I yawn as I fuel up the quad bike. It’s the summer of 2004, and the weather isn’t too hot for a day in June. I toss my ponytail over my shoulder and swipe my bangs out from my face.
Suddenly, gunshots ring through the humid country air. Birds squawk and take flight from the forest. My breath hitches and I stare toward the trees ahead of me. The rapidness of the shots indicates something automatic.
The first thing that comes to my mind is Kermit, my little brother. He took his two pit bulls, Stupid and Dumbass, inside the forest to hunt. But Kermit doesn’t use anything fully automatic, and he didn’t go with his gun. He went with his crossbow.
The firing ceases.
I drop the military-style can of gas on the ground before jumping on the bike. The tires kick up sand and small rocks as I ride quickly toward the forest.
What’s going on? Those shots came from one direction — the safe house.
My life is special. Not a good kind of special either. My father is a distributor of cocaine. My mother had a hit placed on her by my father. Kermit, my twelve-year-old brother, is a prostitute. Then there’s me. We’re not exactly the typical Canadian family.
I live in Ferme-Nueve in the Laurentides region of Québec. Ferme-Nueve means new farm in English. I’m sixteen years old with a left eyebrow piercing and a tattoo of a snake coiling down my right arm. I got both done last month using my fake ID. The snake isn’t finished. I need to go for a few more sessions to have more ink done. That’s if I make it through whatever the hell is happening right now.
I speed through the forest until the terrain makes it impossible to go any further on wheels. I cut the engine and pocket the key. My jaw clenches as I reach inside my waistband for my nine-millimetre. I disengage the safety and pull and release the slide to chamber a round.
The safehouse is just five minutes ahead. I breathe in and out through my nose, ignoring my increasing heart rate. I use the surrounding trees as coverage and move around each one slowly.
The cabin comes into view. It may not look like much, but what it hides is a different story. I lean against the rough bark and peer around the trunk.
Two men are standing out front with their assault rifles in their hands. I relax a little. These men are on my side. Antonin and Reynaud. They’re associates of Richard, my father’s partner. The man with all the connections.
Antonin and Reynaud are both in their forties. They’re dressed in camouflage attire and seem to be on high alert. If I approach now, they will most likely shoot and ask questions later. I eye around. There’s supposed to be two others guarding the safe house as well, but I don’t see them anywhere. Something’s not right.
I remain behind the tree. “What’s going on?” I ask loudly.
As I predicted, they both turn quickly in my direction with their weapons pointed.
“It’s me!” I say.
“Flanagan?” Antonin questions.
I keep hold of my gun but raise both hands in the air as I step out slowly from behind the tree.
The two men exchange a glance with each other before lowering their rifles.
“Just a bunch of addicts,” Reynaud grunts. He motions for me to come closer.
I make my approach, and they gesture toward the ground. I freeze in my tracks. The air is suddenly stale. My jaw drops, my throat tightens, and I swallow.
There are two bodies on the ground before me. One of a man and the other of a woman. Both of them are lying motionless. They look like skeletons. Like as though they have been lifeless for a while. I know this is not the case. It’s not hard to miss the fresh blood from the man’s head, trailing down his face and staining his bristled beard. The holes in the woman’s chest have turned the earth crimson around her.
It’s a lot. It’s too much, and that smell of iron is wretched.
I cover my mouth with my hand and stumble back. My stomach feels upset, and I want to puke. I close my eyes and swallow bile.
“There’s a third one,” Reynaud says. “He ran, and Gérald and Pierrick went after him.”
Antonin looks at me. “What’s the matter, eh? Never seen dead bodies before?” he laughs. “Grab a stick. Poke one!”
“I’m good!” I frown and lower my hand away from my face. I turn my back to the corpses. “Have you seen my brother?”
They shake their heads.
“Alright.” I hold in a sigh. “I’m going to report this to the boss. Make sure the one that got away is dealt with!”
“Who the fuck do you think you are giving us orders, eh?” Reynaud snarls.
“Hé!” Antonin looks at Reynaud warningly before towering over me. “You ever kill anyone, kid?” he asks.
His question takes me off guard, but before I can answer, he chuckles.
“Non, of course, you haven’t,” he says. “Wanna know how I can tell?”
“I can see it in your eyes,” Antonin continues. “They’re soft. Weak! Look into my eyes! Do I look like someone who would hesitate to shoot you?” he points his rifle at the center of my chest. “Accidents happen, eh?” he says. I suggest you take your little punk ass back home before my finger slips.” he motions with the rifle for me to move.
