Shadow

Preface- PNEUMONIA

I'd told my mother I wasn't staying home.

I'd told her even after she'd called the school to let them know I'd be out on a sick day. She was convinced I was coming down with pneumonia. I was convinced she was blowing this wildly out of proportion. Just because I never really got sick, didn't mean she had to freak out when I actually did. And I wasn't even feeling that bad anymore.

I didn't have a fever, and really, the only thing I had to worry about was coughing and being a little tired. That sound like pneumonia? I didn't think so.

So that's why, as soon as I was sure my mother had left for work and my grandfather, who was supposed to be keeping an eye on me, had fallen asleep in front of the TV, I marched out of my house fully dressed and rode my bike four blocks down to my high school.

Don't get me wrong, I don't love coming to school or anything. Not usually. Usually, I curse every sunny morning that my mom wakes me up at six am and I am forced to spend eight seemingly endless hours learning math, or history, or whatever class it is that seems to irritate me the most that day.

But today was different. And, in a high school of less than three hundred students total, there was no way I was gong to miss it.

As I pulled in my bike to the back of the school, and shoved it in some bushes, I realized first period had already started.

Not that it mattered. I hadn't really planned on attending my classes today. That would only engender some unnecessary questions on why I hadn't stayed home seeing as how I was obviously still sick, and my mother had already phoned the school. And then, of course, they'd make me go to the nurse's office and call my mom, only to result in my getting grounded. For going to school. Hilarious, isn't it?

So anyway, I didn't really mind that I'd be missing class. After all, classes weren't really the important part about today. Unless of course, a certain someone happened to be in some of them.

But I didn't even know who this certain someone was- well, really, how he looked. All I knew was his name. Mark. And that he was from Chicago. When you live in a small town in Texas, being from a place like Chicago is kind of a big deal. And it's especially a big deal if you're starting the second half of your sophomore year at a place like River Oaks high school, population two hundred eighty-three kids. Okay, eighty-four now.

I sighed as I slipped inside the school, careful to make sure no one heard me enter, and stared at the empty hallway. Great. Now what was I supposed to do? Stand here and wait?

Grudgingly, I slipped inside the girl's locker room, climbed up on the thick windowsill, and pulled out my ipod. I'd thought I would be needing this today.

I let the music shuffle, and started to wonder about this Mark guy again. Sarah, my best friend, had appeared more excited about him starting here than I was. She'd known a week before, as her dad is the assistant principal and she always manages to convince him to let out some of the administration's well kept secrets.

Except of course, they don't really end up being well kept because Sarah always tells me, and not that I'm a big blabbermouth or anything, but I most usually always end up telling Jack, my other best friend who'll end up needing to tell his girlfriend. And Lila, Jack's girlfriend, well, let's just say she's quite a bit more of a blabber mouth than me.

So, when I'd told Jack we'd have a new guy entering the student body today, it came as no surprise that the whole school new about it less than two days later. And, apparently, they'd taken advantage of the few days of preparation.

This fact became very clear when two short freshman girls had sauntered into the bathroom to giddily reapply makeup and make sure their perfectly pleated skirts had stayed that way. Nice and pleated.

The entire time, as I watched with little amusement, they kept giggling about Mark, who I was sure they hadn't even met yet.

"He has to be hot, right?" The shorter, less freckled one had told her friend as the two moved on from mascara to lip gloss.

"Of course. He's the new kid."

I'd rolled my eyes at this, but neither of them saw me. Actually, neither of them even noticed I was in there. They were both too preoccupied to even bother looking around and see if anyone was listening.

Not that, if they'd bothered, they would have been able to see me.

A few minutes after those two finally left, and in the middle of one of my favorite Avril Lavigne songs, I heard the bell ring and braced myself.

Our school wasn't really that big, because really, how big did a high school need to be to shelter less than three hundred students? But still, the more or less cramped hallways seemed to get even smaller when the bell rang and a flood of teenagers stepped out from their classes and made their way to their lockers.

