/*pouts* You guys aren't guessing at the fairy tale. Don't you want ten points?/

Like the Sky Was Falling

People like to make jokes about how lunch is their favorite class. What's so fucking great about lunch? Sitting at a table on an uncomfortable bench while people scream all around you, trying to be heard by someone on the other side of the goddamn cafeteria... It was enough to drive the Dalai Lama to thoughts of teenage genocide.

Take out the whole group and start over. There didn't seem to be anything left in us worth saving.

I sat near the window, leaning back against the wall so I could see the whole room. It comforted me, somehow, to have something solid behind me. Like no one could get around me; they'd have to come at me where I could see them and then I could prepare for them. It was a never-failing tactic.

Unless, of course, I didn't know how the fuck to prepare for the incoming missile anyway. I silently damned that girl to hell.

"Laura," Chris said, nodding at me politely. A few of the girls at my table raised their eyebrows, unsure as to how to react to this newcomer, and I tried to hide the fact that I felt the same. Never lose your composure; it invites the jackals in to tear you to shreds.

I did and do think of most teenage girls as jackals.

"Yes?" I said coldly, staring straight into her eyes. That was a mistake; most people look away when I do that, but she just stared back like she expected it. Like she was depending on it.

I could feel my friends' incredulous stares as I looked away first. It was not a good feeling.

"I wanted to ask if I could borrow that book you were reading in first hour after you're done with it," she said smoothly, standing tall and easy. With everyone at the table staring at her, silently letting her know with all those unsubtle signals that she didn't belong, it was a wonder that she could look so cool. Composed.

Like I was famed for being.

"I can't find it at any of the libraries I've been to," she continued, pausing only to flick a strand of hair from her face. I weighed my options: say no and appear to be a bitch, say maybe and seem like I was taken aback by this girl, say yes and have to deal with her at a later date.

The last one seemed the best choice. I'd learn how to deal with her by that time. I was sure of it.

"No problem," I said cheerfully, smiling as brightly as I was able. It was an acceptable strategy. If you look away first, act like it was never a competition to begin with. I was very good at this game.

"Thanks," she said, smiling in a slow, melting sort of way. Yet again I was thrown back. What did she mean, smiling like that? Like we were the only two people in the whole damned room?

Like she knew exactly what I was playing at, and she was trying to tell me that I didn't have to act around her.

"Anyway, Laura, as I was saying," Natalie interrupted quickly, tapping my arm and drawing my attention away. I felt a sudden surge of gratitude; I could feel that Chris was leaving.

"Who was that?" Jamie demanded, watching Chris walk away with an almost revolted expression. "Talk about scary."

"Shut the fuck up," Natalie told her, laughing a little but getting it across to everyone that they should leave Chris out of the discussion. I could see her watching me carefully out of the corner of her eye, and everyone else watching Natalie to gauge how I was feeling.

Sometimes, being treated like a bomb about to go off gets annoying. Other times, it's nearly a life-saver.

After school, I nearly ran out of the building, ignoring any and all goodbyes shouted at me as I headed straight for the car. It was my mother's old Lumina, and not exactly something to brag about, but it was a car. I couldn't complain.


She was out there, walking home, I guess, under the oak trees at the far end of the parking lot. Seeing her was like suddenly stepping out into the cool air. Refreshing. Surprising. Like something unexpected but welcome.

I shook my head and got into the car, turning on the music loud enough to drown out everything. I have always driven like a fiend, and today was no exception: I nearly hit two stupid freshmen on the way out.

I could feel her gaze glide along the car as I went past at around forty miles per hour. The speed limit could kiss my ass.

I hated school, but that didn't mean I felt any love for home. I wasn't happy anywhere, really, because no matter where I went, all my problems went with me. I felt like I could lose them if I went a little faster, a little wilder; like they wouldn't be able to keep up. It was a fantasy that made me feel happier, even if it wasn't true.

I could have driven forever, but I had to think. I needed to figure out what the hell was going on.

I went out to the nearest park to hide in a clump of trees.

/Review if you like, flame if you have to, blink in confusion if you just don't get it./