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Amanda's Lament (WIP)

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« on: August 18, 2007, 08:02:14 am »

Revised Verison 2 of Amanda’s Lament: Book 1

Chapter I

    My name is Amanda Emma Nash. I am a junior in high school.  I attend a really lame school named Buena Veria High.  I have long dirty-blonde hair; hazel eyes and somewhat white skin. Some of my older teachers comment that I have my grandmother Grace’s eyes and my grandfather Tom’s personality.         
    Buena Veria is a beautiful coastal city. Well technically it wasn’t a city as it is more of a suburb of L.A.

    My father was a drunk and my mother was always gone.  I never met my mother or knew why she left me.  I always wondered why she was never around.  My father usually was drunk and angry.  My father never really wanted me.  It didn’t really bother me.  Human nature was something I never really got.  I never understood it or cared for it that much.   

    I met my first true friend in band camp.  He was a cute boy that I later grew to call my friend.  His name was Marshall Baker.  He was worried about his piano skills.  I listened to him play the piano.  He was really good for someone his age.  He was kind and very friendly to me.  I was able to tell him anyway without worry or care.  We dated a few years ago, but that failed in the end.  It was hard to say why we stopped dating.  We decided to stay friends instead.

    I met Jessica Nelson, my best friend, two years later.  She was about a year older then me.  I felt like she was my older sister.  She always looked very pretty especially when she wasn’t wearing make-up.  She grew out more than I did, if you know what I meant.  Let’s just say she was more curved than me.  She usually wore a pair of pants and a beautiful blouse.  She wore her hair in a ponytail for several years before she let it flow freely.  She had gone through four hair colors before she decided on a light blonde with black at the edges.  She showed me compassion, which I never felt before with my real mother.  She was kind of like a teacher, a mother and an older sister in one.

    After I met Jess, I soon met the man who would be someone I really needed most; a father figure.  His name was Jack Nelson, Jessica’s grandfather.  He was caring and wise. He taught me to fight and to write.  He taught me how to draw as well. 

    I soon met Josie Harris.  She became my wild side, the side of me that wanted to rebel.

    I met my high school crush as a freshman.  His name was Lucas and I kind of liked him more than just as a friend.


    I woke up as I normally did, got dressed and went out to school.  It was a while before I finally decided to wear a peasant styled blouse, blue jeans and black shoes.  Today was going to be a calm California day.  The weather here in Southern California was always the same - sunny and clear.  Sometimes I wished it would rain.  It was quiet as I went.  I looked down the street and quickly spotted Josie.  She was a short, red headed girl with a unique personality. She was friendly, but somewhat rebellious.  I never knew anyone like her from when I was child to now.  She was always optimistic and caring.

    “Hey Josie!” I yelled as I ran to catch up.  “Josie!”

    She turned to face me.  She smiled and asked, “What’s the rush Mandy?”

   “I’m just excited about being back at school, aren’t you?”

    “No, I wish it was summer, this place always seems… how should I put it… dead to me.  I need something that makes me feel good rather than bore me to an early grave.  Thankfully, I’m not alone, anyway how was your summer?”

    I made a half smile and spoke softly as we went.  We talked about summer.  I went away for a few months to think and to regroup.

   I wanted to block out what happened before summer vacation.

    One of my friends died.  It was hard for me at first, but I managed to cope with it.  It was especially hard for Marshall.  His aunt, Eve, died two days before summer vacation started.  I tried to forget how she died.  I wanted to forget how she drowned in the local pool.  I never really knew she couldn’t swim. I tried to comfort him as much I could, but he was in shambles.

    I feared he wouldn’t get over this episode.  I decided to head off to my cousin’s in San Fran.  I wanted Marshall to have some space before the next school year.

    “It was nice; I visited my cousin in San Fran.  We spent the rest of the summer exploring the city.  It was wonderful; I saw the bay and felt the ocean breeze through my hair.  It was amazing.”

    We had rounded the corner and dead ahead was the school.  In the distance, a crowd of people had already gathered.  Josie was about to speak when a distant voice interrupted her.

    “Hey guys,” yelled Lucas as he hurried over toward us from the other side of the street where he had just been dropped.

    “Hey Lucas,” both Josie and me said in unison.  He met us at the school entrance.

    “So what classes do you guys have?” he asked Josie and me as we entered the school.

    Josie simply shook her head and muttered, “Can’t we talk about anything other than school?”

    “O.K., we can talk about what we did over summer break?”

    “Yeah, I guess,” I replied with a slight smile.

    “Cool, so Mandy, what’s your cousin like?” asked Josie as we walked toward the school.

    I smiled as I replied, “She’s pretty cool and she’s really friendly.  Hey Lucas, you met her before, right?”

    “Yeah, she was pretty nice,” replied Lucas. “So where’s Marshall?”

    “I don’t know,” replied Josie as we entered the school.  “I hope he’s still alive.”

    Both Lucas and I gave her a look.

    “I’m just joking, of course he’s still alive.”

    Lucas and I locked glances for a moment before we looked at Josie.

    “So how was your summer Lucas?” I asked as we walked down the hall.

    “It was O.K., I didn’t do much,” answered Lucas. 

    I looked him straight in the face.  He smiled at me and I smiled at him.  I turned to face Josie and waved bye before I went off to my first class.  I had English with Ms. Thompson.  I closed my eyes and hoped that the day would end soon.  It was English III and then I’d be off to art.
    I felt somewhat interested in Lucas, at least more than I showed him.  I wasn’t sure how he felt about me or if he cared at all, but I knew I did.

    I closed my eyes, untied my hair, let it drop to my shoulder before I entered the class.

    I felt confident that this year was going to be good, well at least better than last year.  I took a seat at the back and placed my backpack beside the desk.

    “Donna Fuse?” Ms. Thompson said as she looked around the room.  I closed my eyes and felt somewhat tired.  It was my third year in high school and next year I was going to be a senior. I was going to marry Lucas…. if he ever noticed me after high school.  I frowned at the prospect.  He was probably never really going to notice me period.  He was a good friend, but he was completely clueless.  I opened my eyes as Ms. Thompson called my name. 