Where was I supposed to go now? I couldn't just sit here. Besides, how was I ever going to catch a glimpse of that Mark guy if I just sat here?

I sighed, and hurried to slide out into the hallway before it became impossible to walk through.

I spotted the water fountain across the hall, and, with a sigh of relief, made my way to stand beside it, sort of hiding into the entryway of the janitor's closet. Nobody used this water fountain anyway, it was widely known for tasting like chlorine.

I squinted through the crowds of students, craning my neck for a site of the newcomer, but it was impossible to see anything above the heads of all these teenagers. I'd never been of the taller variety. I sighed and pulled up a heavy box from the janitor's closet to stand on. As soon as I did, I saw a very promising sight.

About six girls, not to mention the ones that trailed behind, were walking in a crowded semi-circle around one guy who I was sure I'd never seen before. The guy, who seemed to me that he wasn't particularly enjoying all the female attention- though maybe that was just wishful thinking- was, just as those freshmen had suspected, pretty darn hot.

I sighed as I watched him make his way through the throng of people, who all stopped to glance at him at least once, with absolutely every girl doing a double take. It was amazing he was even able to walk through, let alone get to his classes on time, what with probably a dozen or so girls trailing behind and around him, all asking questions that I couldn't really make out yet.

But then, I couldn't blame them. The girls, I mean. cause this Mark guy was hot, and let me tell you something, I've seen my share of hot guys.

Don't get me wrong I'm not a big dater or anything. Actually, I'm not really a dater at all. I've probably been on two, max three dates, and all of them have ended with a polite goodbye from the guy, and no second calls or dates. Ever.

But it's my sister who, with her long tanned legs and silky reddish brown hair, manages to bring at least one new guy home every weekend. Well, she doesn't really bring them home. They're the ones who come, almost flock, to our door on Saturday nights in their big flashy convertibles asking for Naomi.

And trust me, they're always good looking. Every single one of them. I have to tell you, I don't know how she does it. Well, okay maybe I do, seeing as how she spends endless hours in the bathroom every morning doing who knows what that makes her look like Miss California when she steps out. Really, sometimes I think it's her fault I don't get any guys, since she hogs up all the bathroom time I could be using to actually make my hair look, you know, decent.

But anyway, I've seen so many good looking guys stop by at our place that I've lost count. And they're always hotter than the last.

So, I'm not lying when I tell you this Mark guy was hot. Seriously, he may have been hotter than any of the guys Naomi's brought home, though, as they only stop in for just a second to pick her up, I can't be too sure.

But, no matter how hot he was, I am not an idiot. I wasn't about to start with the whole daydreamt fantasies on how the new guy would notice me, a seemingly normal, quiet girl and end up falling for me, despite all the odds, such as my overly frizzy hair.

So I just sighed, stepped off the box, and waited until the hallways cleared so I could leave already. Who knows where, maybe I'd wander off in the mall or go get a frozen yogurt or something. Anything had to be better than standing here watching the new sophomore stud get harassed by a throng of overly made up girls. Cause let me tell you, you could tell they'd all worn their best outfits today.

So I stood there, ipod in hand, ready to bolt out of there as soon as the second bell rang until something happened that made my heart get caught in my throat. And no, it wasn't Mark looking over at me and smiling like he'd finally seen the first good looking girl all day.

Nope. But it was something almost as shocking.

Mark had stopped walking, right in front of where I was standing and walked straight to the water fountain. His girl followers, groupies, whatever you want to call them, had all been so surprised they'd almost tripped over themselves in their shiny high heels. Mark had just given them a weird look, and gone, "What, can't a guy get some water?"

And of course he could, especially him, being so hot and all. He could drink all the water he wanted, and no girl would care even if his mouth tasted like chlorine when he tried to kiss them.

But as he turned, and all his little groupies turned with him, ready to warn him about the water's unpleasant taste I guess, they all looked right at me.

Except they weren't really looking at me.

They were looking right through me.

