ELEMENT: Chapter 13 (2)
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my backpack closer. Everyone is looking at me strangely, but then again, I’m used to that.

“I just mean, shouldn’t there be more people?” I say quickly.

“Sorry to disappoint, Ryan, but this is the town,” Uncle Had says. “No fancy-pants malls to shop in, no frilly restaurants, nothing like what you’re used to.” He gets out first, and then we all climb out of the truck.

I don’t tell him that we haven’t been to a mall or restaurant in years; instead, I just scowl and try to ease my pack onto my back without drawing their attention.

“Hey, there, buddy, why don’t you let me see that?” Uncle Had takes my pack and pulls back the flap. “What’s this?” he says, frowning.

“That? That’s jus...

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