I've always been the freak—it never mattered what I did or where I went, I was that freaky girl. I didn't question it though. I kept my head bowed low, refusing to make waves; fearful of the consequences of moving out of my routine. Even now, my senior year when I was supposed to be wild and crazy and do all these insane things; I was slowly slinking from the shower. In the kitchen, my brothers cursing, hung over and making pancakes—waiting on me.

"Sydney," Brandon greets, sliding me a cup of coffee. I take it wordlessly, watching as he loads up a plate for me. "Are you excited? Nervous? It is your last day of high school after all." He turns to face me; jade eyes searching me. I shrug, wordlessly cutting into my pancakes. He sits down slowly; reaching across the table he settles his hand on top of mine. "Sydney."

"Brandon, it won't change. This will still be high school—I'll deal with a bunch of bullies and fake people. More than likely, I'll be calling you at lunch and beg you to take me home." I push the still full plate of pancakes back towards Brandon. Picking up my backpack from its spot beside me on the floor, I walk out the door. Taking a deep breath I walk towards hell. I was the freak—the pariah to prey upon. And these predators lived to sniff out weakness. I swallow hard as I approach the school; spotting one sitting on the hood of a car.

Austin Williamson sits like a lion, head held high with a smug look upon his face. His short, dark hair is messy. And his chocolate brown eyes are searching, gleaming like jewels as they land upon me.

"Oh, look. Sydney's back." He purrs smirking as everyone turns their gazes onto me. Instantly the couple bites of pancake that I took turn to a block in my stomach as everyone looks me up and down. I can feel my pale cheeks flush as he sneers. "Don't you get it? Nobody likes you so why do you keep coming back?" He yells. I shuffle past them with my head down, heart pounding against my ribs as his toadies all jeer and laugh at me. My fast walk turns into a run until I'm into my first class; English. I'm leaning against a desk, panting when he speaks.

"Are you okay?" The voice is deep and I can hear them fighting a laugh as they ask. I turn my head, facing a tall man leaning alone against his desk. He watches me with a half amused expression. Piercing gray eyes watch me as I stand up; dark blonde hair messy; stubble lightly speckling his cheeks.

'He looks like Emmett...' No, no. I can't—I won't go back there. I nod, turning away from him and walking towards the back of the room. I feel his eyes burning holes into my back as I sit down. His gaze remains on me even as others shuffle into the classroom; laughing and talking, shoving each other playfully, his gaze does not waver. The last one to shuffle in seconds before the late bell is Austin Williamson. All cockiness dissolves from his face as he realizes the only remaining seat is by me. He makes a big show of sitting next to me: kicking the chair out, groaning and sitting down with an exasperated sigh.

"Okay class, since it seems that now everyone's here…." The teacher allows his gaze to linger on Austin before turning away. "My name is Mr. Webster." I drone out the rest of his speech; my mind clouding with unwanted thoughts.

"Looks so much like Emmett…" I murmur, staring down at my hands. I bet right now he was up—probably eating breakfast. Laughing and smiling with his own, no, no. I wouldn't go there.

"What?" I realize with horror with I've spoken aloud. I turn and face Austin. He stares at me with raised eyebrows. I stare silently, my cheeks burning as he returns my stare down. I shake my head slowly, biting my lower lip.

"Nothing…Nothing." I whisper, staring down at the desk. I jump as his hand creeps up my leg, resting on my knee.

"Nothing huh—really, why do I even bother to ask? Emmett—who is he? Couldn't possibly a boyfriend? Not only are you a freak, you're ugly too." He purrs. Hot tears spring to my eyes as I shove my chair back. It falls to the floor with a loud clatter. Mr. Webster stares with wide eyes. I'm breathing heavily as I pick up my backpack, running silently from the classroom. I keep my head down; ignoring the looks and yells I get from staff in the hallway. I don't dare slow down; don't dare stop until I fall into the apartment. Brandon lies asleep on the couch, unmoving from all the noise. I cover my mouth in a poor attempt to hide the sob.

I walk past him silently, reach into the cabinet for bottle of clear liquid. One sip to burn my throat. Two sips to make my mind fuzzy. Three sips to make me dizzy. Four sips to make it stop. I inhale sharply, tossing my head back as the gin kicks in. I grit my teeth at the burning sensation still in my throat. Stumbling towards the recliner, I collapse into a ball and let go; the sobs wracking my body.

It's four in the afternoon when the insistent ringing of the phone wakes Brandon up. He nearly falls off the couch, cursing as he runs and grabs it.


"Mr. Musnik? Today during first period your younger sister ran out of her first block class." He stands motionless; staring at the gin bottle sitting on the counter. Slowly turning around, he catches sight of Sydney, sound asleep in the recliner. Her coal black hair is splayed across her face like a fan. The only real sign she's alive is the sound of her quiet breathing filling the living room apartment. Brandon stands; wishing to scream at the secretary or principle or whoever's just called him. He'd tell them all about those bullies his sister deals with. And then maybe they'd understand why she ran out. But a conversation replays in his head: 'I'm supposed to be a big kid. I should be able to handle all my problems….Let me do it.' Wordlessly he hangs up the phone, cutting off the person on the other end.

Moving across the living room, he picks up a quilt. Draping it across the small girl he moves silently as a ghost back into the kitchen. Picking up the bottle of alcohol he sighs. One sip to burn his throat. Two sips to make his mind fuzzy. Three sips to make him dizzy. Four sips to make it stop.