Part One: Eli

Chapter 1

"Get out! I cannot believe I married such a self-centered jerk!"

My eyes shot open. Night number three that they have been fighting this week and it is way past ridiculous at this point. If they hate each other so much why doesn't one of them just move out. It would be easier to sleep if they weren't at each others throats every night. This time dad came home at ten instead of eight and he was drunk, just like usual. Mom could have just ignored it and went to bed, but no, she had to throw a fit.

"Well maybe if you gave me a goddamn reason why I have to come home right after work I would!" Dad screamed back.

I looked over at the blue, digital alarm clock on my bedside table, bright red numbers blinked showing that it was 2:34, but my alarm is usually an hour late. I slowly dragged myself out of bed and walked across the narrow hall to my little sister's room.

I opened the door and she looked up at me from where she was sitting. Her beautiful blue eyes were red and puffy and tears stained her cheeks. Her light blonde hair was pulled back into two braids and she was covered by a small, purple night gown.

I hate how my parents put her through this, she is only eleven years old, she shouldn't have to wake up every night to her parents screaming at each other. I shouldn't necessarily have to deal with it either, but I am sixteen, not eleven.

I walked over to her and sat on the foot of her bed covered by the blue and purple bed covers. She quickly scrambled into my arms and cried softly into my shoulder.

If she can't have her actual father care enough to come home on time and avoid a fight I can at least try to be there for her.

I will be there for her, I always will.

I'm not sure how we managed to do it, but somehow Molly and I had both managed to fall back asleep. I am still utterly exhausted, but I guess five hours of sleep is better than no hours of sleep.

I gently tapped Molly who was still snuggled up against my shoulder. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled at me, the puffiness of her eyes had gone away and there was barely a trace of red left.

"Do I have to go to school today?" she asked. I nodded and she laughed quietly before getting up, out of bed and walking into her bathroom.

It didn't take me long to become fully awake, I am used to being up early. I quickly got out of Molly's bed and walked across the hall back into my small room.

I'm not sure how I managed to get the smaller of the two rooms, but somehow it happened. My twin sized bed is pressed up against the window, across from my closet, and my desk is on the same side as my door. My room is an absolute mess. Dirty clothes are everyone, piles of books and papers are on my desk, and my bedside table is cluttered with empty water bottles. What? It gets hot it Jerome.

For the people who don't know, Jerome is a small town in Arizona. We are literally on a mountain and half of the buildings are haunted. We don't have a movie theater, or a bowling alley, we don't even have a gas station for God's sake. If you need gas, you drive down the mountain, there is a gas station right at the bottom. If you run out of gas on the way down, you just coast and pray that you don't get hurt.

There are two schools: An elementary school that was just reopened about ten years ago and a high school that was reopened in the seventies. The elementary school is so old that it has a bomb shelter at the bottom that was built when we thought Russia was going to attack. Nothing has changed. The same stupid people live here, with the same stupid ghost stories, and the same stupid opinions about how changing is just the same as ruining.

If I ever get too annoying with my mind rants I am sorry, but I think way more than I talk.

I took a quick shower and then combed my dark brown hair so that it looked moderately neat. I then put on a blue and white 'Dallas Cowboy' jersey, jeans, and my ratty old tennis shoes.

"Eli! I'm ready when you are!" Molly yelled from downstairs.

It is amazing how she can go from so upset one night to the happiest little girl you've ever seen the next morning. I admire that about her, she is stronger than she would like to think.

I grabbed my black bag and slung it over my right shoulder, then I raced down the wooden stairs and into the kitchen where Molly was eating an apple.

She had dressed herself in a simple pair of denim shorts that ended at her knees, a hot pink shirt with a golden owl in the middle, and a pair of gold ballet flats.

"I guess mom and dad never made up" she said gesturing to him asleep on the couch, curled up with a light blue blanket, and a beer still in his hand.

"That's his problem, not ours" I said, successfully getting the attention off of him, "finish your apple and lets go."

I grabbed a banana and she abandoned her half eaten apple in the trash can. We both walked out the front door, not even bothering to say goodbye to the parents. Its not like they would say anything back, except maybe 'shut up'.

We both got into my red pick up truck and started driving a few houses down to pick of my best friend, Conner.

I swear, if I hadn't of met Conner when I was four years old I would not be friends with him. We are totally opposite of each other. He reads and writes, I play basketball and watch television. I am so glad that I met him though, he is the person with the common sense in our friendship, most of the time.

When I pulled up to Conner's pale yellow house he was leaned up against a big oak tree in his front yard. He was dressed in a simple tee shirt and jeans, just as usual.

I just wish something around here would change, I'm not saying I want to turn Jerome into a big city, but I would like to meet some new people. Since I was in elementary school I have been with the same kids, every year.

Conner climbed into the passenger seat and greeted my sister while pulling out a book.

"What are you reading now?" Molly asked. She loves to make fun of him for reading in the car, she can not wrap the idea of reading without being forced around her head.

"It is called 'Grapes of Wrath'. I would tell you about it, but you wouldn't understand"

"And, she wouldn't care" I teased. He gave a glared and then opened up the book.

"Bye Molly. Have a good day" I said once we pulled up to her school.

