89: Googoltha in the Hall

Come to that, Edmund had never experienced a family before–perhaps this was normal behavior? His only understanding of the concept came from Mrs. Mapleberry, who didn’t really have a family. She seemed to get all her wisdom and understanding of family from her books of shirtless men, and from smelly older women who stopped by the orphanage every Tuesday around tea-time to complain. Of course, the periodically returning orphans never liked their parents, painting pictures of horrible houses and vile relatives, but his situation was nothing like that, so Edmund wasn’t planning on running back to the orphanage any time soon.

Was he?

Edmund turned the corner and stopped short. There, standing in the middle of the hallway just past the door to his room, was Googoltha, wearing the same blood red dress from before. She stood quietly, without moving, like a porcelain doll with her sharp-toothed grin still frozen on her face. They stared at each other for a few moments, before Edmund began to walk slowly towards his door.

She didn’t move an inch.

Finally, Edmund was standing only a few feet from her in front of his door. He looked at her, while she looked at him.

“You didn’t come to dinner with Tricknee,” Edmund said. “Are you hungry?”

Googoltha didn’t answer, but simply stood and smiled. Edmund shifted his feet back and forth.

“Are you lost?” he asked, wondering if she was feeling as confused as he had. “I had trouble finding my way around my first night too.”

His second attempt at hosting proved as fruitless as the first; Googoltha remained silent, grinning at him.

“Well, you can get something from the kitchen if you’re hungry,” Edmund said, “and Ung will be happy to show you to your room. I’m tired now, so I’ll be going to bed. Goodnight.”

She watched him silently as he opened his door and slipped inside his room. With a quick thought, he twisted the small key that was stuck in the interior keyhole, locking his door with a click. He pressed his ear to the door, and after a few seconds he could hear the sound of small hard shoes skipping away down the hall.

Edmund let out a sigh, and carefully began to pull off the layers of mismatched dinner dress.He slipped on a pajama shirt that covered his whole body, and lay down on his bed.

As soon as Edmund’s head hit the pillow, he realized he had never felt so tired in his life. He had never really been physically exhausted before, having never spent much energy running around the Orphanage, but now he knew what it meant to be tired to the core. His brain felt like a large lump of lead, and while his eyelids weren’t drooping his mind had almost stopped forming coherent thoughts. Without even bothering to pull up the covers, he closed his eyes.

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