I woke up with my face buried in a pillow and Samson curled up on my back. When I shifted, the cat sprung off of me and I turned to lay on my back. My eyes struggled to open, but soon I saw the cream wash of a ceiling and a white, wooden door with a brass knob in the centre. For a moment I didn't know where I was and I thought I must have still been dreaming. But, as I turned my gaze to the window, I caught sight of Michael's immobile form sprawled across an arm-chair, and then I remembered. We had reached the caryard at an ungodly hour last night, and we were taken to the house behind the garage and shown to the guest rooms. Of course, I had no time to take in my surroundings last night, as I was tired, and so was Michael .I had collapsed onto the bed, and fell asleep immediately. I was half-interrupted as Michael came in, having had a few, muffled words with Stu outside, and I had watched him arrange himself onto the couch – jacket off, boots off, and I almost sat up, startled, when he went to pull his shirt over his head. He didn't though, thinking better of it, and I allowed my body to relax again as he relaxed and went to sleep.

Michael was snoring a little now. I pulled myself up, and closed my eyes. I could feel Michael's calmness around me; he was like a lake and I was the boat, brimming along in the water, sensing each little ripple that caressed me. It was strange that I should sense him now when he was asleep, but when awake he was just a void. Perhaps I should ask him why that was. He said that I had to get past my own emotions to be able to sense what he was feeling. I had tried, but it didn't work. It was only when I had touched him that I felt something, that burning, physical feeling again in my fingertips.

I threw my legs over the bed. I was recovering, for the purple spots on my skin were disappearing, and some were now just a dark, yellow pigmentation. I stood and walked tentatively towards Michael, unsure if I should wake him or not. The morning, fresh light that shone through the curtain-less window bathed him as he laid there. Michael's hair and tattoos contrasted starkly to the paleness of his skin, and his eyelashes threw streaky shadows across his cheeks. I went down onto my knees and held my face close to his, holding my breath. He needed a shave, and a shower. He smelt of the open road, of grass, but his breath was slightly woody and minty as it swirled around my face. I decided not to wake him, for he needed the sleep. I inhaled his breath one more time before getting up.

I found my sneakers on the floor at the foot of the bed, and I pulled them on. I walked over to the door, and with my hand on the large, brass knob I carefully turned it and the door opened slightly. I met with a little hall and a narrow staircase that curved to the right, both dark but for the trinkling of light that seem to come from below. Samson brushed past my legs and galloped down the hall as if he knew where he was going. Soon he disappeared down the stairs. I glanced back at Michael. He wouldn't mind if I went exploring, would he? I was a little hesitant to answer this, considering Stu was about to shoot us last night and Michael was so adamant about not getting caught. But Michael said Stu hadn't been himself last night, and Michael treated him as if he was a good guy. Right now, that was good enough for me.

Shutting the bedroom door behind me, I stepped into the hall and began to walk towards the source of light at the end of the staircase. The floorboards groaned under my weight and the walls seemed to hug me at all sides. There was a distinct oil smell, like engine batteries or something mechanical. This made anxious, though I didn't know why. Soon enough I descended the steep staircase, slowly, with my hand on the banister stuck to one side of the wall to keep me from toppling over.

"Well, good morning, miss," said Stu, as I stepped into what looked like a kitchen.

Like the room Michael and I were sleeping in, the kitchen, being small and cluttered with weird looking rods and electrical what-nots, was adorned with morning light. The kitchen looked almost pretty, what with the delicate, white curtains hanging over the dirty sink and a rough, burgundy table spotted with tools, indeed the aesthetics were overwhelming. It felt like a home. And I was intruding.

"Good. Morning," I stuttered.

Stu was wearing the clothes he wore last night, save for the tool belt around his waist. Instead, an apron was wrapped around his belly and he was holding a spatula up towards me. He was smiling at me. The way his wrinkles crinkled around his blue, shiny eyes, lidded with gray, wispy eyebrows, and his rough-worn chin and strong arms, comforted me. I didn't need to be afraid of him, I thought.

"Well, have a seat thar, miss," Stu gestured to one of the chairs at the table, "your breakfast is almost done."

