Alternate by Ernie Luis

By Ernie Luis

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Grey was the most immediate option. ” Zyla shakes her head. She lifts it from her palm and then slaps her hand down on her thigh. ” Zyla snorts, pointing to herself. “Me? I just got back. I’m tired. ” She pulls out a lighter and lights the cigarette. She takes a puff and blows a stream of white smoke up into the air. Joe leans on his desk and meets her at eye level. “You think I’m fucking around right now? ” He sighs. “Zyla,” She smiles, waving the cigarette around casually. “Calm down, Joe. ” Joe exhales relief and stands back up from the desk.

Hannah shouts from the open window of our SUV. I run over and lean on the window frame of the car. “You’re not gonna come to drop me off, Daddy? ” “I know,” I lower my voice to a whisper. ” Elizabeth gets into the driver’s seat. ” Elizabeth glares an unamused glare at me. ” “I’ll get you ice cream after school,” I whisper in Hannah’s ear, followed by a wink. She giggles and we high-five. ” I stand up from the window frame, give Elizabeth a kiss, and back up. “Love you,” Elizabeth says. ” They both wave me goodbye and roll up their windows.

I take a peek over her shoulder and see a purple bruise forming on her upper back. Scrapes and scratches are on the back of her arms and she’s squirming at the sting when my hands pass over them as I check her for anything serious. My face suddenly burns. My heart drums in my chest and I’m breathing and panting way more than I need to. I feel a surge of blood flow through me like lava. I clench my jaw so hard my teeth might bite right through themselves. My hands form fists as I look up and see Allie.

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