October 13, 2007
By Cassandra Turner, W. Danville, VT

DragonFly has signed on. (5:30 pm)

Seth_San has signed on. (5:31pm)

DragonFly: Why California?

Seth_San: I don't know. My dad got a job there.

DragonFly: But it’s 3,000 miles away. I can't live with that.

Seth_San: Zoe, U know I would stay if I could. But I'm only 17 and I have to go where they go.

DragonFly: It's not fair, Seth. It's just not fair.

Seth_San: What are we going to do?

DragonFly: Let's run away together! It's a long shot, but we can make it.

Seth_San: U and I both know we can't do that. U can always come visit.

DragonFly: That's not good enough. And I would never have enough money. Not to mention, my stepdad would never let me.

Seth_San: Then I'll come visit u.

DragonFly: Not if u don't have the money. And you’ll be in school. Then after high school u need to go to college. I can't ask u to give that up.

DragonFly: g2g

Seth_San: But I…

DragonFly has signed off. (6:06pm)

Seth_San: I love you...

[Sorry but your message can not be delivered to DragonFly. (6:07pm)]

The phone rang at Seth's side. He looked at the dragon fly necklace in his hand, sighing with defeat. He let the answering machine pick up the phone.

"Seth, it's Mom. Honey, pick up the phone. Well, if you get this, can you pick your sister up at dance in an hour? I can't get there in time. Thank you."

He heard a click and it was silent once more. Sluggishly, he shuffled to the kitchen. Maybe food would settle his nerves. He slid the necklace into his pocket. His baggy Gothic-style pants swished around his feet as the door bell rang, again and again. Something was wrong with whoever was on the other side. He dashed to the door, afraid it was Zoe, who lived just next door.

Rain pelted Zoe; the tears streaming down her face were only visible because of the black make-up dripping from her eyes. Her Hot Topic skirt and black shirt stuck to her like static cling. The door opened and she dashed inside, slamming the door behind her. She slid down the door until she was sitting on the floor.

Concern flooding his face, Seth pulled her to her feet gently. She had a cut above her right eye and on her left cheek. He grabbed a wash cloth, ran it under cold water, brought it to Zoe on the couch, and pressed it gently to her forehead.

"He... he did it again," she managed to squeak.

"Come on. Let's get you out of those wet clothes." He said nothing else. Straight-faced, he brought her to his room and handed her his t-shirt with a wolf on the front. He shut the door and waited in the hall.

His shirt came to her knees when she came out. "I'm s-sorry Seth." She wasn’t crying anymore. "He came in and just..."

"We need to clean the cuts." Seth interrupted. He took her hand and led her to the bathroom. He had brought out the antibiotic and put some on a cotton swab. Gently he dabbed her cuts. His throat tightened with anger towards her stepfather. He looked away so as not to show her what was so obviously written on his face.

He grabbed the butterfly bandages. Opening three, he used one to close the cut above her eye and the other two to close the cut on her cheek. Both were pretty deep.

"He doesn't mean to do it. He just has too much to drink sometimes." Zoe said while she looked down.

"Yeah, no kidding.” Seth fumbled out of the bathroom, anger boiling in him with every excuse she made. The necklace fell from his pocket to the bathroom floor as he left. It made only a soft sound, but still Zoe heard it.

"Seth, he just had a worse day than most." She followed him to the kitchen, scooping up the necklace in her fingers as she passed.

"You can't use that excuse. You can't tell me he has a bad day every day, Zoe. He is hurting you, for God’s sake." He slammed the counter, and then put his hands on his head. His voice grew soft. "Why don't you tell someone? He doesn't have any right to touch you. Telling people you fall almost every day is getting old."

"No one would ever believe me. Besides, he would kill me if I told."

Tears welled up in her eyes again. She looked at the necklace in her hand, a small, silver dragon fly with green emeralds on the wings and sapphire eyes, on a delicate white gold chain. She had seen it once before, on Seth’s grandmother weeks before she had died. It was a treasure he said he’d keep until the day he died.

