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Twenty kidnapped children trapped in a nightmare. Auto awards 100GPs
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#1524825 by Not Available.

Chapter One

    I woke up, groggy and confused. Absolutely nothing was visible. I had to blink a few times to make sure my eyes were even open. Darkness crept around and through me, sinking into my soul and chilling my entire body. My light blue dress was tangled up around my legs and I lay curled on my side.
    I felt  like I was  in a rocking chair that not only leaned backwards and forwards, but also side to side. It made me sick and I threw up on the floor. The vomit was sticky and warm and inescapable. It clung to my chin and soiled my summer dress. The smell invaded my nostrils and the taste refused to leave my mouth.
    Nausea, cold, and fear consumed me as I tried to sit up. My head banged against something hard and I recoiled as tears leapt from my eyes. I tried stretching my legs and arms, but they too were met with resistance. I was trapped in a square box with no light. I voiced my terror in the shrieking tone only seven-year-old girls can accomplish.
    My outburst caused a chain reaction of piercing, howling cries of terror. There must have been twenty other children, all trapped like me.
    “Shut up!” I heard over all the shrieking. The voice belonged to a young boy.  He spoke with the same accent as my British grandfather.
         “Shh! Everyone, stop crying and calm down,” he said, his words rising above the rest without shouting. The sound of the unwavering voice was calming and in short order, the only sounds to be heard were whimpers and sniffles.
         “Okay. Okay,” he said, seeming to talk to himself. He then raised his voice to be heard by all. “How many of us are there?”
         Everyone began talking at once, but he silenced us with, “One at a time, please.”
    A moment passed in which no one spoke, then a young, girlish voice said, “Well, there's me.”
    “Me too,” said the boy.
    “And me,” I said meekly.
         “It's darker than the inside of a cow in here!” screamed a young girl, her words thick and drawling. “What's goin' on?”
         The rising panic caused a few children to begin crying again.
    “Be quiet,” said the voice I was coming to love. In all the chaos, his was the only one which calmed and gave me hope. “Is everyone else in a box?”
    A chorus of, “Yes,” reached my ears.
    “Can anyone see?”
    “No,” everyone shouted. A tiny voice said, “I’m scared of the dark!” which was followed by several frightened cries of, “Me too!”
    The boy barreled through those voices and said, “Does anyone have any idea what’s going on?”
    Complete silence descended. I felt cold seep into every part of my body and I began to shiver.
    “I was kidnapped,” said a somber boy to my immediate right. It was the first time I’d heard his honey-like voice.
    “Me too,” said someone else.
    “We all were,” said the first boy with a sigh.
    “What’s your name?” I found myself asking. “The boy asking questions... who are you?”
    “I'm Edmund,” he said. “You?”
    “Ivy Brianne Dalton,” I said.
    “I’m Tasnova Kushari!” announced a young girl. It amazed me how unfazed she seemed. Judging by her voice, she could have been on a picnic announcing that she wanted to take a walk.
    After her, almost everyone shouted their names at once and I couldn't understand any of them.
    “Hey,” I said, turning my head in the direction of the boy on my right.
    He was quiet, but said, “Yes?”
    “What’s your name?” I asked, trying to roll over on my other side. No matter where I squirmed, I couldn't get out of the puddle of vomit, and the taste lingered on my tongue.
    “Michael,” he said.
    I felt a kind of camaraderie towards him. We were prisoners trapped in adjacent cells.
         “Are you scared?” I whispered.
         “Yes,” he answered.
    We were quiet for a long time. I tuned back in to Edmund and the others as I searched in vain for comfort and warmth in my cramped enclosure. He asked how old everyone was and the youngest answered first.
      “I’m five,” I heard someone say.
    “Five?” Edmund said, sounding a little breathless. I imagined him shaking his head. After a moment he announced that he was ten and wanted to know if there was anyone his age.
    “Aye,” said a boy.
    “I’m nine,” said another boy, in an accent very foreign to my ears.
    “Me too,” said a girl, followed by another female voice announcing the same thing. 
    “What are your names?” Edmund asked them.
    “Eliza Beth Gloria Monroe.”
    I recognized the same drawling, sugary tone as one I'd heard before. Eliza Beth had said something about a cow earlier.
