TEGAN, THE SURVIVOR

“I’m gonna squirt lemon juice in your eyes.” She said, smirking.
“Go ahead, I dare you to.” I retorted, calling her bluff, bored out of my rotted mind. Having grown up with Deza, I was used to her demoralizing remarks, taunting laughs, and threats of painful mutilation. She wasn’t going to do anything, she was all talk. Basically, she was just another slum girl. Just like me.

Deza sloshed the bottle of lemon juice menacingly, slinging the loose cap in my face. My dull eyes focused on a tipped trashcan behind her, not following the movement of the canister, not daring to gaze at her face.
After a moment of this, she made a sound, halfway between a growl and a sigh, and dropped the bottle. She turned, retreating back into the shadows of the Plywood Jungle; she called over her shoulder, before dissolving back the way she came.

“Someday, we’ll break you, Tegan. You’re no different from the rest of us. Just some dirty, city trash.” A smile mangled her lips on the last words.
And I was left with only her two followers, Cam and Sarah. The two girls circled me, footsteps hardly making a sound in the rain flushed alley way.
“Ya know what’s really too bad, Cam?” Sarah said, sugary sarcasm dripping from her voice. The fervent desire to strike me was written all over her face, warring with the desire to make me cower, to draw this out.
“No, what?” Cam asked bluntly. Stupid as always. I saw a flicker of annoyance on Sarah’s face; her own sidekick was trashing her game.
“It’s really too bad Regan got that friend of yours, Tegan.” They slow orbit stopped, both of them waiting, expectation dominant on their faces.
I froze. No. No! She’s bluffing, she’s just like Deza. All talk. My breathing jacked up, my blood sprinting as though it were spiked.
“Yeah,” Cam chimed in. “Kelsey, right? Regan’s group had some conflict with her.” Both their expression were fixed in the same hideous, snaggly smile.
“She doesn’t believe us, Cam,” Sarah bellowed. “Well, it’s true. The brat always had a big mouth, and of course, you know Regan’s way with weapons. Kelsey never knew what hit her! It was late at night, and they snuck up from behind and—”
“Shut UP!” I screamed. With that, I wheeled, shoving through both girls, and sprinted out of the Plywood Jungle. Out into the open.
Hurdling fallen trash cans and sleeping bums, I tore through the slum’s network of alleys. I did not try to stay hidden, inconspicuous. I just ran, because Kelsey was not dead.
Sliding under a tattered chain-link fence, I entered into the industrial yard. I could see the sound now, the water being whipped into waves by the vicious wind.
Finally, I slowed. My breath was ragged, slicing my breath with every influx. I climbed over some stacked oil drums, hopping over some barbed wire that crowned a snaking fence, into The Lot.
The Lot was just a weed riddled plot on the edge of the ship yard, facing the bay. I sat on the edge of The Lot, inches from the steep, concrete drop into a mooring for smaller boats.
Kelsey…I knew Regan had been hunting her, she knew it, too. She had insulted him a week ago. So, basically, by rule of thumb in the dregs, that was a death sentence, especially with Regan, the top dog of his gang.
Tears slid down my cheeks, the harsh wind bite at them, and I curled my knees to my chest, dropping my head down onto them. Kelsey…
I sat like that for a very long time. The cold of the concrete seeped into my flimsy, thread bare clothes, trashed from weeks of wear. Kelsey…My best friend, dead. Kelsey… My mind tripped in circles as I sat, calmly crying.
A hand yanked my hair, wrenching my head back so that I was looking up into Deza’s piggy eyes. “Found you…” She whispered. “Did you really think you’d get away after shoving my girls?” She growled, her voice quiet, dangerous. Using my long, never-been-cut hair as a handle, she swung me momentarily to my feet, and over, forcing me onto my knees in a scum-and-oil filled puddle.
“Leave me alone,” I snarled, tears of pain welling in my eyes.
“Why?” Deza whispered. A hand cupped under my chin, slamming my head even farther back. Sharp nails dug into my shoulders as someone else secured my wrists, tightening whatever was restraining me. Wet nylon. I realized it was an old dog collar, from one of the strays. Its metal tags jangled on my back.
With an icy pang of fear, I knew something was different. Today, the Earth had jolted on its axis. Karma’s flip side was wreaking its havoc on my dead ended life. Today, Deza was serious. That also roughly translated into: I was dead.

Because Deza had me, had me cold. Had me bound, unable to move. I was at her knees, but I didn’t think begging for mercy would help.
Rule 50: Slum kids don’t know mercy. Kelsey…
“Get your filthy hands of me!” I screamed, ripping my hair free, leaping to my feet.
Only, I hadn’t realized just how close to the drop I was. I staggered back, unable to find my balance, wobbling erratically.
Sarah walked up to my, one hand extended.
“Leave me alone, Sarah!” I yelled, desperately trying not to fall. She grasped a handful of my t-shirt, pulling me farther on to solid ground. I gasped. Was she rebelling? Why would she bother to save my now, she hated me.
“Bye,” She breathed, and pushed me out into the open air.

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