"I wouldn't let him hurt you. Neither would the police. He couldn't touch you." Seth walked to her and pushed the sleeve of her shirt up, showing the bruise of a hand grabbing her from weeks before. "This is all the evidence you need."

He set his hand on her good cheek gently. "Zoe, I can’t see you hurt anymore." He took the necklace from her hand and gently clipped it around her neck. "I…"

She pulled away and glared at him. "You won't have to. You're leaving, remember? To California." She walked to the door and looked back at him. "I'll be back for my clothes." With that she ran out the door.

"Zoe!" He dashed after her into the pouring rain. Seth caught up to her, and he grabbed her hand, holding it tightly but gentle enough not to hurt her. "Stop, Please. Just listen to me."

"Why should I, Seth? You're leaving and there is nothing I can do to stop you!" She was crying so hard she could see no more than the face in front of her. "I'll die if you leave. Damn it! Where am I going to go when he is mad? Tell me. What am..."

He cut her off again mid-sentence with a kiss. Her eyes widened, but soon warmth flowed through her, as she closed her eyes and kissed him back. The kiss deepened, his finger tips moving down her neck softly. Her hands gripped the front of his shirt, as she savored the taste of his lips. A few tears escaped his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. He pulled away, turned and ran into the house, not wanting her to see him cry.

"Seth..." She whispered, finally realizing he was hurting just as much as she was. She followed him into his house.

Zoe found him in his room; he was already in dry pants and was looking for a dry shirt. He looked up as she walked in, soaked from head to toe. Her cheeks and nose were red from the cold. "Seth, I'm so sorry. I didn't think that you cared about leaving me."

He wrapped his arms around her. "I do care. I care more then you know." His hug tightened as she set her head against him.

"I’m so sorry." She let out a sob and her shoulders shook as she tried not to cry.

"Shh… Zoe… please, don't cry anymore…" He led her over to his bed and handed her a new shirt. "Now change before you catch a cold." He smiled softly and whipped away her tears. "You can sleep on the bed. I'll sleep on the floor tonight."

Her breath caught in her throat. It had been so long sense she had seen that smile. As he turned to walk away, Zoe grabbed his hand. "Thank you."

She pulled him down to her height and kissed him gently, running her fingertips down his jaw line. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer, wanting nothing more than to hold her in his arms forever. Her lips felt like rose petals against his, tempting him to never let go. She wrapped her arms around his neck, moving one hand into his short, dark brown hair. Soon she let him go, knowing she should change her clothes.

He went to the door, stopped and smiled at her. “I have to go pick up my sister. I’ll be back soon.”

Soon afterwards, Seth led his sister Kina into the house. "Oh, Zoe is here again?" she asked.

"Yes, but try not to bother her. She's been through a lot today.”

Kina lowered her voice. "Did her father hurt her again?"

Seth looked at her with stone eyes. "Step-father. And yes. But don't talk about it. Now go to bed. I don't want Mom yelling at me because you stayed up too late."

"Yes sir, Mr. Seth, sir." Kina skipped off to her room, her little tutu bouncing on her hips.

Seth sighed and slouched onto the couch. To his surprise, the door bell rang. Before he could answer, the door flew open. And there in the dark door way was Zoe's step-father.

Seth stopped in his tracks. Terror flooded his body. "Eric," he mumbled.

"Where is she?" Eric boomed.

"Zoe! He's here!" Seth yelled. Zoe appeared behind Seth with cold fear in her eyes. Seth pushed her to Kina's room and shut the door.

"Let me at her, boy!" Eric yelled, stumbling over the armchair in the living room.

"I won't let you hurt her again. Stupid drunk!" Seth screamed. "Leave or I'll call the police."

Eric grabbed Seth by the collar of his shirt. "Don't mess with me, boy. She always comes here. Now you'll pay the price for holding on to her!" He threw Seth into the wall.

Seth cried out when he hit the wall, then fell to the floor with a thud. "She can do what she wants. You're not her father."

