Glass shattered in a dark marble hallway with the mysterious red glow of an oil lantern, swaying and creaking with movement as they stepped, their boots clacking on the stone, into the classroom, crunching on broken glass. The lights in the lecture hall flickered on to show multiple chalk boards that covered the walls of the entire hall. Thomas stepped forward, smoothing back sweaty light brown hair that had stuck to his forehead and the back of his neck. He pushed a board at the front out of the way to reveal a hanging map of the United States behind it. Ara put the lantern on a wooden bench on the third row up and then stepped down to stand next to Thomas, his white sleeved arms crossed as they both breathed in the early summer heat, staring at it. She slipped her hand into her trouser pocket and pulled out a small wooden box, opening it and handing three thumb tacks to him. He began pinning.
"I've told her about my adventures with Doctor Holiday in Tombstone Arizona. We've spoken about my friends here at Harvard." He tacked as he spoke, "I've told her of my vacations in New York city." He held out his hand for more thumb tacks.
"How many more?" Ara asked with a hint of concern in her voice.
"Hand me four more." He replied with an apologetic look in his eye. She picked out four with a sigh and placed them in his waiting hand. "Arabella," He started and then gulped. She looked at him patiently. Whatever he had to say though, she felt like she didn't want to hear. But his eyes dropped into a parabola, finally resting on the map. "She knows about my time in California, my night in New Orleans, My few weeks in Las Vegas, Nevada. And lastly, I told her of when I was stranded in Alaska." They both stood for a moment, staring at the map.
"We'll tackle here together in Harvard, then we'll search in N.Y.C. We can split up after that and go west. I'll go all the way to california while you're in New Orleans. Then we can meet up in Tombstone, then Las Vegas, and travel up to Alaska." He said. She nodded.
"We better hop a train then to New York City." Ara squinted in thought.
"You know what?" Thomas nodded as if the map had said something he agreed with. "Go on to New Orleans. I have a feeling she's there. I'll search New York City, go far west, and we can continue on." Thomas looked to her. "plus I have a debt to handle there that I don't want you getting mixed up it." He confessed. The sky pirate rolled her eyes.
"wha'ever" she scoffed and walked out of the class. "Let's get some sleep. We have to catch early trains in the morning after they've loaded the baggage car." She said authoritatively.
"Ara," Thomas asked with a little chuckle to his voice, "do you have anywhere to sleep?" He asked.
"Yeah, but, you know. I don't see why you can't-"
"The floor," she repeated irritably. He stopped in the hallway and she turned and looked at him.
"So who did you meet that told you where I was?" He asked as her countenance fell to a frown, illuminated in red lantern light.
"A girl name Patricia. She's about my age? pink hair?"
"Oh, Patsy O'Connel!" He smiled and Ara's breath seemed to vacuum itself out of her chest. It was the memory of a woman in a red dress holding the hand of a brown haired child who looked almost like a doll. Dolls…they had them, Ara had cut the hair of Patricia's doll and got a slap in the face from mother.
"Patricia…." Ara repeated quietly, pondering in the misty bog of memory.
"Yeah, nice girl, isn't she?" Thomas asked. When Patsy's brother made fun of her pink lace bonnet, Ara had gone to beat him up with a candle stick from the dining table. It took father, uncle Randall, Mr. O'connel, and Thompson, the butler, to pull her off. Patricia and Seamus both cried for hours that day when Ara was sent to her room.
"Nice girl…" Ara whispered and began walking again. It was time to let her shocked memory metamorphose into dreams. They needed sleep, her mind and she. She had looked so familiar.
"so, again, my offer of sharing a bed tonight-"
"floor." Ara said quickly and Thomas left it at that.