17. Virgins

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17. Virgins
Now

“You’re avoiding my question, Jacob,” Mr. Aschen says. “You still haven’t answered—what happened with David? Did he really let you decide his fate?”

I sigh.

*
Senior Year, October

Weeks passed in a fuzzy yellow haze. Or, they must have, because I was there when it happened, but everything got simmered down to vague impressions by the weed.

I’m not gonna lie; David was pretty much placed out of mind. Not on purpose, but—just trying to survive. Without the Six, without Eureka, things became stagnant. No reason to try.

To make matters worse, the Six were nowhere to be found. So for a minute one Monday morning, when the drug-induced veil was pierced, I was dazzled to the point where I doubted my own eyes.

As I crossed the parking lot to the school, there came a peculiar sensation of being watched. Occasionally I’d glimpse a familiar face, partially obscured by giant movie starlet sunglasses and ribbons of long, dark hair.

A face I’d assumed abandoned us all. A face that brought me nothing but trouble.

The silence brought doubt, like a soldier holding a quiet position so long he wasn’t sure if the war ended already. Did being It matter? Did anyone still want to play? And if so, did they want anything to do with me?

So I turned around and kept walking across the parking lot.

The next day, the eyes watched me again.

On the third day, a note on my car read: ‘Help me.’

On the fourth day, I searched for her and she wasn’t there.

On the fifth day, I walked up behind her car and tapped on the glass, trying to scare her. It didn’t work, so I just sat down in Emily’s car and asked what she wanted.

“I want you, of course,” Emily said. “I need your help.”

“I thought you were in college.”

She giggled. “I am. They don’t even make us go to class. Don’t look at me like that, Mr. Criminal, like you’re one to judge. Are you high? Jesus, that’s new.”

“Yeah, well, things change.” I leaned back and placed my feet on the dash.

“That’s the name of the game,” the temptress replied. “Speaking of which…” Emily started driving away from the school.

“Whoa!” I said. “I need to be in there. They’ll call my dad.”

“Too bad,” she said with a smile. “I want you to get me high.”

“What’s this all about?” I directed us to a familiar waterfall, a place I’d discovered in one of many outings with the Six while seeking new ground to satisfy a tag.

“I’m bored,” she said. “And I don’t mean like I can’t think of anything to do. I mean, like, this chronic, soul-crushing boredom, this sensation that won’t leave me alone. Just want to bash my head into walls, Jacob. Every day for the foreseeable future looks exactly the fucking same.”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry. I’m not sure what to do anymore. I didn’t know you needed me.”

“My life just…doesn’t feel right.”

“Could you be more specific?”

“College, this, everything.” She motioned around the car. “It’s just so—I don’t know. I can’t sleep. Everything is set in stone. I can see my future, Jacob.”

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