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Great. I haven’t gotten anywhere, my phone is gone for the week, I’m going back to school, I did I a half-a*s job on my homework, and oh, that’s right, my best friend and sister is dead.
That pretty much sums up the *** I’m going through right now. So yeah, fun.
I’m sitting at my kitchen table with a bowl of oatmeal in front of me. I’m not hungry. I think if I leave it here, my dad will probably eat it at 5:30 when he gets home from work. Right now I’m just waiting for the bus.
Why would my parents lock Danielle’s door? What could possibly be in there? Something they’re hiding? Or something that belonged to Danielle?
Or . . . maybe it wasn’t them. Maybe it was the other police officers who came in to examine Danielle’s room for any signs that she might have been thinking of committing suicide. I was here, but Mom and Dad made me stay in my room, so I didn’t get to see anything they did. And even though my room is right next to Danielle’s, the walls are paper thin, and I had my ear pressed up against the vent, I still couldn’t hear what they were saying. What I did here was the muffled voices of some people trying to keep “something on the down-low”, as my grandpa would say.
I hear the rumble of the bright yellow bus as it pulls up to my house. I slide off my chair and sling my backpack over my shoulder.
Time for the lamb to head to slaughter! Yey! This is the best week of my life.
I’m starting to become sarcastic.
I feel guilty again. This is bad for me? It was so bad for Danielle, it killed her!
Okay. Not funny, Sam. Not. Funny.
I stretch slowly, biding my time.
School without Danielle . . . I can’t stop thinking about it. The same terrible thoughts keep playing over in my head: the teasing, the ignorance, the madness, the gossip. And without my phone . . .
My mind is like a broken record. Over and over and over again. Like I’m stuck in a loop of senseless, idiotic visions of the future. I want to snap out of it, but my brain hasn’t sided with my body. Yet.
I trudge to the bus, acting totally normal (I always trudge.)
The bus door slides open and I step up the metal stairs carefully, keeping my head mostly down. This will be the most attention I’ve ever gotten. I don’t think I’ll like it.
As soon as the kid in the first row–Ben, I think–sees me, he points and whispers loudly to the kid behind him. “Didja hear her identical snuffed it? On purpose! Did it herself.”
The other boy-who-I-can’t-remember-the-name-of chuckles like this is some kind of joke, reminding me of the other night with Liv in the bathroom. What is wrong with the world?
I step past him as he says in a regular tone, fully aware I’m hearing him, “Maybe we can get this one to go too. No need to have just one piece of the two-piece puzzle.”
The bus explodes with laughter like it’s the best joke in the world. My cheeks burn. Not all the seats are taken, since I’m one of the first to get picked up, but no one wants me to sit near them, pushing their bags over and scooting towards the windows. A girl says, “Don’t touch her, you’ll be next! She’s contagious.” Everyone laughs again, and someone chimes in, “Yeah, who knows if it was really a suicide? Maybe she was murdered–by her jealous twin!” More laughter. “I can see why! One got the looks and one got the leftovers!” yelps an ****** I know of called Matt.
Over the commotion, I hear a familiar voice. “Hey! Sam! In the back!”
I scramble through the commotion and see Holly waving from the last seat. “Thought you might need this seat,” she says, shoving her backpack to the floor so I can sit next to her. I collapse on the seat and the bus starts rolling. I breathe a sigh of relief.
“I’m sorry,” Holly says. “Those boys are ***heads. And that girl–I know her. She teases me all the time; her name’s Poppy.”
I don’t say anything. Neither does she. We’re mostly silent the whole ride as the bus stops at every other house to pick a kid up. Most of them stare at me, whispering, as they take their seats. I know what they’re whispering about, even if they aren’t whispering super-loudly. There are just some people who just don’t know how to whisper, then there are others who are only pretending to whisper, who really do want me to hear them . . . and it’s pretty easy to tell them apart. That’s what they want. They want me to know that they are purposefully making a scene of me. They want it to get to me. And as much as I wish it didn’t, it does.
I hate myself.
At least, it seems, there’s someone who doesn’t hate every single f**k*ng thing about me . . . Holly.
What’s wrong with her?
The bus pulls up to the school with a screech of brakes and the kids start to scramble to the front. The door slides open and a tsunami of bodies pushes and shoves their way out the tiny door. The bus driver spots me waiting patiently for an opening in the crowd and smiles a sad, pained smile. “Hey, Sam,” he says. (The bus driver knows my name? Since when? Wow, this is all so new. So many people were aware of my existence.) “I heard about your sister,” the corner of his mouth turns down, touching his beard. “Sorry.”
“Thanks,” I say truthfully, as well as not sure what else I would say. “Let me talk to you about my life.” Um, no.
I try to smile and instead I feel like I’m swallowing a ball and cough without opening my mouth, causing my cheeks to bulge and my hand to fly up to cover my mouth so I don’t spray spit everywhere, and, in turn, for my face to turn hot. The bus driver gives me a quizzical look and I’m grateful when I spot a hole in the bodies and squeeze through them, almost tripping down the narrow metal steps.
I make my way to my homeroom classroom, and notice something I never noticed before. There are thirty kids each class at Greenwood High, six rows of desks with five desks each row. I sit in the second row, fourth to the right. I know (at least about) everyone here. But for some reason, I never noticed Holly sitting in the fifth row, in the fifth seat, all the way over by the window.
Why? Is she really that unmemorable? So unmemorable she’s . . . invisible?
She jerks her head to me as more teens take their seats. “Oh! Sam! Hi. Sorry, I lost you back there. Trying to get through the bus from the back is a nightmare.”
“Yeah,” I say, sitting in my own chair and scooting in as Mr. Dennon enters the classroom and closes the door. I look around. Guess I was pretty much the last one to sit down.
Our teacher does the role call. I was always the fifth student he called out every morning: Raina Abby, Derrick Achrokt, Susan Arnold, Danielle Barnes, Sam Barnes.
Now I’m the fourth.
Five was one of my lucky numbers. Two was the other.
But I’m down to four and one.
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