The Dark Light of Day(3)

By: T.M. Frazier

In some ways, I agreed with him. If it’d been me instead of Mason, Mom would still be alive. Dad wouldn’t be trying to drown himself in cheap whiskey, and there would be a few more people walking around in the land of the living. I contributed nothing and took everything. But to be fair about it, I also expected nothing from the godless world that ripped me apart at every turn.

I expected nothing, until the night I met a certain redhead with an attitude.

The night I met Abby Ford, my life changed forever.

Chapter One


I knew something was wrong when I walked across the stage on graduation day and was met with only the unenthusiastic slow claps from the sparse crowd. It’s not like I expected a standing ovation. I haven’t exactly played nice with my fellow classmates. I could’ve counted the number of real friends I had on one hand. Or no hands, actually. It was Nan’s usual whooping and hollering I expected to hear but was nowhere to be found.

Where was she?

An alarm went off in my head when our vice-principal, Miss Morgan, barged into the auditorium, letting the heavy metal doors slam shut behind her. Her heels clacked in quick succession across the shiny yellow floor. With a crook of her finger in my direction, she removed me from my seat. Her gaze was focused on the floor as she led me to the principal’s office in silence.

When I entered the office, Sheriff Fletcher sat behind the cluttered desk instead of the principal himself.

Oh shit.

I took a quick mental inventory of anything I’d done recently that would warrant the honor of his visit. There was a dime bag in the back pocket of my shorts under my gold graduation gown, but since the sheriff’s weed policy was basically if you have it, pass it, I wasn’t overly concerned. Although having it on school property could result in some off-colored double standard policies or laws the sheriff being applied. There hadn’t been a single marijuana arrest in Coral Pines the entire time I lived here. It would be just my luck to be the very first one thrown behind bars for it. I’d also had an unfortunate incident involving the baseball field fence and a four-wheeler I’d borrowed—without the owner’s knowledge—but I was pretty sure there was no way for the sheriff to know it was me who caused the damage.

“Sheriff?” I tried to act casual, but my one-word greeting sounded like a question. Even with his lax attitude and loose interpretations of the law, I couldn’t stand the man. His family practically owned Coral Pines, so I was pretty sure Sheriff Fletcher had phoned in his police training. The only somewhat-decent member of the Fletcher family was Owen, a nice enough guy, if pretty boy man sluts were your thing.

The sheriff’s shirt was opened three buttons too many, as if to make sure that he wouldn’t be mistaken for a professional man of the law. A mass of curly black chest hair poked out of his collar and brushed the base of his throat. “Have a seat, Miss Ford.” He gestured with a fat, hairy finger to the chairs in front of the desk. Miss Morgan stood at his side with her hands folded in front of her, almost nun-like. Her tall, thin frame and high-wasted pencil skirt made her look like a giraffe next to the sheriff’s squatty physique. Her choppy, uneven bangs hung over her lashes and grazed her milky skin. Being a red-head, I was pretty damn pale; not even the death rays of the southern Florida sun could have changed that. Somehow, she managed to be even paler than me.

I took a seat and hoped that whatever this was would be over soon.

It had only been four years earlier, in another state at another school, in what seemed like another life, when the principal called me out from my classroom and into the hallway to deliver the news that my father had overdosed. I’d been in foster care for over two years by then, and I hadn’t seen him in four. But the powers that be had thought his death was important enough to pull me from class, so I felt I owed it to them to fake some of the sadness I knew they were expecting from me.

What I really wanted to do was laugh at the satisfaction, at the justice of it all.

Happy couldn’t even begin to describe how I’d felt when they informed me of his death.

Nan had always said that God created man in his image. Where my father was concerned, God was either a sick, sadistic fuck or one hell of a lie people convinced themselves was the truth.

I kept that thought to myself when I was around Nan.

Dad had been at work when they found him in one of the bathroom stalls, sitting on the toilet with his pants down around his ankles, a syringe still hanging from his pocked-up arm. I was more surprised to hear he’d actually been at work than I was to hear he’d died. At least when it happened, he was with the only thing in his life he’d ever really loved: his needle.

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