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She was waiting for me by the bus stop, a lighted cigarette in one hand, a partially crumpled piece of paper in the other, wearing a short, white and blue flowered sundress that looked like it had seen better days. She had long, thick, unkempt, blond hair; and strange, unearthly, ice-blue eyes that shone out from her sallow face like two sapphires in a bowl of oatmeal. She couldn’t have been more than twelve.
I don’t know how I knew she was waiting for me. It was just sort of a feeling I had. Maybe it was the way her strange, icy eyes were following me with a sort of casual interest, or maybe it was just the fact that, for as long as I could remember, I was the only person at the bus stop at this time of day.
I nodded my acknowledgement of her presence, then sat down on the bench and shoved my backpack under my seat. She took a puff on her cigarette and slowly blew out a long stream of smoke. I tried not to cough.
“Hi Madelyn,” she said. Her voice had a strange, hollow, husky quality. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was weird, but I liked it.
I looked over at her in surprise. “How do you know my name?”
She Shrugged. “It was in the program.”
She tossed the crumpled piece of paper into my lap. I unfolded it. It was the program from the play I had performed in the night before.
I turned back to her. “You were there?”
She nodded. “You did a great job. Rebecca was my favorite character.”
I smiled. “Mine too, but most people like Elizabeth better.”
She spat on the ground. “Elizabeth never really does anything, except take credit for the stuff Rebecca does. Rebecca is the real hero.” She paused for a moment to take another puff on the cigarette, then continued. “It was a good play, but I didn’t like the scene where Rebecca killed the guy who cheated Elizabeth.”
“I don’t know… I guess I didn’t think she should have killed him.”
“Why? He stole pretty much everything she had, and intentionally made her life miserable for years. Besides, he murdered George.”
“I know, I know,” she waved my protests away. “But don’t you think killing him was a little… I don’t know… extreme? Rebecca is supposed to be someone who sets an example for people like him, who makes them want to become better. By killing him, she was doing exactly what he would have done. She was making herself no better than he was.”
I considered that for a moment. “I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
We sat in silence for a while. I was tempted to ask her if she wasn’t a little young to be smoking, but I didn’t want to sound rude, so instead I said,
“What is your name?”
“Carney.” she told me, but I had a strange feeling that she was lying. At that moment, she seemed to remember something.
“I gotta go,” she said urgently, “I gotta to go get Sara.”
“Who’s Sara?” I asked.
“My little sister. I have to pick her up from daycare. Mom will kill me if I get home late.”
“Well, bye Carney.”
She extinguished the cigarette against the side of the bench, threw it in the gutter, and sprinted down the street, her tangled blond hair flying out behind her.