Somewhere I Belong

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Chapter 27: Trenton, North Carolina - November 15, 2006

“The ratio of y is equal to that of…” Mrs. Higgin’s voice droned on as I zoned out. I had half a mind to ask for the bathroom pass and just never come back. Dad had told me though if I skipped any more classes, he would make me go to Dr. Maser more than I already was. The good doctor was convinced I was dealing with PTSD from the sight of seeing my mother like that. I just think he’s trying to steal $75 an hour from my Dad. Either way, I was still forced to sit in his office with him once a week. It was growing old along with the rest of the stuff I was dealing with. So, I picked up the habit of skipping class to hide in the library. I would spend pretty much an entire day in there, writing in my notebooks. I was in school. Who could get mad about that? The principal apparently because that’s who called my father. I was let off with a warning due to my situation but I would be facing suspension if it happened again.

Something bumped into the leg of my chair, breaking me from my thoughts. It happened again and again. Looking down, I saw it was a boot that was attached to the person behind me. Growling under my breath, I knew it was the annoying new kid. He had been doing it all week, ignoring the glares I was sending him when he would do it. His name was Michael Winters and he started here at Trenton High on Monday. Mrs. Higgins plopped him in the seat behind me and all week, it’s been nothing but 90 minutes of him kicking my chair. My annoyance had reached a new height and I about had it.

“Class, I’m going to give you some free time to work on the math samples while I step out for a moment. Please work quietly and stay at your desks.” The young teacher said as she headed towards the door. She slipped out and a mild chaos broke out as everyone started talking. The kicking continued and I spun around, shoving his desk. The brown-haired kid looked at me amused, his blue eyes glancing at me lazily from his math book. He was wearing a t-shirt with a band I had never heard of before with black jeans.

“If you don’t stop kicking my chair, I’m going to shove your boot up your ass.” I said, glaring at him. He didn’t say anything, pausing his foot for a moment. He kicked my chair again, causing me to shove his desk again. It thundered across the floor and knocked his book into his lap. He closed it, a smile crossing his lips.

“Well, it’s good to see that you have noticed me.” He said, as if he had paid me a compliment rather than annoyed the piss out of me all week.

“Noticed you? Kinda hard not to when I want to shove a pencil up our nostril.” I threatened. He nodded, the same grin on his face.

“You’re Abby, right?” He asked.

“Yeah. Congrats. You listen to roll call.”

“No. It’s written on the notebook you’re always writing in.” His statement made me lean back slightly. “I’m a very observant person. So, is it a diary or are you a wanna-be writer?”

“A wanna-be writer? Jeez. You are as big of an ass that I thought you would be.” I moved to turn back around but he grabbed my hand that was resting on his desk. I stopped, looking at him surprised.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It came out wrong. I’m Michael by the way. My friend’s call me Mike though. And I’m sorry about your chair. I figured it was the only way to get you to talk to me.”

“You could have just talked. Not that foreign of a concept.” I replied, giving him a small smile.

“Would you look at that! I made you smile. We must be off to a better start now. I wasn’t quite sure what to say to you.”

“I get it. Sorry for threatening to hurt you. It’s sort of been a bad year for me and you were getting on my last nerve.”

“Your mom died.” He stated, looking at me. It wasn’t a look of sadness r sympathy. Just one of him acknowledging it.

“Yeah. In August. I guess word gets around.”

“Those assholes who are always torturing you are in my gym class. I overheard them.” I rolled my eyes at the mention of PJ. Their tactics have stopped since they were caught in the middle of hanging a noose in my locker. The three of them were suspended for two weeks and almost faced being expelled. They weren’t though as long as they promised to leave me alone. So far, it’s been okay. They say shit when I walk by them but nothing I haven’t heard before.

“I’m their favorite person to fuck with.” I muttered, running a hand through my hair.

“Hey, are you doing anything tonight? I know the homecoming game is going on but I was hoping to find something to do that didn’t involve jocks in helmets.” He asked. Cory flashed through my mind. We had plans on hanging out and going to a movie.

“Well, my best friend and I are hanging out. I’m sure he won’t mind if you tag a long.”

“He?” Mike asked. “Your best friend is a guy?” I nodded.

“Yeah. Cory. We’ve been friends for years.”

“If it’s okay with him, I’ll hang out. Just give me your number so I can meet up with you sometime.” He held his hand out towards me. I raised an eyebrow at him.

“I have paper.”