I stare at Antonin’s weapon and then at the coldness on his face. His eyes are dark, empty and impossible to read — the eyes of a killer. I press my lips thinly together and proceed back toward the bike.
What the hell was that? Yeah, it’s true. I haven’t killed anyone, and I prefer not to! But that doesn’t make me weak. Does it? Whatever!
I pull out my phone and dial my father’s number. I listen to the line ringing. Out of all days for him to be out had to be today. He’s been gone a lot lately, and Kermit’s still missing. I’ll try calling him next. I gave him one of my phones, so he had better have it on him!
There’s a sudden blunt pain to the back of my head. My surroundings spin. I drop my phone and my gun before falling to my knees. Something warm trickles down the back of my neck. My vision blurs. I force myself to remain conscious.
A woman steps in front of me. She drops the rock in her hands before grabbing my pistol and aiming it at me.
I blink a few times until my vision focuses and feel behind my head. There’s a throbbing pain. I withdraw my hand slowly and stare at my blood. Then I concentrate on the person in front of me.
The woman’s body is shaking as she shifts her weight back and forth between her feet. Her constant swaying is annoying, and her hands tremble from the weight of my gun. The skin on her body is thin. It hugs her bones tightly; she’s like a walking skeleton. Her hair is matted with leaves and dirt — her clothes torn in places. Probably from getting caught on branches. Plus, there’s a foul stench.
I grimace. Is this the third person that ran? If so, then where are Gérald and Pierrick?
The woman begins making demands at me in French. She asks that I hand over everything that I’ve got.
I raise my hands slowly in surrender and explain that I don’t have what she’s looking for.
She threatens to shoot me.
Shit. What can I do? I can yell. Antonin and Reynaud would hear me. But by the time they get here, it will be too late. My eyes glance at my phone on the ground beside me. It’s a bit chipped from landing on rocks, but it seems functional. The screen appears on. Still, what good will it do at this point? Damn, this is bad!
The woman notices me staring at the phone, and her eyes widen. “Non!” she yells, kicking the phone away from me. “François? Où est François?”
What? I stare at her as she begins to breathe heavily. Her hands are shaking so much. I can hear my gun rattling.
“François!” she yells again. “Raoul? Josette?”
Her eyes dart around before landing on me again. She takes a step forward, and I immediately inch back. What is going on? Has she lost her mind?
“C’est ta faute!” she mumbles, taking another step toward me.
“Quoi?” I gasp. What’s my fault? I didn’t do anything! Those names, though... are they?
“C’est ta faute!” she repeats — her finger curls around the trigger.
I swallow. Is this it?
The woman suddenly lets out an ear-piercing scream.
My jaw drops as I notice a bolt now piercing through her shoulder. My gun falls from her hand. She stumbles back and turns in the direction where she was shot.
I look as well. “Kermit!”
My brother takes another bolt and loads it in his crossbow. He aims.
“Wait!” I stand up quickly. “Don’t! She’s confused!” I freeze. The look in my brother’s eyes is cold. He hasn’t even so much as glanced at me. His focus is on the woman who struggles to pull the bolt from her shoulder.
“Fuck you câlice!” she cries in agony.
The expression on my brother’s face doesn’t falter.
“Kermit, we can help her!” I say slowly.
Again Kermit ignores me. He releases the bolt, and it pierces through the woman’s chest. Her eyes are wide, her mouth open, and the tip of her tongue hangs out. I watch as her body falls lifelessly to the ground.
I continue to stand frozen. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if I believe what just happened. My brother just killed a person. Kermit, he...
“Why?” I ask.
Kermit sighs and lowers his crossbow so that it points to the ground. Our eyes meet, and the corners of his mouth twitch up in a smirk.
“Were you scared, chicken?”
I breathe in sharply and glare at him, feeling very hot in my chest.
“There were four,” Kermit continues.
“Reynaud said that there were only three!” I say.
“Ouais.” Kermit turns his back to me. “Stupid and Dumbass took care of the third, and I just took out the fourth. You’re welcome!” he begins walking away.
My temperature rises further. I grab my weapon and cellphone before hurrying after my brother. “Wait!” I grip his shoulder, forcing him to stop. “I’m not done talking to you! Do you have any idea what you just did? You just killed someone!”
“What of it?” he shrugs me off.
I stutter in response.
