The tin man is an idiot.

If I could go skipping off to see the 'wonderful wizard of oz', I would gladly rip my heart out and sell it to the highest bidder.

People spend their whole lives searching for love, but it's not all it's cracked up to be. It sucks. Really. It's not worth all this poetry and music and whatever.

Whatever they tell you in books, it's not true. Love's not some feeling of bubbly joy that fills you with the urge to do good deeds—no. That's about as false as the tooth fairy. Because it's nothing fun or enjoyable—it's watching the girl you love as other guys flirt with her, bring her flowers—knowing you could never do the same—

Someone jostled my shoulder and I looked over to see my best friend, Keo, raising his eyebrows at me. "Class is over," he informed me, rolling his eyes and tossing me my green messenger bag. "So stop ogling over Angel already and let's get to lunch."

Angel. She had such a pretty name, as if the rest of her wasn't perfect enough already. I glanced over to see if she'd heard Keo's comment, but she was staring down at her desk, surrounded by a group of boys who were all trying to win her over.

I probably should've done something about it, but instead I slumped away after Keo, heading to the cafeteria, where we sat alone, the outcasts, looking around the room for no one in particular.

"Thor?" Keo asked, "When will you tell her?"

I glared at him. "I don't plan on it, Keo. I don't really want to be like all those other dumb ass boys."

"How so?" He raised an eyebrow.

I sighed. "They don't really care about her or how she feels. They don't even bother getting to know her first before asking her out. All they care about is looks, and that's shallow and immature."

He laughed. "Clever words, Thor. But can you practice what you preach?" He wiggled his eyebrows and changed the pitch of his voice, attempting to make himself look serious for once but only succeeding in making himself look like an idiot.

I rolled my eyes. "Shut up, Keo." I threw a French fry at him. "You're making a fool of yourself."

When he didn't respond to me, his eyes going unfocused as he stared at something behind me, I twisted around, sighing. "You're getting pathetic." I waved a hand in front of his eyes, to no avail. I sighed, then stood up, marching over to the table where the high school's best couple, Lailee and Jayden, sat together with Angel and a girl named Summer.

They looked up at my approach, but didn't seem too interested. I blushed slightly under Angel's gaze, but tried to look only at Summer. "Hey, Summer." This was embarrassing, but it was for Keo, right? "Um, my friend, Keo, over there? Yeah. He won't tell you, but, uh, he really, really likes you." I finished lamely.

Summer's mouth dropped open. She looked utterly shocked. Finally, she stood up and strode over to Keo's table.

I blushed and smiles at the table, before turning to leave, I swung my bad over my shoulder before heading off to class, but it wasn't long before Keo caught up to me.

He looked slightly panicked. "Thor, you gotta help me. I have a date with Summer this Friday! Can you come?"

"No! There is absolutely no way I will come play third wheel on your little date with your little girlfriend!"

"You won't be! Promise. I'll find someone else to come too."

"Oh, yeah? Who?"

"You'll see," he said, grinning, as he disappeared into the crowd, heading for his next class.


That boy would be the death of me.

Of all the boys who flirted with me on a constant, hourly basis, the only one who didn't was the one I liked. Plus, my best friend liked his best friend. Wasn't that against some girl code? I'm sure it was. And, when I thought about it, I didn't know why I liked him in the first place.

Sure, he was cute, with his pale hair sticking up at odd angles, and those dark, beautiful eyes…

And he was really smart, with his quiet answers in Lit and well thought out questions.

"Angie!" I turned as my name was called, snapping out of my thoughts to see Ash running toward me, her chestnut hair flying behind her.

I know I said Summer was my best friend. She's a very close friend, and a very good friend, but nowhere near my best friend. Ash and I have been friends forever—we share the same hobbies, friends, even act alike. But more than that, everything was just so comfortable around her. We didn't need to pretend around each other like we did with our families or at school—things just came naturally.

Pretending to scold her, I said, "Where were you today? Skipping another class?"

She gave me a quick punch. "No. Summer found me—she's frantic. This date with Keo. She wants us to go with. I can't—guitar. But you can go."

"Awkward third wheel? No thanks!" I laughed as we started jogging to get to History on time.

She looked at me slyly. "Well… Not quite." And then she dashed ahead of me, beating me inside. By the time I got settled into the seat next to hers. Mr. Farlen had already begun class.

So through an entire twenty minute lecture and a pop quiz, I was pondering what Ash has been talking about and why she'd seemed so sly about it.

And as soon as we were dismissed, I jumped her.

"What's going on?" I demanded, as she knew what I was talking about. She didn't try to BS her way out of it.

She gave me another sneaky look. "Keo's bringing his friend." She gave me an eyebrow bounce.

My heart started pounding. Could it be…? Would he bring…? The color drained from my face. I'd never told anyone that I liked Thor. What if he came with? Shit! What was I going to do?

"Chill, Ange! It's not going to be some creepy nerd who picks his nose… It'll be fine!" She misread my silence purposefully, for the sake of those listening in, but I knew she'd ask me about it later. "Although… You do have to go."

