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Chapter 4

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Chapter Four

Caitlin was on cloud nine as she walked home from school, clutching her journal. She hadn't been this happy in she didn't know when. Jonah's words replayed in her head.

"There's this concert tonight. At Carnegie Hall. I've got two free tickets. They're the worst seats in the house, but the vocalist is supposed to be amazing."

"Are you asking me out?" she'd said, smiling.

He'd smiled back.

"If you don't mind going with this lump of bruises," he'd said, smiling back. "After all, it is Friday night."

She practically skipped home, unable to contain her excitement. She didn't know anything about classical music—she'd never even really listened to it before—but she didn't care. She'd go anywhere with him.

Carnegie Hall. He said the dress was fancy. What would she wear? She checked her watch. She wouldn't have much time to change if she was going to meet him at that café before the concert. She doubled her pace.

Before she knew it, she was home, and even the dreariness of her building didn't bring her down. She bounded up the five flights of stairs and hardly even felt it as she walked into her new apartment.

Her Mom's scream came right away: "You fucking bitch!"

Caitlin ducked just in time, as her Mom threw a book right at her face. It went flying past her, and smashed into the wall.

Before Caitlin could speak, her Mom charged—fingernails out, aiming right for her face.

Caitlin reached up and caught her wrists just in time. She tangled with her, going back and forth.

Caitlin could feel her newfound power surging through her veins, and she felt that she could throw her Mom across the room without even trying. But she willed herself to control it, and she shoved her off, but only hard enough to send her onto the couch.

Her Mom, on the couch, suddenly broke into tears. She sat there, sobbing.

"It's your fault!" she screamed between her sobs.

"What's wrong with you?" Caitlin screamed back, completely off guard, having no idea what was going on. Even for her Mom, this was crazy behavior.


Her Mom held out a piece of notebook paper.

Caitlin's heart pounded as she took it, a feeling of dread washing over her. Whatever it was, she knew it couldn't be good.

"He's gone!"

Caitlin scanned the handwritten note. She couldn't really concentrate as she read, only picking out fragments—running away...don't want to be here...back with my friends...don't try to find me.

Her hands were shaking. Sam had done it. He'd really left. And he didn't even wait for her. Didn't even wait to say goodbye.

"It's because of you!" her Mom spat.

A part of Caitlin couldn't believe it. She ran through the apartment, opened Sam's door, half expecting to find him there.

But the room was empty. Immaculate. Not a single thing left. Sam had never kept his room that clean. It was true. He was really gone.

Caitlin felt the bile rise up in her throat. She couldn't help feeling that this time her Mom was right, that it was her fault. Sam had asked her. And she had said, "Just go."

Just go. Why did she have to say that? She planned on apologizing, on taking it back, the next morning, but he was already gone when she woke up. She was going to talk to him when she got home today. But now it was too late.

She knew where he must have gone. There's only one place he would go: their last town. He'd be OK. Better, probably, than he was here. He had friends there. The more it sank in, the less she worried. In fact, she was happy for him. He'd finally made it out. And she knew how to track him down.

But she'd have to deal with this later. She glanced at her watch and realized she was late. She ran into her room, quickly grabbed the nicest clothes and shoes she'd had, and threw them all in a gym bag. She'd have to go without makeup. There just wasn't time.

"Why do you have to destroy everything you touch!?" her Mom screamed, now right behind her. "I never should have taken you in!"

Caitlin stared back, shocked.

"What are you talking about!?"

"That's right," her Mom continued. "I took you in. You're not mine. You never were. You were his. You're not my real daughter. Do you hear me!? I'd be ashamed to have you as a daughter!"

Caitlin could see the venom in her black eyes. She'd never seen her Mom in this deep of a rage. Her eyes held murder.

"Why did you have to chase away the one thing that was good in my life!?" her Mom yelled.

This time her Mom charged her with two hands held out in front, and went right for her throat. Before Caitlin could react, she was being choked. Hard.

Caitlin fought for breath. But her Mom 's grip was iron. It was truly meant to kill.

The rage flooded Caitlin, and this time she couldn't stop it. She could feel the familiar, prickly heat, starting at her toes, and working its way up through her arms and shoulders. She let it envelop her. As it did, the muscles in her neck bulged. Without doing a thing, her Mom's grip loosened.

Her Mom must have seen the transformation begin, because she suddenly looked afraid. Caitlin threw her head back and roared. She had transformed into a thing of fear.

Her Mom dropped her grip, and took a step back and stared, mouth open.

Caitlin reached up with one hand and shoved her, and she went flying backwards with such force that she went through the wall, shattering it with a crash, and into the other room. She kept going, smashing into yet another wall, and collapsing, unconscious.

Caitlin breathed hard, trying to focus. She surveyed the apartment, asking herself if there was anything she wanted to take with her. She knew there was, but she couldn't think clearly. She grabbed her gym bag of clothes, and walked out of her room, through the rubble, past her mother.

Her Mom lay there, groaning, already starting to sit up.

Caitlin kept walking, right out of the apartment.

It was the last time, she vowed, she would see it again.

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