Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Re-read: Chapter Twenty Five- Compelled

"Do you think she'll go away? Really gone?"

The longer Wanderer resides caves, the more irrelevant time becomes. She finds herself working alongside the humans everyday, but feeling she has no right to be there, she works twice as hard washing clothes, tending to the onion soup, and weeding the fields. As time passes, she is also able to learn the names and a little about the humans. There is Lily from Philadelphia, who never notices the stares she elicits from Wes. Lucina has two young boys, including Freedom who was born in the caves. One of the most concerning residents is Walter, whose illness can neither be diagnosed or treated, though Doc suspected a form of cancer. The cave dwellers totaled thirty-five, with six traveling on the raid, Jared and Kyle included.

Wanderer also has the chance to learn more about her neighbors. As Jeb tells her, the others moved in protest of her presence, like Ian, or out of fear. While others began to move back into their caves on the corridor, Sharon and Doc, who shared a cave, and Maggie are noticeably absent. Maggie and Sharon continue to ignore Wanderer, a move that feels hostile to Wanderer as the Sharon in Melanie's memories do not match the Sharon here in the colony. Wanderer inquires with Jamie about how Maggie and Sharon were able to get to the caves and he seems to understand that she is real asking is if Melanie's effort to find them had been for naught. Jamie explains that he and Jared had gone to look for them after finding Melanie's last note. Together they were able to decipher Jeb's riddle and make their way to the colony.

Though Melanie rarely speaks anymore, she is still very present during Wanda and Jamie's conversation, "soothing his pain, smoothing [her] awkwardness." Jamie wonders why his sister is so quiet and Wanda explains that it is difficult for her and she does not have something she has to say. When he asks is Melanie will ever be gone, Wanda tells him she does not know, but she hopes not. Continuing his inquiry, he wants to know if she likes his sister or if she hated her. Wanda never really hated her, but was afraid of her in the beginning because Melanie's presence meant she could not be like everyone else. In spite of this, she always admired Melanie's strength and thinks she is the strongest person she has ever known.

Once again, Jeb approaches the subject of Wanda teaching and once again, she refuses, though it beings forth feelings of guilt since she has never refused a Calling before. She also skeptical of how Sharon would react, but Jeb insists it is for the greater good and they should be able to learn more about the world they live in. Jeb yields for the moment, but Wanda is certain he will keep pursuing the topic.

Her thought is validated when Doc decides to sit next to her a few days later during mealtime. He casually begins a conversation with Wanda and Jamie before inquiring about her past lives. Curious about other life forms, he asks while species she has encountered is physically closet to humankind. Though she know Jeb is behind the line of questioning, she proceeds to tell him that the Bears on the Mists Planet are probably the closest. When he asks his follow up questions, Wanda allows Jamie to answer, knowing the stories from Wanda. With everyone listening in, Wanda does not want to answer Doc when he asks how the Healers learn about the physiology of a new species. Hesitantly, she tells them that they take samples, or as Ian comments, "alien abductions." She and Jamie also tell the crowd about the Origin, where Wanda and other Souls are born, and the beginnings of the Souls and Hosts. Ian wonders how long ago this all took place. Wanda responds, "After the dinosaurs lived here but before you did. I was not there, but I remember some of what my mother's mother's mother remembered of it." He then asks how old she is and she tells him that she does not know in Earth years but it could be thousands of years. Doc wonders about Souls life spans and according to Wanda they do not have one. "As long as we have a healthy host, we can live forever."

The questioning becomes too much for Wanda and she takes her leave of the group. Jamie follows are tries to reassure her that no one was too upset with the stories they told and the others will want to hear more. But what if she does not want to tell them? She knows Doc, Jeb, or even Ian will pursue a line of questioning when they are in the kitchen and, though she knows the answer, wonders if Jeb always gets his way. Jamie warns her that Ian will have questions for her tomorrow in the field, but born of his own curiosity and not Jeb's insistence.

Taking her hand, Jamie asks is Wanda is miserable here with them. Pressing her hand to his face, she tells him she is fine, which, at the moment, is "entirely the truth."

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