flawless

14 1 4

Libby was disappearing into an enclosed walkway. Clair stepped up her pace. I watched as though through a long tunnel, disconnected but unable to look away. Libby ducked out of sight. When Clair caught up, Libby stepped out and pushed her backward with both hands. Clair went down on her backside with a gasp of surprise.

Libby was smaller than Clair by two centimetres. She weighed fifty-one kilograms and had never taken more than the most basic self-defence classes. Her arms and wrists were slender, like her feet. A swimmer's physique, all stamina, not built for sudden bursts of strength like punching or kicking.

At that moment, sprawled painfully on the ground with Libby standing over her, Clair looked terrified, as well she should.

"Take a hint, Clair," said Libby. "Stay out of my life."

"No, let me explain." There was a tremor in Clair's voice. She looked as though she was about to cry. "Zep was an accident—"

"Who cares about Zep? This is about me and you and how you betrayed me."

"I know I did, and I'm sorry—"

"Sorry isn't good enough, Clair. You'd be nothing without me. Nothing! And this is how you repay me."

Clair blinked up at her and shook her head.

"Libby, you're not thinking right—"

"Oh, I'm thinking just fine," Libby said, a smile breaking out across her face. "I'm beautiful—and perhaps you'll be beautiful one day too, like me. See?"

And Clair did see. The understanding blossomed on her face like the sun coming out. Libby's skin was flawless.

"Your birthmark—"

Libby snarled, "I told you—beautiful."

She punched Clair in the throat and, while Clair choked, turned and stalked away.

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