Crossed, p.23
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       Crossed, p.23

         Part #2 of Matched series by Ally Condie
Page 24


  “A boy who ran with us into the Carving,” Cassia says. “He’s the one who showed us where you went. ”

  “How did he know?” I ask.

  “He was one of the ones you left,” Indie says bluntly. She moves back from the dying fire. The light barely reaches her face. She gestures at the canyon around us. “This is the painting, isn’t it?” she asks. “Number nineteen?”

  It takes me a moment to realize what she means. “No,” I say. “The land looks alike, but that carving is even bigger than this one. It’s farther to the south. I’ve never seen it but my father knew people who had. ”

  I wait for her to say something else, but she doesn’t.

  “That boy,” Cassia says again.

  Indie curls up to rest. “We have to forget about him,” she tells Cassia. “He’s gone. ”

  “How are you feeling?” I whisper to Cassia. I sit with my back against the rock. Her head rests on my shoulder. I can’t sleep. What Indie said about the tablet wearing off could be true, and Cassia seems strong, but I need to watch her all the way through the night to make sure she’s all right.

  Eli stirs in his sleep. Indie stays silent. I can’t tell if she sleeps or listens, so I speak quietly.

  Cassia doesn’t answer me. “Cassia?”

  “I wanted to find you,” she says softly. “When I traded for the compass, I was trying to get to you. ”

  “I know,” I say. “And you did. Even if they cheated you. ”

  “They didn’t,” she says. “Not completely, anyway. They gave me a story that was more than a story. ”

  “What story?” I ask.

  “It sounded like the one you told me about Sisyphus,” she says. “But they called him the Pilot, and it talked about a rebellion. ” She leans in close. “We’re not the only ones. There’s something called a Rising out there. Have you heard of it before?”

  “Yes,” I say, but nothing more. I don’t want to talk about the Rising. She said we’re not the only ones as though that were a good thing, but all I want right now is to feel like we are the only ones in the camp. The Carving. The world.

  I put my hand along her face, against the curve of her cheek that I tried before to carve in stone. “Don’t worry about the compass. I don’t have the green silk anymore either. ”

  “Did they take that, too?”

  “No,” I say. “It’s still up on the Hill. ”

  “You left it there?” she asks, surprised.

  “I tied it to a branch on one of the trees,” I say. “I didn’t want anyone to take it away. ”

  “The Hill,” Cassia says. For a moment we are both silent, remembering. And then she says, with a teasing note in her voice, “You never said the words of our poem to me earlier. ”

  I lean closer to her and this time I can speak. I whisper, though part of me wants to shout. “Do not go gentle. ”

  “No,” she agrees, her voice, her skin soft in that good night. And then she kisses me hard.

  Chapter 24


  Watching Ky wake is better than a sunrise. One moment, he’s still and down deep, and the next moment I can see him returning out of the dark, coming to the surface. His face shifts, his lips move, his eyes open. And then his smile, the sun. At the same time that he bends down to me, I reach up and am warmed as our lips meet.

  We talk about the Tennyson poem, and how we both remembered it, and how he saw me reading it in the woods back in Oria. He’s heard that it was a password before; out here when he was young, and, more recently from Vick.

  Vick. Ky talks in a soft voice about his friend who helped him bury and about the girl Vick loved named Laney. Then, in a voice hard and cold, Ky relates the story of his escape and how he left the other villagers. He shines a merciless light on himself and his own actions. But what I see is not who he left but who he brought with him. Eli. Ky did what he could.

  I tell him about Indie’s version of the Pilot and more about the boy who vanished into a different canyon in the Carving. “He was looking for something,” I say, and I wonder if the boy knew what was behind the Society’s wall in the other canyon. “And he died. ”

  Last of all, I tell Ky about the blue-marked Anomalies on top of the Carving and how I wonder if they could have been part of the Rising.

  Then we fall silent. Because we do not know what happens next.

  “So the Society’s in these canyons,” Ky says.

  Eli’s eyes widen. “They’re in our coats, too. ”

  “What do you mean?” I ask, and Ky and Eli tell us about the wires that keep us warm and take our data.

  “I ripped mine out,” Ky says, and I realize that explains the tears in the fabric of his coat.

  I glance at Eli, who looks defensive and folds his arms over his chest. “I left mine like it is,” he says.

  “Nothing wrong with that,” Ky says. “It’s your choice to make. ” He glances at me, asking what I will do.

  I smile at him as I pull off my coat and hold it out. He takes it in his hands and looks at me standing in front of him as if he still can’t believe what he sees. I don’t look away. A smile crosses his lips, and then he puts the coat out on the ground in front of him and slits the fabric with swift, sure movements.

  When he finishes, he gives me a tangle of blue wires and a small silver disc.

