Chapter One

"Tomie, wake up," whispers a small voice in your ear. You crack open one eye and shove your little brother away.

"Tomie," he says again. "It's time for school. You're going to be late. Come on."

You glance at the clock. Shit. He's right. You are going to be late.

"Sorry, Josh," you tell him as you push him away again and run from the room to the bathroom. Goddamn, you hate mornings. They're so annoying. Like, why do they even exist? The world should go out of existence from around four in the morning to around ten. Nothing in between there should exist at all, much less require you to be awake.

You grumble into the bathroom and slam the door before you. Mornings are definitely not your thing. Especially on Monday.

"C'mon," says Josh, pounding on the bathroom door. "I gotta get in there."

"Shoulda done that before you woke me up," you tell him as you shove your tooth brush in your mouth angrily. You're tired. You were up late last night. You were out late last night too. Capello wouldn't leave you alone so you had to beat him up. Dumbass. Why doesn't he ever get that you have no desire to do anything with him? He's so fucking dumb. You wish he would just vanish off the face of the earth. It would make the world a much better place and not only because it would mean he wouldn't be around to beat anyone up any more.

"No fair," whines Josh. You roll your eyes as you empty your bladder into the toilet. He's a whiny brat. He's always like that. It's so annoying. You wish he would just shut the fuck up. Doesn't he know that it's Monday morning and you just want to stop existing?

You slam the door as you leave the room.

"There you go, brat," you tell your brother as you stalk into your room. You glance in the mirror for a second as you enter. Your blue streaked brown hair is messed up. Oh well. You don't care. You grab a pair of dark skinny jeans off the ground. You have no idea if they're clean or not and you don't really give a damn. It's Monday, are you really expected to wear clean clothes? Sheesh, you're out of bed. Isn't that enough? You search around the floor for a shirt and find a grey one. You toss off your old pajama shirt and throw it into the abyss of clothes on your floor. Who cares if you ever find it again. It's not like it's yours.

You can hear your parents yelling at each other in the next room. That's weird for mornings. Normally your mom is too drunk to argue in the mornings. She drinks all night and she's still sleeping when you leave, but it doesn't matter all that much because they're always arguing anyway. Grown-ups are horrible. You know you probably shouldn't call them that. You're sixteen. You're practically an adult. Whatever.

You almost trip over Josh as you go to get your cereal from the cabinet and you spend the next five minutes that you really don't have yelling at him. You should get to school, but you're little brother also shouldn't be under your feet so who cares.

"But Tomie, I didn't mean to do it," he whines as your mother storms into the kitchen.

"Jordana," she says even though she knows you hate when people call you that. It's too girly. You hate it. You go by Tomie and she knows that full well. "Don't yell at your brother. It's not his fault that you didn't get yourself up on time."

You roll your eyes, grab your fox of Lucky Charms and stomp out of the house, glad that your backpack is already on your back. You don't want to be in that house anymore.

Your mom is a bitch. She knows you hate being called that. You wish she wasn't there. She never leaves your poor Dad alone, but he screams at her every night when she comes home drunk so it's a two way street.

Sometimes you feel bad for Josh because he has to come home right after school and you never do. You avoid home for as long as fucking possible. It's a dump. No one ever cleans anything. It's just horrible there.

It's cold out. It shouldn't be cold out this early in the year, but you're glad it is. You find the cold refreshing. It's always sweltering in your house and you just want to feel the fresh air on your skin.

By the time you get halfway to school, you're shivering. It's cold out and you didn't grab one of your band hoodies. You wish you had, but it doesn't matter now. You aren't going back. You're already late enough as it is.

What the fuck do you have first period anyway? You can't even remember. Gym? No, that's second period. You're always late to that because you have to take the long way around to avoid Capello. He's kind of annoying. You had a thing for him freshman year when you thought he was cool. But then that thing went some where and you realized that he doesn't treat his girls any better than he does incoming freshman. He's a senior now, a grade older than you. He thinks he's so cool because he's top dog. Fucking dumbass.

"Tomie," says a voice and you snap out of your thoughts. You glance around. Speak of the devil, there's Capello right behind you.

"What do you want, Capello?"

"You look cold," he says. "I wanted to offer you use of my sweatshirt."

