Chapter 25

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Wednesday, October 15th

I have been slowly filling my science notebook with horse doodles as my science teacher, Ms Yachov, drones on and on about something scientific. I'm not sure what, but science, to be frank, bores the living daylights out of me.
Bailey pokes my back with her pencil. Her assigned seat is directly behind mine, unluckily. Who decides where people sit anyway? Because whoever decided that it would be a good idea to put Bailey behind me must be extremely stupid. I really wish I could ask why they did it, but that would just be a testament to my lack of attention.
"Pay attention!" she hisses quietly, "You're going to get detention if she catches you drawing!"
I lay my pencil down in defeat. As much as I hate to admit it, she's right. I glance over at Joshua. His seat is across the room, right next to a window, but instead of watching everything outside, he seems to be paying close attention to Ms Yachov's every word. If that was my spot, I'd take full advantage of it. 
"Leah!" Her voice rings out, clearing my head of cobwebs.
I jerk my head up. "Yes ma'am?"
"See me after class, please."
"I told you so." Bailey whispers. Ugh. Sometimes I wish I had a way to poke her with a pencil.
-*-*-*-
All bad things start with extra homework. Wise words. I made them up myself when I first sat down at the kitchen table five minutes ago to tuck into some extra science homework, courtesy of Ms Yachov, given to 'the student who won't pay attention' on behalf of every teacher that has ever lived. You'd think she gave me a paper on every subject, by the look of that stack of misery.
I twiddle my pencil pointlessly, making sputtering noises with my lips. I should try to pay attention next time.
"Lee-yuh?" Jonah comes up beside me, standing on tiptoe to inspect the books and things spread out over the usually tidy tabletop, "What are you doing?"
"Big kid stuff." I scoop him up and hold him in my lap. "You wanna help?"
He nods, I give him a pencil, and he draws on the blank sides of my schedules while I write essays on molecules and atoms. 
We've been working for probably twenty minutes when Cora saunters through the doorway from the outdoors, her expression the epitome of boredom. "Hey, Leah." She closes the door behind her and pads closer, then peers curiously over my shoulder. "What are you guys doing?"
Jonah swivels around to face her, his big, blue eyes glowing with importance. "Big kid stuff." He goes back to scribbling in my notebook, adding detail to a stickman. Detail, meaning a smiley face.
"Homework." I sigh.
"Homework." He repeats, also adding a very dramatic sigh.
I chuckle. "What have you been doing?"
She shrugs. "Nothing, really. There isn't that much to do."
"You could always go find a tree to climb." I joke.
She rolls her eyes. "Anyway, I've been bored."
Grace comes trotting into the kitchen in her dress-up clothes, a sparkly tutu, sequin-covered shirt, and a feathery wand. She gives Cora a very important glance, little, freckled, nose high in the air.
"Cora's mad 'cause Momma said she can't have a boyfriend yet."
Jonah's pencil pauses mid-doodle. "A boyfriend?" 
"Hush." I say quietly.
"Be quiet, Grace." Cora scowls angrily at first Grace, and then me.
It isn't my fault, I think, as I go back to studying.
"What is a boyfriend?" Jonah asks a few minutes after Cora goes to our room.
"You're to young to understand."
This answer seems to shut him up pretty well, so I don't continue. Instead I start making a list of everything I think a boyfriend should be, and everything they shouldn't in my head.
#1 A boyfriend should love his girlfriend no matter what is wrong with her.
#2 A boyfriend should care more about his girlfriend than himself.
#3 A boyfriend should make his girlfriend feel safe.
#4 A boyfriend should make heartbreak bearable.
Josh has done all of these things for me.
#1 A boyfriend shouldn't let his girlfriend be lonely.
#2 A boyfriend shouldn't leave his girlfriend on purpose.
#3 A boyfriend shouldn't show his girlfriend up by not showing up.
#4 A boyfriend shouldn't stop loving his girlfriend ever.
Josh hasn't done any of these things.
Yet, that quiet voice hisses maliciously.
I let my pencil drop from my hand onto the papers with a quiet "plop".
"What's wrong, Lee-yuh?"
I close my eyes tightly and massage my temples. "Nothing, Jony. I'm perfectly fine."

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