    When Edmund asked if there was anyone over ten he was met with silence. “Ivy, how old are you?”
    “Seven,” I answered.
    “Anyone else?” Edmund asked. I listened eagerly to hear if there were others my age. Four people answered him--three boys, Chad, Darryl, and Alex, and one girl, Tasnova.
    Edmund's voice rose again, silencing the chatter that began to come up. “Any six-year olds?”
    Several varied voices announced that they were six. Through the system Edmund devised, we were able to guess that there were around fifteen of us, but there were also kids speaking other languages, and they didn't keep up with the conversation. Michael told me he was eight.
    “Really? That’s it?” I expected him to be at least ten. He seemed so grown-up.
    “I'm older than you,” he responded.
    I didn’t know how to answer, so I stopped talking and  tried to break out of my box, kicking the ceiling with my scrawny legs and banging the sides with my fists.
    Nothing I did had any effect on the wooden cage, but I found that the box wasn’t impenetrable. There were slits running along the sides that were big enough to fit my arm through. I tried to peer through a slit and catch a glimpse of anything, but I couldn’t even see my own hands.
    Tasnova said, “I’m hungry. Does anyone have food?”
    Food. It felt like I hadn’t eaten in days, and perhaps that was the case. I didn't know how long I'd been kidnapped, but I recalled waking up for a few seconds every now and then, and every time I opened my eyes, the scene was drastically different. I was in a dog cage in the back of a big, rickety van. I was in a very loud vehicle, looking outside at the clouds below me. I was being carried by rough hands aboard a giant boat. I was in a dark place, getting sick on myself.
    “Everybody put a sock in it,” Edmund said, banging on the boards of his crate for attention. “You’re not helping anything.”
    “Hey!” Tasnova shouted. “Don’t yell at us, bossy!”
    She seemed the type of girl I would be friends with, if for no other reason than I’d hate to be on her bad side.
    “Fine!” he countered. “Keep your hair on.”
    “What does that even mean?” she asked.
    Before Edmund could answer, a blinding light flooded the room. With it came the sound of heavy footsteps and a voice that commanded us all to, “Pipe down!”
    As my eyes adjusted to the light, I squinted and blinked until shapes came in to focus. I saw my hands in front of me and my blue, flowery dress which was stained with vomit. I tried not to throw up again at the sight.
    “How are you all enjoying your trip?” said the gruff, grown-up voice.
    Everyone was too terrified to speak, so we were silent while he laughed and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll be in Paradise soon enough.”
    I heard a few gasps and I knew why. At church I learned that Paradise was another name for Heaven, and Heaven is the place people go when they die. I wriggled as far away from the man as I could. My breath came in short, shallow gasps as I shivered and curled myself into a ball, hiding my face behind my knobby knees.
    Edmund must have known about Heaven because he asked, “Are you going to kill us?”
      “Nah,” said the man. I heard the heavy clank of his shoes as he marched nearer. “As long as you behave yourselves.” 
    “We’ll be good,” said an eager voice, which was followed by several shouts of, “Yeah! We promise!”
    “What polite children,” said the man in a growl of a voice.
    “Where are we?” Edmund asked. “Why are we in these boxes? What do you want with us?”
    I peeked over my knees and saw the dark boots and  pants move out of my line of sight.
    “What was that, boy?” the man spat.
    “I...” Edmund’s voice was less confident than before. “I asked what you want with us?”
    “I want you,” began the man. “To stop asking questions!” The next instant, I heard a loud cracking noise as the man ripped Edmund's crate apart. The boy screamed as the man dragged him by his hair and tossed him to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Edmund's head collided with the floor and made a sickening, hollow boom.
    I saw that Edmund was a thin boy with black hair and bright blue eyes made wide with fear. His hands rose instinctively to his face as our captor lifted him off the floor by the front of his green T-shirt. I saw tennis shoes dangling in front of me. I heard a slap and a cry of pain.
    “Don’t ask questions,” warned the man as he shook Edmund hard. “Never ask questions, got it?”
    “G-got it,” stammered the boy.