"The day I take anything from you is the day hell freezes over," she snap at him as you shiver a little more. You're mom always liked Capello. He always acted like a gentleman in front of her, but you know he's not. Your mom is so dumb, she thinks this is like one of those dumb chick flicks where the guy is kind of a douche but he does sweet things for the girl once or twice so they end up together anyway.

You've had to explain to your mom that life is not a movie so many times that you can't even remember because it's just so old. Life is not a fucking movie.

"Don't be ridiculous, Tom, you're cold. Don't freeze to death because you find me annoying."

You roll your eyes and don't stop walking. There's only one good thing about him being there right now. It means he's late to school too.

"First off, my name is Tomie. I'm a girl. I'm not a boy. It's Tomie, not Tom. And second off, it's only a block left to school I'm not going to freeze to death. I'm only a bit chilly, I'll get over it."

You keep walking, because you know you aren't allowed to hit people anymore. Assistant Principal Simmons says if you hit anyone again and you don't have a damn good reason for it you're getting suspended. You don't want to get suspended on the off chance that your parents decide to turn some of their anger at you. That wouldn't be good. AP Simmons isn't exactly your biggest fan. Actually, she hates your guts because you keep getting into a shitload of trouble. You're not exactly the world's nicest person. You're kind of a bully. Capello is too, but he's a different kind of bully. He's the annoying one who bullies the freshman because he can't get his own damn friends. You just hate them all. They're annoying.

You ignore him for the rest of the walk to school even though he's following behind you. You don't bother trying to get away from him because it doesn't work. It never does.

You storm into English class late.

"Thompson," says your teacher. You can't be bothered to remember his name. "You're late again. You were late every day this week. Go to the APO. Now."

You sigh and walk right back out of the room. What a prick. You go straight down the hall, ignoring the questioning gaze that Capello gives you.

You walk into the Discipline Office like you own the place.

"Tomie," says the secretary, Jessica. "Nice to see you on this lovely morning. Late again?"

"Of course," you say, plopping down in one of the comfy chairs.

"Simmons will deal with you in a few minutes. She's got to have her coffee before she lets you anywhere near her."

"Of course," you say because you've been doing this dance for the last three years. There are reasons why Simmons doesn't like you. You think that deep down she cares because she hasn't suspended you yet. You've done plenty of shit that probably should have gotten you expelled.

The fact that it hasn't makes you think that she hasn't actually given up on you yet. She always says she has. But you think she's just a dirty little liar.

You've almost fallen asleep by the time Simmons calls you into her office about fifteen minutes later.

You walk in, leaving your backpack on the floor in the hallway.

"Late again, Thompson?"

"Yeah," you say. "Woke up late and had to help get Josh ready for school."

She sighs.

"How many lates was it this time?"

"All last week and today, Mr. Whatever His Name Is, didn't seem too thrilled with me."

"Of course not," she said. "Alright, detention, Thompson. Be in my office after school."

"What about normal detention?"

"Clearly, it doesn't do anything for you so we're going to have your detention here in my office where you don't get to spend time with your friends."

"What friends?" you ask with a laugh.

"Roger," she says with a stupid little knowing smile.

You laugh.

"Capello? Fuck no. You'd be proud of me though," you tell her with a little cough.

"Would I?" she asks, choosing to ignore your language.

"Yup. I wanted to punch him this morning because he was annoying me on the way to school and I didn't."

"Good job," she says and you can't tell if it's sarcastic or not. "Go back to class and don't be late again or we're going to have to do something more serious about this."

"Fine," you say with a grumpy face. You don't need this right now. Your head hurts. You wish you just hadn't woken up. If you're going to get in trouble for being late you may as well be late enough to miss something productive. It's not like school is helping you anyway. It's just plain dumb.

You get up and you wave to Jessica on the way out because you might as well. She's a descent person. You've spent enough time waiting for Simmons that you've actually gotten to know her. She's really nice. She could probably do a lot better than this, job wise. She's just had a shitload of bad luck.

She waves back and you're on your not so merry way.

You walk back into class without a word at all. Your teacher says nothing and assumes that you've been punished accordingly. You think Simmons overdoes it sometimes because she doesn't exactly like you. It's just being late. It's not like you beat anyone up this week. Or last week. In fact, it's been a good two weeks. Maybe you should have punched Capello this morning. He deserves it.