Chapter 1- Mark

Okay, let's get this straight. I am not a ghost, and you're not reading a ghost story.

No. I am a perfectly normal, sixteen-year old human girl.

Okay, maybe not normal. Definitely not normal. I have this thing, that I like to call a glitch even though I don't really mean it, as it sometimes comes extremely in handy. Especially in cases like this where I decide to sneak out of my house to spy on the new class hottie.

So what's my glitch? Well, I can make myself invisible.

Yup. That's what I said. Invisible.

It's not as superhero as it sounds. I'm not some type of school goer by day, crime-fighter by night. Nope. It's just a little glitch I've had for as long as I can remember. And okay technically, I didn't know about it until the day of my gone-horribly-wrong-tenth birthday party when I'd been so upset that I'd just wished in my head that I could be invisible. Imagine my surprise when it actually happened.

But of course no one knows about it. About me turning invisible I mean.

Cause if they did, then I'd have to go around saving the world like Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four. And really, I've never been the saving the world type. Oh, and also, I don't have that force field thing she does. Nope. I can just vamoose right there, on the spot, clothes and all, and then appear right back whenever I want to. But that's it.

It's a cool sort of thing I guess, if you use it to do something useful and heroic like save the world or spy for the government or something like that.

But that's not what I do.

I'm more of the Violet from the Incredibles type. I disappear when I least want to be seen. And that's kind of often.

Or also, I disappear when I'm actually spying, or sneaking out or whatever. Like right now.

So of course, as Mark bent down and every single girl around him jumped at the chance to grab his arm or shoulder and go, all dramatically, "No Mark, don't! That water tastes like chlorine!" I wasn't the least bit surprised that none of them noticed me.

Still, you can't blame me for getting startled. I mean, sure, I can turn the color of the wall whenever I want, but I can't completely fade away and become all ghost-like right there on the spot. People can still feel me, if they'd reach out to try and touch me.

And wouldn't that be weird, touching something that feels like a person, but you can't really see. So that's why, trying not to breathe- cause people can also still hear me, you know- I pressed myself against the wall of the small janitor's closet and backed away from the water fountain as much as possible.

Luckily for me, the whole thing didn't go on for much longer as Mark willingly took the girls' advice and turned away from the water fountain, or maybe from all those pairs of perfectly manicured hands that would no doubt soon start tearing off his shirt and other articles of clothing, and started to walk away from me.

I breathed a sigh of relief as the throng of girls promptly followed.

It wasn't much longer that that second bell finally rang and the hallways eventually cleared. Sighing again, and having accomplished my mission of getting at least a glance of Mark, I turned back to the back door and hopped on my bike to drive away.

As I drove I considered my options on how to spend the day. There was no reason to go back home, at least not yet. I'd left my bedroom locked, and in case my grandpa bothered to unlock it to check in on me he probably wouldn't go much farther since I'd also made sure to lock the bathroom door and leave the light on.

Even if I didn't answer, he'd probably just assume I'd fallen asleep in the tub or something.

That's right. This isn't just any ordinary invisible-turning chick. No, I've had years and years to master the art of sneaking out in invisible mode. And there was no way I was going to leave any loose ends undone that would result in me getting caught.

So, with a clean schedule, and nothing to do, I decided that a trip to the mall wouldn't be so bad. I'd even packed my wallet just in case, and I really was in need of a few pairs of jeans, or maybe even some new shoes.

So I drove to the mall, and don't worry, it wasn't like a freakish sight of a bicycle driving itself, because of course I'd un-invisibleified myself as soon as I'd stepped out of the school.

It wasn't really something I had to think about, going from invisible to visible. I was too used to it. It was like pulling down the hood of my sweater. Instant and simple, except I didn't even have to move, I just had to think about it. No magic words or nothing it was just, invisible, okay, not invisible.

Pretty easy.

So as I drove into the mall's giant parking lot, looking down for a second at my torn jeans now that I could see them again, I decided this really was a good idea, because all of my jeans were torn right now, except for one pair that I never wore and that was because they were white skinny jeans my sister had bought me, and really, I wasn't good enough with clothes that I could handle white skinny jeans.

