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Authors: Dia Reeves

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BOOK: Slice Of Cherry
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“You’re not coming in with us?”

“You can’t hide behind me your whole life, Fancy. Now go on. And be nice!”

After Madda drove off, Kit took Fancy’s hand and led her up the old woman’s stoop. Fancy couldn’t remember what Madda had called her. She smelled unpleasantly fruity, like the statice Madda grew in the backyard, straddling the thin line between overripe and rotten.

“Hey, Miz Annice,” said Kit. Kit always remembered people.

“Hay is for horses, child,” croaked Miz Annice, but she was smiling. She wore a muumuu and slippers and thick black sunglasses like she secretly wanted to be cool. “You here to help ole Miz Annice?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Kit. “Just tell us what you need, because we
live
to serve others.”

“That refrigerator of mine needs a good cleaning.”

“Then will you make us the happiest children in creation and allow us to clean it for you?”

Miz Annice reached out, and when she happened upon Kit’s thigh, she gave her a good swat. “You’re a real cutup. And a real sweetie to help out an ole lady like me.”

“I know it,” Kit agreed, so exuberantly that Miz Annice laughed.

After they’d escaped into the house, Kit said, “She was all right, huh?”

“She didn’t even say anything to me.” “She’s blind, stupid girl.

She probably didn’t know you were there.”

The sisters went into the kitchen, hoping they’d have it to themselves, but a boy and girl were at the sink, washing dishes. At least they were supposed to be washing dishes. Mostly they were splashing each other with suds and giggling and stealing kisses from each other.

Fancy ignored them and opened the refrigerator, which was disgusting, the shelves grimy and full of expired food. The sisters trashed everything and then scrubbed the refrigerator from top to bottom. When they were done, the fridge was spotless but empty.

“Maybe she doesn’t eat,” Fancy said. “Maybe now that she’s blind, she can live off her sense of smell.”

But Kit wasn’t paying attention to her. She was frowning at the dishwashers.

“Hey, lovebirds!” Kit yelled. “Y’all think Miz Annice wants your sweaty passion leaking all over her fine china? Go get sweaty someplace the hell else.”

The dishwashers looked like they wanted to comment, but when Kit narrowed her eyes at them, they decided to do as she said.

When they had gone, Kit turned to Fancy, pouting. “Why can’t I find a boy to make out with me while I do the dishes? How dare they stand there and rub my face in their love?”


I’ll
find you a boy.”

Kit perked up. “You will?”

“Lemme just get my boydar.” Fancy pulled out her imaginary boy radar device, and scanned it around the kitchen. “I’m registering activity in the garbage can.”

“Garbage can, my ass.”

“Wait. I’m getting something.”

Kit squealed.
“Who?”

“Tall, dark, handsome. Enjoys good food, walks on the beach, and”—Fancy double-checked the boydar— “evisceration.”

“Me too!”

Fancy put the boydar away. “You never even been to the beach.”

“I never eviscerated anything either, but I can tell it’s something I’d like. So where is he?”

“I’m expecting him any second.”

Almost as soon as the last word left Fancy’s mouth, the Turner brothers came in through the back door.

“Great timing,” Kit whispered, while Fancy stood there, dumbstruck.

“Hey, Kit,” said Gabriel, the sunlight following him inside and glinting off his teeth as he smiled at her and set his plastic bags on the counter. He looked much less crazed than he had outside the music store, and there was no sign of blood or severed heads, which was promising. “Maybe you don’t remember me, but I’m Gabe. That’s Ilan.”

“We know who you are,” said Kit cheerfully. “Our dad killed your dad.”

“Yeah,” said Ilan in his gravelly voice. The sunlight bathing his brother seemed to have shunned him. “That
was
kinda memorable.”

Kit leaned against the counter as the Turners put away the groceries, chatting with them, in full social mode. She was very good at it. So bubbly you could almost believe she was that girl. She usually only got like that before she went to work on someone: the shopgirl, Franken. Maybe she wanted to kill the Turners and finish the job Daddy had started. Fancy had to
admit that the symmetry of such an act had some appeal, but Madda would be coming for them soon. They didn’t have time for poetic justice.

“Wanna help me carry stuff to the pantry?” Gabriel asked Kit, waving a jar of beets at her.

“No, she doesn’t.” Ilan gave his brother a hard look, before addressing Kit. “Best not to leave him alone with young girls.”

“Is he dangerous?” asked Kit, intrigued.

“He’s just joking,” Gabriel said, and then looked to Ilan to back him up, but Ilan wouldn’t.

