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APARTMENT 1E

APARTMENT 1E

UMBRA

There was something living in the walls.

Still wearing her only black dress, a rose taken from the cemetery in one hand, her bright pink backpack in the other, she’d watched the stain in her new bedroom. Round and raised in the middle, like a bubble, it was different than the others.

And it was alive.

She’d known it the moment she’d walked in. Had felt it as she’d turned to put her backpack on the creaky bed. Had expected, when she first saw the stain two weeks ago, to see a face, two eyes, lips, a nose and cheeks and teeth, pushing from the wall.

But there’d only been a wide brown circle. A stain that wasn’t a stain. One that wasn’t long and dark like the others. One that hadn’t dripped from the ceiling to the floor. One that sat alone, removed from the others. Just like her.

“What kind of name is ‘Umbra?’” were the first words Gran had said when the big lady with the onion bagel breath first dropped her off. The State had decided this was where she had to be
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