Tales from the World of Scarlet Shield

For those who have a way with words.
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The First Dynamic, Part 1

Post by Green-Lightning »

May 21, 1978
5:13 pm
Montgomery, Alabama

It had taken David almost the entire school year to get up the nerve to ask Michelle out, but he’d finally managed it and, to his surprise and relief, she said yes. In less than an hour they would start what he hoped would be the first of many dates. He’d gotten ready early because he wanted to make sure he didn’t arrive late to pick her up. Now all he had to do was wait for half an hour until it was time to drive over to her house.

He sat on a chair with his back to his desk as he passed the time reading his favorite author’s newest novel, facing the center of his bedroom. The room was relatively uncluttered if one didn’t count the small pile of clothes lying on the floor waiting to be carried to the hamper in the laundry room and the three books on his desk waiting to be put back on the shelf where they belonged (he’d get to those things later). On the walls were posters of the Auburn University baseball team, famous mathematician/swimsuit model Yolanda Alvarez, psychedelic ‘60s metahuman martial artist White Rabbit and the cerebral Australian sci-fi movie Alien Walkabout. A baseball bat leaned against the footboard of his bed; a catcher’s mitt rested atop one corner of the footboard.

As he waited something strange happened: three people appeared in the center of the room. A dark-skinned, white-haired man in black and gold armor stood with his back to David, facing a woman and a girl. The man stood between David and the woman, preventing him from getting a clear look at her, but the girl looked like she was six or seven years old and wore what seemed to be a homemade metahero costume, all in shades of blue except for a yellow smiley face on her t-shirt and two yellow smiley face buttons that held the towel which served as a cape in place. One hand held a medium-sized, brown teddy bear. Other than her face, the girl seemed unable to move somehow; her expression made it obvious that she was trying very hard not to show any fear. David tried to lean to one side so he could get a better look at the woman only to discover that he couldn’t move either. “What the hell?”

“Get outta here!” the woman ordered. “Now!” David tried to do as he was told but, other than being able to speak and move his eyes, he had somehow been completely immobilized.

“Your warning comes too late,” said the man. “You didn’t think I’d let our reason for being here just leave, did you?”

“Seriously, y’all,” David said more than a little nervously, “what’s goin’ on here, and why can’t I move?”

“Be quiet,” the man replied without bothering to turn and look at him. “Now, where were we? Oh, yes. I believe you know the routine.” He had obviously turned his attention back to the woman, which was fine with David. “I make you watch as I kill your father--”

What?!” David interrupted. “Her father?

“I said quiet, young man,” the man repeated in the same level tone he had used before, still without looking at him, then addressed the woman again. “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I kill your father and the girl while you watch, then I kill you. We’ve done this before.”

“Yeah, we have,” the woman agreed, “‘cept for the part where you actually kill anyone. An’ you grabbed Sam before ‘stead of li’l me.”

“Yes, her.” The man’s tone made David imagine the sneer on his face as the words were spoken. “I decided to leave your precious Sam out of it this time, now that I know how easily she can interfere with my plans.”

“She still could,” the woman replied with a note of confidence in her voice. “She always knows where an’ when I am. She could be a million light years away an’ a hundred years in the future an’ still get here ‘fore you could blink. That’s gotta be a blow to your massive ego, knowin’ there’s someone out there that you can’t control.”

“Just for that,” the man responded darkly, “I’m going to make all of your deaths even slower and more painful than I had originally planned.”

The woman laughed. “I don’t think you can really do it. You’re just a broken down old man. You may call yourself the Revisionist but you’ll always be No One to me.”

The taunt must have distracted the man at least a little because David found he could move again. He stood as quickly and quietly as he could and set his book down on the desk. “You pitiful little girl!” the man raged as David grabbed his bat and got ready to swing. “How dare you--” Whatever the man thought the woman dared remained unspoken as, with a loud THWACK!, David’s bat connected with the back of the man’s unarmored head. He fell to the floor, giving David a clear view of the woman for the first time. Like the girl she was dressed as a metahero, though her costume was made with considerably more skill. The outfit was equal parts black and royal blue, separated by zig-zagging yellow lines and a yellow belt. Bright blue eyes, just like his, peered at him from a blue mask that otherwise completely covered her face, framed by a mane of dark red hair. The same shade of red as the girl’s, David noted, wondering if they were mother and daughter. He also noted, with a hint of sadness, that neither he nor Michelle had red hair. He couldn’t be sure but he thought the woman might have smiled briefly under her mask even as she started struggling to free herself from whatever kept her from moving. The girl’s eyes, which had been the same bright blue as the woman’s a moment before, began to glow an even brighter red.

