The Discussion

This was an idea that came to me when I was watching AMC's Fear the Walking Dead. I am hoping to work on my subtlety skills in this piece….we'll see how that goes.

-A.H. White

Sylvia got up out of bed and tiptoed to her bedroom door. She knew it was well passed her bedtime but she could not put her current book down and she had to know what happened to the main character before she went to sleep.

Sylvia knew her parents would not be happy if they found her out of bed at such a late hour but she was accustomed to being quiet. She tiptoed down the hallway and made sure to hold her breath while crossing in front of her parents' door; just in case they were still awake. She quickly and lightly went down the stairs and made her way to the kitchen. She only needed a glass of water. That was what she kept telling herself.

Well, maybe a glass of water and a cookie from the stash in the microwave. Her mom would freak, but she would make sure the evidence was destroyed in her stomach so her mom would never find out.

Sylvia almost made it to the kitchen without an issue when she heard voices. At first she remained frozen in the dark hallway leading towards the kitchen. She was frightened. Maybe someone was in the house. But she allowed herself to breathe again when she recognized the voices as belonging to her parents. They were in the den, the room right off the kitchen. Sylvia wanted to get her drink, but she talked herself out of it. Maybe she could sneak some water from the bathroom faucet upstairs.

She was about to turn and head back up to her room when something stopped her. She knew it was her mother's voice, but it was a hint of a strange emotion in the voice that seemed to bother Sylvia.

Her mom sounded almost panicked.

Concerned and curious, Sylvia quietly inched her way towards the door between the hallway and the den. Something told her in her gut that she needed to hear what they were talking about.

"I don't want to leave," was the first thing Sylvia heard when she approached the door. She felt her heart drop into her stomach. She felt a pain of suffering in her chest. She hoped that she had not heard her father right, but she held her breath in painful anticipation.

"I don't think we have a choice, Connor," came her mother's reply. Sylvia slowly allowed herself to breathe again, but she remained motionless and invisible. This did not sound like an ordinary conversation her parents had. "It's not safe here anymore."

Sylvia was surprised. She hadn't noticed anything different. She wasn't frightened to walk down the street like some of the other kids in her school who lived in more dangerous neighborhoods. Her neighborhood had always seemed safe and friendly.

Sylvia could hear her father sighing. He sounded frustrated. "I don't think that really means anything to us right now," he countered. "Nobody has come near us. The girls are still safe. We don't need to be rash about this."

Sylvia moved a little closer to the door and was able to silently push the door open to peer in. She could see that her father was sitting on one of the couches in the den and her mother was nervously pacing around the room. Sylvia did not like the body language from either of her parents. There was something unsettling about seeing your parents look scared and nervous.

"That's just it: we can't afford to wait until the last minute. What happens if they come in and we're not ready for them? What about the girls? I know you don't want to leave our home, Connor, but it's the only way to keep everyone safe."

Sylvia's mom continued her erratic pacing about the room but Connor stood up and went to his wife. He wrapped his arms around her and tried to hold her close. He shushed her a few times and gently rocked her back and forth. Sylvia, still watching, could feel a tug in her throat when she realized her mother was shaking because she was crying.

"I just don't know what to do," Sylvia's mom admitted, her voice shallow. "I just want everyone to be OK."

Connor gently pulled away from his wife; just far enough to look her in the eye. "We're going to be OK, Amie." He assured her. "I promise."

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say to his wife at that moment because Amie scoffed and pulled away from her husband. Connor sighed helplessly in response but it did not keep Amie from speaking what was on her mind.

"We need to leave." Amie said again, this time with hardened resolve. "I'm not going to worry about the girls being unsafe any longer." She walked briskly towards the door and Sylvia ducked back down in the hallway. She was sure she was going to get caught eavesdropping. Heart rushing with adrenaline, she hid behind one of the tables decorating the hallway and waited, motionless, for her mother to pass her by.

But the door never opened.

Connor had stopped his wife right before she opened the door and he tried to talk to her. He knew that the second she left the room, it was going to be harder to reason with her. She definitely chose the 'flight' part in the 'flight or fight response'.

"What happens if we leave this house?" He asked.

"We go somewhere safe." Amie responded, allowing her impatience to leak into her answer. Connor ignored her attitude.

"And what then? What happens if they come after us there? Do we just try and run when that happens?" Amie opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out. Connor took that as a sign that he was actually making sense to his wife. "And the place after that?" He continued to ask. "Amie, we could run from place to place for a million years and I don't think it would be enough to outrun them. They will find us eventually."

"So what's your plan?" Amie asked, tears streaking her face. She glared up at her husband defiantly. "You just want to stay in this house — that provides little to no protection, by the way — and wait for us all to die?"

Connor had to hard swallow a snarky response back at his wife, knowing full well he was just trying to provoke her. He knew that was not nearly the right thing they needed at the moment. Biting his tongue, he paused a couple seconds and stalled for time while he cooled down. When he felt confident that he had, he tried again. "I don't want to leave here, that's true," Connor replied honestly. "But don't think for the moment that I am not trying to keep yours and the girls' best interests in mind. We really don't know what's out there and I am more scared of us being unprepared and getting separated than I am with staying here while we try to figure out something more stable."

Amie was going to say something to counteract his explanation, but the longer she thought about what he was saying, the more it was beginning to sink in that he was telling the truth. He was being very rational about the whole situation.

Amie felt pained. She bit her lower lip trying to hold back from showing her emotion. "That might be the right thing to do," she whispered. "I really don't know anymore. All I know for sure is that I love you and I am very, very scared. I just want to keep our family safe. And I don't know if we can do that better here….or better somewhere else." Amie shrugged. Her body language now read defeat. "I don't know." She repeated again, that time sounding hopeless.

Connor's heart ached in his chest. He gave his wife a pained look and he pulled her close to him. He held on tightly to her and felt a little relief when she held him back with equal fervor.

"What's going on?"

Sylvia nearly jumped out of her skin. She looked over her shoulder and her eyes fell on her little sister, Megan. Megan was holding the arm of her usual travel buddy, Mildred. It was a pink stuffed animal bunny that Megan had had since she was a baby.

Sylvia pressed her index finger to her lips and whispered, "Shhhh!" to her little sister. Megan always loved secrets so she scrunched up in a small ball and sat extremely close to her sister. "Mom and dad are in the other room and I don't want to get caught." Megan responded with a silent nodding of her head and she smiled up at her big sister.

Unfortunately the silent action was a little too late. The girls were getting ready to slowly inch their way back to the den's door when the door was opened. Light from the room spilled out into the dark hallway and perfectly illuminated the two girls huddled behind the table.

Not having a back up plan, Sylvia looked up at her parents and smiled. "Hi, mom. Hi, dad."

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