Isea opened her eyes to bright sunshine and a knock at her door. “Wake up, Isea,” Isea’s mum said, opening the door only enough for Isea to see her pale worn face. There were dark sags under her eyes, and more lines on her face than Isea had seen yesterday at the nursing home.
“Are you all right, Mum?” Isea asked.
Isea’s mum smiled weakly and shakily. She sipped from a mug in her hand, and scritch-scratched off in her slippers down the hall. Isea heard a faint pattering down the stairs.
Isea jumped out of bed, but felt rather faint and had to sit down. She spent all that morning working on her new story to add to The Book, ‘Two Fires’, at her desk under her window. It was about two friends who kept burning each other with their hateful words, or providing warmth by giving compassion and kindness to each other. It was, to Isea’s mind, two sorts of fire. One destroyed, while the other gave warmth from the cold. The two friends had to learn to be more responsible with their fire, and to not let it get out of hand. She decided to work her dream into the story, by at least taking little ideas and details out of it. She kept finding herself replaying that dream inside of her head. When it was almost noon it started to lightly drizzle. Isea met with her friends at Saturday and Sunday lunch times as well as on Fridays. Isea had thought her story was going to take the next week to get finished, but as it was, she had just finished it that morning. She excitedly printed it all out before making another peanut butter and banana sandwich, and headed out the door. She tucked her story safely in-between her blue rain jacket and herself, and walked excitedly through the forest. When she got to the park, no one was there. She stared wretchedly at the empty benches as it began to pour.
The only time Isea saw her friends was on Sunday, that next day. On that day, Ron had said wearily, “We’re just tired, Isea. The new man is making us do something hard. We are almost past the limit…” He had trailed off.
Betty had been completely down to Earth; Isea could tell by the wary and intense look in her eyes. Her familiar twinkle in her eyes was gone. “Mr. Pineyes has got it in for us,” she had said in fast, short, harsh, bitter words.
“Mr. Pineyes certainly is working your mum hard,” Alice had said sadly. She was wearing the same green-sleeved dress that she had been wearing on Friday.
To Isea, everyone seemed to have had something weighing down around them. “What has happened there?” she had asked dazedly, as if in a bad dream and everything was not quite real. “Who is Mr. Pineyes?” Her eyes had drifted to the space in-between the two benches. “Where is Gwen?”
Ron, Alice, Betty, Violet, and Wilfred had looked at each other reluctantly. “She is not doing well, Isea,” Alice had whispered, breaking the foreboding silence. “I visited her… she is fading.”
Isea had stared. She had not woken up. The heavy feeling of dread deep inside of Isea had become more solid and definite than before, and seemed to grow.
“We’d best be off,” Alice had said weakly and dejectedly, and the five of them had slowly gotten to their feet and shuffled morosely off except for Ron, who had gone off slowly and dully on his scooter.
For the rest of the week Isea thought about Gwendoline all of the time. She felt as alone as she had been when she had gone to brick and mortar school.