To Make a Thief

Write a scene from your villain’s childhood.

***

The teachers called it an accident. They even blamed Aubrey–indirectly, of course–for playing soccer with a bunch of boys. It was her fault that her glasses were broken and a bright red gash underscored her left eye.

What they didn’t know was that Aubrey had stolen the ball from Jon and outpaced him effortlessly to score only minutes before. They hadn’t seen Jon zero in on her and throw an elbow before she even touched the ball I had passed to her.

I wasn’t big enough to take it up with Jon behind the classroom–he was the biggest fifth-grader in the school and could easily pound me into the pavement. But as I sat in the back of the classroom that afternoon, watching Jon text underneath his desk on his new iPhone, an idea occurred to me, a crazy idea that grew both wilder and more plausible through the last two hours of class.

As soon as the bell rang, I watched Jon stuff his iPhone in his jacket pocket and head for the door. I gave him plenty of space until we were away from the classroom and crossing the fields. Increasing my pace, I caught up to him just a few yards short of the gate. In my haste to get past him, I tripped on an uneven patch of grass, stumbled with arms flailing, and crashed hard into Jon.

I scrambled to keep my feet, hanging on to the strap of Jon’s backpack until Jon shoved me away. Throwing out a hand to break my fall, I rolled away from the kick he aimed at me.

“Watch it, turd,” Jon growled, “or you’ll end up like your breakable four-eyed girlfriend.”

I remained lying on the ground until Jon was out the gate and across the street. Letting out the breath I had been holding, I rolled over and extracted my hand from my pocket. Jon’s iPhone buzzed once, as if in indignation at being separated from its master. I grinned, slipped it back into my pocket, and took off for home at a run.

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