Chapter One:

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Today is not my day.

My best friend died exactly three years ago-victim to a stupid drunk/drugged driver so high off his ass that he couldn’t see straight- and I failed my math exam. My mom is going to kill me. Murder me. Stuff my body into the bed of my old Chevy and dump it in the woods that surround this little hell-hole of a town.

No, literally. I’m not kidding; she’s already picked out the music she’s going to play while dancing on my grave.

I’m too awesome to die.

Rain pelts against the chipped window to my left like miniature bullets, echoing weirdly inside my head because the left side of my face is slumped heavily against it. The window used to be cold, almost so icy that I jumped across the front seat of my truck on the initial impact, but after a while of sulking pitifully like a child, it warmed right up.

The pad of my thumb lightly moves over the smooth piece of paper in my hands, stroking it. Eyes glued to the death-stamp in the corner, I chew on my lower lip and debate on my artistic skills.

Do I dare try to turn this F into a B?

Actually, the real question is: Do I have a marker/pen of the same color as this horrid F?

Letting out a small, determined huff, I prop the test up against the steering wheel and reach over, digging through my forever unzipped bag-thing. All my pens and pencils rest at the bottom, covering the expanse like a shield, protecting my notebook from any potential harm, and I scoop up a hand full. Carefully, I scribble a bit on my left hand and compare the inks, hawk-like eyes picking out any differences.

The first handful of pens is useless.

I simply toss them aside. I can always clean them up later. Aimlessly, my hand is shoved back inside the bag and it probes around. Fingers curl around a pen. It’s pulled out, carefully so the bag doesn’t rip, and held up in the air like baby Simba from The Lion King.

Huston, we have found Narnia.

If Narnia was pen-shaped, that is.

I carefully execute the operation. Once the grade looks somewhat like a solid B, I set the pen aside and hold up the paper. I got my hawk-eyes from my mother; I have to really make sure the grade doesn’t look like it was drawn on-otherwise, she’ll know instantly and I’ll be done for.

Sighing softly, I set aside the paper and rest my hands in my lap.

And my mood plummets.

I was very careful today. Every time my thoughts drifted towards that little metaphorical card-board box marked ‘Jake’ in the back of my mind, I quickly redirected them. I hastily thought of something else so I didn’t disturb the thick layers of emotions that veil around that box. I can’t afford to break down and sob like a little baby during school hours.

My car, however, is a totally different story.

You’d think that three years would be enough time to heal.

That, by the third year mark, your heart wouldn’t ache every waking moment. That air would flow naturally through your lungs again, instead of morphing into icy barbed wire, destroying the organs from the inside out. And that the heavy lead-like dread would have drained from your system already and you’d be able to move freely again, like cotton candy.

I mean, you can still believe that.

But you’d be wrong.

Oh so wrong.

Somehow, my face ends up slumped against the window again. Tears flow heavily down my cheeks and drip onto the side of the door. I wipe at them desperately; I hate crying. I feel so pathetic and stupid.  A large lump of barbed-wire balls up, glued to the back of my throat, and sends blast after blast of pain shuddering through my body with each swallow. For a few long moments, time stands still as I struggle to gather myself together and calm down.

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