The rest of the school week flies by with nothing interesting happening.  No one's approached me, but no one's outright rejected me either.  Sure, backs turn when the blank kid approaches, but nothing too forward.  My English teacher hands me a huge stack of extra books to read each week, something that I'm increasingly grateful for.  After my first day of school, Jenna really hasn't talked to me again.  She's grown more and more withdrawn to the point where even Alex playing outrageous rap music in the car doesn't bother her.

After school on Friday, Karen cautiously approaches me in her work clothes.  "How has school been going?  Made any friends?"  She sets a plate of celery on the counter even though she knows we'll all ignore it.  "I think you've been adjusting well."

"I'm worried about Jenna," is all I manage to stab out.  

"Oh, honey, don't.  She goes through funks.  We've had her since she was thirteen, and this often happens."  She sighs and leans her elbow against the counter.  "One minute she'll be ecstatic, the next, I'm afraid that someone sucked all the life out of her with a vacuum."

Is she bipolar?  It's crossed my mind lately.  I wouldn't say it's my fault that I look at everyone as a medical case.  It sort of comes with being raised by nurses.  "What exactly happened with her biological family?"

A dark storm cloud rushes to cover Karen's face.  "If you're going to know, it's coming from her.  I'm not even sure if I would be able to force the words from my mouth."  That's reassuring.  I raise my hands to ask more questions, but she cuts me off.  "Just go do your homework and let me worry about her.  She's not your problem."

As I reluctantly trudge for the stairs, I literally collide with Alex.  "What's your problem, man?"  He shoves past me, sprinting down the hall to his room.  Karen just looks at me with a calculating stare, trying to decipher everything I'm thinking with mere sight.  With a small wave, I run downstairs before her icy eyes can burn me.

After ten minutes of attacking my math homework, I receive an incoming request to video chat from Nancy, my nurse.  I literally have to force myself to answer it, setting my phone up so I can sign.  Her aging face floods the screen, her cap slightly askew.  

"John!  It's so nice to see you!"  The words are muffled and I motion for her to remove her mask.

"It's good to see you too."  My eyes travel back to my waiting homework.  It would be so easy to use it as an excuse, to get myself out of this.  I want to distance myself from the asylum, and it's impossible with her doting on me even though I'm out of her care.  She's not my social worker.  Why does she insist upon keeping in contact?

Nancy doesn't waste any time and dives right in.  "I wanted to tell you that Miss Josephine is responding positively to treatments.  Not physically, but mentally.  She even asked about you."

That's enough to make the blood in my veins freeze.  "She did?  How do you know?"  I don't let myself dwell on it.   Nancy doesn't know what she's talking about.

"You think I'm annoying with how much I keep tabs on you?  She's got it ten times worse, honey."  She winks despite the fact I can hear something crash right behind her.  "Don't worry about that.  Just Matthew."

Matthew.  The person who bobby pins his greasy bangs away from his face, the person who used to be my roommate until he took a liking to trying to kill me.  "How's he doing?"

"Don't worry about him.  I know you a little too well to get away with that," she scolds gently.  "How have you adjusted?  Is the family okay?"

My feet tap impatiently under the desk, yearning to quit giving reports.  For once in my life, I don't want to have to tell someone how I'm feeling.  "They're great.  The girl is Deaf--she can hear, but she's adopted the culture and uses ASL.  It's nice at home, but she's a senior and I feel bad talking to her doing the school day.  Then the boy's a whole different story.   He's already decided he hates me, but there's nothing I can do about that."  

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