The man, who David could now tell was at least in his seventies, started getting back to his feet. “Quick,” the woman shouted, “before he gets back up--” Before she could finish the sentence twin red beams of energy shot outward from the girl’s eyes, hitting the man’s chestplate and causing him to sit down hard on the floor. David quickly stepped to one side to avoid being fallen on.

David wasn’t sure what happened next: he must have blinked or something, and the girl was standing in front of the old man even though he hadn’t seen her move. “I won’t let you hurt my daddy!” the girl yelled as she hit the man in the face with her teddy bear. The bear must have had something heavy inside it, David thought, because the blow knocked the man backward against David’s desk with enough force to push it into the wall with a thud.

“That didn’t go quite how I planned it,” the woman said as she walked over to the unconscious villain, “but I can’t complain.” She checked him over to see how badly he was hurt. “He’s got a bump on the back of his head an’ he’s probably gonna have to eat through a straw for a few weeks, but he’ll live.”

“Daddy!” the girl shouted, appearing before him suddenly and hugging him more tightly than he would have believed possible. Her voice was a high-pitched buzz of words being spoken too quickly for him to understand. Gasping for air, he vainly tried to pry her arms loose. The woman moved quickly over to the pair and gently but firmly pulled the girl away before she could accidentally do him any real harm. "Sorry ‘bout that,” the woman apologized, “she doesn’t know her own strength.”

“So,” David managed to say as he caught his breath, “did I hear that right? Y’all are my daughters from the future?”

“Daughter,” the woman corrected. The girl’s head blurred briefly as, with a big grin crossing her freckled face, she nodded vigorously in agreement. “Just one,” the woman continued. “We’re the same person. I’m just ‘bout twenty years older than her.”

Glancing at the unconscious man on the floor David asked, “An’ this guy brought y’all back to watch him kill me ‘fore killin’ you, twice? He must really hate you.”

“Yeah,” the woman replied with a shrug, “it’s not the first time he tried somethin’ like this. I guess I’ve been a thorn in his side for a long time.” She paused briefly before changing the subject. “Look, Dad--”

“David,” the teen corrected. “I mean, please, callin’ me ‘Dad’ just feels kinda weird, y’know?”

“Yeah,” she agreed, “I know. So, David. Anyway, I know I really shouldn’t risk sayin’ anythin’ that could change my past, but I think it’s kinda late to worry too much ‘bout that now. Still, I can’t really say a lot. I mean, it’s your future. So, if at some point in your life you decide to dress up in a costume like us an’, y’know…”

David gave her a confused look. “Wait, are you tellin’ me I’m gonna be a metahero?”

“I’m not tellin’ you anythin’. I’m just sayin’ maybe, if somethin’ like that ever happens, you could pick a name that’s… dynamic, but not controversial. Like, try to avoid anythin’ political or religious soundin’.” Before he could say anything she turned to her younger self. “An’ you, little one…”

“Hey!” the girl protested. “Only Daddy calls me--”

“Hush,” the woman interrupted, sounding at once both gentle and stern. The girl did as she was told, looking sheepishly up at her older self. “You love Lucky, don’t you?”

“Yeah…” the young girl replied cautiously, looking down at the stuffed animal in her hands.

“An’ you want Lucky to be ‘round for a long time, right?”


“What if you stopped takin’ him to go fight the bad guys with you, then?”

“But Lucky likes fightin’ the bad guys!”

“I know he does. But y’know how hittin’ the bad guys with him hurts ‘em? Well, it hurts Lucky too.”

“It does?” The girl was clearly alarmed by the idea of her beloved teddy bear being hurt.

The woman nodded and said, “Yup. Y’know, if you treat him real nice, I bet he’ll still be ‘round when you’re as old as me. D’you think you can do that?” Her younger self nodded somberly. “I think you can, too,” The woman said softly. “Now,” she said to no one in particular as she glanced around the room, “how am I gonna get us home?”

“I think I can help with that,” came an unexpected voice. Startled, the three of them turned to see a gently smiling, petite woman whose demeanor and physical presence seemed to be the very definition of the word “nonthreatening”.

“Great,” David said, rolling his eyes. “Now there’s four of y’all. If Mom or Dad walked in right now I’d never be able to explain this.”