A tiny little redheaded girl who's name you think starts with an O asks if you're okay on the way out and you give her a look, but not an answer. You don't even know her. Why the hell would she care if you're okay or not? Stupid girl.

"'Sup, Loser," greets your best friend Kelly as you walk out of eighth period. "Ready for detention?"

"No can do," you say. "I'm stuck in Simmons' office."

"Ew," says Kelly wrinkling her nose. "That's horrible. What did you do to deserve that?"

Kelly has perpetual detention for the number of times she's been caught doing dumb things. You think it was smoking this time. You're not sure though.

"No clue," you say. "My head hurts like a bitch though."

"That's 'cause we drank so much last night," said Kelly with a laugh. You were at her party last night. She throws wicked parties all the time. Her parents are never home so she can do whatever she wants. And what she wants is to drink, smoke, and fuck. So that's what she does. She's got an on and off thing with Capello's friend Derek who's just as despicable as Capello is. You don't know what she sees in him, but whatever. You supposed they're all your friends, but you don't really like them too much.

You say goodbye to Kelly and turn into Simmons' office.

"Good afternoon, Tomie," she greets. You think it's way too cheerful. Your head is practically throbbing and your stomach doesn't feel all that well either. Maybe Kelly's right, you did drink way too much last night. You honestly have no idea how you managed to get home. You're pretty sure you fell asleep at Kelly's.

Weird. There's a slim chance that Kelly brought you home, the girl was about a thousand times drunker than you were. Everyone there was. You only had a few. You shouldn't be feeling this shitty.

"So," says Simmons. "Have you done anything else I should know about in the last week? I don't think I saw you last week."

"You didn't," you tell her. "I think I skipped math a few times, but I can't remember."

"Tomie, if you're going to skip things at least remember what you skip."

"Right," you say. "Sorry, my head hurts."

"Do I want to know?"

"No," you say. She already knows you drink. She keeps telling you that she's going to report you since one time Freshman year before you knew how to hide it. Kelly convinced you it was a good idea to come to school drunk and Simmons busted you for it. You got in so much trouble, but she didn't tell your parents. They would kill you. She never tells your parents. You think she knows it's pointless.

"Tomie, you know that's a bad idea," she says. You don't give a damn. She needs to get over it. You're going to keep drinking. It's fun. You get to forget about your dumbass parents for awhile.

"Whatever," you say and you lean back in the comfy chair and close your eyes.

"Take a nap," she says. "You need it."

You nod a little and close your eyes. You don't know why she's letting you take a nap but you're grateful because you're really getting sleepy.

You wake up with a start and cover your hand with your mouth. You're going to be sick. Fucking Kelly.

"Tomie, are you okay?" asks Simmons, but you ignore her and run out of the room. You can't tell if she's following you or not, but you don't care. You dash down the hall to the nearest bathroom and into the stall, before throwing up in the toilet. Fucking gross.

"Are you okay?" asks a small voice as you empty the contents of your stomach in the toilet. It doesn't sound like Simmons at all. You glance behind you. It's that little redhead who asked you if you were okay earlier.

You shake your head a little and keep puking. She crouches down next to you and you feel her cool hands on your warm skin. She reaches in and grabs your hair, holding it back.

You feel absolutely disgusting. The door to the bathroom opens and you can hear voices.

"She'll be okay," says the little voice. "I've got this."

They converse for a few minutes. Her hands never leave your hair. Her other hand is rubbing small circles on your back as you slouch back. She flushes the toilet for you.

"How are you feeling?" she asks.

"Sick," you tell her.

She smiles a little.

"You need to go to the nurse?" she asks. It's not a statement, it's a question. You know you should, but you shake your head. You drank too much last night and it's just getting around to effecting you now. No need for anyone else to know about this. You aren't supposed to be drinking. Your parents are killing you.

"Any idea what made you sick?" she asks. "Did you eat something bad?"

"Drank too much," you whimper as your stomach heaves again.

She nods.
"That'll do it," she informs you, letting you puke again. Fucking gross. You hate this part of it all. It's disgusting.

She sits there with you for a good half hour before you're absolutely sure you're all out of food.

"You should go home and get some rest," she says. "I'm sure whatever you're staying for won't mind at all."

