The Dark Light of Day(7)

By: T.M. Frazier



“I can have anything?” I’d asked.

“Sure sweetie, anything at all.” Nan was always careful to withdraw her outstretched hand before it found my head or my shoulder… or my arm.

My aversion to physical touch must have been in my file.

The only thing I asked Nan for that first day was a deadbolt on my bedroom door. There were no questions, no hesitations. A handyman was at the house and had installed my deadbolt within an hour. She made me a necklace for the key and told me to put it around my neck. I’d stopped using the lock a few weeks after moving in with her, but I’d never taken off the key.

Then, Nan fed me her homemade fried chicken with mashed potatoes. We had peach cobbler for dessert. She only spoke to ask me if I liked the food. I nodded. In truth, it was the best food I’d ever eaten. After that first meal, Tuesday night became Fried Chicken Night.

Nan didn’t want answers from me. She just wanted her grandchild—her short-tempered, razor-tongued, sometimes violent, grandchild. During my entire life, nobody had wanted me on my very best day on my very best behavior.

Nan wanted me at my worst, and sometimes, that was exactly what she got.

I had come such a long way in my four years with Nan. After just a few short weeks without her, it was like she’d never been in my life at all.





Chapter Three





When the persistent shit at the door kept ringing the bell over and over, I was inclined to get the shotgun from the hall closet, shoot first, and ask questions later.

“Go away!” I shouted into my pillow as I raised the comforter over my head. I didn’t know what time it was, and I didn’t care. All I knew was that it was early, and I wasn’t ready to end my hibernation just yet.

The doorbell shit changed his style from ringing it twice in increments of thirty seconds to pressing it continuously like someone waiting impatiently for an elevator.

That’s it, I thought. I’m getting the gun.

I leapt from my bed, tore open the front door, and almost felt bad for the poor soul on the other side who’d be facing my wrath.

A linebacker of a woman wearing a navy blue suit took up the majority of the doorway. I had to look up to see her face. She looked like Dan Aykroyd in drag. Her hair was thin and black with silver running through it, pulled in a tight bun at the nape of her neck. She held a file and a clipboard in her hand.

“Abby Ford?” she asked without looking at me, her focus solely on her clipboard. Her voice was deep and vibrated through her chest when she spoke.

“Huh?” I asked. I wiped sleep from my eyes, my rage replaced with a tired sense of confusion.

The woman-man sighed. “You are Abby Ford—am I correct?” She tapped the tip of her pen on her board.

“Yeah?” It came out more like a question.

She huffed, and if I could have seen her eyes all the way up there in the sky where her head was, I’m sure I would have seen that she was rolling them. “Let’s try this again. Are you or are you not Abby Ford, the minor child who was in the care of Georgianne Ford before her passing three weeks ago?”

“I’m almost eighteen,” I blurted, “so you can go now.”

I moved to shut the door, but she blocked it with her foot without missing a beat. “Yes, well, you aren’t eighteen yet, and being seventeen makes you a minor. Therefore, you are currently a ward of the state of Florida, and I will be taking you into protective custody today. You’ll be placed in foster care until the day you turn eighteen.” She flipped a page on her clipboard. “Which I can see here isn’t actually for another nine months or so.”

I had known foster care was a possibility. I just hadn’t expected Sheriff Fletcher to actually file the paperwork, and that they would show up so damn quickly. I’d also hoped that with me being so close to eighteen, no one would really give a shit.

“May I come in, Miss Ford?” The woman-man asked.

“No!” I moved in front of her to block the doorway. I was pretty sure I’d left some arrestable offenses on the coffee table she didn’t need to see.

“Excuse me?” she asked, obviously not used to being defied.

“My aunt doesn’t like strangers in the house, and you haven’t even told me your name.” I heard the lie come out of my mouth before I’d even registered what I was saying.

“Miss Thornton,” she replied. “My name is Miss Thornton.” I wanted to take her tapping pen and stab her in the foot—the one that kept the door from closing.

It was the first time she tore her eyes away from her paperwork and actually gave me a once over. I was still wearing my pajamas, which consisted of a long sleeved high neck t-shirt and shorts. I’m sure I had bed head and dark circles under my eyes. With all the nightmares, sleep had been no easy feet. Miss Thornton was probably wondering why I was sleeping at one o’clock on a Monday afternoon. “We have no record of this aunt you speak of, what’s her name?”

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