Chapter 1

"You jump, you reach/ You duck, I teach/ The choreography is easy/ Make your movements breezy." The poem that she was mentally reciting was one that she had created for a creative writing class. She had had to write a poem based on a painting. The one she had chosen was absolutely amazing. She couldn't remember for sure who it was by, but the picture would forever be in her thoughts. In the painting four African American women were dancing and spreading their arms seemingly preparing themselves to fly? Erina pictured herself as one of the women flying into life. The women's arms were spread in every direction and their bodies were outlined by butterfly wings. It was a hard picture to explain but it was one that had many stories behind it as well as a plethora of history and emotions. "You reach, you duck/ You teach, and I'll jump/ Show off your freedom/ Let it ring through your kingdom." Erina jumped and landed on her hands. Her body was sticky with sweat and her head was swimming from the five hour exercise. She was very tempted to just sit down and sleep off the pain. The only thing keeping her from doing so was the poem and she was struggling to remember all the verses. The intrusions on her sleep were nothing abnormal, but it was becoming harder and harder for her to wake up and be able to function properly. Nothing had been the same...No. She stood and stretched her limbs. She winced but restarted the song. The beat from the music thumped along to the rhythm of her heart, just the way she liked it. No people, no noise, and best of all, no-

"YOU-" A seemingly crazed woman burst into the studio and yanked Erina by her hair. She said nothing as she was dragged out into the real world. There was no sadness as she was thrown onto the floor. The pain had turned to a numbing feeling and there was nothing that she could do about it without getting someone killed or worst. It simply wasn't worth the emotional pain as well as the physical pain, so she stayed silent and still, waiting for the pain, anger, and violence subside. There was no escape for her. A fist connected to her ribs but she remained quiet. Not a tear rose in her oddly colored orange eyes. Her breathing was ragged, though, and she knew there would be serious damage later. "I told yo' lazy butt ta be home right after school, hoe. You was with that football playin' nigga wasn't you? Or maybe those sluts you like ta call ya friends? Answer me!" The woman shook Erina and kicked her several times.

"No ma'am." Erina answered, coughing.

"Liar!" Another kick, accompanied to a punch. As she heard the sound of her nose, she wanted so much to prove she wasn't just another pretty face. But her mom was insane. If Erina tried anything, someone or something she loved dearly would suffer. It wasn't worth it. "Ha! I can't wait 'till ya fatha get home. That nigga gonna teah it up!" Erina was yanked up and her mom smacked her before fixing herself up. Appearances were everything to her. At least, hers and Erina's father's appearances were. She could care less about how Erina looked. All of the clothes Erina had were handmade and designed by her. She would never let her mom see them, however. That would surely lead to a non-stop beating that would most likely end in death and no one wanted to avoid that as much as her. "Throw somethin' on. I don't want my danged dearest daughter to look like what she really is." She waited.

"What am I?"

Erina's mom smiled as if she might actually have a heart and be proud. Then again she may be proud that Erina recognized that she was a demon possessed witch. Many who knew her mom's true nature were astounded that such a brave, respectful, kind, and loving human being had come out of a woman full of such a cruel and reviling spirit. Erina only smiled and thanked the spectator, keeping her eyes low and her thoughts to herself. Not worth the risk of someone going back to her mom with anything she said. Again those words rang in her ears, and with those, the voices of her friends. "Risks are what life is about. Just walking, breathing, and being you is a risk. Why not take another?" But Erina immediately dismissed the voices. She knew how dangerous desires of the heart could be.

Her mother's voice broke into her thoughts. "A worthless whore. Other people see it too. They feel that our relation to each otha is hard ta fathom." Erina wanted to raise her brow at her mom's use of

Erina, just for a moment, allowed herself to think on how much she hated the lazy way of talking that her mother had. She hadn't said her "r's" since Erina had been born unless she was trying to sound sophisticated or just wanted to sound as if she was the richest, smartest woman in the world. Erina nearly scoffed whenever she thought on how her mom thought. Pointless effort. She was no scientist. Contrary to what Erina's mother said, Erina was not the whore. The mother was. Her husband and her lover had all (did she think lover? she meant lovers with an "s") said so to Erina as her mother prepared for whatever...job she was going to do that night. She never did understand the inane lust that men seemed to have for her mother. She was a woman who was only knowledgeable in matters of pain and suffering, and not her own. Her beauty was one of Botox and anti-aging creams. Her eyelids were thin and seemed to have no fat. Her dark skin, once glowing and great, was now the same shade as darkness, which befit her heart. Her smile was just as a shark's; mischievous and full of evil. Nothing could conceal her true personality. Her body, itself, gave it away. It was frail and seemed barely strong enough to hold her large bracelets. Even though the woman was abnormally proud of her "flat" tummy, she had yet to realize that all the stuff that she was doing to get that way would eventually kill her. Erina had said this once when she was younger, and had gotten hit so hard that her eyes rolled around in her head before falling down into her nasal passages, then all the way to her bowels and out the other end. (Well, not really but you get the point) Since then, she mentioned nothing regarding any of the goings-on in her house. Silence was the key. It didn't solve anything, but it kept her safe for the while that she was not noticed.

"Are you listening?"

Erina snapped back to life as her mom stabbed her in the head with her three foot fingernail. "Yes ma'am." Erina put her head down in what would seem to be a solemn manner in her eyes. She didn't know what her mom was thinking but it was probably something about cutting off Erina's long, coconut colored hair. Or maybe cutting out her orange eyes. "Sorry."

Erina's mom suddenly kicked Erina in her stomach. When she doubled over, Erina's mother laughed a laugh of bitterness and hatred. "No problem, honey."

That one word had so much venom and hatred in it that Erina's hair curled in fear. (No, not really) But in that one word, she knew everything that she needed to. Her over-dramatic, over-reacting, idiot of a mother was giving her a clue as to why she was doing what she was doing for once; she was pissed and jealous. The anger and hatred wouldn't leave her for a while. Not even if Erina was dead, the hate would always linger and pass on to whoever got close to her mom. She contemplated fighting and running away, but once again she thought, as she often did, that it wasn't worth the risk.

"What's up Miss Caty?" A young boy said as they exited the studio.