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208 pages, Paperback
First published July 1, 1980
…a man had stopped and asked her if she wanted a ride. He was a perfectly nice man, Katie knew he was, and she hadn’t gotten into the car, and the man had simply smiled and driven away. Katie had tried to explain that it was only that he thought she was a long way from home, and it was cold and raining, and he was kind. But Grandma Welker was convinced he was a child molester.
Katie was a little vague about what child molesters actually did. But she knew it was something unpleasant, and she had sense enough not to get into a car or walk away with a stranger, for heaven’s sake. Grownups told you and told you things, and then they acted as if you didn’t have any brains at all, even when they admitted you were bright.
”…you’re used to living in the country, and it’s different, in the city. All kinds of things can happen-"
“I know about child molesters and all that,” Katie said with dignity. “And keeping the doors locked and not admitting on the telephone that I’m alone. I’m not stupid.”
She’d tried to ignore Derward, but after a few minutes of feeling the point of his pocketknife jabbing more and more painfully between her shoulder blades, Katie had used all the force she could muster and turned the thing back away from herself.
The next thing she knew, Derward was yelling, and there was blood all over his hand and his desk, and when Miss Cottrell came to the back of the room, she was very angry.
Katie remembered standing in front of the principal’s desk, her legs quivering, and being asked for her version of the story.
What could she say? That she’d used some mental force that nobody else seemed to have to twist the knife against the boy who was jabbing her with it?
“It was his knife,” Katie said. “He was fooling around with it, poking me.”
“And so you twisted around and cut him with it?” the principal asked.
“I jerked away,” Katie said, “and somehow he cut himself. I can still feel where he poked me.”
The principal looked at the back of her blouse, but he said there was no cut in it. “Do you want the nurse to look at your back and see if there is a mark on your skin?”
“No,” Katie said. If there was no tear in her shirt, it was unlikely that there’d be a mark on her skin.
“But it was his own fault.”
In the end, nothing happened to either of them, Katie or Derward. They were sent back to class, where spelling was all over and the kids were doing arithmetic. But all the kids looked at Katie out of the corners of their eyes.
Katie still remembered the way the principal and the teacher had looked at her. Not at Derward, but at her.
Once he’d locked some girls in an outhouse when they were on a class picnic at a park, and it had been over an hour before anyone heard them yelling and let them out. Derward had been suspended for three days because of that. Not that Derward minded; he had returned to school boasting that his father had taken him fishing for three days.