Forty-two

"I thought you were dead," a voice said.

Yes, I thought, so did I.

"I I'm sorry."

Well, that certainly made two of us.

I wondered who he was. His voice sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place him.

I opened my eyes. Nothing.

I took a deep breath, trying to control my fear. Maybe I was blindfolded. Maybe the blindfold had been on for so long that I didn't feel it anymore.

I tried to bring my hands to my face to find out whether something was covering my eyes, but I couldn't. My arms seemed to be restrained in some way. I began to struggle, a wave of panic washing over me.

Hands took me by the shoulders and pushed me down. "Please, stop that," the voice said. "Your hands have been tied to the bed, that's all."

I willed myself to relax, still breathing heavily. He let go of my shoulders. "We were afraid you would try to kill yourself again."

"Is there something covering my eyes? I can't see." It came out as a whisper.

I could sense him looking at me. "No, there's nothing covering your eyes." He seemed to be thinking about what to do next. "I'm going to untie your hands. You're not going to do anything foolish, are you?"

"No."

"Good." He untied my hands. My wrists were bandaged, but I could move my arms and hands without any discomfort. When I brought my hands to my face I found out that he had been right - I wasn't blindfolded. I waved one hand in front of my eyes. Still nothing.

"Let my try something," he said, and helped me to sit up.

For a while, nothing happened. "What are you doing?"

"I'm holding a candle in front of your eyes to see whether there's any reaction to the light. Your pupils seem to be behaving normally, so at least that's good."

"Thanks." I hesitated. "Your voice sounds familiar, but I can't quite remember who you are. I'm sorry."

"I'm Jadri."

I grew tired, and he helped me to lie down again.

"How long have I been out?"

"About two days."

Jadri? I thought about the noise I had heard coming from the corridor.

What happened?" I asked him.

He hesitated. "It's alright," he said then.

Oh. Good.

I heard him rub his face. He clearly hadn't shaven for a while, and the familiar sound made me smile.

He gave a little laugh. "I'm sorry, that wasn't very helpful, was it?"

"No."

I heard him get up and pace the room.

"What's wrong?" I asked him.

"I'm not sure I've done the right thing," he finally said.

I kept quiet. We were afraid you would try to kill yourself again, he had told me. We. I wondered about that.

"Why don't you tell me about it," I said.

He took a deep breath. "Right."

"You had locked us out," he finally said. "I had been very fast asleep when Merran woke me, and I was too dazed to realise what was going on. Merran was very worried about you, though, and he was banging his fists on the door and shouting at you. And then they were everywhere."



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