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

Chapter 25

The burns fade a lot over the next few days, and with each one they cause me much less pain-physical pain-but really, with each day they heal I know the maze is still looming, closer and closer on this frightening horizon of my life, causing increasing pain mentally.

In a week, I'm walking again--if with a bit of trouble and unsteadiness. I try to hide my progress to delay the tie-breaker, but it's hard. The burns are lighter now but I can still see them. I'm sure they'll never go away; they want to remind me of this part of my life forever.

The date of the tie-breaker is already set by that tuesday. It will be saturday morning, a time which I am now dreading whole-heartedly. The escalating silence between me and Rory hasn't helped much, either.

He hasn't come to say goodnight to me in three days and his visits are getting few and far between. I begin to miss Soren. I know he must be anxiously waiting back at home for me to free his sister. But all the time, my doubt about the whole situation solidifies, but I still can't distinguish truth from lies.

Soren's tune whistles it's way into my head and I begin to sing it half-consciously, when I go to see Rory, when I am trying to sleep. Outside it's a lot colder than before. I've lost track of days since I've left home. Mother and Lexi must be worried sick, but there's nothing I can so.

Nobody planned for this to drag on this way and I'm sad to have to say it's my fault.






The night before the tie-breaker, I curl up against the headboard of my bed with Rory sitting next to me. No outfit came today, so I guess we get to choose our own. Not that I have anything good for it.

I decide to let Rory in on the nature of the tie-breaker. I'm not letting anything happen to him, even if it means I'll loose. "It's a maze," I say.

"What's a maze?"

"The tie-breaker. Soren told me, it's a maze."

Rory nods and takes audible breaths through the otherwise silent air. "What makes you believe him?" I can sense the contempt in his voice.

"He seems...trustworthy, right?" I prompt.

"Not to me."

"Well I"m sorry we have different opinions!"

He exhales deeply and crosses his arms across his chest. I mimic his movement. "You should be., you will be. Trusting him will hurt you in the long run," he insists.

I'd like to say "how do you know?" but I don't think that would be a wise move when I'm trying to quell the argument. "And if it does, you can say "I told you so", okay?"

He smiles briefly, "I'm looking forward to then."

I elbow him playfully, and I feel like I"m sitting next to the real Rory--the old Rory--that I miss dearly. But these kind of moments never last long and this one is no exception to that, and within a few seconds he's back.

"Goodnight," he says.

"'Night," I say. He leans in to kiss me. I wish he wouldn't, but protesting now would lead to a bigger argument, so I don't. I'm having to control my tongue so much more around this new Rory.

He breaks away and leaves in silence. I slide down into my bed, tears threatening to flood out of my eyes. Eventually, I give in to them. Weeping, I pull the covers up so close to my eyes that they gradually become soaked in my salty tears.

I've shed more tears than I can count lately. I wish I could stand outside in the rain that drums my window, all alone and peaceful untill the pain shakes loose. I wish I could fly away like a bird on the wind, as silent as a thief in the night. I wish I could find a way back in time, but all of these things are fantasies. Fantasies that burn up in the flames of the horizon each morning as I am woken from my dreams.

That evil horizon.


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