"Yeah, by blonde" Conner said, his face still buried in his book.

"Bye nerd. Love you Eli" she said, then she got out of the car and walked into the school.

The rest of the drive to school was quiet, there was the familiar sound of Conner turning a page in his book, and the radio hummed 'Heart Shaped Box' by 'Nirvana'.

After we parked we quickly went out separate ways. He went to the library and I met up with the Barbies and the Ken dolls.

Really they are just the basketball players and the cheerleaders, but they act like they are perfect so we call them Barbies and Ken dolls. I am on the basketball team too, but I am way more down to earth than any of them, so I am spared from being called fake or plastic.

Plus, I am friends with Conner, who isn't exactly what you would call "cool". He isn't popular, but he's not unpopular. He is tolerated by everyone.

"Eli. Where were you? I have been looking everywhere to find you" Hanna said, hooking her arm around mine.

Hanna is my girlfriend of three months and she thinks that we are absolutely in love. Honestly, I just don't have the heart to break up with her. I don't want to hurt her feelings. I mean, she is a very attractive girl: dirty blonde hair, hazel eyes, and small pink lips, but I just don't feel anything special with her.

"I overslept. Sorry" I said lamely, looking down and my ratty tennis shoes.

"Well next time you can't sleep call me, I'll help you relax" she said with a wink.

That is another thing, I am almost positive that she wants to have sex, but I don't. If she wants to make out I will humor her, but sex is actually important to me. I don't want to accidentally knock up some girl that I don't really care about and then marry her because I feel bad. That's what happened to my parents. My mom is only thirty- three, she got pregnant with me at seventeen. Maybe they cared about each other at one point, but I am still not going to have sex with Hanna and take that risk. Plus, she only thinks about herself, she tries to be sweet. It just doesn't work.

Everything that happened before the bell rang was blur. Barbies were screaming over each other and the Ken dolls were just starting at them like they were their prey. Eventually, I just sneaked away and met up with Conner.

Now I have to listen to Mrs. Wales lecture us about how George Washington was the greatest hero to our country.

Still, nothing new. She lectures about George Washington every Monday.

"President George Washington is the reason our nation is so amazing" she rambled, "If he hadn't set a good example for the other Presidents we would still be controlled by Britain.

That may be slightly true, but I am pretty sure that George Washington is not the only President that made our nation what it is today. Abraham Lincoln helped end slavery, and Thomas Jefferson helped write the Declaration of Independence, that is a big part of history too. But, to Mrs. Wales George Washington's example made the rest of the Presidents do what they did. I am fairly sure that if he were still alive today they would be married. Poor guy.

"Everyone in this classroom needs to learn to appreciate-"

"Um, excuse me. I am a new student and I had a little trouble finding my way here" a beautiful voice said.

I looked up to see the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen in my entire life. Her hair was the color of a new, copper penny, but it had a tint of orange to it. Her green eyes contrasted beautifully with her blemish free, pale skin.

She is hot. The only problem is that she is new. No one wants anything to change here, especially the teenagers, except for me of course. Everyone hates new things, new places, and new people.

"Gross, who's the new girl?" the barbie yelled from the back of the room.

"And why is she so pale. We're in Arizona" a Ken doll added. Suddenly, the room erupted in laughter and the girl just looked down at her black combat boots.

Combat boots, huh.

"Please have some manners!" Mrs. Wales scolded, she grabbed the pink slip out of the girl's small hand and put it on her desk.

"You can sit next to Eli" she said pointing to the seat right next to me.

"Is it Avery Laureent?" Mrs. Wales asked.

"Laurent" Avery corrected and then she took her seat right next to me.

Well, this is new.

"Eli!" Conner yelled from across the hall, "did you hear about the new girl?" he asked once he had reached me.

"Yeah, I have her in like five of my classes" I replied, we walked over to our lockers where the Barbies and the Ken dolls were surrounded something. Or someone, to be exact.

I walked closer to get a better look and saw that Avery was in the middle of the madness. She had her locker opened and she was putting away her books ignoring all of the rude comments coming from the group.

"You should go back to where you came from, you little freak!" Hanna yelled, a smirk plastered on her tan face.

"Yeah, and make sure your creepy little cousins stay away from my brother" Brett added.

Brett is an asshole. I have known him since I was younger and I have always thought of him as a jerk, or a bully. He is in love with Hanna, so he hates me and he hates new things, just like the rest of this stupid town.

"Go kill yourself!" another Barbie squeaked.

Okay, that's enough.

"Guys!" I yelled, a silence spread throughout the entire hallway, "can you please get the hell away from my locker so I can go home?" I said my voice clearly showing that I was annoyed.

"She's new. Not a witch" I added.

Soon enough everyone scattered and I got to my locker. I wouldn't dare say anything to Avery though, her face was stuffed in her locker for a reason.

She did not want to be bothered, and I can't really blame her after that fiasco.

"Oh my god!" Hanna yelled from across the hall, "my books are burnt!"

Then Brett yelled the same thing, and then the rest of the Barbies, and then the Ken dolls.

All of their books were burnt down to ashes.

Avery closed her locker and walked away quickly, I'm not sure, but I think I even saw her smile.

Okay, maybe she is a witch, or a bitch.

Same thing.