"Detention," you tell her although you aren't sure why. You glance over at her. She's kind of pretty, in an innocent way. Her hair is bright red, clearly dyed that way because there's no way that's natural. Her clothes aren't all revealing like half the girls here or all black like Kelly's. They're bright. She's wearing a skirt and her shirt is almost neon orange. It's weird. You don't know how you've never noticed her before. She's got to stand out in the crowd. But you've never noticed her before though.

"Are you going to be okay to get home on your own?" she asks.

You nod. You feel better now.

"Yeah," you say. "I feel fine."

"Okay," she says. "Well, I hope you don't get sick again."

Then she walks out of the bathroom before you can say anything else. You just stay there and stare after her. You don't even know her name.

You get up and wipe your mouth. You should really go home and brush your teeth, but you'd rather not go home. You don't want to be there any earlier. It's still a half hour before your detention would be over, but this is a good reason not to go back so there's no way in hell you're doing that.

So you sling your bag over your shoulder, because it was still attached to you when you ran from the room, and you take off. You don't know where you're going you just go.

You push open the big metal doors and let the cool air wash over you. Your hair is all over the place because it doesn't exactly look nice after you've been puking. Your breath must smell disgusting so you rifle around in your bag looking for some candy or something. You can't find anything though. There's nothing there. You sigh and head for the nearest gas station, hopefully there will be something there.

There's one about two blocks away and you push open the doors. It smells like smoke and you don't care because you're used to the smell of it. Kelly smokes and so does everyone else at her house. Not to mention your dad smokes. It's gross, but you've been known to do it before.

You grab a pack of Sweetarts from in front of the cabinet and one of those 99 cent tea things. You hand the dirty looking lady behind the counter three bucks and shove the tea in your bag.

You make your way out of the store again and walk down the road. You're in no rush. There's nowhere to go. You glance at the woods next to you and remember when you were little your dad used to take you exploring in the woods behind your house. You veer of the sidewalk and into the trees

There's no reason why you shouldn't go exploring right now. You feel fine and you don't want to go home. You've got to do something. Kelly's still in detention and you need a little break from all that anyway. The smoke is starting to get to you and clearly all that drinking is making you sick. You'll go back later. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tonight. You avoid home as much as you can and the easiest way to do that is to go to Kelly's house. It's not like you have that many friends. Plus, Kelly is kind of rich so she's got a giant ass bed. It's not like you ever have to sleep on the floor. Hell, you're over there often enough she's talked about giving you your own room. You don't know how you feel about that. Josh doesn't like Kelly, but he's only a kid, what does he know?

She walk around in the trees, hoping you can find your way out later. You'll probably be able to. If not, you'll die in the woods, all alone. It's not like it would be all that much of a loss anyway. Who would miss you? Kelly would, probably. Capello would, but you don't give a damn about that. Capello is a fucking moron. He's a loser. He should get lost in the woods and die.

But you're not lost yet. It's a little cold out, but not enough that it bothers you. You've got a sweatshirt on and that's good enough. You keep going through the trees, trying to remember bits from last night's party. It wasn't really a party. It was only a few of you. Kelly. A few of Kelly's friends. Capello. Derek. A few other dumbass boys like them. Couldn't have been more than twenty people there. It was a Sunday night. You wouldn't have been there 'cept your parents had a blow out fight earlier in the day and you didn't feel like being there for the end of it. Come to think of it, that might have been why they were still at it this morning. You went over to Kelly's thinking it would be a nice quiet night and the two of you could get wasted together. But no, Ashley was there and Rachel was there. Someone called the boys and they were there too. But it had done the trick. You'd forgotten all about the fight until just now. Whatever. That was a good enough reason to avoid home.

You're so glad you have Kelly now because you remember when you had to sit at home through those fights. But now you can do whatever the fuck you want. You get yelled at if you come home to late, but it's whatever. It's not like they actually punish you.

You go even deeper in the woods and suddenly there's a building. You wonder why someone would build something back here, but it looks like no one has been in it for years. You approach it slowly, debating if you should go in.

Why not? You might as well. So you go forward and push open the creaky door with the paint peeling.

The whole building looks like it's falling apart and the front declares, "Milne's"

You think you've heard the name before, but you can't remember where.