“It’s better for my ego if it’s on my hand.” He explained, winking at me. Rolling my eyes, I grabbed my pen from my desk and wrote my cell phone number on it with my name underneath it. He took his hand back when I was done and looked at it.

“I’ll talk to Cory after school. He won’t mind. We were supposed to see a movie but we could always go another time.” Mrs. Higgins walked in the room, a stack of papers in her hand.

“It’s a date.”

Cory was waiting for me outside when the final bell rang. It was gray and chilly out, a slight drizzle in the air. He was leaning against the side of his jeep, his black jacket pulled up to his neck around him. He smiled when he saw me, opening the passenger side door. “Thanks.” I said, hopping in. He jogged over to his side as I closed my door. He climbed it, starting the jeep.

“How was your day?” He asked, pulling out of his parking spot. He followed the slow-moving line of cars that were heading towards the exit.

“Typical high school shitty. And you?”

“Same. I got your text earlier. What do you have to ask me?” He asked.

“I know we were supposed to go to the movies tonight but I made a new friend in math class who asked me to hang out. Is that okay with you?”

“Sure. Is she new?” I bit my lip.

“His name is Mike Winters. He’s the new kid that transferred from Newburg this week.” He glanced at me from the corner of his eye as he turned left out of the parking lot.

“Are you talking about that new kid that has a different band t-shirt for every day of the week?” I nodded. “Did he ask you to hang out with your friends or for you two just to hang out?”

“He asked me what I was doing tonight and I said I was hanging out with you. I asked him if he wanted to join. I can tell him no if it bothers you.”

“It doesn’t. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be the third wheel on your date.” He mumbled.

“My date? It’s not a date, Cory. Thought it would be nice to invite the kid to hang out with us. Get a grip.” I rolled my eyes and looked out the window.

“I’m sorry. I was only teasing. It’s fine. We’ll show him all the great things Trenton has to offer. The very few things.” I grinned, looking at him.

“Thank you. I promise we’ll have fun.” My cell phone rang from my backpack. Bending down, I unzipped the front pouch and dug it out. There was a number I didn’t recognize on the small screen on the front. I flipped it open and hit the answer button. “Hello?”

“Hey, Abby. It’s Mike. Are we still on for tonight?” A voice said on the other end.

“Yes! We’re probably going to meet up about five to get something for dinner. You interested?” I asked.

“Sounds good. Where you going?”

“Probably the pizza place. Not much in Trenton to eat.” He laughed, making me smile. Something about him made me want to smile like an idiot.

“Ain’t that the truth? Alright. I’ll meet you guys there in about an hour. Bye, Abby.” He hung up the phone and I shoved mine back in my backpack. I looked over at Cory who was glancing at me.

“What?”

“Nothing.” He said, shrugging. His jaw was tight and he looked like he was irritated.

“You liar. What’s the matter?”

“Just drop it, Abz. I don’t want to fight right now.” He pulled up in front of my house, putting the jeep in park. “I’ll be back around five to pick you up.”

“Alright.” Leaning across the center, I kissed his cheek. “Stop being jealous. It’s not very cute.” Grabbing my bag, I hopped out of the jeep.

“I’m not jealous!” He called out as I went to shut the door. Turning around, I smiled at him.

“Sure you aren’t. Stop worrying. It’ll be fun.”

Cory’s jeep rolled to a stop in front of the pizzeria an hour later. He had gone home and changed into a black hoodie and a pair of dark jeans, his blonde hair gelled back slightly. He seemed to be in a better mood now, his grumbling at a bare minimum. Michael was standing in front of the pizzeria I noticed as I climbed out of the jeep. I waved at him, stepping towards him. He smiled, taking a few steps closer. I heard Cory’s sneakers on the side walk as he came up beside me. I looked up at Cory and gave him a small smile. “Cory, this is Mike. Mike, this is Cory.” I said, moving aside so they could shake hands. They didn’t though. All they did was nod at each other in the stupid manly way guys greet each other.

“Hey.” Cory said, trying his best to smile.

“Sup.” Mike replied. I rolled my eyes at their stupidity. I will never understand how boys act with each other. Maybe it was because Cory lacked other guy friends but he just never seemed to want them. He always tells me I’m the only friend he needed in life.

“Well, I’m starving. Let’s get some food.” I headed towards the door but Mike ran ahead, opening it for me. He flashed me a smile as I stepped through, a blush covering my cheeks when he did. The boys followed me in and we ordered a pizza before sitting down. I sat with Cory on one side of the booth while Mike sat across from me.

