A/N: Everything in here is a figment of my imagination, and none of your's. So don't take any of it. I made up almost all location names, so don't get mad at me either. Enjoy, "You Were There"...thanks Booboo for the title! ;o)

"Your daughter has been performing at this school alright," Principal Donna's lips pursed tightly as she eyed the two disappointed parents on either side of me. "She's been performing actively in vandalism, pyrotechnicism, and to be blunt, she's been pissing me off!"

I held in a sigh and glanced over to my father, who exchanged faces with my mother, who finally lowered her gaze to me. I couldn't exactly read whether or not I could scam myself out of this mess, so I looked towards the marble floor.

"I really don't know how to apologize," I heard my father stammer. "Mrs. Donna, I can only promise that this will never happen again.."

"Mr. River," Principal Donna rolled her eyes. "I'm not sure I can trust that promise. You've apologized so many times on your daughter's behalf, I'm starting to question you and your wife's credibility--"

"Ex-wife," my mother finally spoke, her glare still not off the side of my red face.

Principal Donna did not look impressed. "Yes, well, whatever. The thing we must focus on right here and now is your daughter's behavior. What steps have been taken at home to cease her immaturity?"

"Well, see," it was my mom's turn to stammer. "She lives with me and her father hardly ever sees her anymore."

"Don't turn this on me, Robin," my dad warned.

"I'm not trying to, Alex. I'm just simply saying that she's not all my fault."

My eyebrow raised. Wait, she? I'm a fault?

"She's not mine, either! You're the one who filed for custody."

"Oh grow up, Alexander! That took place like what, 11 years ago?"

"Oh, come on," a silent whisper escaped my lips as the age-old fight of who's fault it really was I was so screwed up surfaced between my two divorced parents. Principal Donna was just as annoyed as I was and she raised her right hand to the ceiling.

"Enough! I see clearly now where she comes off as neglected originates." I smiled at this and caught site of the red, bashful faces of my parents. "Please, focus. Since the last day of school is tomorrow, I can't find it in my heart to suspend Elizabeth from her classes. But I need your word that you will find a way to punish your daughter together."

"What do you mean?" my mother cleared her throat and leaned in.

"I'm proposing that you concern yourselves with shaping Elizabeth up by sending her somewhere like a...distant relative. Somewhere away from you and your hus...ex-husband so that she can clear her head and focus on becoming a well-rounded individual over the summer."

"I know how to raise my daughter, Mrs. Donna." I sensed the hostility rise from my mother's throat as she struggled to keep still during her last sentence.

"I'm not doubting you do, Elaine," my high school principal stared straight into her eyes. "But I'm not sure that your daughter knows you're raising her."

I sank into my chair, feeling the stab wound for my parents and looked out of the window that sat hollow behind Mrs. Donna. The sky was dark and uninviting, threatening to drop sheets of rain that would surely come. Very unusual for a Texas summer, but not unusual for my life. One, big rain storm. I drowned out the arrangements to have me register for a teen correctional unit between my parents and principal, knowing I was beyond correction.

How exactly did I get here? I don't know for sure, but I do remember I was sitting down in fourth period, minding my own business when Lena, the class bitch, deliberately brushed her hand against mine while I was writing in my notebook, causing the pen to fly out of my hands and to burst into an ink mess all over the floor. Yeah, the pen was cheap, but it didn't give her the right to pick on me for it.

The class erupted into one, collective giggle, so I gathered my things slowly, ready to bail when my sneaker came into contact with the expanding pool of ink from my exploded pen, and I slipped backward onto my behind. The giggle turned into a roar of laughter, so I scrambled to my feet, leaving the sudden humidity of the class at once. I remember hearing the harsh shouts of Lena and her friends, "What a loser!" and "Watch out, the floor's slippery!" and even some, "Jack-ass"'s thrown in. I fled out one of the back exits to the school and dropped my books on the pavement behind the dumpsters. Falling to my knees, I felt under the large canister for the hidden package of cigarettes that I hide there every once in awhile, then pulled out a lighter from my right shoe. Taking a long drag, I shut my eyes tightly and wished the anger, pain, and sorrow away. Why was I always picked on? I didn't look much different from every other student there. I was a little introvert, always writing in my one notebook and eyeing the pathetic cliques of the school hang around each other was something I prefered, rather than being like everyone else.

"This school deserves to be burned down," I had caught myself murmur, and suddenly, it came to mind. Holding the cigarette firmly between my index finger and thumb, I opened the door and tossed it in, not caring what it caught. A second or two later, I picked up my things and headed the opposite way to get to my next period. I didn't want to be late again and get bitched out.

Next thing I know, three janitors are pointing their fingers at me as the campus officer holds me by my arms, my hands cuffed behind me and my head hung low. Soon after, I was marched into the principal's office, both of my parents' disapproval staring straight at me.

"Well? What the hell do you have to say for yourself? You burned down the home economics classroom!" my mother yelled shrilly at me.

"Oh, damn." That's all I had to say. And now here I am, being dragged out of my school by my mother who is holding my arm in a death grip while my father follows closely behind. We stopped in front of my mom's Ford Tahoe and my parents stared at me. "What?"

