Evander Stryde

The roof was leaky. The bed he was sitting on had springs sticking out of it. It was so cold that Amity had given up her coat to Evander instead, the reason she was shivering on the floor wrapped in an old, threadbare blanket they had found in a closet. Evander felt tears well up in his eyes when he thought of home. Right now, his mama would be making dinner, smiling and dancing around the kitchen to the music coming from the radio. Dad would be sitting at his big desk, frowning as he went over emails from work, and Amity would be at the dining room table, doing homework that made his head spin. Evander’s heart ached for his parents, his house, and his life.
“Yeah?” His sister’s eyes were dark, thinking. Always thinking, trying to stay one step ahead of everything else.
“Are we going to be okay?”
Amity’s mouth opened and closed. She refused to meet his eyes.
“Amity? Please, tell me if you think we’re going to…”
The last word hung in the air, unspoken.
“I… I don’t know, Vander.” She closed her eyes. “I don’t know.”
Evander supposed there was some relief in such a vague answer. While there was a chance they be taken, there was also a chance they wouldn’t. A slim chance, but one anyway…
He wiped at his eyes. He wouldn’t cry. The Stryde siblings were orphans now, and he didn’t intend to fall apart on her when times were tough. He sat up straighter, filled with a new determination. He would be smart. He would be tough. He-
Evander yelped and fell off the bed as a loud smashing sound filled the air.
“Police! Open up!”
Evander froze, and turned to his sister. The police. If they were caught, they’d be taken away to god-knows-where for god-knows-what.
Evander looked up in surprise.
“Hide,” his sister hissed, grabbing his arm and dragging him to the nearest closet. She wrenched open the door and threw Evander inside.
“Don’t come out. Doesn’t matter what happens, don’t come out. You understand?”
Evander nodded.
“Good.” Amity gulped, and it was blatantly clear she was just as terrified. “Vander, if something happens… I love you.”
That shocked him. It was an unspoken rule between them that they never bothered with things like telling each other ‘I love you’. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and not saying ‘I love you’ seemed as stupid as fighting over the last cookie.
The tears threaten to come back.
“Me too.”
The closet door closes, leaving only a thin strip of light for him to peer through. Amity doesn’t make any effort to hide herself, instead standing in the middle of the room, back straight, chest out. A warrior, ready to fight. He shivers, wants to call out.
All he sees is Amity thrashing around, before she falls. The last image Evander Stryde sees of his sister is her being dragged away.
Evander’s sobs were silent.


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