A/N- Written for a writing contest at my school (I lost), this piece is short and kind of depressing, and I was too lazy to make the changes I should have. But, anyway, I think it's still fairly decent.

She stood in the doorway, glaring at him with hauntingly familiar mercury colored eyes. Once upon a time, those eyes had been bright and sparking with defiance and mischievousness, but now they were glassy, lifeless orbs that stared at him from the ghost of the face of a girl he used to skin was shockingly pale, but she had always been fair-skinned. She was skinnier than she'd ever been, all sharp bony angles, when she used to be slender and soft. A short, ruffled black skirt hung off her hips, barely brushing her thighs, an item of clothing she wouldn't have worn in the old days, although he was pretty sure the baggy black t-shirt sporting the name of some old rock band was a relic from their childhood. What disturbed him the most, though wasn't all of the physical difference, but the look on her face; dull, as if she didn't care anymore, about anything.

Honestly he didn't know what he was doing there. True, the two of them had been friends as children, and had developed crushes on each other, but that was Before, the time before they had fallen into cliques and their places in the teenager's hierarchy, and showing up at a sleazy motel in the middle of the night to retrieve her and take her back to her mother, who had called him as a last resort, wasn't proving anything but his own insanity.

He couldn't see past her, into the dark room, although he was pretty sure there was a male figure asleep on the bed. Her arms were stretched out across the doorway, head cocked to one side, probably wondering what he was doing at her motel room at two in the morning when he hadn't spoken to her for three years.

"Hi," he said softly, interrupting the silence that had fallen the second she'd opened the door.

"What are you doing here?" she asked quietly, dully, like a watered-down version of her. The old her would have demanded an answer, hands on her hips and eyes sparking with challenge, and this girl, who stood before him, was merely a ghost of the force of nature he once knew.

"Your mother called me," he replied, catching a flash of grief in her eyes at the mention of her mother. "I think she wants you to come home."

"Tell her I can't," she muttered, eyes darting away from his face and glancing over her shoulder at the shadowy figure asleep on the bed.

"Why not?" he shot back, and suddenly he saw the spark of defiance, of challenge, that had once been he very essence, ignite momentarily in her eyes.

"None of you business," she snapped.

"Well, I'm making it my business," he retorted.

"It's not like you care!"

"Jenna, I've known you for thirteen years!" he cried in frustration, throwing his hands up in the air.

"What's that got to do with anything? You haven't spoken to me for three of them, ever since middle school! And you barely spoke to me then!" she countered, and he could feel this new her, the girl who didn't care about anyone, including herself, slowly crack apart. "Why are you even here? We aren't friends!"

"And that's my fault?" he yelled back at her.


Her words struck him harder than any punch she'd ever thrown, which was many, back in their young, scrappy days. There was a moment of silence, regret washing over her face.

"And no. Yes and no," she sighed, stepping out of the doorway and pulling the door closed behind her. "It's the world's fault, you know. We had to grow up sometime, and we just grew in different directions."

"I always thought you would never grow up," he murmured.

"Me, too," she said with a mournful smile. "It wasn't just you. You just...exacerbated an already fragile situation. You were popular, and a jock, and I was an outcast. You had every right to abandon me."

"I didn't mean to abandon you."

"I know."

Silently, Jenna moved forward to lean against the railing, taking a glance down at the lot full of parked cars, then directing her gaze to the sky, to the nearly full moon.

"I loved you, you know," he said, aware of how out-of-character the words seemed coming from his mouth.

"I know. I loved you, too," she said, giving him a mournful smile.

The door swung open then, revealing a thin, scruffy-looking man, and Jenna pushed away from the railing, kissing his cheek as she brushed past him to follow the man back into the inky black room, whispering something over her shoulder that seemed to hang in the air, burning him.

"This is just how the world is."

And he let her go.

That had been a year ago, at this same motel, where he now sat in the driver's seat of his car, head in his hands and riddled with guilt.

She was dead; overdosed on cocaine two weeks ago.

And it was all his fault.

He hadn't seen her after last year, after he'd shown up in the middle of the night and failed to bring her home. He had failed her.

Her mother didn't blame him- she knew how Jenna could be, and he'd never really told anyone what had passed between them that night, so long ago and still so fresh in his memory, with the knowledge that she had been wrong.

This was not how the world was.

This was how he had made their world.

He had abandoned her, once when they were younger and falling into the twisty games of teenage popularity, and twice when he let her return to that motel room, so dark with shadows he could have reached out and touched them.

And now, he had felt the world dim with the loss of her.

Because, after all, that was just how the world was.