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Wanders Vingette - New Years 2010

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(Wharton State Forest)

Poor Lonely Sinners

Traffic in Freedom City on New Year's Eve was miserable, but that didn't matter much to those who had alternate means of travel. When Erin had decided it was time to get out of town, it hadn't taken long to get out of Bayview, then to shed the city entirely, running out as far as the boundaries of Wharton State Forest, where the buildings were few and far between, and she could start to see constellations in the sky again. Most nights the smog of the city was reassuring, after months of looking at a sky free of the light and smoke of humanity, but tonight the celebration and noise was oppressive, smothering. There was a party somewhere on campus to watch the ball drop in New York City, but that was the last thing she was interested in. New Year's wasn't quite as bad as Christmas, but it still wasn't something she was quite ready to participate in.

Last year at this time, she hadn't quite been allowed outside yet, and maybe that had been easier. Dr. Franklin had brought her a little bottle of sparkling grape juice and a tray of party snacks, then had gone away when she asked to be alone. She missed Dr. Franklin, for all that she still saw him once a month for follow-up appointments at the Goodman Building. Dr. Marquez was her doctor now, and it wasn't at all the same. Dr. Franklin wasn't pushy, and he'd understood that the last thing she wanted to talk about this time of year was the future and resolutions for the new year. It was hard enough to live in the present without being buried by the ghosts of the past that were everywhere during the holidays. Dr. Franklin wouldn't have blithely given her the assignment to write down her new year's resolutions in her stupid therapy notebook and bring them in next week. He would've understood. Erin gave the notebook under her arm a resentful look, even as she slowed to a walk and began looking for someplace to sit.

A large flattish rock on the edge of a dormant field sufficed for a seat, so Erin sat down and opened her notebook. It wasn't like she hadn't had to do this kind of assignment for school before, back way long ago in normal school. There were BS resolutions anybody could put down onto paper without even thinking about them. Erin wrote a couple down. "To do better in school and stay caught up on homework. To start making and saving some money. To be nicer to other people." Neatly printed in big block letters, and double-spaced, of course, they took up the first third of the page, and were completely meaningless.

Resting her hands flat against the notebook, Erin looked up at the sky again. She didn't even know what she wanted, how was she supposed to make resolutions for what she should be doing? When she'd been a kid, she'd had all kinds of detailed plans for how she wanted her life to go, and none of them had come close to working out. For a long time, her only plans for the future had been to get through another day, or even just one more fight. There wasn't time to think of anything beyond that, even if it had been practical to do so. That same survival mentality had persisted long after she'd left her own world, through her time in quarantine, then with her new-old family, and then getting settled in at Claremont. Just put one foot in front of the other, finish one grueling day after another, and let the future worry about itself. But it had been a year now that she'd been surviving, and maybe it was time to think about something more.

She paused uncertainly with her pen poised above the notebook. Even if she made a resolution, she wasn't sure she wanted to write it down. But if she went in with the list she had, Dr. Marquez would just make some comment about being too insecure to actually make real promises to herself, and she'd just be annoyed and defensive all over again. She was getting so tired of that, too. Finally she put pen to paper and wrote: "To do more normal things." Other students did normal things despite their powers and wherever they come from. They dated, got jobs, went to parties, all those things she'd expected to do in high school. Why did it all have to be so hard for her? Maybe if she just tried it a few times, she'd remember how it was all supposed to go. Well, it was something to hope for, anyway. Looking periodically at her watch, Erin studied the clear black sky and counted down the seconds to midnight.

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