Read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Chapter 29
What does he mean?
I part my lips to ask the question and his sneaky smile is the only answer I receive. I’m embarrassed and excited and anxious and eager. My stomach is filled with beating drums pounded into synchronicity by my heart. I’m practically humming with electric nerves.
Every step is a step away from the asylum, away from Warner, away from the futility of the existence I’ve always known. Every step is one I take because I want to. For the first time in my life, I walk forward because I want to, because I feel hope and love and the exhilaration of beauty, because I want to know what it’s like to live. I could jump up to catch a breeze and live in its windblown ways forever.
I feel like I’ve been fitted for wings.
Adam leads me into an abandoned shed on the outskirts of this wild field, overgrown by rogue vegetation and crazed bushlike tentacles, scratchy and hideous, likely poisonous to ingest. I wonder if this is where Adam meant for us to stay. I step into the dark space and squint. An outline comes into focus.
There’s a car inside.
Not just a car. A tank.
Adam almost can’t control his own eagerness. He looks at my face for a reaction and seems pleased with my astonishment. His words tumble out. “I convinced Warner I’d managed to break one of the tanks I brought up here. These things are designed to run on electricity—so I told him the main unit fried on contact with the chemical traces. That it was corrupted by something in the atmosphere. He arranged for a car to deliver and collect me after that, and said we should leave the tank where it is.” He almost smiles. “Warner was sending me up here against his father’s wishes, and didn’t want anyone to find out he’d broken a 500-thousand-dollar tank. The official report says it was hijacked by rebels.”
“Couldn’t someone else have come up and seen the tank sitting here?”
Adam opens the passenger door. “The civilians stay far, far away from this place, and no other soldier has been up here. No one else wanted to risk the radiation.” He c***s his head. “It’s one of the reasons why Warner trusted me
with you. He liked that I was willing to d*e for my duty.”
“He never thought you’d step out of line,” I murmur, comprehending.
Adam shakes his head. “Nope. And after what happened with the tracking serum, he had no reason to doubt that crazy things were possible up here. I deactivated the tank’s electrical unit myself, just in case he wanted to check.” He nods back to the monstrous vehicle. “I had a feeling it would come in handy one day. It’s always good to be prepared.”
Prepared. He was always prepared. To run. To escape.
I wonder why.
“Come here,” he says, his voice noticeably gentler. He reaches for me in the dim light and I pretend it’s a happy coincidence that his hands brush my b**e t****s. I pretend it doesn’t feel incredible to have him struggle with the rips in my dress as he helps me into the tank. I pretend I can’t see the way he’s looking at me as the last of the sun falls below the horizon.
“I need to take care of your legs,” he says, a whisper against my skin, electric in my blood. For a moment I don’t even understand what he means. I don’t even care. My thoughts are so impractical I surprise myself. I’ve never had the freedom to touch anyone before. Certainly no one has ever wanted my hands on them. Adam is an entirely new experience.
Touching him is all I want to think about.
“The cuts aren’t too bad,” he continues, the tips of his fingers running across my calves. I s**k in my breath. “But we’ll have to clean them up, just in case. Sometimes it’s safer being cut by a butcher knife than being scratched by a random scrap of metal. You don’t want it to get infected.” He looks up. His hand is now on my knee.
I’m nodding and I don’t know why. I wonder if I’m trembling on the outside as much as I am on the inside. I hope it’s too dark for him to see just how flushed my face is, just how embarrassing it is that he can’t touch my knee without making me crazy. I need to say something. “We should probably get going, right?”
“Yeah.” He takes a deep breath and seems to return to himself. “Yeah. We have to go.” He peers through the evening light. “We have some time before they realize I’m still alive. And we have to use it to our advantage.”
“But once we leave this place—won’t the tracker start back up again? Won’t they know you’re not d**d?”
“No.” He jumps into the driver’s side and fumbles for the ignition. There’s no key, just a button. I wonder if it recognizes Adam’s thumbprint as authorization. A small sputter and the machine roars to life. “Warner had to renew my tracker serum every time I got back. Once it’s gone? It’s gone.” He grins. “So now we can really get the h**l out of here.”
“But where are we going?” I finally ask.
He shifts into gear before he responds.