend a three-eyed mutated dog that I’ll have to eat later in order to survive nuclear winter.

Of course, a mutated dog would be a step up from my friend situation at the moment. On top of Christian not speaking to me, Jeffrey hasn’t called, and Angela’s too busy trying to orchestrate her purpose and her everything’s-going-to-be-fine meeting with Phen to even notice I’m alive. Amy and Robin have been batty since they figured out that Angela has a bun in the oven, and all they want to do when we get together is talk about how tragic and surprising it is that Angela’s in this position, and what is she going to do, anyway? Even Wan Chen’s been acting aloof since she found out, like pregnancy is something that might be catching.

I sigh again, try to remember the kind of thing I would write in my gratitude journal, which, to be truthful, I haven’t picked up since fall quarter ended.

I have a good life, I remind myself. There are plenty of people who love me.

They’re just not around at the moment.

I hear the squawk of a crow directly over my head. I peer up into the branches of the tree, and, sure enough, there’s Samjeeza gazing down at me.

Every single time I see him, no matter how brave I try to be about it, how casual, it’s like getting splashed with ice water. Because every single time, I wonder if he’s decided to kill me. And he could, with the littlest flick of his wrist, I think. He could.

“Don’t you have better things to do than follow me around?” I ask, trying to keep my tone saucy.

The bird cocks his head, then flutters down from the branch to land in the grass beside me. The sad melody of his sorrow twines itself around my mind, making my chest tight with the regret he’s feeling.

Meg, he thinks, my mother’s name and nothing more, but there’s a world of memory and pain in the word. Longing. Guilt. Meg.

I shut him out. “Go away,” I whisper.

Suddenly he’s a man, unfolding from the body of the crow, expanding, in the blink of an eye.

“Geez!” I scramble backward, up against the trunk of the tree. “Don’t do that!”

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