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 Rescue (Rated T-M; constructive criticism appreciated)

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What should be done with the swearing?
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ConfusedShipper123

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PostSubject: Rescue (Rated T-M; constructive criticism appreciated)   Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:24 am

((Some content may be totally crap and/or extremely inaccurate and I apologize if I offend anyone. I'm not used to writing this way. Thank you for your consideration. ))



Summary

Tristan Corre doesn't really give a d*mn about anyone but himself and his "needs". He doesn't care that his friend has become a jerk, and he doesn't care that his family isn't nearly as bad as it could be. All he wants is to remain numb and perhaps accomplish a few "goals" relating to rather unnecessary "needs". Until he meets Shaylie Mitchells. She's a girl unlike anyone he's ever met before... but she has a dangerous secret, a secret that is slowly tearing apart her life. Will Tristan finally let himself feel enough to act on someone else's behalf? And what will become of him once action is taken? And does devastation strike like he expects it will?


Prologue
The monster snatches the thick branch, my arms attached to it, and uses the advantage to fling me back into a wall. At this moment, I was seriously wishing I had tried harder in gym.

I think I hear a crack when I hit the wall, but I can't give up. Wincing, I push off and force myself forward. From the floor, the girl whimpers. My grip tightens on the branch and unwieldily aim the branch at the man, and it collides with his shoulder. He hisses and punches me in the face.

I reel from the blow, but I still manage to whack him back, more driven than ever. When I look at him, his face is bleeding and he stumbles backward before landing on the floor. I get down next to him, filled with a power and rage I'd never felt before. And then I'm punching and punching, my fists pounding into him, his chest his face. At first, he coughs and writhes, but eventually, he stops his pathetic attempts to fight back.

A moment of panic, and my fist rests. I feel the faint beat of a heart. The monster has a heart? One last time, I slam my fist where that supposed heart is, then pull back.

The victim is crying without trying to hold back, from the floor, no more than five feet away. I stagger over to her, collapsing to her side.

"Hey..." I whisper, gathering her gently in my arms. "Everything's going to be alright..."

She shakes her head, trembling.

"N-Nothing's... e-ever... going... to be... alright," she whispers, leaning her head into my chest, her tears dampening my shirt.
-------------------

Chapter 1

The acrid scent travels up my nostrils, though after years of doing this stuff, I barely notice it anymore. Yet somehow, this afternoon reminds me of the first time I tried it.

It was my freshman year of high school...

"Dude, what's up with the distant look? You actually have something to think deeply on?" Teesha says, snapping me out of my flashback-worthy reverie.

Actually, I do. I have lots to think about. But I just silently inhale, and wait until I bore Teesha off my case.

"Chill out, Tristan."

She inhales, but she starts looking angry for some reason. I wasn't even talking, but whatever... Teesha should take her own advice. She's not good at "chilling out". Well, at least today she isn't. She's pissed that Chris, our a*shole of a "best friend", ditched us again. But at the top of this hill, among the gravel, the powerline, the dry, brown grass, and the small boulders we sit on while we get stoned, we're untouchable to the rest of the world.

We do this every day, after school, until we feel the urge to go home. Which I never like to do.

Now that I think about it, I guess I'm sorta pissed at Chris too. Ever since his parents forced him to quit, and got him to go back to church, he's been an entirely different guy.

"Chris has been such a d*uche since he quit. And since when did he give a s*it what his parents think? He's such a dumba**."

Her insults, language, and general pissiness is just how she expresses that she's_

"I mean, who the h*ll does he think he is?!"

_probably not just mad that he ditched us again, but...

"Hey."

Chris makes his way up the hill, clean hands stuffed in his clean pockets, looking nervous and guilty as he takes a seat in his old regular spot. Like he just sit there and everything's back to normal. I offer him a curt nod of acknowledgement.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't Saint Christy the church monkey, come to save us dirty sinners," says Teesha, sarcasm coloring her tone. They'll be going at each other in no time. I do my best to remain "chilled out".

"T-Teesha, you know it's not like that... but... I... I do have something I need to talk to you guys about."

He shifts uncomfortably on his rock. He really doesn't belong here anymore. I take a long drag on my joint.

"What, Mommy and Daddy tell you that you can't hang out with us 'bad' kids anymore? That we're a 'bad influence' and that we're 'leading you into temptation'? Is THAT what you came to talk to us about?!"

Chris is holding his head in his hands, shaking it, frustration written on his face as he looks up.

"Yes, Teesha! That is EXACTLY what I came here to talk about!" he shouts. Teesha stands. Chris follows suit. I inhale.

"You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. You're a TERRIBLE influence and the two of you need help!"

I resent the fact that he brings me into the Chris/Teesha fight, but all I do is glower briefly in his direction.

"Well, if you think we're such terrible crap, then why did you even come here?!"

Teesha steps forward, still holding her joint between her fingers.

"Why don't you just go hang with your parents and your hypocrite cult buddies?"

She shoves him, and Chris glares at her.

"Church is not a cult, and_"

Again, she shoves him. He takes a few steps back, eyes wide for a second as he got a little close to the edge of the hill. Her hands grip his shoulders.

"Tristan, back me up here!"

Chris now looks absolutely exasperated. I look up at him and Teesha.

"Yeah, uh... I agree with you, that Chris is a total d*ck, but, um, that's no reason to push him down the hill."

"Thank you!" Chris ignores my remark about him being a d*ck, slips out of Teesha's death grip and starts down the hill. He turns his head back and pauses for a moment, about halfway down the hill.

"I'm not supposed to hang with you guys, but feel free to come to youth group!" he yells up, and I think he's doing it just to spite Teesha. She flips him the bird and I wonder if I really even care that our "best friend" is mostly no longer a part of our "group".

"Never really needed 'im anyway," I mutter, after taking another drag. I'm starting to feel pretty mellow now. And the grey clouds in the sky are suddenly fascinating.

"We sure as hell don't," says Teesha. She tosses her joint to the ground then smashes it under her foot. She pulls her backpack to her rock and pulls a bottle of beer out of it. I eye it. I really don't want to give a d*mn about anything today.

"Sorry, I only brought enough for one."

Teesha pulls out a six pack. I shake my head and give her a half-smirk and I reach over and take one. Hers is already almost halfway downed.

After about a half an hour, we're already done and the clouds keep on rolling in, darker and darker. The fight has totally blown over and we're talking about how weird and hot it is when Brittney Alexander sharpens her pencils, when water starts falling from the sky.

"D*mn. We should pro'lly head home about now," says Teesha. I find Teesha attractive. Especially when she talks about Brittney with me. Of course, I don't tell her this. And it doesn't really matter.

"Yeah, probably," I mumble. And then it begins to pour, as if whatever's up there just decided to put the showers in the sky on high, the kind that pounds onto your back that's more like a waterfall than the pathetic little drippy sprinkler thing they have in hotel rooms. Teesha sprints down the hill like tripping wouldn't make her crack her head open, and I follow, very carefully.

She dumps the bottles into the garbage at the park and hops onto her bike. She can use a car, and yet she insists to walk or ride her bike everywhere. I find that totally ridiculous.

