“Harri, they have Drew.” The words fell from my mouth faster than I could catch them.
Harri nodded. “I figured they would find him, Andie. You don’t ever listen to me. You never have,” she said as she lit up a cigar. “I’d always known the Cleric’s ran a dirty business. But they usually stayed out of my way, and I made a point to stay out of theirs.” She blew a smoke ring that continued to grow in size as it drifted lazily toward me. It extended in shape with each movement, stretching its boundaries until its path collided with mine and passed my head through its center like a lion through a circus ring.
I shrugged. “That doesn’t matter now does it,” I said making sure to drag out the sarcasm. Harri narrowed her eyes. Her irritation with my statement itched my skin.
“It does matter now,” she emphasized. “Everything you have done until now matters. The whole frazzing establishment is breathing down my neck! I’m the one who took you in. I’m the one who gave you this job. I’m the one who has your back and has your back-up. So don’t you give me that shoddy crap line that ‘It doesn’t matter now.’ It all matters. Every single bit of it matters. Every single moment matters. Everything.” Harri slammed her hands down on her desk. Her face turned red in frustration, except this time, it also traveled down her neck.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered. I meant it. “I don’t know why you have risked everything for me.” I could feel the tears stream down my cheeks unintentionally. I never cried in front of Harri. I never allowed any true emotion through to anyone. Except Drew, and now Harri.
Harri rose from her desk and slowly walked toward me. She shoved my kicks from her desk and rested her hands on my thighs kneeling down so she was face to face with me. Her dark grey eyes were bloodshot, but even then, they were full of wisdom. The lines that ran from the corners of her eyes connected to those from the corner of her mouth. She sighed and dropped her head down.
“What?” I said. I hadn’t seen her this way before. It made me a little nervous.
She raised her head, her eyes glistening. “Andie, I love you like you are my own child.”
“I know,” I interjected.
“Let me finish,” she said. “This is hard for me. I haven’t had anyone in my life that I could ever count on. At least, until you came along.”
My throat thickened and it was hard to swallow.
“The road before us is dangerous. These Clerics, they run everything. They are powerful. They have powerful weapons. And if I lost you…” Harri’s voice choked up and she rose to her feet turning away from me. “If I lost you, I don’t know what I would do,” she finished.
“Harri,” I said. I grabbed her hand. “Harri, you are like a mother to me. You have been the foundation beneath me. After Sarah died, you were all I had. I know that I haven’t been the best friend or employee or even kid that you had to take care of. But know that I love you and everything I do from this point on, it’s not just for me. It’s for us. It’s for all of us. If we don’t stand up to them and we don’t hurt them the way that they have hurt us. They will continue to control everything and everyone. And people like Drew, will continue to be extracted and disposed of. There has to be a change. And I have to do what I can to make that happen.”
“I know,” Harri sighed. “That’s why I am going with you.” Harri turned around, her face dry and eyes determined. “But we aren’t going alone. The Cleric’s think they have confiscated all mass weaponry, they haven’t. There are multiple rebellion factions that have waited for this moment for the past decade. They have been waiting for this moment. Waiting for you. Andie, you are the only one who can lead us to freedom.”