It’s a very different world. Different from home, different from Neleigh’s father’s house, different from my park at night. I wouldn’t say it’s a colder world, but it isn’t any nicer. Uptight teachers, stressed students, both crammed into too small a space. You can’t find solace in your room, the bottle, or Jack. Home room looks vastly different from my literal room at home, alcohol is strictly forbidden (not that I can’t stomach the taste anyway), and Jack, despite living across the street from me (and thereby in the same school district) attends a different high school.
If school has one saving grace (and I’m not convinced that it does) it might be in friends. The gift of seeing friends is probably the only reason we all just don’t skip everyday. I know it’s the reason I don’t skip. Everyday.
Neleigh meets me at my locker every morning. She looks fine today, but she always does. She's the strong one. Well that, and her problems don’t lie with her dad when she’s at school.
No, our problems at school lie solely with Lola Rallings.
I’ve always figured that the trouble with Lola is simply the name Lola. With a name like that and long red hair, there never was much hope for her.
I’ve known Lola longer than Neleigh, but never quite so well. Lola is an excellent choice if it’s a good time you are looking for — sans any sort of safety or morals — but friendship was never her strong suit. She is fun loving and reckless, with no regard for anyone else. Not exactly what you look for in a best friend. Which is what I suppose Neleigh is. My best friend.
Neleigh and I always knew that Lola would go down this path — it was always in the cards for her.
But the day that I found out, it still hit me for six.