status: novel in revision
length: 77,000 words
The girl stands in the doorway with black tarp parted around her. narrow shoulders. She’s wearing light blue makeup shadows around her light blue eyes. Her lips twist from cute, half-open shock to spitting anger. “What do you think you’re doing?” Her right hand reaches behind her back. “Get out of here.”
“I’m sorry. I was just —”
Her hand flashes at me faster than any girl I’ve ever seen, and my hands move too slow to block anything. Her finger is poised at the trigger of a pepper spray can with a glaring white nozzle. Why she hasn’t blinded me already, I don’t have the foggiest.
"Get the hell out." The girl grits her teeth, “If you think I’m joking, ask the last guy about his eyes.”
I stare into the white circle nozzle and hope a blast of death doesn't shoot my eyes out. “Your dad seems like a real work of art.”
“What the hell are you doing in here?” She sidesteps toward the suitcases. “You’ve got three seconds.”
Blood and hormones race through me. “We got off on the wrong foot. My name’s Eli.” I think about holding my fist out for her to pound, but my nerves keep me frozen.
She stares at me, like she’s scanning a high-resolution soulprint for potential danger. “You bought yourself three more seconds. Keep talking.”
I step back, glancing down at the white nozzle. “I’m just your normal seventeen-year-old guy who’s gonna show up so late his friends will think fatty black birds ate his corpse.”
While I’m talking, she scoops up her backpack, plants her feet wide again, and glares at me. “You didn’t take anything, did you?”
“No.” It’s the truth. I’m not a thief.
“What do you want then?”
The money, I don’t say. I want my cash because nobody rips me off and because I’ve gotta win the contest so T.P. and Mikey have to shave all their hair. And I’m glad I don’t say it outloud, because just thinking it feels ridiculous.
“How about your name?” I say.
“I don’t just give out my name.” Her eyes still face the corner. “Especially to some cleanclothesman like you.”
She checks the locks and re-stows both bags in the corner. She rocks upright, knees crouched under her, and pins her palms high up on her thighs like the pressure’s getting to her. I’m torn because part of me wants to help her however she needs it, while the rest of me wants to get my money and get out. And there’s this business about the pepper spray clenched in her right hand.
She’s wearing black-and-white Jack Purcells without socks. Around each ankle, brilliant tattoos of bright green branches twist into each other in an infinite circle. Above the ball of her right ankle is the funkiest looking caterpillar worm thing I’ve ever seen. Its back is brown with lime green ovals, and one of the ends could be one of those makeup powder brushes that Lilith uses. From the ball of the other ankle hangs a crisp green droplet that looks like an elongated snail shell.
After the awkward silence, she finally speaks without turning around. “You can call me Blue.” Which kills the silence but doesn’t take away the awkward.