She was watching me again. I flipped my hair just a little into my eyes and looked down at the paper in front of me. I wasn't reading it, the words before my eyes no more than scribbles. I didn't know who 'she' was, but this was the third time this week I'd looked over to find her eyes on me. She wasn't alone and she wasn't unpopular, but she apparently took time away from her friends to check in on me.

Which she didn't need to do, I was fine.

That was a lie, but I didn't let myself reflect on how not-fine I was. I glanced down at my paper to find that I had absentmindedly sketched a face in the margins of my calculus homework.

I crumpled the paper before I could realize that I needed it for class. I slowed my breath and carefully un-crumpled it and erased the drawing without looking at it again. I erased it and erased it, wanting to make the pain go away. I felt my eraser tear the paper and swore softly.

"You may pack up now," the teacher said and I released a breath. I put all of my papers in my bag, tossing them in without really thinking about them. I'd do them at home, I'd need the distraction. The house was too empty, and I couldn't stand listening to mother cry all night again.

I bumped into the person in front of me. They'd stopped and I had been far too wrapped up in my own thoughts to notice, it seemed. "S-sorry!" I stammered. "I'd just been, I mean-- Um, I'm babbling, sorry. For that and running into you, I mean. And this apology, actually."

The girl turned around, cheeks red with a slight smile. It was the girl who'd been watching me, she was one of the last to leave the room. I tried not to think it, it was so self-centered, but I wondered if she'd been waiting for me.

"It's fine," she said, voice low and pleased. "I'm not that fragile, feel free to knock me around a bit."

I flushed bright red and tugged my bag a little higher on my shoulder. The girl fell into step with me in the hall. "I'm Laura," she said, sticking out her hand. I could never manage that, I always was afraid the other person wouldn't grab it.

I shook her hand, "I'm Holly."

"Nice to meet you, Holly." Her smile seemed a little too bright, but I needed some brightness in my life right now. "You doing anything tonight?"

I was certain my cheeks were on fire and I carefully didn't mention my plans to sit in my room with my music blasting, doing Calculus homework and not thinking about my Father. My teeth clenched as the pain of the thought rippled through me.

"You alright?" She leaned forward in concern, hand hovering over my arm as if afraid to touch. "What's wrong?"

Wait. She didn't know? I had thought the entire town knew, but this girl was watching me without any pity, simply concern.

"I'm fine. And I'm not busy, you have something in mind?" I tried to smile at her.

"I know we just met, so I won't push, but I want you to know I'm a fairly trustworthy person. If you need someone to confide in, I'm your girl." I was taken aback by her frank nature, I froze for a moment, and then continued walking.

"I'll.. I'll think about it."

"Think about it over pizza?"

"Sounds like a date."


Written for Ev.