Home > Trust(9)

Author: Kylie Scott

“I get what you’re saying,” I said. “I do. But there are limits, Mom, and daily persecution kind of goes beyond mine.”

Her shoulders slumped. “Don’t you think this is just going to add to how unsettled everything has been for you lately?”



“Look, just . . . let’s talk to the principal first. See if something can’t be done.” Mom’s brows almost met in the middle. “You’re in your senior year, Edie. Changing schools now would be a huge disruption.”

“No, Mom,” I said, tone sharper than I’d intended. “Nearly getting killed was a huge disruption. Changing schools would be a relief.”

For a long moment, she just looked at me. Then she slipped on her sunglasses, hiding all of the frustration and worry in her eyes. “Let’s talk about it at home.”

I shrugged, feeling bad that I would have to overrule her. As weird as it sounds, part of me was glad I felt bad about it.

To my ears, Georgia, Kara, and the principal sounded like they lived in an echo chamber. They could talk, but none of it really mattered. I knew what mattered now. What was life and death. Everything else was just bullshit everyday details.

But my mom still mattered. I clung to that.

The local public high school had a lot more students than my former private one. Hopefully this would give me more opportunities to blend in and hide. Plus, three weeks had gone by since the Drop Stop, so it was old news. People had to have moved on by now. At least, no one seemed to be paying me any attention as I wandered down a hallway, map, class schedule, and other assorted paperwork in hand.

“Edie!” a voice yelled. “Edie?”

Great. I turned to find a girl running after me like her ass was on fire.

“You were supposed to wait at the office for me,” she said, stopping to catch her breath. She was about my age, Asian, pretty. “We’ve got first class together. I’ll show you where to find it. After that, you’re on your own.”

“Right.” I just looked at her.

“Oh. Sorry. I’m Hang.” She waved her hand in my face, giving me a smile. “Let’s go.”

I willed my feet to keep going when we passed a memorial to Isaac, the kid who’d died. So he’d gone to school here. Guess it made sense, if I’d stopped to think about it for a moment. There were plenty of pictures, poems, three-week-old wilting flowers, and a football jersey. It all told a story of tears and pain. Isaac had been missed and that was something. Wonder what my old school would have done if I’d died. I highly doubt the bulk of the student body would have cared. It’s a strange thing, though, coming face to face with your own mortality.

If someone your own age could die, then what’s saving you?

My school probably would have set up something tastefully fake. This didn’t look fake. It reeked of loss and pain.

That fucking meth-head. Hate for him ate me alive. Isaac didn’t deserve to die. They’d been crazy brave trying to save me, him and John.

Shit. Isaac would have had a funeral. The kid died helping to save my life and I didn’t even go to his funeral. I’d been too wrapped up in my own self, trying not to think about the Drop Stop and what had happened. The kid behind the counter, too. He’d be buried or cremated by now. Meanwhile, I was alive and doing what? I’d gotten off easy. Just some scars and nightmares, both of which would fade.

“You okay?” asked Hang, snapping me out of it.


She looked from me to the memorial and back again. “He died at that robbery at the convenience store a while back. It was real sad.”


“I didn’t know him personally, but he had a lot of friends around here.”

I just nodded and kept walking.

“Honestly? They mentioned at the office that you were involved, but don’t worry,” she said, giving me a kind smile. “I won’t say anything to anyone.”


Maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to integrate without too much hassle. I just wanted peace and quiet. A girl could dream.

All the way to English, Hang kept up a flow of light conversation. The kind of things they’d been working on in class, how many students were at the school, when the football and basketball seasons would be starting. At Green, sports hadn’t been much of a big deal.

It was kind of nice to have someone at my side. Or at least, I felt less conspicuous. I tried to push off the guilt about Isaac. Like Mom would have let me out of the house to attend a funeral anyway. Going to the bathroom too often had sent her into apoplexy and yet another lecture about the need to rest. It didn’t feel like enough of an excuse, however. Nowhere near big enough.

“Where were you before?” Hang smiled. She had a nice smile.

“Ah, Green.”

“God, you must be glad to get out of those uniforms.”


“Also.” She presented the place to me like a game-show hostess. “We have a variety of genders here for your viewing pleasure.”

“Green was definitely lacking in males,” I agreed.

All of the usual labels were represented in my new school: cheerleaders, jocks, nerds, geeks, stoners, goths, emos, and all the rest.

Hang was wearing a cool vintage-looking floral dress, but I’d gone for dark colors. Less ninja, more panda with my sun-starved skin and tummy rolls. Still, I was comfortable and kind of confident that I looked good. Blue jeans with a rip in one knee, black T-shirt, black Doc Marten Mary Janes. Black was such a nothing of a color. A total absence of light. Maybe if I wore enough of it I’d be invisible to public attention completely and live my life in peace. Though I drew the line at dyeing my blond hair dark; instead I’d put it in braids. Made up my face with winged eyeliner and a subdued pale pink lipstick to distract from the scar.

Guess I still had some vanity.

Georgia had taught me how to do some of the trickier braids after watching YouTube videos. We’d learned how to perfect winged eyeliner the same way. My braids weren’t as good as hers, but I didn’t do too badly. Most of the ugly on my forehead was covered.

“My folks came over from Vietnam during the war and settled in this area,” said Hang. “What about you, born and bred or an out-of-towner?”

“Um, yeah, I grew up around here.”

“Cool,” she said.

A sudden bang echoed through the hall. I jumped, spinning around, searching for the cause. My heart pounded, my throat shut tight. Some kid slamming his locker door shut. Nothing more. Crap.

“You okay?” asked Hang.

Awkward. I nodded. “Sorry. First-day nerves.”

“Don’t worry.” She grinned, leading me into our classroom. I kept my head down and followed Hang to a seat near the back, dumping my bag on the vacant desk next to hers. “Any questions, I’ll be right here. I can introduce you to some of my friends at lunch in the cafeteria, too.”


“No problem.”

I sat and pulled out a notebook and pen, hiding a yawn behind my hand. Systems were not fully functioning; more coffee was required. Too big a chunk of last night had been spent stargazing instead of sleeping. Some nights, it seemed like Chris perpetually lay in wait, ready for me to close my eyes so he could pounce. I didn’t want to think about him, but falling asleep let my guard down. Funny, I hadn’t shot him, and he wasn’t dead, but he haunted me anyway.

Curious looks were being thrown my way. I ignored them one and all. As per usual, my rear overfilled the seat and that crappy thought could get lost. Now it was the whole new-kid, first-day-of-school thing making me nervous.

Along with the latest panic attack and my general surfeit of crazy these days, of course.

They were brought on by anything that I associated with that night, or he who shall not be named. I’d Doctor Googled the symptoms: anxiety, nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, heart going crazy, etcetera. I could control it all on my own. Who said I needed a therapist? Mom should be grateful about all the money I’d saved her. Honestly.

Grandma, on the other hand, had been beside herself at the news of me changing to a public school and saving her all that money. She’d insisted Mom deport me to Arizona so that she herself could deal with me immediately. Happily for me, Mom had said no. Threats had been made, removal from her will, us giving Grandma a stroke. Dramatics ran in the family.

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