Chapter 1: Anya

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I didn’t expect to like Brindleton Bay this much. It’s smaller than the other cities I’ve lived in, and the air feels squeaky clean.

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Even though my new house is a total pain to get to, with it being so far from all the main roads, I still like it.

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Tucked between a forest and the beach, it’s perfect for a reclusive writer. Well, I’m not actually a writer. Not yet, at least.

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My name is Anya and I’m an aspiring writer. The reason why I’m not an actual writer yet is because I never manage to finish writing anything.

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I get writer’s block a lot, so I just stop continuing my drafts and end up reading trashy romance novels instead. Hopefully living here will give me the motivation to stop procrastinating and actually finish writing something. Hopefully.

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My new place is one of those old houses they divided into two. I’ve been told that my half of the house hasn’t been lived in for years, so it needs a lot of work.

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Honestly, it doesn’t look that bad to me. Everything’s in place with little risk of it collapsing on top of me, so I don’t mind all the overgrown weeds and ivy.

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It’s just that it looks really shabby right next to my neighbor’s perfectly pristine yard. But like I said, I don’t mind it.

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I got settled into my new home quickly, a pretty handy skill I picked up after moving from city to city.

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I guess it also helps that I don’t own a lot of stuff.

 

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From Monday to Saturday I work as a babysitter for Lucretia Miller’s son while he’s still on summer vacation. From what I’ve heard (and saw on the Internet when I stalked her social media accounts to make sure she was a real actual person who wanted to hire me), she graduated from the top medical school in San Myshuno and got plenty of job offers in the big city, but she decided to work in the public hospital of this little town.

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She’s been working in the hospital for nearly two decades, treating most of the residents. Everyone knew who she was.

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Her son, Ryan, is a pesky little thing. He’s sweet and angelic when his mom is home, but as soon as she leaves, he’s running all over the place and making a mess in every single room. He also likes to pull annoying pranks.

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The first time I met him, he went up to me and told me there was a fire outside in the yard.

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Of course, I fell for it. The kid’s a pretty good actor.

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I ran outside and before I could ask where the fire was, he locked the door behind me.

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I stood outside banging on the door for nearly an hour. I considered calling Doctor Miller, but I had the feeling she would have fired me on the first day if she found out I was that careless. Ryan let me in, though. He probably got sick of hearing me shout outside.

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“That wasn’t a nice thing to do,” I yelled. “You shouldn’t say there’s an emergency if there isn’t any. Didn’t you read ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’? That’s basic kindergarten stuff.”

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“But nobody got hurt, it was just a joke,” he said.

Still. Even though there wasn’t a fire outside, there could’ve been a real one that started inside while you were alone. What would your mom say, huh?”

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“Sorry,” he mumbled. “Please don’t tell her. It’s just that… babysitters are for babies. I don’t need a babysitter anymore. I’m almost nine, and I can take care of myself.”

“Look. I know you think your mom is babying you, but she’s not. She just wants to make sure you’re safe in case anything happens, and that’s what I’m here for. I gotta look after you juuuuuust in case. You can’t get rid of me, okay?”

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Ryan mulled this over for a while. “Can I call you my bodyguard instead of babysitter, then? I don’t want anyone to think I still need a nanny or anything. Plus bodyguard sounds way cooler.”

I smiled. “Sure. I’ll be your bodyguard.”

After that incident, I learned to be tougher and less gullible. But it’s still pretty hard to catch an eight year old who’s determined to abuse his freedom while his parent is out of the house.

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By the end of the day, both of us are usually so exhausted from me chasing him around that he’s fast asleep in his room. That’s one upside: I never have to nag or force him to go to sleep. I do need to have a talk with him about bathing, though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the kid change out of the clothes he wore the entire day before he goes to sleep.

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I sit in the living room watching whatever’s on TV while I wait for Doctor Miller to come home. It’s real mind-numbing stuff.

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I only leave once Doctor Miller comes home looking even more exhausted than me and Ryan combined. I think she could really use a vacation.

 

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I work on my book when I’m home. I try to make progress, little by little. But it’s hard when I’m only home for a handful of hours. I’m only over at the Millers’ house until evening, so technically I should have plenty of time to do whatever I want after work.

But I guess I forgot to mention that babysitting and writing a book are just side gigs. I have another, more important job.

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I’m also a grim reaper.

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