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“Is that so?” I said, pulling out a pencil and notebook from my backpack, even though I wasn’t going to take notes.

“Yes. You see, I am the eyes, the ears, and the voice of the student body. I know everything about everyone who matters, and I can help keep you out of harm’s way.”

“Well, isn’t that nice of you.”

“What can I say? I’m a humanitarian.” He held his hand out toward me for a shake. “You got a name?”


“Where are ya from, Levi?”


“All right, all right, all right,” he said with a southern accent—or more of a Matthew McConaughey accent, which was in a league of its own. “You will forever be known as Alabama.”

Seeing as how Connor had saved me from the spitting teacher, I guessed he could call me Alabama.

The girl from the bus stop walked into the classroom and sat two rows in front of me, her head down the whole time. Half of her auburn hair was shaven, and the other half, dark red. She looked different than most of the Barbie girls in the hallways. Darker. Edgier. Beautiful. She reached into her backpack, pulled out a notebook, and started writing in it. She kept sweeping her bangs behind her ear, but never looked up from whatever she was doing in her notebook.

“What about her?” I asked Connor. “Who’s that?”

Connor’s eyes moved to the seat I was pointing at and his eyebrow rose. “Oh. That’s one of the oddities. Not sure of the name because most of the oddities aren’t worth my mind space. It leaves more room for people like that.” He pointed to another girl who had a face plastered with makeup and was wearing a tight black shirt that pushed up her tits. “Now that’s worthy of my brain. Hi, Tori,” he said, waving.

Tori turned around and flipped Connor off. Her eyes crossed mine, and she gave me a smile before turning back to laugh with the girl sitting next to her. “Ah, man, did you see that?!” Connor exclaimed. “Tori Eisenhower smiled at me!”

I didn’t tell him that she had actually been smiling at me, he seemed too thrilled about it.

“Well, okay, she was smiling at you, but since you’re my new main guy, it counts as a smile for me, too. Dude. Do you see it?” He waved his hands all around the room.

“See what?”

“The sea full of sweet, sweet pussy. It’s ours for the taking, my man.”

I laughed uncomfortably. Most of the time when I first met people I didn’t find the need to talk about using girls and referring to them as sweet pussy. With that one line, I was certain I didn’t like Connor.

Hopefully this would be our only class together.

The first hour bell rang. Mr. Jones walked in and began speaking, spitting on everyone in the front few rows. Connor kept whispering things about ‘banging chicks’ and ‘getting digits’ while tugging on his gold necklace.

I should’ve sat in the front row.

* * *

Connor followed me to science class, and at first I debated the idea that he was a stalker, but then realized that the schedule gods really hated my guts. I wished there was a decent way to say, ‘leave me the heck alone and stop talking about sex’ without sounding like an ass.

When he pulled out a comb and started brushing at his nonexistent chin hair, I was determined that school really stood for freaking hell.

I considered calling him Eminem, but talking to him only encouraged his conversations about vaginas.

I zoned out for most of my morning classes—realizing that they were all the same. Syllabus, teacher goals, ice breakers. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Being homeschooled all my life, I was happy to see that high school was exactly the same as all the movies portrayed it to be: scuffed up navy blue lockers, pretty girls giggling by the drinking fountain, student clubs posters hanging up, and a lot of gossiping voices.

Every now and then I saw the Bus Stop Girl in the hallways, but she always kept her head down, or was talking to some guy with red hair.

Is he her boyfriend?

I didn’t know why I cared.

The guy made her smile, which was like a hidden treat. She didn’t do it often—she was more into frowning. It was weird, but her frowns made her more intriguing to me.

She and the guy never touched. She mostly hugged that same notebook I saw her writing in earlier.

God. Now I seem like the stalker.

I shuffled my feet and hurried off to my next class.

By this point it wasn’t a surprise that Connor was waiting inside my world history class.

5 Aria

The school day hours crawled by like years, which was fine because I knew at the end of the day I would have to be at a doctor’s appointment, something I really didn’t want to do. I’d rather run from reality than face it.

Whenever Mike and his friends crossed my path, he made sure to never make eye contact. Most of his friends didn’t know we were related.

At lunch, I sat with Simon and watched him open and close his milk jug as his eyes stayed glued to his historically long crush, Tori, also known as the most popular girl in our junior class. Also, also known as the girl who egged Simon’s house last year. He was still in denial about that one, claiming it was Eric Smith who was behind the yolks.

Like all hopeless romantics, love blinded him from the truth. It was all very tragic, yet somehow hopeful all at the same time.

Simon kept talking about Tori as if she were his greatest dream come to life. “She sits three rows behind me in chemistry. I know you’ll probably disagree, but she’s smart, Aria.” His words were drunk on a fictional romance as he spoke of his imaginary lover.