Kermit frowns, and the look in his eyes turns furious. “What the hell do you think this is?” he yells. “A game? Bro, we’ve done nothing but train for moments like these. If you’re gonna fucken carry a gun, then be prepared to use it! I don’t care who the hell it is, but I will kill anyone who threatens you!”
“I would never fucken ask you to kill for me!” I yell back.
“She was a damn junkie!” he says.
“That’s not the point!” I grit my teeth. Part of me wants to say that Mom used to be a junkie. I secretly found that out a long time ago.
Mom used to buy coke off of our father, and he got her pregnant with me. Her parents, our grandparents, whom we’ve never met, kicked her out on the streets. Dad moved her up here. She got clean. Had me and then later had Kermit. She thought Dad was done with his business, but he wasn’t.
Mom found out one night. She threatened to turn him in, and he had her killed. Kermit was supposed to die as well, but he survived with no memories of the murder. There have been many times where I’ve been close to telling him the truth, but...
“Would you have killed her?” Kermit asks.
I narrow my eyes at him. “We could’ve helped her!”
“Wrong answer.” Kermit shakes his head. “If you’re not prepared to kill, then why the fuck do you carry a gun, eh? Why did you come here?”
I heave a sigh. My head is pounding, and my vision keeps going in and out of focus. I feel blood dripping further down my back, and I try to remain vigilant of my brother. I open my mouth, but once again, my words fail me.
“Go back to the house and put some ice on that!” Kermit grumbles, turning away from me.
“Kermit—” I pause at the sound of rustling in the bushes. I close my mouth quickly and aim my gun. Kermit draws another bolt. The two of us stand back to back and hold very still.
Then Stupid and Dumbass step out into the open with their tails swooshing back and forth. I breathe out a sigh and lower my weapon.
Kermit lowers his crossbow also, and the two dogs jump up at him. I grimace. Their fur is stained with red.
“Down! Down!” Kermit curses. “You guys are getting blood all over me!”
I sigh and look down at my phone. A wave of dread passes through me as the screen changes, and ‘Call ended’ is displayed.
The next morning I make scrambled eggs and toasts. I’m not feeling hungry. I barely got any sleep last night, and I woke up with my stomach feeling upset. I was drive heaving in the toilet for a good few minutes.
But I’m the only one in this house that cooks. Sadly all I know how to make is eggs. I sigh as my eyes trail over the counter. There are potatoes everywhere!
Kermit took over the garden in the greenhouse after Mom was killed. While the harvest has been great, neither of us knows what to do with all the vegetables. Kermit eats cucumbers and carrots like a rabbit, and he doesn’t make a half-bad jar of pickles, but these damn potatoes are taking over the whole house. I tried cooking them a few times, but they either come out too mushy like porridge or not soft enough.
Kermit tried cooking them once too. It’s something we don’t mention. Not only did he somehow manage to blow up the oven, but all of us also ended up poisoned for nearly a whole month.
This house only has two washrooms. Dad claimed the one upstairs to himself. That left Kermit and I fighting over the bowl downstairs. It wasn’t a pleasant time, and that’s why we don’t talk about it. I’ve experienced a lot of turmoil in my life but having explosive diarrhea while vomiting simultaneously takes the cake. To this day, potatoes still give me PTSD.
The kitchen has a new rule. Kermit is no longer permitted to cook. On the plus side, we did get a new gas stove!
I raise my hand to the back of my head and flinch at the throbbing pain that follows my touch. After we disposed of the bodies yesterday, I had to go to the hospital and get stitches.
Kermit walks into the kitchen. He’s still in his pyjamas, wearing a black t-shirt over camo print shorts. His hair is untidy and due for another retouch. We both have natural blond hair, but the two of us like to dye it black.
My hair is long and falls to my waist. I usually wear it in a low ponytail, but this morning I have it undone. My bangs reach my chin and are parted down the center.
Kermit has short spiky hair with bangs that can be parted to either side. Maybe if he bothered to comb it once in a while, the back of his head wouldn’t look like a cockatiel.
I glance over my shoulder and notice that Dad is right behind my brother. Odd. The two are never together. Usually, when one walks into the room, the other one leaves. I turn off the stove before facing them.
Dad is tall, muscular and can be mistaken for a fitness coach, but he is an immigration lawyer. He looks young due to his physique, but Dad is almost in his mid-forties.
“I heard what happened yesterday,” Dad says, folding his arms over his chest.
