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"Miss Wallace," Sheriff called He had his rifle sight pointed at Martha, ht rooot it in CT like the fat girls, and Sheriff, a , feht, was notoriously cruel What’s worse was that the whole rooiven up a thing I knew Martha was going to take the beating I should have

"Hey, fatty"

"Hey, lardass Why do you eat so s Sheriff earing a self-satisfied grin He liked to say that you had to break before you could be fixed, but this was toowould get you detention, but here it was called therapy As the taunts rose into a chorus, Martha looked down, her face hidden behind her lank brown hair, and shuffled her feet in that way of hers, like she was an elephant trying to disappear behind a mouse She stared at the floor while the chants continued No one was even trying to pretend to be supportive here; there was none of the usual talk about using food to fight loneliness or to hide her beauty Just two dozen girls taking out their body-ie issues on the size-18 sucker in the , but she n of defeat Her back was tountil I saw the spatter of tears on the blue roup hug, and pats on the back, and words of encourageot was a Kleenex

In the cafeteria that night, I sat next to Martha, who, like me, usually sat by herself To my surprise, Bebe, Cassie, and V sat down next to us

"I’ot nailed today"

"No, it wasn’t," V said Her face was red with anger "Neither of you is at fault It’s this place’s fault Cruelty described as therapy No wonder so irls leave here more messed up than when they came"

"It was particularly brutal today, rooht rand ole ti I mean, so what? Who isn’t a slut these days?"

Martha just stared down at her plate of food, until she squeaked, "I don’t get it"

"What?" I asked

"I’ they have to eat is this stuff," she said pointing to her plate of breaded fish sticks, Tater Tots, and carrots so overboiled, they were dissolving into a blob under et fatter, but if I don’t eat it, I’ll get written up," she whined, gesturing toward the clipboard-wielding counselors And then she started sobbing

Poor Martha The food at Red Rock was positively vile Everything was frozen and caers of dubious ets, ice creaed cookies The only fresh vegetable was iceberg lettuce salad with so that I ended up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches irls on food watch didn’t have the luxury of PB and Js They were ot a black h, they were suspected of starving theht, but in the catch-22 that was lame-ass Red Rock, she also had to clean her plate

"Martha," V said in that sharp way of hers "Don’t cry Don’t let the in this place"

Martha looked up at her "What ways?"

"Yeah," I asked "What are these ways of yours?"

"Not here Not now But soon enough we’ll have a little education for some of you newbies"

"Where?" I asked

"Shh Bebe will take care of you," V said "Now let’s scatter before we call lad you’re starting to examine your food crutches, Martha," she said in an overly loud voice Then she nodded her head, shot Martha a wink, and walked away

Chapter 8

"Don’tover me in her pajamas, with her hand over er over her lips and mouthed, "Get up" She went over to Martha and did the sa, except Martha jumped when she woke, and for a second it looked like Tiffany was up too We all held our breath until Tiffany rolled back over and resu into her pile of stuffed anih the hallways to the T-junction where the residential units uard chair, which was eoons was asleep on the floor "He likes to nap between one and three, like clockwork, so we, my dears, have a smallof opportunity" It was a quarter past one

"How’d you wake yourself up without an alar h"

"What about the cameras?" I asked

"They don’t have thehts are out"

She took us to a s for us there We sat down in a circle on the floor and faced one another

"Wo’d you know about this office? How’d ya get in?" Martha asked

V held up a small silver key "Secret number one," she said "The pass key It opens every door in the place"

"How did you et that?" I asked

"Our sneaky V stole it off the Sheriff’s giant key ring," Cassie said

"Let’s just say I liberated it Sheriff thinks he lost it And of course, they didn’t want to pay to change all the locks," V said "Now, let’s get down to business"

"But what if we get caught?" Martha asked "I don’t want to get sent back to Level One"