“The last girlfriend he had,” Ilan explained, “he locked in his room and wouldn’t let her leave.”

“I didn’t lock her in! I was locking things out.”

“What things?” asked Kit.

Gabriel stared at the jar of beets in his hand, shamefaced. “I used to think things were following me. Trying to get me. But I don’t think like that anymore. Hardly ever. I’m much better now.” He said this to Ilan. “Penny forgave me. We even go to Bible study together. Everything’s cool.”

Nothing’s cool,
Ilan’s face seemed to shout, but he said nothing.

Fancy almost felt bad for Gabriel, having a brother who didn’t seem to trust him, or even like him.

Kit touched the cross hanging around Gabriel’s neck. “You got religion?”

“Yeah.”

“That work for you?”

“So far.” He sidled closer to Kit, no longer ashamed. “That and being in the right place at the right time.”

Fancy stopped feeling sorry for him. Instead she inched toward the back door, but Kit wasn’t paying attention.

“Pig Liquor?” Kit squealed, laughing at Gabriel’s black T-shirt, which had a decal on the front of a fat pink pig floating inside a liquor bottle.

“That’s our band name,” Gabriel said. “Stop laughing. We spent two weeks coming up with that name. You’re required by law to be impressed.”

“Well, I do pride myself on being a law-abiding citizen,” Kit said as she picked lint off Gabriel’s impressive T-shirt, some teasing thing in her eyes, which turned to laughter when Gabriel slumped next to her against the counter, as if her touch had drained the strength from his legs. “Y’all going to Cherry Glade?”

“Yeah.” Gabriel was scant inches from her, close enough to do who knew what, and yet Kit didn’t back away. “Had my fifteenth birthday last week.”

“Fancy’s old enough too this year. We had to go shopping for new dresses and everything.”

Gabriel studied Kit’s leggings. “Have I ever seen you in a dress?”

“I haven’t worn one in years.”

“This is why I believe in karma,” Gabriel told his brother. “We buy Miz Annice groceries, and now I get to see Kit in a dress.”

“I’m your reward?” The hard tease in Kit’s eyes was replaced with simple surprise, and like Gabriel she slumped against the counter. “I never been anybody’s reward before.”

“What do you think, man?” Gabriel asked his brother without taking his eyes off Kit, as though her sudden bonelessness were . . . appetizing.

Ilan glanced at Kit. “She wouldn’t fit in the trophy case.”

Fancy found herself smirking at Ilan’s ironic tone, glad she wasn’t the only one who found Kit and Gabriel’s behavior irritating.

“I mean about seeing Kit in a dress.”

Ilan looked at Fancy. “Not if it’s anything like what her sister’s wearing.”

He lacked Gabriel’s artful hair, instead sporting a joyless buzz cut with ruler-straight sideburns. He lacked his brother’s height, as well, as if his own growth were happening more insidiously, not in a great spurt but in stages, slow and relentless as the Himalayas. He bent his craggy attention on Fancy. “You’re fifteen?”

“Yeah,” Kit answered when Fancy wouldn’t.

“You look it,” he said, ignoring Kit. “If you think a skimpy little-kid dress is gone hide all that,” he waved a hand at her body, “you’re wrong.”

Fancy crossed her arms over her chest. He was long-boned like Kit, as if he’d been fashioned to spend his days chasing things through fields. He looked like he wanted to chase Fancy—something predatory and unsettling filled his eyes as he watched her.

Ilan turned his disturbing gaze on Kit. “Y’all should have a family intervention about the way she dresses. It’s criminal.”

“Don’t talk to us about family,” Fancy told him. “The way you treat your own family is what’s criminal.”

Everyone gaped. The jar of beets Gabriel had been holding dropped to the floor and exploded like brains.

“Am I dreaming,” Ilan said, “or did you just talk?”

“She did, man!” Gabriel exclaimed. “I heard it too.”

“People kept saying she could talk,” Ilan told his brother, “but I always thought it was, like, an urban legend.”

Fancy, who couldn’t believe she’d allowed herself to be goaded into talking to strangers, ran out the back door.

Kit chased after her, calling:

“Fancy’s got a boyfriend, Fancy’s got a—”

“Shut up!”

Kit caught up to her, laughing.

“Where’re you going?” When Fancy realized her headlong dash down the street was attracting attention, she slowed to a fast walk. “To the Super Seven. We can meet Madda up there. I’m
not
waiting in that house another second.”

“Why? You in a hurry to tell Madda about your new
boyfriend
?”

“Stop saying that!”

