Chris and I walked to the bus in silence the next morning. We both sat alone on the bus, staring out the window, in silence.
We got off the bus and walked into the school in silence. We went to our lockers, then to homeroom, in silence.
Alice didn't talk to Chris and I wasn't in the mood to talk, so I shooed her away.
The day dragged on and it carried a foggy, grey mood with it.
On the way to Social Studies, the little cupful of sunshine, Kevin, rolled up to me and said, "Heeyyyy! What's up, b**ch?"
"Please, Kevin," I said, "Not now."
Kevin cocked his head, "'Something wrong, b**ch?"
"Why do you call everyone that, Kevin?" I said loudly, losing my patience.
Kevin shrugged, "Force of habit, I guess. Hey, have you seen Chris?"
I froze and there was a silence. There had been enough of that for one day, so I said, "Uh, no. I haven't t-talked to him all day."
Kevin eyed me curiously and said, "Isn't he your brother?"
I nodded and Kevin said, "Well, I'll just hope he's still as cute as always until I find him. See you later, b**ch."
I gritted my teeth and smiled tightly, "Later, Kevin."
In Social Studies, the only class besides Math that I didn't have with Chris, Alice was very tense. "So," I said, sitting next her, across from Leo, "Anything new bothering you?"
Alice shrugged and stuttered, "Mom has been really mean lately...."
"So?" I said, "She's always mean. Plus, she's pregnant."
"She hates me." Leo piped up.
Alice nodded, ignoring Leo, "Oh, yeah, you do not need to tell me twice. Mom's made that pretty clear to me... So, how about you?"
I was quiet for a second before I said, "Um... My dad just left us. For good."
There was a silence and I glanced at Leo.
Leo nodded after a while and said, "I've been there, I know how you feel."
For once, I thought I could really use Leo's support.
I nodded and let him understandingly put his hand on my shoulder.
I looked across the room at Kathy, who was watching us. She looked alone, like she could use some comforting too.
"Why does all this crap have to happen at the same time?" Alice said, sighing.
Without thinking, I gestured for Kathy to come to our table.
"What are you doing?" Alice said, her voice suddenly cold.
"Inviting Kathy to sit with us." I said, trying to sound just as scary as Alice. Wow, did I seriously just say that?
Kathy looked around and timidly came to sit with us. She sat between Leo and I, across from Alice, who was glaring daggers at her.
It was kind of a ridiculous picture; Alice glaring at Kathy, who looked scared and guilty.
No one said a word.
"So," I said, smiling, "How has everyone been?"
Leo, Kathy, and Alice all gave me a 'are you kidding' look and I looked down awkwardly.
Well, then. No need to be hasty.
The bell rang and we went to our next class, Study Hall.
Mouse came and sat by me. She said, "Hey, you okay?"
I shrugged, "No, not really. Chris hates me, Alice and Kathy hate him... Ironically, I think you and Leo are the only people who haven't pissed anybody off this week."
Mouse glanced nervously at a kid named Lester, who was sitting across the room, pulling tape out of his hair.
I sighed heavily and Mouse said, "Can I help?"
I shook my head, "No, my brother hates me and his best friend and his stalker won't talk to him."
"He doesn't hate you," Mouse said, "People can't hate you, you're too nice. And plus, he's your brother."
I smiled and Mouse continued, "No one hates you, really!.... Well, except for Stephanie... And Gwen and Melonie.... And Geoffry.... And pretty much the whole cheerleading squad, and-"
"Okay, okay, the world is an imperfect place." I said, clenching my teeth.
Mouse said gently, "So, what happened?"
I eyed her suspiciously and said, "Why are you so concerned?"
Mouse shrugged, "I dunno. If Chris is depressed, you don't let me torture him."
I grinned, "Nice save."
"I try." Mouse said, "Now, what's the deal?"
"Well," I said, ".... Um, our dad just... Left. He left us and I was mad and I told Chris he meant just as much to Dad as a second daughter... And now, he hates me. You know what happened with Kathy and Alice and Chris."
Mouse nodded, "Is your dad coming back."
I shook my head, angry, "I doubt it. He went on a trip with his drunken drug-dealer friends. He and Chris had a rough relationship, but Chris really, really loved him."
"And you didn't?" Mouse asked.
"Of course I did," I said, "But I had a much easier time getting along with Dad. The most he ever did for Chris was take him to a Marlins game and that was years ago."
Mouse nodded again and said, "You should have him talk to Leo."
I looked at her and said, "Are you kidding?"
"Seriously, he knows what it's like." She said, smiling warmly.
It was kind of weird to see Mouse smile like that, but it was nice.
I glanced nervously at my brother, who was sitting a few desks away.
Mouse nodded and I smiled, "Thanks, Mousey."
I leaned over to hug her and she said, "Nope, I'm still Mouse. No hugs."
I hugged her anyway and she sighed.
I glanced at Chris; He was sitting across the room, working on a paper that wasn't due for two whole days.
I cautiously got up and walked over to him. I leaned onto his desk and said gently, "Hey, Chris."
Chris glanced up, but when he saw it was me, he turned back to his paper.
"Hey," I said, putting my hand on the paper, "I'm really sorry about what I said yesterday, that was really stupid of me."
Chris wouldn't look at me.
"And..." I said, swallowing, "I think you should talk to Leo."
Chris looked at me like I had two heads and I said, smiling, "Seriously. He knows about the Dad-leaving-as-a-result-of-alcohol thing. Mouse said she thinks you should talk to him."
Now Chris was giving me an even weirder look and I realized how stupid I sounded.
But I simply nodded my head and patted my his shoulder.
"Really, you should talk to him. At lunch, maybe. Or you can pull him aside sometime. He might think it's weird at first, but I'm sure he'll understand."
I smiled and walked back to my desk.