Part Two

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People practically dove out of the way as I moved through the halls, trying to avoid the wrath they thought I'd send their way. I was feared at school. I was intimidating. You did not mess with Mark Harris.

                I never used to be someone that you would consider 'scary' or 'intimidating', unless I got in the zone during a football game. I was considered friendly, and 'a nice guy'... people used to like talking to me. Hanging out with me. Looking at me.

                After everything that happened at the beginning of this semester, it was like I had developed the Bubonic plague, no one wanted to be anywhere near me. It wasn't like I was continually rude to anyone; I didn't go out of my way to pick on anyone, to bully them, or anything like that. But you stir things up a bit and soon enough, it's like they forget the person you were and you're a totally new person in their eyes.

                Really, I wouldn't mind that so much, getting to hit the refresh button I mean, if I wasn't in high school. In high school, there is no 'undo' or 'restart' button, because people will always have their view of you. You have a reputation, and you're expected to uphold it, and if you don't... you're an outcast. If you're the nerd, you have to do well in school. If you're the jock, you'd better make the team your number one priority. If you're the 'bad boy' then you might as well purchase that leather jacket right now, and prepare yourself for years of detention.

 I could care less what my label was, I just wanted people to leave me alone. Or at least, glance at me... either one.

                But whatever, I didn't need anyone. I could make it through this year, my last year, with my head held high. There was no way I was going to bow down to the pressures these stupid teenagers put on me. I was my own person, I had self-confidence and self-worth and all that crap. I was Mark Harris and I didn't need anyone else.

***

                I was feeling a lot better on my walk home today, I had bought some bags of Dorito's on my way home, so I was on top of the world. Eating Dorito's did that for me. One bag of Dorito's could turn a whole day around, I always say.

                And I was still munching on my second bag of the day when an oddly familiar voice called out to me, "Hey! Markus!"

                I turned my head to look, even though nobody ever called me that, and spotted the girl in the wheelchair from yesterday sitting next to a picnic table with a curly-haired blonde girl beside her. I nodded once in recognition, but was planning on moving on until she called to me again, "Mark!"

                I breathed heavily through my nose before turning, "Yes?"

                "Come here," she waved her hand, drawing more attention to us. I really didn't want to, but people were staring. "Come on!"

                Huffing, I drug myself over there. "Yes?" I repeated, awkwardly glancing between Shawna and her friend. They were both staring at me, and I felt uncomfortable considering I had never really met either of these two.

                "Can I have a Dorito?" she asked, reaching into my bag without an answer and stealing an overflowing handful of my beautiful, cheesy chips.

                I blinked.

...People did not take my food.

Especially not my Dorito's.

"Thanks man," she told me around a mouthful of my glorious snack, "Dorito's can just make a whole day better, you know?"

...

...

...

I think my eye twitched.

                "Oh hey, this is Allison," Shawna beamed, gesturing to her blonde companion with her orange dusted fingertips. Allison waved, smiling back, as I did some sort of nod, trying not to murder Shawna with a glare as she licked her fingers clean. "Allison, this is Mark, the guy I ran over yesterday."

                "Sweet," Allison nodded, "nice to meet you, Mark."

                Before I could say anything Shawna jumped in, "Ah, but do you actually mean that, Alli?" Shawna sent me a look, her blue eyes twinkling brightly. "Mark's very particular about what he says, aren't you, Mark?"

                "I don't know how you would even know that considering we've talked for less than five minutes..." I told her, a little irked. She didn't know anything about me.

...And she still had a speck of Dorito dust on her thumb... and it was driving me mad.

                "Well—" Shawna began, but was cut off by her friend.

                "Before you two start arguing, I did mean it. You help my friend, you're my friend," she told me, leaning back against the bench she was sitting on, twisting one of her curly strands around her finger.

                "That's not really necessary..." I started. I really didn't want to be associated with these two weirdo's. And I definitely didn't want them considering me as their 'friend'.

                Mark Harris didn't have friends. Not anymore.

                "Nonsense," Shawna waved me off. "Like I said, your help yesterday was appreciated and you're a national hero now."

                Holding back an eye roll, I decided to just go along with her, hoping I could get out of here faster, "Sure. Look--" I glanced over my shoulder.

                "What school do you go to?" Shawna interrupted.

                I sighed, "Jefferson."

                The two girls shared a look, "I guess that's why we've never seen him before," Allison said, before turning back to me. "We go to Jubilee out there on the North side."

                "Okay," I muttered, and Shawna looked like she was going to laugh, so I quickly continued, "Look, I've got to get going, so sorry to end our little 'bonding' session, but I'm leaving."

                This was also funny to Shawna for some reason, "Oh Mark, I don't think you're really that sorry." I let out of huff and she raised her little hands in surrender, "Okay, okay, I'll get over that," she smiled. "But you should hang out with us!"

                "No."

                She grinned like she had been expecting that, "Alright, alright, see you around tough guy."

                The nickname wasn't appreciated, but she was letting me go so I was going to take the chance while I had it. "Bye," I nodded once and then took off.

                Shawna was definitely a weird one, and I was still mad at her for taking my Dorito's. I mean, who does that? Who just takes a mans Dorito's when it's quite obvious that he's not the type of guy you mess with about food? I mean she has to be stupid to—

                Deep breath, Mark...

If I was going to keep running into her, I just might have to find a new route home.

                ***

It wasn't until days later that I saw Shawna again, and looking back... I'm so glad that I never found a different path to take.

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