Chapter 6: Ryan

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When Ryan saw Jacky in the hallway at school the next day, the urge to smile overwhelmed him. Ryan normally smiled at a lot of people in the hallway: his friends, his teachers, anyone on the football team, anyone who smiled at him. Maybe, because Jacky had never smiled at him, never looked at him, never did more than glare at everyone in the hallway, Ryan realized he had never smiled at Jacky.

Now, at the door to their English class, Jacky looked up from the folds of his black hoodie, and Ryan smiled at him and let him enter the room first.

Jacky's face scrunched up. "Hey," he muttered.

Ryan took his usual seat near the front and by the window, while Jacky slouched to his desk at the back of the room and collapsed into the chair. He wished he knew of something he could chat with Jacky about. It didn't seem like they had a whole lot in common. And then Monica walked in, and he lost the chance to say anything.

"Did you hear about Alex's Halloween party?" Monica asked.

"Yeah, he told everybody at gym." Ryan pulled out his notebooks and his copy of Catcher in the Rye and a pen.

"Do you know what you're gonna dress up as?"

"No."

"No ideas? None at all?" Suddenly Monica touched his hand. "I'm sorry, I get it. You have more important things to worry about."

Ryan pretended he had to get something out of his backpack as a means to get Monica's hand off him. This was yet another reason why he hadn't told anyone about his mom.

"I mean, all the costume ideas I have are for a couple. Like, I was thinking, Bonnie and Clyde would be really cool. I could wear my flapper dress from the Roaring Twenties dance last year, and my little brother has all these real-looking nerf guns."

"Uh-huh," Ryan said, because Monica had stopped talking and seemed to expect some kind of response.

"I mean, all you'd have to do is wear a suit and maybe a fedora – I have one – and then we'd have a really awesome costume."

"Uh, we?" Ryan looked up.

"Yeah. You said you didn't have a costume. What do you think?"

Ryan was stumped on how to tell Monica he didn't particularly even want to go to a Halloween party, never mind as part of a couples costume, but luckily the bell rang.


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