    “Here,” I replied dully, not sure what else to say.  The first day was predictable and dull.  I closed my eyes again.

    I met up with my friends Marshall and Jess at break in the courtyard.  She wore a blue blouse and faded jeans.  She also wore a pair of old sneakers.  She had beautiful hazel eyes.  She never wore make up yet managed to look beautiful without it.  Marshall was a slender boy with dark brown hair.  He had dark blue eyes. He wore a sky blue shirt and somewhat faded jeans with dark gray shoes.

    The courtyard was a large space in the middle of the school.  Two buildings that housed the history and math departments flanked the courtyard.  Several trees were planted around this area to make it more relaxing.  The buildings here were built in the late 1950’s.

    “Hi Jess, Marshall; how are you guys?”  I asked with a smile.

    “Oh it’s been good,” replied Jessica with a slight smile.

    “I’ve been better,” replied Marshall.

    “Cool, I’m sorry about your aunt Marshall,” I said as I looked at him.

    “Yeah, I’d rather not talk about it,” said Marshall.  I knew something was wrong from his tone.  “So anyway, hey Jess, aren’t you a senior this year?”

    “Yeah, just one more year and I’ll be done,” she said with a grin.

    “Cool,” I said with a smile.  “So what are you doing after high school?”

    “I don’t know; I’d attend college I guess.”

    “I’m sure you’ll do fine,” he said.

    “Yeah, I’m sure you’ll do well,” I answered with a smile.

    “Gee thanks, so anyway how’s it going between you and Lucas?”

    “He still doesn’t notice me,” I replied with a frown.

    “I don’t understand why,” replied he as he looked directly at me.  I smiled at him and felt somewhat happy that he’s my friend.

    “So anyway, see you guys later,” I said as I headed toward my next class.  It was a normal day as usual.  I felt bored and somewhat distracted as I normally did.

    “Hey Mandy, wait up,” called Josie as I went out the front doors.  I turned and smiled as she sprinted to catch up.  “Hey Mandy, did you hear about homecoming?”

    I wasn’t sure what she meant, so I had no idea what to say.

    “It’s on Friday, which means we’ll have today to Thursday to get a date and hopefully something to wear as well.”

    “I see, so umm tomorrow, we’ll meet at Mr. LaVelle’s dress shop?”  I stated the obvious so not to sound distracted.

    “Yep, see you later then,” she said as she turned and walked down the street.   I frowned before I went home.   I hated to say it, but I had no idea who to take to homecoming.  I sighed a bit as I entered my home a few minutes later.

    I frowned as he lay on the sofa with a bottle of beer in one hand and the other clutching a blown out cigarette.  I took a deep sigh as I went down the hall toward my room.


    I closed my eyes as I stood in front of the dressing room mirror.  I opened my eyes slowly and frowned at what I saw staring back at me.  I shook my head, adjusted the dress straps and felt frustrated as I spoke.

    “Oh great, I look silly in this.”

    “No, you don’t look silly,” said Josie as she walked to my side. “I’m the silly looking one here.  You, on the other hand, look like a beautiful princess without her tiara. I look like a flattened apple.”

    I looked at Josie from the corner of my eyes.  I gave a half smile and whispered some encouragement to my red headed friend.  “I think you look lovely for a flattened apple.”

    I smiled as Josie shook her head as she turned her cheeks turned pink and she mumbled, “You think so?”

    “I know so, Josie, and just relax.”

    Josie mumbled her thanks under her breathe.  I smiled, turned and walked to my stall to the far right of the room, leaving Josie in my wake.  I stood still as I changed into my normal outfit.  I had to hurry before my shift started and my boss got mad.

    “Do you think I should get this dress?”  I asked from the stall.

    “Yeah, I think you should get it,” replied Josie.  I waited for Josie to get dressed before we went to the front counter.

    Mr. LaVelle’s shop was unique and somewhat small.  Theodore LaVelle, an old resident of Buena Veria, owned it.  He made the most beautiful and somewhat unique dresses that were always good for any occasion.  Mr. Theodore LaVelle was the oldest resident of Buena Veria.  He lived here since the 1900s when it was known by a different name.  He was lively for a man his age of 98 years old.  I met him a few times when I was younger.  Now he just stayed in his bedroom, which was above the main store.   I sometimes wondered if he was still alive or had just passed on the night before.
    “Hello,” said the cashier as we placed the dresses onto the counter. The cashier was a young man named Wesley.  He looked like he was in his late twenties.  He had bushy hair and never shaved.  He always wore gray no matter what.

    “How much is the dress?”  I asked as I pointed at the blue dress I wore earlier.  He smiled and said in his usual professional manner that, “The blue dress is about twenty-four dollars and the green dress costs twenty-six dollars; together the dresses are fifty dollars.”

    I took a deep sigh, took out my wallet, searched it thoroughly and handed Wesley a fifty-dollar bill.  He handed me a receipt, I thanked him and both me and Josie headed out the door.  I walked out of the door first, took a few steps outside to let Josie out before I spoke again.  My curious nature caused me to ask Josie if she and Marshall were going to homecoming.  For a while, I worried that he didn’t ask her yet.

    “Did Marshall ask you to homecoming yet?”

    She looked puzzled at my question.  I wasn’t sure why she looked puzzled or if it was really any need for worry.

    “No, not yet, but I hope so,” replied Josie.  She seemed very optimistic about Marshall, but I heard some doubt in her voice.  I wanted to cheer her up as much as possible. I smiled and spoke as confidently as possible.

    “I’m sure he’ll ask you, I mean I could see you two really like each other.”

    Josie said nothing as we walked down the street toward my house.

    “Bye Josie,” I said as I went inside. 

