EVERYTHING fell apart that morning in the kitchen. My quiet existence shattered, and the world fell away into something that resembled brackish water and tasted of filth and death. We pretended that it didn’t happen. We waited in the house that was suffocating us. We waited until the sun went down behind the silhouette of shining skyscrapers on the West Bank of the Arrowhead River near the Lightfoot Bridge.
It wasn’t until Dodger stared imploringly at me, until Cosmo squeezed my fingers with complete and unconditional faith that I realized I had failed. I guess Beetle was right never to respect me or listen to me, because when push came to shove I choked. I choked on my own spit. I choked so hard that my throat burned, and then I threw up in the gutter.
She glared at me, as if to say: I always knew you were good for nothing. Then she wrenched Cosmo’s hand from mine and took Dodger by the sleeve of his sweatshirt.
I might have lost them forever that day. They would have disappeared into the night, and I never would have seen them again. But in my anxiety, I reached up to my throat and clutched the angel wing necklace. An idea formed in my brain, as sudden and unexpected as stepping on a rusty nail.
The possible consequences didn’t occur to me in the heat of the moment. All I thought about was how desperately I wanted to keep the gang with me; how I wished to cling to any vestige of the life that I had loved.
“Wait!” I said, and they did, even Beetle. “Let me find Angel.”
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