I mean they're white, for crying out loud. There was no way I could possibly survive a span of even one hour without getting some horrific stain on them.

But of course, Naomi, the fashion queen that she is, hadn't bothered to consider this when she'd delightedly handed them to me on my last birthday.

I sighed as I drove my bike onto the sidewalk. Shopping.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a sixteen year old girl, I like shopping. And being the normal loner that I am, I was even used to having to do it alone, or with my mom who doesn't really do much other than go, "Oh, that's nice, that looks good on you," to every single outfit I try on.

But shopping on a school day, in which the mall was sure to be almost completely empty except for maybe a few kids who thought they were cool enough to skip school, and some middle aged unemployed rich ladies without any better way to spend their time and money, wasn't exactly my idea of a wonderful time.

Trust me, I know how it is. I'd been to the mall on my own before like this. And not really cause I liked skipping school but because sometimes there was just nothing better to do.

Like right now.

If you're one of those kind of people who always goes shopping during mall rush hour, like you know, Saturdays or the holidays, man, let me tell you, you'd be spooked.

Cause the mall is like ghost town on Monday mornings. But that's okay. I could do without the huge crowds. The only real problem would be those overly friendly sixty year old sales ladies, who'd be all like, "Sweetie, what are you doing here at this hour, shouldn't you be in school?" And then of course I'd have to be all like, "Oh, no I'm leaving for Washington this afternoon and my mom is letting me pick up some new clothes for the trip. She's in Banana Republic right now, actually." Or you know, some kind of lie like that.

So anyway, as I pondered which store carried the best and most budget friendly jeans, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.

It was always on vibrate, seeing as how I did my little invisible trick all the time, and never really had time to switch my cell phone off. And wouldn't that be annoying if you heard a cell phone ring but couldn't see where it was coming from? Almost as weird as feeling someone but not being able to see them.

So I picked it up and raised my eyebrows at the name appearing on the screen. Jack? He wasn't going to be absent today, at least not that I'd known… Why was he calling me?

"Hello?" I answered.

Jack laughed. "How's bed rest, loser?"

"Great actually," I told him. "Right now, it's buying me a nice little shopping trip." Okay, maybe not so nice, but whatever.

"Wait, what?" Jack had said, his voice sort of quiet.

Knowing Jack, he was probably supposed to be in class right now but had pretended to go to the bathroom so he could tease me about having pneumonia, or whatever.

"I'm at the mall, stupid."

"What?! No way, how?"

I rolled my eyes. "Snuck out, how else?"
"Whoa. Won't you be so dead?"

"I would be, if my mom had a chance of catching me. What about you, how's school going without the entire female population?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Well come on, they're not really there, they're in Mark-land, probably too busy daydreaming about him to give any of you guys the time of day."

"Don't be stupid," Jack said. "The guy's not even that great."

Oh, but I had seen him. "Sure he isn't. So how's Lila taking it? She dumped you yet?"

Jack made an angry noise over the phone. It almost sounded like a growl. "No. Lila knows better than to go after that guy. She's got me after all."

I snorted. "Poor girl." Though of course, I didn't really mean it because I had no room in my heart to feel sorry for her, as she was apparently my sworn enemy. Okay, well not exactly, but she didn't exactly take kindly to me seeing as how I was Jack's best friend, and I was a girl.

Which isn't really my fault, me being his best friend, I mean. We've known each other since the second grade. Lila? Yeah she's known him less than two years. And she's really only talked to him for six months, since he hadn't been considered a hottie last year.

At least, that's what I hear, since according to me, Jack never was and never will be a hottie. He's just Jack.

"Whatever," Jack said, obviously wanting to drop the subject. He'd been obsessed with Lila for too long to even be able to bear the thought of getting dumped by her.

"So, what class are you supposed to be in?" I asked Jack.

