Chapter 1

"That's enough, you two!"

The sound of the gym teacher's voice carried down the hall perfectly, alerting the entire crowd that had come to cheer and jeer me that they'd better move or face several days detention.

"Shana Duke, Laci Nicholson!" he shouted again, after Laci took another swing at me. I'd managed to duck under it and come up, my fist impacting her jaw with enough force to send her stumbling towards the crowd. The crowd dispersed from where she tripped back and she eventually slammed her back against the wall, where she wiped her nose free from the ruby stream of blood that now began to gush.

"Go to the 10h grade assistant principle's office!" Jettison barked, just reaching the hollowed out center of the crowd, where I currently stood. My leg was pounding from Laci's sharp heels, and I knew I'd have several bruises before the day was over. But that's okay. The blow I'd given Laci's eye was already showing signs of becoming one of my best shiners ever. No amount of eye shadow would be able to cover that up. And for that simple fact alone, it was worth it.

At that moment, I found that I had a crimson stream of my own, considerably slower and smaller than Laci's, flowing from my mouth. I didn't think she'd done it, and I figured I'd probably bitten my tongue. And I would have wiped it away if the coach hadn't grabbed my wrist as tightly as he could, twisting me around so I would be eye to eye with him. Or, rather, eye to chest. He stood a little under a foot higher than I was, and at first, I refused to look at him, let alone listen. But a quick jerk of my wrist was enough to make me glare up at him, just as he growled, "Are you even listening to me?"

"No. I find that I don't feel as disgusted if I don't watch the spit fly."

Why lie?

But of course, this hit a nerve, and it seemed as if he would split in two. "You know, with the way you're holding my wrist right now, and all the witnesses I have… This could make a very good lawsuit. Now, to decide between physical abuse or sexual harassment…" I thought aloud. Naturally, this was all I needed to say for him to release my wrist, which was sore. I could file charges, sue, but that would take so much effort… And I had only two weeks left of school, so why blow my summer in court? I'd win, sure, but with the lawyer expenses and such, I'd probably come out with less money than I had.

I was sent on ahead of Laci. Coach Jettison was stupid enough to think I wouldn't just hide behind some lockers and wait for her to walk by. It would work, too, since that was the only way to get to the office from this point. But my adrenaline was already faltering, and I really didn't feel like it. Laci got what she deserved, and I was already beginning to feel better about myself. As I proceeded on, I smiled with every recalled cheer I was given.

My friends, the outcasts, the punks, the goths. Not really my friends, but I was much more relatable to them than to Laci's kind. I don't like cheerleaders and jocks, what can I say? They think they're better than the rest of us and that they'll always have their precious good looks and figures. I have just as much right to live as they do. So what if I don't have a flat or nonexistent stomach? And I don't care to bounce everywhere. Jeans and a t-shirt serve me well. It's not like their turds smell like perfume, and if they did, they'd need medical attention.