    “Are you sure you got it?” asked the man, not giving Edmund time to answer. “No, you don’t. I can see it in your stupid little eyes.” He placed Edmund on his feet and I heard the sickening noise that comes from a hard fist pummeling a fleshy surface. Edmund's knees buckled, but he didn’t make a sound.
    “Now you got it,” said the man, wickedly pleased with himself.
    I shrieked as the boots took a step back and Edmund collapsed on his chest at the foot of my crate. His head was tilted my direction. His lip was bleeding, his cheek was bruised, his eyes were closed, and he didn’t move.
    “Nap time,” said the man, giving Edmund's waist a swift kick with his giant feet. The boy's body rolled over, one arm crossed over his chest, the other lying limp on the ground at his side. “Everybody go to sleep,” said the man. “Or I'll make you.”
          The light went out and once again we were engulfed by darkness. "And remember," he growled, his voice seeming even more menacing in the blackness. "No more questions."
Chapter Two
Rodentia Gliridae

    “Should we try to wake him up?”
    The sound of Tasnova’s voice stunned me and I jumped so high I hit my head on the top of my crate. Many silent minutes had passed since the violent man left us, but I was still reeling from that encounter.
    Michael answered Tasnova, “He won't get up.”
    “Why not?” Someone asked. “People always wake up when you shake them.”
    “Not always,” said Michael.
      I heard a heavy sigh from one of the crates and Gabrielle asked, “Can someone poke him or something?”
    Even though it was black as coal everywhere I looked, it wouldn’t have been hard to find Edmund. I knew he’d landed about a foot away from me and had yet to move, but the thought of extending my hand into the darkness to feel around for an unconscious body was too creepy. I shuddered and hugged my shoulders.
    “I’ll try,” Michael said. I closed my eyes and heard shuffling next to me, then a moment later, he said, “He's not moving.”
    “Poke harder,” Tasnova said.
    “I am,” Michael countered. “He’s not getting up.”
    “Then forget it,” Gabrielle said. “Everyone just let him sleep.”
    “Yeah,” finished Tasnova. "We should all try to sleep. You heard what that guy said, and saw what he did to Edmund. I don't want to be next.”
         I sat in silence with my eyes closed, feeling empty in every way possible, but not sleeping at all. It seemed like hours passed, and perhaps they had, before another noise was heard - a noise like seeds falling on stone. It was soft and faint at first, but over the course of a few minutes, grew louder.
    “What is that?” someone finally voiced the question I was thinking. “It sounds like...”
    “Rain?” I suggested. I strained my ears to try and make any sense of the noise.
    “Maybe. But it’s getting closer.”
    Tasnova’s shriek of, “Rats!” pierced the air, and was followed closely by a shout of, “They’re all over me!”
    I scuttled back and jumped as I imagined feeling something scurry across my shoulders. The top of my head slammed into the wood above me with enough force to set off fireworks behind my eyelids.  My screams were lost among the others. At my feet I felt tiny claws brush across my toes and a long, thin tail drag its way over my leg.
    “Quiet!” I was surprised to hear Michael’s voice so strong and commanding. “They won’t hurt you.”
    It was a valiant effort, but his words did nothing to soothe me. Tiny, filthy rodents were making a playground out of my body and I couldn’t be calmed so easily. Nor, it seemed, could the others. The noise we made was deafening. Michael’s pleas for order were drowned out.
    For the second time since waking up to find myself locked away in a place shrouded in night, a blinding light assaulted my eyes. For an instant I could see the creatures on me. Big, dirty rats, with eyes as black as night and long yellow teeth, scurried away from the light and squeaked their anger.
    “Shut up!” shouted a man. “Quit that nasty racket before I gag you all!” He stomped around the room and I saw his heavy boots and black pants, just like the other man’s. The rats made themselves scarce and shrank back to where ever it was they crawled from. The man came to a halt in front of Edmund. “What the devil?” he asked, kneeling down to examine him.
    It was not a question any of us wanted (or knew exactly how) to answer, so we didn’t say anything. I was still catching my breath and trying to stop shaking when the man turned his face to me. He had a thin, shallow face, protruding eyes, and weak features. “You girl, what happened?”
