Young Family (Chapter 4, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 4

Dinner was the same stew as the day before and the day before that and the day before that. Phyllis's repertoire didn't have much variety. It wasn't entirely her fault as she had to work with the limited ingredients provided by what they could grow or forage on Eternity. The stew was an improvement over winter's fare of salted meat and even saltier vegetables.

Samantha at last found herself with an opportunity to talk to Prudence, who sat in her usual place in the corner. Prudence stared intently at her bowl, as if she were divining some prophecy from its contents. As she usually did, Samantha took her bowl over to sit down across from her friend. "Hi."

"Hello," Prudence mumbled into her bowl. She spooned some of the stew into her mouth to avoid saying anything else.

"I'm sorry about this morning. I didn't mean to snap at you."

"Did so."

"Prudence, please, I didn't mean anything by it."

Prudence put down her spoon and then looked Samantha in the eye. "Yes you did. You don't want me around anymore. You're too important now to have the little fat girl around."

"That's not true. You're my best friend, Prudence. That's why I wanted to tell you before anyone else."

"Tell me what?"

"I'm leaving. Tomorrow I'm going down to the beach and take Mr. Pryde's boat to the mainland so I can find my family."

"Congratulations," Prudence said and then took another spoonful of stew.

"That's all you're going to say?"

"What else am I supposed to say?"

"That you're happy for me and you hope I find them."

"Yes, of course."

Samantha studied her friend for a moment. "You don't really think that, do you?"

"I do, it's just…what happens to me after you're gone?"

"You can make other friends. Rebecca likes you."

"Sure."

Samantha looked around the dining room, watching the other children eating in small groups. She and Prudence had always sat together, most of the time by themselves. Sometimes Rebecca or one of the other girls would sit next to them. The boys always kept to their side of the room, though tonight she noticed them sneaking glances at her.

Samantha reached across the table to take Prudence's hands. "You don't have to stay here. Come with me to the mainland."

"But where will I go when I get there?"

"You can stay with me. I'm sure my parents will take you in too."

"I don't know. Eternity is my home. It's all I can remember."

"Please? It'll be so much better if we're together."

"Who will make clothes for the children then?"

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