     I closed my eyes, placed my dress in my closet and went to work on my homework.  I had finished most of it before I went off to my shift.  I wore a yellow and red uniform to work.  I never really liked my uniform.  It was kind of too big for me.  The shirt’s sleeves were so long I had to tuck them up four times a night. The shoes were very uncomfortable to walk in.  I went to relieve Bob, an older fellow with a weird yellowish right eye. I usually tried to look at the ground when I relieved him.  I put on a fake smile and waited at my post as usual.   The customers here were either mothers with screaming children or really creepy old men with nowhere else to go.  It was rare for me to meet someone normal and or cute during my shift.

    “Hello, may I help you?” I said.   This was my only line until my shift ended at 9:00 p.m.  My shift was somewhat boring and I hated every minute of it.  It helped me with my college funds though I sometimes wish I didn’t have to worry about it.  But I then asked myself, who would worry about it?  Besides my father was a drunk and my mother was M.I.A. for god knows how long.  I frowned at these thoughts and felt disturbed by it.  Anyway, I closed my eyes and continued to work the register for a couple of hours.  It was a while before I went home.  It took a few minutes before I decided to go to bed.  The following morning seemed peaceful as I ate some breakfast.  I went to school a few minutes later.  Josie and I met near the school entrance.

    “So anyway, how’s it going Josie?”

    “I’m good,” she said as we entered the school.  I felt relaxed as I spoke to her about homecoming.

    “I’m not sure if Marshall will ask me out or not.”

    “I’m sure he’ll ask you out,” I said as we went along.  “I’m sure of it.  Besides I could tell these things when I see them.”

    She looked at me somewhat disappointed.  She whispered something I wasn’t able to hear.  I frowned not sure what to say.

    “Amanda,” said a familiar voice.  I looked up and there stood my government teacher.  He was a tall slender bald man with a thin goatee.  He had a friendly voice most of the time.  I never saw his angry side or knew if he had one.  “Amanda, I’d like to speak to you for a moment or so.”

    I looked from him to my friend as she went to leave.  My smile quickly faded to a frown. I wanted to stop her, but felt it was best not to.  I took a deep breath looked up at my government teacher as he motioned me toward him.  It was better to submit then argue with him.  I sighed a bit as I went to his room.

    “Amanda, about your grade in Government –”

    “Is it bad?”

    My worry slowly turned to fear.  It felt like he was going to tell me some bad news to confirm it.  My heart started to race as he uttered a response to my somewhat short question.  It wasn’t even a question at all, it was just three words period.

    “No, it’s good, really good actually. I was just wondering if you’d like to go into AP Government?”

    The worry I felt before was replaced by relief and more doubt.  Government never motivated me to become interested in it.  It was too complicated for me to understand. I didn’t want to ask it, but I had no choice. I wanted to get this over with quickly as possible without being rude.

    “Umm will it involve more work?”

    He smiled at me as I finished my sentence.  I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, but felt worried that he might think it was stupid or something.  He said the following in a gentle and caring voice.

    “In a way, it’s not that bad.  I mean you do have the grades for it, but it’s completely your decision.  So what you think?”

    I thought about it for a moment. My main concern was to whether accept or reject it.  It was something that my father could be proud of, but really would he actually take notice of it?  The answer swiftly arranged itself in my mind.  It was simple and easy to understand; I’m not interested period.  But in the end, all I could manage was one little statement.

    “Umm can I give you an answer later on?”

    I hated to lie to a teacher, especially to this guy.  He seemed really nice and caring.

    “Of course, sure, there’s no rush here.  I just want what’s best for you.”

    “Thanks,” I said as I went for the door.  I hated to admit it, but I never really thought government was that interesting.  It seemed more like a game of wills than anything else.  I closed my eyes, turned the doorknob and went out the door.  I did not want to admit to him that I’d prefer to study something worthwhile like English or something like that.   I’d rather read something by Emily Dickinson than about some old guy with radical ideas about government and how it should be.  In my opinion, I wanted something that I can could take part in and interrupt not debate about.  Debating was something I really didn’t like.  It was something I felt was pointless.  Most of my day was spent studying and doing work.

    I went home that afternoon tired all over.  As I entered my house, I noticed a well-dressed woman standing near the kitchen.  She smiled at me as she sat on the kitchen table.  My smile quickly changed to a frown at the sight of her suitcase.  My thoughts were confusing as I tried to figure out whom this was or if my father knew her.

    “Umm you must be Amanda, is that correct?”

   “Yeah, umm and you are?”

    “My names Gwen and I’m with Social Services.  I was going to speak with your father, but he seems unwilling to talk to me at this moment.”

    I wasn’t sure what to say.  My feelings were lukewarm at best.  It wasn’t that I hated my father, it was just I had no idea what Social Services was.  She smiled and I quickly frowned at her.  Something was wrong about it, I just knew it, but what was it?

    “Umm so…why are you here?”

    “I’m just wondering if you are being taken care of, that’s it.  So how is it going with you?”

    “I’m good though my father is always drunk and my mother is never here,” I said as I looked at the ceiling.  I hated to say it, but something about Gwen made me trust her.  My mind drew a complete blank.

    “I see,” she said as she went through her suitcase.   “Anything else you want to say?”

    I wasn’t sure what to say.  My thoughts told me not to rude.  It wasn’t in my blood to be rude to others. She seemed nice enough to trust.  Nothing can be taken seriously by expressions or gestures alone.

    “I’m not sure what you want me to say.”

    I told her the simple truth and felt somewhat relieved.  There was a small pause.  She smiled and spoke in a friendly manner.

    “Just say how your parents treat you and how you feel about them.”

    I frowned as I thought about what she just told me.  A million thoughts ran through my mind as I looked at her.  Was she really here?  Or was I just imagining her?  I frowned as I spoke up again.

    “Well, they’re never really here for me and I’d like some support from them, so yeah, I wouldn’t say they’re good parents.”

    She started to write down something on her notepad.  My mind was blank of things to say.  She wrote a lot from just one sentence.  I wasn’t sure how she could write that much based on so little.  My thoughts were confused about where this was going.  My eyes locked on her.  She seemed sort of friendly.  I felt like I knew her in a way.  There was a lot of uncertainty that made me question her.  It was hard to figure out what it was.  Something about her made me want to tell her everything about me.

