Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 14

Adam retorted, “What’s it you see me doing right now? Where is it we even are?”

“Insultingly close to that Toyota is where I am.”

“I’m at work. Two hours from now, I’m going to my next job for another four hours. If you’re trying to convince me that I don’t need Aglionby after I have killed myself over it for a year, you’re wasting your breath. Be a loser if you want to, but don’t make me part of it to make yourself feel better.”

Ronan’s expression was cool over the top of the Pontiac. “Well,” he said, “fuck you, Parrish.”

Adam just looked at him witheringly. “Do your homework.”

“Whatever. I’m getting out of here.”

By the time Adam had leaned to get a rag to get the grease out of his ear, the other boy had gone. It was as if he had taken all of the noise of the garage with him; the wind had died down, so the leaves no longer rattled, and the radio’s tuning had shifted so that the station was ever so slightly fuzzy. It felt safer, but also lonelier.

Later, Adam walked out through the cool, damp night to his small, shitty car. As he sank into the driver’s seat, he found something already sitting on the seat.

He retrieved the object and held it up under the feeble interior cab light. It was a small white plastic container. Adam twisted off the lid. Inside was a colorless lotion that smelled of mist and moss. Replacing the lid with a frown, he turned the container over, looking for more identifying features. On the bottom, Ronan’s handwriting labeled it merely: manibus.

For your hands.


I mean this in the kindest possible way,” Malory said, reclined in Gansey’s desk chair, “but you cannot make tea for love or money.”

The night outside the wall of windows was black and damp; the lights of Henrietta seemed to move as the dark trees blew back and forth before them. Gansey sat on the floor beside his model of town, working slowly at it. He hadn’t had time to add anything new; instead he’d snatched minutes here and there to repair the damage incurred that summer. It was distinctly less satisfying to restore something to what it had been than to grow it.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong,” Gansey admitted. “It seems like a straightforward process.”

“If I wasn’t terrified to spend time in that bathroom you call a kitchen, I would advise you,” Malory said. “But I’m afraid that one day I will enter that room and never come out.”

Gansey fixed a tiny cardboard staircase with a tube of glue and looked up to find the Dog watching him with narrow eyes. The Dog wasn’t wrong; he’d placed the stairs a little crookedly. Gansey straightened them.

“Better?” he asked.

“Don’t mind him,” Malory replied. “He’s highly strung. I’m bemused, Gansey, by the lack of thought you’ve put into the action of sending Glendower to sleep for six hundred years.”

“I’ve put thought into it,” Gansey said. “Well. Conjecture. I have no way of proving or disproving theories. And even though it’s interesting, it’s ultimately irrelevant.”

“I disagree, from the point of view of a scholar, as should you.”

“Oh, should I?”

“By your own assumption, Glendower traveled here via ley line. A perfectly straight line across the sea, not an easy thing to accomplish. Quite a lot of fuss to undergo to hide a prince. Why not hide him on a Welsh line?”

“The English would not have rested until they found him,” Gansey said. “Wales is too small for a secret like that.”

“Is it? You and I walked Wales. Tell me there are not places in those mountains that would have hid him.”

Gansey could not.

“So why sail three thousand miles on a one-way trip to a new world where no one can make a decent cup of tea?” Malory trundled to the pool table maps. As Gansey joined him, he trailed a finger across an overflowing sea, from Wales to tiny Henrietta. “Why would one undertake the nearly impossible task of sailing a perfectly straight line across this sea?”

Gansey said nothing. This map was unmarked, but he could not unsee all of the places he had been on it. Outside, wind gusted abruptly, plastering damp, dead leaves against the windowpanes.

“The ley lines, the corpse roads, the death roads, Doodwegen if you believe the Dutch, but who does, this is how we used to carry our dead,” Malory said. “Coffin-bearers traveled along the funeral roads in order to keep the souls intact. To take a crooked path was to unseat the soul and create a haunting, or worse. So when they traveled in a straight line with Glendower, it was because he was to be handled like the dead.”

“So he was already sleeping when they left,” Gansey said, although now sleeping seemed like too light a word for it. He had a flash of memory, though it was not a true memory; it was a vision he’d had in Cabeswater. Glendower supine in his coffin, arms folded over his chest, sword by one hand, cup by the other. Gansey, hand hovering over the helmet, afraid and ecstatic to finally look into the face of his king after six hundred years. “They were keeping his soul with his body.”

“Precisely. And now that I am here, now that I have seen your line — I believe they sailed all this way because they were looking for this place.” Malory tapped on the map.



The word hung in the room.

“If not Cabeswater itself, then a place like it,” Malory continued. “They may have merely followed energy readings until they could find a place with enough force to maintain a soul in stasis for hundreds of years. Or at least for longer than his attendants thought they themselves would live.”

Gansey considered all of this. “The psychics have said there are three sleepers. Not just Glendower, but two others. I suppose what you’re saying would explain why there might be others here, too. Not necessarily because no one has tried to put anyone else to sleep elsewhere, but because it has failed anywhere but here.”

This inspired a shivery, unpleasant thought, of imagining you were being sent to sleep and instead being sent off to a trusting, accidental death.

The two of them gazed at the map for several minutes. Then Malory said, “I’m off to bed. Are we exploring tomorrow, or may I drive to that other Virginia again for some more cartography?”

“Other —? West. West Virginia. I think we should be able to come with you after class.”


Malory left his substandard cup of tea on the pool table and retired with the Dog.

Gansey stood unmoving in the warehouse after the door had shut. He stood so long that he felt disoriented; he could have been standing a minute, he could have been standing an hour. It could be now, it could be a year ago. He was as much a part of this room as his telescope and his stacks of books. Unchanging. Unable to change.

