Dana sat on the ground, drawing in the dirt. Yetunde and Souta were a few feet away chatting.
“Are you sure you’ll be alright?” he asked, rubbing the back of his neck once more. She smiled at him and nodded.
“I’ll be fine,” she said, crossing her arms and looking down at her feet.
“Oh c’moooooooooon,” Dana said, standing up and walking over to them. “Will y’all just kiss already!? We gotta go see the elders and you, Mr. I Rub The Back Of My Neck To Hid My Blush, need to go talk to your people.” Yetunde and Souta cleared their throats and stared at Dana.
“Right. We’ll be back within the week,” Yetunda said.
“Right,” Souta replied. Dana walked off, Yetunde following suit. Souta gently grabbed Yetunde’s hand and kissed the back of her hand and the inside of her palm.
“Be safe,” he whispered to her before walking off. Yetunde watched him go, disappearing into the sea of people.
Yetunde and Dana walked for miles in silence, climbing steeps hills, crossing babbling brooks, passing underneath centuries old trees.
“How long have you been in here?” Dana finally asked. Yetunde was quiet for a long time, staring at the hand Souta kissed.
“Long enough,” she whispered, making a fist and putting her arm down. She turned around and looked at Dana.
“I honestly don’t know,” she said, shrugging, walking backwards.
“I just know the first day they put me in the pod it was the day after Christmas.”
Dana stopped walking and stared at her.
“You’ve been missing for 6 months,” Dana said. Yetunde blinked and tilted her head.
“On the outside. You’ve been missing for 6 months.”
Yetunde stopped walking, her face turned to stone.
“I don’t understand?”
“There have been posts on social media about you! Your name and face! You’ve been missing! But you’ve been here for 6 months!” Yetunde’s eyes searched Dana’s face, trying to put two and two together.
“I said I was going to be gone for three,” she said out loud. “I’ve… I’ve been in this machine for almost a year…” Yetunde’s face cracked as an immeasurable amount of pain surged through her head. She started to scream bloody murder, holding onto her head as tears ran down her face. She suddenly froze, her hands still on her head, her eyes wide, tears running down her cheeks, her mouth open in a silent scream. She collapsed onto the ground.
“YETUNDE!” Dana screamed, running over to her. She started to shake Yetunde, doing whatever she could to wake her up. Dana started to sob, her brain panicking, before she too, collapsed on top of her.