Hannah’s stomach clenched as she stepped up and into the carriage. All of a sudden her stomach felt like it was doing flips inside her, like when she was eight and she’d started climbing up the tallest tree in town on a dare. She hadn’t made it more than maybe fifteen or twenty feet up when she’d looked down at her friends on the ground, and they seemed impossibly small, and she’d gotten too scared to keep going. Bucky Smith had gone to get his older brother, who was sixteen, and he’d climbed up and she’d clung to his back and he’d brought her down. But where was Bucky now? Who was going to save her now if she realized too late she’d made a mistake?
The inside of the carriage was surprisingly well lit. Not as bright as the outside, but brighter than she would have thought. Like a room full of candles, but without the flickering of the light. It was a big space, big enough for Hannah and David to stand up straight. Even Clarence was standing up tall and proud, the same smile as ever on his face.
Up ahead was man seated at a table with his back to the three of them, and Hannah’s mind was telling her, “No, that’s not right. There’s no way a table would fit in here. How could it even be that far away,” even as David waddled forward to greet who she assumed was Franklin.
“David, wait!” Hannah cried out, but of course he didn’t listen. Clarence put a hand on Hannah’s shoulder, his firm grip keeping her from chasing after David, and stepped around in front of him.
“It’s alright, Hannah. It’s all okay. But please don’t shout. Franklin’s condition has left him rather sensitive to loud noises.”
David had reached the man by that point, circled around in front of him, and his eyes went wide as he gasped. Hannah shook off Clarence’s grip, and rushed forward to her brother, scooping his heavy form up in her arms as she reached him. Only then did she turn to acknowledge Franklin. Only then did she scream.