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“I don’t know where I’m going,” Clarice said quietly, not immediately that a stranger had spoken. When she did, Clarice abruptly turned, raising her hands in a way that made it impossible to tell whether she was trying to surrender or challenging the stranger to a fight. She paused before lowering her hands again.

She didn’t recognise the girl. Probably a junior. She said she was friendly. Seemed normal.

Isabel had seemed normal, too.

This girl wasn’t Isabel. It wasn’t her fault. She wasn’t Nancy, she wasn’t Conrad, she deserved to be treated as friendly as she was being.

Clarice frowned, averting her eyes for a moment. She shifted her injured shoulder a bit, trying to work out the persistent itch that was going on there without moving it so much that the pain got too much. The pain was one thing, but the itch was maddening.

“I don’t… I don’t know who you are. Your name, I mean.” Out of the muddle of emotions going on, none of them really were winning out over the others. Her voice came out mostly flat. Maybe a bit clogged.

She had to be nice. She had to… maybe not trust like she had before, she didn’t want to invite in another attack. Being wary, that was fine. But she couldn’t treat everyone like they’d committed the crimes that Isabel, Nancy and Conrad had.

That was what they wanted. Clarice would not do what they wanted.

Clarice gestured at herself. “Clarice, by the way. That’s Ty.” She waved her hand at Ty. “We’re...”

She’d been about to say ‘we’re friendly.’ But as she waved her hand at Ty, she trailed off. She looked at him, her gaze getting significantly colder. Could she really call Ty friendly? Ty had broken Conrad’s arm, and now Conrad was dead.

“...I’m friendly,” she said.
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In A World Of Shit · The Connecting Bridge