"Spanish," he said, sighing. "God, it's boring. And I have Geometry next, which really isn't that much more exciting."

I laughed. "Well at least you have the excitement of the new Mark guy to keep you enthralled."

"Enough with the Mark guy," he snapped. "Hey," he said. "What if I join you at the mall until lunch? I don't have any classes with Lila, she won't notice I'm gone."

Not that she would even if she was in all his classes, I thought. That girl was just too self-involved. But too Jack I said, "Are you crazy? They're going to notice you're skipping."

"I don't care," Jack said. "The school has been exceptionally annoying today. You would think all these losers have no lives."

I smiled and sighed. "Alright fine, but if you get caught I had nothing to do with this."

"Well of course not. You have pneumonia."

"Shut up."

He laughed. "Okay, okay, where are you?"

"I'll meet you at the McDonald's," I told him. "In fifteen minutes."

"I'll be there in ten," he said.

I hung up and rolled my eyes. Jack still didn't understand his new Mustang was not an actual sports car, but since he was my only friend with an actual license, not to mention a car, I wasn't really going to go around squashing his hopes or anything. At least, not until I got my much hotter Jeep.

Which wouldn't happen for awhile, but still.

While I was waiting for Jack I decided to use my fifteen minutes, because let's face it Jack was not getting here in ten, to look for some good tear-proof jeans. I started at Wet Seal because I'd always found nice good lasting jeans there, and then worked my way to American Eagle although I don't really know why I bothered. It was Tuesday, there were no sales and I wasn't about to blow all my money on one pair of jeans.

The only reason no weird old sales ladies came up to me- because they should've been, trust me. They should've pounced on me since I was apparently the only customer in the entire mall- was because I used my newest shopping method, which I call invisible shopping- genius, I know- of disappearing outside the store, browsing while no one can see me, and then if I find something I like, go back out, make myself solid again, and then go inside and pay for them.

The sales ladies were always a little weirded out at that, cause I'd march straight in, pick up one article of clothing and plop it down on the counter, like, "Okay, hit me."

They must've thought I had some kind of shopping addiction in which I had to buy something, anything, just to be shopping.

But their faces when I did that weren't nearly as funny when I actually tried to weird them out. And trust me, I'm not a natural born prankster or anything, but when you knock down an article of clothing or toss it across the room only to have the sales lady gasp and look around all scared-like, as if the store was haunted, well it's pretty funny. Especially if you have nothing better to do.

So as I was doing this, not throwing random clothes across the store, but shopping invisibly, my cell phone vibrated again and I had to rush out of American Eagle because I swear, that sales guy- it was a guy this time, not a girl- looked right at me.

He didn't see me, of course, but I wasn't taking any chances.

I snapped myself back to visibility once outside after a brief look around to make sure there was no one looking- although really, what were the chances at nine in the morning?- and answered my phone.

"Are you really at the mall?" I heard Sarah's voice on the other end of the line.

"Jack tell you?" I asked her.

"Yeah. Well, texted. I'm in English right now."

"Well, yeah," I told her. "I'm at the mall."

"Dude, that's awesome. How'd you sneak out?"

I shrugged though she couldn't see it. "My grandpa fell asleep."

"Oh, wow. Man, I wish I could join you, Jack invited me and everything, but today is just too good to miss."

I sighed. How had I known this was coming? "Let me guess, the Mark guy?"

"You bet. Man, he is smoking, you have no idea."

But of course, I did. "Really?" I went, for her sake. "Is he really that hot?"

"Yup. He's amazing. I swear, he's got the entire sophomore class, girls anyway, following him around the hallways. And then in class, all the teachers keep getting irritated because they won't shut up talking to him." She giggled. "I have my first two classes with him, so I know."

"Lucky you," I said. Of course, that meant I didn't have my first two classes with him. Although honestly, that didn't really matter, because I had never really been the hot guy groupie type. I was more of the admire from afar type. Or okay, creepy stalker, whatever you want to call it.

