3.5

“It looks cute.” Jerret said, having finally looked up from his book. Jessie was moping just outside his cell. Her hair was cropped close and fluffy looking, but Calvin had largely salvaged it into a proper hairstyle.

“Misa likes long hair, he’s gonna think it looks bad and be upset.” She buried her head in her knees.

“I don’t think he’ll care about that, he probably just wants you back.” Jerret frowned down at his book. The girl seemed determined to keep him company at all times now that she was loose. At first company had been nice but he was beginning to miss peace and quiet.

“Do you think we’ll get to the station soon?” She asked for what had to have been the hundredth time.

“I don’t know, maybe.”

She fell silent after that and sat staring at the floor. Jerret went back to his book and Calvin came and went as the time passed, leaving them food and water. A flash of light on the floor caught his attention and he looked up again. Jessie was playing with the data crystal again, displaying the information on the floor. She stared at the pictures, her face contorting with effort, then huffed and shut it off again, leaning back against the wall.

“Something on your mind, kiddo?” Jerret asked. She didn’t say anything for a long time, and he started to open his book again.

“I don’t read very well… the letters get all mixed up and I can’t tell what the words are supposed to be.”

Jerret closed the book and set it aside, “Ya know I didn’t learn to read until I was twice your age.”

“Really?” Jessie seemed to snap out of her funk for a moment.

“Yeah, I still have a hard time sometimes. I have to really focus or I’ll lose my place.”

“Why didn’t you learn earlier?” Jessie scooted around on the floor so she was facing him, legs crossed.

“Nobody taught me. I guess they didn’t think I needed to read. Are you trying to read the stuff about your parents?”

Jessie set the data on the wall so he could see, “I can’t tell how to say their names…”

“Let me see… Sarah… and Claude. Weird last name, though, looks like-”

“That’s okay, I can read that part.” Jessie said suddenly, looking paler than usual. She turned off the display and stowed the crystal in its’ case again. She stood up and picked up the dishes for her food, disappearing into the hallway. 

Jerret had heard the nervousness in her voice when she cut him off, but she clearly didn’t want to discuss it further. He opened his book again and stared at the words, unable to focus again.

***

Calvin had locked both of them in the cell room when they landed for supplies, and Jessie was hunched up near the door, sitting in silence while Jerret read. He’d made it almost halfway through the book before he felt her eyes on him and looked up.

“Mr. Jerret?” Only her eyes peered above her knees as she spoke.

“Yes?”

“If we’re not human… what are we?”

Jerret sighed and tilted his head back to stare up at the ceiling, “The man who told me, ages ago, called us Enesthi… I don’t know if that’s the right name, it’s just the one I know. I’ve only ever met a few others and we never had much chance to talk.”

“Mr. Jerret?”

“Yes?” He responded automatically, shutting his eyes.

“Something’s wrong, isn’t it? We should be at the station by now.” There was just a hint of a tremble in her voice.

“There’s a great deal wrong with the universe, child, but worrying won’t help anyone.”

Jessie opened her mouth to ask another question, but seemed to change her mind and the room fell into that awkward silence again. She had fallen asleep by the time Calvin returned.

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