Prom Nights from Hell Chapter Seven

Prom Nights from Hell Chapter Seven

“He didn’t even know you were there,” Sibby said. “He never even knew who hit him.”

“That was the idea.” They were parked next to an abandoned Amtrak maintenance building on an old part of the train tracks that was completely hidden from the street. It was the place Miranda had started coming seven months earlier to work out all her new crazy energy and try things she couldn’t practice anywhere else-Roller Derby was great for speed, balance, gymnastics, and shoving moves, but you weren’t supposed to use advanced judo. Or weapons.

She could make out marks from her last crossbow exercise on the side of the building, and the piece of railroad track she’d tied in a knot the day after Will rejected her was still lying on the ground. She’d never seen anyone else here, and she was sure she and Sibby would be pretty much invisible as long as they stayed parked.

“Where did you learn to knock people out like that?” Sibby asked, sprawled out over the backseat. “Can you teach me?”

“No.”

“Why not? Just one move?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Why did you say you were sorry after you hit him?”

Miranda swiveled to face her. “It’s my turn to ask questions. Who wants to kill you and why?”

“Gods, I don’t know. It could be a ton of people. It’s not like that, how you think it is.”

“What’s it like then?”

“It’s complicated. But if we can just hang out until four in the morning, there’s a place I can go.”

“That’s six hours from now.”

“That’ll give me time for at least ten more kisses.”

“Well, of course. What else would you do while someone is trying to kill you besides go out and tongue tango with as many strangers as possible?”

“They weren’t trying to kill me, they were trying to abduct me. It’s totally different. Come on, I want to do something fun. Something with boys.”

“Or we could not do that.”

“Look, just because you are a founding member of Down with Fun Inc. doesn’t mean that the rest of us want to sign up.”

“I am not a founding member of Down with Fun Inc. I like fun. But-“

“Funkiller.”

” – somehow the idea of wandering around while ‘a ton of people’ are trying to kidnap you, doesn’t sound fun to me. It sounds like a good way to get into the Guinness Book of World Records under ‘Plan, comma, World’s Most Stupid. Plus innocent bystanders could get caught in the middle when the ton of people find you.”

“‘If, not ‘when. And they don’t care about anyone but me.”

Miranda rolled her eyes and turned back around. “That’s why they’re called innocent bystanders. Because they were standing by you and accidentally got hurt.”

“Then you should definitely get away from me. Seriously, although there’s nothing I’d rather do than sit parked in a homeless person’s bathroom for six hours with only you for company, I think it would be safer for both of us if I take my chances elsewhere. Like at that ice cream place we passed on the way here. Did you see the lips on the guy behind the counter? They were mythic. Drop me there and I’ll be all set.”

“You’re so not going anywhere.”

“Really? Because that sound you hear? Is me reaching for the door handle.”

“Really? Because that sound you hear? Is me engaging the child lock.”

In the rearview mirror, Miranda saw Sibby’s eyes blaze.

“You’re really mean,” Sibby said. “Something horrible must have happened to you to make you so mean.”

“I’m not mean. I’m just trying to keep you safe.”

“Are you sure it’s me you’re thinking about? Not some skeleton in your closet? Like the time you-“

Miranda turned up the radio.

“Turn that down! I was talking and I’m the customer.”

“Not anymore.”

Sibby yelled really loud, “What happened to your sister?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Miranda yelled back.

“That’s a lie.”

Miranda didn’t say anything.

“I asked you before if you had a sister and you got all teary,” Sibby shouted in her ear. “Why won’t you tell me?”

Miranda turned down the radio. “Can you give me three good reasons why I should?”

“It might make you feel better. It would give us something to talk about while we sit here. And if you don’t tell me, I’m going to start guessing.”

Miranda leaned her head back, checked her watch, and turned to stare out the window. “Be my guest.”

“You bugged her so much she left? You bored her so much she left? Or did you drive her away with the huge stick you keep up your butt?”

“Stop being tender with my feelings. Go on, tell me what you really think.”

From the backseat Sibby said, “That might have been too mean. Sorry.”

Miranda didn’t say anything.

“You don’t really have a stick in your butt. You couldn’t drive then, right? Ha-ha?”

Silence.

“But I mean, you started it. With the child-lock thing. I’m not a child. I’m fourteen.”

More silence.

