"Very," she said gravely. She looked at him, or rather into him, and he felt sure she was telegraphing something that mattered. Something she wanted to give a shape to. Something sad?
She ducked her head and gave a funny smile, and Charlie cursed himself for failing to decode her secret message.
"Oh my God, are you all right?" ?Wren said.
"Your hand," she said, and he realized he must have flinched. Or maybe his fingers had tensed into a fist, or the start of one.
She lay her hand over his, above the area of his wound, and gave him a brief squeeze. Tender, and then gone. Warmth, then cold.
"All done," she said. "Keep it clean. The thread'll dissolve on its own, so you won't need to come back to have the stitches removed. Good news, right?"
Was it? He would have happily come back.
She was acting very polite now. She was packing up the needle, scissors, and gauze, but he wasn't ready to go.
"Wren. You didn't hurt me. You're going to be a really good doctor."
She gave him a startled glance.
"That's what you want to do, isn't it? Be a doctor? ?You told us in biology."
"Yeah. You applied early decision to Emory because of their pre-med program, and you got accepted, which is amazing. Not that you got accepted. Of course you got accepted. Any college would accept you. They'd be idiots not to."
Wren's eyes were huge, making Charlie wonder if he was the idiot in this situation.
"You should be really proud," he said. "Um, I'm sure you are really proud." Her deer-in-the-headlights expression didn't change, making him feel acutely aware of the muscles of his own face, which felt rubbery and no longer within his control. "Aren't you?"
She snapped out of her trance and busied herself ?with an antiseptic wipe. For a moment, Charlie felt relieved. She wasn't staring at him anymore. He could, and did, work out the kinks in his jaw.
But he doubted that the small square antiseptic package demanded all of ?Wren's attention, and before long, her reluctance to look at him forced him to open his big dumb mouth again. He didn't want to. He just couldn't help it. Her sad-shaped something had returned, and Charlie couldn't stand it.
"Did you not get into Emory?"
She made a sound that was perhaps supposed to be a laugh but didn't fool Charlie.
"Then, what?" Charlie said.
Wren stopped fooling with the antiseptic wipe. Keeping her head bowed, she said, "If I tell you, will you keep it to yourself?"
"Yeah. Of course."
"Do you promise?"
Was she serious? Charlie would promise her anything. The sun, the moon, the stars. "I promise."
Her lips parted. She seemed about to speak but then pulled back. "Oh my God, I'm being ridiculous. I mean, God, Charlie. For some reason it feels like I know you, but I don't, and"
She covered her eyes and pushed on them.
He thought, You feel like you know me? ?You feel that? About me?
She opened her eyes and gave him a wobbly smile. "Okay, done now," she said. She even managed a laugh. "That was really weird. I am so sorry."
"Don't be," Charlie said, his heart pounding. He glanced at Chris, who appeared to have nodded off in the hard
waiting-room chair, then back at Wren. "I know we don't know each other that well. That's what it is. But we do know each other."
He struggled to find the right words, and, failing that, he struggled to force out any words.
Charlie understood silence.
He embraced silence.
Silence in the face of sadness made sense to him. It was a survival strategy. But Wren's silence, which clearly wasn't making her happy, was something he could do something about.
Excerpted from The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle. Copyright © 2013 by Lauren Myracle. Excerpted by permission of Amulet Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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