Lexel had closed to her eyes as she looked inside herself for the answer to a single question. She didn’t have to ask herself if someone could have tracked her like Zero had. As much as she hated admitting it, it was a painful truth that it was only a matter of time before someone else did just that. And when that happened there would be no covering her tracks or hiding Zero’s presence from them.
The only real matter of importance to her now was the simple lingering inquiry; did anything hold her here that she couldn’t leave? It was a hard thing to think about as she endeavored to do so. As much as she hated to admit it, she did care for her mother – she wasn’t all bad. Her mother had done her best to take care of the both of them for a long time and to be fair had missed a part of her youth to raise Lexel.
While her mother wasn’t around much she did work hard to keep the bills paid and if she didn’t at least spend some of her down time on entertainment might have burnt out from the stress long ago. Lexel could understand the strain her mother must have went through for a long time. But even understanding didn’t ease some of the pain she had felt growing up. The knowledge didn’t remove the longing she had often had to have her mother there to talk to or comfort her.
And now, as she weighed her feelings she could see at the very center of her a tiny ember of emotion that guided her decision like a lantern in the dark. For all her love that she still felt for her mother, it wasn’t enough to hold her there. That life had started to drift from her long ago she realized. She had grown weary of waiting and watching to see if her mother would stumble in or call needing her to come help her home.
Even her classes seemed a waste of her time these days. Lexel was so far ahead of her peers that every lesson was more a review for her than something fresh to challenge her mind. There weren’t even any classmates who would miss her she could think of, instead there were only those she would welcome not having to avoid anymore. The only person she could even honestly admit might tear up over her leaving would be Xephaeda. Poor Xeph, she would be heartbroken by her friend leaving; not to mention worried sick on a daily basis about everything she would probably assume might be happening to her.
Deciding she at the very least owed her best friend a farewell before departing, Lexel had to admit the idea made her nervous. What if her friend tried to talk her out of running off? Lexel slowly realized that her mind was made up, and knew that as it was not even Xeph would be able to convince her not to do something once she decided to. No, the real worry she had to admit was in possibly bringing any potential trouble her friend’s way. Xeph was a lot of things, a great friend chiefly among them. What she was not though was someone equipped to deal with serious trouble disrupting her life. Xeph lived in fear of crossing a street when the traffic guide had yet to signal it appropriate. Lexel shuddered to think of how she might react to anyone official knocking on her door with questions.
Using even an encrypted communications channel was out of the question though, if anyone traced Lexel down then that would just be another risk leading to her friend. Meeting Xeph in person also didn’t feel like a safe choice either, people would start returning home soon and she refused to allow Xeph to be seen as the last person to talk to her before she vanished. The only option that seemed left was to leave a recorded message for her using their old secret slot.
“Give me a moment,” Lexel told Zero, who still setting in her living room patiently was watching her. She tried to take a deep breath to compose herself but immediately abandoned the idea as she slid a small thin strip into her terminal and punched up the command to record.
“Hey there girlie,” Lexel said to the screen with a weak grin. “It looks like something has come up and you can save the ‘I tried to warn you speeches’ for some other time, promise. I am going to be out of touch for a while, but I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye first. Know that I really will miss you, you have been like a scared scarlet haired sister to me and we both know without you there is no telling where I would be right now. I know you will worry about me, but please try to keep it to a minimum; you should be able to admit that by now, if anyone can take care of themselves it’s me. Please, if you could do me a huge favor though; just check in on my mom from time to time. She is sure to need some looking after and I don’t know when or if I will be able to be back. I’ll never forget you Xeph, and if I can I’ll try to keep in touch.”
Lexel paused for a sigh as she reached up to end the recording before she had to stop to add one last thing to her message. “So I guess this is goodbye for now. Please don’t be upset that I had to say it like this, but should any trouble come this way I want to keep you from being involved in it. Sorry Xeph, promise I will try my best to be as careful as I can.”
With a single tear trailing down her cheek Lexel turned off the recording and removed the strip of memory from the terminal. She grabbed what she could of her belongings, mainly a few clothes and a handful of things precious to her before turning to look at her terminal one last time. Reluctantly Lexel grabbed the nearest object to hand and smashed it into her terminal.
Zero was still waiting in the same position when she returned with a bag of her belongings. “We better be going, come on, I have one stop to make and then we make tracks.” As the two made their way out the door Lexel refused to look back, but couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before her mother would notice she was gone.