"See ya tomorrow, Tristan!" she yells as she bikes off, cutting through someone's yard in the pouring rain.

With that, I begin my long, undesirable trek home.

Chapter 2

So, I'ma let you in on a story I heard. Once, there was a guy. The guy was pretty damn cool with himself, had a pretty decent life, wife, a kid, house, and a little spending money. But then this guy decided to go and screw it all up by screwing some other chick, and then promptly knocked her up. So this d*ckhead of a guy's wife left him, and now he has a little less spending money, but, he still got to marry the b*tch he was screwing and had his precious demonspawn.

Misty Ann. Who the heck names their kid Misty Ann?!

I try to sneak my way into the house, by means of the back door. And Misty Ann, the Demonspawn greets me, immediately shouting,

"MOMMY! DADDY! Tristan's home!"

I really hate this kid. Demonspawn hugs me like I'm actually related to her. I pry her off and attempt to get to my room.

"Oh hey, Tristan! We were just wondering where you were..."

The b*tch stops me in the hall and scoops up her illegitmate demonspawn daughter. I ignore her and walk into my room, grateful for the lock on the door.

"Tristan home?" I hear the chromosome contributor say to D-Spawn's mother. I crash on my bed, my arms sprawled over the sides, head facing the wall, barely able to see it in my dim room. On the wall, there's a signed poster of some obscure "Christian metal" band that Chris gave me after a concert they played, an advertising poster of "The Dark Knight", and this smokin' poster with Megan Fox on it. I begin to realize that I am totally soaked from the rain outside. And then I realize I really don't care. I shut my eyes and hope that the pouring rain, roaring thunder, and blinding flashes of lightning are capable of lulling me to sleep.

Bruce Wayne is getting a call from the Joker, telling him the locations of Harvey Dent and Rachel, his girlfriend. They're both about to get their heads blown off. Batman takes off and heads in the direction of Harvey. Weird thing is, Batman isn't Batman. It's me. And Harvey isn't Harvey. He's some Dad-aged man, that I feel an instant resentment toward the moment I find him.

I hear a shriek from far away, where a girl who isn't Rachel, dies in a burning warehouse. I don't want to save the man I'm pulling out, and suddenly, I've dropped him, no, thrown him, into his burning warehouse.

And I'm on fire, my face burning like when Two-Face was made, but I can't feel it. I don't die, unlike Not-Rachel, and the Not-Harvey, who are incredibly dead. Then I hear the echoes of Not-Rachel's scream, and I feel the flames suddenly begin to sting, then escalate into agonizing pain.


I awaken in the dark. Usually, my dreams aren't nearly this morbid. Especially after I've just been high and mildly intoxicated. I shake my goggy head and glance at the digital clock. 12:30. I've been asleep for five and a half hours, and I have a killer headache. I flop my head back down on the pillow. Ugh.

I want to go back to sleep, but it's not working very well. I decide to get something to eat. I get off my bed and feel my way to the door. It's ridiculously dark in here. Down the hall, I hear the TV on, some obnoxious kid's show. Why are those on at this hour?! I roll my eyes and trudge into the kitchen. I open the fridge, the light blinding, and pull out a slice of pizza. I commence to eating it, and pass by the living room. The spawn sits on the couch, with half a package of Oreo's and a huge glass of chocolate milk with one of those obnoxious striped straws in it, watching Nick Jr. She stops mid-bite on another one of the cookies and looks over at me.

She's in freaking kindergarten, and she's up late sneaking cookies. Her mom buys her dresses all the time and gives her whatever she wants. She's a brat and she'll grow increasingly worse with age.

"H-Hi Tristan," she says, nervously. "The storm was scary so I wanted to watch TV."

That's EXACTLY what I would do! Not. Demonspawn never makes sense. Her existence does not make sense to me, especially not right now.

"Yeah, whatever, go to bed or I'll tell your bit_, er, mom that you were up past your bedtime," I say, yawning, then pad down the hall back to my room. I finish the rest of my pizza and lean back on my bed, staring at the ceiling.

I hear D-Spawn tread downstairs. They seriously need to get that girl on a program or something. I get underneath a blanket and pull it over my head. Nausea, headaches, I hate my life, dang, what I would do to just fall asleep... maybe have another freaking weird Batman dream where I actually get the girl out of the burning building. Except Rachel would definitely be played by Megan Fox... or maybe Britney Alexander.

Who the h*ll was the girl in my dream anyway? I rack my brain for the answer, and eventually, sleep washes over me again.


Last edited by ConfusedShipper123 on Sat Jun 05, 2010 4:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Rescue (Rated T-M; constructive criticism appreciated)   Sat Jun 05, 2010 5:12 am

Chapter 3

BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP...

I'm pretty sure that digital alarms are the most obnoxious invention on the planet. I reach my arm out from under my blanket and slide my fingers over every button on the clock until I reach the snooze button. I slam it down with my fist three times before pulling the pillow from under my head to over it. Mornings always suck the worst. Downstairs, I already hear D-spawn's parents mushing over her in the kitchen. Slowly, I roll onto my back, before maneuvering myself off the bed, holding my head. I stagger over to the door and immediately duck into the bathroom.

The ridiculously bright lights in this place never fail to annoyingly wake me up. Nausea's seemed to have gone down, and I barely have anything to throw up anyway. I take a whiff of myself, and become painfully aware that rain, beer, pot, and nightmare-sweat sure make a guy reek.

I pull of my shirt, pants, and the rest, and toss them all into the basket underneath the bathroom counter and step into the shower. About 10 minutes later, I'm out of the bathroom. I throw on some clean clothes from my room and lift my backpack over my scrawny shoulders, and think that I should really work out more. Down the stairs I go, and into the kitchen to find D-spawn smothering syrup over butter-slathered waffles, while Chromosome Contributor and B*tch talk snicker about something that only they would find humorous. B turns over a waffle maker and faces me again.

"Oh, good morning, Tristan! I made waffles if you want some breakfast..."

I ignore the plate that contains steaming, sweet, dessert-imitation breakfast food on it and pick up a Pop-Tart. I don't eat her cooking. I haven't once in the five years that she's taken over my mother's former domain. The DNA donor walks over to her and mumbles something. Female dog nods, and opens the waffle maker, adding another one to the stack. I pull off the Pop-Tart wrapper and stick one of them in my mouth. I slip on my Vans and walk out the door. One look at the sky, and I know it's going to rain on my way to school. The ground isn't even dry from last night's storm. A car would be really nice right now, but me getting one would be just as likely as Mistilydemon-spawned giving up midnight Oreos.

Sometimes I borrow Teesha's mom's car. Teesha practically owns the thing, in spite of all her walking and bike riding.

About three blocks from my house, I spot that '97 Ford Taurus SHO that I would know anywhere. It's muddy from driving through puddles. What brought on her driving this morning?

Teesha rolls down a window. She looks sort of... well, pissed off again, at least for a second.

"Yes, you do want a ride, go ahead in."

She unlocks the door and actually opens the driver's side for me. I stare at her, surprised. She just shrugs and moves into the passenger seat.

