Emily hurried from the car to the house and tried to slip out of her shoes and coat quickly, hoping to get out of the cramped entry before she was forced to share the small space with Ben. Being fourteen inches apart in the car several times a day was almost too much. She smelled him, breathed in the delicious scent of his cologne. She had bought it for him for their meager Christmas exchange and he had worn it every day since.
Ben came in as she hopped up a step to the kitchen.
“Em, your pants are soaked. We really need to find you some boots.”
She only nodded and turned away. Her socks were wet, too, and she left a damp trail across the worn linoleum, the long frayed hems of her black pants mopping the dirty floor. She was saving up for boots . . . again. Perhaps, she thought, if she chose something more feminine than army boots this time, Cori wouldn’t take them.
Emily paused at the door to the staircase and listened to the newscaster’s voice as it filtered through Mrs. Kremer’s door. For the seventy-third night in a row she wished it was her mom in there listening to the radio. She wished the door would open and loving arms would enfold her. She wished . . .
The radio broke off mid-sentence and out went the soft glow beneath the door taking away that strip of hope. Good night, Mrs. Kremer. Emily only thought the words. She closed the staircase door and fingered the hook and latch. The one time she dared to lock it Cori screamed a tirade. It was all right, though, for Cori to lock Emily out. Maybe the new girl would stand up to Cori’s outbursts.
Maybe the new girl would be equally as bad.