Girl Under Glass Intro
Kelsey sits on the floor with her back against the sofa watching Jeopardy! then Wheel of Fortune. By the time Dancing with the Stars comes on, Lydia has slumped sideways in the chair and is draped over the armrest, her hand brushing the carpet.
Kelsey’s legs are out straight, her feet in a pair of socks with threadbare heels. As she watches the dancers, she points her toes, then studies the positioning of her mother’s fingers, and the way they brush the carpet, looking as if they’ve just unfolded to release a bird.
“Did you ever want to be a dancer, Mom? I’d like to be one some day and homecoming queen, too. Maybe if I took ballet lessons, I could be Miss California one day.” She lifts her right leg and points her toes. “I have a nice arch, don’t you think?”
Lydia’s out cold.
“A beautiful arch, dear,” Kelsey says, and raises her arms like the upbeat of wings.
Her mother starts to snore.
Kelsey raises her voice. “The coolest thing happened today, Mom. Besides my new the job, I mean. This guy I know from school that I kinda like asked me to go—” Kelsey has to think for a minute. If a boy ever really asked her out, where would she like to go? “—horseback riding with him,” she says. “He lives on fifty, no a hundred acres—somewhere. His family is very rich.” Tears come to her eyes, and she gets up. “Damn it, are you gonna sleep through my whole life?”
What’s the point? Her shoulders sag and she sinks back to the floor. It’s useless to get mad. Saying mean things might make Kelsey feel better, temporarily, but nothing changes.
Sometimes she does, though—say awful things to her mother knowing that in the morning they will be forgotten. No harm done. The night before she stole the gardenia, they’d had the usual fight: Kelsey trying to get Lydia to drink less; her mom’s more and more ridiculous list of excuses, until, in a rage, Kelsey threw her mother’s glass across the kitchen. The gardenia would have eased Kelsey’s conscience even though her mother either had no memory of them arguing, or pretended not to.
Maybe I’ll go to Laurel Street just for an hour. She hasn’t seen Carly since her arrest, and Carly hasn’t called, but Kelsey’s sure she’ll want to know how things turned out.
Carly’s lawyer father got her off the hook and the blame settled on Kelsey, which was okay. It had been her idea and a present for her mother. She didn’t want Carly getting into trouble. Maybe if Kelsey had a father, he’d have rescued her like Carly's did.
Carly isn’t on Laurel Street. None of the kids Kelsey hangs out with are there. Will and Ryan, with their usual knot of spiky-haired friends, are sitting in the alley by the fuse boxes, smoking. She definitely doesn’t want to hang out with them. They are in some kind of trouble most of the time—big time trouble like breaking and entering and stealing cars. Will is the one who told her Juvie wasn’t so bad.
She waves, and goes straight to the pay phone outside the Headlands Café’s screen door to call Carly. Carly’s mother answers. “I’m sorry, she’s doing her homework and can’t come to the phone.”
“That’s okay, Ms. Jeffries. Just tell her I called. Please.”
“Kelsey, I’m not going to tell her you called, and I don’t want you calling here again. You’re just not the kind of friend we want for Carly.”
Kelsey holds the dead receiver to her ear pretending someone is still there. She’ll cry if she hangs up, but before she can compose herself, the shrill disconnect signal goes off in her ear.
A jazz guitarist is playing in the rear corner of the Café, and the people sitting at the front door turn and glare at her. She slams the phone into the cradle and walks toward Main Street.
“What’s up, honey?” a man’s voice calls from the dark doorway of the camera store on the corner.
Kelsey turns and retraces her path. Her bike is leaning against the phone stand. “To hell with you, Carly,” she hisses at the phone. “Who needs you? Who needs anybody?”
“We need you, Kels.” It’s Will’s voice, but it takes Kelsey a second to see that they have moved and are now sitting in the shadows with their backs against the café wall. Only their three pairs of shoes can be seen in the light from the windows, and gray wisps, like ghosts, that rise from whatever they are smoking.
“Well, I don’t need you,” she says.
“I heard you gotta do time with old Doc Hobbes.”
“So,” she says.
“He’s an okay guy,” Ryan says.
“How do you know?”
Will laughs his creepy laugh. “Been there, done that, right?” He elbows Ryan. “What’d they get you for?”
“None of your business.”
“Damn. Testy, ain’t she,” Carlos says.
Rather than ride down the dark alley, Kelsey wheels her bike toward Laurel Street, which is lighted. When she’s opposite where they are sitting, Will jumps up and grabs her handlebars. “Don’t go, Kels. I’m tired of these bums. I’ve got some good weed.”
“Let go.” She tries to back out of his grip.
Will straddles her front tire. “Why don’t you want to hang with us?”
“’Cause I gotta go.” She twists free.
“You sure ain’t being very friendly.” He grins, glances past her, and jerks his head. Poof, all three boys are gone.
Kelsey glances over her shoulder. A cop car is coming up Laurel Street. She turns her wheel sharply and hops on her bike. She's about halfway to Redwood Street when she glances back to see if the cop has followed her and is caught squarely in his headlights as he turns into the alley. He drives slowly, his searchlight probing the garages and the spaces between buildings. To be on the safe side, Kelsey crosses Redwood and turns left into the alley between Lee's Chinese and the Furniture Mart. She's furious with herself for coming out tonight. Why didn’t she stay put for once?
At Franklin, she crosses into the Purity Market’s parking lot and stops behind a big SUV. From here she can see if he’s following. It’s a couple minutes before his car stops at the corner of Franklin and Alder by the post office. She ducks down. When she peeks again, he’s turning right onto Franklin.
“That’s my car. What are you doing there?”
Kelsey turns. A man is approaching with a basket full of groceries.
“I’m not hurting your stinking car.” She mounts her bike and rides off.
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