Stu was cooking something on the stove top, and it smelt like eggs and bacon. My stomach rumbled as I thought about eating, and I realized I was hungry again. I went quickly to the chair and sat down, eager for food. Stu cleared a space on the table for me and him and plonked down two plates of oiled bacon, fluffy eggs and crunchy toast in our respective spots around the table. After he had taken to his seat and handed me a fork and knife, he started on his meal.

"Eat up, girl," he said after swallowing his second bite, "No need to thank me."

I forked a chunky bit of egg in my mouth. It tasted wonderful, even better than the nut bar I had the day before. Of course, I have eaten bacon and eggs before, back home Mother used to cook it every Saturday. But I never really had appreciated it. I have tasted food, but never really tasted. There were fireworks on my tongue – the creaminess of the egg as it melted on my tongue, the salty chewiness of the bacon, and crispy rounded flavour of butter on toast – the food made me feel good. Satisfied, and that has never happened to me until yesterday, when I ate that nut bar.

"So, what's your name then?" Stu asked, his eyes on this plate as he gobbled up his food.


Stu looked up and nodded his head, chewing, "I'm Stu."

"I know," and I glanced down at his name sewn into his shirt.

Stu glanced down too, and remembering that his name was emblazoned on his shirt, he chuckled and resumed eating.

It was nice sitting with Stu. And as I ate, I watched him eat too. He was different somehow. Different from Michael. Stu felt solid. At one point I paused, my fork suspended in the air and he paused too, giving me a frown. Stu did not feel like a void. Like the kitchen, he existed. He was a part of this atmosphere, he belonged to this place. I could smell the oil on his hands and the grease in his hair. I saw the years on his face and in the white colour of his hair. He exuded warmth, comfort, and I felt it. I just wish I knew where I belonged.

"If you dun mind me asking, what happened to yer face?"

I dropped my head, and my eyes fell to my plate of food. Was this shame? I couldn't really remember what had exactly happened that night, but I did remember the pain, all too clearly. Indeed, the remnants of that night still lingered on my skin whenever I touched a bruise – the tenderness still making me cringe. But I was healing, and the pain was dissipating every hour.

"I can't really remember," I lied somewhat. I coudn't really say I was attacked, for that meant I had to say why I was attacked. And I didn't really know the answer to that.

I could sense Stu nodding, and I looked back up at him, expecting to see something like pity or aversion on his face or in his eyes. But he had gone back to eating, his will intent on finishing breakfast, and eventually I did too.

We didn't speak another word until Michael trudged down the stairs, his hair fashioned in every direction imaginable, half-tucked shirt, shoelaces hanging by his ankles untied, and a worried expression on his face. Stu had been at the sink, filling up two glasses of juice, but had stopped and observed Michael, exactly as I had been doing. Nobody in my world would ever look like that. Sure their hair might have been misplaced, by a forceful wind or shaking of the head, but people generally reach out a hand to promptly smooth it back into place. I felt a slight urge to neaten up Michael's hair, but he seemed so unfazed by it! He glanced between Michael and me, and ended up gazing at me.

"Are you okay?" he said to me, a trace of concern and anger in his voice.

I nodded weakly, and then offered, "Stu made me breakfast."

He seemed to think that was an acceptable explanation for he didn't say anything further and went to sit in the seat that Stu had previously occupied.

"Good morning to you too, Michael," Stu said, placing an orange juice in front of me and what was left of the bacon in front of Michael. Michael made and face at the food, and reached over to take up my glass of juice. He gulped it down within a moment. A little irritation flared within me; I had wanted to taste that, for I never had a yellow drink before. Michael must have seen something in my face, and paused before putting the empty glass down on the table. Then he put his attention to Stu.

"Have you heard anything?"

Stu blew out and shook his head, "No. Haven't been listening. Is it serious?"

"Yeah, well. I don't know what their plan is, and if they're in for a chase, it's almost likely that they've already caught up," Michael glanced at me, and then turned back at Stu, "I'm going to see for myself."

Michael stood and strolled towards the back door, stopping at the threshold, "Watch her."

Stu nodded solemnly.

"Where are you going?" I yelled, reflexively, feeling deeply confused and not wanting Michael to leave me, for however long he meant to.

"Just stay here, Dawn. I won't be long," Michael answered me, almost bewildered as much by my sudden outburst as I was.

And then he left, the door swinging close behind him. He didn't answer my question.