    “So can I go now?”  I asked as I watched her.  My body felt tired and needed some rest.  This was too much and I’m afraid I can’t handle it.  There was a moment of silence.  I felt nervous that she might become angry or something.  She simply smiled and spoke with a friendly disposition.

    “Umm yeah, you can go now.  I have all I need.  Thank you Ms. Nash.”

    My eyes locked on her before I went.  Nothing from here on in was for certain.

Chapter 2

    I stood still on the stage, my head up, and my back as straight as possible without flitching.  The drama teacher looked me up and down, smiled, paced around me, smiled again and spoke with a thick English accent.  He was a charming man in a way.  I never really cared for him though. He was very honest and didn’t seem to think it would hurt anyone.

    “I suppose, you’ll have to do.  Now take a seat and we can choose the rest of the cast of performers as soon as possible.”

    I took a bow and walked off stage feeling a bit relieved as I went.  I took a seat next the new girl by the name of Mia.  She had long dark brown hair with light highlights.  Her style was simple; a navy blue shirt with a black pair of pants, she also wore a beautifully shined pair of tap shoes.  Something in her voice was deep and charming.  A voice interrupted my trail of thoughts.  I looked up and smiled as Marshall went toward us.  He seemed happy as he came toward us.  He wore a flannel shirt with somewhat new jeans.  I noticed he was wearing new shoes as well.  His hair seemed more cut than usual. 

    “What’s up?” said Marshall as he took a seat on the other side of me.  I waited a moment before I turned to face him, smiled and whispered, “Not Much.”

    “Umm did you get the part?” he asked.  I smiled and waited a moment before I spoke.  I always liked talking to him. He was like a brother to me.  I felt relaxed with him and he with me.  I guess it was because we knew each other more then I knew anyone else here.  I always thought that he had a trustful face.

    “Yeah, I got the part, it was hard standing straight without flitching for about five minutes or so.”

    “Yeah, I can tell,” he said with a warm smile.  “Umm so Mia, how’s it been?”

    “I’m good, it’s just I’m not sure if the drama teacher likes me or not.  I mean he seems to think I’m clumsy or hard headed for some reason.  I just feel a sense of condescension from him, even when he says nothing.”

    “He’s always that way toward new people,” I said with a smile, “Just ignore it and maybe next year, he’ll back off.  That’s what happened when I came here at first, and then the next year, he just went to another student.  He’s actually sweet once you get to know him.” I wasn’t sure if that was going to cheer her up.  I remembered how I felt when I was new here. I felt kind of like an outsider, but I got use to it after a while. I was glad that I wasn’t alone here though. I still had Jessica, Josie, and Marshall with me, which made adjusting here much easier.

    “Yeah, so anyway did Lucas ask you to homecoming yet?” asked Marshall.  I shook my head. I wanted to say yes, but Lucas wasn’t really getting any of my hints.  I frowned at the attempts and spoke softly.

    “No, I think he might be seeing someone else.  I just don’t know who or –”

    “Or maybe he’s waiting for the right moment?” said Marshall as he got to his feet.

    “No, he’s seeing someone.  I could tell he’s seeing someone else, and yet I don’t know who.”

    “Maybe he’s seeing Anika?” suggested Mia after a moment or two of silence.  I frowned at the comment.  I heard a lot of stupid things, but that was just plain stupid.  I knew Lucas and knew he would never fall for Anika.  Anika was annoying and self righteous.  She believed that she was right and others were wrong.  I hated her and hated to admit it, but maybe Mia was right.  I was never really able to read someone’s heart.  It was a mystery with an answer I really didn’t want to find out.

    “No,” I replied, “He doesn’t like Anika.  He told me himself that ‘Anika is a no good-”

    A large thud interrupted my sentence.  I looked up at the stage.  A young boy, probably a freshman, fell onto his rear.  I took a deep breath before I spoke again.

    “Anyway, I’m sure he wouldn’t date Anika.  I mean she’s the very definition of shallow and vain.  He wouldn’t choose her over me.”  I said this to prove something to the new girl and to me, but this wasn’t working at all.  I felt no truth toward these words.  “No, he has to be seeing someone prettier and smarter than me.”  Sure it was lying, but at least I made my point strong and clear.

    “Yeah, but still he’s not going to ask you out if you don’t ask first,” answered Marshall.  I frowned at him, but he smiled at me.  I wasn’t sure what he said or meant.  I heard Mia take a deep breath.  I looked at her.  She looked at me.  We just stood there looking at each other.

    “I think you should take each other to homecoming,” she blurted out after a moment or two.  I was about to look at Marshall, but turned my attention to Mia.

    Both Marshall and I answered, “What?”

    We looked at each other, frowned and went to class.  I walked toward my class not sure what Mia meant.  I hated to admit it, but she kind of had a good idea.  Why shouldn’t I ask Marshall out?  I paused at that question and frowned as I lingered on it.  I closed my eyes, chided myself before I continued to class.  I got rid of this idea before lunch, which was a mysterious stew that smelled like warm sock, mixed with seaweed.  I prayed it was chicken, not because it was better, but because it left a cleaner taste in my mouth.  I walked straight toward the cafeteria where I met up with Mia, Josie, Lucas, Marshall, and Jessica.

    “So anyway, luckily, I’ll get my license in a few weeks,” said Jessica as she ate her chicken sandwich with a slight grin.  I wasn’t sure what to say. I took a deep breath and waited a moment before I spoke.

    “That’s cool,” I answered as I looked at my chicken with disgust.  I took a bite and felt glad it wasn’t the stew.

    “Did you hear anything from your dad Jess?” asked Josie.  I saw and heard something odd about her voice.

    “Nothing, he’s still in jail,” replied Jess.  I saw that this made her feel a lot happier then normal.  I wasn’t sure to feel sorry for her or to congratulate her.  “And he’s staying there for all I care.”

    Mia frowned as she said, “Yeah, but –”

    “I’m 18 and legally capable of taking care of myself,” retorted Jessica with a lovely smirk on her face.