My mouth becomes dry, and my head spins more than usual. I don’t need to ask what he means by that. The call I had tried to make yesterday before I got jumped went through. Dad did hear everything.
I glance at Kermit. He’s standing with his arms folded over his chest as well — a perfect mirror of our father. Even their expressions are the same.
“I’m surprised,” Dad continues. “I didn’t expect you to freeze up.” he approaches me.
My eyes focus on a tiny piece of egg curd that flew out of the pan while cooking. My head suddenly snaps to the side. I feel in shock before the pain.
“Look at me, Boy, when I’m speaking to you!” Dad yells before striking me again on the same side of my face. His blow causes me to bite the inside of my cheek.
A metallic taste fills my mouth. My jaw clenches, and I straighten up before looking Dad dead in the eyes. I feel my body quivering, and my hands ball into fists at my sides.
“Do you need more training?” Dad asks.
“No, sir!” I respond, keeping my voice steady.
“Is that so?” he scoffs.
“Because I don’t recall teaching you to let your weapon fall into the hands of the enemy, did I?”
“Care to explain what the hell happened yesterday, then?” Dad asks, folding his arms back over his chest.
I swallow. “I let my guard down and lost control over the situation.”
“Do you think that is acceptable?”
I catch myself about to glance away and strain my eyes to remain focused on his. “No, sir,” I answer.
Dad continues to give me a hard look. Then he snorts and turns away from me. “I will deal with you later,” he says.
I rest my eyes for a moment as Dad picks up a slice of toast from the toaster. He goes toward the living room and stops next to Kermit. He takes a bite before looking down at him. “Boy.”
My brother looks in his direction but doesn’t say anything. Kermit’s eyes are foggy. Impossible to read, and his mouth is in a thin line.
“Math drills, let’s go!” Dad orders.
Kermit remains quiet as he follows Dad to the couch. He goes on his knees on the floor in front of Dad with his hands folded behind his head.
Dad picks up the math textbook from the coffee table and begins quizzing him.
I turn back to the stove and stare down at the cold eggs in the pan. I poke my tongue against the inside of my cheek. It burns. I bit it badly this time.
“Wrong!” Dad yells.
I grip the handle of the stove tightly as I hear his foot against my brother’s ribcage. The sound of Kermit’s gasp ignites a flame. My blood is soon boiling as the math drills continue, and my brother is kicked for every wrong answer.
After the fifth blow, I glance over my shoulder. Something’s off. My brother doesn’t usually make these many mistakes.
Kermit is still high on his knees. His hands clasped tightly behind his head, breathing hard. His lips curl up in agony as Dad kicks him again.
I cringe. If this keeps up, Dad might fracture his ribs. I feel the impulse to intervene, and I cling onto the stove behind to hold me back. I’ll only make things worse if I step in.
Finally, Dad stands up. The look on his face is unpleasant. My body instinctively sinks back against the stove. I shut my eyes as he whacks Kermit across the back of his head with the textbook. I hear the thud of my brother’s body hitting the floor and peek through my eyelids.
Dad is towering over Kermit, and he drops the book on him. “Study!” he shouts. “I will test you again tomorrow, and if you get one answer wrong, I promise I will beat the shit out of you, understand?”
“Yes, sir!” Kermit responds, still on the floor in the fetal position.
“Get up!” Dad grunts, stepping over him. He turns to me and opens his mouth. At the same time, his cellphone chimes. He takes it out of his pocket with a frown and glances at the screen. His expression darkens.
I stay silent and watch as Dad grabs his keys off the table, and then he’s out the door. I hear his SUV engine start and then the wheels crunching on the dirt road. Strange. I wonder where he is going so suddenly?
Kermit stumbles up, and I serve the eggs and toast. Ah well. Just another normal morning. When Dad returns, I know that it’ll be my turn to get my ass beat.
I place our cold breakfast on the table and open the fridge. “Let me guess,” I say as Kermit sits down. “Chocolate milk?”
“You know me!” he smirks, rubbing the back of his head.
“Have you noticed that Dad’s been gone a lot lately?” I ask, pulling out the milk and closing the fridge.
“And you’re bitching?” Kermit raises an eyebrow at me.
I sigh through my nose. “No.” I pour the milk into a glass and mix in the chocolate syrup. I watch from the corner of my eye as Kermit picks up his fork. He winces slightly, and I frown.
“What?” he asks, noticing my look as I put the glass of chocolate milk down in front of him.