  “What did you do with yours?” I ask him.

  “We buried them,” he says.

  I nod, and begin to dig in the dirt to leave mine, too. When I finish I stand up. Ky holds out my coat and I slip back inside of it. “You should still be warm,” he says. “I didn’t move any of the red wires. ”

  “What about you?” Eli asks Indie.

  She shakes her head. “I’ll stay like you,” she says, and Eli smiles a little.

  Ky nods. He doesn’t seem surprised.

  “What happens now?” Indie asks. “I don’t think we should try to cross the plain after what happened to your friend. ”

  Eli flinches at her bluntness, and Ky’s voice, when he speaks, sounds tight. “That’s true. They might come back, and even if they don’t, the water out there is poisoned now. ”

  “We pulled out some of the poison, though,” Eli says.

  “Why?” Indie asks.

  “To try to save the stream,” Ky says. “It was stupid. ”

  “It wasn’t,” Eli says.

  “We didn’t get enough of them out to make much of a difference. ”

  “We did,” Eli says stubbornly.

  Ky reaches inside his pack and rolls out a map, a beautiful thing with colors and markings. “We’re here now,” he says, pointing to a spot at the edge of the Carving.

  I can’t help but smile. We are here, together. In this wide, wild world, we’ve managed to meet again. I reach out my hand and trace my finger along the path I took to get to him until my hand meets his on the map.

  “I was trying to find a way to you,” Ky says. “I wanted to cross the plain and get back to the Society somehow. We took some things from the farmers’ township for trade. ”

  “That old abandoned settlement,” Indie says. “We came through it too. ”

  “It’s not abandoned,” Eli says. “Ky saw a light there. Someone didn’t leave. ”

  I shiver, remembering that feeling of being followed. “What did you take?” I ask Ky.

  “This map,” he says. “And these. ” He reaches inside his pack again and hands me something else—books.

  “Oh,” I say, breathing in their smell, running my fingers along their edges. “Do they have more?”

  “They have everything,” Ky says. “Stories, histories, anything you can imagine. They’ve saved them for years inside a cave in the canyon wall. ”

  “Then let’s go back,” Indie says decisively. “It’s not safe on the plain yet. And Cassia and I need something to trade. ”

  “We could get more food, too,” Eli says. Then he frowns. “But
that light—”

  “We’ll be careful,” Indie says. “It has to be better than trying to cross to the mountains right now. ”

  “What do you think?” Ky asks me.

  I remember that day back in Oria at the Restoration site, and how the workers gutted the books and the pages fell out. And I imagine the papers lifting, flying, winging their way for miles until they settled somewhere safe and hidden. Another thought darts into my mind: there might even be information about the Rising among the things the farmers saved. “I want to see all the words,” I tell Ky, and he nods.

  At night, Ky and Eli show us a place to camp that Indie and I did not notice on our way out of the Carving. It’s a cave, spacious and large once you’re inside; and when Ky shines his flashlight around it I catch my breath. It’s painted.

  I’ve never seen pictures like this—they’re real, not on a port or printed out on a scrap of paper. So much color. So much scale—the paintings cover the walls, wash up on the ceiling. I turn to Ky. “How?” I ask him.

  “The farmers must have done it,” he says. “They knew how to make their own supplies with plants and minerals. ”

  “Are there more?” I ask.

  “Many of the houses back in the township are painted,” he says.

  “What about these?” Indie asks. She points to another set of art farther along the cave wall—carved pictures showing wild, primitive figures in motion.

  “Those are older,” Ky says. “But the theme is the same. ”

  He’s right. The farmers’ work is less crude, more refined: a whole wall of girls in beautiful dresses and men with colorful shirts and bare feet. But the motions of the people seem to echo those of the earlier etchings.

  “Oh,” I whisper. “Do you think they painted a Match Banquet?” As soon as I’ve said it, I feel stupid. They don’t have Match Banquets here.

  But Indie doesn’t laugh at me. Her expression as she runs her fingers over the walls and along the pictures is a complex one, longing and anger and hope all together in her eyes.

  “What are they doing?” I ask Ky. “Both of the sets of figures are . . . moving. ” One of the girls has her hands lifted over her head. I put mine up, too, trying to figure out what she is doing.

  Ky watches me with that look in his eyes, the one sad and full of love at the same time, the one he gives me when he knows something I don’t, something he thinks has been stolen from me.

  “They’re dancing,” he says.

  “What?” I ask.

  “I’ll show you sometime,” he says, and his voice, tender and deep, sends a shiver through me.

  Chapter 25


  My mother could dance and sing and she went out to watch the sunset every night. “They didn’t have sunsets like these in the main Provinces,” she’d say. She always found the one good part of everything and then turned her face toward it every chance she had.

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