• Lower Cayton Public Park was lit by a scattering of street lamps, oddly spaced and flickering with inconstant light. Apart from that, the only remaining glow was from the moon which was shrouded in clouds, as if someone didn’t want the world to see its ghostly illumination. The straggly trees were thrown out of proportion on the leaf strewn ground, leaving large spidery patterns on benches and the small path that wound its way through the park.
    Sitting on one of the benches was a girl. She was barely distinguishable as a female, for her ruffled, blonde hair was cut quite short, and the bulk of a brown leather jacket, marred by several zippers, hid her form. She was reading a fraying, leather-bound notebook of some sort, and chewing avidly on her fingernails. She knew that Crazy Fred, the brain-damaged homeless man had wandered down to the bank on Sparkman Avenue, where he spent the night under an awning, so she looked up when a shadow obstructed the light she had been reading by.
    A tall man, with what looked like a strip of black garbage bag tied around his forehead, had stopped in front of her, and appeared to be waiting. His long, light brown hair was tied back in a ponytail, and his chin covered in rough stubble, the type occurring from a very infrequent shave. A ragged trench coat hung over a lean but muscled chest covered in a white undershirt, and a stomach that looked like it hadn’t seen food in several days.
    “Your news reached us several days ago,” he said in a hoarse voice, scratching his jaw line. “You could’ve mentioned something sooner. About Merry being dead, and all. Why?”
    “Corzy,” the girl sighed. It was a statement, not a greeting. “It’s about time. Gerald and Bet kicked me out.” She put the notebook in her pocket, and remained curled on the bench, avoiding his gaze.
    “You’re out?”
    “Yeah. The old gasbags couldn’t handle me anymore. They don’t like how often I wander off.” She smiled wryly. “Guess they should tighten up my leash.”
    “Hmmm.” Corzy looked past her distractedly. “And Merry’s dead.”
    “I’m sorry,” the girl said softly, reaching for his arm. “I know how close you were.”
    Corzy shrugged. “Family is family. Clans is clans. He was a sweet kid, but life goes on.”
    The girl could tell by the way he looked off that Corzy was avoiding the topic of his cousin. She knew he was in pain, so she didn’t push it.
    “I’ll being going away for awhile,” she said, suddenly.
    Corzy jumped. “What? Sable, you can’t leave!”
    Sable crossed her arms. “Look, I need a change. The past seven years have just been me being shuttled around from place to place. I know you guys want me to run with the pack, but I’m still underage and my face is still in the newspaper from that thing Heartsville. Remember the fire?”
    Corzy started to talk, but Sable babbled over him.
    “And I was thinking, you know, like some time in the countryside, some freedom, might really do me some good. I just don’t want to go to another foster family, Corzy, I just can’t! Please!”
    Corzy sighed, and agitatedly flicked a strand of hair out of his face. “It’s just crazy, y’know?” he said angrily, picking at a nail. “You’re in the clan, for Lady’s sake! It’s time you started acting like it, I mean, this whole deal with the foster families, you never had to go through with that!”
    “Dad did,” Sable said stubbornly. “He thought I should see what normal people are like. And frankly, I’m not sure I think our people are any better. In fact, I think you’re all full of crap.”
    She raised her voice at his look. “And don’t try telling me that my brother wants me back. I heard those thoughts LOUD AND CLEAR, Corzithe! I’m never going to go back. EVER!”
    She jumped off the bench, and picked up the small, olive duffel-bag she had been perched on, and strode away from the bench, and away from the park center.
    “He’ll find a way you know,” shouted Corzy, at her retreating figure. “Aisling has always gotten his way.”
    Sable spoke the words, even though she knew that Corzy couldn’t hear her.
    “I’ll never forgive him.”