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Some days, when I see her around town, laughing and flirting, I decide that I’ll watch every moment—the bubbling and crackling of her skin, the charring of her pretty white flesh. And other days—days when I feel sad and sluggish—I just want it to be over: fast and clean. She shouldn’t be here, walking around … living. It irks me. When I watch her, I pick at myself—the skin around my fingernails, the sides of my mouth. I have little scabs on the back of my neck and behind my ears. But I watch her every day. Just to be sure. You can never be too sure.

In the time not spent watching Lyndee, I search the house for my birth certificate. I get it now. Why my mother wouldn’t let me see it. She didn’t want me to see who was listed as my father. But I want to get a driver’s license. Open a bank account. I find it one day as I’m searching the attic. It’s stuffed in the middle of a book tossed with all my mother’s things. It’s one of those travel books that people get when they’re going to Europe. It’s yellowed, turned up at the edges. Well worn. I wonder if she was planning a trip before I was born. Perhaps with Mayor Delafonte. But who cares? I have my birth certificate. She listed him as my father. I can’t imagine why except if she was keeping it to use against him. Ammunition. My mother wasn’t stupid; she was just mentally ill.

I call from the Rag and make an appointment to take the test to get my learner’s permit. That will have to do for now. I need a way to leave if I have to. I stress for weeks about how I’m going to get Lyndee alone. Should I drug her? Lure her somewhere? Would she come alone? I planned for every possibility. Plan A. Plan B. Plan C. That’s what you need: a dozen plans in case something happens to change Plan A. I can’t sleep at night when the eating house is awake, making noises around me. I catnap during the day and stay up most nights—planning, thinking about the tiny coffin in the oven, the little body in the corner of my mother’s bedroom. Bones and blood, all in the eating house. Children died because of the evil inside of grownups. Selfish evil. The only time I don’t think about killing Lyndee Anthony is when Judah is near. He takes all of my vengeance away. Replaces it. But he’s not around very often anymore. His father comes to get him in his big, shiny truck, wheelchair folded into the cab, Judah’s face smiling. I am jealous, and I am not. I want him to have things, be happy.

I am in bed. I squeeze my eyes shut, block out the shadows that are dancing across my ceiling. Next to me, on the floor, is a bottle of chloroform that I paid Mo to make. Five hundred dollars for ten measly ounces. But Mo doesn’t ask questions, and that’s worth every penny. I open my eyes and pick up the bottle, lifting it to my face. I sniff, but there is no odor. Everything is sealed so there won’t be any accidents. Chloroform seemed like the boring choice at the time, but sometimes a choice needs to be boring to work.

When the sun comes up, I sleep. Just for a few flat hours while the house is still. Lyndee Anthony is up, eating the strawberry yogurt she buys from the market—have some in the fridge downstairs—putting on her uniform for another workday at the carwash. Today will be her last day. Today will be a good day.

At noon I get up, dress. I go to the shed first, to get things ready, then I stop by the carwash to make sure Lyndee is there. I see her through the window, talking to a customer. She hands him his change and points in the direction of the coffee machine, where customers can sit and drink muddy caffeine while their cars are pushed through the washer and dried by two meth heads named Jeremy and Coops, who I went to school with. I touch the rubber band on my arm as I watch her, and suddenly I am struck by what I am about to do. It’s like I am looking at myself from some high vantage point outside of my body—a stranger. I remember the girl, who, just a few months ago, was timid and afraid. Now she is something else. Something deadly. Determined. I am scared of her. I go home to wait out the afternoon. At six o’clock it begins to rain. That was not in my plan. I worry about the rain making it difficult to drag Lyndee’s body through the woods. But, in the end, I know that I will get her to the cabin … rain or not.

Two blocks over from where Lyndee lives is a small park bordered by the woods. It’s a decrepit excuse for a park—a patch of dirt with a swing and a grungy yellow tunnel slide jutting from a wooden platform. The neighborhood kids don’t really play there anymore. There are swear words spray painted down the slide, and you can always find a used condom inside of the slide. Teenagers come here to drink—late at night normally. I will be gone by the time they arrive.

For three weeks I’ve been leaving Lyndee love notes. Sometimes I put them in her mailbox—a plain white envelope with her name—or I leave them in her cubby at work when she has a day off, sneaking into the break room when the girl at the desk goes to the bathroom. In the notes, I pretend to be a man named Sean, who lost a son to drowning four years ago. Sean is empathetic to Lyndee, complimenting the poise with which she handles the negative media attention. He tells her about the ridicule he received from friends and family as they blamed him for his son’s death. At first it was just Sean writing her all the notes, but then he gave her the option of writing back to him … so they could really get to know each other. You can leave a note taped to the bottom of the slide at the park on Thames. Within a day of his last note, Lyndee left a three-page response taped with duct tape to the underside of the slide. Her handwriting is childish, little circles dotting each “i.” She does not speak about Nevaeh in her letters, instead detailing her own suffering, the injustice with which she’s always been dealt. It makes me hate her more that she won’t talk about her dead daughter. I test her, writing long details about Sean’s son, telling her stories, and in turn asking her to tell me about Nevaeh. She ignores the topic of her daughter altogether to talk about herself, over and over. I become angrier at each bubble-dotted letter. More sure.

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