Offenders (18)

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When Lena finally came back to school, I was glad. It was weird not having her around, but I knew it’d be even weirder if she was there and she wasn’t herself. I really hoped that what had happened with Colton did not change her forever.

She looked just the same as she always did as she walked into the first class we had together. Her hair was down, she was wearing makeup, and she was wearing the cute clothes she usually did. But I knew that just because she looked normal didn’t mean she was.

“Lena!” a girl that sat in front of us squeaked when she saw my best friend enter the classroom. “You’re back! I almost thought you left!”

Lena shook her head. “No. I was just sick.”

She’d been gone for almost two weeks, but I didn’t say this. I guess it was possible for someone to be sick for that long, depending on what they had caught. But I knew Lena didn’t want people knowing the real reason why she had been gone for so long.

“Hi,” I smiled at her as she took her seat beside me.

She smiled right back at me, though it seemed forced. “Hi,” she greeted.

I frowned. She’d only said one word to me and I already knew she was different. This whole experience affected her much more than she let on.

“Lena,” I began with a whisper as our teacher began to speak to the whole class. “How are you?”

She didn’t answer me right away; she didn’t even look at me. She continued to stare straight ahead, as if she was listening to what our teacher was saying. But I knew she wasn’t. She was looking at the empty seat in the front of the room where Colton used to sit.

“Lena,” I said again, but she still didn’t look at me. I reached out to shake her, but then thought better and retracted my hand. Obviously she still didn’t want to talk and I wasn’t going to force her into doing something she was uncomfortable with.

I wished she’d talk to me, but there wasn’t anything I could do to make her do that. Hopefully she just wasn’t speaking to me because we were in a public place. Maybe it was too weird to her that Colton had been in this room with us.

She couldn’t stop staring at his seat. I wanted her to stop, because the look on her face was one that I couldn’t read, though I knew it wasn’t a good one. She was hurting herself just by staring at a chair.

I missed the old Lena. This had affected her so much. She was much more frightened of Malicius than I’d thought, and obviously Colton reminded her of it a lot. Not to mention that the whole experience was just scary in itself anyway.

“I have some exciting news to share with you today!” our teacher announced, and it seemed like this had been the first time in months since she hadn’t spoken Spanish. Even with her excited tone, no one in the class changed their bored expressions. “It’s something you’ve all been waiting for.”

I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, so I knew that it wasn’t something I’d been waiting for. It was most likely something I’d have no interest in, so I didn’t even bat an eyelash.

“The date of the end-of-the-year dance has been announced!” our teacher finally informed us.

I just blinked as girls around me began to chatter about how excited they were. Honestly, I was confused. It was February. School didn’t end for another four months.

The girl sitting on the other side of me seemed to notice that I wasn’t as excited as everyone else was. She leaned over and asked me, “What’s wrong?”

I stared at her, surprised she cared enough to ask. “I just… don’t understand what the big deal is.”

“Oh, yeah,” the girl said. “You were new this year, weren’t you?”

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