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The Whirlpool
Excerpt

There’s no need for Snapchat or text messages in a high school cafeteria at lunchtime. All you have to do is sit at one of the tables. Guaranteed, after a minute or two, you’ll know everything there is to know. It’s all here. Carried just above our heads. Words surging and swelling and rolling across the cafeteria like bodysurfers at a concert. Talk washing over us, flooding us with the ohmygods, the names, the details. Everyone, even the quiet ones, caught up in the rumors. The gossip. The whirlpool.

Sometimes the whirlpool slows. A sudden waiting, watching, listening silence. A signal that fresh drama is about to unfold. Not on the stage at the back of the room, the curtain drawn shut. This theater plays out right in front of us, down on the floor, in the depths of the cafeteria.

I’m not surprised when the current pauses in front of me. It’s the end of September but it’s still my name that swirls around and around and around. My name trapped in the whirlpool since school started, the day after Labor Day.

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Sit
Excerpt

“We would make perfect murderers,” said Sanu, who was one year older than Jafar...

“What are you talking about?” Jafar asked.

Sanu held up his hands and wiggled his fingers.

“No fingerprints!” he said, laughing.

They could laugh now, but when Jafar first started sanding, his fingers got so sore and bloody!

“Get one more drop of blood on one of my chairs, you little cockroach, and I’ll send you back to your family in a garbage sack!” Boss had yelled at him.

*

Oak Street was not the busiest street in town, but lots of people still walked down it, and they all looked at Bea, sitting by herself on a bench in the middle of a school day.

Bea didn’t worry about the old ladies. She had sat on this bench before on her days off and the old ladies left her alone...

The dangerous ones were the yoga ladies...

The yoga ladies were busybodies.

*

Mike hears the outer door of the Administrative Segregation pod shut and lock. He is all alone...

His eyes are wiped and his face is dry by the time he hears the Ag Seg door unlock again and the peep-hole covering in his own door slide open.

“You all right in there, 75293?”

Mike knows the voice of CO Jenson.

It is the voice of the devil.

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