Eric snatched him up again and dragged him out the front door. "Then we will look for her together." He threw Seth against his car and pulled a baseball bat out of the back seat. "Zoe, if you're in earshot, which I know you are, I've got your little friend here. Come out or he dies!"

Zoe and Kina climbed out a bedroom window and hid behind a large tree in the woods next to the house. Kina saw the bat first. "Don't let him hurt Seth," she pleaded to Zoe, terrified.

"I won't. Now stay here." Zoe tried to sound brave, like Seth always did, but her voice cracked from fear of what might happen.

"No. Don't come. Go find help." Seth yelled, fear finally evident in his voice.

"Zoe, you don't want your friend hurt," Eric said in a maniacal voice. "Don't make me mad, girl. You know what happens when I'm mad."

He slammed the end of the bat into Seth’s stomach, knocking the wind out of him and making him fall to the ground. Seth coughed and sucked air in quickly. "Come save your friend," Eric taunted.

Zoe ran out of the forest. "Don't touch him!" she yelled at the top of her lungs.

"Zoe..." Seth said, with what breath he had. "Run..."

But she didn’t hear him. Sirens screamed in the distance, as Seth stood, wobbly from the hit.

She ran to his side. "Seth, I'm so sorry." Tears were seeping from her eyes. Eric had frozen from the sound of sirens.

"Did you call the police, Zoe?" he yelled. He reached out to grab her, only to grab Seth, who stepped in the way. "Move!" he boomed at Seth, tossing him against the car again. "Answer me."

"I didn't, I swear!" she screeched as she tried to run around the car. Eric grabbed hold of her arm before she got too far.

"Your mom was right. You are a little liar." He laughed and backhanded her into the ground, cutting her right cheek with his ring. She screamed out with pain and held her cheek, as blood slipped between her fingers.

"Leave her alone." Seth slammed into Eric's back with his elbow, sending him into the ground. "Don't you touch her again. The cops are coming there is no escaping now.” The sirens had been getting louder and louder by the second.

Eric stood. "If I'm getting caught, then I'm making sure you two aren’t here to see another day." Eric stumbled while fumbling around his ankle. Zoe stood and had started running to Seth. Eric pulled out a gun and shot.

Seth fell back against Zoe; she caught him, helping him stay up. His hand on his right side, he coughed as blood oozed between his fingers.

"NO!!" Zoe screamed bloody murder. Eric's fingers closed around her throat, silencing her screams. He yanked the chain of the dragon fly necklace, making it fall to the ground.

Zoe heard a gun shot and felt Eric’s hand fall from her throat. She fell to the ground, bringing Seth down with her. Eric collapsed in front of them.

"Seth! Seth, you're going to be okay..." she cried, as she tried to make him look at her. She paid no attention to the police.

"Z-Zoe... I..." Seth tried to talk but he couldn’t catch his breath. As she held him, her tears fell on his cheeks. With the last of his strength, he reached over and grabbed the necklace from the dirt. He took her hand and set the necklace in it. Then he gently closed her fingers around it, before drifting away into the darkness.

* *

DragonFly has signed on. (3:12pm)

Seth_San has signed on. (3:13pm)

DragonFly: How are u feeling? (And how did you get internet?)

Seth_San: I would feel better if u were here. (They have wireless internet, and my mom brought me my laptop.)

DragonFly: They don't allow visiting after 3:00. U know that.

Seth_San: Ya, I know. How are my parents?

DragonFly: They are good. They made up the spare room for me. And they bought me a ticket.

Seth_San: So you're coming with us???

DragonFly: Ya, they said it's okay and I signed all the papers so I can be on my own now.

Seth_San: Oh, that's right. When you're 16 you can get the state’s okay to be on your own. That is so great!

DragonFly: And you will be out of the hospital in a few days. I can finally be happy, Seth. And it's all thanks to you. You saved me.

Seth_San: Zoe.

DragonFly: Yes.

Seth_San: I love you.

DragonFly: I love you too I have to go now, g’night.

Seth_San: G’night.

DragonFly has signed off. (4:42pm)

Seth_San has signed off. (4:43pm)

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