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Almost Invisible

All of a sudden I decided what I really, really wanted was a bath...

I heated water on the woodstove, four big pots, the most I could fit on top. I put more logs on the fire and left the door open so it was roaring. By the time the water was warm enough, the kitchen felt like a tropical paradise.

The dishpan was big enough for me to get both feet in. I wiped it out with snow and set it on the floor next to the stove. Then I half-filled it with hot water, cooled down with more snow so I wouldn’t scald myself ...

The one piece of soap left had teeth marks where the mice had been eating it. I soaped myself all over and used dish detergent for my hair. My breast still had a yellow bruise on it like a hand, and my ankle had gone black. I caught sight of myself in a little mirror hanging on the wall: a pale, skinny ghost with hollows for eyes.

I trickled a pot of warm water over my head and then another. It felt lovely...

And then I heard a noise.

Heavy footsteps crashed up to the door, like someone in an awful hurry. I grabbed my dirty T-shirt and wrapped it around me and crouched down in the dishpan. My back was to the door and I was too petrified to turn around.

They found me.

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Saving Stevie

I'd faked my way through the school day, planning this moment, and fighting the sick, fluttery feeling in my stomach. I'd a bit more'n a hour fore Dad got back from the hospital, a little more fore he freaked. He'd call Mum, she'd tell him where to find my friends' phone numbers, and when my friends couldn't tell him where me and Stevie were, he'd call the police.

I knew the routine. Interview parents. List everything that was missing from the home. Check messages on the computer. By the time the cops began looking for me, I had to be in hiding. I had maybe a couple hours.

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