Chapter 35

With her lack of new knowledge, Beatrice was at a crossroads. She could keep Arthur in the room, questioning him endlessly until the blipped information magically soaked into her brain. Or she could bang on the door, and deal with the cruelty of her cousins. Neither option was ideal. She’d rather be confined to solitude for the remainder of her life than spend one more minute with Arthur or her cousins.

Recognizing solitary confinement was an unlikely privilege, though, Beatrice decided traitor was better than psychopath. She sat silently on the bed, weighing her options on what to say next.

“Blips suck,” she said. It was the best she could come up with.

“So do your cousins,” quipped Arthur.

“True,” Beatrice replied. “They’ve had their moments though.”

“Really?” said Arthur incredulously. “I always figured they came out of the womb laughing menacingly.”

“Oh, they did. But even evil people have off days,” Beatrice said matter-of-factly.

Before she could stop herself, Beatrice was listing off moments when her cousins had been almost friendly. She told Arthur about the time Lauren had loaned Beatrice a prom dress. Of course, this was after the cousins had ruined her original dress, nonetheless, it was a nice thing to do. Beatrice recalled the times she felt like her family was normal. Like the time she and Gerald Jr. made a sandcastle during a daytrip to the beach, or when she and her cousins spent two days lying in a blanket fort watching movies because Janelle had given them all the chickenpox.

“All of the good moments were sandwiched between awful pranks and cruel jokes,” Beatrice mused. “I can’t compare the good and the bad, and the good certainly didn’t outweigh the bad. But pockets of good make putting up with the mounds of bad a little easier.”

Arthur listened to Beatrice attentively, interrupting only when she said something that could solve all of there problems.

“…And then there was the time that Janelle and I made up our own secret code. We used it for ages. I’d forgotten about it until now.”

“Wait,” Arthur suddenly said, “A code?”

“Yeah, like shapes and stuff, “Beatrice replied. “I don’t remember the exact details of it.”

Arthur’s eyes lit up. He reached for the pen hanging on his shirt pocket and pulled a crumpled up receipt from his pants pocket.

After writing something on the receipt, he handed the paper to Beatrice.

“Read this,” he said excitedly.

“Arthur, we tried this before. I still blip when the information is written down. It just looks like gibberish-random numbers and figures,” snapped Beatrice, mildly annoyed.

“Yes, but your cousins manipulated the blips to work in their favor,” he rattled off quickly. “That means they wrote the code.”

Finally catching on to Arthur’s idea, Beatrice grabbed the receipt eagerly. She saw numbers, shapes, and figures with seemingly no meaning. But suddenly, it all looked very familiar.

-M.A. Gavin

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