We Always Get Away

I find it strange how my brothers and I are so different, and yet related by blood. They say it’s difficult to get up in the morning, whereas I say it’s harder to sleep at night. They believe in order to blend in you need disguise, and I think all you really need is a crowd to lose yourself into. This way or that, we’ve tried everything. We always get away.

I don’t like to use the word “steal” or “theft”.

My eldest brother calls it “survival”. When you’re only 15, 16, 17 and soon to be 19 without a guardian or a roof over you’re head, you have no choice but to survive.

I’m the youngest of four, and the only girl. A year ago dad came home and declared that he loves someone else. To make things worse the doctors found cancer in mom’s lungs a few weeks later. What pissed me off is that father didn’t even show up at the funeral. It wasn’t as big as mom deserved, because we had no money. A month later we were kicked out of the house for not paying the rent.

Of course Chase tried to apply for a job. He was turning 18, and he scattered the city for potential work spaces to provide for us as the eldest child. No luck. Carlos tried to help out, but 17 wasn’t enough for some of the picky people. At 16, Cody was only laughed at. And we still tried. To get money, get a place to stay at. Chase even called dad for the first time since he had left us for his girlfriend. By the looks of it, the call did not go so great. Chase wore a scowl for three days.

Now, a year later, I’m standing amongst highly respected people in the city hall, wearing an elegant red dress and a black sparkly masquerade mask covering around my eyes. My dark brown hair is wavy down my back, and my heels conveniently add height. I do not resemble a 15 year old. I look 18. Which is what my brothers were aiming for.

We had no choice. Going down this path isn’t something mom would’ve wanted to see, but we were forced into this by the cruel conditions of life. Only with stolen money have we managed to get ourselves out one room apartment, daily food and water, and on birthdays my brothers even surprise me with clothes. This dress, for instance. Beautiful, worth it, and totally convenient not only for my looks but for The Plan.

We have been planning every detail of this event ever since we heard of it coming. Three months of work and time wasted into considering every little thing, and now we’re finally going through with it.

Whenever we pull something like this, I’m always the actor. The distraction. The person everyone turns their head to at the time of the steal, when my brothers do their work. They were always better with snatching. Smoother and handier. I am an easier people person, and it isn’t hard for me to keep up a conversation with a stranger. Especially when every conversation brings income.

This masquerade is a massive, respected event. Getting through wasn’t that easy, but it wasn’t hard either convincing everyone I am 18 years old and my name is Darla Maze. The real Darla Maze would’ve loved it here, I think as I look around. The mailman that carried her invite was way too easy to bribe. Poor thing is missing out.

A waiter comes around with a tray of red wine, and I take a glass to blend in. I don’t wince when I take a sip, because Darla’s page on the Internet said she loves this drink. I honestly don’t get why, but I make sure not to show it on my face.

“Charlie, don’t tell me that’s wine,” Chase’s voice booms into my ear. I make sure once again that my hair covers my earpiece.

“Does this observation mean you’ve gained access to the cameras?” I ask and look up, trying to spot a lens.

“Indeed. To the left.”

I turn my head and smile at the camera under the ceiling, recording this event. My hand darts up to my neck, fiddling with the music note necklace. It was mother’s, and since she passed it became my prized possession.

I breathe in and exhale, understanding the responsibility of this costly event. “Let’s do this.”

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