I should really just start calling these Sunday Scenes rather than Saturday Scenes, but whatever.
A sample of yesterday’s writing:
Their room was dark when they entered, and Raya plucked the lantern from the small table between their beds, lighting a taper from one of the lamps lining the hallway and using it to light their lantern. A soft flame flickered up, and Raya brought the lantern back into the room, setting it down on the table. Slowly, the low light filled the room. “Close the door,” she told Ella, she said, lowering her aching body down onto her bed.
Ella sighed, closing the door behind her. She paused then, her hand resting on the knob. “They didn’t lock us in last night,” she said. “Did you notice that?”
Raya stilled with her hand dipped into her bodice, touching the folded parchment. “No,” she said slowly. “I didn’t.”
Ella left the door, sitting down next to Raya. “What do you think that means?”
“I don’t…” Raya hesitated, taking out the letter and running her thumbs along the paper. “I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t like it.” She touched the seam of the fold. “But maybe…maybe it’s a good thing?”
“How can it be a good thing?” Ella frowned.
“They must think we’ve given up on running,” Raya said slowly, her mind racing. “We can use that, if we need to.” She shook her head. “I can’t think about that now,” she decided. “Let’s take a look at this.”
With trembling hands, Raya unfolded the letter, steeling herself against whatever could come next.
Instead, disappointment hit her hard. The letters were those of their language, but the words were jumbled, impossible to understand. Raya swore.
Ella leaned over. “What?” she asked, alarm raising her voice.
Raya handed her the parchment. “I can’t read it,” she said. “It’s in some kind of code, I think.”
Ella’s brow furrowed as she scanned the page, her expression sinking as she came to the same realization that Raya had. “Damn,” she said. She looked up at Raya, her eyes worried. “That can’t be a good sign, can it?”
“No,” Raya said, feeling sick. “You don’t write in code if you’re saying something you should.” She rubbed her neck, her excitement at finding the letter fading away, replaced by a sudden weariness.
“Raya,” Ella said, touching her arm. “What do we do?”
Raya closed her eyes. She didn’t know the first thing about codes, and didn’t even know where to start learning how to pick this one apart.
But, she thought, her heart sinking, she knew who would. A memory, long untouched, came to her—of her mother at her small writing desk in their parents’ bedroom, reading a letter from their father, showing them the rearranged letters and switched lines and secret words. It was a game, she’d explained, one she and their father had played in their letters since they’d been young lovers.
“We need to bring it to Papa,” she said, pushing her hair back. “He and mother used to send each other coded letters, remember? He’ll know how to read it. Or at least how to figure it out.”
Ella’s lips parted, her eyebrows drawing together uncertainly. “He doesn’t know about Alice,” she said slowly, her voice heavy with doubt. “We’ll have to tell him.” She chewed her bottom lip. “This’ll break his heart,” she whispered.
“I know.” Raya rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms, trying to push away the guilt. “But we have to do it.” She swallowed the lump in her throat, touching the charm at her throat. “She sent us here,” she said, some of her initial rage and fear coming back and making it into her voice. She shoved it back down. “She wanted to get rid of us, really get rid of us. And now we find out she’s in contact with Torvan?” She shook her head. “Something is going on here, Ella, something bigger than just our family. And we need to find out what it is.”
Ella looked at her gravely. “We’re not going to like what we find out,” she said softly, her hand curling around Raya’s. “Are we?”
Raya turned her hand to clasp Ella’s fingers. “No,” she said. “I don’t think we are.”