The Valley of the Shadow of Death, Chapter 1, Part 1

Fiction By Jackie West // 5/15/2010

   "Why not try beating up on someone your own size, sneaky coward?" she asked boldly.

  "Oh, it's the little bag of bones," Joe scoffed. He turned to his fellow bullies. "Leave this to me."

  Triste swallowed hard. She stood tall as Joe came toward her. When hse judged the time right, she threw herself to the ground and rolled, knocking him over. She leapt to her feet.

  Joe was slower in getting to his feet, and seemed to be favoring his left foot.

  This is going to be easy, Triste thought, her fear now replaced with merciless anger as she walked toward him.

  Joe had a pained look on his face as she approached him. When she was clsoe enough, however, his fist shot out and punched her in the nose.

  Not disgusted by the taste or feel of blood, Triste leapt into the air and her feet shot out, knocking Joe down again. She landed almost kneeling, the fingertips of her right hand's fingers barely touching the ground.

  "I'm not done with you yet," Joe snarled as he came toward her.

  "I'm not either," Triste shot back. Pushing herself off the ground, she did a neat backflip onto Joe's head, once again pushing him to the ground.

  The girl who had questioned Triste's fighting ability on the bus stood nearby, having seond thoughts about her challenge.

  Joe stood up as quickly as he could, a splitting headache not stopping him from being thirsty for revenge on the girl that he thought would be easy to beat.

  "I'm not as wimpy as I look," Triste said, jumping as Joe rolled in an attempt to knock her over, and landing witha resounding CRACK on his back. "Have I made my point yet?"

  "Yes," Joe moaned as she stood up and he rolled over. He put up his hands in a sign of defeat. "I think you broke my back."

  Triste pointed to one of Joe's friends. "Take him to the nurse, buddy. Tell ehr that he a slight accident. You'd better not tell her what really happened, or you'll have me to deal with."


  Triste told her mother about her first day of school when she returned home..except for the fight, of course, but Serena was smarter than she appeared.

  "And I suppose that you got your bruised nose while picking daisies?" she asked sternly. "What are you hiding from me, Triste?"

  Triste almost blushed. ", I was just in a little accident, that's all."

  "Triste," her mother said impatiently, "I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Out with it. Now." She turned away from the stove, where she was cooking their dinner, and looked at the thirteen year old expectantly.

  Triste examined her glass of milk, wracking her brain for a way to tell the truth without making it sound too bad. "I..tried to break up a fight, and this dude socked me in the nose."  She looked at her mother, who did not appear to be buying the story. "No, really, I mean it, Mom."

  "The words 'I had a fight' are written all over your face, Triste," Serena said.

  Liar, liar, pants on fire! screamed Triste's conscience.

  "Well, this kid wanted me to give him some money, and I didn't want to, so at recess we had a fight," Triste explained.

  Thyra came in. "It was a bit more complicated than that, Mom." And then she launched into a detailed explanation of it all.

  Triste buried her face in her hands. Oh no, she thought as she got up and inched toward the door.


  Triste stopped at the sound of her mother's voice.

  "You are in trouble. BIG trouble."

  Triste turned to Thyra and pointed at her, then at herself, afterwards drawing a finger across her throat.

  Thyra shook her head and mouthed, I think not.

  "Triste, I keep telling you not to fight." Serena sighed. "When will you stop?"

  Triste folded her arms defiantly." Mom, I was defending myself. You can't take control of my life. I 'm thirteen, and i can take care of myself." She walked out of the kitchen, anger inside her bubbling like a volcano that was about to erupt.

   Triste went out into the yard of the tiny apartment, and with a sigh, flopped down onto the front stoop.

  "What a life," she muttered to herself.

  "Hey, Triste!" called a voice.

  Triste didn't even look up. "Hi, Michayla."

  Her cheerful twelve year old neighbor jumped over the fence separating the two yards of the tiny apartments. "What's up?"

  "I'm in trouble..again," Triste said, propping her chin in her hand.

  "You just shouldn't fight so much." Michayla shrugged.

  "Thanks. I already knew that," Triste grumbled.

  "Anyway, I came over to see if you wanted to go to youth group with me," Michayla continued.

  Triste stared at her, puzzled. "Youth group?"

  "Yeah," said Michayla. "We get together and read the Bible and play games and stuff." Michayla held up a thick book bound in leather.

  Triste shook her head. "No. I don't believe in religion. I'm..I'm an atheist."

  Michayla raised her eyebrow, but quickly dropped it. "Well, uh, it was nice seeing you around, Triste. Bye." She departed quickly.

  Triste stood and walked around the house to her window. She leapt up the tree that stood near it and went through the window. She locked the door and sat at her desk to do homework.

  A tap on her window made her jump. Triste turned to see Jack peering in. She got up and opened the window and he jumped in.

  "Jack, Mom doesn't wnat our friends in the house without her permission," Triste pointed out.

  Jack went back out the window and perched in the tree. "I'm not in the house," he said.

  Triste rolled her eyes. "What do you want, Jack?"



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