Hard Peaches

Peaches is sixteen and is going to be a junior next year. Her skin’s bad and her hair’s a mess and well-meaning church ladies tell her she’s going to be beautiful when she grows up. She has a mind like a like a garbage disposal, sharp and hidden and growly. She pegs Xandra after fourth period and drags her into the bathroom. “Where’s Kade?” she asks, tapping her bike pump against her thigh meaningfully.

Xandra mumbles something and Peaches brushes her with the pump playfully, not quite hard enough to bruise. “Dunno,” she repeats.

“Not good enough. I talked to his mom and he hasn’t been home since Friday. No one’s seen him. You guys are tight, you tell me where he is.”

“What do you want him for?”

Peaches shakes her head. “Just want to talk to him. C’mon, Xandra.”

Later she fast talks her way past Kade’s mom and sprints towards the big pile in the back of the yard. She has to fumble for the latch, but eventually a whole section of hubcaps drops away and she slips inside. It reeks in there: piss, body odor, rotten food. In the weak winter light Kade is gaunt and colorless except for the dark blush of foam on his lips. “Kade, man,” says Peaches, “what have you gotten yourself into?”

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