Echo of Chaos: Ch. 9

She still wasn’t back in the morning. I paced around my room, debating what I should do. It was possible she had just stayed the night in the Captain’s chambers. That happened sometimes, though never without her letting me know first. Still, she could have intended to come home, but fallen asleep. 

Or the Captain could have unexpectedly asked her to stay… though he wasn’t usually a spontaneous type of person.

Eventually, I decided I wouldn’t be able to make this decision alone. I needed Forrest.

I dressed for work, and ate a quick meal before waking up Max to let him know what was going on.
“Max,” I said, “I have to leave. Mom isn’t back yet. Stay inside, okay?”

“Where’s Mom?”

“I don’t know. I think she’s still with the Captain.”

“Still? It’s been a long time.”

“Yeah, I know. She’ll probably be back soon, though, so just stay inside our compartment, and don’t touch anything you know you’re not supposed to, okay?”

He nodded, and I gave his head a quick kiss before rushing out the door. Once I was in the hallway, though, reality sank in. The halls were crowded with people beginning their days. This wasn’t a good time for me to be sneaking into Forrest’s compartment. 

But I was desperate. I couldn’t face the possibility of something terrible happening to my mother alone. 

I tried my best to act as normal as possible, masking my panic as I walked down the hallway toward Forrest’s compartment as if I was supposed to be there. My heart thundered louder and faster with every person I passed, but I just kept my eyes straight ahead and tried not to draw attention to myself. 

When I finally reached his door, my hand shook as I pressed the button to alert my arrival. A perplexed Forrest opened the door, and I practically collapsed into his arms, burying my face in his chest as I allowed my panic to take over. He clutched me to him as the door closed behind me, hiding us from the world.

“Echo, what happened?” he asked. “Is it Max?”

“My mom. She didn’t come home last night. She went to see the Captain, and she never came back. She never came back, Forrest! What if…?” I stopped myself before I could finish the sentence. I took a deep breath, and pulled away from Forrest to take a seat on the couch in his living room. “I can’t. This can’t happen again. Not today. Not when Max is…”

Forrest took a seat beside me. “What do you want to do?”

I met his gaze, and knew that whatever I said next, he would support me. My immediate thought was to charge to the Captain’s chambers and demand to know what happened to my mother. But, assuming I could even make it that far without being detained by one of the personal guards he kept posted outside his door, I’d surely wind up next on his execution list. 

The more rational plan, though, was just to wait. It was possible, after all, that she was perfectly fine. I could go about my day as if everything is perfectly fine, and wait until the news—if any—was delivered. Surely, if something happened to my mother I would hear about it before the end of the day. And if something didn’t happen, I was sure I would see her as soon as I returned home from work.

The waiting would be agonizing, but it was the best choice for now.

I sighed. “We should just go to work. I’m sure the Information Delivery will inform me if anything happened, and if not, she’ll probably be at home. I’m sorry I panicked. I just…I couldn’t handle the thought of anything happening to her. After my dad…”

Forrest hugged me to him, and kissed the top of my head. “I understand. It’s okay. If I thought anything happened to my sister or you I’d feel the same way. Honestly, I’d probably be banging on the Captain’s doors by now, but you’re right. It’s probably smarter to wait things out before jumping to the worst case scenario.”

“Yeah,” I said.

But I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that I made the wrong choice.

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