Chapter 1

It was a cold and foggy morning, in the town of Jackson, Ohio. July Walker woke up at exactly 6 am. She dragged herself out of bed. She got dressed in her blue jeans, long sleeve, black shirt, and black, converse sneakers. She walked into the bathroom that was connected to her bedroom. She brushed her straight, dirt brown hair, and tied it in a ponytail. She brushed her teeth, then made her way to the kitchen. She ate the waffles her mom made for her, before she went off to work. She ate them plain, that's the way she liked it. She picked up her red jacket, her black backpack, and headed out the door.

She came to school, and sat on the bench she sat on every morning. She waited for the bell that rang for you to get to class. She waited alone. She was a loner ever since her sophomore year at high school. July Walker wasn't always a loner. She had this one friend named Stacey Duport. They were great friends until Stacey was murdered. Ever since then July has had a hard time connecting with people. She now keeps to herself, and only seems to talk if someone asks her a question. Usually, that's just by teachers in class. It's not that hard for her to be left alone. A lot of her classmates would rather not be friends with her. They think they might end up like Stacey Duport.

There are rumors that July and Stacey got in a fight, and that July murdered her. But those were all just rumors.

"Don't you think it's too cold to wait out here?" July looks up surprised anyone is talking to her. She blinks and looks back down. "Don't talk much, do you?" She doesn't answer. "I'm Brandon."

"I'm July."

"You speak!" He sits beside her. "So, where are all your girlfriends? All with their boyfriends?"

"No."

"Oh. Bathroom?"

"No."

"Library, studying?"

"No. She's in a cemetery."

"Why?" July looks at him with her blue/gray eyes.

"She's dead."

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"Why do people say, "I'm sorry"? I mean its not like it was your fault."

"When did she die?" Brandon asks nervously.

"Last year."

"Oh."

"Yeah. Oh." July says as she gives the faintest smile. She hasn't smiled in a long time.

"Well I'm new here. Maybe you can show me around. You know, help me find my classes." Brandon says changing the subject.

"I would." The bell rings on cue. "But I have to get to class." She picks up her backpack, and walks away. It's the first day back from Thanksgiving break. July takes a seat up front in her English class. She looks at her teacher, Mr. Watson, who's staring at her. She senses everyone watching her, and hears whispers. July sighs in frustration, and moves to an empty seat in the back of the room. There she sees the one person she didn't want to see, sitting in the seat beside her. Brandon. He waves and smiles at her. She sighs in even more frustration, and shuts her eyes. She opens them, and realizes he's actually there.

"Alright class. So glad to have everyone backā€¦" July drowns out the boring lecture of how nice it is to see everyone. Basically, it's all crap. And it wouldn't be a first day back without the discussion of what everyone did over the Thanksgiving break. July heard something hit her desk. She opens her eyes again, to find a paper folded up. She looks to Brandon who is looking everywhere but her desk. He then looks at July and smiles, indicating it's a note from him. She opens it. It reads: Lunch together in the quad? She looks back at Brandon, who is smiling.

"Brandon."

"What?" he asks in surprise.

"Would you care to tell us about yourself?" Mr. Watson asks. It's a question, but one that you can't say "no" to.

"Ok." Brandon stands up. "My name is Brandon Wickerman. Soy de Vermont. Me gusto comer. Yo simpatico. Y Mr. Watson es gordo." Brandon sits back down. The class looks at Brandon like he's a stand up comedian whose jokes are not making them laugh. And that they are pissed they wasted their money on him.

"Mr. Wickerman. In English, please?" Mr. Watson says.

"Sorry. Didn't know I had to speak in English." Brandon glances at July who can't hold her smile. "I am from Vermont. I play the guitar, and I like to read. And, no, that is not what I said in Spanish. Well, except the part about Vermont." Brandon sits back down.

"Thank you." Mr. Watson looks at July.

"July." July looks up, and loses her smile. "Care to tell us what you did over the break?" July just shrugs.

"Probably murdering more people." Says a jock named Jason. The whole class laughs. Everyone except Brandon. July scolds at Jason.

"Careful man. Don't want to piss her off. She might come after you next." His friend says. They all laugh again. The teacher chuckles.

"Come on children. Don't need to be rude." Mr. Watson says.

"Way to save yourself from getting iced, Mr. Watson." Says Jason. July can't take it any longer. She picks up her backpack and heads out the door.

"Hey July!" says Jason. July stops right before the door, and looks at him. "Don't forget your butcher knife." July storms her way out of class, slamming the door behind her. Leaving all her dumb, idiotic classmates behind her. July walks out to the front of her school. She takes out her cell phone.

"Hey mom. Can you take me home? I'm having a bad day." July sighs at her mom's next question. "Yes, I took my pills before breakfast." July lied. Her mom took July to the doctor when she started to exclude herself from everyone, after Stacey died. Her doctor prescribed pills to July, for depression. July never took them. Every morning, she would take two pills out of the bottle, and throw them away. Giving the sign that she took them. "Thank you, mom. See you in a little bit." July hangs up.

"You ok?" July turns around. It's Brandon.

"What do you want?"

"To know that you're ok."

"Why do you care? Since when did anyone care about July Walker? Since when did anyone care to listen to me that I didn't murder anyone? Since when did ANYONE that actually cared want to talk to me?"

"I care. Your parents care-"

"You mean parent. I just live with my mom."

"What about your father?"

"He walked out on us when I was two."

"Oh-"

"Yeah. I know. You're sorry. Save the crap, will yeah? I wish everyone would stop talking to me like I'm a three year old having a tantrum about wanting a cookie."

"Maybe everyone wouldn't have to, if you would just let them in." Brandon says raising his voice.

"Why should I? As soon as I get close to someone, they disappear." A tear slides down July's cheek. July wipes her tear.

"Here's my number. Call me later." Brandon says handing her a piece of paper. July takes it, and stares at it. She hears a honk.

"I have to go." July gets in the car before Brandon could say anything else. This was just the start of a long, and crazy year at Valley Hill High School.