Episode One: The Horn: Scene 6

Other girls got Sweet Sixteen parties. I hadn’t. In fact the only thing I’d gotten for my birthday was a cheap card from my housemates. I appreciated the thought. But it seemed I was getting other things for my birthday.

Six months. I’d only been in the house six months. Somewhere out there I probably had parents, but we hadn’t been able to find them. I was pretty sure Mr. Otter was not one of my relatives.

Pretty sure. But now I bought myself a belated birthday present. Ice cream from this little store near us, not a chain, a true mom and pops. They had better ice cream than any of the brand names, and I licked at the cone as I leaned on the window outside, my shoulders against it. I knew I looked like just another loitering teenager.

I didn’t particularly care. I had a right to loiter, given I was still working on the ice cream, and the day was hot – not unbearable as it could get here, but hot enough to make one want ice cream and soda with ice and all things cold. I didn’t deal with the heat well, either. A group of boys came down the street and I tensed. I knew those boys…three of them were trouble and the fourth was, well, “falling into bad company.” They had petty records – vandalism, minor assault, that kind of thing, but were clearly building towards worse.

For a moment, I let myself daydream about my parents finding me, about them turning out to be some nice suburban couple who could and would just take me home with them. To some nice school where the teachers actually taught instead of being glorified babysitters. To…

Then I pushed the thought aside to deal with the world as it is.

“Hey, Jane!” one of them called.

“Answer’s still no,” I called back. He’d asked me out before, a couple of times, but I wasn’t about to go with a guy who prided himself on his knives rather than his grades.

“Oh, come on, Jane. You could do a lot worse.” He walked towards me, thumbs in belt loops, all but thrusting his hips towards me.

I decided to find another place to be, but as I turned away, he reached to grab me. I slapped his hand away. “Don’t touch me. Don’t ever touch me or I’ll…”

“You’ll what…spoil that perfect good girl record of yours?”

“For you it might almost be worth it. Almost. But no.” I could feel it coiling within me, the knowledge of exactly how to put him in a world of hurt without doing real damage.

What the heck had I done in that forgotten past? Things no sixteen-year-old should know…and in the back of my mind, the smell of blood.

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