The newcomer laughed softly, a sound that made David think of chimes in a gentle breeze. “Don’t worry, David Rose, no one will enter while I’m here.”

“How d’you--” David started to ask, then just shook his head slightly and sighed.

“Have we met?” the first woman asked. “Who are you?”

“Not exactly,” the second woman answered. “As for who I am, you can call me Emmie. I’m going to send you, your younger self and the Revisionist back where you all belong.”

“But what ‘bout David?” the masked woman asked. “Him knowin’ ‘bout the future’s gonna change things.”

“Don’t worry,” Emmie said with the same gentle smile she had shown them since she arrived. “His memory of what happened here will seem vague, as if in a dream, and may eventually fade completely. And I believe that if any changes do take place they’ll be for the better, for both of you. Now, I think it’s time to go home.”

David woke up with a start. He’d been sitting at his desk after getting ready for his date with Michelle and he didn’t remember lying down on the bed... He guessed was tired without knowing it, but he felt better. The digital clock on his dresser said it was 5:46, which meant he had enough time to get to Michelle’s on time if he left right away. He sprang from the bed, grabbed his keys off the desk and rushed out of the room, only stopping long enough to close the door behind him.

((To Be Continued...))
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The Millennials, Part 5

Post by Green-Lightning »

October 4, 2014
12:09 pm
Redford, Michigan

For Kenzie, Jen and Liz, lunch at Crispy Cluck on Saturdays and Sundays had become a constant since their new school and training with the Millennials kept them out of town the rest of the week. As was usual during the Saturday lunch rush, they were sitting in their favorite corner booth. Kenzie was seated between the wall and Jen, whose electric bass leaned against the edge of the table where she could easily reach it; Liz sat on the other side of the table, facing them.

After getting their food the girls spent a few minutes eating in silence, until Liz brought up the subject they had been avoiding since coming home for the weekend. “Brett’s turning into a real problem.”

Jen rolled her eyes. “You think?”

“So what can we do about him?” Kenzie asked.

“Not much,” Liz replied. “He was recruited by Agent Stillwell just like we were. We don’t get to decide who stays and who doesn’t.”

“I think we should take him to a back alley somewhere,” Jen opined, “and beat the shit out of him.”

Kenzie, caught off guard by Jen’s comment, was wracked by a fit of coughing as she tried not to choke on a bite of chicken. “Jen!” she finally managed in a shocked tone once she was able to speak again.

“It’s just an idea,” Jen added. “We don’t have to do it. Besides, he’s not as tough as he thinks he is. I could do it myself.”


“Come on, Kenz, do you want him to keep hitting on you?”


“Neither do I. He needs to be brought down a notch, and I think I’m gonna have to be the one who does it.”

“But Jen,” Kenzie argued, “we’re heroes. We don’t do things like that. Especially not to other heroes, even if they are jerks.”

“Alright, alright,” Jen relented. “I won’t beat him up, I promise.”

“Maybe,” Kenzie suggested, “we should say something to Traveler or Agent Stillwell.”

“They’re well aware of what’s happening,” Liz answered. “Ralph and I have talked to them about it more than once already. They feel that it’s best to keep him with the team where they can keep an eye on him, and they hope that the rest of us will have a positive influence on him.”

Jen scoffed. “Right, like that’s gonna happen.”

Liz said, “We can hope.”

As Kenzie bit into her corn on the cob she noticed a group of teens sitting at a nearby table who were taking turns looking in their direction while talking quietly. She didn’t know any of their names but she recognized them from Township High. Two of them were boys who could easily pass for Demon Knight wannabes, though she had never seen them with any of the gang’s recruits before, while the third -- whether a boy or girl Kenzie couldn’t tell -- perfectly fit the “emo” stereotype. One of the boys saw Kenzie looking. “Um, guys?” she whispered to her friends, motioning toward the other table as the boy stood and walked over to their table.

Jen took the initiative, upnodding at the approaching boy. “Hey.”

“Hi,” Kenzie and Liz said, more or less in unison.

“Hey,” the boy answered. He looked at the bass for a moment before turning his attention to Jen. “I’m gonna guess this is yours?”

“Maybe. Who wants to know?”

He briefly cocked his head toward the table he’d come from as he spoke. “We’re looking for a bass player for our band. You any good?”

“I do okay.”

