Face to Face

Bren and Josh picked their way through the crowds, trying to avoid any particularly raucous groups that seemed likely to appear in the background of a news camera. Bren’s parents would kill her if they knew she was here. But she really wanted to the king’s procession up close, and as long as no one blabbed that they were gone, her parents would be none the wiser.

She spotted a landing up the street that didn’t seem as heavily occupied as every other space along the procession lines. The people of the capital — and probably many more — were certainly not wasting their cause for celebration. Hadn’t Josh’s parents said that royal appearances had been few and far between since they lost their children years ago? The king and queen were well beloved, but had been crushed by the loss, and had never had anymore.

Bren pulled at Josh’s are and pointed to the clearing she’d seen. It was useless to try to talk; she could barely hear herself think in this crowd. Besides, Josh always understood what she was trying to say. He’d had plenty of time to learn, since they had been thick as thieves for as long as Bren could remember. They both seemed to want the same things in life — which at the moment included not getting caught far outside of their quiet country hometown.

They made their way to the clearing, climbing over obstructions, building partitions, and people to get there. The last wall adjacent to their patio destination was their last obstacle. They used the worn building’s divots and grooves like a rock-climbing wall to reach to the patio’s base, then shifted across the bottom of the patio structure.

Josh reached a corner of the patio where he could pull himself up first, then turned to give Bren a hand. He was one moment too late; Bren’s footing gave way as he was turning around, and he missed her hand by inches as she lost her grip on the side of the patio wall. To her stark relief, she fell only a short distance — an unsuspecting bystander crossing under the patio became her unwilling cushion.

“What the –” the guy sputtered as Bren rolled away from him, hoping he wasn’t too hurt. She was already embarrassed enough with her own pain.

“Derek! Are you okay?” The girl beside him whirled around, catching Bren’s gaze as she reached for the guy.

It was like crashing into a mirror.

Josh had quickly climbed back down to ground level and was trying to help Bren up, but when he followed her gaze to the girl in front of them, he too stopped and stared in shock.

“My face,” was all Bren could say. “She has my face.”

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