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lot of strength in them, I knew, but I had never seen him use it to bully anyone. He was worth some trouble, Harry was.“No one is who we think they are,” I said. “That’s what we get for not being telepathic. But you’ve trusted me so far—and I’ve trusted you. I’ve just put my life in your hands. What are you going to do?”Was he going to abandon me now to my “infirmity”—instead of me maybe abandoning him at some future time due to a theoretical broken arm. And I thought: One oldest kid to another, Harry; would that be responsible behavior?
He took his hands back. “Well, I did know you were a manipulative bitch,” he said.Zahra smothered a laugh. I was surprised. I’d never heard him use the word before. I heard it now as a sound of frustration. He wasn’t going to leave. He was a last bit of home that I didn’t have to give up yet. How did he feel about that? Was he angry with me for almost breaking up the group? He had reason to be, I suppose.“I don’t understand how you could have been like this all the time,” he said. “How could you hide your sharing from everyone?”“My father taught me to hide it,” I told him. “He was right. In this world, there isn’t any room for housebound, frightened, squeamish people, and that’s what I might have become if everyone had known about me—all the other kids, for instance. Little kids are vicious. Haven’t you noticed?”“But your brothers must have known.”“My father put the fear of God into them about it. He could do that. As far as I know, they never told anyone. Keith used to play ‘funny’ tricks on me, though.”“So…you faked everyone out. You must be a hell of an actor.”“I had to learn to pretend to be normal. My father kept trying to convince me that I was normal. He was wrong about that, but I’m glad he taught me the way he did.”“Maybe you are normal. I mean if the pain isn’t real, then maybe—”“Maybe this sharing thing is all in my head? Of course it is! And I can’t get it out. Believe me, I’d love to.”There was a long silence. Then he asked, “What do you write in your book every night?” Interesting shift.“My thoughts,” I said. “The day’s events. My feelings.”“Things you can’t say?” he asked. “Things that are important to you?”“Yes.”“Then let me read something. Let me know something about the you that hides. I feel as though…as though you’re a lie. I don’t know you. Show me something of you that’s real.”What a request! Or was it a demand? I would have given him money to read and digest some of the Earthseed portions of my journal. But he
had to be eased into them. If he read the wrong thing, it would just increase the distance between us.“The risks you ask me to take, Harry… But, yes, I’ll show you some of what I’ve written. I want to. It’ll be another first for me. All I ask is that you read what I show you aloud so Zahra can hear it. As soon as it’s light, I’ll show you.”When it was light, I showed him this: