The gas station attendant jumped at the sound of the bell as Mary pushed the door open. He wasn’t expecting customers this late, especially not a thirteen year old dark-skinned girl.
“Your parent know where you’re at?”
“Of course they do.” She grabbed bags of Twizzlers and beef jerky off their metal rails and dropped them on the counter. She pulled out the cash she had been collecting in the box under her bed and held out a $10 bill.
The man eyed her suspiciously. “How old are you, Girl?”
“16.” The height she inherited from her father was the only good that ever came from him. It must have worked because the man stopped asking questions and took her money.
She started walking in the darkest direction from the bright florescent lights of the station, chewing red strips of candy. Adults are such idiots, she thought to herself. They’ll believe anything if it’s easy.
It was obvious, really, that she wasn’t 16. Even if she was, was that really much better? She found an open storage shed behind an unidentified building. At least the metal floor looked cleaner than the ground. She crawled in as she was both baffled and grateful for adult ignorance.
Of course her parents didn’t know where she was. Truth be told, she didn’t know where they were either. Both gone: dead or in jail, she didn’t even care which. Mrs. Baur was her guardian now. She certainly didn’t know where Mary was.
Now there was a woman addicted to lies. She insisted life was one big, sugar-coated, tea party where everyone got along and everything worked out. She was honest with Mary once, just once.
“God, sometimes I just wish you would disappear.”
That was enough for Mary. She moved some dusty boxes out of the way, laid her head on her backpack, and shivered against the floor. Truth was a cold mistress, but as Mary found out, steel was colder.