“Cool,” he responded, glancing at Kenzie and Liz as if looking for confirmation of Jen’s claim that she could play. Neither girl reacted. Kenzie believed that Jen could play the instrument because Jen said she could, but she had never made an effort to actually play it when Kenzie was around. Kenzie didn’t really know much about instruments, especially ones that required electricity to play, but she thought Jen needed to plug it into an amplifier or something before she could play it, which was probably why she hadn’t been playing it.

“Tell you what, we’re gonna practice at my house in a few hours. Why don’t you come over and show us what you can do?”

“Sure,” Jen said. She glanced at Kenzie, who got a pen and notepad out of her coat pocket and slid them across the table toward the boy. The boy picked up the pen and wrote an address on the top sheet of paper.

“Meet us in the garage by five,” he said, setting the pen down on the pad.

“I’ll be there.”

“Cool.” The boy looked at the bass again, then nodded to the girls and walked back to his friends.

“Are you gonna go?” Kenzie asked.

“I said I’d be there.”

“What if it’s a trap? I mean, you did embarrass Damon and he doesn’t forget things like that. They could be--”

“I can handle Damon and his morons. Besides, you’re both coming with me.”

Liz shook her head. “Not me, sorry. Dad’s got a case he wants my help with. I don’t know how long it’ll take.”

Jen looked at Kenzie. “But you’re coming, right?”

“You bet,” Kenzie said with a smile. “I want to hear you play.”

Jen returned the smile. “Cool.”

((To Be Continued...))
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the First Dynamic, Part 2

Post by Green-Lightning »

February 12, 1982
11:21 pm
Auburn, Alabama

“I’m sorry for your loss, David Rose.” The quiet voice startled David out of the daze he had been in for the past several days. “You loved her very much.” He didn’t think to wonder how a woman he’d never seen before knew about Michelle’s death -- it had most likely been reported in the local news -- or what Michelle meant to him. In his present state he was barely able to wonder how she even knew his name.

“Thank you,” he said quietly, pausing in his aimless wandering through the Auburn University campus to look at her. Like her voice, the young woman’s appearance was unremarkable. She was pretty, petite with light brown hair and hazel eyes, but nothing in the way she looked would normally draw a second glance. There was something about her, though, that radiated warmth and understanding. After only a few seconds he felt like he could trust this total stranger completely. She also seemed familiar, though he had no idea why. “Sorry, have we met?”

She held her hand out to him. “Please, call me Emmie.”

“‘Lo, Emmie.” He gently shook the offered hand. “Are you new ‘round here? Can’t say I’ve ever seen you before, an’ your accent’s...” He couldn’t place her accent at all. It was faint but unlike any he had ever heard, not that he’d heard many in his nearly twenty years.

“I’m just passing through. I noticed you and thought I might be able to help in some way. May I walk with you for a while?”

“Sure,” David replied. “I gotta warn you, though, I’m not exactly the best company right now.”

They walked in silence for several minutes, going nowhere in particular. Eventually, Emmie spoke. “Are you going to be all right?”

“...I don’t know,” David replied uncertainly.

“What are you feeling right now?”

David started to say, “Nothing,” but stopped himself. That wasn’t true. Emmie waited patiently as he stopped walking and thought about it. Finally he said, “Lost. Alone. She was... she... I--” He found himself at a loss for words. A lump formed in his throat, his lower lip trembled and tears that he had been holding back for more than a week threatened to overwhelm him.

It’s okay to cry, Emmie’s voice whispered in his mind as she stepped forward and hugged him. The last of his self control dissolved and he sank to his knees, sobbing. He had no idea how long he cried in the arms of someone he had just met, but he didn’t really care. Eventually he regained his control. He stood and looked around, wiping his eyes as he did so.

“How did she die?” his newfound companion quietly asked.

“She was murdered,” David replied.

Emmie frowned slightly. “Oh my. Why would someone do that to her?”

“Because she was a meta. She was a teke--”


“Telekinetic. She could move things with her mind. Nothin’ heavier than a basketball, really. She almost never used it, and never told anyone but me. But a few days before she was... we went to this party, and we had a few drinks. And, I dunno why, but for some reason she just decided to show off a little. That has to be where whoever killed her found out ‘bout her power.”

“I see,” Emmie said thoughtfully. They walked in silence for a few more minutes before she spoke again. “Tell me, David, if you knew who killed Michelle and had the power to do something about it, what would you do?”

“I’d turn ‘em over to the police, ‘course,” he answered without hesitation.

“What if you knew who the killers were but couldn’t prove it?”