It's dirty inside, but that makes sense. This place is abandoned. No one cleans an abandoned building. That would be just plain dumb.

"Hello?" you call out even though you'd be more freaked out if someone answered than if they didn't.

Nothing happens so you walk in even further.

"Hello?" you call out again.

Nothing. You look around. The walls are sterile white. You've never seen walls so white. There's a desk at the front, like reception or something. You rack your brain, trying to think of what this building used to be. You've heard the name Milne's before. You just can't remember where. In front of you is a giant staircase and you debate if you should go up it or not.

There doesnt' appear to be all that much on the first level of the building. You walk around behind the staircase to see if there's anything more back there. There are a few closed door knobs. You reach out and grab one of them, but it's locked. You try the door next to it, but it's locked too.

You turn back. It's creepily silent in the building. You're the only one here and you're the only one who's been here for a long time. At least, from the looks of it.

You creep up the stairs. They creek a little, but not in a creepy way. It's not one of those creepy back staircases. It's a grand staircase, very wide and very tall. You keep going up and when you reach the top there are rooms scattered about. You try a door knob and the door slowly creaks open.

The room is white, just like the rest of the place. But this is different. There are cartoon characters decorating around the walls, like this room belonged to a kid. You recognize Burt from Seseme street. This room isn't sterile either. Sure, it's a sterile coloured white, but the walls are stained with crayon. A child lived here.

There's a bed against one wall and a small dresser. The bed looks like the kind they have in the old hospitals in the movies. You don't know if you like it or not. This is a little creepy.

You leave the room slowly and creep into the room next door. It has the same set up with different characters on the wall and no crayon stains.

You creep around quickly to all the rooms. All the same. Except for the crayon stains on the wall.

You hear a noise in the corner once or twice, but you're sure it's only a rat. You're not your mother, you're not afraid of rodents. You find them actually kind of cute.

This was a hospital once. You're almost sure of it. You go back to the first room and sit down on the bed. The sheets are cold and you're kind of surprised that they're there at all.

You look out the window at the trees outside and you think.

Who was that girl who helped you today? She didn't' say her name. Did she not want you to know? Or did she think you already knew it? You are in one of her classes after all. She could just assume you know her name. In high school, you're expected to know who people are without introductions. It's just how it works. You think her name might start with an O. You can't think of all that many names that start with an O though.




There really aren't all that many O names. It must be Olivia, but that doesn't sound quite right.

You think you'd remember if her name was Ophelia or Onika. There simply aren't all that many people named that.

You don't know. You supposed it doesn't matter. You prpobably won't talk to her again. You don't like going to your first period class. That's the class she's in.

You wonder if Simmons is going to give you shit for taking off before Detention was over. You don't think you care all that much. What's the worse she's going to do? Give you more detetnion. She can't expell you for that. You were sick. You can always say you still didn't feel good so you wanted to go home and rest. For all she knows, that's where you are right now. Unless, she calls your parents. You hope not. She doesn't usually, but this is different. This is you being sick, not you being in trouble.

But you're okay now. You won't be if your parents find out you got drunk last night. Or even if they find out you've been drunk at all. They'll kill you for that. The fucking hypocrites. Your mom is always drunk. When she's not bitching at you to do something or arguing with your dad, she's off drinking somewhere. Sometimes she doesn't come home until almost two in the morning. You used to hate it, but you don't care as much anymore. You think your dad might, but right now you don't care all that much about him either. They're both a pair of fucking morons.

You don't want to go home. But you don't want to go to Kelly's either. You sigh and get up.

Maybe you should explore the woods a little. Or maybe you should explore this building a little more, there's got to be something interesting here.

It's almost dark out by the time you leave. You didn't realize it was getting so late. You shiver as you walk back through the woods, hoping you can find your way back to the road. You hope you can find your way back to that old building another time. That was fun. You actually had fun for once. You want to go back there. It seems like a good place for you and Kelly to get drunk.

Except that part of you doesn't want to tell Kelly. It almost seems like the kind of place that should be kept a secret. You don't know why, you just have a feeling.

You decide you won't tell anyone about it quite yet. It'll just be your own secret.
With that thought in your head you exit the woods and head home. Hopefully, your parents won't be too drunk today.