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Chapter 18

I took a deep breath, pulling the pink hood I had sewn onto the jean-jacket farther down my face. Chloe held my hand and gave me a look as if to say, “you got this.” I nodded and casually walked up to the line of people who waited for the bus as if nothing had changed. One moment it was just Chloe and I, and the next, all eyes had turned to me after one person pointed to me. Superficial robots shoved their way into my personal space and wrapped their arms around me as the people who actually cared about me were pushed to the curb. My first instinct was to jump into the air and fly far away, but I didn’t. I stayed in my circle of pointlessness and did my best to migrate over to my actual friends.

“I thought people who come back from a coma lost muscle mass,” I heard a guy comment to his friend, who laughed and agreed.

After a while, the group subsided a little and I was left with Chloe, Savannah, Reagen, and three other girls who hadn’t even known my name before that day.

“I was so worried,” Savannah told me. “Chloe didn’t tell me noth’in,” she said with a nervous glance at the three girls who lurked right behind me and breathed down my neck. I casually looked over my shoulder and pretended not to notice the three “sharks,” as I would later decide to call them.

“Mr. Hammen had us put together a bunch of cards for you,” Reagen laughed. “It really sucks when your favorite student leaves for a month. He had no one to help explain quantum physics using movie references,” she giggled.

I laughed. “I’m not his favorite student, he just doesn’t appreciate your artistic ability the way we do,” I joked, referring to the time she stained the carpet after accidentally melting her bright yellow gloves. Everyone besides the sharks chuckled quietly at the memory.

“Finally,” I thought. “This is what my life should be like.”

One of the sharks suddenly pulled me aside and told me, in voices so loud it was all I could do to stop myself from screaming in pain that they were going to wait with their other friends but would be there for me, should I need their help. I nodded and pulled away as they walked off.

“That’s going to be interesting,” Chloe said once they were out of earshot.

I sighed. “It sure is,” I said as the large yellow vehicle came into view.

A few moments later, I boarded the bus, easily moving my giant instrument up the steep metal steps and sitting down beside Chloe, as I had the day everything changed.

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