by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
A knock sounded on the door.
Arly was sitting at the table with her little brother Sim on her right. Sim was eight, and would have been gone by now if Mama had been normal. Mama sat at the head of the table with the turkey in front of her, and Now-dad sat at the foot of the table with the gravy boat and the mashed potatoes. Across the table from Arly and Sim sat their older sister Kitty, and Granny. Nobody had eaten yet.
"Who could that be?" Mama asked.
"I'll get it," said Sim. He jumped up.
"I don't know that we're ready for visitors just now," said Mama. They had just said grace, and she was about to carve the turkey. Everything smelled so good Arly's mouth watered. She hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast.
While Sim and Now-dad, safely locked in the house, fixed the Wishmas meal, Arly had been out chasing wild boys on her bike. Not like she actually needed boys now, but at some point, her mother had told her, she would need a boy who wasn't her brother, so no practice was wasted. She had tracked three of them to their lairs. They would probably move now that she knew where they lived, but maybe some other boy would move in. So far, Arly had ferreted out twelve lairs in the hills above the village, and she'd found good vantage points to watch their entrances from. She planned to have her pick of boys when the time came for her to find one.
There weren't so many boys around. Most families kicked them out of the house when they were six, and some died when they left home, not trained in ways to survive.
Not everybody could have a boy, but Arly was sure she'd find one when she needed one.
Kitty never chased anybody. She would sure look stupid when her time to catch a boy came.