    “Umm but what about—” Mia paused in mid-sentence.

    “I’ve got that figured out, I took a job near the meat processing plant.”

    “Oh,” replied Mia as she looked up at me.  I frowned not sure what to say.  Jessica seemed content on not caring at all.  I just smiled and Mia said nothing for the rest of lunch.  I felt something toward this new girl.  She was kind and I kind of liked to be with her.  I wasn’t sure where this was going, but I just wanted to be friends.  I sighed a bit before I continued to try to finish my meal.

    Marshall asked, “So Lucas, who are you taking to homecoming?”

    “I’m not sure, maybe I should take Anika,” replied Lucas as he took a sip of soda.  I almost gagged at the news.  Josie patted me on the back before it was too late.  The piece of chicken flew out of my mouth and into Lucas’s hair.  He took the piece out of his hair and frowned.  I looked up from him to the far side of the cafeteria.  There stood Anika with her ‘friends’.

    “Mandy, are you O.K.?” asked Jessica as she looked at me.

   “I’m fine,” I lied as I looked at Lucas.

   “I’m just kidding,” he said with a smile as he looked at me.  I frowned at him as I finished my lunch.  The day went without further incidents.  I felt disappointed that he wasn’t serious about homecoming.  I closed my eyes and decided to ask someone else to homecoming.  If he did find someone it was probably for the best.  I was pretty obviously and very confident so why bother with just one guy?

    I went home after school.  I finished my US government homework after a while of page turning.  I then went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, washed my face and combed my hair before I went off to bed.  I turned off my lamp and went to sleep.  I woke up the following morning somewhat more relaxed than I was last night.  I got up, got dressed, and went to get some breakfast before school.  A few minutes past before I went out the door.  I closed my eyes and felt somewhat calm as I walked up the street.  I opened my eyes and decided to focus on my work rather then on other matters.  I decided it was for the best not to think of it.  I was hoping not to think of it at all.  I closed my eyes again and just pretended everything was all right.  It was best to pretend instead of wish.  A familiar voice interrupted my trail of thoughts.

    Mia asked, “Amanda, are you O.K.?”

    “Yeah, I’m fine,” I lied.  I hated to lie to Mia, but it was better than the truth, although now I wonder if it was really the best solution.  Jack told me never to lie unless it was a last resort.

    “Are you sure about that?”

    I looked her straight in the face.  I wasn’t sure if she knew I lied to her or not. I wasn’t sure of anything really about Mia.  I felt as though she could see through me with those beautiful eyes of hers.  I saw sorrow reflected in her expression mixed with peace and calm.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  I turned away and simply walked off to school.  I felt depressed inside, but I didn’t want to show it.  I put up my façade as I normally did these days.  I smiled and just bear it.  I was going to study today and not to care about love or Lucas.  Lunch again, this time it was mystery chili.

    “To be blunt, I’d prefer my chili without the mystery,” said Marshall as he looked at his plastic spoon full of odd-looking chili.

    “I think it might be pig’s meat,” replied Lucas with a slightly gross expression.

    “I hope not,” I answered as I washed down the chili with some lemonade.  I hated pig’s meat.  I never liked the stuff.

    “Blah, that’s why I bring my lunch,” replied Josie.  I smiled as I looked at her.  I then looked at Mia.  She seemed distracted by something.  I wasn’t sure what to say to her. It was a week ago when she transferred to this school.  I met her a few days after her move to Buena Veria.  We talked a few days after the school year began.  She told me that her mother transferred from her previous office to the one here.  Her mother worked with Lincoln’s Armory, which provided weapons for the army.  The company had a large factory here, which was in need of a new manager.  We got along together so far.

    “Bye,” said Mia as we departed toward our next classes.  I spent most of the day studying and whatever.  I went to my job as I normally did.  I finished my shift somewhat earlier then usual due to lighting problems.  I met up with Lucas at my home.  I spent the rest of the night with him.

    “So how are you?”

    I smiled and replied, “I’ve been better.”

    He smiled at me and we continued to talk.

    “So anyway do you have a date for homecoming?”

    I paused at the question.  I wasn’t sure what to say. I wasn’t sure where this was leading, but had my feelings that it wasn’t good at all.

    “No, umm I’m still looking,” I lied as I looked at him.  I wanted to kiss him, but restrained myself.  I wanted to just ignore my feelings, but felt stupid for doing such an act.  “So what about you?”

    “Yeah, I’m still looking as well,” he said as he looked at me.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  Something about him was off.  I couldn’t put my finger on it though, but something made me feel uneasy.

    “So anyway,” I continued.  He placed his hand on my right cheek.  I felt something toward him as he looked into my eyes.  I smiled, not sure what to say.  I closed my eyes and wanted him desperately to kiss me.

    “Umm…wow look at the time,” he said as he looked at his wristwatch.  I smiled as he waved bye and went out the door.  I took a deep breath before I went to bed.  I woke up a few hours later.

    It was still dark out as I got out of bed.  I looked at my clock, which glared 4:55 a.m.  I frowned as I went to eat some breakfast.  I got dressed a few minutes later.  I went to work on some of last night’s homework.  I frowned as I read Lord of the Flies.  My mind wasn’t really into this reading.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  I closed the book, checked my watch before I went out the door with my backpack in hand.

    I met with Mia half way between my house and school.

    “I’m just not sure if Lucas really likes me,” I said as I walked alongside Mia.  I wasn’t sure what else to say.

    “Does he seem interested at all?”

    I wasn’t sure what to tell her.  I wanted to say yes, but was that the truth? Did he really like me?  Or was I just hoping that he would?  I looked at her; man, she had beautiful eyes, which seemed to cut through me every time I looked into them.

    “Well did you ask him if he did?”

    “And ruin our perfect friendship?”

    “Nothing is perfect,” she answered.

    “I don’t know, I just don’t get him sometimes,” I admitted as we went along.  I looked up at the sky for a moment or so.  “I just don’t think we should ruin what we have.”

    Mia asked, “What is that?”

