I passed that same café everyday, it was always bustling with people buying a coffee-to-go before they jumped in their cars and drove to work, or old ladies wanting to get out and socialize. I’d glance through the window to watch the chaos, but my glances were met with hard stares which almost read ‘don’t you dare come in here.’ Ever since Mollie Hastings had been murdered people had stayed away from me, I hadn’t killed her, I knew that, my mom knew that; they didn’t know that. I was used to having people talk behind my back, Mollie had been killed almost four years ago now, but I couldn’t see why people still talked about it as if it happened yesterday.
Today however there was an air of excitement, the annual town festival was happening over the weekend and everyone was happy it was finally Friday. I walked up to the café and stuffed my hands in my pocket as I passed, my fingers came into contact with a couple of coins and as I pulled them out I realized I had enough money to buy a coffee. For the first time in four years I turned and pushed open the door to the café, the bell on top of the door rang and everyone turned to look, the room went silent. I put my head down and headed to the counter,
“One coffee-to-go please,” I muttered,
“Anything else?” asked a friendly voice, I looked up to see Meghan Tate, she had graduated last year and was now working here. We used to hang out as kids, making mud pies and playing hide and seek, everything had changed when Mollie died. Meghan was a beautiful girl with long auburn hair and a nice figure; she had a retro look about her which I always admired.
“No thanks,” I smiled after a long awkward pause, she handed me a cup and smiled,
“Careful, it’s hot!” I nodded before turning and walking out the café, people stepped out my way as if I was a leaper or something. I clenched my teeth in annoyance, pushed open the door and took a swig of the coffee,
“Crap!” I cried spitting it out, “Crap, crap, crap!”
“What’s up?” asked a girl stepping out the door next to the café, she folded up her book and stuffed it in her satchel, I vaguely recognized her but didn’t know her name,
“Burnt my tongue,” I muttered angrily wiping my lips,
“Ouch,” she said sympathetically, we looked at each other for a moment. She looked like a sophomore or junior, had bright blue glasses which framed large brown eyes and as she smiled multicolored braces almost shone out her mouth. “I’m Allison,” she held out her hand, I looked at it and then shook it slowly, “Allison Addler,”
“Tyler,” I smiled, “Tyler Hanson,” her eyes widened slightly in shock and she took a step away from me,
“I’m sorry; I’ve just realized I’ve got to get to school,”
“I’m going to school too,” I told her, “we could walk together if you like?” she took another step away,
“I’ve…I can’t,” she muttered,
“Why?” I asked,
“I’m not allowed,” she admitted,
“Oh right, can’t be seen walking beside a murderer,” I said sarcastically,
“No that’s not it…” she smiled slightly, “well, yeah it is, my mom would kill me,”
“It’s fine, go on, walk ahead,” I gestured for her to walk passed me, I waited until she was a good fifty meters ahead and then began my own journey to school, alone. As per usual.
“You're helping out on the white elephant stall with your brother at the festival,” my mom informed me on Friday night.
“Do I have to?” I asked,
“I promised the vicar’s wife you would,”
“You could have asked me,” I said drying the plates after dinner, I handed it to Mom and she put it away in the cupboard,
“I’m asking you now,” she told me closing the cupboard door,
“No you’re not, you’re telling me now,”
“Please honey, you’re not exactly the town’s favorite teenager and this will give you a bit of ‘street cred’ or whatever you kids call it,”
“Street cred?” I asked condescendingly,
“It’ll give you brownie points, whatever you want to call it!” she smiled hitting me with her tea towel,
“I don’t think that I can do anything to make them like me again,”
“Now don’t say that,” Mom said rubbing my arm soothingly, “just give it time,”
“Give it time?” I cried, “I’ve given it four frickin’ years!”
“Yeah, four years later and still all the kids at school hate him,” Tom muttered walking in, I scowled at him and Mom swatted his arm,
“Come on, we’re family! We’ve got to stick together,” she said,
“If I’m associated with him,” Tom pointed at me, “they’ll hate me too,”
“They don’t hate Tyler,” Mom told Tom,
“Yeah…they do,” I said remembering the encounter with Allison; she only needed to hear my name to have heard about the false accusations and change her mind about me. Mom pulled me into a hug,
“I love you,” she told me,
“You have to, you’re my mother,” I told her pulling away; I left the kitchen and ran up to my bedroom, I switched on my music and turned up the volume so my whole room was vibrating. I lay on my bed and closed my eyes trying to escape reality. I just wanted one person to understand me. One friend. Was that too much to ask?