I frowned playfully, swinging my bag over my shoulder and stomping my foot. "Fine!" I whined, then we parted ways so she could go to Lit and I to Calculus, but as soon as she left I let myself sink back into my confused, mixed up feelings.


They say you get over your first love.

They say you move on after someone close to you dies.

I say they're all liars.

"Angie!" I called out, shoving through a group of boys surrounding her. "Ange, it's time to go." I shoved a blond boy out of the way, reaching for her hand.

She turned to me, her face annoyed, until she recognized me. Then she looked relieved, following me willingly out of the school to my car. Angel could drive, but we preferred this way more. Especially since she practically needed an escort out of this hellhole every day.

I guess you're not supposed to wonder why people think your sister's so pretty. I think most people like her eyes—pale gray and soft—but I only figured that because someone told me so. I like her compassion, but nowadays no one likes that in a girl.

"Sky," Ange whined, "They're getting so annoying. I just want them to go away. It's so old."

I shrugged. "Hey, you could always date someone—that'll lose them." I took my keys out of my pocket, unlocking the car and tossing my stuff in the back seat.

She snorted. "Nah. No one interesting enough." She laughed, pushing her hair out of her face. "So, meet anyone you like?"

I gripped the wheel too tightly as I spun too fast out of the parking lot. I didn't answer her, instead choosing silence.

She knew she'd struck a nerve there, and she was sorry. But she couldn't apologize, not now. Angel could never apologize.

When I pulled into the driveway, neither of us made a move to get out. Angel reached over to touch my hand. I drew away, sliding my arms farther into their sleeves.

A year ago—in two weeks—my, at the time, girlfriend and I had been dating for three years. We were going to celebrate together, but as she was driving to my house, a drunk driver hit her dead on. She wasn't proclaimed dead for two days, which I spent by her bedside at the hospital. I've never gotten over it.

Angel's tried to help me, but it just doesn't work. I loved her. And you never move on from that.


I frowned at my reflection, then turned, tossing the dress on my bed. I sighed, looking to my best friend. "Please tell me you have something better. I can't go out with Keo wearing the dress I wore for Halloween three years ago!"

Lee lifted the dress again. "Zombie Cinderella isn't such a bad choice for a first date." She chuckled softly.

I turned to glare at her. "Lailee, tell me you won't make me go like this… Do you have anything better?"

"Probably not. But I can check." She flipped over on my bed, standing and heading for the closet. "Where are you going?"

"I have no idea. Somewhere. It'll probably be rundown, but I should look nice. What did you wear for your first date with Jay?"

She thought hard. "Umm… That red dress. But he took me somewhere fancy, remember? That nice restaurant."

I groaned. "Lee! What am I going to do?" I tucked one leg up under me as I took her place on the bed.

She pursed her lips, then went to the back of my closet, digging through. "What kind of message do you want to send to him?" She pondered, not even a question.

I picked up a brush and started untangling the knots in my hair. "I don't care, casual?"

She shook her head. "No. He'll expect that. What's Ange wearing?"

"No idea. But she'd not the one on her first date—she's just coming with me."

She pulled out a dark skirt and a nice shirt. "This. It says, 'yes, this matters, but not too much'."

I threw my arms around her. "You're the best! You're brilliant!" We fell back on the bed. "So!" I exclaimed, and we simultaneously prepped ourselves for girl talk. "How's Jayjay?"

She got very quiet and still. "Good." She answered guardedly, subconsciously lacing her fingers together in her lap.

I caught on immediately. "Just good?" Something was wrong. Lee was never this wary when it was just the two of us. "What's going on?"

She sighed deeply. "Promise you won't tell anyone?"


The tin man is brilliant.

If I didn't have a heart, I would be so unhappy. I'd be emo, depressed, and, all in all, life wouldn't be worth living.

I loved Lailee. I admitted this to myself a long time ago, and she knew, even though I never told her.

Everything about her was perfect. I truly loved her—the way she smelled like rain, or how her eyes looked when she was sleepy. How her hand fit into mine, how her voice sounded after a hard test—every sing thing about her made me happy.

Recently, though, she's been acting weird. I thought she could be sick, but every time I asked she changed the subject.

"Go have fun," I assured Angel as she reluctantly left the house. Skylar had had a bad day—She felt guilty leaving him. "We'll be fine."

She smiled—it seemed a little sad, and the door shut behind her.

"She worries too much." Sky said.

"Wouldn't you worry too?" I didn't add the last part—if your sister was suicidal.

He shrugged. "Of course. But I'm the older one." He flopped down on the couch. "What do you want to watch?"

I picked up a few DVD cases. "Dark Knight?" I popped it into the player, starting it up.

"Good, something actually worth watching."

Like you, I thought. Two weeks after Miridia died, Angel walked into the bathroom to find Sky, barely conscious, tipsy, and dazed. She hadn't known what was wrong with him—he wasn't drunk and didn't have a fever. She'd called me, panicked, and we called 911. Poison control figured out that he'd ODed on an anti depressant drug—Miridian. Oh, the irony.

Since, he'd seen a therapist. Every Tuesday, five to six, since that week.