“I’d find the proof, somehow, then I’d hand it over to the police with ‘em.”

Emmie stopped walking and stared at him passively for a long moment. It almost felt to David like she was looking into him as much as at him. Then she smiled sweetly. “Yes, I believe you would.” A hint of sadness entered her voice as she added, “So many people would take matters into their own hands for the sake of revenge.”

“What good would that do?” David asked. “It wouldn’t bring Michelle back. It would just make me as bad as whoever killed her. Let the police an’ the courts do their jobs.”

“But if you could, you’d help the police find her killers and others like them?”

“If I was some kinda metahero, sure. But I’m not.”

“No,” Emmie said with the trace of a smile still playing across her lips. “Of course not. But I believe we’ve come to the end of our walk together, at least for now.” To David’s surprise, he found himself standing in front of the building he called home during the school year. “Go in and get some rest,” Emmie said, gently laying a hand on his arm. “Things will seem different in the morning.” David opened his mouth to tell her that he wasn’t tired, but a long yawn escaped before he could speak. He realized that he was exhausted and could barely keep his eyes open. He nodded wordlessly to Emmie then opened the front door and went inside. Somehow he made his way to his dorm room and managed to unlock the door. Once in his room he walked straight to his bed and laid down. As soon as his head touched the pillow, he was asleep.


February 13, 1982
6:39 am

David Rose...

“...Uh?” David slowly opened his eyes. He thought he’d heard a woman’s voice, but he couldn’t have. It must have been a dream. He closed his eyes again and tried to go back to sleep.

...Wake up, David...

David’s eyes opened wide as he realized it wasn’t a dream after all, and that the voice belonged to the woman he had met the night before. He sat up quickly on the bed and looked around, alarmed at the thought that he might have done something rash. Emmie was nowhere to be seen, however, and he noted with a sigh of relief that he was still fully clothed. Then he saw the bright, golden light floating in the air at the very center of the room. Good thing my roommate went home to Mobile for the weekend, he thought.

...Come to the light, David...

Cautiously, David slipped off the foot of the bed and took a step toward the light, before looking around again. “Emmie?” The voice was clearly hers, but it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. “Where are you?”

...Reach out to the light...

Taking two more steps forward, he hesitantly raised a hand toward the light that hovered directly in front of him. When the tips of his fingers touched it, the light seemed to dissipate as if being drawn into them. Then his fingers began to glow. David watched, fascinated, as the glow spread to the rest of his hand and up his arm, accompanied by a pleasant tingling sensation. It continued from his arm to his shoulder, his torso... He felt the tingling on his neck and closed his eyes when it enveloped his head. He could feel it throughout his entire body, and almost didn’t notice the weight that appeared on his left arm. After an indeterminate length of time the tingling faded and he opened his eyes again. Looking down, he noticed that his clothing had been replaced by a skintight bodysuit. The suit was black and royal blue with zigzagging yellow lines separating the two. Completing the outfit were a yellow belt, gloves and boots. The weight he felt on his arm belonged to a shield, the front of which was a black field trimmed in royal blue and yellow with a blue and yellow starburst design in the center.

On the door leading to the bathroom was a mirror, a bit of vanity put there by his roommate shortly after arriving, in which he could see his reflection from the ankles up. It gave him a better look at his costume, which included a blue mask that covered his entire face except for his eyes. Clothing aside, he didn’t seem to look any different than he had before whatever just happened. He still had the same fit but not overly-muscled physique that came from more than a decade of playing baseball and learning Aikido. He felt different though, in a way he couldn’t explain. A memory from the night before suddenly came to mind:

...If I was some kinda metahero...

David blinked, startled by the unexpected thought. Had that light somehow made him into a meta? Was that why he felt different? As unreal as he found the situation he was in, he couldn’t really come up with any other explanation. Not one that he wanted to think about, anyway.

“‘Kay, so I’m a meta now, I guess?” he asked his reflection. “I’ve got the suit.” He gave the shield a couple quick raps with the knuckles of his right hand. “An’ this. Now I just gotta figure out what I can do an’ come up with a name.”

...you could pick a name that’s… dynamic...

The voice he heard that time was a woman’s, but not Emmie’s. He didn’t recognize it but, like the words it spoke, it was vaguely familiar. He thought they were from a dream he’d had a few years earlier and forgotten until that moment. He shrugged, pushed the half-remembered dream to the back of his mind and smiled. “‘Dynamic’,” he said to himself. “That works.”

