“You! We need to talk.” The hated voice rang out behind her as a large hand roughly grabbed Jamie’s shoulder. She spun on instinct, flinching away in fear and hating herself for it.
“Nothing to talk about,” she replied quietly, her eyes dropping to study her worn sneakers. The boy’s shoes, she noticed, had no holes. They practically sparkled in the pale sunlight. From the corner of her eye, Jamie saw his hand twitch and prepared herself to step away again when he moved to strike her. He would, she knew. People like him always resorted to force.
“Look, the way you spend your time is none of my business, but the next time you want to defile graves, do it somewhere else.”
“You’re right; it is none of your business.” That familiar anger rose again, a shadow of the day before, and she turned on her heel, trying her hardest not to trip as she stalked away.
She only made it a few feet before his hand caught her wrist, grabbing it so tightly she had to bite her tongue to stop a cry of pain. When she fought to escape, he squeezed harder, and tears welled up in Jamie’s eyes.
“Stay away, freak.”
I would, idiot, she wanted to scream at him, but you’re the one keeping me here! She looked back at him, hoping that he could see her disdain and hatred in her glare. But she was tired, so very tired, of being the victim. “Or what?”
Jamie ripped her hand from his, sprinting away as fast as she could. She felt a few of her bracelets snap, but in her haste she barely noticed, focusing all her energy on her steps. She was walking through the front door of her uncle’s home before she realized it, the knowledge coming too late for her to change course.
He wasn’t there yet, the halls and rooms echoing emptily back at her as the door creaked open. That, at least, was a relief. If he ever came home early, Jamie had no doubt it would be to inflict some punishment or other more severe than any she’d received before. Still, the idea of explaining where she’d been so late the night before did not really silence any of the fear within her.
If, when he finally came home from work – both too late and much, much too soon – and noticed the immaculate status of his place of residence, Jamie’s uncle gave no indication of it. His face remained stony as ever, his eyes passing over her like she was another piece of furniture, and a particularly useless one at that.
Until he saw her wrist. Jamie knew as soon as his eyes glanced at it that it was too late. She’d forgotten to replace the bracelets, and now he’d seen the scars previously hidden beneath. Her guardian’s face contorted momentarily, his eyes clouding over in sorrow, pain, and hate. And then there was only the hate.
Jamie knew that her uncle hated her, had known it even before she was forced to live with him. She’d known since she was a little girl that he hated her and always would, and for what? Her only and greatest crime was her own existence.
That, it seemed, was enough to damn her in his eyes.
Jamie just couldn’t find it in herself to argue with him judgment, even in her mind. She was worthless, she knew. The illegitimate child of a woman who’d been little more than a wealthy man’s whore, sacrificing her dignity for the sake of a few rare moments of kindness. For that, her uncle would never forgive her.
She was like a living testament to the sin of his sister, a walking, breathing reminder that her uncle had failed to protect his sister from the world. The fact that she’d chosen her own life, chosen Jamie’s father and those stolen moments, changed nothing.
But it was those scars – fat, white lines running perfectly straight across her wrists – that he hated the most.
Sometimes, Jamie thought that the whole world was full of those people – the ones who lived to see her pain, to hear her cries. The boy from Ravensgate. Her uncle. And that woman.