"Ran over my bike this morning. Forgot to park it in the back last night," she mumbles as I drive onward toward school. I nod, and wish I had something to dull down this morning. So, I do whatever I do when I don't have pot on hand: think of Brittney Alexander... man, she's hot...

"D*mnit, Tristan, look where you're going! You crash this car, and you most definitely won't be driving with me again!"

I glance up to see I've nearly hit a stop sign.

"Sorry," I mutter, and focus back on the road.

We arrive ten minutes early. Teesha grabs her stuff from the back and I grab mine. We head off to our respective classes with a grumbled "Seeya".

I stroll nonchalantly into my 1st hour English class. I just killed a little under a third of class time by showing up late, and I appreciate that.

"Ah, Mr. Corre, nice of you to show up," says Ms. Smithsen to me. "Another tardy and you've got a detention."

I offer a smirk.

"Lookin' forward to it, Miss Smithsen."

"That would be Ms., Mr. Corre, I believe I've told you this quite a few times. Now, could anyone explain to Tristan what we are doing right now?"

Pairs of students groan and most of them ignore her. Brittney and her friend, Lyndsay, sit in the corner of the class, giggling over texts.

"Miss Mitchells, how about you?"

Mitchells, Mitchells, Mitchells, who would this 'Mitchells' person be?

"U-Um... we're reading our poetry assignments to each other in groups of two."

"That's right. And Miss Mitchells was missing a partner for almost 11 minutes, Mr. Corre. Why don't you get out your assignment and pair up with Shaylie?"

Shaylie Mitchells. I look over at her. Usually this chick is a wallflower, and is almost ALWAYS in these huge sweatshirts and oversized jeans and sweatpants.

But today, she's not wearing one of those ridiculous sweatshirts. She has on a v-neck with one of those frilly girl-tops underneath. I am now aware that she actually has boobs. Her long, wavy brown hair falls right in the middle of them. And she's wearing jeans that actually fit her. The only thing that turns me off are the weird-a** emo-cutter-gloves covering her arms. She swallows as she notices me looking at her and quickly glances down.

I sit down at the desk next to hers. She's still staring at her paper, drawing vines and flowers into the margin of the notebook. I look at her.

"U-Uh... s-so... you can get out your poem first if you want," she says, refusing to look back up at me.


"Didn't do the assignment. Looks like you're up."

Shaylie glances at me, a look of odd concern on her face, then nervousness. She takes a deep breath and looks back at the page in front of her. I look... other places. Her face has turned red.

"T-This... this was an assignment in... any of the forms of poetry we've recently learned about. I chose freeverse. I-It was easiest for me," she said, mumbling.

"Yeah, um, you should just read your dam_, er, dang poem."

I hope I didn't just screw up somehow. She bites her lip. I like it.

"Okay..." she says, taking another deep breath.

"Once she was alone in a crowded room,
Hiding behind the ones
Who don't know at all,
What goes on behind closed doors.
She's been behind them,
Locked inside,
Trapped for so long.
But one day, the door was opened.
Freedom from a source
Inexplainable.
She found the answer,
And now she opens doors,
For those who still haven't found
The way to freedom."

D*mn. This girl really knows how to write. I'm impressed, not that I could ever do that well writing poetry. I don't get how some people really like this stuff. And how they manage to be that good.

"That was... that was really cool, Shylie."

"Shaylie," she corrects.

"Right. Sorry. So, uh, wanna hang out this Friday?"

She doesn't really seem to go out with anyone a lot, not that I've heard anyway. But sometimes, those are the ones you really have to look out for. Brittney and Megan are sort of out of my league anyway.

Her eyes are wide and it looks like her jaw could drop.

"What?" I ask. Yeah, I'm majorly screwing up here.

"I-I... I can't. S-Sorry. I'm... b-busy."

Uh, sure you are. Why don't you come be busy with me?

"What are you doing?"

"L-Look, I-I... I don't even know you, Tristan. M-Maybe... maybe some other time."

"You blowin' me off?"

"No! I'm really busy this weekend, please..." she says, a little too loud. Jittery much? A few of the students look over at us. Brittney is one of them. D*mn. My chances of going out with her just went down a little more.

"Okay, okay... feel free to calm down," I say.

Shaylie looks down at her paper and faces the front.

"Mr. Corre, since you were late today, why don't you read your poem in the front of the class?"

Seriously, Ms. Smithsen?

"No problem, Miss Smithsen," I say, walking up front.

"I memorized mine over the weekend. It's a limerick."

I eye the rest of the classroom, winkng at Shaylie. She slumps down in her seat.

"Alright, so...

There once was a teacher named Smithsen
Who should pass a student named Tristan,
Who came up with a rhyme,
In the nick of time,
Even with ten mintues of class he missed in."

I could have done so much better, and I've completely made a fool out of myself in front of the class. But Shaylie's just shaking her head. I think she liked it.

"Clever, Tristan. You can make up the points by doing the ten comprehension and doing the bonus reflection questions of 'The Bells' on page 475 of your textbook. Everyone else, get started on your narrative outlines,"

I roll my eyes and sit back down next to Shaylie.

"You're... you're an idiot, you know that?" she whispers.

"You know you liked that. Go out with me Friday?"

She looks back down at her paper. Her outline's already over halfway finished. This girl is an English fiend.

"I'll think about it," she murmurs.

I pull out my textbook and start skimming over "The Bells" and its stupid comp questions.
----
In between fourth hour and Lunch, Chris meets up at my locker. I put on my ice-face, and continue packing my backpack for the afternoon hour. Teesha and I won't have much time to get our books after "lunch".

"Hey, Tristan... Sorry about yesterday. I mean, I still want to hang out with you guys, I'm just not... supposed to..."

"Yeah, whatever. You can come join us out in the back parking lot if you like."

I toss my English textbook on the top shelf of my locker loudly.

"No thanks... so... uh... I heard you asked out Shaylie Mitchells."

"For the benefits, yes."

"You know, there's more to relationships than just sex, Tristan..."

And here he goes. Chris has three speeches he frequently attempts to recite to me and Teesha: the "abstaining-from-sex-is-so- wonderful!" speech, the "JESUS!" speech, and the "being-clean-from-drugs-makes-your-life-so-much-better!" speech.

"Yeah, yeah, heard it all before, no need to go into it again."

"I'm just saying..."

"You say too much, dude."

I start heading toward the unlocked doors.

"Maybe you should just hang out with her! Talk for a little bit. I'm sure if you got to know her, you'd see a relationship is worth a whole lot more than what you're after."

"Blah, blah, blah, I'ma go smoke pot now. Seeya."

"Tristan, you know that Cannabis just causes your life to spiral, it just leads to worse and worse decisions, and believe me, I've been there..."

I can't believe this kid used to hang out with us.

"Aha. Okay. Bye."

I walk out the doors and head to the back parking lot. Teesha pays our-even-more-ridiculously-named-than-Misty Ann dealer, Quantavious, for our daily supply. We roll and light up.

"Chris was gettin' on my case earlier," I mutter to Teesha. She rolls her eyes.

