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When she was passing her fourteenth summer, she realized that the boy her stepmother employed to handle outdoor work made it difficult for her to remember to make herself disappear. Sometimes, as she sat in the ashes, she would think of him instead of reading her mother's book. She felt herself expanding.

Once, he had even approached her in the garden. She felt his hand on her elbow and became an egg, smooth as glass. He slid up her arm, hesitated at the base of her neck, traced the blade of her shoulder, slow knife. She felt a tremor in her shell. He spread his fingers around her ribs, swayed forward, and whispered, I want you--

And she was gone. As far as he could tell, she had disintegrated. He brushed white from his fingers and went on. She went back to the ashes, although the corner by the fireplace seemed more cramped. She thought of herself and of him; at times she felt her hands become his.

Once she opened her eyes to find her oldest sister watching her. This sister's face grew large with the exquisite glee of irrational contempt justified. She leaned over, bore into the fallen girl's shoulder with her nails, and whispered the name like dragging diamonds across asphalt: "Cinder-slut!"*

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