“Twenty-four hours! You couldn’t even give me twenty-four hours of peace! It would have served you right if you cut yourself on the glass!”
“I’ll cut you on the glass.” Clara sometimes can be very rude.
“Unbelievable! What do you do when you go to school? Do your teachers let you smash every mirror in the building?”
“We don’t have mirrors at school because we’re not stupid!” screamed Clara. “I hope something comes through and eats you! Then you’ll be sorry!”
I never ever ever get in between Clara and Mrs. Spring, but this was important. I ran out of the room and ran right up to Clara and grabbed her arm. “You take that back!” I cried. “You take that back right now!”
“Make me!” Clara screamed. She tried to pull away from me. But Clara is not very strong. She can’t run as fast as me, and she can’t fight at all. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to take her lunch money or her headphones. I don’t think she’s ever had to stand up for herself. I don’t think anyone’s ever hit her in her entire life.
Except me, just then. I slapped her in the face.
“Hey!” cried Clara. She looked more surprised than angry. Mrs. Spring blinked at me with big green eyes. Clara pulled again, but she could not free her arm.
“You are a spoiled brat,” I said. I said it very calmly so she would know it wasn’t an insult, it was a fact. “Now you’re going to take back what you said. Right?”
“You’re…you’re hurting me!”
“Then say it!”
“Fine! I don’t hope anything comes through the mirror and eats her!”
“And if anything tries to, I’ll make it wish it hadn’t.”
I let Clara go. She glared at me and her bottom lip trembled. Then she turned and ran away.
Mrs. Spring looked at me. I wanted to say something nice to make her feel better but I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t a lie.
Clara hid, but I found her. I know the whole house better than she does, and I know all the hiding spots. She was in the library, sitting between one of the big squishy leather chairs and the window. When I pulled the chair away, she jumped, surprised I’d found her so fast.
“You invited one in,” I said.
Clara glared at her shoes.
“She shouldn’t have gotten so mad. But what you did was worse.”
“You sound like my teachers.”
“You invited one in!”
Clara gave me a sideways look. “I never told you that. I never told you they had to be invited.”
“I’m not dumb. I read books.”
“One wouldn’t come through here,” said Clara. “There’s nobody interesting.”
“Wouldn’t they think you’re interesting?”
“Maybe. I don’t know. I hope not. I don’t care. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. We’re running away. Tonight.”
“I hate my parents.”
“Don’t say that! Your parents are nice!” That was only half a lie. Mrs. Spring is nice. I’ve only seen Mr. Spring a couple times. So I don’t actually know how he is.
“She’s nice to you,” said Clara. “She likes you. She’d put me in an orphanage and adopt you instead if it was allowed.”
“But it’s not.”
“I don’t want to live here anymore. I don’t want to share a house with her.”
“You can live in the pool house. I’ll run away with you to the pool house. But not any further than that.”
“Please, Ave? I don’t want to go alone.”
“You have everything in the world here. If you want to leave, you’re dumb.”
“Mom hates me. She wishes I was dead.”
“Did she say that?”
“Not with words.”
“She doesn’t hate you. She’s a grown-up, so she gets scared easily. She can’t help it. Anyway, you can’t run away. Not tonight. Tomorrow, maybe.”
“Because tonight we have to sit in your mom’s bathroom and make sure nothing decides to visit.”
“I’m not doing that!” cried Clara.
“You have to. It’s your fault. You should have thought before you talked.”
“Why can’t we just break the mirror?”
“Because. Because you can’t go through life breaking all the mirrors you see. You just can’t.” That sounded better in my head than it did out loud. “Anyway, you breaking the bathroom mirror is what started this in the first place.”
“I’ve always done it.”
“Well now you have to stop. I know you know how to fight them.”
“I don’t want to. I don’t want to!” she was getting all upset.
“You have to. I know you know how. I know you do. If you say you don’t, you’re a liar.” I added that last part because she looked like she was about to deny it.
Clara pulled at her hair. “I’ve never done it before. I’ve watched someone else do it but that’s not the same.”
“Is there anything I can do?” I asked.
“I guess…if you have anything made of iron it might help. Ave, I don’t want to!”
“Joey has a crowbar. It’s probably maybe iron. What can you do?”
“I can talk to them…they’ll maybe listen to me.”
“Will that work?”
“Maybe. Some of them…they can be really dumb.”
“Can we offer them something to go away?”
“No, because then they’ll come back for more.”
That made sense. “Okay,” I said. “First we’ll have breakfast. And I need to give Sammy breakfast too. And then I’ll ask Joey if we can borrow his crowbar. And then we’ll think of a plan.”