Prompt: usurp; kid with the leash
I have not spent today writing. In my defense, I spent the day reading Pamela Ribon’s Going in Circles. It has roller derby–can anyone blame me for making this a priority? So today you get a placeholder and tomorrow you get two stories.
ETA: Here we go. It only took four drafts to get it to come out right…
Jamie stuffed books into his new locker. “So, you want to walk over to my house? We could hang out.” He snapped the lock on the door and zipped up his backpack.
Cindy waited for him with her thumbs hooked through the straps of a backpack that looked bigger than she was. “Sure, if you don’t mind me doing homework while I’m there. It’ll keep my parents from killing me for going ‘out’ on a school night.”
They walked out the school gates, past the parking lot full of vans and SUVs, and headed up the street. “Your parents sound pretty strict.”
Cindy, tiny and bouncy, rolled her eyes. “Asian parents, you know. I think mine are trying out for the stereotype Olympics. According to my mom, if I go out, I’ll flunk my classes and get pregnant, in that order of importance.”
“Yikes.” They waited while a crossing guard stopped traffic for them. The town was not that small, but every intersection seemed to have guards and plenty of other kids were walking home in staggered groups. The last town Jamie had been in, no one would’ve let their kids walk from the door to the garage without supervision. Of course, the dangerous neighborhood made it easier for Jamie’s parents to alter people’s memories after the Seventh Grade Incident. He immediately regretted thinking about that–the broken body, the stranger’s blood on his hands, and his parents frantic to keep it quiet. The images were fresh and acted like juicy bait for Blue, who came out of his sulk to look around with Jamie’s eyes.
“Who’s she?” Blue asked in the back of Jamie’s head.
“Uh, so, have you been at this school since last year?” Jamie tried to envision a door slamming in Blue’s face. Blue had sworn he would leave Jamie alone for a month, so he could get settled in.
Cindy, all of this internal turmoil lost on her, shrugged in a so-so sort of way. “Yeah, most of the kids from my elementary school go here for junior high and high school. I can’t wait for college, when we can actually pick and go anywhere.”
They turned off the main road onto the street for Jamie’s new housing development. “Travel’s overrated.”
Blue scrambled around in Jamie’s head like a monkey climbing the walls of its cage. “Why is she following you? Make her go away. You should be spending time with me instead. What do you need her for?” First day of school and a one month deal and Blue already wanted to go back on it. Deals with demons, even ones who were supposedly there to protect you, never seemed to go according to plan.
“That’s right. I forgot you’re new in town. How come you had to move?”
“Because I ate someone,” Blue sang delightedly. “Can I eat her too? I’m so bored. I’m supposed to be your companion, you know.”
“It was a really bad neighborhood.” Jamie opened the gate to his house. “Well, this is it.”
Cindy looked at the lack of things to look at. There were no decorations on the lawn or plants by the door. There weren’t even curtains in the front windows yet. “You’re really new here, huh?”
Jamie smiled and rubbed the back of his neck. “Guess so. We’re still unpacking. But the TV’s set up. We can watch something.” Cindy had originally struck up a conversation with Jamie in art class because they both had pins on their backpacks from the same anime show. Over charcoal drawings of shaded spheres, they discovered they had both written fan letters to the same voice actor. By the end of the day, they were friends and Jamie had started to feel like eighth grade might not be the disaster every previous year had been.
“I want to go out tonight. Take off the stupid amulet. I want control.” Jamie reminded Blue of the deal made with Jamie’s parents and enforced by the amulet that prevented Blue from just taking over by sheer force of will. “Well, I changed my mind. How many times have I saved your life? You owe me. Let me out.”
“Shut up, Blue!”
Cindy leaned away from Jamie theatrically. “Sorry? Should I take that as a ‘no’ to the request for soda?”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t talking to you. Um, just hang on one minute. I have to go ask my parents something.” Like if they can make a silencing amulet for Blue as well.