“What are those?” I asked, freezing mid-squeeze.
“Candles,” Grace said, her unspoken duh hanging in the air.
“Why did you put candles in my room?” I asked, whipping around to face her.
“They smell like mint,” Grace said, her eyes opening even wider. “They’re supposed to relieve stress.” Her words were so kind that I almost didn’t continue, but a gut reaction drove me forwards.
“I’m not allowed to have candles,” I blurted, trying to make my eyes as expressive as hers. Maybe Grace and I could master the art of subliminally communicating through wide gazes, and then we’d never have to speak.
Grace let out a hushed giggle. “What? That’s ridiculous. My parents don’t have any rules against candles.”
“Yes, but my parents do,” I said, feeling the panic rising. “I mean, my mom ….” I breathed in and tried to slow down. “Candles can slowly kill you.”
“What?” Grace repeated, her laugh now bold. “Candles can’t kill you. Not unless you use them to set a fire.”
“No,” I said, straightening up. “Candles need oxygen to burn. When you light a candle, you feed the flame the oxygen you need for yourself. The flame depletes the air, and eventually it’s going to be bad for you. No one wins.”
“Oh my stars,” Grace said, leaning her head against the door in a manner I found very irritating. “Listen, Cassidy. There might be some very small chance of that happening, but that is no reason not to burn candles!”
“Can you just take them away?” I asked. Somewhere down the hall footsteps sounded, and my heart rate jumped. “Please?”
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