Chapter 1

It's been a month since the funeral and Allan and I were already preparing for school and I was beyond nervous to be starting high school. I walked across my bedroom to my vanity and picked up a picture of me, my mom and dad, and a baby Allan. It was the first family portrait of all four of us. I gently set the picture down on the vanity and sat on the stool in front of it. I wanted to cry, but I know I need to be strong. Mom is so obviously losing her mind, and Allan refuses to say anything to anyone. I'm just sad, scared, and utterly lost.

I heard cautious knocks on my door and went to open it. Allan stood there in camouflage cargo shorts and a forest green t-shirt. His blond hair fell over his green eyes and he adjusted the black backpack slung over his shoulder. "You ready to go?" I asked, not really expecting a verbal response. I did get a shrug out of him though. I grabbed my bag and walked out of the room.

I walked with Allan to Bernard Middle School. When we got to the front of the school Allan started shaking. I completely understood his nerves, but I had to go or I'll be late. "You'll be fine, Al," I soothed. The use of Dad's nickname for him seemed to calm him down. He took a deep breath and gave me a small smile. At least he's trying, I thought. I smiled back and squeezed his shoulder gently. I let him go and watched him walk into the brick building.

Allan was calmed down and at school. I had managed to get to my first period class on time, so now all I had to do was make friends. The only problem with that was my inability to be social. My strategizing was interrupted my English teacher, who had introduced himself as Mister L'Angley, beginning to take attendance. "Alexander?" he called.

"Here."

"Nicole?"

"Here."

"Abigail?"

"Here," I said in a soft voice.

"Where? Speak up, Abigail," demanded Mister L'Angley, his voice loud and intimidating. I raised my hand slowly. "Thank you, Miss Childs." Having just been called out in front of the class, I folded my arms on the desk and buried my face to hide my embarrassment while the teacher continued to take roll. "Aron?"

"Present."

"Aaris?"

"Yeah?" The class snickered.

"Either 'here' or 'present'. Kaylee?"

"I'm here."

I began to drown out the names called. I had wanted to listen so I would know who was who, but I couldn't help but think of Allan at school. Maybe I should have told his teachers about the accident, or sent him with a note, I thought. Or maybe I'm just being over protective.

"Amanda?" the teacher called.

"Here."

"Alright. We are going to do know group activity to help you get to know your classmates better." Mister L'Angley went behind his desk and came back with a bucked topped with a rubber lid that had a fist-sized hole in the top. "The number you get will be the same as another person's number. That person will be you partner." My number was thirteen. Of course.