Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy! And make sure you check out the other fab stories by my fellow YAFF ladies (their links are below).
kozarevets story 2 by: pstoev
With my backpack slung over my shoulder, I tugged open the rusted mailbox and grabbed the stack of mail for Mrs. Barberry. The wrought iron gate squealed like a pig as I shoved into the overgrown yard.
Several cats sat on the porch meowing. An ancient biked parked alongside the house, tattered rope hanging from it. On cue, Mrs. Barberry poked her head out from the door, her gray hair pulled into a severe bun, her face heavy with wrinkles.
“Emily, how are you?” she asked, grabbing the mail from me.
“Great.” I smiled. “Two more days of school then I’m free for the summer.”
“Ah, yes. Swimming, ice cream, boys,” she teased. “Pretty little thing like you ought to have a boyfriend.”
Heat raced up my cheeks. I didn’t want to discuss my love life or lack there of with Barberry the Cat Woman. She barely came out of her house except to collect pop cans that littered our street.
“Maybe this summer,” I said. “If you need me to come mow your lawn, I can do it this weekend.”
“Actually, my grandson, Thaniel is coming for his summer visit. So I won’t need you again until the autumn. Unless of course, you’d like to stop in for lemonade sometime.”
I shifted, my foot brushing against the newspaper on her stoop. Bending down, I picked it up. Missing Teen the headline read. Nothing new there. Every summer seemed to bring more partiers to the beach. Kids would drink, get stupid, and obviously pay the consequences.
“Didn’t realize the paper was still out here,” Mrs. Barberry said, taking it from me. “Run along Emily and be a good girl.”
How was it that the only friend I had in this stupid town was old enough to be my great grandma? With a wave goodbye, I headed home.
As the school bus pulled away the next day, I noticed movement from Mrs. Barberry’s yard. Crossing the street, I watched Bryce Colfer and Felicia Pelton grabbing her old bike.
“Hey, what are you doing?” I yelled.
Bryce snapped, “Get out of my way.”
“That bike’s not yours, put it back.” My hands fisted, I charged forward but Bryce easily knocked me down. I landed on my butt, hand catching on a broken bottle. Pain shot through my palm as blood ran down my arm.
“You better keep your mouth shut, bitch,” Felicia said.
Climbing to my feet, I watched them hurry off. Maybe I should tell Mrs. Barberry. But with another glance at the wound, I knew I better clean up first. No need to give her a heart attack.
After bandaging my hand, I crept past the couch where my uncle was passed out, again. There had to be something more than this.
Just then, a knock sounded at the door. My breath caught in my throat when I answered. A tall, dark haired boy smiled down at me.
“Hi, I’m Thaniel Barberry. I’m wondering if you’ve seen this bike?” He handed over an old black and white photo.
I took the picture. In it, standing with the bike were Mrs. Barberry, still looking ancient and Thaniel. God it was old.
“Some kids stole it,” I said, giving him the picture back. “I tried to stop them…”
He caught my bandaged hand and raised it to his lips. My heart thudded in my ears.
“Can you tell me where to find them?” He released me.
“I’ll show you where they live.”
When we came to Locust Street, I pointed to the houses and watched his eyes grow dark.
“Thank you, Emily. You really are a good girl, just like Grandma said.” He smiled, wrapping a tendril of my hair around one of his fingers. “And yet you are forced to live with bad people.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. How did he know about my aunt and uncle? “I hope you get the bike back.”
And with that, I raced home.
Two days later on my way home from the store; I saw the front page of the paper. Two Local Teens Missing, Bryce Colfer and Felicia Pelton. Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe not.
“Emily,” Mrs. Barberry called as I walked by.
Stopping, I swung open the gate. “Yeah.”
“Will you come in for a moment?” She opened her door. The scent of burning wood drifted out and then I saw Thaniel smiling at me.
A cast iron cauldron hung from the hearth as we entered the kitchen. Next to that was an oven large enough to shove someone into. Oh God. I shook my head, not needing the Hansel and Gretel images.
“Thaniel and I have been talking. And you’re such a good girl. You deserve only the best,” Mrs. Barberry said, patting my shoulder.
I fidgeted with my hands. “I try.”
Thaniel stepped closer, his fingers brushing against my cheek. “You have to stay with us, forever.”
“Yes, forever,” Mrs. Barberry said.
“And you would take care of me?” I asked.
“Always,” Thaniel whispered, his lips grazed mine. “All you have to do is help us rid the world of bad people.”
“When do I start?”
“Now,” Thaniel kissed me again, handing me a knife.
I was a good girl, who always did what she was told.