Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Sixteen:

Jacob Mackenzie (Late morning of September 9, 1994)

I know that I had already reassured Brian that I would stay away from Adeline, but I couldn’t resist. The girl had been in my head all week and I could not get her out. Besides, I couldn’t avoid her even if I wanted to; we are in the same class after all. Although, I didn’t see her in homeroom today, or at lunch for that matter.

“You think she’s alright?” I asked Brian, pulling a heavy biology textbook out of my locker.

“Probably just ditching again,” he answered, clearly annoyed with me. “Why do you care so much anyway? Did you not hear me when I said that she was crazy?”

“I did, but you never told me exactly what it was that she did,” I said as we began to make our way to our next class. “I mean, she doesn’t seem all that evil to me.”

“Dear God, don’t tell me you got a thing for her,” Brian looked absolutely disgusted with me.

“So what if I do? Would that really be the worst thing in the world?” I asked, still curious why everyone hated her so damn much.

“Would ‘what’ be the worst thing?” Priscilla Ricci had then walked up to us and inserted herself into our private conversation.

“Uh, nothing. We were just talking about a video game,” Brian lied. I nodded in agreement to avoid the look of judgment from Priscilla. It was already bad enough that I was getting the same look from Brian. “Hi, Priscilla,” he said nervously.

“Hi, Brian,” Priscilla replied before turning to look at me. “You’re Jacob Mackenzie, right? Sue’s son?”

“You know my mom?” I asked, confused.

“Well, not personally. My mom told me that she met her at the salon the other day and how she mentioned she had a son my age named Jacob,” Priscilla explained, before looking me up and down. “I must say your mom’s description of you does not at all do you justice.”

“Well, we should be getting to class,” I said, now extremely uncomfortable. “Don’t want to be late to Mr. Finch’s.”

“Right, of course,” Priscilla uttered as I gently pushed Brian past her as if I was using him as a human shield. “I’ll see you around then.”

We had speed walked all the way to Mr. Finch’s AP biology, where Brian had shaken his head at me in disbelief. “I don’t get you, man. You’d seriously turn down Priscilla Ricci for that basket case of a serial killer’s daughter?”

“You know, you still haven’t told me exactly how she is a basket case,” I whispered as Mr. Finch was beginning to start class. He must’ve heard me too because he had warned Brian and me that he would send us to detention if we continued to chit-chat.

“I’ll tell you after school,” Brian mouthed to me.

The rest of the period had been an absolute blur. All I could think about was what Brian was about to tell me next. I was finally going to be able to hear the truth about the girl who had been infesting my thoughts for what felt like months now. It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time, truly an adrenaline rush. Trying to figure Adeline Grace was like an opioid drug and I was hooked.

“First of all, that crowd she hangs out with is not a crowd you want to get mixed up in,” Brian explained to me as we biked our way home together. “They have a reputation for setting firecrackers off in the teachers’ lounge, spiking the punch bowl at school dances, and even worse, I saw some of them shooting up heroin in one these empty lots over here.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that Adeline does any of that,” I defended.

“Guilty by association, man,” Brian replied. “Not to mention, she’s probably slept with half of them already; I hear she gets around, especially with the older guys.”

Brian and I had turned down our street and made an abrupt stop at the sidewalk in front of our two houses.

“Plus, just last month, when I was grocery shopping with my mom, I saw her and her grandma hashing it out in the middle of the frozen food aisle, making a total scene. I’m not entirely sure as to what it was about, but boy, did it get loud? Adeline had been screaming at her like a toddler screaming at their parents to give them their favorite blankie back.”

“Oh,” I said. That was all I could say of the matter, was “oh.”

“Yeah, it was bad,” Brian expressed. “Haven’t felt the least bit of empathy for that weird-ass family since.”

I went home, feeling troubled and distraught. The girl I had been obsessing over was not all the girl I had designed in my head. Still, deep down, part of me wanted to believe that the situation was just a misunderstanding, simply taken out of context. Then, the much larger part of me told me that I was in denial and needed to get over Adeline, focus on something else for a while. That was when I went outside to get some fresh air and ended up seeing them, walking alongside each other, right up to the porch.

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