Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 19

“Sounds tiring,” Noah commented.

He wasn’t wrong. Blue had been exhausted after the church watch in May, when dozens of spirits had drawn from her. Maybe a middle ground, then.

So were these trees speaking, or was that just the wind?

Blue paused in her patting of mulch and rocked back on her heels. She lifted her chin to look at the trees that enclosed the Dittley property. Oaks, thorns, some redbuds, some dogwoods.

“Are you speaking?” she whispered.

There was precisely no more or no less than what she’d felt and heard before: a rustle in the leaves, a movement in her feet. As if the grass itself was shifting. It was hard to tell precisely where it was coming from.

She thought she heard, faint and thin …

tua tir e elintes tir e elintes

… but maybe it was just the wind, high and impending between slivers of branches.

She tried to hear it again, to no avail.

They were going to lose light soon, and Blue wasn’t thrilled about the idea of driving slowly back in the dark. At least they were finally doing the truly pleasant part — the planting of the flowers, making it look done. Noah had enough strength to help with this, and he knelt beside her in a friendly way, pawing holes in the dirt for the root balls.

At one point, though, she glanced over in the failing light and caught him placing an entire plant into the hole and knocking dirt over all of it, blossoms included.

“Noah!” she exclaimed.

He looked at her, and there was something quite blank about his face. His right hand swept another clump of dirt over petals. It was an automatic gesture, like his hand was disconnected from the rest of him.

“Not that,” Blue said, not sure what she was saying, only that she was trying to sound kind and not horrified. “Noah, pay attention to what you’re doing.”

His eyes were infinity black, and fixed on her face in a way that rose hair on her neck. His hand moved again, crushing more dirt over the flowers.

Then he was closer, but she had not seen him move. His black eyes were locked on hers, his head twisted in a very unboylike way. There was something altogether Noah-less about him.

The trees shivered overhead.

The sun was nearly gone; the most visible thing was the dead white of his skin. The crushed hole in his face where he had first been hit.

“Blue,” he said.

She was so relieved.

But then he added, “Lily.”

“Noah —”

“Lily. Blue.”

She stood up, very slowly. But she was no farther from him. Somehow he had stood at the same moment as her, perfectly mirroring, eyes locked on her still. Her skin was freezing.

Throw up your protection, Blue told herself. And she did, imagining the bubble around herself, the impenetrable wall —

But it was as if he were inside the bubble with her, closer than before. Nose to nose.

Even malice would be easier to handle than his empty eyes, mirror black, reflecting only her.

Suddenly, the porch light came on, flooding light over and through Noah’s body. He was a shadowed, checkered thing.

The front door banged open. Jesse Dittley slammed down the stairs, porch thundering, and strode hugely up to them. His hand shot out — Blue thought he was going to strike her, or Noah — and then he held up something flat between her face and Noah’s.

A mirror.

She saw the pebbled back of it; Noah was looking into the reflective side.

His eyes darkened, hollowed. He threw his hands up over his face.

“No!” he shouted. It was like he had been scalded. “No.”

He stumbled back from Jesse, Blue, and the mirror, his hands still pressed over his eyes. He was making the most terrible wailing sound — more terrible because now it was beginning to sound like Noah again.

He tripped backward over one of the empty pots, landing hard, and he stayed where he fell, his hands over his face, his shoulders shaking. “No.”

He didn’t remove his hands from his eyes, and Blue, with some shame, realized she was glad he didn’t. She was quivering, too. She looked up (and up, and up) at Jesse Dittley, who loomed beside her with the mirror, the object looking small and toylike in his hand.



Jesse heated up two bowls of SpaghettiOs in the small kitchen while Blue sat on a piece of old furniture that was both a stool and a chair. He seemed even more like a giant in this small room; all of the furniture was doll furniture beside him. Behind him, the malevolent dark pressed against the window above the kitchen sink. Blue was glad of this yellow-toned oasis. She wasn’t ready to drive home through this night, especially now that she’d be doing it alone. Noah had vanished, and she wasn’t honestly certain if she was ready for him to reappear again.

The microwave beeped. Jesse explained as he placed the bowl in front of her that it wasn’t really the cave that was cursed; it was something in the cave.

“And it kills Dittleys,” Blue said, “and does terrible things to my friend.”

“YOUR DEAD FRIEND,” Jesse noted, sitting down opposite her at the tiny drop-leaf table. The mirror lay between them, facedown.

“That’s not his fault. Why didn’t you say you could see him?”


“But I’m not dead,” Blue pointed out.


She let it pass. She ate a SpaghettiO. It wasn’t great, but it was polite to eat it. “What’s in the cave that makes it cursed?”

“SLEEPERS,” he replied.

This was relevant to Blue’s interests.


“Do I?”

He nodded.

“Why would I want such a thing?”

He ate his SpaghettiOs.

“Don’t tell me I’ll understand when I’m older. I’m old already.”


She had. She had indeed.

With a sigh, he fetched a big book of photographs — the Dittley family album. It was the kind of experience Blue always suspected would be charming and intriguing, an insightful and secret peek into another family’s past.

It was not that. It was very boring. But in between the stories of birthdays that went as you’d imagine and fishing trips that happened as fishing trips do, another story appeared: a family living at the mouth of a cave where something slept so restlessly that it peered out through mirrors and through eyes and fuzzed through speakers and sometimes made children tear wallpaper off the walls or wives rip out handfuls of their own hair. This restless sleeper got louder and louder through a generation until finally, a Dittley went into the cave and gave himself to the dark. Later, the rest of the family took out his bones and enjoyed another few decades of peace and quiet.

And then there were some more photos about the Dittleys building a car port.