“So, Mike. Abz tells me you’re from Newburg. What brings you to Trenton then?” Cory asked, trying to make conversation. Mike raised an eyebrow and glanced at me.

“Abz?” He asked. I shrugged.

“It’s been my nickname since I was little.”

“Doesn’t suit you. Course I’m not one for nicknames. But yeah. I grew up in Newburg but my parents got a divorce last year so I had to move to Trenton with my mother. What about you? I mean, I already know a little about Abby’s parents.”

“I live with my aunt. It’s a bit complicated.” Cory answered, squirming in the booth next to me. “What do you do for fun?”

“I like listening to music, skateboarding and causing trouble.” Mike winked towards me and I could almost hear Cory roll his eyes. I ignored it, knowing he was being a jerk on purpose.

“What kind of trouble?” I asked. He shrugged, tossing his arm over the back of the booth.

“Nothing out of the ordinary. Just run of the mill teenaged stuff. What about you guys?”

“I like to write and Cory likes to fix things. Like cars and stuff.” I replied. Mike snorted.

“I feel like I’m sitting here with an old married couple. That sounds like the most boring shit on the planet. You don’t stay out late, run the street and break the rules?” He asked. For the first time in my life, I felt lame.

“Well, no.” I answered.

“We don’t need to do that stuff.” Cory interjected, leaning forward on his elbows. “We don’t have anyone we need to impress.”

“Oh, I don’t do it for anyone but myself. Makes me feel alive. You should sneak out with me sometime. It’s fun.”

Our pizza came over at that moment. We ate, making small talk the best we could. The tension between the two seemed to be dying down but it still hung in the air as the pizza disappeared. We tossed our trash out on the way out the door. Mike suggested going to the football game to see what was going on. Cory agreed after I gave him some pleading looks. We loaded into the jeep again and Cory drove towards the high school.

We could see the lights from the field before he rounded the corner near Getman’s Park. My eyes landed on the trail that led to our spot. We hadn’t been there in months. Not since I turned 16. There was no need to hide anymore so we just kept to each other’s houses to hang out. I wondered it if still loved the same as the last time we were there or if anyone else had been thereafter. The last time we were there, Cory told me about the camping trip on my birthday. After that trip and Cory taking my virginity, I thought for sure we would be together. He never brought it up again though. He never tried anything after that either, making me think he had decided that his feelings weren’t as strong as he thought they were. I didn’t press the issue then and when Momma killed herself, I didn’t think about it. Could that be why he was acting so jealous now? Because he did like me still?

He pulled into one of the last parking spots and we climbed out of the vehicle. I walked with the boys towards the bleachers, the cheering from the them almost deafening. Standing next to them, I looked over and saw pretty much the whole town here. Daddy was sitting in the second row with Grams. He waved when he saw me, standing up and walking over. “Hey, Abz.” He said, stopping in front of us. He smiled at the boys. “Hey, Cory. Who’s your new friend?”

“Dad, this is my new friend Michael.” I said. Mike nodded at my father like he did with Cory. Dad did not return it as he eyed him over.

“You’re that Winters kid, right?” He asked.

“Yeah.”

“The only who got busted stealing from the corner store in Newburg?” Daddy asked. I wanted to die right there.

“Nope. That was my brother. Thanks for checking though.” My eyes widened as Mike answered my father. Daddy didn’t look impressed as he glanced at Cory. Cory shrugged, the two of them speaking without saying a word. It annoyed me.

“Well, we’re going to go watch the game. See you at home, Daddy.” I said, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Right. Cory, can I talk to you for a minute?” Dad asked. Cory followed him towards the bleachers. Mike grabbed my arm and pulled me away from them and towards the fence.

“Finally, I get a minute alone with you.” He said, smiling at me. “You look beautiful.” I blushed, looking down at my jeans and my hoodie.

“I was wearing the same thing this morning when you saw me.”

“I know. So, what’s the deal between you and Cory? Are you seeing each other?”

“No. Just friends.” I replied. “Why?”

“Cause I didn’t want this to piss him off.” He leaned forward and pressed his lips against mine. I was shocked at first, unsure of what I should do as he wrapped an arm around my waist. I regained my senses quickly though, returning the kiss and closing my eyes. When he pulled away, he winked at me.

“That was nice.” I said softly.

“I’ve wanted to do that all night.” He said, holding my hand in his. “Would you be interested in going on a date with me sometime?”

“Sure.”

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