Now I've got two chapters, River, which is two more than you do! Remember at the climbing wall you guys said it was like I was "Dead in Midair" and that we should write something with that title? I do!

Chapter 2

I looked myself in the eye. "You will do this," I told myself. Since the phone call, I'd been screwing up the courage to go ask for help. From one of Alayna's friends.

I took a deep breath and walked over. I had an overwhelming desire to turn and run before anyone saw me talking to the least popular kid in school. But I steeled her nerves, thinking of Alayna, my one friend. If Alayna could do it, so could I. Right?

"Hi."

It was one word, but that changed everything. Now, I had help. I was sure of it. Everything magically fell into place now.

"What do you want?"

I had a rushing feeling as her stomach dropped. This was harder than Alayna made it look.

"Look, I've seen you hang out with Alayna—don't deny it—and the thing is, she's gone missing, as I'm sure you've noticed." What am I doing? I thought, but I rattled on. "I'm the only one she's contacted since that time, and I think she's in trouble. She called me and asked for help. She was running desperately away from something, but I don't know what, and it seemed like she got caught in the end. So I need you to help me find her."

The kid looked at her open-mouthed.

"Are you in this?" I asked, waiting.

"Let me get this straight…" he said slowly, as I shifted impatiently. "You think Alayna has been caught by something…and you want me to help you…but you have no idea where it is…?"

"Yes," I replied. "I need help—I can't track them down on my own. Well, and I'm pretty sure I can't take them on my own, either. So are you in this?" I repeated.

He paused, thinking. "So…wait…I'm confused."

"I'll take that as a yes. Let's go!"

His name was Terrence Hewitt, and he had wavy dark hair, chocolatey eyes, and a kind smile. He was different, though. No one knew how, but they could sense it. He had never actually skipped school before, and he was scared to try it now. He knew I was an outcast, like him. But he'd never actually talked to me. He'd admired Alayna, too, for her spirit, and had felt connected to me because she, too, was different and didn't see that as a good thing, unlike Alayna.

He pulled his heavy backpack up on his shoulder, walking back to his locker, putting his backpack down inside, whispering to the picture of his dad, "It'll be okay." He thought I didn't hear it, but I did.

And if this is why he was an outcast, then life must be unfair.