Alex is clearly unimpressed. “Amber, really, who has their career path mapped out at sixteen?”

“Someone who wants to get the hell out of here,” the words lash out with an anger that seems to rise up from somewhere deep inside me.

“Ok, ok.” Alex looks a little perplexed, but uses that soothing tone reserved for injured animals.

Damn, did I just have an irrational mood swing? Did I lash out without provocation? Before I could figure out what happened, Alex changes the subject.

“Soooo, did that Algebra assignment make any sense to you?” She reaches in her backpack and pulls out her textbook.

“Aww crap! I forgot all about it.” We have fifteen minutes before the first bell, so I grab my textbook and start working through the first set of problems with Alex.

“Are you sure you don’t want to talk?” Alex pries as I we work through the first problem. My muscles tense.

“I mean, your here but . . . you’re not really here. You know what I mean?”

Great, now I feel like crying. I manage to pull myself together and respond with a calm even tone: “Alex, I just want to focus on the homework, OK?”

I try to push through the Algebra, but my brain begins to grow tendrils, my thoughts branch off in random directions. Can I actually get it done before third period? What if I don’t? What will happen to my grade point average? What if there’s a quiz? Mom would not be happy with bad grades especially after what I pulled, yesterday. Missing practice was stupid. Getting upset and running off didn’t solve anything. What kind of girl wanders around in the woods with a boy she doesn’t even know? A crazy girl. A girl who sees animals imaginary animals lurking between the trees. Or, am I just blowing it all out of proportion. I’m a teenager. Shouldn’t I be rebellious and emotionally unstable? Where does normal stop and crazy start? I lean back against the bench, close my eyes, and try to focus on the warm sun on the back of my eyelids.

“Amber?” I hear Alex’s voice echoing in some distant reality.

“I’m just tired Alex. I didn’t sleep well.” So, this is what losing your mind feels like.

“Hey,” his voice snaps me back to the present. As I open my eyes, James is standing over me.

“Hi,” I felt my lip curl into an involuntary smile. For a moment, I am lost in our private world, deep in the woods. Then Alex kicks my shin. “Oh James, this is Alex. Alex, this is James.”


One Comment on “Alex”

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