"Can we not talk about Chris right now?"

"M'kay."

I look out at the rest of the parking lot. Q's going off to the others now. Sometimes Teesha buys some stronger stuff from him. More than just marijuana, other stuff, significantly worse stuff. I never dare to try it out. She usually doesn't get it unless she's really stressed out. Teesha's tried everything. And I mean everything.

"So, Shaylie Mitchells, huh?"

"How does everyone know that?"

"Word travels fast enough. She's a heck of a lot better than Brittney. Got brains. Good thing to have."

She inhales deeply. A few other kids linger in the lot, or head off campus for lunch or to do their choice in peace. Some of them get into the backseats of their vehicles. I take a drag and close my eyes.

"Yeah, brains. She's a freakin' poet."

"Good for her. Writing can get you places sometimes."

Teesha stares out into the far distance, her mind in other worlds. I think about Shaylie instead of Brittney this time. I think about her big brown eyes, innocent and cautious. It kills me to even THINK this, but maybe Chris is right... maybe I should try to get to know her a little better. She's interesting enough.

"Mom's been working too hard lately... forgets her meds, whatever," Teesha mumbles, probably halfway to herself. I nod. Teesha's mom has a crapload of issues. Teesha usually doesn't talk about her mom. And especially not her dad, considering he skipped out right before she turned three.

We both take a drag at the same time now. Hers lasts longer.

"I'll be back."

Teesha heads in the direction of what I assume is Quantavious. I finish up the joint and decide to head back to class.

Shaylie's in my next class, History. I never really paid much attention to her until now. I don't really know why... I duck into the restroom and try to cover the scent of weed then make my way to History class.

Shaylie looks up. I give her a lazy smile and take my seat in the back of the room. I'm thinkin' I just might have a chance.


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PostSubject: Re: Rescue (Rated T-M; constructive criticism appreciated)   Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:49 pm

Awesome story, Confused. It's rather interesting to read.
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PostSubject: Re: Rescue (Rated T-M; constructive criticism appreciated)   Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:54 pm

((Thanks so much, AI. I really appreciate that. Smile ))
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PostSubject: Re: Rescue (Rated T-M; constructive criticism appreciated)   Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:35 am

NaNoWriMo edit update (I cheated for NaNo. I know, it's terrible. D:)

rescue
By
Alison Kopp

Matters In My Own Hands

The monster snatches the thick branch, my arms attached to it, and uses the advantage to fling me back into a wall. At this moment, I was seriously wishing I had tried harder in gym.

I think I hear a crack when I hit the wall, but I can't give up. Wincing, I push off and force myself forward. From the floor, the girl whimpers. My grip tightens on the branch and clumsily aim the branch at the man, and it collides with his shoulder. He hisses and punches me in the face.

I reel from the blow, but I still manage to whack him back, more driven than ever. When I look at him, his face is bleeding and he stumbles backward before landing on the floor. I get down next to him, filled with a power and rage I'd never felt before. And then I'm punching and punching, my fists pounding into him, his chest his face. At first, he coughs and writhes, but eventually, he stops his pathetic attempts to fight back.

A moment of panic and my fist rests. I feel the faint beat of a heart. The monster has a heart? One last time, I slam my fist where that supposed heart is, and then pull back.

The victim is crying without trying to hold back, from the floor, no more than five feet away. I stagger over to her, collapsing to her side.

"Hey..." I whisper, gathering her gently in my arms. "Everything's going to be alright..."

She shakes her head, trembling.

"N-Nothing's... e-ever... going... to be... alright," she whispers, leaning her head into my chest, her tears dampening my shirt.

******



Chapter 1: Stoners Gonna Get Stoned

September 5th

I walk into the counselor’s office, a place I’m now far too familiar with.

“Tristan. How was your summer?” Mrs. Watson asks me, knowing me without even hearing my voice, facing me with a serious look of concern.

“It was… interesting.”

“Interesting?”

“I… was at a treatment center pretty much the whole time.”

“How are you doing? Is there… anything you’d like to talk about?”

My mind travels back to that place, merely months ago. The week that changed the course of my life forever.

***

The acrid scent travels up my nostrils, though after years of doing this stuff, I barely notice it anymore. Yet somehow, this afternoon reminds me of the first time I tried it.

It was my freshman year of high school...

"Dude, what's up with the distant look? You actually have something to think deeply on?" Teesha says, snapping me out of my flashback-worthy reverie.

Actually, I do. I have lots to think about. But I just silently inhale, and wait until I bore Teesha off my case.

"Chill out, Tristan."

She inhales, but she starts looking angry for some reason. I wasn't even talking, but whatever... Teesha should take her own advice. She's not good at "chilling out". Well, at least today she isn't. She's pissed that Chris, our asshole of a "best friend", ditched us again. But at the top of this hill, among the gravel, the power line, the dry, brown grass, and the small boulders we sit on while we get stoned, we're untouchable to the rest of the world.

We do this every day, after school, until we feel the urge to go home. Which I never like to do.

Now that I think about it, I guess I'm sorta pissed at Chris too. Ever since his parents forced him to quit, and got him to go back to church, he's been an entirely different guy.

"Chris has been such a douche since he quit. And since when did he give a shit what his parents think? He's such a dumbass."

Her insults, language, and general pissiness is just how she expresses that she's_

"I mean, who the hell does he think he is?!"

_probably not just mad that he ditched us again, but perhaps a little upset...

"Hey."

Chris makes his way up the hill, clean hands stuffed in his clean pockets, looking nervous and guilty as he takes a seat in his old regular spot. Like he just sit there and everything's back to normal. I offer him a curt nod of acknowledgement.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't Saint Christy the church monkey, come to save us dirty sinners," says Teesha, sarcasm coloring her tone. They'll be going at each other in no time. I do my best to remain "chilled out".

"T-Teesha, you know it's not like that... but... I... I do have something I need to talk to you guys about."

He shifts uncomfortably on his rock. He really doesn't belong here anymore. I take a long drag on my joint.

"What, Mommy and Daddy tell you that you can't hang out with us 'bad' kids anymore? That we're a 'bad influence' and that we're 'leading you into temptation'? Is THAT what you came to talk to us about?!"

Chris is holding his head in his hands, shaking it, frustration written on his face as he looks up.

"Yes, Teesha! That is EXACTLY what I came here to talk about!" he shouts. Teesha stands. Chris follows suit. I inhale.

"You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. You're a TERRIBLE influence and the two of you need help!"

I resent the fact that he brings me into the Chris/Teesha fight, but all I do is glower briefly in his direction.

"Well, if you think we're such terrible crap, then why did you even come here?!"

Teesha steps forward, still holding her joint between her fingers.

"Why don't you just go hang with your parents and your hypocrite cult buddies?"

She shoves him, and Chris glares at her.

"Church is not a cult, and_"

Again, she shoves him. He takes a few steps back, eyes wide for a second as he got a little close to the edge of the hill. Her hands grip his shoulders.

"Tristan, back me up here!"

Chris now looks absolutely exasperated. I look up at him and Teesha.

