Hey, Curtis, said Prue, as nonchalantly as possible. What are you doing? He put his hood back on. I was just out for a walk. I like walking in the rain. Less people around. He took his glasses off and pulled a corner of his shirt from beneath his slicker to clean them. Curtiss round face was topped by a mass of curly black hair that sprang from beneath his slicker hood like little coils of steel wool. Why were you talking to yourself?
Prue froze. What?
You were talking to yourself. Just back there. He pointed in the direction of the bluff as he squinted and put his glasses back on. I was sort of following you, I guess. I meant to get your attention earlier, but you looked so . . . distracted.
I wasnt, was all Prue could think to say.
You were talking to yourself and walking and then stopping and shaking your head and doing all sorts of weird things, he said. And why were you standing on the bluff for so long? Just staring into space?
Prue got serious. She walked her bike over to Curtis and pointed a finger in his face. Listen to me, Curtis, she said, commanding her most intimidating tone. Ive got a lot on my mind. I dont need you bothering me right now, okay?
To her relief, Curtis appeared to be easily intimidated. He threw up his hands and said,Okay! Okay! I was just curious is all.
Well, dont be, she said. Just forget everything you saw, all right? She started to push her bike away toward home. As she straddled the bike seat and put her feet in the toe clips, she turned to Curtis and said, Im not crazy. And she rode off.
Copyright © 2011 by Unadoptable Books LLC. HarperCollins Publishers, all rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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