In a small town library on the corner of the square, two young people walked slowly towards each other down an isle between a few bookshelves. The young girl was dressed all in black, even down to the tips of her combat boots. The only color about her was the natural pink of her lips, and the unnatural bright blue tips of her jet black hair. The boy, on the other hand, was wearing a green shirt over bluejeans and bright red running shoes. Once they got to the middle, their hands met, reaching for the same book.
"Oh, sorry." She shuffled her feet and put a nervous hand to the side of her neck. "Wait, were you just reaching for Footsteps Across Texas?"
"Uh, yes." The boy grinned nervously and stuffed his hands into his blue jean pockets. "Were you?"
"Mhmm. I thought I was the only person in this town who read that book, much less even knew it existed."
"Key word 'was'." He grinned and offered her his hand. "I'm Byron, and I just moved here from Abilene."
She smiled shyly up at him. "I'm Kristine," she said, "but you can call me Kris. I've lived here in Burnet my whole life."
"It's nice to meet you." His smile was infectious. "So, tell me, what other books do you enjoy wearing out?"
"No, I'll do better. I'll guess."
"You're brave. Shoot. What're my top five?"
"The Lost Clue, To Have and to Hold, Footsteps Across Texas, Juanita, and Prisoners of the Sea."
Kris's jaw fell open. "What-how? How did you know that?"
Byron chuckled quietly. "You should see your face right now; it looks like you've seen a ghost."
"Haha, so funny. But seriously, how? Like, that's really creepy."
"You should break the habit of taking notes in library books. It could be considered defacing public property..."
"Oh. That. Well, the truth is that I donated those five books to the Library. Still, it's cool that you happened to check those books out, and even cooler that you recognized my handwriting."
"Those also happen to be some of my favorites. Classics, all of them, except for Juanita and Footsteps Across Texas. They're considered history books."
Kris shook her hair out of her eyes. "Yeah, but they'll be classics someday."
"They'd better be." He grinned. They stood in silence for a few moments, and Kris stared out the window. A clock somewhere chimed melodiously, and a look of panic spread quickly across Kris's face. "I'd better be going." She quickly shoved her books back into her backpack and ran down the stairs two at a time.
Byron followed close behind her. "Will I see you later?"
"Maybe." She turned to wave one more time after she walked through the glass door. He was still looking after her.
"Hey, you." Byron waved to her from his seat behind a small, wooden table where he sat with a book and a cup of coffee. He was wearing a salmon colored shirt today, which brought out hints of red in his brown hair.
"Oh, hey. I see you found my favorite coffee shop in town.
"Yup. And the only coffee shop in town, too. Kris, right?"
"Mhmm. Byron? I see you're enjoying my book."
He laughed. "Yes, yes I am." He caught her glancing out the window, the grip on her backpack tightening. "Hey, are you okay?"
She shifted uncomfortably in her chair, stretching her black shirt sleeve to cover the purplish-green spot on her forearm.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
"Okay. If you wanna talk about it, I'm here. Heh, I'm told I make a good listener."
"I'm sure you do. I'm-I'm fine. Really."
His heart broke at the sight of pleading in her eyes. "Okay. But my offer still stands. On your time."
"Thanks, Byron." She looked over her shoulder one more time, then stood up. "I've gotta go now."
"Yeah, okay. You wanna meet at the library tomorrow? Maybe at 10?"
"Yeah, sure. Well, maybe not. I don't know if I can."
"It's okay. I'll be there, but don't feel like you have to meet up. Just whatever is fine."
"Sure. See ya 'round."
Byron looked up in surprise when Kris's face came into view at the top of the stairs. She was wearing all black again, and had on a beanie to ward off the winter air.
"Hey! You made it."
"Yeah," she ducked her head down and looked behind her. "I kinda needed to get away, and I figured I might as well come here."
"Yeah? Well, I'm glad you did."
"Me too." She smiled a little.
"Let's play a game," he grinned.
She sat down across from him and kicked her backpack underneath her chair. "What kind of game?"
"A getting-to-know-you sort of game. Basically we just take turns asking each other questions."
She bit her lip, looking down at her hands. "But it's okay if either of us doesn't want to answer one, right?"
"Of course." His smile reassured her. "You start."
"Okay. Hmm... what's your favorite subject in school?"
"English. But I'm also into sports. Football, particularly."
"Cool. English is my favorite, too."
"Gotcha. So, what's your favorite hobby?"
"What do you write?"
"That's two questions in a row, but since this is your game I'll oblige. Poetry."
"That's really cool. I've always admired anyone who could write poetry. I'm not gifted in the area of writing at all. Anyways, your turn."
"How old are you?"
"16." Byron grinned. "You?"
"Same. What's your favorite season?"
"Fall. Can't beat the flaming colors and pleasant weather."
"I like fall best, too. It's-oh." She looked at her watch. "I've got to go! But I'll see you again?"
He saw that same hurtful pleading deep in her eyes, and his own almost teared up.
"Of course. Meet at the same time tomorrow?"
"Yes, yes, see you then! Please be here, please." Her voice was barely above a whisper.
"Kris, what's wrong?"
"I--I can't tell you. I have to go! Now!"
"Mom! Mom, I made a new friend. Mom?"
Sounds of chaos and anger came from the family room. Then a loud cry dominated the pitch of breaking glass and fuming curses.
"Kris, it's time to run!!!!! Now. RUN!!"
Kris swung her backpack back over her shoulder and bolted out the front door. She heard the door crash open behind her, angry cursing and delirious commands being thrown at her. She didn't look back.
A few minutes later, she huffed into the small-town police station.
"Yes, how can I help you young lady?"
"Please, please go quick. I-" she gasped for air, holding onto her stomach. "It's my step dad. I think he's hurting her."
"What is your address?"
"It's 522 Ash Street. Please hurry."
Hey all!! After trying to decide between three new novel ideas, I decided to pull up an old one! I can't wait to see how far I can go with this. :) this story is very dear to my heart, and I love these characters so much. It's been a joy to develop them over the past couple of weeks. ALSO: I had originally wanted to have ACL published on Amazon by this coming Saturday, but I realized that I had been sacrificing quality for ego (because how cool would it be to say I was published before 20?). So the new goal is to publish by the end of May. That should give me plenty of time to give the last finishing touches, as well as not feel like I need to rush through the publishing process. I hope you all had a blessed Easter/Resurrection Day!