“Well you must like him, or else why would you talk to him?” Kit was so giddy she was nearly screaming. “You
never
talk to people.”

“I wasn’t talking to him,” Fancy said. “I was just pointing out that . . . oh, shut up. Like I would ever be interested in a boy who could be so mean to his own brother. Even if his brother is a weirdo.”

“What’re you talking about?”

As the sisters hurried down Seventh Street, Fancy told Kit how Gabriel had behaved outside the music store.

Kit shrugged it off. “Who hasn’t picked up a stray head? Remember that time when we were little, back when people still liked us? A whole bunch of us found this severed head in a field and played kickball with it? And you—”

“Don’t make excuses for him,” said Fancy in her sternest tone. “It’s one thing to use somebody’s skull as a ball; it’s a whole nother thing to be whispering secrets into its ears. A person’s gotta draw the line somewhere, Kit. I mean, you should have
seen
him. It was so weird.”

“You wanna know what’s weird? You having a conversation with a boy.”

“I did not!” she hissed, since she couldn’t scream it the way she wanted to. The residential part of Seventh Street had given way to the business part and more people were crowding the sidewalks, and the last thing Fancy wanted was to attract any
more attention. “One sentence ain’t a conversation.”

“For you it’s more like the Gettysburg Address. Why didn’t you tell me you ran into them before now?”

“I don’t know. After I saw you with the shopgirl, it didn’t seem important.”

“I understand. Crushes are more fun when they’re secret.”

Fancy couldn’t tell if it was the heat or Kit’s teasing, but her head felt hot enough to explode. “Ilan is
not
my secret crush. Ilan.” Fancy said it again. “EE-lan. What kinda stupid name is that, anyway? French?”

“We’re more French than he is.
We’re
descended from the du Havens.”

“We were
owned
by the du Havens. Slight difference.”

“Spoilsport.” The bustle on the street came to a stop momentarily, as everyone, the sisters included, stopped to watch a funeral procession drive past. Fancy wondered, as she always did whenever a hearse drove by, how much such a car would cost. She was convinced it would be kick-ass to drive around in a hearse—as a person, of course; not as a corpse.

After the procession passed, the sisters continued on, and Kit said, “Gabriel’s cute, isn’t he?”

“No.”

“He is, liar. So’s Ilan, I guess. But Gabriel . . .” The bonelessness from the kitchen hadn’t faded; Kit was wobbling all over the sidewalk, grinning.

Fancy smacked Kit upside the head, knocking her cap into her eyes.

“Hey!” Kit righted her cap and barely avoided crashing into a parking meter.

“Don’t lose your head just because he was flirting with you. Our dad killed his dad. The only thing that boy could possibly want from you is revenge.”

Kit’s giddiness drained away, and she was silent a long moment before she admitted, “That’s what I’d want.”

“Exactly!”

“But the rest of the world ain’t like us, Fancy.”

“You say that like it’s a good thing. At least we’re honest about being the bad guys.”

“Honest to who? Nobody knows what we’re really like. Except Franken.”

“Yeah, and
he’s
tied up in our cellar, so I guess that’s just as well, Kit.”

 

FROM FANCY’S DREAM DIARY:

A
MAN CAME UP TO ME FUSSING BECAUSE
I
WAS ALONE IN THE WOODS.
I
TOLD HIM
I
LIVED JUST DOWN THE TRAIL, BUT HE INSISTED ON WALKING ME HOME, GOING ON AND ON ABOUT WEIRDOS AND SERIAL KILLERS.
I
TOLD HIM KILLERS ARE CHARMING AND ATTRACTIVE, NOTHING LIKE ME. HE SAID, THAT’S NOT TRUE AND THAT
I
WAS VERY PRETTY, AND SO
I
SMASHED A PAPERWEIGHT INTO HIS FACE.
T
HE WHOLE TIME
I
BEAT HIM, HE KEPT TELLING ME HOW PRETTY
I
WAS, EVEN WHEN HIS BROKEN TEETH MADE IT HARD TO SPEAK.

CHAPTER SIX

“Ereway inhay the oneymay! Ereway inhay the oneymay!”

“Stop
singing
that.” Fancy stood on the pedals of her bike in a vain attempt to outpace Kit’s irritating rendition of “We’re in the Money.”

Kit, however, easily kept pace. “But the pig Latin part is the best part! I’m glad Esme let us listen to it at the store; otherwise I never would have bought it. I hate all that Depression-era crap, usually, but just listen to what I’ve been missing!”

BOOK: Slice Of Cherry
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ads

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