i am now active on RYANGIN DOT COM. The Contract will eventually see the light of day again, huzzaaah! Please see Chapter WHAT for more info!

o1: vacare

I was alone.

Even though I was currently surrounded by swarms of students at the moment, who were bustling with life and chatter, I was utterly alone. I always felt alone. I felt empty, all the time, like there was a huge part of me missing, swept off by an invisible gust of wind to never be seen again. I longed to find that missing part—that part that was vanished entirely from my view.

My whole life was just going to school, doing my work, and then heading home. There was never anything I looked forward to; no one I cared so much to see that I woke up in the morning just to catch a glimpse of them.

I didn't care for anyone like that.

The closest person I came to loving was my little brother, Anthony, who was more commonly called Tony. There were my parents, also, and lastly: Amanda Marshall, my clueless, hyperactive best friend. These four people made up my life.

A loud laugh made me snap out of my thoughts. I spent most of my time drowning in my pity; lost in my thoughts. My imagination was the only thing keeping me sane, it seemed. I glanced up at the short boy who had stirred me from my mind's wandering. Our eyes locked and he quickly looked away, as if ashamed he had looked at me. This was Tommy Wakechuck, the best friend of the boy I hated more than anyone in the whole school.

Actually, he was the best friend of the only boy I hated in the whole school. I didn't really hate anyone other than his best friend, because I was on fine terms with everyone else I had spoken to in this school. They were my acquaintances, but not my friends. They were people I spoke to and gossiped with, but they were only to help the day pass.

That one boy, however, was the only person I hated.

Speak of the devil, I thought darkly when I saw Matt Will, the boy I hated with such passion I wanted to smack him across the face with my thick binder until I broke his nose. I watched him turn the corner with a proud smirk on his face; he thought everyone looked up to him, while I could beg to differ with the comments some of the students made to me about him. His dark brown eyes scanned across the sea of students ahead of him and I faintly wondered if he was looking for a victim. Our eyes locked and his smirk twitched upwards.

He found one.

He shoved past a group of juniors, his large, broad shoulders causing one of the boys in the group to stumble back a little when he brushed by him. He ignored the disbelieving looks he received from the group and continued his calm walk towards me. I noticed he was taking long yet casual steps, as if he was enjoying seeing me squirm with uneasiness. I knew he could tell I was afraid; my eyes always gave me away. I was an easy person to read; Amanda always told me that.

"If it isn't Katlyn White?" Matt sneered, shoving his hands in his pockets and grinning lopsidedly at me. I blinked at him, nodded indifferently, then made an attempt to step past him but he grabbed my arm with such haste I squeaked in alarm. His smile was slow and testing; he knew I wanted nothing more than to walk away from him, but he couldn't have that, now could he? He had to intimidate me some more.

"What's the matter?" he asked me, raising his eyebrows mockingly. "Classes don't start for another five minutes."

Tommy Wakechuck appeared out of no where beside Matt. "I was looking for you!" he exclaimed, then caught my eye again. His eagerness seemed to fade and he suddenly didn't look so happy.

"Katlyn here seems to think that she can just walk away from me," Matt said tauntingly to Tommy, even though his gaze never left mine. I felt my cheeks heat up slightly; I hated it when people stared at me—it made me feel uncomfortable.

"Silly," Tommy said awkwardly, in response to Matt's statement, while I felt Matt squeeze my arm a little.

"Leave me alone," I hissed and ripped my arm away from him. I took a step back while Matt and Tommy let out identical "oohs" at my boldness. Normally, I never said anything and simply took Matt's teasing, but today I was not in the mood.

Matt reached for me again but I stepped back, avoiding his hand.

"Leave me the heck alone," I snapped, then tried to walk around him but I was suddenly shoved to the side, into a set of lockers. A few kids scattered away from me, startled, while I rubbed my elbow—I had hit my funny bone.

"Huh? Fight?" I heard someone squeak.

"What? Where?"

"Is she okay?"

"Who did that?"

A series of questions had been fired. I turned around and glanced down at my binder, which I had dropped when Matt had pushed me. I kneeled to pick up it up, but Matt stepped on it just as I had grabbed it. When I looked up at him in irritation, he jerked his head to the side, showing off a cheeky smile. I heard Tommy laugh, while a few kids murmured to each other. I felt my cheeks heat up in both embarrassment and anger.

