A Courageous Battle (Chapter 1, page 2 of 2)


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Chapter 1

Roger threw a jump shot that circled tantalizingly around the rim of the net before going in. Lacey applauded and they all looked her way.

"Can I play?" she asked tentatively.

"Get lost, you little shit," Roger hissed, and she scuttled back to her house, tears falling again on hot, red cheeks.

Numb with self-loathing, she took her books up to her bed and lay down. This new hurt was tempered by the knowledge that boys were like that. In her story books, the boys often teased the girls, so Roger's dismissal was only to be expected.

But still … Finding her place she began to read. The Bobbsey Twins at London Tower was the latest in the series about Bert and Nan, and Flossie and Freddie, and their cat, Snoop. Two sets of twins in one family! Lacey ached to belong to a family like that, or even to have her own cat.

Hunger pangs intruded upon her concentration. Lacey's father was a salesman whose territory took him away from home most days of the week. On weekends he went shopping for food and grudgingly cleaned the house, but he never took Lacey with him to shop, or spent time with her at home. Neither parent read to her, or taught her how to cook or sew, or insisted that she clean her teeth and wash every day. And on weeknights she often had to get meals for herself.

She crept along the hallway and eased open her mother's bedroom door. "Hush, child, I have a headache," Susan Wilson said. A sweet, tangy odor hung in the room. All her life, Lacey would associate the smell of rum with her mother's bedroom and her lonely childhood.

Closing the door quietly, Lacey went to the kitchen. She longed for something warm and comforting but she was not allowed to use the stove, so she made a bowl of cereal and milk and cut a banana in pieces to put on top. To block her loneliness, she read her book as she ate her food.

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