"Yeah, uh... I agree with you, that Chris is a total dick, but, um, that's no reason to push him down the hill."

"Thank you!" Chris ignores my remark about him being a dick, slips out of Teesha's death grip and starts down the hill. He turns his head back and pauses for a moment, about halfway down the hill.

"I'm not supposed to hang with you guys, but feel free to come to youth group!" he yells up, and I think he's doing it just to spite Teesha. She flips him the bird and I wonder if I really even care that our "best friend" is mostly no longer a part of our "group".

"Never really needed 'im anyway," I mutter, after taking another drag. I'm starting to feel pretty mellow now. And the grey clouds in the sky are suddenly fascinating.

"We sure as hell don't," says Teesha. She takes an even longer drag than I have this whole time, really inhaling the stuff; I can almost see it filling up her lungs. She pulls her backpack to her rock and pulls a bottle of beer out of it. I eye it. I really don't want to give a damn about anything today.

"Sorry, I only brought enough for one."

Teesha pulls out a six pack. I shake my head and give her a half-smirk and I reach over and take one. Hers is already almost halfway downed.

After about a half an hour, we're already done and the clouds keep on rolling in, darker and darker. The fight has totally blown over and we're talking about how weird and hot it is when Brittney Alexander sharpens her pencils, when water starts falling from the sky.

"Damn. We should pro'lly head home about now," says Teesha. I find Teesha attractive. Especially when she talks about Brittney with me. Of course, I don't tell her this. And it doesn't really matter.

"Yeah, probably," I mumble. And then it begins to pour, as if whatever's up there just decided to put the showers in the sky on high, the kind that pounds onto your back that's more like a waterfall than the pathetic little drippy sprinkler thing they have in cheap hotel rooms. Teesha sprints down the hill like tripping wouldn't make her crack her head open, and I follow, very carefully.

She dumps the bottles into the garbage at the park and hops onto her bike. She can use a car, and yet she insists to walk or ride her bike everywhere. I find that totally ridiculous.

"See ya tomorrow, Tristan!" she yells as she bikes off, cutting through someone's yard in the pouring rain.

With that, I begin my long, undesirable trek home.


Chapter 2: Demonspawn, Genes, and Damn Freaky Dreams

So, I'ma let you in on a story I heard. Once, there was a guy. The guy was pretty damn cool with himself, had a pretty decent life, wife, a kid, house, and a little spending money. But then this guy decided to go and screw it all up by screwing some other chick, and then promptly knocked her up. So this dickhead of a guy's wife left him, and now he has a little less spending money, but, he still got to marry the bitch he was screwing and had his precious demonspawn.

Misty Ann. Who the heck names their kid Misty Ann?!

I try to sneak my way into the house, by means of the back door. And Misty Ann, the Demonspawn greets me, immediately shouting,

"MOMMY! DADDY! Tristan's home!"

I really hate this kid. Demonspawn hugs me like I'm actually related to her. I pry her off and attempt to get to my room.

"Oh hey, Tristan! We were just wondering where you were..."

The bitch stops me in the hall and scoops up her illegitimate demonspawn daughter. I ignore her and walk into my room, grateful for the lock on the door.

"Tristan home?" I hear the Chromosome Contributor say to D-Spawn's mother. I crash on my bed, my arms sprawled over the sides, head facing the wall, barely able to see it in my dim room. On the wall, there's a signed poster of some obscure "Christian metal" band that Chris gave me after a concert they played, an advertising poster of "The Dark Knight", and this smokin' poster with on it. I begin to realize that I am totally soaked from the rain outside. And then I realize I really don't care. I shut my eyes and hope that the pouring rain, roaring thunder, and blinding flashes of lightning are capable of lulling me to sleep.

Bruce Wayne is getting a call from the Joker, telling him the locations of Harvey Dent and Rachel, his girlfriend. They're both about to get their heads blown off. Batman takes off and heads in the direction of Harvey. Weird thing is, Batman isn't Batman. It's me. And Harvey isn't Harvey. He's some Dad-aged man, that I feel an instant resentment toward the moment I find him.

I hear a shriek from far away, where a girl who isn't Rachel, dies in a burning warehouse. I don't want to save the man I'm pulling out, and suddenly, I've dropped him, no, thrown him, into his burning warehouse.

And I'm on fire, my face burning like when Two-Face was made, but I can't feel it. I don't die, unlike Not-Rachel, and the Not-Harvey, who are incredibly dead. Then I hear the echoes of Not-Rachel's scream, and I feel the flames suddenly begin to sting, then escalate into agonizing pain.

I awaken in the dark. Usually, my dreams aren't nearly this morbid. Especially after I've just been high and mildly intoxicated. I shake my groggy head and glance at the digital clock. 12:30. I've been asleep for five and a half hours, and I have a killer headache. I flop my head back down on the pillow. Ugh.

I want to go back to sleep, but it's not working very well. I decide to get something to eat. I get off my bed and feel my way to the door. It's ridiculously dark in here. Down the hall, I hear the TV on, some obnoxious kid's show. Why are those on at this hour?! I roll my eyes and trudge into the kitchen. I open the fridge, the light blinding, and pull out a slice of pizza. I commence to eating it, and pass by the living room. The spawn sits on the couch, with half a package of Oreo's and a huge glass of chocolate milk with one of those obnoxious striped straws in it, watching Nick Jr. She stops mid-bite on another one of the cookies and looks over at me.

She's in freaking kindergarten, and she's up late sneaking cookies. Her mom buys her dresses all the time and gives her whatever she wants. She's a brat and she'll grow increasingly worse with age.

"H-Hi Tristan," she says, nervously. "The storm was scary so I wanted to watch TV."

That's EXACTLY what I would do! Not. Demonspawn never makes sense. Her existence does not make sense to me, especially not right now.

"Yeah, whatever, go to bed or I'll tell your bit_, er, mom that you were up past your bedtime," I say, yawning, then pad down the hall back to my room. I finish the rest of my pizza and lean back on my bed, staring at the ceiling.

I hear D-Spawn tread downstairs. They seriously need to get that girl on a program or something. I get underneath a blanket and pull it over my head. Nausea, headaches, I hate my life, dang, what I would do to just fall asleep... maybe have another freaking weird Batman dream where I actually get the girl out of the burning building. Except Rachel would definitely be played by Megan Fox... or maybe Britney Alexander.

Who the hell was the girl in my dream anyway? I rack my brain for the answer, and eventually, sleep washes over me again.

Chapter 3: A Freakin’ Poet

BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP...

I'm pretty sure that digital alarms are the most obnoxious invention on the planet. I reach my arm out from under my blanket and slide my fingers over every button on the clock until I reach the snooze button. I slam it down with my fist three times before pulling the pillow from under my head to over it. Mornings always suck the worst. Downstairs, I already hear D-spawn's parents mushing over her in the kitchen. Slowly, I roll onto my back, before maneuvering myself off the bed, holding my head. I stagger over to the door and immediately duck into the bathroom.

The ridiculously bright lights in this place never fail to annoyingly wake me up. Nausea's seemed to have gone down, and I barely have anything to throw up anyway. I take a whiff of myself, and become painfully aware that rain, beer, pot, and nightmare-sweat sure make a guy reek.

