They sat down at the narrow tables and ate porridge. It tasted of minced buttons. Emily pulled off her name scrap and wrote on the back:
I’m leaving London. Come with me.
She passed her note round the hall. The hush sparked. A girl with factory-dirt hair grabbed her hand. Her name scrap said ‘Molly’. Emily wanted to tell her about her days in field gold and sky far. Another girl pushed to her side. She was Laura. Her eyes made Emily think of smoke signals. Three more girls crept towards her. Emily wondered if she could keep them safe. She thought of the bodies lying in the streets. She tried to imagine what Our Lady looked like, but could only picture shadow shapes. A broad woman read the note and nodded. Her name was Helena. Suddenly, Jane snatched the note. She shook her head at Emily. She pulled a folded note from her pocket and shoved it at her. Emily had read it the day before:
Our Lady must need words. Maybe someone who has none could stop her?
Emily tried to say sorry with her eyes. She couldn’t risk using any more words. Helena led her to the kitchen. They filled some bags with food and gave the smaller ones to the children. Emily couldn’t look at Jane. Her gaze felt like a splinter. The girls were putting their coats on. Helena ushered them down the corridor. Emily kept her head low as they stepped outside. She heard the door close behind them.
The streets wound and stretched. The empty factories and terraces looked as if they’d grown up instead of been built. Emily imagined stone dust settling on fields and growing into empty towers. Helena hurried the girls past bodies. Emily squeezed Molly’s hand. She wished she could comfort her with the stories she’d loved as a child. Laura pressed to her side. Helena was in front with the other girls. They walked.
As they turned a corner, Molly pointed across the street. Helena gasped. Emily looked at a slender woman as pale as crushed moons. Her clothes billowed like the sails of lost ships.
“It’s her!” Molly whispered. Emily’s words felt like shards inside her. Our Lady began moving towards them. Laura ran across the street. Our Lady took her hand. Emily watched her stroke Laura’s hair. She felt the ground shudder.
“Speak,” Our Lady said.
If Emily goes after Laura go to Chapter Sixteen
If Emily keeps going with the others go to Chapter Seventeen