1 - An Outcast

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★ ★ ★

"Are you fucking serious, Gilly? What are you, a girl, with those friendship bracelets?" Angel's laughter echoed through the empty street. He leaned against the car in which they'd put her stuff, a cigarette dangling down his mouth.

Gilly shrugged his shoulders, a slight blush coloring his cheeks. "I just want her to know that she's not alone, even though it might feel like that sometimes. For eternity – that's what we always said about our friendship. But now – now she's moving to the northern part of the state and before you know it, we haven't spoken in months..."

Hopeful eyes looked up to her, hoping that she understood its importance.

Alesia wished she could smile, but she failed. She wished it did something to her, that it would warm her heart – but it didn't. Her numbness was simply too overwhelming.

In one day she had lost everything. Her parents, her beauty, her house, her life. And soon, she could add her two best friends to that list.

Gilly ignored Angel's commentary and Alesia's resignation. He held out his hand. Alesia held up hers. The bracelet he dropped in it consisted of six black braided threads, of which the middle two were held together by an iron infinity sign.

It looked cool, Alesia had to give him that.

"Thank you," she said softly.

Angel pushed himself away from the car, curious now and looked over Gilly's shoulder. "That thing looks like something I should recognize."

"The infinity symbol," Gilly said, his voice a little offended because his friend needed an explanation. "You know. Infinite friendship or something." He shrugged his shoulders. "Mom said it was nice."

His last addition made Angel chuckle. "It was cool until you mentioned your mom."

"Don't mess with him, Angel," Alesia sighed.

Their eyes met. She knew his lightness was nothing but an act; his way to deal with what had happened. In silence, he took the bracelet from Gilly, where after the three shoved it around their wrists. They raised their hands, stared at it for a while. Both boys wrapped an arm around her shoulders and around each other's, as did she.

Her eyes were stinging as if the tears were ready to come, but after the past weeks not a single tear was left. She bent her head and rested it against her two best friends.

"For eternity," she whispered.

Two words that had completely lost their meaning, in recent days. Nevertheless, it gave her a bit of comfort.

"For eternity," the two boys agreed.

★ ★ ★

Alesia was sitting on the edge of the bed. Her thumb followed the infinity symbol of the bracelet. She had moved to Oakland a month ago to live with her granny. The woman had barely spoken to her; she was tormented by her own grief. Losing a child was something no parent should go through, no matter their age.

Alesia cared more for her grandmother than the other way around. She ran errands, cooked, made sure the woman ate. She didn't mind – it kept her busy. If not, she was afraid she would just stare like the old woman herself, with eyes seeing nothing.

Today however she had to leave the house; it was her first day at her new school. She didn't look forward to it, to go to a place where everyone had known each other for years. The Holidays had ended two months ago, she would be the only new face. A nightmare for every teenager – and she was one who looked like a freak.

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