I stood there a moment, still as salt. It was so hot in the room I could not breathe. The tree outside my window went calm, like somebody took the air away. All night its branches had scratched at the screen and I laid in bed straight as a pin, wondering what was up.
I started to cry, hugging my daddys kimono around me. I do not know why I cried when I had basically won this thing. I still dont know, but sometimes I dont understand why I do the things I do. It is the great mystery of my independent self. Maybe it was for not wanting to go to school ever. Maybe it was because I did not want a part of this world where people like Roe tell me to do things and I am to mind them unconditioned of how I feel about it. Everyone in the world is behind bars.
So I picked up my sketchbook and my pencils, scattered over the floor and in the cracks between the boards, and placed each one in the box. Then I pulled up on the screen, threw my legs over the sill, and thrust myself out the window, landing my bare feet in the dirt.
I sprinted quick as a whip across the yard and behind the outhouse that smelled heavy and sick in the late-summer heat. My heart never raced so hard for being bad. The sun beat down on the brown yard like there never would be another drop of rain. Beyond it, a sprinkle of trees fringed the cornfield.
As I ran, I could hear Nig whipping around on the chain, smelling me near. I could hear Mother on the porch, realizing I had gone. It was skinning her alive. "Caril Ann!" she screamed. But I did not stop.
From Outside Valentine by Lisa Ward, pages 6-10 of the hardcover edition. Copyright 2004 by Lisa Ward. All rights reserved.
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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