~*The First Day*~

Lucy Marks shifted uncomfortably in the backseat of her mother's Toyota Camry. It was the first day of high school and Lucy was anything but excited. Middle school had been somewhat fun--Lucy had managed to dodge most of the problems that affect young girls--but somehow she knew high school was going to be a different experience.
Her mother taught English at Harry S. Truman High School. There was no way Lucy could pretend that Elaine Marks was not her mother. Marks wasn't a very common name. There was no way to avoid this. Lucy could hear it already--the endless teasing, the agony of sitting through her mother's class. It was all too much. Why did her mother have to teach at her school?

The Camry pulled into the staff parking lot, and Lucy stared out the window longingly. All of the students were dropped off in the student drop- off. That or they drove their own cars to school. She had to ride all the way to the other side of the school, to the staff parking lot, and then walk over to the school.
It was so unfair!
"Here we are," sighed Elaine, parking the car and turning to face Lucy. "Now, you know there's nothing to worry about. I won't say a single thing about us. No one will ever have to know."
"Yes they will," moaned Lucy. "They will. Annette knows. Everyone will know. And you have my picture on your desk. Don't you think anyone's ever seen it? Gosh. . ." Lucy shook her head. "See you in class, Mom."
"Bye, Lucy."

Lana Lewes woke up to her alarm clock blaring at 6:30 AM. "Crap," she muttered slamming down the OFF button. If her father heard the alarm clock, and woke up. . .unless, of course, he was sleeping off a hangover. She wasn't sure what time he'd gotten in last night--just that it was late, and that he'd had someone with him. A female.
It was nothing new. Lana's father was always getting drunk, bringing home women, and hurting Lana when there was nothing better to do. It had been that way for years, since her mother moved away.
Today was the first day of school. Lana was going to be a sophomore. The previous year had been a terror. One of Lana's ex-friends, Brie Newman, had invited herself over. . .with disastrous consequences. Lana's father had even called Brie an asshole before she had the chance to rush out the door. Luckily, Brie kept her mouth shut--although, she was never friends with Lana again.
Lana pulled on a pair of blue jeans, a green t-shirt, and a gray sweatshirt over top. She always wore long pants and shirts, pretty much. How could she explain the bruises, the scars, the scratches? If anyone found out about her father, Lana knew that he'd kill her. He would literally kill her.
Lana left her room with her backpack slung over her shoulder. She'd walk to school, and maybe mooch a dollar off someone to buy bag of chips in the breakfast line. "Bye, Dad," said Lana quickly.
"Where are you going?" asked her father, Freddie Lewes. "School doesn't start for another"--he checked the clock on the wall--"45 minutes." He narrowed his eyes. "What are you doing leaving the house so early?"
"Dad," said Lana. "I'm not 'doing' anything. I'm just going to school a little early so that I have time to get to my homeroom on time. First days are stressful."
Freddie glared at Lana. "You're not leaving now."
"Yes I am!" demanded Lana. "I have to get to school!"
Freddie yanked Lana closer to him and said, through gritted teeth, "You'll do as I say! Now go to your room. . .you're not coming out until I tell you that it's time. Got it?"
Lana nodded and ran into her room, grateful that her father hadn't hit her.

Jonnie Lansky looked at his reflection in the full-length mirror that hung on his wall. His mop of brown curls, dusty gray eyes flecked with arbitrary dots of green, angular collarbones protruding from his shoulders. . .it was all from his mother. Alan Lansky looked nothing like his son-- with his carrot-red hair, hazel eyes, and a plump body type.
"I miss Mom," groaned Jonnie. He said this often, to himself, usually. Most of the students didn't know about it. Only his closest friend- -Dean Whitaker--knew about it. And Dean wasn't much for words. He was highly intelligent, still. Maybe that was why he never had actually asked Jonnie what he felt about losing his mother.
"Don't make me late, Jonnie!" cried Alan.
Jonnie sighed and finished combing his hair. "I'm coming," he called to his impatient father. "I'm coming." He grabbed his backpack off his desk chair and raced down the stairs. "Let's go."
"Alright," said Alan. "C'mon."
They walked out to the car. Jonnie sat in the passenger seat of his father's Ford Windstar van. He felt a lump rising in his throat. That's what happened after he thought about his mother. He'd learned how to block out the smoldering feelings. He'd talked to the school guidance counselor, Russell Clarke, before. But that didn't seem to help.
"I miss Mom," said Jonnie, boldly.
Alan was quiet for a moment. Then, softly, "Jonnie. . .it's been two years. Or at least it will be in a few weeks. You need to move on. Let it be. Mom's gone. I miss her, too, you know. But there isn't anything we can do."
Jonnie felt his anger simmering at his father's words. "Let me out. Right here."
Without protest, Alan stopped the car, thinking to himself, 'He needs time. He's angry, and he's better off here by himself.' "Try not to be late!" called Alan.
Jonnie turned around and flicked his father off.