    I stared open-mouthed at him and couldn’t say a word. His eyes gleamed like hot coals in the light and I felt my bottom lip begin to quiver. It was Michael who answered.
    “He was knocked out,” he stated matter-of-factly.
    “Oh, was he, now?” Asked the man. I knew that tone of voice. He was being sarcastic--the thing my mother told me I was so good at. “Well, lets just see if we can’t wake him up.”
    I got close enough to the edge of the crate to see what was happening, but stayed far enough away to feel safe. The man drew a small, silver container out of his pocket and pillowed Edmund’s head in his right hand. He unscrewed the cap and waved the object under the boy's nose. His eyelids fluttered and he groaned, but that was the extent of Edmund's actions.
    “Come on,” the man growled, tucking the container back in his pocked. “Get up!” He said as he slapped the side of Edmund’s face. After a few more strikes, Edmund's eyes flew open and I saw the fear in them as he struggled to crawl away. The man laughed and held him by the front of his shirt. “Calm down,” he said. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”
    I didn’t believe him, and neither did Edmund. He changed tactics and tried to fight the man off, beating his chest and flailing his skinny legs wildly. The man looked surprised, then angry. He shoved Edmund back against the hard floor and stood up.
         “Ungrateful retch,” he hissed. He spat on Edmund then marched away. “To the rest of you,” he shouted. “Don’t get too comfy. And keep that racket down!” With those words, I heard the slam and clank of a heavy door closing and locking, trapping the light on the other side.
         It all became too much for me to bear. I was frightened, cold, hungry, and covered in filth. We were all going to die, I knew it. Tears welled up and I couldn't fight them back any longer.
             I faintly heard Edmund groan and say, “Bloody hell.”
         “You okay?” Tasnova asked.
         “I think so,” he said. “But my head hurts a lot.” I heard him move around until he came so near to me that I could touch him. “Listen, Ivy,” he said. “Will you stop crying?”
         “I c-can’t!” I cried.
         He sighed and rested his forehead against the side of my crate. “Please stop. You're making my head hurt more.”
         I tried, but it was so hard to quit after opening the flood gates. Soon I was coughing as well as crying.
         “Edmund, can you get me out of here?” Michael asked.
         “I’ll try,” he said as he moved away from me. His feet shuffled on the floor as he made his way through the pitch-black. “The first man used something to pry me out.” I heard a metallic clang and a shout of victory. “Got it! Where are you?”
         “Here,” said Michael. “This way.”
         It took Edmund a couple of minutes, but eventually I heard the crack of wood splitting and knew Michael was free.
         “Thank you,” Michael said as he stood up and stretched his limbs. I peered through the slits and saw that he was a few inches shorter than Edmund. I also noticed that there was a tiny bit of light in the room. It seemed the last man brought a flashlight with him and had forgotten to take it back.
         “Hey,” one of the kids yelled. “Me next! Get me out!”
         “Alright, alright,” Edmund responded, reaching down to pick up the crowbar.
         “Wait,” said Michael. He scooped the metal off the floor before the older boy could grasp it, then stepped up to my crate. In the flickering light, I saw Edmund take a step back and stare. After a moment, he shrugged his shoulders and walked out of my line of sight, saying, “I'll bring the torch over so you can see.” 
         “Scoot back, okay?” Michael said to me. He wedged the crow bar between two slabs of wood and prepared to tug. It seemed to take all his strength to crack the wood enough for me to crawl out of the crate, and when I did the first thing I saw was a beam of light directed right at my face.
         “Oh, sorry!” Edmund said, shining the light at the ceiling.
         I stood on shaky legs and looked around me, blinking the white spots from my eyes. Everything was rough and damp. Above me, I couldn't see a ceiling. The room felt cavernous and unending, and the feeling of it swaying was even greater when I stood. Instinctively I clung to the boy. "I'm scared, Michael."
         His response was, “We all are. And call me Mike.”

Chapter Three

         I wasn't sure if it was day or night. We'd all managed to get free of our cages and were huddled together in the center of the room around the flashlight. I was nestled between Mike and Edmund, and felt the presence of many people around me. I also felt hungry, scared, and car sick.
         Just as I was thinking I might throw up again, Edmund commanded everyone to be quiet.
         “I hear something,” he said.
