The Page One Project / June 1, 2017
“Dead at school or alive in the woods,” Darla had said. But she had wanted to meet at night, and Serena’s closest experience with nature had been her mother’s window flower box.
Right before she was ready to panic, give up, and pull out the forbidden phone, Serena spied a light flickering through the trees. She breathed a sigh as she finally found her bearings. She hurried toward it, trying not to make a lot of noise to attract the wrong kind of attention, but trying to make enough noise to avoid sneaking up on the others.
Jasmine stood by the fire, holding her hands over it and staring at it. A stuffed backpack sat at her feet, leaning slightly against her calf. Her tight braids hung around her face, and only her eyes were visible.
Darla gathered more tinder for the fire, looking up at Serena when she arrived, acknowledging her with a nod, and then getting back to work. Her limp was less pronounced in the woods. Why had Serena never noticed that before?
HD sat leaning against a log, her hair short and dirty, face twisted as if pained. Her hand clenched on the sack on her lap: a fraying vinyl bag that said Carolina Mudcats. Its thin straps, no wider than thick yarn, drooped over her legs, and Serena wondered how much it hurt to carry it.
HD’s eyes flicked to her as she joined them. “You’re late,” she said. “Did you bring them?”
Serena nodded. “All I could find, anyway.” She dropped her leather backpack on the ground and opened it. Trying to hide her distaste, she reached in and grabbed the bundle of bloody rags, drawing them slowly out.
Darla watched her, transfixed. “Do we really have to do this? If my mother ever finds out-”
“Sure, your mother is what we have to worry about here,” HD interrupted. She rubbed her face, leaving a smear of dirt. “Your mother is the least of our worries.”
What happens next? That’s up to you.
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