A Soulless Path

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Chapter 3

The alarm went off at 6 AM and a girl with brown pixie cut hair groaned as she reached across the bed to turn off the alarm. She slowly blinked her hazel eyes open as she stretched, still sprawled out in the bed. She sighed. A new town and a new school again. It doesn’t matter though, I’ll be gone in a few months, she thought to herself. She got out of bed and headed downstairs to make herself some breakfast. On the fridge she found a note: The Jeep is fixed. I got called into work. Good luck today. Love Dad.

She threw the note in the trash, opened the fridge, and pulled out orange juice and eggs. After making two eggs and some wheat toast, the girl sat on the couch and turned the TV on to watch a rerun of some reality show. After she was finished, she put the dishes in the sink and began getting dressed. Slipping on some old jeans and a black button-up collared shirt, she slung her book bag onto one shoulder due to the lightness of her bag since she hadn’t received her school books yet. As she headed downstairs, she pulled her cell phone out and began to GPS the location of her new school. She locked the door behind her and walked up to a white Jeep. The Jeep was her father’s old one, which he reluctantly gave her when she got her license. Despite the fact she was always getting in trouble, her father always over-compensated for the fact, blaming it on her not having a mother in her life. The jeep started up immediately, which was a surprise because it usually took several attempts to start it, but it seemed her father really did fix the issue.

Now that she was able to drive around, she noticed that she didn’t mind the suburbs that they had just moved into. She had expected to see snobs roaming around the neighborhood, but to her surprise, they seemed like hardworking people with kids that actually socialized with each other, not with their faces glued to a screen. The city was a 20-minute drive from her house, and with 15 minutes of that included driving pass farm fields, she realized she loved the smell. The school was bigger than most she had been at, and the parking spaces all had numbers on them. She parked in the visitor's spot, and when she got out of the Jeep she overheard yelling and chants of “FIGHT! FIGHT!” Curious, she walked towards the crowd, and as she pushed through them she noticed four boys fighting. One was significantly bigger than the other three, who were all wearing varsity jackets and seemed to be ganging up on the bigger guy. A sick feeling began to fill her stomach as she watched the varsity boys jump the one guy altogether. As she felt herself become more enraged she found her body moving without her knowledge and before she knew it she had jumped on one of the boys’ back and placed him in a chokehold. The boy fell backward in an attempt to throw her off and pain rushed up to her spine, awakening her from her blackout, but she didn’t release her hold on the boy. When she came to, AJ began to focus on her surroundings and had noticed that one of the varsity boys had run away while another one was stomping on his jacket that appeared to be smoking.

“You fucking crazy bitch!” He yelled at a girl that had entered the fight and was holding a Zippo lighter in her hand. The bigger boy pulled on the varsity boy’s shoulder to spin him around and punched him in his face. The boy fell hard and was groaning as he held his face while on the ground.

The bigger boy walked toward her and smiled. “You can let him go now,” he told her. She looked down and noticed that the boy’s face was starting to blue in places. She immediately let him go and he gasped for air causing him to go into a coughing fit. The bigger boy reached his hand out to help her up which she took it without hesitation, and he lifted her up with relative ease.

The crowd began to separate some, pretending that they never saw what happened as a stern-looking woman came walking up.

“All of you in my office now,” the lady demanded.

The kids sat in a hallway just inside the main office of the school. The varsity boys were sent to the infirmary and were told to wait there for the principal in an attempt to keep the two groups separate.

The boy leaned over to AJ, “I’m Will by the way. Thanks for jumping in, I wasn’t really expecting it.”

“AJ,” she responded, “It wasn’t a fair fight. I hate cowards.”

The girl with the lighter laughed, “Well this school is full of them. I’m Hayley,” she said. “I haven’t seen you around. Are you new?”

“The first day actually” AJ answered playfully.

“Well you sure know how to make an entrance,” smirked Will.

“Yeah, well my record with schools isn’t the best, but this is the fastest I’ve managed to fuck up,” ashamedly admitted AJ.

“I wouldn’t call it a fuck up, just an interesting path to making new friends,” responded Hayley. This made AJ feel better, although it didn’t completely get rid of the guilt she would feel when her father found out after she had promised to go at least a week before she got into any trouble. She sat in silence with them for a while and took the time to actually notice her new friends. Will was tall and well built. It didn’t look like he worked out, but more that he worked at a job with intense labor. He had a full beard and hair that was styled with a fade that had designer lines on the sides as if he went to a barbershop regularly. Hayley was sitting next to him and judging by how close they sat AJ assumed they were dating. She was skinny but tall and had one side of her head shaved. She was attractive and could see why they would make a good couple. She seemed to fit Will perfectly, not just physically but their attitudes as well. Will seemed stilled, but AJ knew from the fight she witnessed that the stillness was only one side of the coin. On the other hand, Hayley boisterous, but AJ had a feeling that there was a side of her that she hadn’t seen yet.

“Ms. Ava Jones,” spoke the stern woman from before that AJ had now realized was the school principal. AJ blushed at the sound of her full name and walked into the office.

As she entered the office she noticed a degree on the wall and a nameplate on the desk that read “Katherine Austin”. AJ took a seat in the chair closest to her.

“Well I’m glad you make yourself comfortable so easily, Ms. Jones,” snarked Mrs. Austin.

“You could say this isn’t my first time,” responded AJ. She didn’t like Mrs. Austin. Every word out of the woman’s mouth was like nails on a chalkboard to AJ. The way she walked and held herself screamed snob. AJ tried to hold her composure but her body began to form goosebumps on her skin.

“I would say so,” replied Mrs. Austin as she picked up a folder with AJ’s name on it. AJ knew the folder. She had seen her school record countless times; each time the folder was a little thicker.

“You’ve been kicked out of several schools already, despite your fathers influence,” stated Mrs. Austin as if she was intrigued.

“My dad has nothing to do with my school record,” angrily answered AJ.

“Well, he is your father, the one that raised you. Of course your behavior reflects upon him,” informed Mrs. Hampton. AJ gripped her chair tighter and didn’t respond to the comment. She didn’t want to add fuel to the fire.

“I can see that’s difficult to hear, which is a good sign. It means you care about your father. Let me offer you some advice. When it comes to being successful in life, it’s all about choosing who to surround yourself with. I’m not saying that Hayley and Will are bad kids, but I am saying if you want to stay out of trouble, you should avoid them and find friendship in someone else,” encouraged Mrs. Austin.

“Like those charming varsity boys, I suppose,” sarcastically responded AJ.

“Obviously not. I know they started the whole situation. I’m not telling you who to befriend, Ms. Jones. I’m just offering some advice.”

The pair were interrupted by a knock at the door. “Come in!” cheerfully announced Mrs. Austin. A police officer walked in. AJ made eye contact with him and immediately looked away ashamedly. The man was her father.

“Mr. Jones, thank you for coming on such short notice. I know it must be difficult for someone in your position,” stated Mrs. Austin as she shook his hand.

“My daughter comes before work,” stated Mr. Jones with a sound of disappointment in his voice.

“Of course. Well, I’m afraid she has started the first day off wrong, with a fight to be precise. Even though she is new, you signed a code of conduct before starting. The rules are quite clear—she will be suspended for today and tomorrow. I’m being lenient due to her merely joining in to help a peer and for not actually starting the fight,” Mrs. Austin informed Mr. Jones. “I have also taken the liberty of gathering her class lessons and books as well. Her teachers expect all assignments to be completed and turned in when she returns.”

“Thank you. I’ll make sure she completes them and that she receives further consequences at home,” replied Mr. Jones, attempting to sound pleased.

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