“Think whatever you want, but I’m going,” the girl said. Her hand was already on the doorknob as she turned around one last time. “You can’t tell me what I should or shouldn’t do.”

“Just listen to me. I—“

“No!” As quickly as she could, she stumbled back into hallway, where he was sitting on the staircase. Looking down on him, she had never felt more powerful before. “I don’t want to hear one more word from you. We’re done talking. I’m leaving now.”

The boy heard her turning around a second time and at that moment she felt the hairs on her arms stand up. Before she could react, the boy already stood behind her. “You’re not going anywhere.” His hands were grasped together tightly. “You can’t leave. You never leave without me. I need you,” he said.

“I put everything in place. You don’t have to worry about anything. You’re going to be fine, I’m sure.” She smiled at him, but it wasn’t a reassuring one. “I’ll be back before you even notice I’m gone.” She headed for the door again. “I really want to go now,” she insisted.

A faint cry left the boy’s lips. “Can’t I go with you?” Desperately searching for her hands he stumbled forward. “I’m coming with you,” he said firmly, trying to fix his eyes on hers. “I’m coming with you, just like we used to. You won’t even know I’m there.”

“Just like we used to? And I won’t know you’re there?” The girl shook her head, smirking. “I always know you’re there. You never leave my side. You never do. God, I wish you would.”

Before the boy could answer back, the girl had already dragged him into the living room. “Just stay here, okay? You’ll be fine.”

“You’ll be fine,” she said once more, as if she didn’t know what she was doing was morally wrong. She pretended she didn’t see the boy’s empty eyes crying. And before the boy could stop her, or the girl could change her mind, she headed for the door one last time.

“I’m so afraid of the dark,” she heard the boy whisper as she closed the door behind her.

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