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Part 2: Six Months Earlier
“We agreed on fifty.”
“Well now we’re agreeing on a hundred.”
I roll my eyes, growing irritated. And it was not a smart move on this man’s part to make me irritated. “Fifty, or I call off the deal.”
The man scratches his chin. Normally a person would not have taken this to be a sign of anxiety, would not have noticed that his hands, though seemingly steady, were actually shaking. But then again, I wasn’t a normal person. I can hear the man’s heart beating frantically; I can smell his perspiration beneath layers of clothing, despite the fact it’s freezing outside. But best of all, I can sense his fear.
The man looks around, only to confirm what he already knows. We are alone, the alleyway is deserted, and no one in their right minds would be out this late anyway. “Look kid, I just think that maybe what I’m doing here is a little risky. I could get in a lot of trouble and–”
“I don’t understand.” I say, annoyed. “A few days ago you told me this would be easy.”
“But what? Just give it to me already.”
The man hesitates, no doubt wondering what a girl like me is doing in a situation like this. On top of his fear I can sense his nervousness. He refuses to ever meet my gaze for more than a few seconds and it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out why. He’s probably never seen someone like me before. Perfect skin, perfect teeth, a face that would make even movie stars turn and stare. Everything about me was flawless. Just one of the many perks to my . . . condition. The man clears his throat, obviously trying to gather some nerve to continue with the conversation. “What exactly do you want the gun for anyway?”
“Why does anyone want a gun?” I ask. This felt like a safe reply.
The man looks at me wearily. “You plan on killing somebody?”
I shrug. “Not if they kill me first.”
“I just don’t think it’s a good idea to go giving a gun to a thirteen year–”
“Sixteen.” I correct him. “I’m sixteen and perfectly aware of the fact that it’s probably not a good idea. But here’s the thing, I need the gun and you need the money. So why don’t you just hand it over?”
The man nods, finally giving up. He reaches into the backpack he had been carrying and produces a box. He opens it cautiously to reveal a wicked looking gun, the kind that could do some real damage. Then, he carefully hands it to me. I cradle it in the palm of my hand, weighing its power. The cold metal feels harsh against my otherwise very warm skin.
“Please don’t make me regret doing this.” The man says, breaking through my thoughts.
I nod, understanding where his concern is coming from. I had been out in the world long enough to know that this place was dangerous. If they think I am the monster, they have truly sold themselves short. “You won’t, I promise.” I finally assure him.
The man nods again, then quickly leaves in the direction he came earlier and I’m left alone at the entrance of the alleyway.
For a moment I stand there, unsure what I’m supposed to do next. I have to swallow the anger threatening to explode from my chest because the gun has grown dangerously comfortable in my hand. And I have to remind myself that no matter what these people have done to me, I cannot become the monster they’ve created.
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