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Rana has lived in foster homes her entire life, and has never really thought she was something special. One night, on her way home from the local library, she discovers a dead panther. What on earth is a dead panther doing in freezing Omaha? From that moment on, her life would never be the same again.

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Submitted:Sep 15, 2011    Reads: 40    Comments: 4    Likes: 2   


"Do it, you coward!" she screams at me. The girl standing at my right side is at least a foot shorter than me, and I don't recognize her voice. I squint at her, trying to make out her face, but it's as if her entire head is covered in a thick, dark layer of fog. I swallow loudly. My hands are holding a heavy hand gun, and my entire body is shaking. I am looking towards the middle of an empty class room. There's a boy there, sitting with his back towards me, his face towards the chalk board. He looks my age, but I can't be certain. I probably wouldn't be able to tell if he turned around either, since there is that layer of fog around his head as well. I want him to notice us, see that he is in danger. I don't know how I got here. I don't know why I am so scared, so scared of this little girl. I try to gather my thoughts. Where am I? Suddenly, my body feels hot and cold at the same time, grey spots are covering my field vision. I know that I'll black out any minute, It's happened before.

Chapter 1

The blank piece of paper on my desk is haunting me, telling me to fill it with nauns and verbs and adjectives. I chew on my pencil, and try to concentrate, keep my mind in one place, but the thought of writing a thousand-word paper on Hitler's life makes me want to rip my hair out. Oh, and why do we have to write it by hand? I tap my foot loudly on the floor, attempting to drown out the sound of my foster parents yelling from the living room. I couldn't care less what they do, I've had so many different foster parents, I've actually lost count. It seems as if it's impossible to find a decent pair of parents these days. Karen and Anthony Scott aren't that bad, if you try to look away from the fact that they probably spend more money on liquor, than food and elecricity combined. They also fight alot, but that's nothing new. To be honest, I can't recall a pair who didn't. Their yelling is what really makes me want to smack them though, since it keeps interfering with my studying. I have lived with them for almost six months, but I don't feel like I know them at all. My foster parents are only acquaintances, I can't really even call them my friends. Almost everyday I wish I could just find someone who would really love me, and take care of me, someone who didn't do it for they money.
I was left at an orphantage in Chicago when I was barely a day old, therefore I have no knowledge of who my birthparents were. In my opinion, it just seems hopeless trying to track them down, so I probably never will. I haven't got the faintest idea of where to begin, it would be an impossible task. I can hear glass shattering and more insulting words. Karen's yelling is the worst. She has this nasally, annoying voice that makes your ears bleed, especially when she shouts. I finally realize that there's no point in trying to write this paper with all the noise, and since it's due tomorrow, I better get to the library. I pack my wornout Jansport backpack with my huge, ancient looking laptop, notepaper and pens. I glance in the mirror, and sigh. I have been locked in my room the intire weekend, and haven't got a smidgen of makeup on. My icy blue eyes and black hair make a striking contrast to my dull and pale skin, and it's even worse without a little concealer under my eyes to hide those god awful dark circles. In addition to that, my hair is in a huge pile on the top of my head, looking like a birds nest. I remove the hair tie, and shake out my hair, letting it fall in messy waves all the way down to my waist. I apply mascara, a bit of concealer and rosy lipstick. I close my bedroom door, and take in the mess of the hall and living room. Karen and Anthony have managed to turn their somewhat tidy and neat flat into a place that looks like it has been invaded by elephants. Their maid will probably have a fit, I think to myself as I pull on my boots.

"I'm going to the library," I shout, not wanting to get in trouble about not telling them.

"Okay, Rana. Be back by nine," I hear Karen reply from the kitchen in a way too sugary tone.

The streets of Downtown Omaha are icy, but being born with unbeatable coordination and balance, it's a piece of cake keeping myself on my feet. I also have a theory that being barely five feet tall, is helpful. There are those days I do wish I was taller, but being petite - as I like to call it, is usually more practical. I do need a chair if I need something off of the higher shelves, but think about long plane rides. How uncomfortable must it be to have your long legs scrunched up for ten hours? Not that I do plane flights that often, but still. I might one day, though, when I become a famous photographer, and have to travel all over the world, extremely rich and successful. I snort at my extremely childish and cliché-ish dream, and instead focus my attention on the icy path. It's a pretty quiet neighborhood, which is nice. The last place I was, well, let's just say; it was not nice.
The library is warm and cozy, and I rub my frozen hands together. People are spread around the place, everyone's concentrating on their work, or whatever they're doing. I love the atmosphere of libraries. I've found that no matter where I end up, there's usually a library there, and they all have that same homey feeling. People don't go to the library to run around and make noise, you know. I find myself a quiet corner, and set myself down.

Two and a half hours later, my hand is basically in cramps, and I can feel a massive headache coming on. I write down the last two sentences, look over my work, and pack my stuff up again.
The freezing wind actually feels good on my skin, and I take a deep breath in before I start on my way home. As I'm just about to round the last corner, I trip over something huge, and fly at least a meter forward, before falling flat on my stomack, face down in the snow. Feeling a bit shaken, I get up and brush the snow off my clothes. I inspect myself, trying to see if I'm wounded, but I seem fine. I turn around, trying to make out what on earth made me stumble. I blink, not quite believing what I'm seeing. Is that actually what I think it is? Yep, with closer inspection, I can confirm that what I just fell over is a huge, black panther, laying with closed eyes under the streetlight. From what I can see, it isn't breathing, but what if it's alive? I sure as hell do not want to be here if it wakes up. Should I just run away as fast as my tired legs can carry me? Then again, if me tripping over it didn't wake it up, what would? More importantly, what is a dead panther doing in a freezing city in Omaha?


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