The Prize (Part 8)

“Get the fuckin’ truck off the road, goddammit!” Pa shouted to Egger, looking down the road to make sure nobody saw. “Ya made enough of a racket for er’ry goddamm pig in 10 miles to come smellin’ us out.” Dusty was pissed.

“Little bitch is around here somewhere. I can smell her stink. She ain’t far.” Egger rumbled to himself, recalling the shot. “Shoulda put you in there with ‘er, you good-for-nothin’, stupid some-bitch.” Dusty yelled, belting Egger across the face with a right hook.

Starry-eyed, Egger rubbed his cheek, looking at Dusty, “Fer fuck’s sake, pa, I aimed at ‘er! Outta nowhere she leaps back, like she knew or somethin’. How the fuck was I supposed’tuh know she’d pull some shit like that?”

Skinny, seeing so much of Egger and Pa in the stranger, leapt back at the last second, afraid to get into a car with him—or anyone, for that matter. At that moment, Egger took his shot and most of the stranger’s, Douglas Stanhope’s, arm with it. Skinny peeled out, off the road, and dove into the forest on the other side. Egger ran towards the truck, stopping to notice how much this man looked like himself and Pa just before blasting most of his face away.

The truck disappeared down the road with Egger at the helm and Pa as passenger, Skinny watched while crumpled in a bush. They pulled off the road, into thick brush, just before they were out of her sight. Still holding her teddy bear, Skinny began thinking it wasn’t the bear that was bad at helping, it was just that she was bad luck—Skinny believed that she brought death with her wherever she went; nobody was safer from her than they were Egger or Pa.

Skinny cried for a long time for the driver, for killing him. She cried for herself, too, and how she’d never ever get out, or whether she deserved to at all. Last, she cried for the teddy bear, who had been misjudged by Mikey and her. Skinny thought for a long time about returning home and collecting her punishment and spot in the dirt. If the woods just continued and led to more black traps set up by Egger and Pa, it was a matter of time before they caught up to her. “So stupid! Stupid bitch!” How could she leave the badge behind. She should have been forced to carry it with her forever, a reminder of every terrible thing she’d done. “Stupid! Stupid!” She stomped her feet on the dirt, she shouldn’t have stopped that truck—should have disappeared into the woods forever.

The day was still young, and though Skinny felt deserving of death, she was caught off-guard by the sun’s omniscient optimism. It couldn’t penetrate her guilt-armor, but Skinny felt warmer, brighter, and could trace the cracks in her fingernails in the glow of tossed rays—details she’d never known about herself. Her eyes walked up her arm, stopping at every knot and bruise, every grass stain and clump of dirt, examining the forest etched into her body. For a second, Skinny believed she was turning into the forest. There were some kids who ran away and never came back—maybe they turned into the forest, too. Maybe the only way to hide from Egger and Pa forever without getting caught was to drown in the woods, become a tree, and stand petrified for the rest of forever, watching them chase children and occasionally whipping Egger with a low-hanging branch.


Author: antbrov

Fiction | Magical Realism | Introspective Write > Edit > Hate > Learn > Write...

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