"Why the Grass is Red" Excerpt This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 6, 2014
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“I was pregnant,” I say into the darkness.

Finn is still. I’ve known him for a long time. I’ve dealt with his silence before, and it can mean many things. But this time, I can’t figure it out. It continues to kill, luring me deeper and deeper into frustration and fear.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he finally asks. I didn’t tell him because I needed him sound for Valiant at the time. And, more importantly, I needed him to fully believe that I was sound. It was only seven weeks after I had gotten back from Riolia, and I was just starting to convince him that I could function. I needed him, and everyone for that matter, to be able to focus and blindly follow my instructions without a concern about my mental health.

“You were already worried about me.” I pull the quilt up to my chin, nestling down into it and trying to disappear. I shouldn’t have said anything.

“I was worried about you because you got raped. What kind of a person would I be if I wasn’t? How did you even manage to hide this from me? I don’t think I left your side for the first month and a half after you got back.”

My short temper kicks in. It’s times like this that I wish we were both more understanding of one another. My anger comes faster than usual when people start accusing me of things, or asking me questions. I think this is one of the things that made me as good a strategist as I was. I don’t like to be questioned.

“I had a miscarriage,” I say sharply. “I didn’t know I was knocked up until it happened, and I hid it from you like I hid it from everyone else, except for Cal, who found out anyway.”

Again, silence from him. I don’t need to mention Will’s knowledge of it. That would hurt him too much.

The only thing we have in common tonight is our frustration and the fact that we’re both sleeping in this freezing barn together under this quilt. I really don’t know why I told him of my pregnancy. It was six months ago. I think I am subconsciously still trying to make him feel bad about what he did, like I’m even more of a victim than he already thinks I am. He betrayed me, after all. He left me behind when I needed him most and fought against me. But by telling him of my lying to him, I just make what he did seem justified, and I won’t have that.

“I’m sorry,” he breathes.

“For what? You’re not the one who raped me,” I say.

“Why can’t you just let someone be sorry for you for once in your life, Severna?”

“Because it doesn’t make sense for anyone to be, especially not you! You didn’t cause me to miscarry. Why should you be sorry about what happened to me?”

“Because I love you, Severna!” he shouts, then quickly adds, “Not like that. You know what I mean. I love you, and I care about you, and if I could, I would kill the people who did this to you because you’re beautiful, and intelligent, and you just deserve so much better than all this.”

“I love you too, Finn,” I say softly. I can see a few of his features in the moonlight that streams in through the wooden slats. I want to rest my head on his shoulder and cry, but I settle with taking his hand, which was resting at his side, in mine. It feels stiff and awkward at first, like he doesn’t know if I’m about to break his wrist, or kiss his palm. I interlock our fingers into a beautiful weave and let my hand rest limply in his, which makes him ease up a bit, but not entirely.

That’s how we are until I fall asleep. And in the morning, when I wake, Finn is out cold, but I’m still holding his hand hostage in mine. We drew closer in the night, which troubles me. My leg grazes his, but I don’t move. I don’t want to disturb him. Rest is my gift to him to make up for lying. I roll onto my side, leaving our hands together while I unknowingly study his sleeping face in the grayish sunlight that streams in.

He looks different than he ever has while sleeping. In London, he would scowl in his sleep, and cross his arms over his chest. At the New Nation Headquarters, he’d look upset or impatient, like he couldn’t get the lid off a jar. Here, he looks like the Finn Smith I never got to meet. The one I’d only heard about from Will and maybe Vinny. I’ve known him for half a year. I thought I had seen him at his worst, as well as his best, and everywhere in between. After all, we were practically glued together for a while when we worked in London - “a package deal,” as he used to say. But there’s an entire side of him that he kept hidden from me. Maybe he didn’t hide it. Maybe it just didn’t exist back then, or perhaps I simply never noticed it. It’s a gentler side. It makes him grow out his facial hair a little bit, and open doors for women, and smile at children. But it’s a dangerous side. Dangerous because it’s too likeable. It screams for my forgiveness.

Finn sleeps another solid hour. I entertain myself by avoiding thinking. What I told him last night, the part of me that I shared with him, it still gnaws at me. It still upsets me. When he does awaken, my face is the first thing that he sees when his eyes open.

“Morning,” I say.

“Good morning,” he yawns. “What time is it?”

“About eight.” I release his hand and prop myself up onto my elbows, running my fingers through my tangled and matted hair. My back aches from sleeping on a pile of straw, but I don’t complain because I know his must as well. “You no longer look like something that stumbled out of a casket after three months,” I try to joke.

“Well aren’t you in a friendly mood this morning,” he says, snickering. And I can’t help but smile a little myself.

“We need to get out of the area before the old bag in the house recognizes one of us from the wanted posters.”

“No,” he says, still lying on his back.
“What do you mean, ‘no’?”
“I just want to stay here. I want sleep in and have nothing more to talk to you about than the weather outside our nice and warm barn until I die of old age.”
“Warm barn?” I say.
“Warm enough,” Finn says, rubbing his eyes.

“I don’t know how well it would go over with the owners if we told them we were moving into their barn.”

I yawn, and that causes him to yawn without realizing it, and that causes both of us to laugh like children, then suddenly straighten out. I don’t know about him, but it’s strange for me to laugh like that, over something that isn’t really funny to begin with.

I just feel giddy this morning, like I’m high, and I know why. I’ve felt guilty about keeping things from Finn, and what I told him last night was undoubtedly the biggest personal secret I kept from him. There will always be scars left from what happened to me, but at least I don’t have to hide them from him anymore.

I really hate to admit this, but I’ve forgiven him. I haven’t forgotten, mind you, just moved on. This means that I’ll discover something else to be mad about soon, but for now, I’m happy.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

harrysworld said...
Aug. 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm
great writing you've got here. keep it up
jenjenjen said...
Jun. 18, 2014 at 12:38 am
wow... it's awesome! please post more! i lovveeee Finn he's so dashing ;) 
Ren N. replied...
Jun. 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm
Thanks Jen! I'm glad you like it. I''ll see what I can do in response to your request :)
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