~ 1 ~

I shut my locker, number 109, and slid my bag on my back. Heather came up to me, grinning.

"You won't believe who I just talked to!" she squealed, tugging on her blonde hair. I raised an eyebrow.


"Josh Trump!"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes!" she wrapped an arm around my waist as we made our way through the crowded halls, trying to locate Chris's locker. "He asked me out."

"What did you say?"

"Told him I'd think on it." She sighed contentedly, staring at the ceiling dreamily. I rolled my eyes, really not understanding. Why not tell him yes and know he was yours, than wait until the suspense was (you thought) killing him and he then be taken? I really didn't understand how Heather's mind worked sometimes.

"Watch it!" someone yelled, bumping into Heather. She turned and flipped them off.

"Why don't you!" she yelled back. Her ponytail whipped me in the head as she snapped her face forward.

"Ow." I complained, rubbing my cheek.

"Oh, honey, I'm sorry. Little bastard back there got me mad." She grinned. I shook my head as we came to Chris's locker. She was tugging on the strap of her backpack, trying to get it out of the slender door.

"Stupid…bag!" she huffed and then saw us. "Oh, hi…"

"Having fun there, Chris?" I asked, pulling away from Heather and leaning against the locker next to hers. She gave me the stink eye.


I smiled. Chris always had this kind of effect on me. She was my best friend, she'd always been. Since first grade, if I recall correctly. She had this amazing personality. Like, she didn't give a shit what others thought of her. Chris acted as she wished, said what she thought (which didn't always go well with the teachers), wore what she wanted. She was great.

Her hair, for this last week of school, had been cut in the same fashion many of the guys wore. She had it in little spikes, which looked terrific on her. Her hair was black, so it had this great effect. Today she wore a shirt she had customized—it was a white beater with black long sleeves sewn into the straps—and baggy black pants. You could see a little bit of cleavage, which was hilarious since Chris hated her breasts. It got her attention, which she really didn't want.

"What's your summer plans, dah-ling?" she asked me, wrapping an arm around my neck. I clomped on beside her and attempted to shrug. Heather laughed at me.

"You look so stupid!" she tugged on my elbow, pulling me away from Chris.

"I see how it is…" she fake-cried into her sleeve, peeking up. I gave her the blankest look I could muster and she cracked up.

"Girls, the buses are leaving soon and, unless you wish to help clean up, I suggest you get to them." The principle stated. Then she walked away, going to investigate a loud group of guys by the girls' locker room doors.

"Bitch." Chris muttered under her breath.

"Hey-lo." Brandon said, wrapping an arm around Heather's shoulders. She leaned into him.

"Hi Brandon, buddy!" Chris smiled and tugged Heather away from him. "She's mine."

"Oh yeah?" he pulled me to his side. "Then she's mine."

Chris opened her mouth, then shut it, then opened it again. "No fair!"

The light from outside almost blinded me as we opened the doors. I groaned and shielded my eyes.

"My bus is around the back." I said, pulling away from Brandon. I gave Chris and Heather a hug.

"Call me when you get home, okay! Promise!" Heather grabbed my wrist.

"Let go."

"Promise…" she sang. I sighed.

"I swear I'll call you when I get home. That good?"


I ran to bus number fifty-five. It was already pulling away and stopped when the driver saw me. The doors opened and I climbed the steps and entered the noisy, stuffy bus.

"Next year, make sure you're on time." Jill said. The bus started with a jerk and I stumbled into the second to last seat, sitting on my knees and waving to Brandon and Chris. Then I slumped down and pulled my CD player from my bag, starting it. Sentenced blared from the headphones. I had a long ride and enough batteries to last through it, plus another CD. So I closed my eyes and fell into a light nap, waking ten minutes later. Someone tugged my headphones off as they sat next to me.

"What?" I asked.

"Who're you listening to?" he asked, trying to make out the words that pounded from the headphones.


He nodded, as if he'd heard of them before.

"Did you want something, Joe?" I said impatiently. He nodded and reached into his back pocket, bringing out a piece of paper. He handed it to me.

"You know the guy, Jude Ferguson? The senior? Well, he's having a party for all of the upperclassmen, but one of the lower people snagged a copy and gave it to us Fish." He grinned. That was our nickname. Freshmen were called Fish.

"June asked me to hand this out of the bus."

"And we're just going to crash the party?"

"Hell yeah!"

I snorted and brought my headphones back to my ears, folding the paper. I arched my back and slid it into my back pocket. Joe raised his eyebrows, gave me two thumbs up, and moved to the seat in front of me.

I rode the rest of the way home without interruptions.

"Is Heather there?" I asked, laying spread eagle on my floor.

"Yeah…let me get her." Heather's mom said. I heard the thump as she laid the phone down and then, loud and shrill, "Heather! Phone!"

I grimaced and waited…and waited. For about five minutes, I'd say. And after two more screams from her mother, she answered.

