Runaways: Chapter Three

Taylor had just finished packing when Lini pounded on his door. "Hey! You! What are you doing up there? You've been up here almost all day! I'm coming in in three seconds. One - "

Taylor looked around his room, trying to find a place where he could quickly hide his bag.

"Two - "

He picked his bag up and heaved it into his closet. He flopped down on his bed, grabbed a book, and pretended to be totally engrossed in it. All this happened in about two seconds.

"Three!" Lini yelled, throwing the door open. "Reading? Reading? That's all? What book's got you so anti-social?" Lini grabbed the book and laughed. "The Outsiders? Wow. I read this when I was in middle school. I thought they'd stopped printing this. Where'd you get a copy?"

Taylor tried to refrain from talking back to Lini, but it just slipped out. Before he knew what he was saying, Taylor heard the words, "When were you in school? Like, fifty-something years ago?" coming out of his mouth. That earned him a hard slap across the face.

"Shut up. If you so much as whisper an insult, I'll shave your pretty head," Lini said, stroking Taylor's brown hair gently and then pulling it, hard. Taylor yelped; he was used to pain, but was very tender-headed, and Lini knew that. When they went our in public and Lini wanted to punish Taylor, she would pretend to tousle his hair, discreetly pull it, then say it was an accident. Everyone believed her.

Lini laughed as Taylor rubbed his head, jerking him out of his daydream of yanking all of Lini's hair out. "That should teach you not to talk back." Taylor turned his head away. "You little coward! You can't even look at me. Why's that? Guilty conscience, Taylor?" Lini spat his name out like she always did, saying it like it was an insult.

Taylor thought for a split-second that Lini might have guessed what he was planning to do, and decided what he should do in a millisecond. Looking Lini in the eye, Taylor said, "No, my conscience is perfectly clear. What about yours, Mom? How's your conscience?''

A million emotions flashed across Lini's face: Anger, realization of a wrongdoing, guilt, justification, more anger. Okay, maybe only five emotions, but if you had been there, it would have seemed like more. "Not too good, then?" Taylor asked, smirking. He no longer cared how mad she got: Eleven years of being angry, scared, and hurt doesn't stay bottled up very well. Luckily for Taylor, he had a very level head.

Lini clenched her fists, screaming, "Shut up! No one needs your mouth. No one needs you!"

Taylor wasn't at all surprised that Lini said that, so it didn't hurt as much as it would have a few years ago, but it still hurt. "Yeah, you've made that pretty clear over the last few years. Don't worry," Taylor added as Lini opened her mouth. "I know you hate me, too. So now what? I'm grounded? Locked in my room? No meals for a few days?" When Lini just stared her cold, icy stare, Taylor continued, "No? Then what?"

"Nothing. For all I care, you can drop dead. Nobody would notice." Lini laughed as she saw how much it hurt for Taylor to actually hear her say something like that. "I bet that girl, what's her name? Dakaita? I don't think she would even notice." Lini started to leave, then paused at the door. "Don't even think about running away, because I'll play the worried mother, and the CIA, FBI, and the police will be after you." Doubt it, Taylor thought when Lini paused. "Well, sweet dreams! 'Night."

© Sabrina Waddell 2009





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