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Don't Be Scared
I closed my eyes.
I couldn't look at the jaunty people who were cheering and clapping, or the man reading a lie, who had no sympathy for the girl on the post, none at all, so I closed my eyes.
Somehow closing my eyes made it easier to tune out all the noise.
The day started out like every other weekday: dinner for breakfast served with a side of roaring laughter at my brother's attempt, and fail, to keep his plate away from the family dog. Some days he laughed with us, and other days he got angry and stormed away, ranting about how he never got to eat and how he had too many other problems to deal with. Today was one of the angry days.
"I got it."
I found him in what we called the "haven", swaying back and forth on the fleece hammock that he had first objected to but now was grateful for. Usually I found him half-asleep, his anger long forgotten, but his eyes were wide open today.
I sat on the beanbag chair next to him, sinking low into the ground.
"Het, buddy, what's on your mind?"
"Go away, Rose."
"C'mon, John, you can tell me if you want to."
"Seriously, Rose, I don't want to talk, not to you or to anyone else. So just be quiet and leave the room."
"Hey, that's a direct disobedience of suggestion number three: Anger should not hold a place in any family." I said this half-jokingly, half-not. I was beginning to get irritated.
"Rose! I actually do not-" His sentence cut off, and my hand, which had just grazed his shoulder, now grabbed empty space.
"John?" No answer.
He had disappeared, literally, into thin air.
The girl whose eyes secretly glowed purple.
The girl who secretly had the ability to make a child, a living child, appear or vanish based on how I was feeling on a particular day just by a single touch.
They elected me.
They had actually elected me as the leader of Roplow.
I still couldn't believe it.
And now I had to watch the execution of someone from our neighboring village, Makin, who used suggestions instead of laws, so they sent us their criminals to be "corrected", otherwise known as hung above an unforgiving fire.
The executioner rose to the podium.
"Rose Darick, eighteen, has been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering her brother. The body was somehow disposed of in a way that officers have not been able to locate it-"
I saw Rose close her eyes.
I didn't blame her. If I had done such a terrible thing, I would have closed my eyes, too.
"-which brings us here today. President Mary, are we ready?"
I looked at her again, straight at her, and nodded.
"Start the fire!"
Bright orange and red flames burst out of the pit, crackling and sending up smoke.
The flames began to wrap around her legs, but I had to give her credit. She didn't scream, unlike the past hundred victims.
And then, she snapped open her eyes and looked straight at me this time.
Her eyes glowed purple, too.