by Peter S. Beagle.
Read by Emily Smith.
Originally appeared in The Line Between.
“You can’t kill him,” Mr. Luke said. “Your mother wouldn’t like it.” After some consideration, he added, “I’d be rather annoyed myself.”
“But wait,” Angie said, in the dramatic tones of a television commercial for some miraculous mop. “There’s more. I didn’t tell you about the brandied cupcakes—”
“Yes, you did.”
“And about him telling Jennifer Williams what I got her for her birthday, and she pitched a fit, because she had two of them already—”
“He meant well,” her father said cautiously. “I’m pretty sure.”
“And then when he finked to Mom about me and Orlando Cruz, and we weren’t doing anything—”
“Nevertheless. No killing.”
Angie brushed sweaty mouse-brown hair off her forehead and regrouped. “Can I at least maim him a little? Trust me, he’s earned it.”
“I don’t doubt you,” Mr. Luke agreed. “But you’re fifteen, and Marvyn’s eight. Eight and a half. You’re bigger than he is, so beating him up isn’t fair. When you’re . . . oh, say, twenty-three, and he’s sixteen and a half—okay, you can try it then. Not until.”
Angie’s wordless grunt might or might not have been assent. She started out of the room, but her father called her back, holding out his right hand. “Pinky- swear, kid.” Angie eyed him warily, but hooked her little finger around his without hesitation, which was a mistake. “You did that much too easily,” her father said, frowning. “Swear by Buffy.”