The Revolution of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #2)


by Amy Engel

Chapter One

No one survives beyond the fence. At least that’s what my father always told me when I was a child. But I’m not a little girl anymore, and I no longer believe in the words of my father. He told me the Lattimers were cruel and deserved to die. He told me my only choice was to kill the boy I loved. He has been wrong about so many things. And I’m determined that he’s going to be wrong about my survival as well.

If I want to live, I have to move away from the fence and head toward the river. But even after I start that direction, my fingers still clench and release, clench and release, as if they are searching the air for the comforting familiarity of chain link. I know that last night I was lucky, considering what could have happened while I was passed out and injured on the wrong side of the fence. An animal could have found me. Or a person. I can’t count on that type of luck again. I need to reach the river, quench my thirst before the sun sets, and find some shelter from the coming night.

The river can’t be far, but it still takes what feels like hours for me to get there. I lose count of how many times I have to stop and rest, my breathing ragged and my body aching. My thoughts move sluggishly inside my head, and dizziness is an ever-present companion, hovering over me, waiting for a moment of weakness. I probably have a concussion from the blow to my head, but I’m not sure I remember what you’re supposed to do for one. And it’s not like I can put my feet up anyway, grab a cold compress, ask someone else’s opinion. A laugh bubbles in my throat, but when it breaks free all it sounds is wild, just this side of insane, and I press my lips together tight.

Keeping my thoughts from returning to Westfall takes almost as much effort as walking. But I push the memories aside. Out here, longing for things that are no longer mine will only lead to weakness that will be my downfall. Instead, I concentrate on the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other and continue moving forward even as part of me is left behind, beyond a fence I cannot breach.

When I finally reach the river, it’s not a placid pool like Bishop showed me inside Westfall’s borders. Here it’s wide, and although not raging, the current is running strong. The water looks brownish in the afternoon sun, silt stirred up by the rush of water. But when I kneel on the riverbank and cup it in my hands, it is mostly clear, and I gulp it down. I reach with both hands and shovel it toward my open mouth as fast as I can. I hadn’t realized how thirsty I was until the first drops hit my tongue.

Once I’ve slackened my immediate thirst, I splash water onto my face. I take off my sweater and set it on the bank beside me, then cup handfuls of water and scrub gingerly at my face and neck, cataloging injuries as I go. The guards who threw me out were definitely not careful with me. My lower lip feels puffy and raw, and the back of my head is so tender I can’t even run my fingers over it without sucking air in through gritted teeth. My arms are crisscrossed with dozens of deep scratches. I plunge my hands into the cold water and rub the blood away, try to work the dirt out from underneath my nails.

The sun is beginning to sink lower in the sky, and a thin strip of light cuts through the trees and glances off my wedding ring. I straighten my left hand out underneath the water, watch the gold glimmer and shift. I remember the day Bishop put it on my finger, the way my hand shook. The way I wanted to rip the ring off, how foreign and confining it felt against my skin. Now it takes me a long minute to work the ring off my finger. It leaves behind a dent in my flesh, a smooth band of skin that feels naked without it. But I can’t bear to wear it anymore, this reminder of all the things I have lost. I hold the ring loosely in my palm, and then open my hand, let the river carry it away.

I scoot back on the riverbank, content for the moment to listen to the play of water over rocks, feel the warmth of the fading sun on my back. I try not to think about the coming night. I try not to think about anything beyond my basic needs, afraid that if I do I will simply collapse under the weight of my fear and grief. There’s no room for second-guessing the decisions I made back in Westfall. No room for wondering what might have been. I don’t consider myself a victim—it was my choice to sacrifice myself, after all—but out here, turning into one will be easy if I don’t stay focused.

Behind me there is a small stand of trees, as good a place as any to take refuge once darkness falls. My more immediate worry, now that thirst isn’t at the top of the list, is finding something to eat. My father, in all his endless lessons, never spared a single second talking to me about how to survive beyond the fence. He never taught me how to start a fire or catch a small animal. I suppose he never considered the possibility that all his planning might come to nothing, that we might be caught, that he might need to give me some kind of alternative training. It is just one more time he has failed me.

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