         A hush fell over the room as we all strained to make out any sound.
         “Not rat, not rats, not rats,” Tasnova chanted under her breath.
         It wasn’t rats. It was the creaking of floor boards outside. Not one man, but many were coming our way. I could hear their heavy foot falls draw nearer and nearer.
         “Hide!” someone screamed, and I heard several thuds as children fell all over each other in the darkness.
         “No, wait! Maybe its the police come to rescue us,” Eliza Beth said. “You’re not supposed to hide from policemen.”
         “Edmund, what do we do?” Gabrielle asked. I turned my attention to the boy who stood poised next to me.
         “Nothing,” he said, deadpan. “There's nowhere to hide, and we can't fight them.”
         The sound of metal scraping metal was heard as the bolt on the other side of the door was drawn back. Light, and twenty men filled the room. I recognized the man from earlier, and the others were of the same variety--big, ugly, and menacing.
         “How did they get out?” demanded a man with a wheezy voice.
         “Doesn't matter,” said the man who knocked Edmund out. He was staring directly at the boy, a wicked glint in his eye. “We were going to have to get them out for this part anyway. They've just made it easier on us.”
         They marched up to our group, seized whoever they could get their hands on, and held rags over their faces until they fell unconscious to the floor. I clung to Mike’s leg like a leech, and he and Edmund stood as firm as mountains. Other children ran screaming, but a handful stood still, paralyzed by fright.
         Rough hands gripped my shoulders and tried to smother my face behind a wet rag, but I wasn’t about to let go of Mike. I squeezed him tightly and buried my face in his chest, which caused him to howl in pain. When he spun around and saw that someone was trying to drag me away, he started trying to pry the hands off of me. In return, he received a blow to the back of the head and crumpled forward.
         I screamed. The next second, the cold, pungent rag was over my face again and I couldn’t help but inhale the sweet, chemical smell. I felt woozy. The world around me started to blur into multicolored blobs, and sounds blended together in a lazy chorus of screams. My body went numb and I couldn't see a thing.

Chapter Four
The Island

         I woke up on my back, the bright, mid-day sun leaving me momentarily blinded. I covered my eyes with my hands and heard the sounds of children stirring all around me. Edmund's voice carried to my ears and I sat up, peeking through my fingers.
         “We're all alone here,” he was saying, looking left and right. “Those big guys must have dropped us off.”
         “Are they coming back?” asked a girl I couldn't see through the web of my fingers. I lowered my hands and took in the whole scene around me.
         We were in a beautiful, green forest, surrounded by fruit trees and various other tundra. A long way off, I spotted a handful of billy goats, happily grazing, unconcerned with us. Growing up in a busy metropolis, I'd never seen anything like that breathtaking landscape before. A pleasant, gentle breeze blew through my sagging blonde pigtails and ruffled my skirt around my knees. My first instinct was to get up and twirl, but as the breeze died, so did the desire.
         “The wee ones are wakin' up,” said a chubby boy with dark brown, curly hair. His skin was as white as a ghost, and his piercing blue-gray eyes were creepily intense. He looked to be ten years old and spoke in a very fast, choppy accent.
         Edmund and the older kids were all awake, standing in a circle. Their eyes turned to me, and I stared back at them, embarrassed to have so much attention. I remembered the stains on my dress and drew my legs up, hugging my arms around them.
         “Looks like there are twenty of us,” Edmund said, counting heads.
         “Great. What do we do?” asked a dark-skinned boy, sounding irritated.
         “Hav'a look 'round,” said the boy with the sharp blue eyes.
         “Run away and hide,” said a frightened girl with short brown hair.
         “Where?” Edmund asked, raising his hands in the air. “We're in the middle of nowhere.”
         “I like it here,” squeaked a little red-headed girl, who also had a strange, choppy accent, but hers was softer than the chubby boys. I took in a breath of fresh, warm air as another breeze tickled my shoulders and agreed with her.
         “I miss my mom,” said a boy next to me, crying quietly. His bright green eyes were shining with tears and he swept the back of his hand underneath his runny nose. “I want to go back home.”
         I agreed with him as well.