I mean, you'd go around turning invisible and spying on your crushes too, if you could.

Not that I was going to start crushing on this Mark guy. I'd made the mistake of falling for the hottest guy in school before back in eighth grade, and trust me, it hadn't ended well.

"I can't believe your mom made you stay home," Sarah went on. "Today of all days, I mean, really."

I sighed. "That's my mom for you. I think she's probably going to make a million calls to a million different doctors during her lunch break so I won't die of pneumonia." I wasn't even exaggerating, she'd mentioned some sort of plan like this in the morning.

"Wow. Well, just make sure you get here by tomorrow, cause you've got to see this."

"Sure, I'll try and be there." It didn't even matter if my mom made me stay home again, I could pop right back in again tomorrow. Not that I wanted to, now that I'd seen the unappealing sight of the girl swarm trailing Mark as if they were bees and he was their honeycomb.

"Alright, you better. Hey, I'll call you back later, second period's about to end, and I better get back to class."

"Right. And I better go meet Jack. Bye, Sarah."

"See ya."

She hung up and I headed downstairs to McDonald's double checking that I was still in my visible mode. Trust me, if you did this as often as I did, you'd have trouble keeping track of it yourself. Of course, it is kind of weird when you look down and you can't even see your own feet. That right there ought to be a tell-tale sign.

But anyway, Jack was already there, but I could tell not by long cause he was just barely walking up to the McDonald's cashier to order something.

I almost gagged. I hated McDonald's food- okay, okay, not the French fries, which is probably the worst, but whatever- the only reason I'd suggested meeting here was because everyone knew where the McDonald's was. And, knowing how Jack wasn't really that familiar with the local mall, it was probably the only place he'd have been able to find without calling me twenty times.

"Hey, Jack," I said, coming up behind him.

"Whoa," Jack went, jumping a little. "Dude, you scared me. This place is like a ghost town, you know."

"Yeah, I know," I frowned.

"It's kind of awesome, I guess, I just thought malls were usually more crowded."

"They are, stupid. Just not on weekday mornings when most of the shoppers are in school or work."

The sales guy, who had really slimy blond hair under his red McDonald's cap, gave us an exasperated sigh. Probably not because he disapproved of our skipping school, because really, what else would it have looked like we were doing? He didn't seem to care, looking like a twenty something your old in college himself. Or then again, maybe not because he'd be in school right now.

But his exasperated sigh was probably because he wanted Jack to just hurry up and order already. Which I didn't get. I mean, why would you get so impatient when there's only one person in line? Maybe we'd interrupted him in doing whatever it is he was doing to keep himself entertained. For all I knew there was probably a gameboy or PSP stashed underneath the counter.

I nudged Jack with my elbow. "What are you getting?"

He shrugged. "Probably a Mac."

I rolled my eyes. "That's a computer, Jack. Shortening words to make your own type of lingo doesn't exactly make it cool, you know."

"Whatever. Big Mac, you know what I mean. What about you? What're you getting?"

I grimaced. "Uh, fries, I guess," I told the clerk. He nodded once, looking bored. "And a Coke."

After Jack paid, he wouldn't let me because he thought I was broke for some reason, though I had more than fifty dollars in my back pocket, we went to sit in one of those little two person tables in front of the counter and wait for our food.

"So what've you been up to, miss pneumonia?"

"That's so not gonna hit it off as a nickname. And not much, really. I was just shopping."

Jack grimaced. "Ew."

I rolled my eyes. "Whatever. What about you? I mean, other than skipping. How're things at school?"

He glared at me.

"I wasn't even talking about Mark!" I said innocently.

"Sure. You sure you don't want a ten minute long description on the guy's hair and eye color?" He said sarcastically.

"No thanks," I replied cheerfully. "Don't need one."

He raised his eyebrows, and I remembered he didn't exactly know about my morning spy mission. Well I wasn't about to explain. "Sarah told me enough," I told him.

He rolled his eyes. "You two are so weird."

"You're talking," I said.

