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Collision of Fates (Updated)

By @CollisionOfFates

Chapter 3

Chapter 3

♈Michael♈

The forest was cold. 

Noisy.

It was also getting dark.

But what else was Michael supposed to do? He’d lost his family, his home, and everything he loved. 

That really didn’t leave him with a whole lot.

He kicked a tree root with his sneaker, scowling when it refused to move. What had he been thinking? He didn’t know many useful survival skills. There was the basic Don’t Get Eaten by a Bear rule, but that was general knowledge, and he didn’t think the whole Stay Put and Wait to be Found concept was going to do anything useful, either. So here he was, stuck wandering in the middle of the woods on a mountain that he had never climbed in his life.

Way to go, wise guy.

“AGHHHHH!” He yelled, attempting to release the solid ball of stress that had been forming in his chest since the fire.

Nope.

That didn’t help at all.

He sunk down against a tree, resting his head in his hands. 

Everything felt like it was crashing down around him. He squeezed his eyes shut, struggling to keep the tears back.

Back where they belonged.

Where he should have been able to keep them.

But he just wasn’t… 

Strong enough, he reminded himself. I have to be stronger than this.

The rebellious tears kept coming.

Just once. I’ll allow myself to cry just once.

He buried his face in his hands, letting out a sob that he was not proud of as everything finally sunk in.

No family, no friends, no home, no life…

No him. He had no life anymore. 

“Oh, gosh,” a voice said. “Are you okay?”

What kind of a question is that? Of course I’m not. Michael looked up, angry and tearstained. A few feet ahead of him, leaning back against another oak with her palms pressed against it, was a girl. She appeared to be about his age, but she was shorter than he was. Her light brown hair was messy, and her skin was pale. Michael didn’t see how she wasn’t shivering, her jacket was so light. She looked as if she had just endured something tragic, yet she seemed to be entirely focused on him.

Weird.

“Everything’s great,” he snapped. “Life’s perfect, I love it, and I don’t mind at all that you’re asking to be involved in my personal business. Satisfied?”

The girl’s eyes widened, but she quickly narrowed one to cover her surprise.

“I’m not trying to invade your privacy,” she said, holding her hands in front of her as if she were attempting to calm a stray animal. “I do have a right to be concerned, though. You’re sitting against a tree, crying your eyes out, not wanting sympathy- which I can understand, by the way- and I apparently can’t say anything because you’ll snap at me. People usually do that when they secretly need someone to talk to. It’s like a cover.”

Michael glared at her, but he couldn’t say much.

She was kind of right.

“Fine,” he growled. “And I suppose that, if I do talk to you- believe me, I don’t want to- you’ll sparkle me with verbal glitter and tell me it’ll get better soon and that you’re sorry for me.” 

“I don’t know about the glitter, but it will get better, whatever it is. For the record, though, I don’t fully buy the “I’m sorry for your loss” part either. It’s nice to know people care, but I know some people in particular don’t want false empathy.” 

Michael raised an eyebrow. 

“Are you saying your empathy isn’t false, then?”

The girl’s expression darkened. “I know what it’s like to lose someone.” 

She sat down by the roots of her tree, and Michael almost felt bad for her. She crossed her legs and folded her hands in her lap before wiping at one of her eyes. The girl cleared her throat.

“So how’d you get here?” She asked. “I’m guessing you’re not here for a casual stroll.” 

Michael snorted. “That’s an understatement. I… didn’t really know where else to go.” He took a shaky breath, but the girl nodded. 

Like she understood.

“I don’t really know why I picked this place,” he muttered. “It just kind of seemed right.” What was he even talking about at this point? She probably thought he was crazy. “There was, um, a fire. I’m not really sure I want to say anything else.”

The girl sighed, wrapping her arms around her shoulders.

“Avalanche.”

Michael frowned. “What?”

“I lost my family to an avalanche a few hours ago. Now do you get why I said I know what it’s like to lose someone?” She wiped at her eye again.

Michael let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. 

“Wow. That’s… that’s tough.” He paused. “I lost mine to the fire. I’m assuming you’ve already figured that out.” 

Another pause there.

“I’m Michael.”

The girl managed a small smile. “I’m Aliya.”

More silence.

But it felt like something had shifted.

He barely had time to process the thought when a branch snapped behind him, and he spun towards the sound. Aliya stood up immediately, her eyes widening. 

“What was-?” she started, and the sound grew closer. Michael stepped back towards her, surprised at the surge of protectiveness he felt. He hadn’t been able to save his little sister, but maybe he could redeem himself. 

Then a new shape stepped into a nearby patch of sunlight. 

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