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Carter Hazelwood, 14

It's getting hard to tell the creases from the lines. He folds the map into his pocket, carries it on rounds in case it wants adjusting. At center stands the gargantuan, a white pine that must be older than his great-great-greats, overseeing a world that’s Carter-made. Yet in the world that others made, three days after Mr. Roth brought complaint number twelve, Branch Out Tree Service felled it, a danger overcome in one short afternoon while Carter solved for y in pre-algebra. 


Now he stands atop the stump, wondering if the tree is still there somewhere, if he's standing inside a ghost, siphoning power. The girls over there flash their eyes. He is their mysterious, their edge of normal. They fold together and whisper “Carter” as if he could be a deep, dreamed destiny. He is cursed with comeliness. They will never see all the way inside.