"Tika!...Has anyone seen Tika?"
Tika spied her mother's legs through the slatted closet door and tried to hold still so she didn't give herself away.
"Don't fuss Molly. The house is sealed, she's probably just playing."
Tika stifled a giggle. Tika's mother told her not to fuss all the time, so Gamma Dora telling Tika's mom not to fuss was hilarious.
"Come help me with the stuffing."
Tika watched her mother's legs pause, then turn and follow Gamma Dora's voice back out towards the kitchen. Tika sagged against the vacuum cleaner. It was dark and quiet in the closet, which was nice, but she wished that Toby was going to come looking for her. Her mother wouldn't actually look like you were supposed to, but would just call Tika and then add on punishments until Tika came out. That wasn't any fun. Toby would look everywhere for her. Even in drawers that he knew were too small for her, all the while saying things like "where could Tika be?" She used to look forward to the day of turkey and pie, and seeing Toby, even when the Black came and the adults got all sad, Tika still enjoyed her time with Toby. Now she hated this day. She hated all the adults fake-smiling as they stuffed their faces full of food, watched the picture-screen box, and pretended that tomorrow wasn't tomorrow. Tomorrow was the Black and the Black had taken Toby. The closet door opened and light spilled down onto Tika.
"There you are, Tika."
It was her Aunt Carene, Toby's mom. Her eyes were always red and her hair was always messy now.
"It's dinner time."
Tika didn't get up. "I don't want to eat dinner."
Her aunt knelt down beside her. "I don't either. But we have to."
"We have to sacrifice the turkey to the Black. You know that."
Tika shook her head. "It didn't help Toby."
Her aunt's lower lip trembled. "It doesn't always work, but we have to try."
"So the Black doesn't take you too."
Staring into her aunt's eyes, Tika thought that without the red, they would look like Toby's eyes. "Is that why you still eat dinner?"
Her aunt nodded.
"Even the yams?"
Her aunt smiled...well as much as her aunt ever smiled now.
Tika nodded back. "Okay." She took her aunt's hand. "But I'm not eating the yams."
Aunt Carene stood and pulled Tika out of the closet. "You don't have to...yet."
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We're Making Better Words, All of Them, Better Words.
I Write to Burn Off the Crazy.