“And you’re supposed to be next?” Blue asked. “Who will take over after you?”


Blue didn’t mention there was no evidence of anyone else in the house, but he must’ve picked up on it, because he added, “WIFE AND THE KIDS LEFT FIVE YEARS AGO, BUT THEY’LL BE BACK AFTER THE CURSE IS FED.”

She was so startled by all of this that she ate all of the SpaghettiOs without thinking too hard about it. “I’ve never met someone else with a curse.”


“If I kiss my true love, he’ll die.”

Jesse nodded as if to say yep, that’s a good one.

“Okay, but why don’t you just go? Sell this house and someone else can deal with the wallpaper and stuff?”

He shrugged — it was a mighty shrug. “THIS IS HOME.”

“Right, but home could be on the other side of Henrietta,” Blue persisted. “You could always just drive by this place and say whoo hello house with bleeding walls see ya later! Problem solved.”

He took her bowl and dumped it in the sink. He didn’t seem offended, but he also clearly didn’t agree with her, so he wasn’t going to comment on it any further.

“Also, when w —” Blue began, only to be interrupted by a furious pounding. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere. Curse? Noah? She pointed at the mirror in a questioning way.

Jesse shook his head and said, “FRONT DOOR.”

He wiped his hands on a dish towel that looked like it needed to be wiped on something else, before heading to the front door. Blue heard it open, and then a murmur of voices that rose and fell.

Two people appeared in the doorway to the kitchen, with Jesse behind them. Bizarrely, it was Gansey and Calla. It was strange to imagine the two of them traveling anywhere together, and even stranger to wrap her mind around the two of them standing here in the Dittley kitchen. They were very focused on Blue.

Jesse gestured to her in a demonstrative fashion. “SEE?”

Bursting over the threshold, Calla threw out her hand to Blue, palm up. She was spitting acid. “The car keys. Right now. You are not driving that car again until you are eighty and graying. Right now. Hand them over.”

Blue stared. “What? What?”

“You think you can just go and not call?”

“You told me no one else needed the car today!”

“And so you thought this meant you didn’t have to call?”

Blue was about to retort about how she was a responsible human being and they didn’t have any reason to be concerned for her whereabouts, but then she saw Gansey’s expression just behind Calla. His fingers lightly touched his temple and his cheekbone, and his eyes looked off at nothing. Blue wouldn’t have been able to interpret it a few months ago, but now she knew him well enough to realize that this meant relief: the unwinding of an anxious spring. He looked genuinely ill. She had worried both of them, badly.

“— half a dozen people looking everywhere for you and had begun to assume you were just dead in a ditch somewhere,” Calla was saying.

“Wait, what? You were looking for me?”

“It’s ten P.M.! You left six hours ago, and it wasn’t as if you were going to work, was it? We had no idea! I was this close to calling the police again.”

She let the again hang meaningfully. Blue didn’t look at Gansey or Jesse.

“I’m going to call Ronan,” Gansey said quietly, “and tell him he can go back to Monmouth.”

Ronan had been looking for her, too? It would have been heartwarming, if she’d been in any danger whatsoever.

“I —” Blue realized before she finished the sentence that there was no argument: They were right, and she was wrong. Lamely, she ended, “I didn’t think anyone would notice.”

“Car,” Calla said, “keys.”

Blue meekly handed them over.

“Also, I never want to ride in that boy’s horrible car ever again,” Calla said. “You can ride back with him because I’m too angry to look at your face. I will say things I will regret.” She started to storm back out, and then she stopped by Jesse, her nose curled. Their arms had touched; clearly she had just gotten some psychometric impression.

She said, “Oh, it was you.”

He tilted his head down to observe her without malice. She stomped around the corner without further niceties or explanation.

“Er,” said Blue, pushing to her feet. “Sorry about this.”


“Thanks for the SpaghettiOs. So, about the cave?”


“Like you said, it only kills Dittleys.”


“I’m willing to take my chances, if you’re willing to let us.”

Jesse scratched his chest again. “FAIR IS FAIR, I GUESS.”

They shook on it, Blue’s hand minuscule in his.

“YOU DID GOOD WORK, ANT,” he said.

Gansey stepped in then, putting his phone neatly into his pocket, fetching out his keys instead. There was still something stretched thin about his expression. He looked, in fact, like he had in the cave, his face streaked and unfamiliar. It was so strange to see him without his Richard Campbell Gansey III guise on in public that Blue couldn’t stop staring at his face. No — it wasn’t his face. It was the way he stood, his shoulders shrugged, chin ducked, gaze from below uncertain eyebrows.

“SHE WAS ALL RIGHT,” Jesse assured him.

“My head knew that,” Gansey said. “But the rest of me didn’t.”


I can’t believe you aren’t dead somewhere,” Ronan told Blue. “You should be dead somewhere.”

It was perhaps a sign of Gansey’s irritation over the situation that he didn’t correct Ronan on this front.

“Thanks for your concern,” she replied.

The kitchen at 300 Fox Way seethed with bodies. Malory, Gansey, Ronan, and Adam were at the kitchen table. Persephone floated near the sink. Calla leaned broodily on the counter. Orla kept appearing in a doorway to steal peeks at Ronan before being shooed away. This claustrophobic, urgent night reminded Adam instead of a night many months before, after Gansey had broken his thumb and nearly gotten shot, after they’d discovered Noah was dead. Things had only just begun to change.

Adam discreetly checked the oven clock. He’d asked to come into the trailer factory two hours late in order to meet with the others tonight, and he wanted to make sure he didn’t go over.

Blue asked, “Professor Malory, would you like some tea?”

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