Charm climbed out of the shattered window in her bedroom. Shards of glass stuck up out of the dirt like weeds. She set her feet carefully on the ground before she took off running. Behind her, her stepfather roared. The rickety door to their fallen-down house banged open. He was coming after her with a gun, the same gun that had killed her mother moments before.
Her stepfather was mad-drunk at three in the afternoon. When that happened, her mother usually got bruises blooming purples and yellows on her body. This fight started when her mother announced she was leaving him. Her brevity got her killed. Now, Charm had to fend for herself.
Her feet carried her though the woods. Sticks stabbed her heels and pine cones pricked her toes, drawing blood. She threw her body into palm bushes. Their teeth ripped at her arms and legs. She followed a path covered with pine needles through the Florida wilderness.
"Get back here," her stepfather hollered. The sound of his large, beer-padded body sounded like a giant T-Rex. His shouts and curses followed Charm deeper and deeper.
She came out of the woods into a clearing for the Anderson home, who were gone for the summer. Hands shaking, she snatched the rusted key out from under the welcome mat and locked herself inside. She didn't even allow herself to take a breath but ran into the kitchen, tugged open a drawer, and grabbed the biggest knife. Then she hurried into the bedroom where she slid under the bed to join a horde of dust bunnies. Hitchhikers clung to her dress and poked her thighs. She clutched the knife to her chest, prepared to use it if she had to.
Boots staggered up the front steps of the Anderson home. A hand fiddled with the door handle. When it didn't budge, her stepfather broke it open. "I know you're in here! I'm going to kill you, too."
Chills tangled with Charm's spine. Her stepfather's footsteps moved through the cabin to her hiding place. She couldn't see him, but she knew he was in the room with her. She held her breath. His boots pounded back to the door, and her body went lax.
All of a sudden, large hands roped around her ankles. She let out a scream as he yanked her out from under the bed. She didn't think twice when she plunged the knife into his chest. He fell to the ground beside her with a thud. Cemented to the spot, Charm panted for breath that her fear kept stealing from her lungs.
When her stepfather didn't move, she realized he was dead. Standing over him, relief flooded her three-foot-tall body. Surely, no one would convict a five year old of murder.