The Twelfth Keeper(3)

By: Belle Malory

Okay, probably not. But there was a small possibility that could be true.

They arrived at the Medi-Care facility ten minutes later, just as Barney predicted. Kennedy eyed the building, hesitating to open the van door. The place was a whitewashed clinical block of mortar with a few doors and windows cut out of it. Blackbirds circled the parking lot, cawing eerily, like something out of a horror movie. Hitchcock style.

She didn’t want to go inside.

Inside they would strap her to a chair and stab her with sharp needles.

Inside she would be forced to watch as physicians drained her blood through a clear tube like hungry vampires stocking up for winter.

She whimpered at the thought, incapable of handling such torture.

“For Pete’s sake, Kenn,” her mom scolded. “It’s just a few frickin’ needles. I could take them in my sleep.”

“You’re a nurse,” Kennedy argued. “You deal with shots all day long.”

Plus, her mom was like, super impervious to pain. A few months ago, Ashley split her knee open after tripping over one of Lincoln’s toys. Kennedy had watched—horrified—as she cleaned and stitched the cut by herself. On her own knee, for crying out loud!

Kennedy shuddered at the memory. Sometimes she swore her mom wasn’t fully human.

Growing impatient, Ashley reached across Kennedy’s seat and opened the door for her. “Out,” she ordered. “The quicker you get it over with, the less time you’ll spend whining.”

Kennedy sent her mother a baleful glare before climbing out of the van and swinging the door shut.

The driver’s side window rolled down. Ashley waved goodbye. “Be back in an hour. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” she muttered, not sure if she meant the words.

The van speedily drove away. Evil woman. No sense of maternal nurturing whatsoever.

Kennedy walked towards the entrance of the building, her legs heavier with each step. The warm rays of the sun beat down on her in warning. She wiped the sweat from her brow and kept moving.

Stop being a baby. All the sophomores have to do this.

The front doors swung open as she stepped near them. Cold blasts of air chilled her as she walked inside, sending waves of goose bumps spiraling down her arms. Up ahead, she saw the reception screen alongside a waiting room full of other patients.

She placed her hand over the monitor, allowing it to scan her prints. It beeped, and she was officially checked-in. Turning back was no longer an option.

Hunter was in the back of the waiting room. Kennedy spotted him slouched in one of the metal chairs, his unruly mass of brown curls resting against the wall. Most likely he was bored out of his mind.

Hunter saw Kennedy and waved her over. Grateful to see a familiar face, she threaded through the crowd and plopped down into the seat beside him.

“Thank God,” he groaned.

“Nice to see you too.”

“Forgot our appointments were scheduled at the same time.”

“Yeah, well, we ran a little late. As usual. How long have you been here?”

Hunter looked down at his brace. “Fourteen minutes. But it feels like an eternity.”

It seemed they were always waiting around for things together. Matter of fact, now that she thought about it, that’s how they first met.

First day of high school, nearly two years ago. Kennedy was waiting for the bus. Her mom had offered to drive her, but she’d stubbornly refused. She had still been upset at the time. Well, upset wasn’t giving it enough credit.

She had been downright angry.

Angry because she missed her old home, where she didn’t have to share a room with her anal-retentive sister. Angry because she’d been uprooted to a public school on the other side of the island. Angry because her previous school had given Reagan a scholarship in order to keep their precious honors student and her 4.3 GPA.

To top it all off, Kennedy was furious she’d left her breakfast on the counter out of spite. Stupid tantrums. By then her stomach was growling angrily, too.

So there she was on the first day of school, waiting on the corner of the street for the bus to come, still fuming about all the changes she’d experienced over the summer. If things never changed, she would have been waiting outside with her best friends, gossiping about boys and their new class schedules. She wouldn’t be alone. Dwelling. And hungry.

Then Hunter breezed out of the house next door to hers. Kennedy hadn’t realized there was a boy her age living there. She watched as he strolled up beside her, wiping the sleep from his big brown eyes. Messy curls hung around his head like he’d gotten out of bed that way. There was something kind of appealing about him though.

She was intrigued.