Stay Strong

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Chapter 1

3 years later

I take my trigonometry book out of my locker before shutting it and heading towards my first class of the day.

I sit down in my regular spot in the back of the room and take out my notebook and pencil. How some people write in pen all the time is beyond me. I make too many mistakes to do that.

I adjust my tee-shirt as I read over the notes that we took Friday. Someone sits down on my left and when I look up I see Bryson smiling at me.

“So you were able to get your class transferred after all?” I laugh.

“Seems like it. That other teacher was terrible,” he grins, his blue eyes shining. Bryson is one of my best friends. We work together and I have known him for years, ever since I started going to this school. He was one of my first friends.

I was about to ask Bryson what hours he worked this week, but the teacher walked in as the bell rings and shuts the classroom door. “Good morning, my eager to learn students,” the teacher greets overly happy.

Bryson and I look at each other and roll our eyes before turning back to the teacher to listen to her teach the lesson.

Soon, half of the day is over and I am putting my books into my locker before walking down the white painted halls of the school, a row of dark blue lockers on almost every wall, separated by the door of a classroom every now and again. I made my way to the cafeteria and slip through the open doors into the overly loud, slightly dim room. I walked through the rows of tables before getting into the lunch line.

“Look at how dark her hair is...,” someone whispered behind me.

“Look at the scar on her arm. That looks terrible...,” someone else whispered. You would think that these people would have something better to talk about, but I guess not. These whispers were nothing new to me. When I first started to go to this school after I moved out of my hometown after what happened, I tried to hide my scar, afraid of causing trouble, but eventually, I knew there was no point so I stopped trying. People have talked about my scar and have come to their own conclusions on how I got it. The one story that came closest to the truth of what happened was that I got into a fight and the person I was fighting had a knife and cut me. My height didn’t help them rumors either. Being five foot and ten inches doesn’t make you look less intimidating when you have black hair and dark green eyes.

I notice that the two people behind me in line are still whispering about me and when I glance at them over my shoulder, the two girls go pale and look at their feet. I face forwards again, rolling my eyes.

I get my food and head towards the door that leads to the outside eating area that only seniors could eat in. I walk through the doors, into the bright afternoon sunlight. I make my way towards my friends who were already sitting at our normal picnic table.

I sit down beside Sonia and across from me, Bryson sits beside Vanessa.

“Look who decided to show up,” Vanessa laughs and takes a bite out of her burger.

“Do you still need me to watch Candice this afternoon?” Sonia asks. I nod my head and take a bite out of the two slices of pizza I paid too much for.

“Okay, I’ll pick her up from her school after we get out.”

“Thank you.”

We continue to eat for a moment before Vanessa leans over the table and smiles at all of us. A smile we knew either meant trouble or that she knew something no one else did.

“So,” she drawled, “have you heard? We’re getting a new student in a few days.”

I immediately toned her out and started to think about more relevant things. Candice had a school trip coming up and I needed to earn more money so she could go. I would have to ask Eddie if he could give me more hours for the next few weeks. If I get enough then I should be able to send her on the trip and pay my half of the bills as well.

I poke at my pizza, propping my head on my hand. I was lost in thought and didn’t realize that all three of my friends were staring at me.

“Huh?” I ask, looking at each of them in turn.

“Spacing out again?” Sonia laughed. I shrug my shoulders and take another bite out of my pizza.

“I asked,” Vanessa laughed, “if you thought the new kid would be a chick or a dude.”

I shrugged, “I don’t care. It has nothing to do with me.” Sonia rolled her eyes and Bryson said he hoped it would be a really attractive guy. I shook my head and finished my pizza right as the bell rang. I stood up and told my friends that I would see them later.

They waved goodbye as I headed back through the doors and back to my locker.

Before long, school is over and I am heading to my car. As I walked through the school’s hallways I hear people talking about the new kid. I guess someone spilled about the new kid. Normally we wouldn’t find out until the day they get here. I almost sighed in annoyance. Soon all of this excitement would be over and things would go back to normal.

I get into my old, beat up 2000 Jeep Cherokee, tossing my bookbag into the seat beside me.

I drive to my work, parking at the back of the building and entering through the back door with my work clothes in hand.

As I walk into the break room, I wave at Eddie who was sitting in his office that was connected to the break room. He waved at me through the big glass window with a big smile on his wrinkled face. I walk into the bathroom and change into my clothes before walking out and tucked the clothes I wore to school in my small locker.

I walked over to the door to Eddie’s office and knocked on it.

“It’s open,” his jolly voice called out.

“Hey, Eddie. Can I ask you for something?” I ask with a hopeful voice.

“Of course,” he smiled, looking up from his cluttered desk.

“Is there any way I could get more hours?”

“Aspen,” he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, “if I give you more hours you would only be working, say three hours more for two days a week. It would only be for about three weeks and then the next week your hours would have to be cut. Are you alright with that?”

I nodded my head. I should be able to have enough for Candice’s trip. “Thank you, Eddie, I really appreciate it. You have no idea how much.”

He nodded his head, “You’re welcome. Now go clock in.”

I nodded my head and left his office and clocked in before starting my shift.

After my shift ended at 10:30 at night, I changed into my regular clothes and left the diner.

I drove for about twenty minutes before pulling into Sonia’s driveway. I killed the engine and got out of the car, making my way up the front steps of the simple town styled home.

I knocked on the door and waited for a few moments before the door was opened and Sonia peaked her head out.

“Hey, Sonia,” I smiled and reached into my pocket for her money. “Here’s your twenty dollars.”

“Thank you,” she said with a sleepy yawn before tucking the money in her pocket. She went back into the house and came back out a few moments later with a sleeping Candice and her bookbag.

I took Candice from her and pulled her bookbag over my shoulder, thanking Sonia before walking back to my car.

I sat Candice’s bookbag down beside the back tire as I opened the door and put Candice in her booster seat.

She stirred a little bit and I gently told her to close her eyes and go back to sleep. As she fell back asleep I closed the door and picked up her bookbag before climbing into the driver’s seat. I tossed the bag into the passenger seat before starting the car and pulling out of the driveway, heading home.

I got out of the car after I parked in the driveway of our two-bedroom cottage style home. I took Candice out of the car and unlocked the front door before walking through the white painted walls of the living room and down the short hallway. I paused at the door leading to Candice’s room and looked at her sleeping in my arms.

I promised all those years ago that I would protect her. I would make sure she didn’t have to grow up too quickly. I loved my sister and I would make sure she would grow up loved and cherished.

I carried her into her room and laid her down on her bed, my arms thankful that they no longer had to carry the body weight of a healthy six-year-old. I kissed her forehead and walked out of her room, closing her door.

I got our bookbags out of the car and took a moment to enjoy the sight of the stars above me and the other houses around me before I locked the car doors and walked back into the house.

I dropped the bags off on the living room couch and made my way into the bathroom at the end of the hall after grabbing some pajamas from my room.

I took a quick shower before brushing my long hair and going back into my room.

I crawled underneath my purple covers and, slowly, I fell asleep.


So I know I said that I would post the next chapter around Tuesday but I found the time today to write this chapter and edit it. ENJOY!

I know this may be boring to you guys but this chapter is just showing the everyday life of Aspen.

Feel free to point out any mistakes and constructive criticism is good.

The next chapter will be posted sometime next week because I won’t have any time to write for the next two days.

See y’all then. Bye Bye!

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