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“What are you addicted to?” he asks me before I can say goodnight.

“Isn’t it obvious?” I ask him.

He nods his head knowingly. “Sarcasm,” he says.

I shift my Groceries & Shit bag from one arm to the other.

“Food,” I say. “Namely Honey Buns. But, if it’s processed, I’ll take it.”

No use keeping secrets in a place where everyone airs their sins. Mine is gluttony.

“I’m fat,” I tell him. And then I add, “Because I eat Honey Buns for dinner.”

“You’re not fat,” he says. I don’t stay to hear what he says next. I beeline for the front door.

A FEW DAYS AFTER I CONFESSED to Judah Grant about my Honey Bun addiction, there is a knock on the front door.

Pra pa pa pa pa

I am trying to glue the sole of my sneaker back on when I hear the knock. I’m so startled I drop the shoe and the tub of gorilla glue. I stand frozen, not sure what to do, watching the amber stuff leak onto the linoleum. No one comes to the eating house at this time of day, not even the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I glance up the stairs to my mother’s bedroom with my heart still raging. She won’t wake up for another few hours. My mother has severe agoraphobia, not to mention the paranoia and the prescription pill addiction. If she were awake right now, she’d be tossing little white pills in her mouth and sweating bullets. Nights she left the door open for her men, just so she wouldn’t have to hear them knock.

Ra pa pa pa. Louder this time.

I pad, barefoot, to the door, and peer through the eyehole. A cluster of humans is crowded in front of the eating house. They are all different sizes and ethnicities, packed together under the slight overhang to remove themselves from the rain. I latch the security chain before I unlock the door. Then I peer through the gap at their hodgepodge group.

“Yes?”

A man, near the front of the group, steps forward and shoves a piece of paper at my face. He’s grizzly looking, with a gray beard and a brown head of hair. I look from him to the paper. There is a little girl’s face in the center; she has pigtails and two missing front teeth. HAVE YOU SEEN ME? is written in bold, black letters along the bottom. A chill creeps up my spine.

“We are part of a search team for Nevaeh Anthony,” he tells me. “Have you seen this little girl?”

I slam the door shut and unlatch it. When I throw it open, everyone, including me, looks surprised. Seen her? Seen her? I see her every day. I saw her what…? Two days ago? Three? I take the paper from him.

“Wh-when?” I ask him. I press my palm against my forehead. I feel funny. Clammy and sick.

“Mother says she hasn’t seen her since Thursday. Got on a bus to see her gramma and never came back?”

Thursday … Thursday was the day I braided her hair.

“I saw her on Thursday,” I say. I step out of the house and pull the door shut behind me. “I’m coming with you.”

He nods at me real slow. “You have to go down to the po-lice station. Let them know what you seen,” he says. “When they done with you, we’ll be canvassing this whole area. From Wessex to Cerdic. You come find us, hear?”

I nod. I’m running down Wessex, barefoot, my fat jiggling around my body like jello, when I hear Judah call my name.

I stop, breathing hard.

“You seen her?” he calls. His brow is furrowed, and he’s pushing himself up out of his chair by his arms so he can see me.

“On Thursday,” I yell back. He nods. “Where are your shoes?”

“They broke.” I shrug.

“Go! Go!” he says. I run—fast and barefoot.

I wait for Detective Wyche at his desk while he gets himself a cup of coffee. When I walked in, the first thing he did was ask where my shoes were. “I need to speak to the detectives in charge of the Nevaeh Anthony case,” I said, ignoring his question. He looks startled for a minute, then he leads me to his desk, announcing that he needs a cup of joe. He has bobble heads of the last ten presidents lined up around his computer. I examine my filthy feet and wonder how a person’s shoes can fail them on a day like this. I’m bleeding in a couple places where the sidewalk nicked me. Even the sidewalk in the Bone is broken, I think.

Detective Wyche comes back with his partner—a much fatter, older man with sweat stains around his armpits. He grunts loudly when he sits down next to me. He smells of Old Spice and desperation. They question me for two hours while I bounce my knees up and down and wish I could have a cup of coffee, too. I don’t ask for one, because I’ve been taught to believe it’s wrong to ask for things. You suffer quietly so no one has the right to call you a pussy. Detective Old Spice takes the lead. He wants to know when I last saw Nevaeh.

On the seventeen bus; she was going to her grandma’s, I was going to work. I don’t know exactly where her grandma lives.

What was she wearing?

Red tights and a T-shirt with a smiley face emoji that said: Don’t text your ex. When I say that, Detective Wyche raises his eyebrows. Oh shut up, I want to say. Nobody has money for clothes.

Did she say anything unusual?

No, she was happy. Normal.

Did she have any bruises on her arms and legs? Not that I could see.

Did she ever mention anything about abuse? No. She spoke a lot about her grandma. She loved to be with her.

Do I know Nevaeh’s mother, Lyndee Anthony? Just in passing.

We’ve never spoken? And on and on it goes. When I finally think it’s over, they ask me all of the same questions in a different way.

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