“I said I was sorry.” In the backseat Sibby slumped, sighed. “Fine. Be that way.”

Silence. Until, for no reason she could explain, Miranda said, “They died.”

Sibby sat up quick now, leaning toward the front seat. “Who? Your sisters?”

“Everyone. My whole family.”

“Was it because of something you did?”

“Yes. And because of something I didn’t do. I think.”

“Um, Grandma Grim, that doesn’t make any sense. How can not doing something-wait, you think?. Don’t you know what happened?”

“I can’t really remember anything from that part of my life.”

“You mean from that day?”

“No. From that year. And the year after. Anything pretty much from when I was ten until when I turned twelve. And there are a few other holes, too.”

“You mean that stuff is just too painful to remember?”

“No, it’s just… gone. All I have are impressions.” And the dreams. Really really bad dreams.

“Like what?”

“Like that I wasn’t where I should have been and something happened and I let everyone down…” She stopped, waved a hand in the air.

“Wait, you actually think you could have stopped whatever happened to them? By yourself? When you were four years younger than me?”

Miranda’s throat felt like it was closing up. She’d never told anyone even that much of her real history before, never talked about it, not even with Kenzi. Ever. She swallowed hard. “I could have tried. I could have been there and tried.”

“Oh my gods, now this is some kind of pity party. Yawn. Wake me when you’re done.”

Miranda gaped at her in the mirror. “I told you I didn’t want to talk about it but you kept bugging me and now you turn into the mayor of TellItLikeItIsVille?” Swallowing again. “You little-“

“You don’t even know what happened! How can you feel so bad about it? Plus, I don’t see how that can be your fault. You weren’t even there and you were only ten. I think you should stop obsessing about some mystery thing that is ancient history and live in the mo.”

“I’m sorry, did you just tell me to ‘live in the mo’?”

“Yes. You know, ditch the past and try focusing on what’s going on in the present. Like that the song on the radio right now? Sucks. And that there is a whole city of cute boys out there I am not kissing.” Miranda took a deep breath, but before she could say anything, Sibby went on. “I know, I know you say you’re sorry to the people you knock out because you never got to say sorry to your family, and you have to keep me safe because you couldn’t keep them safe. I get it now.”

“That is not what’s going on. I-“

“Blah blah blah, insert denials here. Anyway, why does ‘safe’ have to mean sitting in this car with you all night? Isn’t there somewhere we could blend in? Instead of hiding? I’m good at blending. I’m like butter.”

“Oh yeah, you’re totally like butter. In fact, in your Madonna-called-and-she-wants-her-costume-from-the-‘Borderline’-video-back outfit, you’re practically invisible.”

“Good one, Funkiller. Come on, let’s go somewhere.”

Miranda turned all the way around in her seat and said, “Let me sound it out for you. Someone. Is. Trying. To. Kill. You.”

“No. They. Are. Not. You keep saying that, but I’ve told you. They can’t kill me. You should really work on this obsession you have with people getting killed. And I have to be honest with you, I’m getting bored. What do you have the radio set to, K-CRAP? There is no way we are staying in this car for six hours.”

Miranda had to agree with her. Because if they did, it was now clear she’d kill Sibby herself.

That’s when she thought of the perfect place for them to go.

“You want to blend in?” she asked.

“Yes. With boys.”

“Guys,” Miranda said.

“What?”

“Normal American girls from this century call them guys, not boys. If you want to blend in.”

For a second, Sibby looked shocked. Then she gave a little smile. “Oh. Yes. Guys.”

“‘Yeah, not ‘yes. Unless you’re talking to a grown-up.”

“Yeah.”

“And it’s ‘Oh my God’ or ‘God, not ‘gods. “

“Did I-?”

“Yeah. And no one ever has or ever will say, ‘live in the mo. “

“Just wait.”

“No. Never. Oh, and no paying guys for kisses. You don’t need to. They should feel lucky to kiss you.”

Sibby frowned. “Why are you being so nice to me and helping me? You don’t even like me.”

“Because I know what it’s like to be far from home, alone, trying to fit in. And to never be able to tell anyone the truth about who you are.”

After they’d been driving in silence for a few minutes, Sibby said, “Have you ever killed someone with your bare hands?”

Miranda looked at her in the rearview. “Not yet.”

“Ha-ha.”