Thud. Thud. Thud.

Was that sound the smack of my footsteps across the pavement?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

The pounding of my heart against my ribs?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

The blood in my ears?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

The adrenalin roaring through my veins?

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Or just raw fear and desperation?

My best friend was going to kill himself.

Well, maybe that's just an exaggeration. He's not exactly my best friend, but definitely a close friend. He's a close friend, and I cared about him. That's why I run.

I cared about him?

No, I care about him, because he's my friend.

I care about Bob because he's my friend, and that's why I need to save him.

Why didn't I notice it? Why didn't anyone notice that Bob's been depressed and cutting himself? Why didn't the people in the locker room notice? It wouldn't surprise me if Bob shows off his muscles to the other guys, comparing who's got the better bod. Aren't that many scars kind of hard not to notice? Why didn't anyone see the scars and tell someone or do something? There were so many scars; how could he have gone so long without anyone noticing them?

Or maybe they did, and chose to do nothing.

Was it because he was a freshman? A little, meaningless nobody? It didn't matter if he died? Nobody would miss him; nobody cared?

I care.

He matters to me. I hope I'm good enough.

I hope I matter to him?

I rounded the alleyway corner and almost fell on the stringy, wet grass. It was still slick with dew from the early morning. The image of me slipping, falling, and hurting myself filled my eyes. I wondered if I yelled if Bob would come out to see what the noise was. Unless he couldn't hear anymore. Maybe he would come for me if he knew I was in trouble. I don't know if he would or not. I'm not in his head, nor would I want to be.

The head of a person who is going to kill himself cannot be a very fun place. It's probably downright demented.

The doorknob broke in my hand as I roughly yanked open the weathered, wooden door. I tossed it to the side and butt bumped the door with a caveman-esque grunt. It opened.

"Bob! Don't kill yourself!" I yelled and was blinded. The light was not on in the garage and it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the gloomy darkness. It reeked of mold and forgotten junk. Just the way a pack rat's garage should. The first thing I noticed was a damp cardboard box with a broken jump rope and a deflated volleyball in it. I kicked it out of my way and feverishly scanned the rafters.

Nothing. No noose. No body. No Bob.

"Bob?" I asked in a barely audible whisper.

I heard something move. A mouse? Or a mousy teenage boy?

"I know you're here."

I paused and started to maneuver around the nearest pile-o'-crap.

"Don't kill yourself, okay? Bob?"

He was crouched under a busted-down work table that looked like it once had a sink in it. Bob had an annoyed look on his face as he pulled at his pants zipper.

"Bob?"

He looked like he had swallowed a whole bottle of Robitussin and was going to regurgitate it all over the slimy garage floor.

"uhmn...." Bob stuttered and pulled a tattered rug over his crotch. That's when I noticed an unnatural lump in an interesting spot on his pants.

Relief flooded me, along with the impulse to keel over on the nasty ground and laugh until I pee like a pregnant lady. I'd walked in on him, but he wasn't trying to kill himself. He was doing something....else. I think you can guess. I'd just spit it out and say it, but then I'd have to change the rating on this story.

"Can I, uhmn, have a minute?" he asked quietly. Even in the dark I could immagine his face redder than an apple in the produce section at Meijer's.

I bit my lip and turned my back, grinning ear to ear. Only in a book, kids. Only in a book.

I hear a little rustling, movement.

"Okay, you can look now." he says in a tactfully even tone. The rug is spread out across the floor, and he is sitting indian style on it. His offical Roosevelt High School Junior Varsity Football Team hoodie was bunched up in his lap. I sat down in front of him as he played with the unraveling hem of his Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt.

"Why did you yell at me to not kill myself?" he asked curiously. My eyebrows shot up to the altitude the satilites orbit in. There was nothing but innocence on his face. I took a deep steadying breath and glanced at his forearms. He looked down to see what I was staring at.

"How did that happen?" I asked.

He didn't look at me. Silence.

"I got scratched by a cat." he finally stated.

"Liar." I responded automatically.

"No, it's the truth. It's...complicated." he frowned even deeper.

"Tell me."

"I can't."

"Why?"

Silence.

"I can't tell you that, either."

"Don't you trust me?"

"Of course! But-"

"Then tell me."

Silence.

Bob stands up and hugs his hoodie to his chest. Sunlight from a grimy window illuminates his hair. I can see every strand that falls across his forehead. My throat feels dry and I realize I'm sweating and have no idea what happened to Bob's duffel bag. I had it just a few minutes ago. He stare straight into the light for a second or two. Finally, he blinks rapidly and looks once more in my direction.

"I want to tell you, if it makes a difference." I realize he's crying. A rough, tough football jock is crying slow, silent tears. I stand and hug him close. I am on autopilot. My mind has no witty remarks, nothing. I am thinking about nothing. I am numb.

"It does." I say simply. "It does."

His muffled response is lost in my damp shirt, wet with his tears.

"What?" I ask. He looks up, terrified, to my eyes.

"Can I show you something?"

"Of course."

He walks to the door and the sunlight takes him away from me. I follow with a quick gasp.

I think I might follow him anywhere.

I think that I might be in love with Bob.


Okay, let's take a survey. Who saw it coming from chapter one? Who know that Mollie and Bob would end up together? Come on, you know you all thought about it. What's a high school story without romance in it? What else are they supposed to do? Egg the school?

Hehe.