I can’t believe I passed out so quickly last night. After I finished my journal entry yesterday, I tucked it away securely in its shoe box and slid it under my bed. I lay down and closed my eyes and when I opened them a few seconds later, eight hours had passed. It was my body’s way of telling me that I needed the rest.
I woke up around one in the morning and quickly turned off my light, hoping I wouldn’t wake up any further. I awoke again around seven; I got up and got dressed in some warm jogging clothes and went for a run. It was nice not having to deal with any agents asking me where I’m going or what I’m doing. They all left, convinced there wasn’t a reason to keep me under surveillance.
It’s only been a day, and I already miss Gloria. After dropping me off yesterday, she had to leave quickly; we hardly even said good-bye. I hope she comes back soon to at least do that. She didn’t say where she had to go or when she’d be back—if she’d be back at all.
After my run, I showered and changed into something comfortable: sweats and a baggy t-shirt. Emily said she wanted to come over and hang out today since she had to bail on me last Sunday. I told her that sounded great. She said she wanted to play some games; I told her they’re all in my brother’s old room. She’s in there now looking.
As I sit on my bed with my back against the headboard, I think about my new-found freedom. It feels good. I still feel a little guilty about helping the FBI, but it all worked out … and he’s still alive. I keep remembering what Gloria told me: Everything happens for a reason. I’m beginning to believe that.
I also keep thinking about my journal. When I finished that last entry, I had the strange feeling like it was my last. I’m not entirely sure what that could imply, but it’s a little unsettling.
“Hey, look what I found!” Emily exclaims, bursting through the door holding a game. “Let’s play this.”
“Yeah,” I say reluctantly. “You would pick Scrabble. You win every time.” There’s a hint of playful sarcasm in my tone.
“Well,” she says, “there’s a first time for everything, right?”
I laugh. “Yeah, so they say.”
“C’mon Hardcore Hart, toughen up!” she says with a grin.
I laugh again at the new nickname she has obviously adopted. “What-ev!” I playfully shoot back, using one of her favorite phrases.
She purses her lips and nods slowly. “Good one … and showing a little attitude too.”
“Ha. Ha. Now give me the box,” I say, relishing in my comeback. “I’ll set it up.”
Emily hands me the box, and I start emptying the contents out on the desk.
“Have you heard anything from Gloria?” she asks.
I shake my head as I pour out the letter tiles from the velvet bag.
“That sucks. I liked her.” She pauses, letting that moment pass before going on. “What was her last name again?”
“Ducei,” I say, spreading out the letter tiles before me.
“Do— what? Is that French or something?”
I stifle a laugh. “Ducei,” I repeat, slower this time. “Here, let me show you.” I start rearranging the Scrabble tiles to spell her name: GLORIA DUCEI.
“See,” I say, pointing as I say, “Gloria Ducei. It’s just like saying ‘do’ and ‘sigh’. Easy, right?”
“Oh. When you put it that way, yeah.”
Her eyes stay fixed on the tiles; I can see her mind working. When we first started playing this game a few years ago, I thought I would have a slight advantage because of her dyslexia. I was wrong. Somehow it actually helps her a great deal. Just seeing those letters already mixed up gives her a head start, and she’s able to see other words almost instantly.
“What?” I ask, obviously not seeing what she’s seeing.
“A licro guide,” she blurts out.
“A licro guide. See?” She starts rearranging those same tiles until it shows: A LICRO GUIDE.
I look at the letters then at Emily then back at the letters then back at her once more.
“Um, I doubt ‘licro’ is a word,” I finally say, trying to hold in a laugh.
“Yeah, I know,” she admits, “but it’s the first thing I saw with just a glance at the letters. It’s not easy anagramming someone’s name.”
“What-ev, you showoff,” I say with that same sarcastic playfulness.
She laughs. “You better start warming up those brain cells. You’re gonna need all of ‘em to beat me.”
I grab a pillow from my bed and throw it at her. “Shut up,” I say, laughing.
“Hey, I’m gonna get a drink from the kitchen. You want anything?” she asks, standing at the door, holding the pillow.
“No, I’m good.”
She disappears around the corner, taking the pillow with her.
“Crazy nut,” I say under my breath.
I look back at the Scrabble tiles she arranged to spell: A LICRO GUIDE.
“Licro,” I say, shaking my head slowly. “That is so not a word.”
But as my head moves side to side, I find my eyes are stationary … transfixed on that single word. I can’t take my eyes away from those five letters: LICRO.
Why does something look familiar about that word?
I begin rearranging those five tiles, looking for the familiarity….
I rearrange the tiles one more time, and that’s when I see it. I’m left with a word that is very familiar.
“It can’t be,” I whisper to myself.
In disbelief, I slowly sit back in my chair staring intently at the letters before me as they stare back at me.
“She can’t be … it’s not possible.”
I get up from the desk and walk over to the window. As I look outside, my mind races back through time trying to remember everything I can about Gloria, attempting to fit the pieces of this puzzle together … trying to discover the connection.
I look back at the desk, staring at the letters that form the words: A LORIC GUIDE.
Gloria Ducei … is a Loric guide.