8. The Next Appearance.

The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin

Dahlia was true to her word. She contacted me through an email address, "Pollux," which referred to one of the Gemini twins in Greek mythology. She would ask me how I was, and how school was going once I moved to New York with Bianca. I gave her regular updates, but the only sign that she was doing well was that she wrote me back with questions. Dahlia never shared any of the details of her undercover work, which made sense. I wouldn't want her to endanger herself.

I was glad to know she was out in the world somewhere, that was way better than dead. But I wanted to see her again, Bianca was my only close friend and I missed the easy camaraderie that I shared with my twin.

It was her idea that I check out the coffee shop where I would eventually meet Frank; she said that it was her favourite shop in New York and that it was close to my campus. I visited it once and liked the atmosphere, and ended up going there every morning before class.

My life quickly became routine. I went to class, worked in the labs and did research. On rare occasions I went to dinner with Bianca and her art friends. On even rarer occasions I went dancing or drinking with her, but never really enjoyed it the way I might have when I was an undergrad. Life had always been a little bitter after the death of my birth parents, but I'd managed to have fun sometimes. After my adoptive parents' accident I really didn't see the point of recreation. I preferred my work.

So by that summer I was in a fairly withdrawn state, and the closer the calendar got to the anniversary of the Wileys' death, the more melancholy I got. Bianca convinced me to spend the summer with her at her parents' cottage, which is where she took the picture of me on the swing that Frank liked. I spent my time there being introspective, trying to figure out what I wanted out of life.

In August Bianca went into town for a party, and for once let me stay by myself. I was preparing for my trip to the Large Hadron Collider before the start of school, and packing. I enjoyed the peace and quiet. But it was interrupted in the best possible way when I went down to the kitchen to find something for dinner and found Dahlia standing on the screened-in porch.

"Oh my God!" I said, totally surprised. She hadn't indicated in any of her emails that she would be dropping in, and I didn't know she even knew where I was.

"Hi," she smiled meekly. "Can I come in?"

"Of course!" I reached for the door and opened it for her.

Dahlia stepped inside and looked around nervously.

"Something wrong?" I asked.

"Uh, yeah." Dahlia looked right at me and I could see that she was on the verge of tears. "I screwed up."

"Sit down," I urged her, pulling out a chair.

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