    “What do you mean ‘what is that?”

    “I mean what do you have?  If you don’t love him, then what is it?”

    “He’s a friend, that’s how I want it to stay,” I replied.

    “Maybe you two were never meant to be,” she suggested as we entered the high school.  I paused at the thought, maybe she was right.  I had my doubts and fears about Lucas and me.  I feared for the worst with him, but wasn’t sure why.  I looked at Mia again.  There was something about Mia that made me feel safe.  I wasn’t sure what it was.  I had this feeling with her that I didn’t have with anyone else.  Even Lucas wasn’t able to make me feel this way.  She made me feel confused and somewhat relaxed.  I’m not sure how to put it.  I had this feeling with her that made me want to be with her and not.  I might just be going insane or something.  I closed my eyes and quickly went toward my first class.  I wasn’t sure what to say as I went away.  I opened my eyes and hoped that the day would just end soon.  I went to my first classes trying to put this behind me.  I tried as hard as I could to get rid of these thoughts, but something continued to haunt me.  I lingered on these thoughts before I went to my last class.


    I went home as usual, but something made me feel nervous.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but something seemed off as I entered my home.  I entered the kitchen and there she was again.  Gwen was standing there with another person.

    “Hello Amanda,” she said as she motioned for me to seat down.  I took a seat opposite both Gwen and her friend. “Amanda, this is Henry.  Henry, this is Amanda.  Anyway, Henry would like to ask you a few personal questions.  I will leave you two alone so as not to distract you two.”

    She got out of her chair and went to the living room.  I frowned as I looked at Henry.  He seemed nice, well nicely dressed.  He had a clean suit, thin-rimmed glasses, well-groomed hair and a friendly face.

    “Hello Ms. Nash, how are you?”

    “I’m good,” I replied not really sure where this was going.

    “I’m here for your own protection Ms. Nash.  I’m here to make sure you are well taken care of.  It’s my job to see to it that you have a loving home.  I know that it might sound confusing, but I assure you that you’re not in trouble.  I just need you to ask you a few questions and hopefully find a new home for you.”

    I paused at what he said, “I beg your pardon?”

    “Ms. Nash, I’m with Child Protective Services.  I work to improve the lives of those in the community.  Now let us begin.  My first question is; has any of your parents beaten or threatened to beat you in any way?”

    I looked at him not sure what to say.

    “No,” I lied.  My father did beat me a few times, but that was when he was bored or really drunk.  He never threatened to beat me if he was able to do; he did so with no remorse.

    “I see, my second question; where is your mother?”

    “I don’t know,” I replied honestly not sure where she was.

    “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

    “No,” I said as I watched him write everything I said.

    “Do you have any relatives that live the area?”

    “My uncle George, but he left to serve in the Middle East.”

    “I see, so do you have any other relatives living in California?”

    “My cousin Rebecca in San Fran,” I said as I looked at him.  He was still writing as I answered his questions.

    “How old are you?”

    “I’m sixteen,” I said as I looked down at my shoes.

    “I see, well that’s all for now.”

    “I have a question,” I said as he organized his suitcase.

    “What is your question?”

    “Where is this going?”

    “My colleague explained that you were being neglected by your parents.  You stated that your father is a drunk and your mother is never around.  We believe that you need to be put into a proper household with loving parents.  I’m sure you’ll—“

    “So you’re going to put me in an orphanage?”

    “No, nothing like that; we are going to put you in the care of foster parents.”

    “What about my education? Will I still –?”

    “Don’t worry about it, we will let you still attend high school.  This is just a temporary assignment.  This is just until your father is willing to confront his drinking problems or until you reach 18 years of age.”

    He closed his suitcase and went to speak with his colleague.  I knew something bad was going to happen and now it did.  I looked at Gwen and Henry as they spoke to each other.  I went to my room and wanted to just runaway.  I wasn’t going to some forester home. I wasn’t going to do that.  I wasn’t going to be some hopeless child pitied by all.  I was going to be stronger then that.  I flung my backpack onto my bed.  I looked at the clock over my window, which continued to tick loudly as the minutes went by.  I took a deep breath and quietly slipped out of my house.

    I wasn’t sure what would happen to me after high school.  I wanted to be a chef after graduation.  I was a good cook.  I knew a lot about cooking.  I knew how to cook a mean for more then two people.  I was patient and very relaxed when I cooked.  I had some ideas for a restaurant somewhere quiet and peaceful.  I drew a design for my new place.  I was hoping to make it look like a peaceful French café.  I had no idea how to fund this, but was willing to do whatever it took to find a way to.

    Most of my teachers considered me optimistic and hopeful.  Most of my friends consider me patient and somewhat reliable.  I wasn’t sure how to define me.  I guess I would be considered optimistic because I saw something good in almost everything I did.  I saw hope in something hopeless, but sometimes this failed me.

     I closed my eyes as I went out.  I looked up at the sky. I felt a cold peace grow inside me.  I hated not knowing what to do.  It was sort of like a pet peeve of mine since I was six.  I took a deep breath and accidentally crashed into someone.  I fell onto my butt as papers flew everywhere.

    I looked up and saw a young woman as she said, “I’m sorry, are you O.K.?”

    “I’m good,” I replied as I helped her with her papers.  She had a lot of legal forms and papers.  She looked about three years older then me.  She had on a beautiful blouse, skirt and had on a pair of black high-heeled shoes.  “My names Amanda by the way.”

    “Hi, my names Michelle.”

    “Cool, see you around than.”

    “Here’s my business card so we can keep in touch.”

    “Thanks,” I managed as we departed.  I wished I could see her again, hopefully, when I’m in a better mood.

Chapter 3

    The following morning started calm as it normally did.  I went through my normal routine; dressed up and went out the door.  It was peaceful as I went.  My mind was focused on various things at the same time.  Mia was a topic I couldn’t avoid at all.  She was someone I wanted to talk to.  I had to think of my academic career as well.

    My thoughts were also on finding another job.  I never wanted to serve fast food.  It was a job that I didn’t want in the first place.  Sure it was a good job, but it wasn’t that interesting at all.

