Part 1

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Nariah absently rolled a loc of her hair and squinted at her textbook. "So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee. ... what?" It wasn't even old English, it was like, Greek trying to pass as English. Badly. She propped her head up and blinked at the sonnet again. "Shall I compare thee--"

Something tugged in Nariah's chest: a sensation like yearning, but with direction and intent. That was far better than analysing Shakespeare. "Mom!" She scraped her chair back and snatched a coat from her bed. Nariah bent to grab a pre-packed duffel and stormed down the stairs. "Mom! A grim just woke."

She found her mother in the kitchen, tossing a flaming something in a saute pan. "Get your shoes on. I'm not dropping another meal half-cooked."

"But, Mom--"

"Shoes, Nariah," her mother snapped. "What direction is it."

"Ugh..." Nariah closed her eyes to feel the tug and pointed to the back of the house. "That way."

"Call Odessa and let her know we're picking her up on the way."

Nariah tapped a button on her phone and yanked the laces up on her shoes. "Call Odessa," she told it. Her friend picked up on the first ring.

"Hey."

"There's a grim in your direction, Mom wants to pick you up. Can you be ready?"

"Yes, that's more like it.--" Then from a distance, Odessa's voice called, "Mom! Nariah's picking me up, we gotta go help a grim."

"Not unless you're done with your English homework."

Odessa groaned, "Aw, fuck--"

Nariah's mom barked, "Watch your language, missy!"

Nariah winced. "Sorry, you're on speaker. I'm changing."

"Sorry, Mrs. Boyd. Nari, can you help me with English? This stupid sonnet doesn't make any sense."

"Yeah, we can study session at your place when we're done. I'll grab my papers."

"K, I'll be outside."

Nariah raced up the stairs to throw her homework together into her backpack. By the time she made it back down her mother had shut down the kitchen and was sliding into her jacket. "Ready?"

"Yeah." Bookbag over her shoulder and heavy duffel in her hand, Nariah piled into her mother's minivan, squeezing past the workbench in the garage. As she shoved her things into the back seat, her mother added her tennis bag to the collection. Nariah looked up, "You think we'll be out that late?"

"I don't know, but if you sleep over at Odessa's you won't have to stop here in the morning for it."

Nariah smiled. "Thanks, Mom."

"Buckle up."

--//--

At Odessa's house, her mother stood out on walk with her arms crossed and the kind of frown that made anyone think twice. Nariah had faced that frown before. She grabbed her book bag and hopped out of the van.

"Miss Caldwell, I know Odessa's not done with her English homework so I wanted to trade her for mine. I'm not done either. We'll do a study session afterward, I promise." She tried not to fidget with the growing pressure under her sternum. The grim needed help.

Miss Caldwell's lips pressed into a line. "Third time this week, Nariah."

"Yes, Ma'am." Nariah didn't have anything to say, it had been the third time. And there was nothing she could do about it.

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