31 Oct 2012
Dani lived upstairs with her mom and two little sisters. She was a gawky thing, too tall and too skinny, with orange-red hair and a heart-shaped face. For Halloween that year, Dani’s thirteenth, her mother bought her this little French Maid costume; very authentic, right down to the frilled white headpiece.
Mom had to work the big party at the club that night, but she’d given Dani permission to take her sisters out for trick-or-treating. That permission, however, was conditional: two loads of laundry, washed and dried in the community laundry room, and folded on the couch before they went out.
Responsibility is something a girl learns to take on or rebel against early in a place like The Villa, and Dani was one of those that took it without question. By seven p.m., she was finished with the first load and waiting on a dryer for the second. She’d costumed herself and her sisters early, so they didn’t miss that first rush, the one where all the good candy gets gone. The stilettos her mother had loaned her for the night, were dangerous for traipsing up and down the stairwell a laundry basket, so Dani had donned a pair of fuzzy piggy slippers and slap-slapped her way back to the laundry room to see if one of the dryers was free.
She’s there, this skinny little French Maid, leaning against the wall in the laundry room, tapping her slipper-clad toes to a hip-hop tune no one else can hear, when He comes in, sliding all quiet-like around the edge of the doorframe across from her. Making mental notes. Taking inventory. He doesn’t belong to the Villa, doesn’t even belong in it, but Dani doesn’t know that, and Dani doesn’t run until it’s almost too late, until his hands are up on her, finding out just how skinny she really is beneath that costume.
She runs hard then.