The sun was barely up and Cherry was still sleeping. She’d been home very late the night before, and then when she heard what happened she had worried about Phyl. Erin must have stopped him from going to the hospital.
Erin got dressed, and mechanically put her hand in her pocket. A piece of paper ?! The conversation with the strange man from yesterday came back to her.
She looked at the piece of paper, wondering whether or not to take a look at it. She hadn’t told anyone about it. Neither to Phyl nor to Cherry. And wasn’t sure if she had to. Especially for Phyl.
Besides, she had heard from Phyl a little bit. First a message, from Mr. Garceau, telling him that Phyl was better and that he could go back to his room without any worries. Then, a second message from Phyl, very early this morning, telling her that he was home well, and that it was just overwork from the intensity of the lessons.
He also told her that he needed to rest, but offered to meet up for lunch this afternoon.
Erin moved slowly around the room, so as not to wake Cherry up, and walked out towards the dining hall. There was still a fair day left, and the next day everything would be dismantled. Classes would resume normally.
Erin gulped down her breakfast quickly and walked resolutely towards the fair. She wished she could return to the café-library stand.
Yesterday Erin had been on her guard, and the stranger was gone quickly. She had blamed herself after the fact, because she now had lots of questions on her lips… For example, how a book like 1984 had managed to pass the censorship, or how was it possible to access the dark-web from the Academy, when she couldn’t even surf freely.
The further Erin walked towards the fairground, the more questions she had to ask. There weren’t many people there at this hour, and sneaking between the stands to get to the other end of the fair was relatively easy.
But … Was it there? She was sure, but there was nothing left. No stand, no book. There was no indication that there had been a booth there the day before. Either she had dreamed, or everything had been cleaned up and put back in place as if the booth had never existed.
And yet… Erin looked at the paper she had in her hand. She knew she hadn’t dreamed of it. This piece of paper, which she hadn’t opened yet, had come from somewhere.
Had the Academy discovered the presence of a junk shop and made it disappear? Did the owners of this stand decide to leave before their presence was detected? Only this piece of paper testified to the presence of this stand the day before.
Erin dragged her feet, annoyed, to her room. She was no further ahead …
The world was starting to rise, and she passed more and more students in the hallways. She entered her room as Cherry stood up.
- “ Already standing up ? she asked.
“Yes, I had something to check,” Erin said, shoving the piece of paper in her pocket.
- Have you been to see Phyl? He is fine ?! Cherry asked.
- No that’s not it. I received a message from him. He told me that everything was fine and that we would meet at noon in the dining hall. I just wanted to see something at the fair.
- OKAY. As for Phyl, I don’t know how you don’t worry.
“Well, I’m told not to worry, I’m not worried,” Erin replied. Or at least I don’t show it, because it’s no use. Besides, Phyl is in a better position than me to know whether to worry or not.
- Seen like that, obviously. I would like so much to have as much composure as you.
- And I would like to have your spirits. So the two of us make a good pair, Erin replied.
- So, what are you doing this morning? Shall we go back to the fairground? Shall we redo the shops? Cherry asked.
Erin thought about the piece of paper. If she wanted to sort this out, being alone this morning might help. She could be sure that Cherry wouldn’t bother her, once she was gone, and no one else would bother her either, since most of the students would be there too.
- “No, I’d rather stay here this morning,” Erin replied. I slept a little badly last night, and I would like to rest, so I will be in good shape for the end of the fair this afternoon. “
It was a lie, of course. She didn’t know when the next fair would be, if there was one planned, and she obviously wished she could make the most of it. But at the same time, she was dying to know more. She wouldn’t be able to enjoy anything until she knew what was going on. Besides, she didn’t want to pose a problem for Cherry, which she might be if the Academy realized that she had kept the 1984 book.
- “Yes, I understand,” replied Cherry. You eat with Phyl at noon, but are we having the afternoon together?
“Promised,” Erin replied.