Chapter 7: Purloin

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A few days later...

"Can we go on a walk today?"

Ayva looked up at me from the table, where I'd once again made her eggs. So far, she hadn't shown any of the oddities that I noticed yesterday. Just like the previous morning, she was simply a cute, little girl. I wondered if yesterday had been an anomaly, or a pattern I should expect.

"Why?" I asked.

"I wanna meet somebody."

I glanced around making sure my aunt wasn't in the kitchen. "Who are you gonna meet?" I whispered.

She looked at me curiously. "Meet somebody? Why would I meet somebody?"

"You just said you were?"

She shook her head as she stuffed another forkful of eggs into her mouth.

"Yeah you did!" I said.

Ayva shrugged, the same one-shouldered thing. "Sometimes I think you hear things."

"I was gonna say the same about you."

She frowned at me, her adorable, brown eyes taking on a sad appearance. "Are you mad at me?"

"No, no. Of course not," I answered hurriedly.

She smiled.

"Want anymore eggs?"

After that, our conversation turned to eggs. I was glad the course of it had changed. Some of the things she said gave me a frozen, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, like worms made of ice crawling around.

Despite my attempts to dissuade her, she still wanted to go on a walk that afternoon when we had cleaned up lunch. I looked to my aunt, hoping she would say we couldn't.

The coincidence was too much to overlook. First, Damian said he wanted to meet her and then the very next day she asked to go on a walk to "meet somebody." I wasn't sure what it meant, or even where she wanted to go. Something seemed off, though.

"I think that'd be a great idea!" said my aunt with joy. I felt anything but happy.

"Um..." I racked my brain. "But wouldn't you rather me stay here and clean with you?"

"No, no. You two go on. I need to clean some, but I can do it by myself."

"Are you sure?"

She smiled and ushered us out of the house. A short walk later, we were standing on the sidewalk of the main road. Around and in front of us was the busy town. People bustled in and out of doors, cars zoomed past on the street, and Ayva leaned closer to me.

"I don't like all the people," she whispered. Her tone was somewhere between lovable and blood-curdling.

"Why not?" I asked, bending down to hear her better.

She put her mouth next to my ear so I could feel her breath. "Too much noise." Ayva shivered. "I don't like it."

"Isn't it loud at your house? I thought you had brothers and sisters?"

She looked up at me. "Do I?"

"I mean... I don't know. I thought you did."

"I don't remember." Ayva took my hand and led me over to a bench. "Can we sit here? I like it better. Not moving."

"Um, sure." We sat down. She wrapped both her arms around one of mine like a small koala. "What did you mean you don't remember?" I asked.

"It means I forget." She giggled. "Don't you know that?"

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