A long day

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"Wake up! Wake up, Garrett! We're here."

Thyme's voice woke him up from the deep sleep he had fallen into. He couldn't remember the last time he slept so well. He opened his eyes and realized he had fallen asleep in Oona's lap. She was now watching him with her big eyes which almost never blinked. Ferry stood up abruptly, trying to put his ruffled hair and clothes in place. There were only the three of them left on the train. She... wasn't there anymore.

"Come on, we have to get out," Thyme rushed them. "The train will leave the station soon."

Ferry helped Oona to get out of the wagon and found Parsley and Rosemary waiting on the platform. No sign of Lord Stephan. No sign of Sage. Or Matilda.

"Why didn't you wake me up earlier?" he asked Oona.

"I wanted to, fairy-boy," she said, trying to sound convincing. "But you were sleeping so deep...You looked so cute as you slept, with your ruffled hair... And drooling..." she chuckled.

Ferry shook his head and headed for a water fountain in the train station. He washed his face with fresh, cold water that invigorated him instantly, sprinkling him with refreshing drops. The gentle morning sun reflected in a small pool by the fountain, and the reflection of the water tickled his eyes. Ferry closed his eyes and drank a mouthful of water that chased his sleep away.

"Are you old?" he suddenly heard a small voice behind him.

Ferry turned and discovered a little girl around six-year-old, with tresses the color of the wheat in the summer and eyes as clear as the sky, that morning. She had a white dress stained with chocolate from the chocolate bar she was eating.

Ferry smiled. "No, I'm not old."

"Then why do you have white hair?" she asked, stepping closer.

Ferry studied her. Although different, the girl reminded him of his first meeting with Matilda, many, many years ago when life was simple and beautiful.

"That's the way I look, I suppose ..." he replied, just as he did back then.

The little girl motioned for him to come closer, and Ferry leaned down to her level. She cupped her hand and whispered in his ear, like a big secret, "Someone's watching you."

Ferry wanted to ask her what she was talking about, but a woman appeared running from around the corner of the station. "Liz, how many times have I told you not to walk away from me? And don't talk to strangers," she scolded her, glancing at Ferry a bit worried.

"But Mum, he has white hair. I've never seen a boy with white hair..."

The woman took the little girl by the hand and hurried back, pulling her after, then disappeared around the corner.

This time, Ferry looked around, all his senses awake. All the strangers passing by were staring at him. Everyone was watching him. Thyme appeared out of nowhere behind him, folded in his long, dark cloak. Maybe the little girl was talking about him...

"Garrett, come," he said, "we have to talk."

Ferry followed him to some secluded benches beyond the platform. Everyone was waiting for him there, eating the salad and cheese sandwiches Lavender had prepared before they left. Rosemary handed him one. Ferry sat down on the bench next to Oona and looked at his sandwich without opening it. Matilda was still missing. So was Sage.

Thyme was the only one who hadn't sat on the bench. He stood in front of them, refusing the sandwich. "Listen, everyone! Lord Stephan had to leave earlier to prepare everything for our arrival. The bridge between the worlds is a day away from this city. We will spend a day here, so we will have to draw as little attention as possible to ourselves. We don't have too much money, so we can't stay in this city for too long. And remember: our powers are limited in places where there are more machines and factories than trees and plants. So try not to get in trouble while we're here," he concluded.

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