I pull of my shirt, pants, and the rest, and toss them all into the basket underneath the bathroom counter and step into the shower. About 10 minutes later, I'm out of the bathroom. I throw on some clean clothes from my room and lift my backpack over my scrawny shoulders, and think that I should really work out more. Down the stairs I go, and into the kitchen to find D-spawn smothering syrup over butter-slathered waffles, while Chromosome Contributor and B*tch talk snicker about something that only they would find humorous. B turns over a waffle maker and faces me again.

"Oh, good morning, Tristan! I made waffles if you want some breakfast..."

I ignore the plate that contains steaming, sweet, dessert-imitation breakfast food on it and pick up a Pop-Tart. I don't eat her cooking. I haven't once in the five years that she's taken over my mother's former domain. The DNA donor walks over to her and mumbles something. Female dog nods, and opens the waffle maker, adding another one to the stack. I pull off the Pop-Tart wrapper and stick one of them in my mouth. I slip on my Vans and walk out the door. One look at the sky, and I know it's going to rain on my way to school. The ground isn't even dry from last night's storm. A car would be really nice right now, but me getting one would be just as likely as Mistilydemon-spawned giving up midnight Oreos.

Sometimes I borrow Teesha's mom's car. Teesha practically owns the thing, in spite of all her walking and bike riding.

About three blocks from my house, I spot that '97 Ford Taurus SHO that I would know anywhere. It's muddy from driving through puddles. What brought on her driving this morning?

Teesha rolls down a window. She looks sort of... well, pissed off again, at least for a second.

"Yes, you do want a ride, go ahead in."

She unlocks the door and actually opens the driver's side for me. I stare at her, surprised. She just shrugs and moves into the passenger seat.

"Ran over my bike this morning. Forgot to park it in the back last night," she mumbles as I drive onward toward school. I nod, and wish I had something to dull down this morning. So, I do whatever I do when I don't have pot on hand: think of Brittney Alexander... man, she's hot...

"Damnit, Tristan, look where you're going! You crash this car, and you most definitely won't be driving with me again!"

I glance up to see I've nearly hit a stop sign.

"Sorry," I mutter, and focus back on the road.

We arrive ten minutes early. Teesha grabs her stuff from the back and I grab mine. We head off to our respective classes with a grumbled "Seeya".

I stroll nonchalantly into my 1st hour English class. I just killed a little under a third of class time by showing up late, and I appreciate that.

"Ah, Mr. Corre, nice of you to show up," says Ms. Smithsen to me. "Another tardy and you've got a detention."

I offer a smirk.

"Lookin' forward to it, Miss Smithsen."

"That would be Ms., Mr. Corre, I believe I've told you this quite a few times. Now, could anyone explain to Tristan what we are doing right now?"

Pairs of students groan and most of them ignore her. Brittney and her friend, Lyndsay, sit in the corner of the class, giggling over texts.

"Miss Mitchells, how about you?"

Mitchells, Mitchells, Mitchells, who would this 'Mitchells' person be?

"U-Um... we're reading our poetry assignments to each other in groups of two."

"That's right. And Miss Mitchells was missing a partner for almost 11 minutes, Mr. Corre. Why don't you get out your assignment and pair up with Shaylie?"

Shaylie Mitchells. I look over at her. Usually this chick is a wallflower, and is almost ALWAYS in these huge sweatshirts and oversized jeans and sweatpants.

But today, she's not wearing one of those ridiculous sweatshirts. She has on a v-neck with one of those frilly girl-tops underneath. I am now aware that she actually has boobs. Her long, wavy brown hair falls right in the middle of them. And she's wearing jeans that actually fit her. The only thing that turns me off are the creepy emo-cutter-gloves covering her arms. She swallows as she notices me looking at her and quickly glances down.

I sit down at the desk next to hers. She's still staring at her paper, drawing vines and flowers into the margin of the notebook. I look at her.

"U-Uh... s-so... you can get out your poem first if you want," she says, refusing to look back up at me.

"Didn't do the assignment. Looks like you're up."

Shaylie glances at me, a look of odd concern on her face, then nervousness. She takes a deep breath and looks back at the page in front of her. I look... other places. Her face has turned red.

"T-This... this was an assignment in... any of the forms of poetry we've recently learned about. I chose freeverse. I-It was easiest for me," she said, mumbling.

"Yeah, um, you should just read your dam_, er, dang poem."

I hope I didn't just screw up somehow. She bites her lip. I like it.

"Okay..." she says, taking another deep breath.

"Once she was alone in a crowded room,
Hiding behind the ones
Who don't know at all,
What goes on behind closed doors.
She's been behind them,
Locked inside,
Trapped for so long.
But one day, the door was opened.
Freedom from a source
Unexplainable.
She found the answer,
And now she opens doors,
For those who still haven't found
The way to freedom."

D*mn. This girl really knows how to write. I'm impressed, not that I could ever do that well writing poetry. I don't get how some people really like this stuff. And how they manage to be that good.

"That was... that was really cool, Shylie."

"Shaylie," she corrects.

"Right. Sorry. So, uh, wanna hang out this Friday?"

She doesn't really seem to go out with anyone a lot, not that I've heard anyway. But sometimes, those are the ones you really have to look out for. Brittney and Megan are sort of out of my league anyway.

Her eyes are wide and it looks like her jaw could drop.

"What?" I ask. Yeah, I'm majorly screwing up here.

"I-I... I can't. S-Sorry. I'm... b-busy."

Uh, sure you are. Why don't you come be busy with me?

"What are you doing?"

"L-Look, I-I... I don't even know you, Tristan. M-Maybe... maybe some other time."

"You blowin' me off?"

"No! I'm really busy this weekend, please..." she says, a little too loud. Jittery much? A few of the students look over at us. Brittney is one of them. Damn. My chances of going out with her just went down a little more.

"Okay, okay... feel free to calm down," I say.

Shaylie looks down at her paper and faces the front.

"Mr. Corre, since you were late today, why don't you read your poem in the front of the class?"

Seriously, Ms. Smithsen?

"No problem, Miss Smithsen," I say, walking up front.

"I memorized mine over the weekend. It's a limerick."

I eye the rest of the classroom, winkng at Shaylie. She slumps down in her seat.

"Alright, so...

There once was a teacher named Smithsen
Who should pass a student named Tristan,
Who came up with a rhyme,
In the nick of time,
Even with ten minutes of class he missed in."

I could have done so much better, and I've completely made a fool out of myself in front of the class. But Shaylie's just shaking her head. I think she liked it.

"Clever, Tristan. You can make up the points by doing the ten comprehension and doing the bonus reflection questions of 'The Bells' on page 475 of your textbook. Everyone else, get started on your narrative outlines,"

I roll my eyes and sit back down next to Shaylie.

"You're... you're an idiot, you know that?" she whispers.

"You know you liked that. Go out with me Friday?"

She looks back down at her paper. Her outline's already over halfway finished. This girl is an English fiend.

"I'll think about it," she murmurs.

