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Monday morning comes all too soon and I know that I have to get myself together and make my case to MS. Henson so that she will hopefully allow me to finish up and leave without any issues. I decide to wait until around 9:15 to go into the school knowing that all the kids should be in class. The last thing I need right now is more of the teasing and the pity looks that are sure to follow. I do not need anyone making this harder than it needs to be.

Mrs. Johnson is standing by the front desk and smiles when she sees me. It is one of those smiles that do not reach your eyes, so I know that she has heard as well what happened. I give her a small smile and walk up to the desk and try to not look like I am ready to burst into tears. I told myself that there would be no more of that.

“I need to see Ms. Henson, please. It is urgent.” Mrs. Johnson looks as if she was expecting me to say that and nods her head toward the door to her office as if to say go on. Maggie must have said something to her about what happened and I am sure she heard through the gossip mill about everything. I knock and walk through the door.

“Ophelia. I was expecting you Dear. I heard what happened and Maggie has been very upset about it. My brother is also at his whit’s end thinking that you have disappeared.” She motions for me to sit down as she continues. “I assume you are here to talk about how you want to handle all this?” she has a concerned look on her face that tells me she really wants to help me.

“At my last school, my principal told me I had enough credit to graduate at the time we moved. Is that the case here?” She nods her head letting me know that I do.” I would like to go ahead and graduate if you don’t mind. I know that it will take time to get everything in order. I received my acceptance letter and I will be moving by the end of the week. I have it all planned and I am of age to do so. I will give you all the information you will need to contact me but I will not tell you where I will be.” A shocking look crosses her face as if she wasn’t thinking this would happen.

“I honestly thought you were just going to ask for time off.” She shakes her head and I know she really doesn’t want me to go. “Maggie will be devastated. Have you really thought about what she or your family will go through?” Her question catches me off guard.

“My family could care less. Maggie will know everything and I will stay in touch with her. I just can’t do this anymore and I need the clean break from my life as I know it.” I let the tears fall from my eyes knowing that I have held in since I walked into the school. “I will be honest with you since I feel that I can trust you. Cole broke me. I finally opened up and he took that and stomped on it. Yes, I have Maggie but I was falling in love with him against my better judgment. So I need to leave to heal from everything my parents, sister, and him.”

“I’m so sorry. You do not deserve the hand that you were dealt in life. I will make all the preparations for your early graduation and I want you to know that you can come to me at any time for anything. It doesn’t matter if you are a student here or not. As a friend, I will be here for you.”

With one last nod to her, I get up and make my way out of the office. Mrs. Johnson rushes over and hugs me and I can tell she is on the verge of crying. I pat her back in a comforting manner and make my way out of the office. I had no more than set a foot outside when I was pulled into a bone-crushing hug. I pushed my assailant away and l looked up to see Pearce standing there. He looked like he hadn’t sleep in days and I could see that he wasn’t taking care of himself.

“What do you think you are doing? I don’t want you anywhere near me!” I yell at him. His face morphs into one of hurt at what I said. How dare he think that he has the right to be hurt by my words? He was one of the ones who did this to me.

“Please let me explain it. We didn’t mean to hurt you I swear. Ophelia I love….” I cut him off before he can say another word. My anger reaches its peak and I can’t control it anymore.

“Don’t! Don’t you dare tell me that you care anything about me? You knew the whole time and did nothing to stop it. You were just waiting for your turn like everyone else. I was nothing but a game to you guys and I am done playing! I will not stand around and be a pawn anymore. I’m done with this town and your people.” I turn to walk away knowing that there is nothing that he can say that is going to change my mind.

“Ophelia!” I hear my name called and it sends shivers down my spine. I know that voice better than I know my own. I turn and there he stands in all his glory. Cole. If I thought Pearce looked bad then Cole was beyond that. He looked like something that had crawled out of the grave and that was putting it nicely. His hair was a mess and his clothes look like they had been worn the whole weekend. He hadn’t shaved and his beard was already coming in. He was pale and the bags under his eyes were almost purple.

“Please just give me five minutes. Please I have to tell you something important. I know you hate me and you have every right to, but I need to tell you this.” His voice is pleading and it has a broken sound to it that I have never heard on someone. My brain is telling me to walk out the door and never look back, but my heart is pleading with me to hear him out.

“And why would I do that? I’m just a horrible lay right?” He visibly flinches as I say this. He knows that his own words are what is holding me back. He finally looks into my eyes and I see a determination in them that almost frightens me.

“Because I love you, and I know what you think so stop it. It’s the truth. I just need to talk to you and explain it.” He looks at me with eyes full of hope.

“I’m not ready to hear it. Give me time.” With that, I walk out the door of the school not knowing if I really meant what I said. Would I give him the chance or was I just going to walk out like he did that day in the cafeteria?

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