“To My Parents by Anna Clendening”
Five Years Ago.
I don’t know whether to love it or hate it.
Mostly I tolerate it.
I’ve never really fit in since moving to Charleston, West Virginia with my brother, Nix, a few years ago. After the death of our parents, he took me in. Sort of? He’s my legal guardian, but he’s also Military and gone more often than not.
When he isn’t here, he has close friends who watch me until he comes home. It’s okay, I guess. His friends are mostly nice and they understand his dual obligations but I bet they’d rather do without a teenager in their homes.
Now here I am, first day of high school, Nix is gone, and we moved so I’m in a different district then my friends are. I’m starting over.
Gripping my lunch tray, I turn around to look for somewhere to sit. Tables are filled with more cliques then I have even heard of.
Jocks and cheerleaders.
Nerds. I don’t actually think they are, but it’s how they’re labelled because they’re smart.
Rebels and emo’s kind of blend together.
Then there’s the empty table.
The one where everyone knows the new kids without a faction—yeah, just like some dystopian movie—sit or the loners. Right now, there’s one lone person sitting there.
A dark haired boy I saw in a few classes today. I get the feeling he’s the outcast in this school because he seemed to know people when I saw him this morning. He just didn’t seem to like them. Or maybe it was vice versa.
Oh well. I’m about to discover which as I walk towards him.
As soon as I place my tray down, I can feel a dozen eyes on me. I can’t pretend to ignore them because it’s obvious after the silence that’s ensued.
“Hey.” I say.
He doesn’t look up.
Still nothing. Lucky for him, I’m an expert at making new friends. Keeping them is the hard part.
“You’re Sam, right?” His eyes raise and they’re…sad. “We’re in English and Science together. I noticed you this morning and heard someone say your name.” I bite my tongue to stop the babbling.
His eyes drop back to his tray as he pushes what I think is stew around the dish.
New tactic, I guess.
“I’m new here, don’t really know anyone at this school. They are obviously boring since all they want to do is watch me talk to you.” I say it loud enough so they hear me. Some avert their eyes, some glare, some move on to whatever else they find fascinating.
“What do you want Lol?”
“Lola.” I correct him but he smirks, exactly like Nix does when I correct him about something only to discover he did it on purpose. “Fine, Lol. I can deal with being an acronym if you need.” His eyes twinkle the slightest bit so I take a bite of my stew and immediately regret it.
“Here.” He tosses some salt packets to me. “You’ll want to stock up on those.”
“Thanks, Sammy.” I grin as his eyes narrow.
Tit for tat my new friend.
It takes him a week before he opens up to me. Really laughs at one of my stupid jokes or seeks me out between classes.
But Sammy and me?
Or peanut butter and jelly.
Friends made in high school will fall away or follow you for life.
We walk side by side now.
Until we’re torn apart by the tragedy.
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