"Okay, mom. I've got it."

The living room phone was returned to the cradle.

"Heather?" I asked. I heard an mm-hmm. "What's up?"

"Nothing. Summer is already proving to suck. You?"

"Oh…" I felt around in my pocket and pulled out the piece of paper. "Wait—did you hear about the party?"

"What?" Heather perked up. "A party? A real, live party?"

I laughed. "Duh."

"Nope, haven't heard a thing."

"Too bad." I sighed. "Guess you won't be going then."

"Tell me!" she shrieked. "Or else I'll come over there and smother you."

"Come over. Dad's gone and he won't mind when he gets back."

"Okay. Hang on."

Five minutes later, her mother agreed. She was going to drive Heather over in about an hour. We hung up.

I turned on my computer and put in American McGee's Alice.

I rushed downstairs when the SUV pulled into our driveway. I opened the door right as Heather walked up the steps.

"Okay, tell me all about this party."

We marched up the stairs to my room. Heather jumped backwards onto my bed, grabbing a pillow and crossing her legs. I sat on my desk chair and twirled, trying to read the piece of paper.

"Uh…it's next Saturday. At Jude's house…Jude the senior," I quickly explained to Heather. She nodded with her mouth opened a little bit. Then I told her how the Fish had gotten the stats and we were going to crash the party. Heather leaned back and moaned happily.

"Crash and burn, baby."

I cleared my throat.

"So are we going?" she asked.

"It's up to you."

"I say we should. Chris will definitely have heard about it by now, so she'll no doubt want to go."

As if justifying her words, the phone rang.

"Mm-hello?" Heather greeted. "Oh, hi Chris. Let me put you on speaker phone."

She pressed a button and laid the phone in its cradle.

"Ready?" Chris asked.

"Yeah." Heather yelled, and then giggled about how loud she'd been. "Have you heard about the party?"

"Party, party…party. Yes, I have. Are you two going?"

I nodded as Heather said yes.

"What are you gonna wear?" she asked, hugging the pillow.

"I'm not sure…maybe that skirt I fixed up and then my strapless maroon shirt with the ties under the boobs. Sound any good?"

"God, girl. I want to borrow some clothes!"

"Hey, Heather. Is it just me and you talking or is somewhere else there too?" she cleared her throat.

"I'm here." I called.

"Oh goody. What are you wearing, girl?"

"Something of yours."

Chris pretended to be mad. But she couldn't pull it off and they ended up laughing. I only smiled.

"Well, Heather and I need to sleep." I said two hours later.

"Love you two." Chris made a quick kiss and hung up. It was, and always had been, her best friend phone exit for us two.

"Good night, Heather." I yawned, snuggling into my pallet. Heather muttered something and a few minutes later I heard her snores.

I tossed and turned for about an hour before falling into a fitful sleep. It seemed I was only asleep for a few minutes when I heard the front door slam. But when I looked at the clock, the neon letters said otherwise. It was 2:49 a.m. I'd been asleep for about five hours, maybe less, maybe more—my fogged up brain couldn't do the math at the moment.

But I was awake and, as much as I tried, I couldn't fall into the restless sleep I'd had only minutes before. I sat up, hearing loud footsteps—two pairs, to be exact. I knew who it was. It was my dad and Lily, his girlfriend—his fiancée.

"Robert!" she whispered. "Stop!"

"Let go of my arm." He said. They were across the hall and down four doors, but they were talking loud enough that I could hear them perfectly.

"Let go!" he screamed. Both of them were probably drunk. I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them, hoping that Heather wouldn't wake up. She'd been here before, when they'd fought, of course. But I hated when that happened.

My head snapped up as I heard a loud slap. Then crying. And, as expected: "Oh my God, honey, I am so sorry."

"Get away!" she screeched, sobbing. "Get the hell away from me, Robert!"

"Lily… honey. Calm down. I said I was sorry, didn't I?"

"I don't care! That's the last time you'll f—" she hiccupped. "—uckin' hit me!"

I heard her running footsteps pounding down the stairs and then the garage door in the kitchen slammed.

"Shit!" my dad muttered, his steps nearing my door. I quickly lay down, turning on my side, and pretended to be asleep—right as my door opened. A light shown in from the hallway. Then my door closed and I squeezed my eyes shut.

"Thanks for letting me come over," Heather said. I walked her outside to her mom's car and nodded.

"Anytime." I whispered, leaning forward to hug her. She squeezed me hard.

"I'm sorry about last night, girl. I wish I could do something."

I laughed. "It's fine. When do they not fight? Pssht, she'll be back in a few days."

Heather laughed and got in the front seat, waving as her mom backed the car up.

Turns out, I was right about Lily. Exactly three days later, she showed up at about ten at night, crying and begging my father to forgive her. At that moment, I loathed her for her weakness.