I pull out my textbook and start skimming over "The Bells" and its stupid comp questions.
----
In between fourth hour and Lunch, Chris meets up at my locker. I put on my ice-face, and continue packing my backpack for the afternoon hour. Teesha and I won't have much time to get our books after "lunch".

"Hey, Tristan... Sorry about yesterday. I mean, I still want to hang out with you guys, I'm just not... supposed to..."

"Yeah, whatever. You can come join us out in the back parking lot if you like."

I toss my English textbook on the top shelf of my locker loudly.

"No thanks... so... uh... I heard you asked out Shaylie Mitchells."

"For the benefits, yes."

"You know, there's more to relationships than just sex, Tristan..."

And here he goes. Chris has three speeches he frequently attempts to recite to me and Teesha: the "abstaining-from-sex-is-so- wonderful!" speech, the "JESUS!" speech, and the "being-clean-from-drugs-makes-your-life-so-much-better!" speech.

"Yeah, yeah, heard it all before, no need to go into it again."

"I'm just saying..."

"You say too much, dude."

I start heading toward the unlocked doors.

"Maybe you should just hang out with her! Talk for a little bit. I'm sure if you got to know her, you'd see a relationship is worth a whole lot more than what you're after."

"Blah, blah, blah, I'ma go smoke pot now. Seeya."

"Tristan, you know that Cannabis just causes your life to spiral, it just leads to worse and worse decisions, and believe me, I've been there..."

I can't believe this kid used to hang out with us.

"Aha. Okay. Bye."

I walk out the doors and head to the back parking lot. Teesha pays our-even-more-ridiculously-named-than-Misty Ann dealer, Quantavious, for our daily supply. We roll and light up.

"Chris was gettin' on my case earlier," I mutter to Teesha. She rolls her eyes.

"Can we not talk about Chris right now?"

"M'kay."

I look out at the rest of the parking lot. Q's going off to the others now. Sometimes Teesha buys some stronger stuff from him. More than just marijuana, other stuff, significantly worse stuff. I never dare to try it out. She usually doesn't get it unless she's really stressed out. Teesha's tried everything. And I mean everything.

"So, Shaylie Mitchells, huh?"

"How does everyone know that?"

"Word travels fast enough. She's a heck of a lot better than Brittney. Got brains. Good thing to have."

She inhales deeply. A few other kids linger in the lot, or head off campus for lunch or to do their choice in peace. Some of them get into the backseats of their vehicles. I take a drag and close my eyes.

"Yeah, brains. She's a freakin' poet."

"Good for her. Writing can get you places sometimes."

Teesha stares out into the far distance, her mind in other worlds. I think about Shaylie instead of Brittney this time. I think about her big brown eyes, innocent and cautious. It kills me to even THINK this, but maybe Chris is right... maybe I should try to get to know her a little better. She's interesting enough.

"Mom's been working too hard lately... forgets her meds, whatever," Teesha mumbles, probably halfway to herself. I nod. Teesha's mom has a crapload of issues. Teesha usually doesn't talk about her mom. And especially not her dad, considering he skipped out right before she turned three.

We both take a drag at the same time now. Hers lasts longer.

"I'll be back."

Teesha heads in the direction of what I assume is Quantavious. I finish up the joint and decide to head back to class.

Shaylie's in my next class, History. I never really paid much attention to her until now. I don't really know why... I duck into the restroom and try to cover the scent of weed then make my way to History class.

Shaylie looks up. I give her a lazy smile and take my seat in the back of the room. I'm thinkin' I just might have a chance.

Chapter 4: YOU CANNOT READ MINDS, WOMAN

This was a typical obnoxious day, minus the new sexual interest. The day ends mostly uneventfully. I’m packing my backpack, staring into my disorganized locker, considering whether or not I should actually take any of my textbooks and various assignments home. I mean, most nights I don’t. I’m usually too busy with using videogames to beat the crap out of people I don’t like anonymously and sometimes just using my imagination, or sneaking into parties and stealing the drinks with Teesha, or smoking pot, or drinking, or both, or talking on the hill while smoking pot and drinking.

My English textbook falls out of my locker. I pick it up and consider it, before shrugging and stuffing it back inside. I lift my wonderfully empty backpack over my shoulders and shut my locker with an obnoxious CLANG! Teesha’s headed my way, and I start walking her direction, when some chick clumsily steps out of the counselor’s office. Man, I’d hate to end the school day in THERE. The school shrink, is well, a shrink. No one likes those people. Especially her. She’s not even thirty, but it’s not hard to deduce that this woman has absolutely NO life, and she thinks she knows you and_

The nervous girl crosses Teesha’s path to get to me. Teesha’s shoves her a little bit out of the way. Haha, what an idiot, this chick.

“Tristan?” says the girl, looking a little startled by Teesha. Ah, Daniela Oak. Straggly fake black hair, with way too much makeup on and wearing skinny pants that are extremely attractive on her. Typical. I mean, what the hell could she want? I’m not really interested in talking to someone who was just in Miss ICANREADMINDS’ office; she might be infected with whatever disorder made her into that kind of loser. I’m so glad that Teesha and I are just screwed up enough that we can fly under the radar…
“Tristan?” Daniela says, snapping me out of my thoughts. “I just said Miss Trainor wanted to see you.”

“She wants to see me? Isn’t that impossible?”

“Don’t be smart, Tristan, just go in,” she says, shifting her flimsy black book bag on her shoulder. I roll my eyes and walk past her, shoving her slightly. Teesha smirks back at me. It’s at this moment that I spot Miss Trainor, standing in her office door, arms crossed, white cane in her right hand, appearing to stare me down.

“Tristan, in my office please,” she says, stepping out of the way, expecting me to listen. I stand there as Teesha makes a nod toward the exit.

“It should only take a minute, if you cooperate,” she says. I groan and decided to give in, and Teesha shoots me a look. I’ll deal with that later. As soon as I’m in, Miss Trainor shuts her door and returns to her desk. “Take a seat,” she says, as she returns to her desk, crossing her legs beneath it.

“Hey, I thought this was supposed to be quick,” I say, not bothering to sit down.

“It seems your grades haven’t been very satisfactory lately,” she says, folding her hands, and again looking like she’s staring at me. She doesn’t wear any dark glasses or anything. Her eyes look completely normal, brown, almost plain.

“How would you know? Did you read my records?”

“Yes, I did, in fact. You’re failing nearly all your classes.”

“Nearly all of them?”

“Last I checked, you have a D in English.”

Yeah. I know Ms. Smithsen would like my brilliant limerick.

“That’s because I’m brilliant in that class. Obviously,” I say, as arrogantly as possible without being sarcastic, smirking, though I’m not sure she knows that. I would rather like to dispel any ideas that would cause her to start using student problem jargon about “low self-esteem” and all that crap.

“Perhaps you need to change your definition of ‘brilliant’, Tristan.”

Gosh, why do teachers always have to repeat your name all the time, like you don’t know they’re talking to you? Well, at least it’s not ‘Mr. Corre’.

