Treasure of the World by Tara Sullivan

Treasure of the World by Tara Sullivan

Author:Tara Sullivan [Sullivan, Tara]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Published: 2021-02-23T00:00:00+00:00

* * *

When Yenni and I make it to the far side of the room, the man who pulled Victor out of the ring blocks our way. I try not to cringe under his piggy-eyed gaze.

“You can’t come through here,” he says. His face is wide and puffy, and his nose is crooked from having been broken many times. “No one is allowed to see the fighters when they’re not in the ring.”

I can tell he’s not going to change his mind. All of the kindness has been punched out of that face. Turning away, I push my way through the sweaty crush of bodies. They’re cheering again for some other blood match. Shoulders shove me, but I ignore the men and make my way out the door into the startling brightness of the open street beyond.

I stand there for a moment, grappling with the impossibility that this is still Tuesday afternoon; that the sun is still shining. My friend is lying, sweaty and bloody, inside the dark building behind me. My brother is still missing, maybe dead. And out here, the world is going on exactly as it has been, without a change, without noticing the giant black void that has opened up inside me.

“Ana. Ana! Are you okay?” Yenni puts a hand on my arm and peers into my face.

I blink at her. No, I’m not okay. Everything is falling apart and I have no idea what to do about it.

“I’m fine,” I manage to choke out. I take a deep, steadying breath. “Thank you for helping me so much, Yenni. You should go back to the posada now so you don’t get in trouble. I know my way home from here,” I lie. “As soon as I get home, I’ll wash these clothes and get them back to you.”

“You’d better,” says Yenni, swallowing my candy-coated lie without even pausing to taste it. “That ratty old thing is my favorite.” She gives me a quick hug. “Be careful,” she says. “This is not a good part of town. Hurry home.”

With a final squeeze, she leaves me. I watch her until she turns a corner and is lost to sight, then I face the still-crowded door of the fighting den. I can’t just stand, waiting, in the middle of the road in front of the building, so I move up the street a little way and find a shadowed doorway to lean in. It smells like pee, but I ignore it, keeping my eyes fixed on the last place I saw my friend.

That piggy-eyed door guard has no idea how stubborn I can be. He may not let me in to see Victor, but he can’t stop me from meeting him when he comes out.

I watch the sun creep its way across the spit-colored sky. I ignore my body asking for food, for water, for the chance to sit down, to doze, to pee. I ignore the leering men, stinking of alcohol, my heart pounding in my chest but my face flat.


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