Enjoy this piece, written by one of our young readers, Emma MarLee Shoemaker! Thanks so much for sharing your work with us, Emma!
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Ebony Heart made her way into the girls’ locker room after basketball practice, dreading to simple task of changing in front of the other girls. Her scars would be visible, and she was still self-conscious about the lines permanently etched into her skin.
Ebony tried to pull off her shirt and slip on the other as quickly as possible but she heard someone sneer. “Nice back Frankenstein.” Ebony tensed but ignored it. The comments hadn’t stopped since the accident six years ago. She changed into her jeans and boots before hurrying out the door. After six years the taunts still hurt, still dug under her skin and made her shake with anxiety at night.
She pulled her phone out of her pocket as she made her way through the school. It was dark outside, despite the cars and streetlights. She’d forgotten to remind Seth or Zack—her brothers—to come and pick her up after practice. Her screen was black and refused to turn on as she pressed the power button. Crap, it was dead and she didn’t have anyone to give her a ride. She sighed, making her way out the door and into the freezing night air. It smelled cleaner outside at night and the world seemed more peaceful. She loved the night, but it also kind of scared her. She wouldn’t be able to see anyone and that made her anxiety spike with thoughts of being attacked or kidnapped by some unseen threat. I’ll be safe, everything will be find.
She hoisted her bag higher onto her back as she started the half an hour walk back home. During the spring and fall she was happy to walk home but not in winter, and the fact that it was dark made it ten times worse.
God she wished she had one of her brothers with her, or her phone at least. If she knew someone knew where she was, what she was doing, she would feel safer.
She continued walking, humming a song to calm her nerves. S-P-I-R-I-T spirit, let’s hear it! S-P-I-R-I-T spirit, let’s hear it! Let’s go! She had to walk through a bit of woods to get to her house, a short cut that might not have been the best idea at night but she wanted to get home as soon as possible. Her hands shook at her side. She needed music, anything to calm her nerves and out here in the cold she couldn’t tell if it was anxiety or the cold air making her body quiver. To do something she pulled the ponytail out of her dirty blonde hair and slipped it over her wrist.
Something rustled in the trees and she ignored it, humming louder to herself. I’ve had enough, there’s a voice in my head says I’m better off dead. Oh God whatever it was it was going to get her. Lord save me now, she thought, walking a bit faster. She took deep breaths, trying to calm herself down.
“Where’re you going?” A voice purred and Ebony froze, head swinging as she tried to find the source of that voice. Her heart beat too fast and her hands slipped from the straps of her bag, blue eyes widening to the size of eggs.
No, no I am not dying tonight, she told herself starting back up at a brisk pace. The world suddenly went eerily silent around her. The unnatural noises of cars was the only sound. Whatever or whoever was in the woods here with her was too silent for their own good.
Oh God she wished Boise wasn’t called the City of Trees, then she wouldn’t be walking through this short stretch of woods with something lurking around. She’d always loved the forest but now it was sinister and she was trying harder than normal to control her shaking. A hand was squeezing her quickly beating heart and her hands shook.
To her right a squirrel chittered and flew across the cold winter ground and Ebony froze for a moment. Whatever was here with her was right there. She whirled, maybe it was something she could defend herself against, maybe just some other kid out in the woods. A stray dog or cat, no, animals didn’t ask where you were going.
Something lunged from the woods and Ebony gasped, jumping back, fists out but something, someone else slammed into the thing. People, they were both people, one of them substantially larger than the other—the one that had attacked the first. She didn’t see much after that as they fought, a whirling mess of limbs and bodies.
“Get out of here!” One of the voices roared, vaguely familiar but Ebony didn’t think about it. She ran, racing for the light of the houses. They couldn’t be more than half a mile away. She could make it. She would make it. She pumped her legs as hard as she could, taking longer strides. A dream, she’d had a dream like this except it had been a wolf chasing after her. She hadn’t made it in the dream, she prayed the dream was wrong.
“You get back here you spineless coward!” The voice roared again and something big and fast crashed after her through the woods. Whoever it was kept getting closer and closer.
Ebony ignored the cold branches whipping her face and when she twisted her ankle on a rock and yelped in pain she kept going, pushing against the pain. Whoever was after her was hot on her heals and if they got any closer they’d be able to reach out and grab her. Her ankle throbbed but she kept pushing herself. She could have gone faster if she hadn’t just got out of basketball practice with all that rigorous running.
She might have made it to the end of that tree line and safety if her feet hadn’t been thrown out from under her. She slid on a patch of ice and fell flat on her back, the breath punching out of her. She might have screamed if the air hadn’t left her lungs. “Don’t touch her!” That garbled voice roared, still crashing through the woods as whoever had been chasing descended upon her.
She flipped herself ever, trying to scramble backwards away from the dark form coming down on her. For the second time the first form leaped to sweep away the first form. Guys, they were two guys and the first one managed to avoid the larger guys attack. The second, larger guy stood over her, protecting her. The smaller form stabbed something toward him, it gleamed in the moonlight. Ebony froze in horror as the second guy dodged it but as he’d been crouching in front of her the dodge left whatever the first guy had been holding impaled in her stomach.
This time she did have the breath to scream as the blade was plunged into her stomach.