    Not much happened at the Lemonade Stand.  I accepted the job, because it was better than the latter, which was far worse.  It sounds stupid, but in my opinion, I had made the right choice.  The latter was something I’d rather not talk about.  I went to class not sure what I was forgetting.  I knew something was up, but I wasn’t sure why.

    “Hello,” whispered a somewhat familiar voice.  “Umm Amanda, are you O.K.?”

    I looked up, there was Sabrina and she looked concerned about me.  I always thought she had nice hair.

    “I’m good,” I said as I looked back at her.

    “O.K., good, now what about you and Lucas?  Did he ask you out yet?”

    “Not yet, I hope soon.”

    It was hard to focus on Lucas when someone had just died.  She was my friend, but I wasn’t much for talking about love.

    The teacher asked, “Amanda, Sabrina; is there something you two would like to add?”

    I frowned as I spoke, “Not really.”

    “O.K., can we stay on topic?  I’d like us to finish this lecture before lunch.”  She went back to her lecture.  I hated to say it, but I wished something would happen soon between him and me.  Sure, I wanted a happy ending with him, but somehow he didn’t want the same thing.  He was a good friend, but he wasn’t really there most of the time.  He was a dreamer and I was realistic.  It was hard to believe he didn’t like me more than just as a friend.  I was tired of it though.  If he wasn’t going to make an effort then why should I stay with him?  He was still my friend, it was just I gave him a lot of hints and he was as clueless as a child.  So that’s how it went, I guess.

    I felt close to Mia as the days went on.  She was a nice gal.  I liked her as if she were my sister.  Her personality was quite pleasant.  I told her things no one knew about me.  These things were my most private secrets that not even Marshall knew about.  I told her because she told me her secrets as well.  We said those little secrets as well about things that seem childish to me now.

    “I tend to prefer everything in its place,” I said as Mia and me went to school.  “I tend to panic when something is misplaced.  What about you?”

    “I tend to get nervous when I want to ask out someone for a date.  I usually make a few vowels and than I have to leave which is something I always hated about me.  I also never liked talking about myself to anyone at all.”

    I raised an eyebrow not sure what she just said.  She smiled at me and I smiled back.  She was a nice girl; I at least admit that much about her.  It was hard to say what she was trying to say sometimes.  She was able to speak fast without taking a pause or break for some air in between sentences.  I smiled to myself at the thought.  It was something in my life that seemed to make a lot of sense now.  I wasn’t really willing to tell her my deepest secrets just yet.  I just told her some secrets that most didn’t know yet.

    “I was wondering,” said Mia with a nervous smile.  “If you would like to umm go out with me to watch a few movies at my house?”

    I smiled not sure what to say.  It was a while since I actually had some free time and besides I had no real plans tonight.  I figured I’d say yes to it.  A smile played across my lips.

    “Yeah, that’ll be cool.  What time should I come over?”

    She smiled and seemed more relaxed.  I wasn’t sure why she was nervous to start with, but oh well.  I’m glad she’s my friend.

    “Uh how does eight sound to you?”

    “That sounds terrific,” I said as we went to different classrooms.  Most of my time was spent doing class work.  Sure it was a boring existence to most outside observers, but this was my life and I slowly accepted it.  I was a worker and nothing else mattered.  I worked for my teacher’s acceptance of me.  I was working to achieve something better than the others.  It was something called self-interest.

    I was considered pretty by most of the boys in my age group and even some younger boys thought that way as well.  It was flattering when Valentines Day came, but kind of creepy after that.

    I was considered a teacher’s pet and that damn prig by some of the most colorful characters of this school.  It was annoying how they’d make fun of my clothes as if I was invisible.  I felt sad, but I slowly accepted that I was better than them.  My future was clear and bright compared to those pot-smoking freaks.  I smiled at that thought.  They were failing while I was succeeding.  That thought made me smile and I felt more relaxed.  I was finally going somewhere.  Anywhere seemed better than this hellhole called Suburbia.

    I was tired of being labeled something because of my appearance or because I was smart.  Just cause I knew what a MG-41 was, doesn’t mean I was a prig.  It also doesn’t mean I was self-absorbed or all ‘about me’ either.  I wanted someone to like me for me, not for what I’m capable of doing.  It seemed cliché to explain this.  It’s hard to explain really what I was looking for.  Sure, it seemed easy to say that I was looking for someone who wanted to be with me, but there was more to it than just that.  I was hoping to find my other half in the simplest way to put it.  I wanted to find someone to care for, but who also cared for me.  I wanted my prince charming, but was tired of waiting for him.

    It was the waiting that was killing me.  I wasn’t going to wait forever though.  Eventually, I’ll give up on this pursuit.  Though if waiting was not going to help, I had to find him first.  I closed my eyes as I went to my next class in silence.  The world was too fast-paced for me. Technology was advancing to the point where you could have a music player slash phone.  People around me had cell phones that had the Internet and played music by their favorite artists and songwriters.  It was amazing to me how we as a species depend on such objects.

    It’s not that I don’t like technology or anything like that.  It’s not like I hate it all together.  I do like technology.  It’s something that helps me everyday.  I could do research while chatting on the phone with my friends on my laptop.

    My next class, Mr. B’s science class, was somewhat interesting.  I had to admit that about it. Mr. B always said, “science or the study of it is a never-ending process in which we discover more about the natural world.  We studied about minerals, which seemed cool to me, but somewhat lame to the rest of the class.  I decided to seem like I was bored like the others.

    I met up with some of my friends at lunch.

    “I’m nervous though about college,” said Jessica as I took a bite of my sandwich.  I wasn’t sure what to say.

    “I’m sure you’ll do fine,” answered Mia with a smile.

    “I hope.”

    “So anyway,” I said with a slight smile.  “I heard from Kyle that my boss will raise our pay by three bucks.”

    Marshall asked, “Did he say why?”

    “I’m not sure, although he mentioned something about our boss saying something about weekly profits.”

