James wasn't in school the following week. I was just as agitated as I had been the last time. Something was wrong. Something was clearly very wrong. I cared about James. I was scared for him - for us both.

I couldn't concentrate on anything. I had a test in physics class that I hadn't studied for, so instead of taking it, I sat, doodling on an empty page, trying to distract from my relentless worries. It didn't work. 

I didn't hand up anything to Mr. Frederickson. I was already failing physics - was there really any point in even trying? 

I wandered into English class, where Mrs. Perry continued her endless discussion of the characters in Hamlet. I'd heard it all before, I didn't need to hear it again. I had better things to be thinking about - specifically, James. I had already texted him. Twice. Yet, there was no reply. A part of me wanted to do as I had done before, and leave the school to go to him - but another part of me reminded me how that had turned out. I didn't ever want that to happen again. So I would have to endure it.

I knew there was something wrong - and it was killing me. Was it Leo? Was everything okay? Was Erica there again? Was she taking him? Did she win? I bit my lip and stared out the window, praying that James would be okay… that we would be okay.

"Allison?"

My head snapped up towards Mrs. Perry. She was staring at me. Actually, everyone was staring at me.

"Y-yes?" I asked, uncertain.

"I asked you a question, would you care to answer it?" she snapped.

I felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment. Fuck.

"Um, would you mind repeating the question?"

Mrs. Perry sighed. "Allison, you're not paying attention. Tell me, what is so fascinating outside that window that you can't bring yourself to listen to what is really important here? Seeing as you love sitting around aimlessly all day long, I'm going to treat you to a detention, today after school. You might only have a few weeks left in this school, but these last few weeks matter just as much as every other week. I expect more from you, Allison."

"I know, I'm sorry, Miss," I muttered, humiliated. 

She turned away from me. "Who else can tell me why Hamlet treats Ophelia in this way? Danielle, can you think of anything?"

As Danielle attempted an answer, I zoned out once more, unable to focus on the present situation, even if I wanted to. 

After class, Georgia caught up with me.

"Hey! I heard you got detention - what happened?"

News sure does spread fast.

"Nothing - I just wasn't paying attention."

 Georgia suddenly stopped walking, watching me with worried eyes, and stretching a hand out to rest on my shoulder. "Hey, are you okay? Is everything alright?"

I stopped, too, staring at her, confused. Did I say something wrong? Did I look not-okay? Why did she look so worried, all of a sudden?

"I'm fine," I told her. "See you at lunch?"

Without waiting for an answer, I marched off towards Physics. 

*

My second experience of detention this year was very, very different to my first. For one, Mr. Halter wasn't supervising anymore. In his place was my history teacher, Mr. Wilson. I took a seat up front, next to the window. I hadn't planned on doing any homework. Admittedly, I probably should have. I was behind in almost every subject, and my grades seemed to have been falling steadily ever since Christmas break. I had always been naturally studious and academic, but that part of me appeared to have faded away. I was too tired to study these days. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

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