Chapter 3

Layla

I am in second period biology when a boy that I've never seen before walks into the room. He says something to Mrs. Lynn and she replies. She turns to the class and says. "Class, we have a new student. This is Sam Abner. He and his sister moved here from Michigan." Sam acknowledges the class with a nod and a smile, looking coefficient and secure for a new guy.

I inspect Sam. He has wavy brown hair that reminds me of creamed coffee. His skin has a healthy glow and he's at least six feet tall. He's very attractive. So attractive that he could've been an actor on of TV. I notice a few girls swooning in his presence, including the popularity princess herself, Candy.

Candy treats guy like their candy. I know it's ironic. Her name is Candace Stevenson, but she makes everyone in the school call her Candy like she's some pop singer icon. Her parents are rich and make huge donations to the school, so she basically is the princess of Deangelo.

She can afford to have her hair bleached blonde often enough that is looks natural. She can afford designer clothing. She can afford the hottest guys in school. Nothing is too pricy for her.

Mrs. Lynn assigns Sam to my lab group which is made up of me, Val, and Ethan Pierce. Sam takes the empty chair next to Ethan, on the opposite end of our row from me. "Hey roomie," says Ethan. I'm guessing that Sam is Ethan's new roommate. His old one got expelled for hiding beer under his bed. Ethan and Sam do some kind of high-five hand shake that confuses me just watching.

"They already got their own secret handshake?" Val whispers to me, clearly feeling a bit jealous that Ethan's giving his attention to someone else.

"Mm-hm. Guys," I grin. Val likes Ethan. Really likes Ethan. She's had a crush on him since the beginning of freshman year. I've told her many times that she should ask him out. He's good looking and currently single and obviously like her too. I'm supposed to be the shy one, I've told her.

Mrs. Lynn passes around a stack of worksheets. Our lab for today is to make observations on the different structures of plant and animal cells. Ethan grabs us a microscope from the supply closet in the back and I start making a slide of onion skin. We each take turns looking at the cell structures and making a sketch of what we see on the worksheet. When we are done with the plant cell part, we try to decide whose cheek we should swab for the animal cell part.

"How about yours, Sam?" Valerie asks. "I don't like poking my cheeks with tooth picks and you're the new guy. Join in." It's not that Sam wasn't participating. He was doing his work. It's just that he was only talking to Ethan, really, and not volunteering to do anything.

"Yeah. Help out. I don't like cheek poking either," I say. It sounded dumb coming out of my mouth, and I kind of blushes. Sam gives me an intense look. Though it only lasts a moment, I catch his eyes. They are gold. Metallic, even. Not yellow, or brown. Gold. He turns away.

"No... Ethan, how about you?" he asks. I catch a glimpse of his eyes again when he turns to Ethan. No longer a metallic gold, but a normal golden brown or hazel color. I dismiss what I saw before as my mind playing tricks on me. It's not like it wasn't the first time.

When I was in middle school, before I came to Deangelo Academy, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I had hallucinations of demonic creatures and delusions that they wanted to kill me. Sometimes I would feel a snake trying to crawl my leg and around my body, whispering horrible things in my ear. Kill them, it would

hiss. You are better than them. You are ssspecial. Its blood red eyes burrowed into my soul, whispering sweet temptations into my mind. I resisted, and then came the pain.

When my parents finally saw my distress and realized I wasn't faking, they took me to a psychiatrist and I was put on meds as soon as possible. Neuroleptics. I heard that they're bad for your liver, but it's better than being scared everywhere I turn. Now I'm worried that my medication is starting to fail.

I never told Val that I have schizophrenia. I'm scared that she'll think of me as a freak if she knew. I told her that my pills were for my iron deficiency. She went with it because I'm so fair that I look anemic.

"Earth to Lay," says Val. "You're turn." She passes me the microscope. I view the cheek cells and sketch five of them, like the worksheet says. The bell rings before I can start on the questions, but I can do those later.

I grab my stuff and Ethan puts the microscope back. I rush out of the room, accidentally bumping into Sam. "Sorry," I say, embarrassed.

"It's okay," he says. I catch a glimpse of his eyes again. They are gold as twin wedding bands shining in the sun.

I practically trip over my own two feet as I run to my next class.