    “That’s good I guess, so umm I’m hoping to hear from my uncle next Tuesday.  He said he was going to be transferred to another air base somewhere in England.”

    I frowned not sure what to say, “Umm isn’t England usually cold?”

    He frowned as he spoke, “Not really, it’s mostly cold in London, but there are some nice places in the country.”

    I smiled and decided to change the subject.

    “So umm Marshall, did you ask Josie yet to Friday’s dance?”

    He frowned and I swore I saw something that resembled a melancholy expression flash my way.  “I’m not sure-no I haven’t asked her yet.”
    I paused not sure what to say.  It was hard to explain it, but something about his answer made me nervous.  I couldn’t put my finger on it though.  He wasn’t telling me something and that kind of scared me.  He was nervous when he answered my question.  I wasn’t sure what he was nervous about though.  Somehow I felt like this change of subject made him a little nervous.  So I decided to change the subject again.

    “So how’s your—”

    “I have to go,” he interrupted.  “See you guys around.”

    He walked away before I could say another word.  I frowned not sure what to do or what to say as he left.  He was nervous about something and I hated not knowing it.

    “I’m worried about him,” I said to no one in particular.

    “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about,” replied Jessica.  “He’s probably just worried about something small.  I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”

    “I hope you’re right.”

    “I’m sure of it, it’s probably some math test or something academic.  I mean he has complained about math before.  I did hear him say he was worried about getting a failing mark in that subject last week.”

    I doubted it was something that small.  He was probably worried about Josie.  I was worried about her too.  She was acting weird these days.  I wasn’t sure what to say about it though.  And besides if he was worried about math, than he’d tell me about it instead of walking away.  He knew I was good at math and would have asked me for help rather than avoid me.  I somehow wondered if he was really trying to avoid me on purpose.  It was hard to believe that he’d do such a thing.  He was my friend after all these years.  We were after all like brother and sister.  At least that’s how I felt about the matter.  Our friendship was simply brother to sister nothing more than that.  Sure, we had some interest in each other as more than that before.  We sometimes wondered if it was possible that we might have been more than just friends.  It didn’t work out in the end though.  We were two different people that weren’t right for each other.

    My smile slowly turned into a frown.  It made me realize that any real chances between us were hopeless.  We weren’t meant to be more than just friends.  I felt glad and somewhat melancholy about it.  My feelings were mixed between good and bad.  It was hard to just move to just one feeling when I somehow felt the other.  My hopes were that he did find something to get his mind off his troubles.  I was worried for him and sometimes worried about us.  A droplet of water hit me on the nose.  I looked up as clouds started to form above.  Several more drops hit me softly.  My body relaxed, the tension from most of my muscles disappeared and I just stood there.  I smiled before I let it out.  I screamed as loud as I could.  It made me feel alive standing there in the rain.  It was probably a bad idea, but I didn’t care.

    I started to laugh to nothing.  My body was more relaxed than it was throughout this whole week.

    “Amanda,” said a familiar voice.  I smiled as I turned to face a familiar face.  It was Mia.  She was standing under an umbrella looking at me with an odd smile.  It was as if she was glad to see me, but she thought I was mad or something at the same time.  I smiled at her confused expression.  “What are you doing?”

    “Nothing,” I answered her.  “How are you?”

    “I’m good, you should get out of the rain or else catch a cold,” she answered with a smile as she moved to cover me with her umbrella.  “How’s it going with you?”

    “I’ve never been better,” I answered honestly with a glow to my expression.  “So where you headed?”

    “I was headed home, but if you want, I can go home with you.”

    I smiled not sure what to say.  She was a sweet girl.  Her personality was amazingly easy to get along with.  She sometimes was annoying and sometimes hard to understand, but she reminded me of a little sister I never had.  She wasn’t younger than me about two months difference, but still she was about the same as me.  I sometimes called her ‘kid’ as a joke, but she never liked it.  I had to admit though, that she did have a point about her nickname.  It kind of made me smile to see her anyway.  I waited a moment before I said something.

    “Yeah, sure, I’d like that.”

    She smiled with those brown sorrowful innocent eyes.  She was definitely someone that I’d care for no matter what happened.  Her friendship was what mattered to me.  I placed my hand gently over hers.  Her hand shook and she looked away as I gently held her.  She seemed nervous.  I paused not sure what to say or what to do.  She was nervous about something.  She looked up at me, frowned and whispered, “Maybe this was a bad idea.”

    She turned and walked away.  I looked at her not sure what to say.  She was nervous about something and I wasn’t sure what it was.  I hated not to know.  It was something that made me annoyed.

    Maybe it was something I said?

    I froze at that thought.

    Yeah, she did seem nervous when you touched her.  Maybe she doesn’t like being touched by other girls?
    I frowned at that thought.  It was a silly one at best.  It wasn’t that simple.  Something made Mia nervous and I had no clue where to start.  So that was it, I went home not sure what to say or what else to do.  It wasn’t hard to believe that Mia was easy when it came to being shy.

    She seemed like a timid little bunny.  Her touch was gentle as well as her skin.  She was as pretty as a rose.  She was so like a rose, so gentle and fragile, yet so strong and determined.  Something about her kept my mind wondering toward the image of her.  She was now a part of me whether or not I liked it or not.  I had to admit, she was so unforgettable.  It was a while before I reached my house.  It actually took me a few minutes to reach my house, but it took me a while to actually enter it.  It was quiet as I went to my room.  I wish that my father wasn’t always drunk, though that ship had sailed a while back.  I took a shower, got changed, brushed my teeth and went to finish my homework.  I went to sleep after a while of work.

    I woke up, went downstairs before I heard it all.  I ran to the window. My father was outside drunk as hell.  He was carrying his shotgun as he stumbled about.  I frowned as I watched him stagger in all different directions.  It took a while before the police arrived.  I decided to rush to school rather than watch them manhandle my father into a nearby police car.  He was swearing as I sneaked out of this chaos.

Chapter 4

    Lucas told me to wait for him near the P.A.C.  He promised he’d be there. At first I
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