by Kat Heckenbach -
Robynn’s legs cramped from kneeling behind the support column. And leaning against the cold metal wall was making her back ache. Why hadn’t Gavin come out of that man’s room yet?
And he was a man, Robynn had decided. He had to be. The no-blinking thing was creepy, but his eyes were far too human to belong to a droid. And no self-respecting droid builder would have made bangs so shaggy…
The door swooshed open and Robynn flinched, her heart suddenly fluttering like a hummingbird’s. She peeked around the column. Gavin leaned through the doorway and peered down the corridor. Then he stepped through; the door swooshed closed behind him.
Robynn stood and stepped out into view, arms crossed, as Gavin crept past. “What were you doing in there?” she whispered through clenched teeth. She smiled as Gavin jumped.
His eyes narrowed, distorting his little boy features. “None of your business, Robynn Shadow.”
The words hit Robynn like a brick. Gavin had never used that name for her. The other kids called her that, of course. “Robynn Shadow in the shadows…hiding, hiding…in the shadows…” Because she didn’t like being the center of attention—as if there was something wrong with that! She wasn’t hiding. And she didn’t care what they thought anyway.
Anger surged. Hurt anger that clawed its way out as tears burned her eyes. “Fine, Gavin Talker, do what you like!” She spun and stomped down the corridor.
“Robynn, wait!” His footsteps pounded behind her.
She could have easily outrun him, even out-walked, with her long legs and his short ones. But she didn’t speed up, and in moments he was next to her.
He tugged her arm. “I’m sorry. Please, Robynn.”
She stopped and looked down at him. His eyes were wide.
“I can’t tell you what I was doing here. No one can find out. Only Ave knows…and if she trusts me, then you should, too.” He squeezed her arm tighter. “And I’m sorry I called you that. I know you hate Shadow as much as I hated Talker.”
“Hated? What, you like it now?”
He smiled then, his wide eyes lighting up and his cheeks pushing out. “Course not! The kids’ll probably still call me that, but it’s not my name anymore, not for real.”
Robynn scrunched her mouth to one side. “So let’s hear it,” she said. “What’s your ‘real’ name?”
His eyes shifted down. “Okay, it wasn’t my idea…I know it sounds kinda strange…but it’s a real Earth name.” He looked up again. “Collodi.”
Robynn tilted her head, tightening her brow. “You mean like Carlo Collodi? The guy that wrote Pinocchio?”
“It’s an ancient story. About a man who doesn’t realize he wants a son, but he makes this puppet that becomes a real boy—because they love each other so much.”
Gavin stared at her, wide-eyed again, lip quivering.
Robynn knelt down. “Are you okay?” she asked as she wiped a tear from his cheek.
He nodded and smiled. “Very.”