Chapter 21

I awoke with a gasp, my chest heaving in the sunlight barely cresting over the mountains in the distance. I breathed heavily the life giving air and when I felt I had taken enough deep breaths, I pushed up with my elbows. I looked down at my pajamas and my blood still stained them. Lifting up my shirt to expose my stomach, I saw two little scars. I knew it was from the bullets Hanile had shot me with. I surveyed my surroundings and noticed that next to me the grass was almost flat against the ground, as if someone had sat on it almost all night. The little blades had begun to rise up in the riding sun, but the imprint was still easily seen. I stood up and wobbled on my legs, grasping the nearest tree to steady my balance. I felt as though I hadn't used my legs for weeks rather than a few hours. Once I felt my legs could hold me, I walked around enough to make sure I could and then took off into the sky. It was easy finding the cabin with the sunlight reflecting off the wall of windows. I landed with a soft thud on the pavement and headed up the walkway to the door. I lifted my hand and hesitated, knowing what was to come. But before I could knock, the door swung open revealing Sashay pointing the baseball bat at me.
"Amberlin! Where have you been?" She yelled dropping the bat and wrapping her strong grip over my forearm. I winced as her fingernails cut into my skin as she dragged me into the house, yelling for Cheri on the way. Cheri came bounding down the stairs in a bathrobe from her bathroom and she nearly tackled me to the ground.

"I'm so glad you're okay! Where did all that blood come from? Was it Calimo? Where did you go?" She asked running her words together. Sashay cut her off and pointed to my left hand.
"And WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?!" Sashay grabbed my hand and both she and Cheri crowded around. Now I'm a hugger and a touchy person but for some reason they were too close. I ripped my hand away and took a step back, twisting the ring like I do with all rings when I get nervous. They looked at me in surprise and I came up with a lame excuse.
"Sorry you guys I just don't want any of this blood to get on your clothes," I said. "I'm going to go upstairs and change and then I'll tell you everything ok?" They nodded and I headed up the stairwell, feeling their eyes on me until I was out of their sight. I sighed in relief and collapsed on to my bed. Determined to get out of the bloody clothes I hailed myself back up and trudged to my bag grabbing a pair of sweatpants and a tank top with a light sweater. I checked my scars again, just to make sure they weren't going to bleed and they seemed to be closed up tight. I smiled at myself in the mirror.

"Oh where's my key?" I said patting around my body. I reached into my bloody pajama pants pocket and wrapped my hand around what I thought was my key. I pulled it out and gasped. I dropped it on the floor and scooted away, not believing what I saw. Instead of my silver crown key, there was a gold one with blue and green rhinestones. It had three holes at the top and where they met was a large, blood red rhinestone. I looked down at the tines and counted two. I slowly walked back over to it and picked it up. "If this isn't my key, and it's detached from the heart, and I can't find my own, who's is this?" I turned it around and around in my hand, feeling the grooves and scratches. "And if someone has my key, why don't I feel pain?" I had dropped my ring in the process of dropping the key, so I bent to pick it up. I brought the key closer to the ring and it felt like a magnet. The ring was reaching toward the key, and it was the same the other way around. So I let the ring attach itself to the key and it slide up the long part and when it reached the top, it connected to the red rhinestone. Both the key and the ring lit up, nearly blinding me in the process, but I felt transported into another realm.

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