Home > Time's Mirror (The Chronos Files #2.5)(7)

Time's Mirror (The Chronos Files #2.5)(7)
Rysa Walker

Tate also asks questions when he visits, but if I don't respond, he doesn't seem pissed off. Since I don’t talk, he just talks to me. He's why I know it's October 2305. Why I know I've been in this hospital for over five months.

Sutter gives him a disdainful glance. “Thought she might be more inclined to talk without a crowd, Poulsen. But apparently, we’re going to have to do this the hard way.”

He heads toward the door, but Tate is blocking the exit and Tate is big. Sutter may be skinny, but there’s no way he can squeeze through. Tate gives it a couple of beats and then steps into the room so Sutter can leave.

“Friggin’ moron,” he mutters, after Sutter is gone.

Tate isn’t as old as I thought at first. Twenty, maybe? Handsome in a He-Man sort of way. The slightly hooked nose that probably wouldn’t work on most faces somehow fits his. I mostly ignore him when he visits, although I definitely sneak glances now and then. But his comment about Sutter makes me smile.

When I pretend to go back to my reading, he says, "Brought you something, Prudence."

It’s the first time anyone has called me by my name. They all seem to be sure that I’m either Deb or Pru, so they clearly pulled up some sort of records. But they can’t pin down which one and I haven’t confirmed one way or the other, so they tend to call me kid or sweetie. Or Miss Rand, which I didn’t understand at all to begin with.

Tate sounds pretty confident that he’s nailed it, however, and he laughs when I look up. It's a friendly laugh, accompanied by a nice smile that crinkles up his blue eyes.

"So you are listening. Wondering how I knew your name?"

I don't answer, but I don’t look away, either. He’s holding a box in his hands and after a moment, he lifts something out by a leather strap.

It's my purse, the one Deb gave me for Christmas last year, with my initials—PKP—embroidered on the front flap. My lips start to tremble when he hands it to me and I clutch it to my face, partly to hide my reaction, partly to smell the leather. I've been in a hospital gown for half a year. My clothes were never returned to me, although they were pretty ripped up, so there may not have been much to return. This is the first thing I've touched since they took the medallion away that has any connection to home. Everything here smells dry and antiseptic, even the food to some extent, and the scent of the leather mixed with the mint from my box of Tic Tacs starts the tears flowing.

"Hey, don't cry." Tate's voice is surprisingly gentle for such a big guy. He kneels down by the hospital bed and squeezes my hand. "You must have dropped it when you…fell in. They've been cataloging stuff from the wreckage for the museum. Someone found this the other day. I told my boss I'd bring it by."

It's hard to imagine Tate working in a museum. He looks like he should be wrestling Killer Khan and Andre the Giant.

I open the bag and look inside. My Lip Smackers, mascara, a brush, some hairbands. Gum. The Tic Tacs I smelled. My Walkman, the front plate now covered with a spiderweb of cracks. Headphones, cassettes. The only thing missing is the very thing I want—my wallet. Not for the money. I doubt I have five bucks in there. I want the pictures.

My disappointment must show. "The CHRONOS people…kept some things,” Tate says. “They're still trying to understand exactly what happened." He nods at the Walkman in my lap. "Does it still work?"

I push the play button, and the little rotors spin, but only for a second.

"Damn batteries…"I don't realize I've said it aloud until I see Tate's grin.

"So you can talk after all. I was beginning to think the trip goxed up your brain and there was nothing going on behind the pretty face."

The blood rushes to my cheeks and I look back into the purse to cover my embarrassment. But since I’ve let the cat out of the bag, it seems stupid to go back to the silent act, at least with him.

"Do you think those people…the CHRONOS people…would give me back my pictures? They’re in my wallet. They can have the money and anything else they want."

"I don’t think they want your money. And I’m pretty sure they’d give them back if you'd answer a few questions.” When he sees my expression, he adds, “I'm not saying you have to tell them anything. But…you're going to be healed soon, right? The nurse said you took four steps today. And they don't know what to do with you."

"I want to go home."

"Prudence, I don't—"

"Pru. It's just Pru."

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