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Two Broken People

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Three years ago Maxie Andrews' life came crashing down around her. A day that was supposed to be filled with joy was replaced with the feeling of dread- a freak accident during labor took her mother from her. The new family of three tried making things work, but Maxie's father couldn't handle the grief of losing his wife- being reminded of her every day in the faces of his two beautiful daughters, so he took the only way he knew out- leaving Maxie and her three year old sister Maizie to fend for themselves, with no family to run to. At eighteen now, Maxie has to navigate through normal teenage life: getting a car, graduating high school, maintaining a social life- all now with the added stress and responsibility of a three year old and the looming anxiety that any moment custody of her could be ripped from her very grasp. Starting at a new school is never easy but in order to afford life with the little she makes working and whatever the state gives her, Maxie has had to up root her whole life and make the sacrifice in order to try to give both her sister and herself the best life possible. With the threat of her sister being put into the system very present Maxie must stay focused on school so that she can graduate- one of her many stipulations in the custody agreement. But when a handsome stranger offers a helping hand one day, she starts to wonder if letting someone in w

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1| Angels

L e v i

I awake with a jolt as a nightmare ripped me from my slumber. I sat up with a sigh, raking a shaky hand through my messy brown hair.

I held my hands in front of me, watching as my fingers trembled before rubbing my hands against the comforter that was wrapped around my body— trying to stop the pins and needles that pricked at the pads of my palm and fingers. It took a shake or two for them to let up but once they finally did I flopped back against my pillows and dug my phone out from under one of them.

Six A.M the numbers almost taunted me.

I still had at least forty-five minutes until I had to get up and get ready for school, that’s if I even decided to go.

After about fifteen minutes of debating it in my head, I finally pulled the covers off my body and forced myself towards the bathroom and into the shower.

I stood under the torrent of water for as long as I could, hoping that the cascade would wash away the nightmare from last night.

Twenty minutes went by and by the end of my shower I still felt as hollow and lifeless as I had before I stepped in. I dried off before pulling my legs into a worn pair of black jeans, pairing them with a black t-shirt and black hoodie. I pushed my feet into a pair of vans and slouched a beanie over the mop on my head.

I checked the time again and I’ve finished just in time to stop at the local coffee shop in town for a quick cup of coffee. I grabbed my keys and wallet off of the counter and made my way out the front door, kicking it closed behind me.

Once outside I’m greeted by a rush of cool air which causes a smile to quirk up at the corners of my lips. I pull my hood over my head as a gust of wind rips around me before I slouch into my prized possession— my 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner, a car that I’ve had since my Uncle Wren passed it down to me almost four years ago. In those years it’s been my passion project, using every dime I’ve made and pouring it into this thing— to get her into pristine condition.

I passed a hand over the dashboard and smiled at the slew of memories that flooded my mind of my uncle. He may not be around anymore but his memory occupied a big part of my heart and mind.

I slid the key into the ignition, listening as she purred to life— my smile never leaving my lips.

I threw the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway, pulling onto the main road.

Within minutes I’m parked in the near empty parking lot of the coffee joint, my steaming cup of coffee tipped up to my lips as I blow on it. I watched the steam rise up towards me before taking a long sip and sitting back, phone held up to my face as I scrolled through my Facebook feed. I didn’t have many Facebook friends— in fact I didn’t have many friends at all.

I had my best friend Griffin and a few other acquaintances, but they were just people to say hi to, or to party with on the weekends. Even Griffin and I didn’t know each other the way normal best friends did. We were content with that though. We both knew each other had demons that we didn’t feel comfortable unleashing, and we respected each other’s boundaries with that.

We enjoyed the casual circumstances of our friendship; there was always easy banter between us and no drama- no problems. It was smooth sailing in the friendship of Levi and Griffin and that’s what I liked most about him; our friendship was easy— painless.

I scrolled a little longer before letting out a huff of breath, bored with peoples’ constant complaining and airing out of their private lives all over the internet. I shut down the app and sat back, digging in my pocket with my free hand and retrieving a near crushed pack of cigarettes before pulling one out and placing it between my lips. I shuffled around in my center console until finally finding a lighter, holding the flame to the cigarette and inhaling the bitter smoke.

My eyes flutter closed as the smoke encapsulated me in its toxic effects— the anxiety from this morning seemingly melting away with every inhale.

I’m pulled out of my calming moment by a rapping on my window. I jumped, almost dropping the lit cigarette into my lap but my shaky fingers clutched onto the cancer stick for dear life.

I squinted against the bright morning sun, seeing who dared to disturb me.

I groaned and rolled down the window, watching the plumes of smoke billow out towards the intruder.