((To Be Continued...))
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Meet the Band

Post by Green-Lightning »

October 4, 2014
4:48 pm
Redford, Michigan

“Is that the place?” Kenzie asked, pointing at a house about half a block away. The garage door was open but they were still too far away to see in.

“Yeah,” Jen answered as she glanced at the writing on the page she had taken from Kenzie’s notepad, “that’s the address he gave me.” By the time they got to the driveway they could see the boy Jen had talked to at the Cluck and his two friends in the garage. Jen led the way to the house, stopping with the toes of her boots just over the line where driveway and garage floor met. “Mind if we come in?”

“Sure,” the boy said, “come on in.” Once they were inside he introduced himself. “I’m Warren.” Then, with a quick nod in their direction, he introduced the others. “That’s Dan and Terry.”

“Hey,” Jen said, upnodding. “I’m Jen, this is Kenzie.”

Kenzie smiled and gave a little wave. “Hi guys.”

“Hey,” Dan replied with a wry smile from behind the drums. Terry, the emo stereotype with the guitar, silently upnodded back at them.

“There’s a spare amp,” Warren said, motioning toward an amplifier that looked as well-used as Jen’s bass. “Plug in and let’s see what you can do.” Kenzie found a place off to one side to sit down as Jen got started.

“So,” Jen said as she tuned her instrument, “your band got a name?”

Warren answered, “We call ourselves ‘Dark Thoughts’.”

“Cool.” Tuning the bass was a simple task for Jen, which she accomplished quickly. It was already obvious to Kenzie that Jen knew what she was doing, even if Kenzie didn’t have the slightest clue how to do it herself. Once Jen had finished, the band started playing. Almost immediately she picked up on what they were doing and joined in. With no instructions from the others, she improvised a simple but effective bass line that fit seemlessly with what they were playing.

Kenzie paid rapt attention to her girlfriend as she played. Though not a musician herself, she loved music of all kinds but she had never really paid much attention to the bass before in the rock, metal and pop music she listened to. Maybe it was due to the personal importance of the girl who was playing at the moment, but Kenzie decided that if they were all as good as Jen then she hadn’t been giving bass players in general enough credit.

The band seemed impressed by Jen’s playing as well, though not as much as Kenzie was. Maybe that was just their style, she thought, playing it cool and trying not to show too much enthusiasm. “Not bad,” Warren commented when they stopped for a short break.

After the break Kenzie forced herself to focus less on Jen, paying more attention to the others and the band as a whole. Their sound was dark and brooding with a hard, driving beat, and felt like it would have been perfect for accompanying the reading of an old gothic horror novel or on the soundtrack to a low-budget vampire movie. Many of the songs changed tempo for the bridge, either speeding up a little or, for one or two songs with faster tempos, slowing down. They even covered a soft rock ballad from the 1970s that Kenzie recognized, which fit their darker style surprisingly well. Individually, the drums and guitar both sounded great to Kenzie’s untrained ear but it was the vocals that really grabbed her attention. Warren’s voice was deep, melodic, almost hypnotic. Kenzie closed her eyes and smiled, forgetting that she was listening to a bunch of high school kids in a garage as she let the music carry her away...


10:57 pm

“It was nice of Warren to give us a ride home,” said Kenzie as she and Jen stood at the edge of her front yard and watched him drive away. “I’m glad they asked you to practice with them again next weekend, too. They were great!” Glancing sidelong at Jen she added, “And you were wonderful. I’m so glad I finally got to hear you play.”

“I have a good feeling about this.” Jen slipped her hand into Kenzie’s. “I think I’m really gonna be in a band. I’ve got friends. And I’ve got--” They quickly pulled their hands away from each other and turned to face the house when they heard the front door open.

“Girls?” Grace called, sticking her head out of the open door. “There’s still some dinner left. I can heat it up for you if you want it.”

“Okay Mom,” Kenzie called back, hoping the darkness hid the faint pinkness in her cheeks. “We’ll be right there.” She sighed and turned to face Jen as her mother closed the door again. “I guess we better go inside.” Impulsively, she gave Jen a quick peck on the cheek. “I’m glad that you’re happy.”

Jen, blushing slightly, smiled sheepishly. “Thanks, Kenz. Let’s get in there and eat. I’m hungry and I love your mom’s food.” As one the girls turned and, hands shoved deep into their hoodie pockets, headed across the front lawn to the house.
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