He refused to talk about her with me or Angel. We were his only two friends. I wondered how his psychiatrist got him to say anything.

Most of the time, he just seemed like a normal teen. He joked around, he didn't like green vegetables, and he woke up with bed head.

Often it was easy to forget his suicide attempt, but it's only when you forget the past and turn your back that it happens again. And then you might not get there in time.


The truth is like running water—once it starts moving, it never stops. So it was no surprise when I found myself telling Summer everything.

"And when I was a few days late—which I never am—I freaked. I went to Rite Aid and bought a test… And when it came up positive… I just have no idea what to do. I'm scared to tell him—what if he gets upset? But I can't get rid of it, can I? Not without talking to him—it's his too."

"But it's your body Lee. You can't have this kid just because Jayden wants it."

"Right," I responded. I picked at Summer's bedspread. I frowned. "But I don't know if I can. I'm eighteen. I can't have a baby. And if Jayden does want it… Well, I don't know. I don't think I could."

"But it's not his choice."

"No. Yes. Yes it is! Having a child takes two… Shouldn't it take two to get rid of it?"

She stopped. She opened her mouth, then shut it. "Lee," she started. Then she stopped. "I guess… If that's the way you feel you should talk to Jay. He needs to know."

I nodded. "Yeah. But how do I tell him?"

She shook her head and shifted positions to make herself more comfortable. "No idea." She brushed her bangs away from her face. "And what about your parents?"

"I don't even want to talk about them," I muttered. I laid down on my back. "Either way, I should talk to Jay before anyone."


"What do you think he'll say?"

"I have no idea."

I suddenly thought of all those 'what would you do if' and 'situation' games we would always play. I wondered how we never managed to broach this subject before.

I pulled the front of my shirt up, spreading my fingers over my flat stomach. I thought about how it would swell, until I couldn't see my feet. How I'd have to wear different clothing soon. How soon, it wouldn't be a secret.

I met Summer's deep brown eyes over my hands, as she placed hers on top.

It was then that I realized that I would have this baby.


High schoolers are like sharks.

No pun intended—but if you're bleeding, they can sniff it out. And the day after I—Thor asked Summer out for me, I thought I'd be hunted.

But no one bother with me… At least, no more than usual. As Thor and I sat down to our lunch table, we were surprised to see Ash join us.

"Keo," she said, her voice low and urgent. "Angel's upset. She wants to know who you're bringing Friday."

I was startled. "Isn't it obvious? Thor!" I had no other friends to speak of, so there was no one else I'd invite.

"Wait a second," Thor piped up. "When'd I say I'd—"

"Thor?!" Ash exclaimed. "Oh my god! This is—"

They were both talking at the same time. "Guys, chill! Look, Thor. You're coming. Ash, I don't really know what's wrong in your opinion, but it's okay. Everything is alright."

They looked at me, then at each other, then Ash left. Thor immediately turned to me.

"Why did you say I'd go? I don't want to go! This isn't going to be fun! This will be unbelievable awkward!" He was hissing quietly, but his voice was rising to near hysteria.

"Thor! Shut up! Look. You like Angel. I like Summer. Why can't we just go out and have fun? Just because we're all going somewhere together doesn't mean it needs to be awkward."

He grumbled. "Fine, Keo. But when things don't work out the way you want them to, don't complain to me."

I loved Thor—in a brotherly sense, because I loved Summer—but sometimes, he was so… angry.

Thor was my first and only friend. No one else would tolerate me.

I was bullied constantly. Thor kind of saved me, really. I had a lot to thank him for.

But as his friend, I would save him. He deserved it. He needed help now, with Angel—and I would help him.

I pushed my seat back and stood. "If things don't work out the way they were supposed to, then that sucks. But Thor, you're coming on this date."


For future reference, Rite Aid doesn't have hot glue guns.

"For the last time, we do not have them in stock!" This lady was grating deeply on my nerves.

I threw my hands up. "That's not what I'm asking! What store does carry them!"

"We don't sell them!"

I don't even know whether this lady understood English. She had a deep Welsh accent and kept acting out everything she said.

So I just left the store and walked into the market across the street. My phone rang, and I answered while searching for the peppers.



"Yep. Hey Ange, what's up?" I wandered over to a booth and picked up a red one. "How much?"

"Excuse me?" Angel responded.

The vendor turned to me. "One twenty two." Just my luck—a Kazakhstan accent. Don't ask me how I can identify these.

"Sorry. Really? One twenty two? No tax, right?" I pulled out one dollar and twenty two cents.

"Yes." We traded money for pepper and I walked back to my car, taking a bite.

"Right, sorry Ange. What's up?"

"Did you just buy a hot pepper?"

"Hell no! Would I do that? Gross! It's a sweet pepper."

She laughed.

I got into my car, on hand on the steering wheel and the other holding my pepper. "So what's up?"

"I just wanted to know about the History—" There was a crash on the other end, and she dropped the phone.

"Ange?!" The car wavered. "You alright?"

Her voice came back frantic. "Ash. I need you here immediately."

It was urgent, I could tell. I swung the car around and headed for Angel's.