Ruby-5 Years Prior

The sun has almost completely disappeared from the sky. The darker shades of night stir the panic that ran wild in me. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea where to go.
It took three months for my mom to take off. I came home from school. It was my thirteenth birthday. I wasn’t expecting her to do much, she never did. That was always dad. But, I wasn’t expecting her to be gone. I wasn’t expecting a note held in place by a cupcake. A note that read, I did what was right. Good luck, Mom.
Thoughts of child services coming in and finding out my secret kept me up most nights. The lack of sleep gradually picked away at my sanity. Paranoia began built armies in my head. Until finally it became too much. It was time for me to leave. I held onto the house and school a few months longer than I should have. It was hard to resist since I had pretty much already been on my own since my was shot. Part of it I think was I knew being homeless would hit eventually. In those first few weeks when I still l thought it was possible she would come back, the idea of living on the streets terrified me. But, the nightmares of life on the street were never as horrifying as the ones where I was be poked and prodded. My dad had told me to hide what I could do. Hide it all costs. What you have people will want to steal and do ugly things with it. You must hide it, and never tell anyone; he would recite to me as one of his regular parental lectures.
Only with my mom was gone I was peaceful—at least during the day when the fear that lingered in the shadows came out to play.
I took a hard swallow at the thought. The night was upon me now, and I no idea where I was going to sleep. The black and gray flannel stuck to my skin, dampened by the rain.
My stomach decides to add to my stress by choosing then to grumble.
A few crumpled fives formed a small bulge in my back pocket. I eyed a sandwich stop breezily before deciding to go in.
The moment I stepped foot into the shop, I felt the sense I was a deer in the woods. I was near the water and near the shelters.
I was out of my element.
I was prey.
As my quiet voice order, a turkey and cheese sub two pairs of eyes landed on me. The stench of their intentions wafting over me. Cautiously I sat near the door with my back against the far wall. I took tiny nibbles, chewing each piece carefully before swallowing.
The two watching we sat four tables back, making we the centerpiece of their view. Suddenly I fell like just small girl.
“Closing in ten minutes,” the man who had made my sandwich said to me, my huntsman, a few others.
Everyone slowly made their way out through the glass doors. I was the last customer to crumble on their paper wrapped and cups, and leave.
It took my only one block from the shop to realize i was being followed. I knew it was the guys in the shop.
I will not run, I tell myself. I repeat over and over in a song as I cast my eyes wild around for some place to hide, some glimmer of hope.
Warmth breath reaches out groups the back of my neck.
I run.
I don’t look back.
Thick hands grabbed onto my waist, pulling me into the nearest alley. His hungry mouth grumbles something I don’t understand. My body is laced with panic and at first, I can’t move. My mind focuses me to picture my dad’s dead body even though I don’t really know what it looked like. I didn’t see him once when he was dead. Somehow I thought if I did somehow get a glimpse of his still face I could wrap my head around my reality better. I felt lost, and almost fooled, but thinking this made me crazier.
My mind lifted up, out of me. My thoughts were able to see me pressed up against the wall with a birds-eye-view. Before I could plan it out, my unpracticed mind reached down and grabbed the man off of me. His greasy body hit the wall opposite of us. His beady eyes confused by just what happened.
I didn’t hesitate. I ran again, this time, faster, and I didn’t stop until I found a latter.
I slept for the first time on a roof, under the stars that are out there somewhere behind the pollution and city lights.
That’s when I decided to break my dad’s first rule: never use your power.
I was going to practice it. I was going to learn how to use it to survive.

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