I woke up in the morning and dyed my hair. It didn't turn out too well, I don't know what I had been envisioning, but it came out a sickly orange and when I emerged from the tiny bathroom my mother informed me that there was still some green in the back left over from the last job.

I shrugged it off. I was in one of my moods today, which meant no mood at all. Not really feeling anything except this ache. A hole in me waiting to be filled by, I dunno, corn chips or something.

When I got outside my friend Neural was waiting for me, her entire face covered by a fluffy blue scarf.

"It's not that cold." I pointed out.

She huffed and I heard some muffled noises behind the blue fabric.

"What's the block order?" I asked. It was a little cold I'll admit, and I wasn't looking at Neural as I voiced my question. Instead I was staring at the little clouds my breath made as I spoke. Tiny, tiny, clouds.

"3,2,1,4." Neural had pulled her scarf down so she could speak freely and her nose was already turning red. We stared walking then. Side by side down the snow-caked road. She was wearing boots and I was wearing my worn Chucks. Neural lit a cigarette and took a long drag before offering it to me.

"No. I quit." This was actually about the third or fourth time I had said that as I usually cheated and ended up having one. Today though, I wasn't tempted. I had enough smoke fogging up my brain it seemed.

"You're such a tool." She said. Then, so I wouldn't get angry, "You know, quitting everything at the same time probably wasn't such a good idea. You don't even drink coffee anymore."

I didn't reply to that and we continued walking. I was blowing my breath into the air; trying to make more clouds when Neural spoke again, this time her voice was softer.

"Are you hanging out with them again at lunch?" She didn't look at me. I felt guilt coil in my gut.

" Yeah, I always do. I mean, hanging out with you and the girls is fun, but after doing it every single day since grade three it gets a little boring."

"No one else is bored with it." Neural was stubborn, it was hard to argue with her and I didn't want this to become an argument. She threw her cigarette to the pavement and ground it under her heel.

"Don't be a bitch." I said with no real heat. "I still hang out with you guys, sometimes, but I just want a little variety, you know?"

"And it has nothing to do with the fact that he hangs out there?" Her tone was more playful now, and she waggled her eyebrows up and down suggestively.

"Ha, ha Neurly. Ha, ha."

We were quiet for a moment, then:

"I like your hair."




It takes ten seconds for me to get annoyed, to get tired of waiting. Which is why standing in the mile-long lunch line didn't look appeasing.

Brian, who knew me too well by now, handed me what was left of his tuna fish sandwich without comment. I took it gratefully - though even thinking about tuna makes my teeth hurt - and sat next to him on the bench.

"What do you have next?"

"Chemistry." I had a bit of mayonnaise on my cheek and wiped it off with my finger before licking the digit clean.

"That's disgusting." Brian was grossed out, his lips pulled into a grimace that looked more like a sneer.

"You're such a germaphobe. I mean, you'll share this sandwich with me, that you've bitten, but I lick my finger -"

"You're unwashed finger."

"- My unwashed finger, and you make a big deal out of it."

"It's just gross, okay?"

I dropped it and continued to eat. His sandwich had the crusts cut off, I wondered absently if his mom made it like that for him. Brian and I weren't exactly what you'd call cool, or attractive.

He was tall and a little overweight. Not really fat, but solid. He probably could've made a good football player if he didn't hate every guy on the team. I was the opposite, way too skinny with bad clothes and a worse haircut. It didn't help that I was a bit of a nerd.

So somehow, sometime in grade nine, we were thrown together. We didn't really have all that much in common besides our mutual love for science fiction books and music of the punk-rock genre. We'd hang out at lunch and talk about all the girls who'd never date us, though to tell the truth I wasn't really interested in the girls who went to our school. All of them were dyed blondes or dyed brunettes who lived up in River Heights and drove their parent's cars to school. I didn't know what I wanted in a girl, but it certainly wasn't that.

But I didn't get along with any of the guys either. If Brian could've been on the football team then I could've been in the Chess Club or the Debate Team or something. 'I certainly fit in with the stereotype of what a nerd should look like.' I thought bitterly as I cleaned my glasses with the edge of my No Effects T-shirt.

"What're you doing after school?" Brian's voice broke into my thoughts, and his eyes seized me up the way they always did; it felt a little unsettling.

"Going to see a movie with my supermodel girlfriend." The sarcasm wasn't needed; we both knew the statement was a joke. I had no job, I wasn't in any clubs, and I didn't see myself getting a girlfriend anytime soon. I pretty much went home everyday, jerked off, and watched Wheel of Fortune with my mom.

Brain laughed because he knew I was full of shit. "You wanna come over then? 'Cause I just got a new GameStation. Unless of course you're looking forward to "spinning the wheel" or something."

I rolled my eyes at him but felt my lips ease into a smile. I looked down quickly and started cleaning my glasses again.