"Let me repeat myself. You where in my room the other night. Why?" She liked him and all, but if he stared at her when she slept, well, that was a deal-breaker. She didn't associate with creeps.
"If you saw me, why didn't you say anything?"
"Aha! So you admit it! Well, last night, my father mentioned he saw a light on in my room. I never turn on my lights. So, again, what where you doing there. I know it was you."
"Listen, it's not what you think..."
"Really?" Jen's voice had a sarcastic twinge to it.
"Yeah. You see, they're upping patrols at night for some reason."
"Wait...are you saying...?"
"The other night, I almost got caught. Then, when I made it to your house, I heard the police coming through people's backyards. So, I let myself in."
"Why didn't you just stay in the attic?"
"I thought they had heard something, and I was afraid they would try and come up there if they saw me. So, I went down the stairs to your room. You know, you are really tiny. I could hardly make it to the door."
"Okay...so why did you turn on the light?" Now she was starting to look worried.
"I wanted to try and wake you up early. But, I didn't say anything because I was afraid someone would wake up."
Jen paused for a moment, deep in thought. "Okay, I have an idea. You need to stop coming over to my house. It's just too dangerous. I'll just grab some books every night and we can read those, okay?"
"Azri, are you okay?"
"Yes, it's just my throat has been bothering me the past few days."
"Hmm, mine, too. Maybe we should stop reading aloud every day."
It had been a month since Jen and Azriel made that decision. They sat in silence in the dusty old building. Azriel, reading a book about a veterinarian, scrunched up his brow. "Uh, Jen? What's this thing?" He pointed to a long, barely pronouncable word that began in "H".
Jen recognized the word, and tried to remember what it was. "Oh! I know! Azz, you know how before the Town, people would have pets, right?"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Well, sometimes, the animal would be too sick or in too much pain, and they couldn't be healed. Doctors overdosed them on this drug, which was normally used as a sleeping medicine, and injected it into one of the major arteries. Or veins. I always get those mixed up...well, the drug would reach the animal's heart in seconds, and they died."
"So...they killed them?"
"It was for the best. The creature wasn't in pain anymore, and the drug had one side effect: it made the animal's last seconds very euphoric, or happy."
"Huh." They didn't speak for a while. Jen tried to read her book, but she just could not focus. Her mind kept wandering. Finally, she just took a deep breath, and said, "Azriel, you know how the Choosing is coming up soon?" The Choosing was when they were allowed to ask if they could marry who they wanted to. Jen thought it should really be called the Assigning, but she wasn't in charge.
"Uh, um..." She decided to spit it out. " I'm going to chose you. Are you going to chose me?"
"You are the only girl I know, and you are nice. Sometimes. Well, yeah, sure I'll choose you."
"You know we won't actually get assigned, right?"
"Yeah, I know. But it's the thought that counts."