"Get off my binder, Matt," I scowled, looking up at him coldly, although I was sure he could detect some anxiety in my features. He smirked down at me, then pressed his foot down on my binder. I heard a ring crack.

"Matt," I snapped, "leave me alone."

Matt just smiled, then kicked my binder down the hall. I watched as the blue blur skidded at the feet of a boy I did not know. I pushed myself to my feet to retrieve my binder, but as soon as I reached it, the boy kicked it back to Matt. I gave him a disgusted look while he just shrugged carelessly and turned around, returning to whatever he had been saying to his friend. I turned just as Matt was picking up my binder. He opened it, and I already knew what he was going to do.

"Don't," I pleaded, but he ignored me as he placed the binder on his knee and opened the rings. The one that was completely cracked and broken, Matt had to pry it apart with his hands. Once he did so, he started shaking my binder until the pages began falling out, all over the floor.

I watched helplessly as Matt tore the remaining papers out of my binder, then tossed it aside and began stepping on the papers. I blinked, then turned around so I wouldn't have to watch anymore. Instead, I was left with hearing the ripping of the papers and the silence of the students. The spectators knew how Matt could be; he was determined to prove to me that he was higher than I was.

I blinked and was surprised to find that a tear trailed down my cheek. I hastily wiped it away, hoping no one saw.

I was sick of him.

I briskly walked down the hall, shoving various people out of my way and earning myself a few flip offs, until I reached the exit doors. I shoved them open with my elbow, being greeted by the hot sun pouring its waves down against me. The weather did not match my mood in any way. Before I could take a step out, a girl I knew from English class called out to me. I ignored her.

As I headed out of the schoolyard, I did not think about how much trouble I would be in if I was caught skipping—instead, I thought about how sick I was of Matt. I couldn't take it anymore; his bullying was driving me insane. I wasn't defined as a "loser", so I didn't know why he always picked on me. It was a mystery even to the people who talked to me, who called me their friend. I didn't return the feelings, because I didn't feel as if I knew them well enough to call them friends.

Except Amanda, but she was as clueless as could be.

Now I had to buy a new binder because Matt had wrecked my last one, which held two of my main subjects.

I had homework in that binder; I had a ten-page essay in that binder. I clenched my teeth together, annoyed beyond belief. I wanted to cry, but I refused to let the tears fall. I was stronger than that; I wouldn't cry. I was strong. I clenched my fists and wrinkled my nose, trying to fight off the tears that tried to invade.

However, before I knew it, they had been released. I was crying. My vision blurred and I felt my cheeks dampen. I stopped walking and decided to just sit on the curb of the street and regain control of myself. I buried my face in my hands and sniffled, ignoring how the sun burned at my back.

I thought about Matt's body being pierced by hundreds of knives and then being covered in salt. This thought made me smile a little, but despite that, I still cried. I faintly wished that someone could be here, right beside me, at the moment, to comfort me. Tony, my parents. . . Amanda.

Amanda Marshall, my best friend. She was incredibly pretty and exciting; the complete opposite of me. She had pounds of friends while I had none that I actually considered friends, save her, and people automatically took a liking to her. Both of us had blue eyes, except hers were bright and vivid while mine were pale and boring. Nothing radiated about me; unlike her. Her looks and personality gave her a high advantage over me. I wasn't under average, perhaps slightly above, but then again, that all depended on the person judging me.

Unlike Amanda's long, blonde, wavy hair, I had a cinnamon color of hair. My mom described it as "auburn" or "crimson", but it was honestly just cinnamon. It was a little past my shoulders and was never up, although it did have a slight natural curl to it that heightened my appearance somewhat.

Hastily, I began wiping tears from my face. I looked up at the blue sky only to see it slowly change into a dusky brown sky. When my gaze returned to the road, I noticed it was now a barren dirt path. I stood up, sniffling and wiping at my eyes, and frowned when I saw that the houses around me were now western-style buildings; like in the olden days.

The things my imagination dug up.

Instead of in a modern day neighborhood, I was in an old western town.

The scene was desolate. Empty. . . just like my mood; just like my life.

I stepped into my house and was immediately greeted with the familiar smell of baking. My mom baked a lot, mainly for Tony, who seemed to be addicted to cakes and cookies. I kicked off my shoes, taking in the familiar white walls of the porch. I placed my shoes on the porch mat and slipped into the living room, where Tony sat watching television. The livingroom was a fairly large room with a soft grey carpet, blue and green couches, and cream colored walls. The house wasn't exactly mind blowing or creative, but it was a house.