         Gazing around at the other children, I was overwhelmed by how different they all looked. There were two very dark-skinned boys, with shiny black hair and dark brown eyes. There were pale kids, kids with freckles, kids with tans, and two girls whose skin looked almost yellow. Those girls clung to each other and looked around wildly. They were identical, down to their pink and white dresses. Their chin-length hair was dark and straight, and they each had a butterfly clip on opposite sides of their heads. Their eyes were small, slanted, and dark brown.
         “Hi,” I said, looking at them.
         One turned to me and said something I couldn't understand. The words she spoke seemed to have been chopped up into little pieces, then jumbled back together at twice the pace as usual. “Huh?” I asked.
         She said it again, slower and louder, and I still couldn't make sense of it. She turned to her sister and they started speaking in high-pitched, panicked voices.
         I looked away and saw a boy with very tanned, olive skin. His hair was a few shades darker than his chocolate eyes, and he was leaning back on his hands, thoughtfully observing all around him. His nose was long and straight, and he had high, pronounced cheekbones. His eyes were a similar shape as the twins, but slightly more open. His lips were bigger than most boys and his mouth was wide-set. He looked different than he had in the dark room, but I still recognized him. “Mike,” I said.
         He flicked his eyes to me. “Ivy,” he replied. He observed my face, dress, and pink shoes, then smiled kindly. “Are you okay?” he asked, coming to sit next to me.
         “Yeah,” I said, looking sideways at him. “Why do you look so different?” I asked.
         He furrowed his brow and frowned. “What do you mean?”
         “You just look different,” I said, tilting my head to the side.
         “Well, to me, you look different,” he replied. We sat and stared at one another for a second, ignoring the world around us, observing only one anther.
         “You're funny,” I giggled.
         He didn't say anything back, but he smiled.
         “You're having fun,” Tasnova said, plopping down in front of us with a flourish. “I want to play,” she announced. Her thick, black hair was contained in a single braid over her shoulder. She had full lips, big, golden eyes, and lightly tanned skin. She sat on her heels and looked at me. “Hey, you're my age!” she said with a big smile. “Want to be friends?”
         “Yeah,” I said, relieved that she liked me. “You're pretty.”
         “Thanks,” she grinned, flipping her long, braided hair over her shoulder. “You too.”
         I beamed at her, then looked at Mike, but he was busy paying attention to Edmund and the older boys. I tuned back in to their conversation.
         “We cannae just stay here!” said the chubby boy, crossing his meaty arms over his chest. “Let's hav'a look 'round.”
         “Fine, just stop whinging on about it,” Edmund sighed. “Let's go,” he said addressing all of us. He had to repeat himself a few times to get everyone's attention, but once he had it, he said, “We're going  see if we can find help, and we should all stay together.”
         There was scattered mumbling for a few seconds, then the chubby boy grew impatient and shouted, “Oi! Quit bumpin' yer gums an' clam it up! We cannae sit here all day lon'!”
         Edmund glared at the boy and said, “Stop talking! No one even knows what you're saying and you're getting on my nerves.”
         The boy looked deeply insulted and dug his hands in his pockets. “Hing aff us,” he said, hurt. Under his breath he added in a spiteful tone, “Knobdobbin' smoothmoother.”
         “What?” Edmund demanded, stepping up to boy, who jumped a foot back. I laughed as the chubby boy nearly tripped over himself to get away from Edmund.
          He turned and fixed his cold glare on me, “Shoos! Ah didnae ask yoo!”
         “Hey!” Edmund said, placing a hand on the other boy's chest. “What did you say your name was?”
         “Morgan,” the boy responded, sounding infinitely less tough than when he'd been yelling at me.
         “Shut up, Morgan, or I'll hit you in your stupid face,” Edmund said, before turning away and mumbling, “Wanker.” He began walking, and several children fell in step behind him. I stood and kept my eyes on the ground as I made my way past Morgan. Mike came to walk beside me, followed by the frightened twins, and Tasnova ran past us to be at the front of the group.

Chapter 5

         We hadn't walked long before we came upon a large white house with two front doors and charming blue shutters. As it came in to view, kids started jumping in the air and running toward it, shouting.