"What do you mean what?" My dad growled. "Lizzie, you can't just not feel bad or ashamed of your behavior today!"

"And not just today," my mother grabbed hold of my chin and yanked it towards her face. "You've been late to all your classes lately, failing to turn in your work, and mouthing off to the teachers!"

"Why shouldn't I mouth off to them?" I ripped myself from her hold and huffed. "Those chumps talk more out of their asses than they do from their books."

"Elizabeth Marie!" my father rose his voice but my mom hushed him with one hand.

"Liz, you think you can teach those students better than your teachers can?"

I closed in on my mom's face and sneered without hesitation, "My shit can teach better than those teachers."

"That's it," my mother's face twisted with my crude comment. "Get into the car, not another word."

I hopped in and made sure to slam the car door--twice. I ignored my parents' banter that followed for a few seconds, but suddenly gained interest and rolled the window down slightly to listen in.

"...you don't know anything about her anymore! You're so concerned with your new child and your nineteen-year-old wife to learn anything new about our daughter!" My mother's voice was shrill and accusing.

"You didn't even know that she smoked! So how can you blame this on me? And Miranda is twenty one. And a hell of a lot more mature than you are, if you ask me."

"No, I didn't ask you, Alex. You're wondering from the point. What are we going to do?"

"I don't know, Elaine. Mrs. Donna had a point inside, though. Perhaps we should send her to live with your mom up in Tyler for the summer."

"I don't know if Mom can handle her."

"Well, one of us has to."

I pretty much tried to zone out of their conversation after that. What room did my father have to suggest something in my life? I could control myself, damnit! I just felt like burning the school down, is that so hard to understand? Tears began to sting my eyes, and I realized that yes, it's very hard to understand. Could I control myself? And if not, would I ever be able to?

* * *

"Hey, Ben?"


"What's wrong?"

Ben Powell felt the cold glass of the long neck beer bottle become loose in his grip as he stared in the distance. "Hmm? Nothing." He took a deep breath and turned to face the voice that sounded half-annoyed, half-concerned and belonged to his girlfriend, Nina Cantu. He was suffering from a fresh buzz and was beginning to see two of her. He rolled his eyes at the thought.

"Well, I'm ready to go home."

"Good for you," was Ben's mumbled reply and he leaned over the wooden deck, turning his back to Nina. The vast lake that sparkled beyond him was mesmorizing, and he wasn't ready to leave. He loved this cabin, the cabin that belonged to his parents, because he could come here and think. Think about his perfect-in-the-eyes-of-another life, the alcoholic father that he was slowly becoming, the flirtacious mother he had that was known around town to call for a good time, and most recently, his self-centered girlfriend that was tapping her impatient toe.

"Ben, if you can't drive me, I can always ask Josh to," Nina threatened, her voice firm and stingy.

"Good ol' Josh Sinclaire," Ben slurred. "Go ahead, Nina. It wouldn't be the first time you were in his car."

"Oh," Nina laughed scornfully. "Good one. See you later, Ben." And with that, she slid into the house where the end-of-year party was taking place. Ben didn't even have to ask permission to use the cabin for the evening; he just snatched the key from his father's study desk and invited the whole school. He was known for his huge parties in the small town of Tyler, Texas, but Ben wasn't sure that's what he wanted to be known for. Then again, Ben wasn't sure of much these days. All that was real to him at the moment was the lake that stood still with occasional ripples from the wind in front of him and the fact that he was out of beer. He pushed himself off of the wooden railing and walked into the cabin as it shook with the bass of loud music. He maneuvered through the crowds of groping couples and made it to the front door where his black '99 Silverado was parked just feet away. He fumbled through his jean pockets to find his keys when he felt a hand grab his arm, pulling him away from his truck.

"Where you goin', man?"

"That's none of your business," Ben turned to face the owner of the hand, Josh. "What the fuck do you want?"

"I don't think you should be driving right now," Josh took sudden interest in the gravel beneath him. "You're...you're drunk."

Ben's mouth dropped open in mock surprise. "And you're a genius. Leave me alone." He pushed Josh so hard that he nearly fell back and continued to his truck. He heard the curses of Josh fade as he jumped into the driver's seat and slammed the door. He started the engine and reeled out of the rocky driveway, turning left onto Main Street. He couldn't buy himself any beer since he was too young, and he sure as hell didn't want to go back to the party at the cabin and get it, so he decided to drive home and collapse in his own bed. He didn't want to be anywhere near home, but his truck was driving there, so there was no room to argue.

Ben's eyelids began to lower, feeling as though each weighed about a ton, and he fought to keep them open when a sudden blare of a car horn from the opposite lane warned him about swirving. He flicked the car off clumsily, his grip from the wheel slipping. He didn't want to be like this, but as long as there was no one around to stop him, why should he? The bitter thoughts that no one cared or understood him were the last to run through his brain as his headlights caught a man hunched over into his open car hood on the right shoulder of the road. Ben slammed the brakes and let out a loud cry as he felt the grill of his truck come into contact with the unfamiliar man and then the broken-down car.

His body jolted forward and his head made a loud thump against the windshield just before it cracked, and the last thing he saw was the silver, almost metallic moon through his window before falling into a deep sleep.