“You knew the answers to those math equations!” I point out bluntly.
Kermit doesn’t respond.
“Why?” I shake my head.
“Why what?” he rips a piece of toast and shoves it in his mouth.
“Why do you always feel like you need to be punished?”
“Maybe I do,” he mumbles. His eyes have that blurriness to them again. I can’t tell what he’s thinking.
“Kermy,” I start, but this triggers him.
“For the last time, stop calling me that!” he snaps. “I forgot to study, alright? Now drop it!”
“Bull fucken shit!” I growl. “I quizzed you on those exact equations, remember?”
Again Kermit doesn’t answer. He shoves the rest of his toast in his mouth.
“You purposely gave him the wrong answers so that he would hit you! Don’t think I didn’t notice, eh!”
Kermit’s jaw clenches, and he tilts his head forward, allowing his hair to hide his face. “So what?” he responds finally.
I feel the rage coursing through my veins and slam my fist on the table beside his plate. “Stop it!” I yell. “This isn’t the first time you’ve done this crap! Stop punishing yourself! It’s masochism!”
“Masochism, eh?” Kermit snorts and begins on his eggs. “Maybe I’m a masochist. Maybe I’ve grown to enjoy getting my ass beat all the time.” he grins.
I find myself taking a half step back as he lifts his head to face me. His bangs sway to the side, and I am given a clear view of his face. My jaw drops, and my tongue knots up. I don’t recognize him. It’s just like yesterday. The look in his eyes has changed, and their usual bright shade of emerald green has darkened. It’s almost black.
“I’m only kidding, eh?” he turns away from me and pushes a few egg curds around in his plate with his fork.
I blow out a sigh and drag my feet over to my chair. Plumping down in my seat, I pick up my fork and nearly drop it. I get a better hold and stab one of the egg curds. “Why did you need to be punished today?” I ask before taking a bite.
I study my brother’s facial expression. His eyes are hazy again, and his lips are pressed back in a thin line. I notice the dark circles under his eyes and sigh before stabbing at another egg curd. “You didn’t sleep last night.”
Even from across the table, I can see how Kermit tenses up. For a brief moment, the fog is lifted from his eyes, and there’s fear in them. But then he quickly blinks, and the mist is back.
“Nightmares?” I question, already knowing the answer.
Kermit stares down at his plate, and his bottom lip quivers. He’s just about at his breaking point. I knew he’s been holding it in. Yesterday’s tragedy is affecting him.
“Is that why you felt the need to punish yourself?” I lower my fork.
His Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows hard. “I...” his voice falters, and his eyes close shut. “I didn’t hesitate! I just... she...”
I stand up and rush to his side, pulling my brother against me.
“I killed her...” he whispers against my shirt. “I didn’t think twice I just—”
I hold him tighter against me and rest my chin atop his head as his body begins to tremble in my arms. “Kermit, it’s okay!” Shit. I knew it was bugging him. He can act tough all he wants, but I know him.
My brother is fragile. He has always been. No matter how hard Dad may try to change him, Kermit will always be sensitive.
“I thought she was going to kill you!” Kermit’s voice cracks, and I gently rub his back.
“I’m sorry!” my eyes begin to sting, and I sniff harshly to keep my nose from leaking. “It’s my fault. I let my guard down.”
“If I had gotten there sooner then—”
“Kermit, listen to me, eh!” I grab him by the shoulders and bend down till our faces are levelled with each other. “None of this is your fault! Okay?” I shake him slightly. “You don’t have to punish yourself! I’m the one who screwed up! You saved my life yesterday!”
At these words, Kermit’s lips quiver more and tears pour out of his eyes like a waterworks display.
I pull him back close to me and bury my face in his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Kermy! I’m so sorry!”
We sink to the floor and remain in a shallow mess of tears and snot. I keep repeating how sorry I am. It’s like my tongue is caught in a loop, and I can’t stop apologizing. What kind of big brother am I? I let Kermit down again. Why do I keep making so many mistakes?
“Kermit?” I pause, realizing that my brother’s breaths have suddenly quickened. “Kermit!” I pull back and hold him in front of me. My eyes widen in horror. He’s hyperventilating! “Slow down!” I yell. “Breathe slowly! C’mon!” I rub his back, but it does nothing to soothe him. His breaths start coming in even faster. “Slow! Slow!” I try to breathe slowly, hoping that he will copy me, but his eyes are unfocused. I’m not even sure if he hears me. “Shit!”