Upon seeing me, Anthony shot up off the couch he was currently molding into and ran to me. He wrapped his arms around my waist and hugged me to him.

"Sis!" he chirped, then nuzzled his forehead into my stomach. I patted him on the head awkwardly while he grinned up with me, showing off his large teeth. He detached himself from me and cocked his head curiously as he asked, "Why are you home early?" He cocked his head to the other side and asked, "You crying?"

"No," I said distractedly as I walked past him and into the kitchen. My mom was washing dishes while she waited for her baking to be ready. Occasionally, she'd glance at the small TV in the corner of the counter. She looked over her shoulder at me when she heard me walk in and raised an eyebrow.

"Why are you home so early?" she asked me, turning off the tap and reaching for a cloth to dry her hands off with.

"I don't feel good," I said, looking at the table beside me disinterestedly. "I need a new binder, by the way."

"Why's that?" my mom asked, setting the cloth down and moving to check on her cake.

"My last one broke," I said guiltily, even though it hadn't exactly been my fault.

My mom sighed and gave me an unimpressed look. "I'll tell your father to pick you up one on his way home from work."

I nodded and turned to leave, but my mom's voice stopped me.

"Could you take better care of your stuff, Kat?" she frowned at me. Kat was what my mom called me; others at school sometimes called me Kat, also.

"Alright," I said stiffly, then walked out of the room. I'd go kill the afternoon by watching TV.

I stepped out of my house the next morning, hating how my head continuously pounded, indicating that a headache was working its magic. My new binder, a flashy red one, was tucked comfortably under my arm. It was completely empty, though, of course, since my old papers had been ripped and torn at by the King of Jerks.

I eventually reached the school; the hell hole; the building which tore me into pieces every day and spat me back out when it was finished with me. It was a squat red building with only two floors, but its range made up for its height. Around the corner was the parking lot; the parking lot which I should have been using, but sadly, I did not have a car at sixteen.

Sweet sixteen, my foot.

I never swore. I wasn't for the whole "lets-pretend-to-be-cool-by-saying-a-swear-in-every-sentence-I-speak". Swearing, to me, was just pointless.

I headed inside the school, immediately being met with students chatting animatedly to each other. A few laughed, some yelled, some tossed things across the hall to each other. It was complete havoc. I turned at my locker and slowly unlocked it, saying the combination in my head as I did so. Before I could open it, however, I gasped when I felt a sharp pinching feeling erupt in my arm.

I turned to see Amanda digging her long painted fingernails in my arm, her bright red lips turned upwards in a friendly smile.

"Amanda," I said, smiling at her.

"Katlyn!" Amanda squeaked, then grabbed me in her hold as a hug. I coughed and cringed, attempting to hug her back. She stepped back, then did a twirl. My attention was drawn to the short white skirt she was wearing.

"Like it?" she giggled when she stopped spinning. She flattened the skirt out and looked up at me with eager blue eyes.

"It's great," I nodded in approval.

"You think Matt will notice?" she asked me, biting the corner of her lip nervously. I mentally cringed. Truthfully, she didn't even know how much Matt Will bugged me. She had absolutely no idea how much I hated him. She had to be the most blind person I knew.

"Probably," I said awkwardly, although I really didn't think he'd notice her unless she ran down the school hallways, naked, singing at the top of her lungs. It wasn't that she wouldn't be able to get him; it was just that Matt was too conceited and full of himself to notice anyone but himself. Besides, he was too focused on making others miserable; he had no time to make someone—like Amanda—happy.

"Oh, oh!" Amanda suddenly grabbed my shoulder in excitement, making me start. Honestly, she was just so hyper and chipper. "Did you hear about the new café in town?" she asked me. "Wanna come with me to check it out after school?"

"Yeah, sure," I nodded. I hardly did anything with her anymore, so why not? Amanda let out a happy giggle, then she hugged me as tightly as she could. I coughed and she let me go. Sometimes, I was grateful for her happy attitude because it lifted my spirits.

The bell rang and Amanda and I shared a sorrowful look.

"I'll call you at six, alright?" she said. I nodded and she turned off to go to her Chemistry class. Meanwhile, I opened my locker door and took out my Algebra binder—thankfully, I still had this binder—and I hastily closed my locker up. I headed off to my first class, not looking forward to going to this café.

Honestly. . . how interesting could a café be?