“What do you want Meghan?” I sighed out loud before taking another drag from my cigarette, blowing the smoke out towards her— not even caring about how rude my actions were.

She rolled her eyes at me before skipping around to the other side of my car, pulling the handle and letting herself in.

“Shit.” I muttered to myself, wishing I had thought to lock the doors.

She grabbed the pack of cigarettes from my lap along with my lighter and took one for herself, lighting it up and taking a long drag.

She blew a stream of smoke my way before continuing. “What’re you doing? Are you going to school today?”

Meghan was a pure annoyance, a thorn in my side. She was an unfortunate but permanent member of our friend group, being Griffin’s sister and all. She was a year younger than us and has had a crush on me since middle school. It’s not that she wasn’t a nice girl— she was.

She was just a little much at times and when she got clingy and obsessive— it always seemed to cause my anxiety to sky rocket.

“I haven’t decided yet.” I retorted as I blew out a few O’s of smoke.

She watched me in a daze before shrugging her shoulders. “If you skip, I can keep you company.” There was a sickeningly sweet smile spread across her lips and I couldn’t help the stab of guilt as I shook my head. Again, sweet girl- but a bit obsessive.

“No chance in hell. I’m sorry.”

She rolled her eyes at me and mumbled under her breath, “Whatever.” She took one last drag from her cigarette before tossing it out the window and opening the car door.

She was half way out, and I was almost alone when she turned towards me. “Goodbye Levi.”

I offered her a flick of my wrist and pulled another cigarette from the pack as I sat back again, trying to decide on what I was going to do for the day.

After almost a half an hour of sitting in the parking lot, taking my time and chain smoking cigarettes; I finally decided that I’m going to go to school. Something about that building is pulling me there today, maybe I just needed a distraction from my mind— something to do to pass the time.

I finished the last sip of coffee, throwing the empty cup into the trash can just outside the coffee shop before heading back onto the road, towards school. By the time I pulled up, I’m almost an hour late.

I trudged into the main office, giving Ms. Miller my sweetest smile as I ask for a late pass, lying and telling her that I had a massive headache and had to wait until the Excedrin kicked in.

She ate it up and cast me a warm smile as she passed me my late pass. I slipped out of the office and made my way to my first class after taking an undoubtedly long detour to my locker first.

My first period teacher looked at the time on my late pass then up at the clock. He glowered at me before rolling his eyes and shooing me towards my seat. I shot a thankful smile towards him and made my way to my seat, immediately pulling out my notebook as I started working on my current drawing.


The day went by painfully slow and as it finally came time for the last period of the day I became anxious to leave.

I only had one class, one I knew I’d easily be able to get through, with Mrs. Winkler being one of the few teachers to let my shit slide. But my cigarette pack was burning a hole in my pocket and I needed to relinquish the temptation.

I slipped out the double doors and walked across the bus lane to the housing development just off of school property and hauled myself on top of a large metal electrical housing box, pulling my cigarette pack free from my pocket and fishing one out with fumbling fingers. I finally got one to my lips, lighting it and sucking in a long drag. The smoke instantly centered me, helping me to focus. The shaking in my hands had finally come to an end and I feel like I can think again.

A contented smile slips across my lips as I inhale another tantalizing breath of smoke. In the distance I can hear the warning bell sound and I just sink down lower as I suck the life out of my cigarette before stubbing it out on the cool concrete.

I meander around the school yard for a little bit before finally deciding to brave the rest of the day.

I pulled the double doors towards me and walked into the school, the cool air conditioning acting as a form of greeting. I sucked in a deep breath and pushed my way down the hallway towards my last class of the day— creative writing.

My feet stopped in front of the door and my hand hesitated on the door knob before finally twisting it and pulling it towards me, stepping through the threshold of the classroom. I flashed a quick smile towards Mrs. Winkler, and I’m greeted by her familiar scowl before I took a moment to scan the classroom.

My smile faltered for just a moment as my eyes connected with something unexpected— someone new. My breath caught in my throat and it took about thirty seconds until I figured out how to breathe again. Her blonde hair flowed down her shoulders in a mess of waves and a messy bun of sorts perched on the top of her head. She’s dressed so casual but has such a flare to her, something so put together. I had to practically force myself to move forward as I scanned the crowd again, realizing that the only seat available is next to her. I didn’t know how I’d be able to contain myself in such a close proximity to her.

With a shaky breath I propeled myself forward, stuffing my hands in my front pockets, my unabashed smile never leaving my face.

I slowly lowered myself down into the seat, gripping the desk in front of me for support as I leaned towards her. For a moment she acted as if she didn’t realize I was there and I have to admit it stung my ego a bit.

“Hey newbie.” The words flew out of my mouth before I could register what I was saying. You sound fucking stupid, Levi.