He could not decide if he was tired, or tired of waiting.

He wondered where Ronan had gone.

He did not call Blue.

“Look, I found this.”

Gansey jumped at the precise same moment that he recognized Noah’s voice. The dead boy sat cross-legged on the end of Gansey’s mattress in the middle of the room. Gansey was relieved to see that Noah looked more firmly himself than when he’d seen him last. In his hands, he held a lump of dark gray clay that he had formed into a small, negative-image snowman.

“Frosty the clayman,” Noah said, amusing himself. “I took it from Ronan’s room. Look, it melts.”

Gansey regarded it more closely as he settled himself cross-legged, mirror image from Noah. “Did he get it from a dream?”

“Gas station, I think. The clay’s got metal flakes in it or something,” Noah said. “See, it’s standing on that magnet. It slurps down and eats the magnet after a while.”

They watched. They watched a lot. It moved so slowly that it took Gansey a full minute to even believe that eventually, the metallicized putty probably would engulf the magnet.

“Is this supposed to be a toy?” Gansey asked.

“Ages six and up.”

“This is the worst toy I have ever seen.”

Noah grinned. He said, “Piss up a rope.”

They both laughed uproariously at Ronan’s words coming out of Noah’s mouth.

The bottom of the clay figure had managed to hide the magnet without Gansey noticing any movement.

“What’s that slowly phrase?” Noah asked. “Slowly, slowly …”

“… catchy monkey,” Gansey finished. “Noah, don’t go. I’m going to ask you a question, and I don’t want you to go like you always do.”

The dead boy lifted his head to meet Gansey’s eyes. Though he was not transparent or incorrect looking in any way, he was unintentionally unsettling in this light. Something about his unblinking eyes.

That could have been me. That should have been me.

“Did you hear him? When you … when you died?” Gansey regretted asking it already, but he pressed on. “Did you hear a voice as well?”

Noah’s fingers touched his smudgy cheek, though he didn’t seem to notice. He shook his head.

If both Gansey and Noah had been dying on the ley line at the same time, why had Gansey been chosen to live and Noah been chosen to die? By all rights, Noah’s death was the more wrongful one: He had been murdered for no reason. Gansey had been stung by a death that had been dogging his steps for more than a decade.

“I think … Cabeswater wanted to be awake,” Noah said. “It knew I wouldn’t do what needed to be done, and you would.”

“It couldn’t know that.”

Noah shook his head again. “It’s easy to know a lot of things when time goes around instead of straight.”

“But —” said Gansey, but he didn’t know what he had meant to protest. Really it was just the fact of Noah’s slow death, and there didn’t seem to be anyone he could direct that protest toward. He touched one of his ears; he could feel ghosts of those hornets crawling over it. “When we find Glendower, I’m asking him to fix you. As the favor.”

He didn’t like saying it out loud; not because he didn’t mean it, but because they weren’t clear on how the favor worked, or if it worked at all, and he didn’t like to make false promises.

Noah prodded his clayman. It was not much of a man anymore; it was only because Gansey had seen it before that he could still see the suggestion of the figure in the featureless lump. “I know. It’s … it’s nice of you.”

“But …?”

“Don’t be afraid,” Noah said unexpectedly. Reaching out, he pulled Gansey’s hand away from his ear. Gansey hadn’t even realized that he was still touching it softly. Leaning forward, Noah blew his cool, corpse breath over Gansey’s ear. “Nothing there. You’re just tired.”

Gansey shivered a little.

Because it was Noah and no one else, Gansey could admit, “I don’t know what I’ll do if I find him, Noah. I don’t know what I’ll be if I’m not looking for him. I don’t know the first thing about how to be that person again.”

Noah put the clay in Gansey’s hands. “That’s exactly how I feel about the idea of being alive again.”


“Tell my future,” Blue said that night, throwing herself down in front of Calla, who had blanketed the reading room table with receipts. The entirety of 300 Fox Way was howlingly loud; Orla had yet another group over, as did Orla’s mother, Jimi. Plus, Trinity — Jimi’s sister or cousin or friend — had brought over about one thousand little cousins or something to make soap. The reading room was the quietest place. “Tell me if I’m an orphan in it.”

“Go away,” Calla said, punching buttons on a calculator. She and Maura had generally worked the house finances together, Calla operating the calculator like an adult, and Maura sitting cross-legged in the middle of the table nearby. But now there was no Maura. “I’m busy.”

“I think you don’t actually know,” Blue said. “I think that’s what it is. You and Persephone are pretending to be all wise about it and ‘oh she needs to find her own way in the world’ blah blah, but really, you’re just saying that because you have no idea whatsoever.”

“This is paperwork,” Calla said. “And you are a pest. Go away.”

Blue picked up a handful of receipts and threw them in Calla’s face.

Calla looked at her through the fluttering sheets, unmoving.

They settled on the table.

Blue and Calla stared at each other.

“I’m so sorry,” Blue said, shrinking. “I really am.”

She started to pick up one of the receipts, and Calla grabbed her wrist.

“Don’t,” she said.

Blue’s shoulders slumped more.

Calla said, “Look. This isn’t easy for any of us. You’re right. We could never see into Cabeswater, and it’s harder to see everything else now, when there’s just two of us. Harder to agree when there’s no tiebreaker, especially when it’s about the tiebreaker …” Her face changed. “I’ll tell you this: There are three sleepers.”

“You’ve told me that. Everyone’s told me that.”

“Well, I think your job is to wake up one of them, and I think it’s Maura’s job to not wake up another one.”

“That’s only two jobs and three sleepers.”

“Persephone and I disagree slightly on the existence of a third job or not.”

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