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Us and Them

By @ZoeAmber

Hayden

Friday / October 11th / 3:37 PM (Two Weeks Later)

I walk down the hallway toward my locker and pack up for the day as my phone lights up with another text from Lillie. Yes. A text. This s**t has officially become consistent conversation. It’s bananas the level of mental consideration it takes to text a girl. Especially Lillie Mason.

You must be tripping on steroids. Pokemon Red was the fan favourite. She says.

You don’t ‘trip’ on steroids. I reply.

Well, you would know. ; ) She sends back. She’s a lot wittier than she thinks.

I slip my backpack on, roll my eyes at her message and head toward the student parking lot.

A couple of weeks ago, we started chatting online. It started out pretty tame, but as the days went by, we got into some more personal topics.

I know things that her parents don’t about her, and even things they think they’re keeping from her. Like that her little sister Rae had trouble speaking until now and that her Father can have a hard time controlling himself on his ‘bad days’.

And I’ve told her about my Mom’s drinking and how she can sometimes slip off the edge. There’s this strange connection we share through the mutual hate of our families. Kind of like a desert rose blooming in the middle of a sandstorm. It’s so easy to talk to her that I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing and she’ll go away again.

I push the last door open to see her leaning against my bike looking at her phone. When she looks up from the phone, I laugh and toss her the helmet.

• • • • •

When we pull over close to her house, I take the helmet off and turn to face her. Our knees pressed together. “By the way, you coming to the game tomorrow?”

She seems surprised as the question sputters out of me. “The after party’s at Jonah’s this week.”

“A football game? Probably not. I hate football.” She says smugly, screwing up her nose at me.

“Rude,” I say in embellished offense and take the helmet from her. “Wanna take the bus next time?”

She laughs and reaches for the helmet again. “Okay, I’m sorry. Please no. I saw a kid pull a moldy sandwich out the back of a seat last week.” I extend the helmet farther away from her and she reaches closer to me, erupting in giggles.

“Fine, Mila’s bound to be at Jonah’s anyway.” She reaches past and almost presses against me as I switch the helmet in my hands.

“Great, so I’ll see you there..7?” I ask, but she only answers with a horrified look at the person standing behind me. I whip my head around and feel the blood drain from it.

“Sorry, she’s got plans.” Harry Mason says, his eyes spew hatred at me and a vein surges in his neck.

I haven’t seen Mr. Mason since that day in grade school when he glared at me on his way out, dragging Lillie down the hall for the last time.

For a second, time stops and I literally think he’s about to go for my jugular. But instead, he moves past me and snatches Lillie’s arm, gouging her perfect skin with his fingernails. I lock my jaw in restraint against the anger in my chest as she screams out in pain. All I can look at as I readjust myself on my bike is the stress on her forearm until his voice rings in my ears.

“I better not ever see you around here again, or you’ll be d**m sorry.” He says sternly, sticking a finger at me.

I think he’s going to give me another earful of threats but instead he takes another step toward me and Lillie screams at me to bail.

It’s only until her tears start to come that I kick the ignition and burn out onto the road.

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  1. Kathleen Fazio

    Feb 2, 2022

    omg I love it so much! you are an amazing writer.

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    0 Replies Feb 2, 2022
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