Author’s Note: An important interruption.
“They’ve got food inside, set out and waiting. If you’re hungry, you can go get some,” Terra said, walking up to Cress and Enya. She should have known she was interrupting something—they’d been talking when she started over, but now they were quiet and awkward. That was her doing. She cleared her throat. “If… If you don’t mind, Cress, I could use—I need to talk to you.”
He nodded. “I’m not hungry. I was going to stay out here for a while. Come sit with me. I might even take a swim later, but I don’t think you want to join me.”
“I’m not completely anti-water just because I’m attuned to earth. I’m not likely to put on a swimsuit unless Sherwin’s nowhere around to see it, but that’s different.”
Enya forced a smile. “I think I might have an appetite this time. I’ll go see if there’s something I want.”
“If there’s a fish sandwich and you eat it, I might just be offended.”
She laughed as she walked away. Cress shook his head, turning his eyes back to the water. He kicked his shoes off and removed his socks, putting them in the shoes before rolling up his pants and walking to the edge of the shore. “I can tell you’re upset, but I’m still not a mind reader. You have to tell me what’s wrong.”
Terra slipped out of her shoes, joining him by the water. “I want to ask you, with all the things you can do, to make the earth stop telling me Stone’s still alive.”
Cress frowned. “What?”
She sighed. “Every time I reach out to the earth, every time I take a step or someone stirs up the breeze… I sense those things. I can shut out a lot of the little things, but if I’m trying to be useful, then all I get is… interference. I can’t deal with this. My brother is dead, and I know what grief is—a huge part of is denial—but I can’t live like this. He’s dead, but try telling that to the earth.”
Cress picked up a rock, running his fingers over it as he studied it, not looking at her. “Water has never spoken to me in the same way that earth speaks to you or the way that Moira and Sherwin can listen to the air. I can feel moisture all around me, can follow that sense, but I don’t get the same warnings or anything from it. I don’t know that I’m the right one to help you, for all that I can soothe you and keep you calm.”
Terra closed her eyes. “I want it gone. I want to stop being such a… well, a bitch to everyone. I can be annoying, I can be irresponsible, but when did I become so—Stone used to make us all laugh, and we were more of the concept of ‘down to earth’ rather than the other clichés we might have used.”
“Even in your grief, I trust you to know what the earth is telling you,” Cress said, and she opened her eyes to see his hand on her shoulder. “If you tell me that Stone is alive, I will believe you.”
“Why? Cress, it’s crazy. We all saw him die. I felt… I swear I felt it… He’s dead.”
Cress turned her around, nudging her onto the sand of the shore, out of the water. He kept his hands on her. “I’ll give you what clarity I can. Tell me what it’s really saying.”
She didn’t want to do this, but she knew that he was right. The only way to know what she was really feeling was to go ahead, using his help to clear her conflicting emotions. With them out of the way, she might know what was real and what wasn’t.
She picked up a handful of sand, letting it run through her fingers, and when it had fallen from her palm, she started to sob. “No, no, no. Damn it, no.”
Cress held onto her, but she wanted to shove him away. If she’d had the strength, she would have, but as it was, all she could do was cry.