Rylan Darka, a normal twelve year old. Kitty Larson, the girl dating Rylan's dad. A war. These two girls do not like each other one bit, but Rylan is too afraid to tell her dad. Who will win this battle? Are there wedding bells in the future?
HAVE YOU EVER woken up and came downstairs in the morning to find a complete stranger sitting in your living room? Huh, not very many people know the feeling. I’m one of those very few who do. And that is where my story starts. My name is Rylan Darka and I’m just a twelve year old normal girl with an abnormal life.
So it was starting out to be a normal Saturday morning. I got up, got dressed, brushed my teeth, done. Then my day went downhill from there. I walked down the spiral staircase my dad had built the summer before and just stopped. There she was. And from the days to come, that was what she was to me: she, her, or it. I would never call her that to her face, but when Kitty Larson—that was her name—wasn’t around, she was just an it—an undesirable it.
It was tall and twig-like. It had down-to-the-knees red-brown curls that were tied up with a sky-colored ribbon in a side-pony-tail. It had jade-green eyes that sparkled but if you really stared deep into them, there was a sort of sharp malevolence hidden there. Its eyelashes were long and black. The skin of it was tan—almost olive, but not quite. There was not one pimple to be seen on the face of it. The fingernails were an inch long and painted with intricate designs. They were attached to unblemished model-like hands. The fingers also wore many gold, expensive looking rings. I haven’t even started about what It was wearing. The top was a spaghetti-strap. It was black-as-night with a pink and gold crossbones on it. It also wore super-tiny denim shorts that only reached an inch below the base of Its thigh. The shoes were vintage gold and black flip flops. And last for the description: Only one of Its ears were pierced—and it had a large gold hoop dangling from it.
My first expression: My jaw drops. I want to scream at the top of my lungs. “Stranger danger!” Right then, I felt like I was four again, where I was always afraid of who I’d come upon. I’d be yelling that rhythmic line over and over again. “Stranger danger! Stranger danger!” My dad would blush a plum color and try hard to tow me out of the grocery store aisle, leaving the produce and our shopping basket where it was. Yeah, I was pretty insecure as a toddler.
My second expression: I want to kick myself. My jaw tightens. This girl/woman thing couldn’t have gotten inside without someone letting her in. All our doors are locked tight. And we make sure no one gets hold of the garage code. So, Dad must have let It in. And Dad only lets in people he knows are trustworthy. Plus, if It was a serial killer or was trying to harm me, It wouldn’t be just calmly sitting on the sofa right now, It’d be taking action. I’d probably already be dead.
My third expression: I scratch my chin (not really, but that’s how you can tell someone is thinking). But is she trustworthy? Dad never was the best at predicting what people are like. That’s how he ended up divorced and raising a daughter on his own.
My fourth and final expression: “Who in the world are you, what is your name, how’d you get here, what is your purpose?” I say loudly to It. Okay, I practically scream it.
Apparently, all those expressions went through me so quickly, It didn’t ever see me standing there. Apparently, I startled It. Okay, I’m getting tired of saying ‘it’. Even though I said that from then on, she was only It, She, or Her. But it’s true. That’s what I thought of her. But when I’m telling the story to you from now on, she’ll be Kitty. Okay? Okay. Not that I knew she was Kitty Larson at that point. Never mind, let’s not complicate things.
SOOO, the woman (yeah, that’s it. Until I know she’s Kitty, she’ll be ‘the woman’, or ‘the stranger’) twisted her skinny neck to find where those demanding questions had come from. Her eyes then fell on me, this scraggly, brown-haired twelve year old playing tough guy.
The stranger’s pink lips curved into a nasty little smile. “Oh, I bet you’re Rylan,” she said. “That so?”
“I ask the questions here.”
“I’m not answering that because it’s a question and I ask the questions.” I still don’t know where all that courage suddenly sprang up from.
The stranger smiled bigger. “Oh, so that’s how it is. Well, sweet thing, things are about to change around here.”
“As real as you could get.”
I sneered at her. “Answer the questions and there will be nothing to fear.”