But when her gaze finally flickered over to meet mine, my breath was stolen from my lungs— again.

Her ocean blue eyes had this sparkle to them that pulled me willingly into their depths, making me believe that drowning would be the best way to die.

Her breath was so light and feathery that I almost missed what she said but just the sound of her had my lips spreading even wider. She sounded so angelic— so close, yet so small. I just wanted to wrap her up and put her in my pocket.

With a hard swallow I bit my bottom lip before turning away from her— the urge to lose myself in her was just too great.

I slouched down in my seat, digging around in my backpack for my safe place— my notebook. I opened it to my most recent work- a dense forest with lots of sprawling pine trees, the sky dark and shaded, and in the distance there was the dark body of a buck with his antlers pointed up towards the heavens.

I spent the remainder of class drawing, using the side of my hand and fingers to smudge in some shading. I was covered in graphite by the time I was done, and when I heard the bell ring I smeared the residue down my jeans. I looked up briefly, watching in shock as I saw the beauty next to me packing her stuff up with a speed that stunned me. She looked anxious to leave, and I hoped to god it wasn’t me that she was so anxious to flee from.

I grabbed my backpack, slinging it over my shoulder in a hurry as I palmed my notebook and raced after her, but I was too late.

“Newbie.” I called after her but she was already racing towards the door.

With a sigh, I threw my hands up in defeat and stalked off towards my locker.


After school I had to head to work. During lunch today my boss had blown up my phone with about five calls and an endless stream of text messages— begging for my help. This was my second job, the one I could care less about— but I wasn’t going to say no to money. I replied to my boss’s frenzied texts with a reply that instantly had him thanking me up and down.

I pulled up to our town’s small Italian restaurant and parked my car in the back, near the dumpster. I looked at the blazing numbers of the time on my head unit. I still had a few minutes until I had to go in. I pulled my cigarette pack out for what seemed like the fiftieth time today and put a cancer stick between my lips, lighting it and taking a deep drag of the intoxicating vapor. By the time I was finished, I was ready to take on the night.

I walked into the small restaurant, making my way up to the hostess. “Hey Sam. How are ya?” I smiled at her, wrapping an apron around my waist.

She rolled her eyes at me in a teasing motion before tossing me a hundred watt smile. “Oh you know, just dealing with the shit show. How are you tonight Levi?” She asked me sincerely.

I tossed a nod in her direction accompanied by a shrug of my shoulders. “Ehh, just gotta keep your mind on the money, Sam” I winked at her before disappearing into the kitchen.

The night went by pretty quick, thankfully because I didn’t get out of there until almost eleven and I had a huge stack of homework that I needed to finish before tomorrow.

“See you later.” I waved goodbye as I walked out the door and headed to my car.

Freedom at last.

I practically ran, throwing the door open and hopping inside. The engine purred to life when I turned the key in the ignition and once I threw the car in drive, I was off towards home.

I let myself in and walked straight to the kitchen, positioning myself in front of the open fridge as I scanned its contents. I decided on leftover pizza, devouring it cold before I headed into the bathroom to take a shower..

My second shower of the day- I definitely didn’t take as long as I did this morning, but long enough for the hot flow of water to melt away any leftover smell of pasta and garlic. I leaned forward, my hand against the wall and dropped my head as I let the water cascade around me, pushing my hair in my eyes. I stood there for what felt like hours as thoughts of the girl from last period plagued my thoughts.

She was show stopping. Most would probably tell you that she looked like your average high school chick— but there was something about her, something buried deeper that shone through for me. It was like a magnetic force pulled me to her- and I just couldn’t shake my thoughts of her.

I raked a hand through my sopping wet hair before sucking in a deep breath and tried to calm my racing mind. I turned off the tap, finding my towel and wrapping it around my body before I stepped out and padded my way to my room.

Once dried off and dressed into a comfortable pair of gray sweatpants, I planted myself in bed with my laptop and my backpack. I arranged all of my books around me, organized by which subject I was going to focus on first.

My assignments took only two hours, and when I looked at the time on my phone— seeing that it was almost two in the morning, I sighed.

“Maybe one day I’ll be able to get a normal night’s sleep.” I chuckled but there was no humor behind the noise.

The sleepless nights were starting to take their toll on me. As I looked in the mirror, I could see the dark circles under my eyes and even my skin looked different— it took on an almost gray tint.

I stuffed my books back into my bookbag and deposited my laptop back on my desk- which I never even used. Why I even bothered to keep it was lost on me. I had to try and get at least a few hours of sleep or else I wasn’t going to make it through my classes tomorrow, and there was no way in hell that I was going to miss last period— miss the chance to see her again.

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