         Edmund tried to tell them to come back, that it could be more bad men, but they didn't listen. They were soon at the double-doors, banging on them and calling out for help. They knocked for a long time, but nobody answered.
         “No one's home,” Tasnova cried, kicking the door. She stubbed her toe and sat on the ground to rub it.
         “Are you sure?” Eliza Beth asked, stepping up to the side of the house to peek in through a window.
         “What do you see?” asked the green eyed boy.
         “Not much,” she replied, her words seeming to slip from the back of her throat, ooze over her tongue, and drip out her mouth. “Too dark to see a whole lot.”
         I looked at her more closely. She had hair which was neither blonde nor brown, curly nor straight, short nor long, but was almost all of those things. Her eyes were big (sort of) and blue (in a way) and her mouth was small, like a baby dolls.
         “We're going to die here!” wailed a little boy, tugging on his blonde hair as he cried and snot dripped down his nose into his mouth. “I want my mommy! I'm never going to see my mom again!”
         Eliza Beth put her hands on her skinny hips and turned to him. “Well aren't you just the turd of misery.”
         Mike, who I hadn't noticed standing behind me, let out a burst of laughter.
         Eliza Beth looked at him and stared blankly. I turned to see him avert his gaze and cough.
         Tasnova approached me and let out a huge sigh. “I have to pee,” she whispered in a not-so-quiet voice.
         Edmund said, “Go find a tree.”
         Taznova and I both looked at him like he'd grown horns. “Girl's can't pee outside!” she said.
         “Yeah they can,” said Eliza Beth.
         “Eww, gross!” Tasnova replied, scrunching up her face. “I'll just hold it until the people from this house get back and I can use their bathroom.”
         “You mean the loo?” Edmund asked, raising his eyebrows. Tasnova mirrored him.
         “Loo means bathroom in England,” I explained.
         Edmund beamed at me. “Hey, how did you know that?” he asked.
         Before I could answer, Tasnova squealed and locked her knees together, doing the hopping dance that accompanies a full bladder.          
         Eliza Beth laughed. “Just go in the woods, it's not hard.”
         “No!” Tasnova insisted, putting her hands between her knees.
         Eliza Beth leaned forward and said, “When you gotta go, you gotta go, and if you don't go when you gotta go, when you do go, you might find out you already went.” She stood, smiled, and nodded. “That's what my daddy always tells me.”
         Tasnova looked at me with her mouth hanging open, then squinted at the older girl. “What are you?” she asked.
         “Well, my mommy says I'm precocious. P-R-E-C-O-C-I--”
         “You're annoying,” Tasnova said, dancing away from her. “I don't like you.”
         The older girl's blueish eyes grew wide and she brought a hand to her chest. “Well, I never.”
         “Ivyyy!” Tasnova squealed, yanking on my wrist. “Come with me.”
         She dragged me to the nearest semi-hidden spot in the trees and fumbled with her shorts, hopping around, kicking her legs up like she was avoiding fire ants. “I'm not gonna make it!” she squealed. “Stupid button! Oh, got it! Hey, go away!” she ordered, waving me off.
         I raced a few feet away and heard her humming behind me. It was a song I didn't recognize, and  suspected it was something she made up as she went.
         “Okay, I'm done,” she called a few seconds later. I turned around to see her pulling up her blue jean shorts over a pair of purple underwear.
         “Is purple your favorite color?” I asked.
         “Huh?” she looked down and said, “Oh, its okay for panties, but I like boy colors.”
         I furrowed my brow and we both began to walk back toward the group. “What's a boy color?”
         “You know,” she sighed. “Green, blue, red. Those colors. What's your favorite color?”          
         “Um, well, those are pretty colors,” I said. “But I like purple.”
         Tasnova laughed, a joyous sound that caused me to smile. “Well, at least it's not pink,” she said. “What color are your underwear?”
         I thought about it for a moment, then lifted my skirt to check. “Pink,” I said, feeling embarrassed about it, though they were my favorite pair.
         She looked across at me, then laughed again and took hold of my hand. “Wanna skip?” she asked.
         “Sure,” I replied. She lead the way and we skipped back to the house, weaving through the group of children scattered about it.
© Copyright 2006 Tegan L. Elliott (ganlynde at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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