“You really are a cutie, Rylan,” she smiled. “Fine, then. My name is Kitty Larson. Your dear old daddy let me in, but in case you want to know exactly HOW I got here, since that was your question, I got here in my pink Porsche, which is right outside in the driveway.” Kitty laughed. “Take a look if you don’t believe me.”
I wasn’t going to give her a chance to attack by turning my back to her, so I just growled. “No thanks. Continue on.”
Kitty raised an eyebrow. “Okay, then. My purpose to be here: my boyfriend is taking me on a date. Our fourteenth, if you’re wondering,” she sneered.
My first frightened thought: “She’s a liar! Call the police! My dad is single! Stranger danger!”
The next thought: “Shut up, Rylan. Keep your cool!”
And my final thought: “No, don’t keep your cool! There’s a killer in your house! Attack! And really? Is that her best date outfit?”
This was what I finally decided to say, “Joke’s on you: My dad is single!”
Kitty laughed a silky, sweet laugh that almost managed to cover up the hatred and malevolence in it. “No, honey, the joke is on you. Your pappy has been hiding it. He didn’t think it was appropriate to bring up at the times before. But, secret’s out!” She laughed again. “Don’t you think a big, fat wedding ring would look dazzling right there with the rest of my babies?” She pointed to the spot on her ring finger that was open for rent. I wanted to scream.
“No I don’t!” I shouted. “And I ask the questions!”
“Like I said before: The times, they are a-changing!” Kitty growled. “Actually, I like honesty, so really it was Bob Dylan who said that first.”
By this time I was freaking out. I couldn’t help it. “Stranger danger! DAD!” I screamed it at the top of my lungs.
My dad came tripping over his feet. He wasn’t a particularly handsome man, but he was the most wonderful thing in the world to me. His beard hadn’t been shaved yet this morning so there was stubble along his chin. He looked disheveled.
“Rylan, what’s wrong?” he shouted to me, his voice cracking.
I pointed one frightened finger at the woman sitting on the couch. At my scream, she had straightened up and put on a smile. It was false, I could tell. But I was good at these things. If I were any other person right then, and had looked at Kitty, disregarding her appearance and only concentrating on her emotional features, I would have thought she was a particularly nice girl. Yeah, well that was the exact opposite of what she was. But, like I said, my dad was NOT good with these things.
“Oh,” he said. “So you’ve met Kitty.”
“David!” Kitty smiled sweetly to him. I couldn’t believe how quickly she had changed. “Yes, we’ve met, and we couldn’t like each other more!” Kitty turned to me and shot a threatening look that only I could see. I gulped.
“Yeah, Dad,” I said. “She’s great.” I was afraid of what Kitty could do.
Dad looked puzzled. “Then why did you scream?!” he asked, confused.
I quickly made up a story. “I just…want that top so bad!” I looked to Kitty. “Where’d you get it?”
“Somewhere you shouldn’t go,” Kitty said. “For your safety.” She flashed her smile at Dad.
“Too bad. It’s real nice.”
Dad looked really confused now. He knew it wasn’t my sort of thing. But, luckily, he let it go.
“Well, okay, then.” Dad had his eyebrows raised and was looking at me funny. “Um, Ry, do you feel alright?”
“Fine, Dad.” I didn’t add ‘Just freaking out a lot and scared. Oh, and I feel like I’m a four-year-old. But other than that, I’m just great.’ Too weird and what would Kitty do to me if I said it?
Dad tried to smile at me. “Right. Okay, kid. Well, I guess Kitty sort of cleared it up for you.”
What, that you’ve been dating behind my back for a while and you’re chick is demon spawn?
“Yup. Everything’s been cleared,” I grinned.
“That’s good. So, Kitty and I are going out to Boggins Pasta Palace—”
“In the morning?”
“They’ve got good deals.”
“Okay, so Mitsy is coming over to look out for you,” Dad told me, looking at his watch.
I’m twelve, I can look out for myself.
“We’ll be back in a few hours,” Dad announced, smiling big at me.
Kitty smiled, too. But it wasn’t true, like Dad’s. It was malicious and scheming. “Yes, have a good time here, Rylan, sweetie.”
I wanted to punch her.