Chapter One

The crack of dawn. Polluted sunlight drips casually into the room, as I slowly roll over onto four pencils, a textbook and the now-cold chicken and rice. Yum, leftovers. A mess of papers bears my name, and a cold, sharp binder clip is slowly finding its way towards my liver. Mondays. I grunt, and slowly removed the covers to reveal jeans, socks and a belt with a tendency to rip at all the wrong times. Slowly and carefully I pull a strained hand from behind my pillow, easing around the tea balancing at my waist. Feeling as though I'd just broken all my bones and had them reattached and mended backwards, the room spins slowly into focus.

I clear my throat, and the hot sticky phlegm builds up somewhere in my esophagus. I stumble towards the bathroom and take a quick glance in the mirror before spitting, rinsing and splashing water onto my closed eyes. The fresh drops slide down my neck and into my nightshirt, soaking it through. I don't reach for the towel. This feels nice. The bags under my eyes are more visible, purple and sagging a bit. I study my overall appearance in the mirror. My colleague's words echo through my aching mind. "She'd be pretty if she didn't have makeup running down the puppies' eyelids every year". Now that I think about it, that might not be an direct quote. Puppies? Eyelids? Damn, I need to sleep longer.

I figure it's too bright in my room as I shuffle down the stairs in a sloppy manner, my filthy sneakers hitting the hardwood floor. The door to the kitchen creaks open as I step into my father's working habitat. Slipping through to get a glass of milk, I slur my good morning.

"Shut up, I'm on a conference call." He mutters. Hello to you too. The man probably wouldn't notice if I'd walked through his 'office' bleeding with my left arm in my intestines, a busted kneecap and a knife through my palm. He's too busy 'providing for the family.' Sure, if you could call the collision of random archetypes plotting the death of each other a family. Tiptoeing out as to not disturb my father's boss, who could probably outrun him in a contest for the world's biggest asshole, I passed my mother's collection of "Eau de toilettes", also known as the cheap way to seduce a police officer who wants to give you a driving ticket. After grabbing my papers, books, and the spare key into the house, I run for the nearest exit. Even school sports a less acrid aura than the Stanton house.

The bus provids a healthy environment for nursing newborn gossip. A teenage phenomenon at its best, all I habe to do is lie back in my seat, close my mouth and open my ears to hear the sex innuendos and fashion scandals of the month. Marie Bracketis two timing Josh Carolla. Cindy Flannelis involved. Tom wore Abercrombie and Aeropostale in the same outfit and is henceforth known as "theconfusedbrandboy". Veronica began pronouncing Target in a French accent to make it seem as though the department store contained precious jewels rather than preciously worn down garments as well as other K-mart oriented supplies. Keep in mind that Veronica also peels the skin off her tomatoes and refers to half the staff as "flaming homosexuals", as if each was a separate candidate on Animal Planet's
The Most Extreme. Must I continue? Not to forget that everyone now had a mini ipod. Thoseare the style of the century, mind you.

We pass the house. Four-Twenty, Maple Ave. My stomach tightens as my breath shortens and my anxious mind begins to prod my conscience into the ritual of persuading my mind that I am guilty. Josh. It's difficult to believe that only two weeks ago he was sitting at my side on the bus every morning, with a new comic drawn or a new cassette available for my brutal critique. Why the fuck did he do it? Why was I at the scene? Why did I have to carry out his bleeding body, his limp carcass, the shell that once bore any trace of life? Out of panic, out of shame? Out of thekindness of my heart? Fucking hell, Josh. Fucking hell.

I wait in a corner of the auditorium for the bell to ring. I brought something to do. I knew I'd be left alone anyway. I pull out my notebook and opened to a clean page andstudy the decaying gym. Locating my friends, I wonder if anyone would turn my way. Nothing. Not a glance, not a smile, not a wave. No closure, no comfort, no compassion. It doesn't surprise me. I notice a pair of eyes. The girl's eyes flash, her mouth tightens. With one last dirty look, she turns her greasy brown hair in the opposite direction and chats away. I begin to draw the waiting room. Fifteen minutes have nevergone by so fast.

I always love the way school bells sound. They remind me of closure. Something final. Making up your mind. All the things I can't accomplish. As I squeeze through the many wet, hot bodies pushing themselves into the torture chamber we call a school, Mrs.Linpel catches my eye. I smile, to maintain some form of decency. My subconscious is screaming. Shut up, shut off, shut down. I shove my way to the second floor and escape the mob to locatethe locker. The lockervomiting papers, pencils and down-right shit such as nailpolish remover and extra gym shorts with a strawberry milk stains on one ass-cheek onto the corridor floor.8-14-27. Click.