The other, larger group of students, adding up to maybe thirty-five of the forty kids present, was something else. They were the Sierras, the Charlottes, the Ferns and the Forrests. They were the Jessies and Bryces, the Taylor and Danny Heberts. The people who had stayed.
I just had to look at them, and I knew it. Some had dressed in new clothes, but others wore the clothes that had weathered the last few weeks and months, worn and frayed at the edges. Physically, some were frayed. They had lines in their face that spoke to weeks with a bare minimum of sleep, and both skin and hair bore the coloration that resulted from days spent outdoors.
One or two, I noted, carried weapons. One had a knife displayed visibly at his hip. A girl with a burly frame very similar to Rachelís was sitting beneath a tree, eyes closed, her hands on a stick with an electrical tape grip. There wasnít anything definable, only little clues that added up, and a general atmosphere about them.
Blake: What I was going to say was that Iíve been through stuff, before any of this, and I made it this far with my instincts. I canít and wonít abandon them.
Rose: Iím going to be a bit of a bitch here. I donít think your instincts are that good.
Blake: They werenít good when I was first on the streets, either. But I honed them, I stayed alive and mostly whole, I refined those instincts, found people I could trust, and with their help I got to a point where I was surviving on my own. Which is something Iím proud of. I can do the same here, but I need time to get a handle on it all.