“Really, Miss Trainor? That was incredibly hurtful,” I reply, grabbing my heart and making a face pretending to be offended, unable to keep the sarcasm out of my voice this time.
Miss Trainor sighs.

“Is there anything going on right now, Tristan? At home? With your friends?”

“Well, my dad was a cheating asshole and now I live with a fat, annoying little half-sister who is the spawn of my cheating dad and a bitchy fake ginger third wife who spoils the kid and both of them eat up all the attention one guy can give people when he’s working a late-night job where he possibly finds some more chicks to have illegitimate children with. Oh, and I avoid the hell out of all of them and smoke pot and drink with my only friend out on the hill on the other side of town pretty much every day. But YOU wouldn’t know where THAT is.”

I did not actually say that. It would be no use to make this conversation last any longer than it “needs” to last. She “looks” at me again, expectantly, for an answer.

“Nah. Life is great. Um, are you sure you’re blind? I mean, it’s like you keep staring at me or something.”

I heard, two years ago, when I was in eighth grade, that they gave some big obnoxious presentation on blindness to the whole high school when she started working here.

Miss Trainor sighs again, shaking her head.

“Yes, Tristan, I am blind. My eyes are ‘normal’, my occipital lobe, however, has not fared as well. Regardless, Tristan, we are not here to talk about me. We’re here to discuss your grades. Tristan, you may feel uncomfortable talking aloud about the situations you may be in at the moment, but it would be great if you could provide me a reason as to why you presume your grades have been so low lately. Have you been trying your best?”

Three Tristan’s. Seriously? I wonder what it takes to get her to throw in my last name… And lately?! Is she kidding me? My grades have been that way since the beginning of this year. Somehow, I managed to make it into second semester without failing all of my classes.

“Okay, seriously lady, why is it that all you ‘educators’ assume that there’s something going on in our lives, or that we’re not trying hard enough? You seriously think you know us? What if the student you’re attempting to interrogate is just too smart for class and thinks it’s boring?”

“Is that your concern, Tristan? Because if it is, you may want to bring that issue up with your teacher…”

“I was speaking HYPOTHETICALLY. Maybe they just generally hate school.”

“Why do you hate school?”

“OR MAYBE they find it worth their time and are just here to get done or until they can drop out!”

“Tristan, school is very worthwhile, and what you learn here, whether socially or academically, very well determines much of your future_”

“Well, APPARENTLY, school did nothing for you socially, considering the fact that you waste your time talking with high school students that obviously find you annoying, and stay at this hellhole for as long as you possibly can because you probably go home and spend your nights LISTENING to your T.V. or reading some quacky crap psychology book about ‘Adolescents and the Effects of Farmville’ and never finding any matches on Match.com because you’re too boring and chose to waste at least another two years of your life in a SCHOOL where not even the teachers like you.”

Miss Trainor actually turns red, livid, and at the same time, doing that shaky thing that girls do when they’re about to cry. She takes a deep breath, trying to collect herself, assuming a mask of calm, a tense kind that reveals her desperateness to remain professional. Somehow, that brief moment of vulnerability makes her look younger.

“You think you know me, Mr. Corre?” she says, an edge to her voice as she rephrases what I aid hypothetically earlier. I finally drove her to refer to me with my last name. I wonder why adults do that when they’re angry. Isn’t a title supposed to be respectful? Doesn’t that mean they’re considering me they’re equal, and not just some kid they’re ineffectually trying to patronize?

“…Say what you want. I should turn you into the principal for how disrespectful you just were. But I’ve had enough of this for today. All I have to say is that if you don’t start making some big changes in your life, Tristan, you are going to crash and burn. You may leave now.”

Damn. I pick up my once-comfortably light backpack and turn around to leave. But as I turn toward the door, Miss Trainor talks again.

“One more thing, Tristan. Don’t think I couldn’t smell the weed on you. Spraying Febreze on your clothes after lunch isn’t much of a cover up, Tristan. And I expect you to be in class tomorrow, unless you have a legitimate emergency.”

Damnit! What a freaking stalker! I storm out of her office, almost running into Teesha, who has been waiting outside the whole time.

“Took ya long enough,” she says, beginning to walk down the hall at a slow, but comfortable pace.

“I hate that woman. With a burning passion.”

“I get where you’re coming from, man. Miss Trainor’s annoying as hell.”

“You’ve had to talk to her before?”

“Oh yeah, a couple of times.”

Well, there goes my fantasy about us two being well-meaning loners who no one cares enough about to send into the counselor’s office. Haha, no way, we’re never well-meaning. I decide not to ask her why, assuming I know the answer. I head into her familiar car, passenger’s seat this time. Teesha’s not letting me drive for a while, after the incident this morning. I’m looking forward to being out on the hill today. I just need to wind down…

“Wanna hit up that bar a couple towns over? I don’t think our I.D.’s have gotten enough use lately,” Teesha says. I attempt to look enthusiastic, and I’m about to let her know I’d rather stay in town today, SOMEHOW, but then I notice something, or rather, someone, outside my window. I start to roll it down.

“Hey, Shaylie!” I shout to her. Teesha rolls her eyes, but smirks a little.

“Oh… um, hi Tristan!” Shaylie replies, looking startled for a moment before smiling that nervous smile again.

Teesha pulls the car closer to the curb, slowing down to Shaylie’s pace.

“Um… how are you?” she asks me, again deliberately avoiding answering my offer from earlier. But whatever. It’s not a big deal.

“Decent, I guess… what are you doing tonight?”

Teesha gives me a questioning look, before speaking through her teeth.

“Dude, she probably won’t want to be doing what we’re doing,”

“Chill, chill. I know what I’m doing,” I say, then look back at Shaylie.

“Um… nothing I guess,” she replies, looking around as though there’s someone following her.

“I’d have to ask my dad to go somewhere, though,” she says, after I open the backseat door. She’s always so nervous. I pull out Teesha’s cell from her backpack and hand it to her.

“Here. We’re not going too far.”

Shaylie hesitantly takes the phone. “A-Are you sure this is okay? Where are we going?” she asks as she buckles herself into her seat, simultaneously dialing a number way too fast. After a few moments, she reaches a messaging machine. “H-Hi, Dad. Um, I’m going to be going out with… some friends from school. Chris’s friends. Um… I should be home by eight o’clock,” she says, looking at Teesha and I like this might be a problem. Which it probably will, but, we’re not protesting just yet. And why is Shaylie always so nervous? I mean, I know Teesha and I aren’t known to be the most reliable is going out with friends without telling your parents everything such a big deal? And how the heck does she know Chris?

“Yeah, it’s alright,” is Teesha’s belated answer. I take back the phone and return to its original place in Teesha’s cluttered backpack.

“So this is cool then?” I ask Shaylie, turning around to see her. She nods, but still manages to look unsure. Now SHAYLIE’S eyes, they’re something worth looking at. Greenish-hazel, big almond eyes, that a classic author would have taken half of a page to describe.

“C-Can I ask exactly where we’re going, again?” Shaylie asks, biting her lip after doing so.

Teesha looks at me, before facing Shaylie herself.

“You’ll find out,” she says.
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