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Young Writers, Chapter 1
Ross and Palmer
Ross was looking for Palmer, and Palmer’s search for the other was going as well as it could be. She’d checked every book but the Gulliver’s Travels series, and like any worried friend, was working on that. In her secluded room in the attic, Palmer looked through every book diligently.
Ross, on the other hand, was not just looking but calling. “Palmer, Palmer!” she yelled, now out of breath. The whole morning had been dedicated to looking for Palmer, just as the morning before had been filled with yells for the stubborn red head Ross shared a house with. The 24 hours were up, and the police were lazily scanning the area for the missing writer. No luck, no news, nothing to put Ross’ mind at ease.
And then she found the door. Palmer’s door, labeled in good cursive with “Do Not Enter,” squarely on a piece of computer paper. The sheet hung, fluttering slightly, a page for the humble Palmer. Ross remembered this door, from yesterday, trying the door and finding it locked and bobby-pin safe. She’d dismissed it as a lost cause and a waste of time, other rooms to check, other stones to turn.
With even the police finding nothing, no thread leading her to Palmer, at least her trail, Ross decided to give the door another go.
The lock hanging heavily on the other side of the handle barred entry. Inside, Palmer eavesdropped on Gulliver without disturbance.
“Palmer?” Ross called. “You in there?”
Palmer could have easily ignored her friend’s call. Easily have gone back to the book and dealt with the rest of her tiring life later. But could she really? When the rest of the world looked to her at one time or another. Palmer put her finger to her chin and thought for a long while, keeping Ross tapping her foot on the already worn wooden floors, hoping, pleading with the door and its steady sign for a response.
There was a shuffling of pages and a few books dropped before the lock gave to a key, and Palmer opened the door.
Ross stood, open-mouthed, watching the redheaded girl with the broad-rimmed straw hat canter back to her fortress of books, magazines, and those slim pamphlets she got every time she paid a visit to the post office (the people there were always very nice to her. She had to be the main source of their incomes, with all the manuscripts she sent out on an almost-daily basis.)
”Don’t pretend you’re not happy to see me,” Palmer said, returning to her refuge.
“I am glad to see you,” Ross said flat-voiced. She crossed her arms over her swelled chest, and Palmer smiled. “It’s just, what the h.e.l.l have you been doing for the past few days? Up here?”
“You expect me to believe that excuse? Studying for three days and not tell-“
”It’s been two days and only two days.”
“Whatever, Palmer. Whatever, you should have told me. I called the cops on you, I thought you were really missing or kidnaped or something.”
Palmer scoffed. “You sound like my mother.”
“Is that all you have to say?”
Palmer consulted the ceiling, its plaster frozen dripping. “Yep,” she said, finally, highlighting every letter.”
Ross sat down on the chair guarding a white-wood bookcase, filled to the stuffing brim with books upon books upon.... “Palmer, I get you’re an isolationist and everything, but this is too far. I respect you and your ability to be alone, but you seem to not understand that you have had someone living with you for a year now and if you go and disappear, that person will get worried and call the cops.”
Palmer considered this. She really did. She could see her thoughts overlap each other on the ceiling. All different colors, across the rainbow. “I guess you’re right. But I wouldn’t have bene alone if I told you where I was going. I’d be half alone if I just left a not telling you I’d be gone for a little while.”
“Well,” Palmer started. She was leaning back with her hands in her lap and her head tilted to the gritty, plaster white sky. “If you knew where I was you’d be tempted to come visit me. And even if you trumped your human instincts- oh, my dear Ross, when it comes to the forever existing presence of human instincts, you can never trust- you’d be thinking about this place. Even if I’d left you a letter, you’d be thinking about the place poor old Palmer slunk off to. So you see, I planned and carried it all out so that I wouldn’t be followed in any rhyme or reason, action or thought.”
Ross sat, staring at Palmer for what seemed like a long time. She was shaking her head in such a minuscule amount, Palmer didn’t notice it, and for a time the stubborn redhead surrounded by her books and papers thought she’d just frozen in time as she had tried to condition herself. And then, Ross put on a smile that fit perfectly on her face.
“You’re wrong and right, Palmer,” Ross concluded. “If we lived in the dark ages or something, you’d be right without consequences.”
“Precisely,” Palmer said, pleased.
Ross stood from the armchair and opened the door. “I’ll do some yelling at you later. You do have consequences. I’m going to call the police and say that you’ve been found. Then I’m going to come up here and...and... make you brush your teeth with soap!”
“Fine by me,” Palmer said, flatly, dark eyed.
Ross shook her head, unsmiling, and left the room. Palmer considered clicking the door shut, locked, and barred from further intrusion, but left herself in her corner with her books. And oddly, though in the past she’d never been bothered by disappointing someone, Gulliver had gone mute.