"What?" she asked, her blue eyes flashing toward me.
"Nothin'...I was just wondering...how old are you anyway?" I blurted. My face warmed in the cool night air.
She giggled a little and then looked away. An uncomfortable silence slid between us.
"I'm seventeen," she finally confessed.
I'd been right in guessing our age difference. She was only a year older than me.
"You live by yourself in that house?' I asked. She looked at me again, her face more serious now.
"Marshall, this place isn't like where you are from. We do things differently here," she explained.
"Is that why you're taking me to some strange island in the middle of the night?"
"It's hardly the middle of the night, and yes, partly. Our parents don't hassle the way they do in your world. There's more freedom here. For now, anyway..." Her voice trailed away and she looked away, across to the other side of the boat.
"Where are your parents?" I asked. I watched as her teeth sunk into her lip. She bit down hard and long before answering.
"I don't know where my parents are."
She turned and spoke the words looking directly into my eyes. Her gaze was hypnotic.
"It's a long story. Not one to start telling tonight. Another time, perhaps," she said, looking away. I felt bad for pushing the point. The look on her face told me I'd stepped over a line.
"No problem..." I muttered, looking out of the window.
My mother had been missing for days. I at least had some small chance of finding her. I tried to imagine not knowing. Not having a single clue. The thought terrified me.
The ferry pitched through the chop of the water, and the motion threw us off balance. The movement left us closer together. I wondered how long since she had seen her parents. I could feel the press of her body against me as she fought beside me, against the swell of the sea.
"We're nearly there," she said, suddenly standing. I felt a chill whip into the space where she'd been. I got up and followed her to the door. I wanted to know more about her. I wondered how long she would keep me out in the cold.