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"We all thought you were dead."

He didn't look up, didn't slow his shuffle. The bag over his shoulder dragged along the ground.

"Where did you go? Everyone was worried."

The glass fountain pen fell from his fingers. He watched it make a beeline through the air toward the dusty desk that beckoned like an old friend.

"I'd just like to sit a bit," he said softly.

She brought him water. "We all depend on you." Her own words guilted her. She never noticed how young the boy was, how his sunken eyes bulged in his tiny head.

He drank.

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