Lucy glanced around the high school campus nervously. She suddenly felt foolish in her black denim skirt and red tank top. Everyone else seemed to be going for the casual look--a lot of girls were wearing sweatpants and baggy t-shirts. 'Where is Annette?' thought Lucy, searching for her best friend.
Suddenly, she spotted Annette's orange mattress-spring curls and called, "Annette!"
Annette Whitaker whipped around, saw her best friend, and rushed over to her, curls bouncing all over the place. She was wearing a pair of gray sweatpants and a baby blue spaghetti strap, fitting in as always. "Lucy, where'd you get that outfit?"
The first thing out of her mouth. 'How rude!' thought Lucy. But she replied with a shrug. Annette was just like that. "You look great. How'd you know what everyone would be wearing?"
"Summer school," replied Annette, sighing. "I had to retake Algebra I. . .bitchy teacher. . ." Annette shrugged. "Anyways, what's up? Have you seen some of the guys here?"
On call, two of their fellow freshmen--Glen Michaels and Denny Bloom-- came racing up. "Did I hear someone talking about guys?" asked Glen. "'Cause I'm free. . ." He winked at Lucy. ". . .if you're interested."
"Get lost," snapped Annette, playfully shoving the two boys away.
Denny grinned goofily and said, "We've only got four years to go before we're home free. Four years. Think about it--we're in high school. This rocks."
Glen, happy to see his friend smiling for once, took advantage of the time by saying, "Yeah, Den, think about it. . .four years with nothing but girls, girls, girls."
"And homework, homework, homework," sighed Lucy. "And Mom, Mom, Mom."

Annette frowned. "Oh right. . .we're going to have your mother for English, right? No sweat. That's one course I'm not taking in summer school!"
"Relax, Ann. It's not exactly going to be a pushover. I mean, it's my mom we're talking about." They laughed, but Annette's laugh turned into a gasp. "What is it, Ann?" asked Lucy.
"Look. . .at. . .him. . ." Annette pointed at a tall, muscular senior walked from the student parking lot. "He's so hot. . ." Annette sighed. It was her love-at-first-site sigh. Annette had been in love about five times already. And she was just 14 years old.
"Let's go meet him," said Lucy, grabbing Annette's hand and walking in the direction of the senior.
"Are you dense? He's probably the hottest guy in the entire school. Look at us! C'mon, Lucy. I think we should resign ourselves to a lifetime of single-ness. Either that or it's those two." Annette pointed at Glen and Denny, who were pantomiming yesterday's SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS Episode.
Lucy laughed. "Better than nothing, right?"
Annette giggled and agreed.

Lana looked at the clock on her nightstand. It was almost time for school to begin. She was going to be late. Her father would make sure of that. He always had a knack for ruining everything. She sighed, grabbed her backpack, and left her room--knowing she was in trouble. "I'm leaving, Dad!" she cried, racing towards the front door.
Freddie blocked her exit. "I told you to stay in your room until I said!" he shrieked. "You disobeyed me. . .AGAIN!"
"Dad, I'm going to be late!" cried Lana.
"I don't really give a shit, you ungrateful bitch!" Freddie rammed his fist into Lana's stomach. Lana flew to the ground and gagged for a few minutes while her father screamed at her. "Get outta my sight!" he yelled finally.
Lana stumbled to her feet and out the door. She ran all the way down the street, checking to make sure he wasn't following her. Once she was clear of him, she fell onto the ground and began to sob. A few moments later, someone asked, "Are you lost?"
Lana looked up. It was Jonnie Lansky, most popular boy in school, standing right in front of her. Lana nodded and got to her feet. "I'm alright."
"You sure. . .?" asked Jonnie.
"Yep, I'm fine. On my way to school." Lana wiped her eyes with the corner of her sleeve.
"Eighth grader?" Jonnie grinned.
"No, actually. I'm a sophomore." Lana blushed. She hated it when people thought she was younger. Technically, she looked like an eighth grader. She had absolutely no figure to speak of--no female parabolas, no trace puberty had even hit. And it really hadn't. She didn't even had her period yet. She'd once read that girls under high stress didn't get their periods for a while. That was probably why. Although, stress was a euphemism.
"You wanna walk the rest of the way together? I'm kinda on my way, too."
"Sure," agreed Lana.

The final bell rang, as if signaling to the students that all summer freedom was gone--they were locked up for yet another year. For some, it would be the final one. For others, it was just the beginning.