Our food came then and he hopped up to get it.

I bit in gratefully to a French fry. Skipping breakfast this morning had made me a little hungry. "So, what else is up?"

He shrugged. "Nothing. I asked Lila out to homecoming last night, though."

I could tell he was trying especially hard to sound indifferent.

"Oh?" I said, not faking my indifference, because, as I've mentioned before, I really don't care for that girl. "What'd she say?"

He narrowed his eyes at me for just a second. "Yes, obviously."

"Oh, that's cool."

He sighed at me then. "Let it go, Carrie. I know you don't like her but come on."

"What? I didn't even say anything. And besides, she's the one who decided not to like me."

"That's not true. She likes you just fine."

I gave him a look.

"Okay, well you can't blame her for being a little… cautious about you being my best friend. She's not used to feeling threatened. Although really, why should she be, it is you after all."

I glared at him, not liking the way he said you. "Gee, thanks."

"You know what I mean. We've always been just friends."

"Exactly," I said. "Which is why it doesn't make sense for her not to like me."

He sighed. "Come on, Carrie."

"Come on, what? None of this is my fault. If anything, it's your fault, for keeping on hanging out with me while your girlfriend feels threatened."

He sighed again. "Well you're my best friend. What am I supposed to do?"

I didn't answer because I really had no idea. Besides, I was so sick of this subject, it always ended the same.

"So," he said, dropping it. "What do you want to do for the next two hours?"

I shrugged as I dipped a fry into a pool of ketchup. "Well I was doing some shopping before you got here…"

"Oh, no. Don't do that to me. Please."

I laughed. "Okay, okay, I won't. What do you want to do then?"

"I don't know," he said. "I wouldn't have exactly picked a mall as the best way to spend a day if you're going to skip school. What else can you do here? Besides shop, I mean."

"Um, well, there's an arcade a few stores down."

He nodded. "Not bad. That might just be better than two hours of Geometry and History." He looked over at my half-eaten fries. "You gonna finish those?"

I shook my head. I liked fries, but not that much. "Take 'em."

"So," he said, when he was done with my fries. "Arcade?"

I nodded. "Arcade."

I didn't really spend that much time in arcades, and I'd never been the video game type or anything, but still it felt sort of cool to have a big, dark arcade all to ourselves. Okay, it was a little creepy but more than anything, it was way better than how this place usually was, crowded with little ten year olds and their dads, or whatever.

Jack beat me twice at air hockey, and after a tie, I decided better not to stretch my luck and we moved on to the other games.

I was really starting to like this day off from school to play arcade games when Jack looked at his cell phone and said, "Okay, I gotta go back now."

"What? Jack, you barely got here?"

"Actually, I got here more than two hours ago."

I frowned at him.

"Come on, Carrie, you're always saying how you don't mind being alone, you'll survive."

I sighed. He was right, of course, I didn't really mind being alone. But in a mall? Well, that just wasn't right. "Fine. Go, I bet Lila is dying without you anyway."

He glared at me. "I have to get back before they really notice I'm gone."

"And by they you mean Lila," I muttered.

"Carrie, come on."

I sighed. "Don't worry about it, like you said, I can fend for myself just fine. I've got my ipod after all," I smiled, pulling it out from my sweater pocket.

He pretended to shudder. "You and your Avril Lavigne."

I laughed. "Seriously, get out of here, you're going to be late."

"Right. Bye, thanks for letting me hang out with you, it sure beat Geometry."

"Bye, Jack," I said.

He left quickly, probably rushing to make sure Lila didn't notice he was gone. Cause if she knew I'd been with him, the girl's pretty made up head would have probably exploded.

I sighed as I was left all alone again. Now what?

I didn't really feel like going back to invisible-shop again. Really, I just felt like sleeping. And then another little trick occurred to me, and, idly wondering why I didn't just go back home, I headed to Macy's.

I was back in invisible mode again, and as soon as I reached the furniture department in Macy's and found the most far off bed, I lay across it, and went to sleep.