I lay him down on the floor. I’m not sure what to do. I glance around frantically and bite the skin of my lower lip. Maybe his inhaler will help? But I don’t know where it is. Kermit stopped carrying it on him a long time ago.
I freeze as my brother’s body suddenly convulses against the floor. What’s happening? I lean closer over him. “Do you need to vomit?”
His body flops again in response, and his head tilts back as his chest heaves upward.
I grab him quickly and turn him over on his hands and knees just in time. Crap. I probably shouldn’t have placed him down on his back. Kermit throws up over the floor, and I support him until he is finished. He’s still breathing hard.
I put his arm over my shoulder and lift him to his feet. He leans against me, and I lead him to his bed in his room. He curls up on his side, and his breathing finally begins to slow.
I feel a sharp pain in my chest as I watch him drift off. This is my fault. My hands ball up so tightly that my nails dig into my skin. I begin to walk away when I feel Kermit grab me by the hem of my shirt. My mouth drops in surprise, and I turn back to him.
Kermit’s eyes are wide open, and his skin is super pale. His hair clings to his forehead from sweat, and I can feel his hand shaking as it grips the fabric of my shirt tighter.
“Don’t go,” he says in a weak voice. “Please...”
My throat becomes dry and hurts when I swallow. “I won’t!” I climb onto the bed next to Kermit and hug him. I stay until I am sure that he has fallen deeply asleep.
I don’t know when Dad will be back, and I definitely can’t let him come home to the house being a mess. I wiggle myself free of Kermit and tiptoe outside his room. I close his door quietly behind me and make my way to the kitchen.
The acrid smell of Kermit’s puke slaps me in the face. I open all the windows and the front door to let fresh air in. I hope the house airs out before Dad returns.
I go to grab paper towels from the kitchen when I hear the clatter of claws on the floor. I turn back around quickly. Great! Both Stupid and Dumbass have entered inside through the open door.
“No! No!” I snap my fingers. “Back outside!”
The two dogs stop and look at me. Then Stupid runs to the hallway, and Dumbass follows her.
“Hey!” I shout in a whisper. What am I? Invisible? Damn dogs! I chase after them.
They stop outside Kermit’s door, where they both begin to whine.
“Shh! Seriously?” I glare at them. “I just got him to sleep!”
Stupid scratches at the door, and I cringe.
“Okay, fine!” I try to open the door slowly, but both dogs push past, and the door swings all the way hitting the wall behind it with a loud bang. I watch in horror as the dogs jump on the bed and lie down on either side of Kermit.
Kermit groans but luckily doesn’t awaken.
I let out a massive sigh of relief, rubbing my face as I close the door. Those dogs. They make perfect guard dogs, but they’re dangerous!
Stupid and Dumbass tore a man to shreds yesterday. It was the person who ran. The one Gérald and Pierrick were chasing after. I hate to admit it, but I am terrified of those animals. They only listen to Kermit.
I return to the kitchen and clean up the mess on the floor before starting on the dishes. I have just started wiping the stove when I hear the tires nearing the house. My heart starts pounding, and I feel a few dizzy spasms.
Shit. I close the front door quickly and hurry back into the hallway as Stupid and Dumbass begin to bark. I open the door, and the two dogs run out, their barking getting wilder.
“Shut up!” I yell in a whisper. “Inside the garage! C’mon!” I open the door at the end of the hallway, and I’m relieved that both dogs run in. I close the door behind them and return to the kitchen just as two car doors slam.
I reach for my knife in my pocket and lean against the wall next to the front window in the living room. I carefully peer outside.
A man with short hair and brown eyes is looking directly at the window as though knowing I would discreetly check. But of course, he did. The man is Richard. He waves with a smile.
I duck my head back and sulk against the wall with a groan. Great! What is he doing here? I drag my feet to the front door and open it.
Richard is already standing on the porch. “Hello!”
I don’t respond to his greeting. I don’t have to. I have a sinking feeling that I know why he’s here.
Richard’s smile stretches further across his face. “Your father told me that you need some more training?” he confirms my suspicion.
My body is already starting to numb itself. Even my vision starts to blur though my eyes aren’t watery.
“Well?” Richard glances over his shoulder as Dad steps up behind him. “Shall we get started?”
Dad nods. “Outside!”
My brain switches to autopilot mode, and like a machine, my body moves. I close the front door behind me. Thank god Kermit is asleep.