Songbird Trilogy Book 1: The Maze Girl (complete)
Author: Julia R. West

Chapter 16
Missing Sunrise

I'm frozen in disbelief. I'm so shocked that I barely notice when Rory kisses me and I definitely don't have time to think about the fact that I don't want him to. "How do you know?" I ask Dmitria.

"Cameras on the earpieces.  She jumped completely of her own accord." I see the sympathy in Dmitria's eyes, but it doesn't matter. Teryn is gone. She died thinking that I was her enemy, which I never was. Now, I will win for her. Tears are flowing freely from my eyes. I sit down now. Soren puts his hand on my shoulder. I look up in alarm, to see that his eyes are saying, "Thank you." for my help on Devil's Tail. I nod at him through a wave of tears.

I no longer have any enemies, I don't believe, except Orion (not even his son!) but I still have lost a friend. I wipe my eyes dry, but they refuse to stay that way. On my right shoulder sits Rory's hand, on my left, Soren's, and right on my heart, I think I can feel Teryn's pain as she fell. The pain I very well may have caused.

The helicopter ride is short, and we're back on the ground in no time. The winner will be announced publicly tonight. I don't want to be there. I'll cry. Well, I'll cry wherever I am, but I'd rather it be in private than there.




I don't speak a word on the train ride home. My thoughts wander from Teryn, my nightmare coming true, and her contempt for me that, admittedly, caused her suicide to Mother and Lexi at home, wondering about me, and trying to busy themselves with other things. I try to tell them through a thought, "I'm okay. Feel sad for Teryn, not me!" but I doubt they can sense my feelings.

It's late afternoon by the time we are back at the hotel. We eat dinner and are free to do whatever we like. Things feel empty without Teryn. Julius knocks on my door after dinner to apologize and drop off the next challenge outfit. He knows that Teryn and I were friends.

I take a look at the outfit they picked out for the next challenge. Mine happens to be a black and reflective silver outfit and shiny, metal bracelets.

I thank him brusquely and go back inside. What was the next challenge? It was the darkness, for Teryn. But she is no longer here. I will go through her challenge thinking of her and how I would have helped her had she been here.

My nightmares are haunted tonight by Teryn, my apology I never got to make, her deicision to jump, that scream that I can't forget...

I wake up multiple times breathing hard. It would be easier if I followed her. But I can't because I promised I would win for her. Maybe afterwards.

The clock hands seem to inch along half as fast as they should. The sun seems lost behind the horizon forever. But eventually it finds it's way over the hills and into my sky. It shines orange and yellow, tinting the normally blue-ish gray sky with it's beauty.

I close the blinds on the window because it's too bright. I can't fight this feeling. I glance at the clock. It's six-fifteen. I shower and put on the outfit for the challenge. I'm so glad I'm one step ahead of everything. I add a lot of shiny hair decorations, even though they aren't the kind of thing I generally wear. The only person who would suspect anything was Rory. But he wouldn't object to my being safe once I told him why.

At seven I take the stairs down to the lobby, figuring it would wake me up to get moving, but it doesn't. I see Rory in his navy blue outfit identical to mine and Soren in his forest-green colored one, but of course, Teryn's scarlet sunrise color is nowhere to be found. Is that why I had to close the blinds this morning?

I have nowhere I can think of where things would be as dark as I'm expecting for the challenge. But I board the train and fall asleep. I'm surprised to get a peaceful dream this time. It's about Rory. We're back home in our Tree. It hasn't burned down yet, because we're only twelve. In fact, I remember this day in my dream...the day before I turned Orion in. And the dream becomes painful and frightening after I recall this.


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