Miracles Happen

Hope is just your average girl. She never wanted this sickness... She never truly believe in love... And now that she is going to encounter more things in life that she's never dreamed of the only question is this: How is she going to handle it?

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2. Chapter 2

This ones longer than the first. I hope you enjoy it. Soo sorry if there are still mistakes. ~S

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"Ms. Rodriguez, your late." said Mr.Humpfry, my math teacher.

I didn't like him much and he sure didn't like me either. "I know, I had a few things to clear up."

"Well then if it's so much more important than coming to my class on time, then maybe your story is more interesting, too. Do care to share." He sat down at his desk and waited for me to speak while everyone focused their eyes on me.

This wouldn't be the first time Mr. Humpfry has put me on the spot, and every single time is the same: I make up a good lie that everyone believes but doesn't care about and Mr. Humpfry is left without an army. So, he continues the class and I go sit in my seat feeling accomplished.

It didn't happen like that today.

"I am so sorry I'm late!" A boy with jet black hair and the palest blue eyes I've ever seen ran into the classroom through the door I had left open and not bothered to close.

I've never seen this boy before in my life. Which was a pity because he was drop dead gorgeous. It was a struggle to keep my mouth closed and I could tell it was the same for most these girls in my class.

"And you are...?" Mr. Humpfry asked. I took this as a chance to escape and sat in my seat as quickly as possible.

The boy straightened and looked him in the eye. "Shouldn't you know? You have the class list and my name should be new to you." There was a bit of murmuring throughout the classroom. You see, Mr. Humpfry is very short tempered, and when he was pissed, it's best to steer clear of his way. For eternity, if possible. But absolutely nobody dared to correct him, to insult him in any way in the classroom, to remind him of the rules, or talk back to him, which is exactly what this idiot just did.

Mr. Humpfrys cheeks started to burn bright red. "Excuse me, but you are not in the place to tell me how to and how not to do things in my own classroom." The boy rolled his eyes, right in front of him. Strike two.

"Your name, boy..." This kid better give him his name and give it now.

"Mmm... No. I won't. Figure it out like you did with the rest of your class on the first day." Then he gave a dazzling smile. "Why should I get any special treatment?" He looked around the room. "Now time to find a seat..."

He started to walk down the aisle when Mr. Humpfry cleared his throat. "I'm afraid that you are not going to sit at the back, Mr. Reagan." The boy flinched, probably shocked that he even looked down on the attendance list. Then I realized where I was seated. At the front, where all the people who Mr. Humpfry didn't like go. And the seat beside me was empty.

Oh crap.

"I think it's best to place you right here." he said, pointing his ugly fingernail in the direction of the seat beside me. I didn't dare look at the boy.

I could hear the hesitation in his silence before he said, "Sure. I'd love to." His voice was dripping with sarcasm.

The chair beside me scrapped against the floor as the boy took a seat. I still didn't look at him.

"Just great! Thirty minutes of my time wasted because of these two. Class, you can thank your friends for the extra homework tonight." There was a loud groan and a few glares shot at us. "And as for you two, detention with me on Friday." Then he finally started to teach.

The boy and I were silent for a while before I broke the ice, somewhat. "Thanks a lot."

He turned to face me. His face was shocked as if he thought I couldn't speak or something. "For what?"

"For getting us in detention and creating more homework."

"From what I saw, it looked like you were already in trouble."

"Yeah, but not to the point of detention." I glanced at him. "And what are you doing, going and already making bad reputations with the teachers?"

He leaned back in his seat and smiled smugly. "Ahh, you liked my show."

"Your show?!"

"Isn't that what humans call it?" Did he just call me inhuman or...?

"Well I call it idiocy. You better watch your back."

"Or what?"

"Don't ask me, ask the teachers who already hate you." As if on cue, Mr. Humpfry gave the boy a cold look as he walked by.

He laughed. "Whatever." He closed his eyes.

I scowled. Why was he such a difficult person? "I didn't know arrogance came on so many levels."

He peaked an eye out at me. "Sorry, not everyone is meant to be pretty."

I didn't like that insult. "How is that even relevent?"

He sighed and stared at me straight on. "Look, I don't want to be sitting here as much as you."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah, so the solution's easy. You stay out of my way and everyone will be happy." He smirked.

"What about the part where you stay out of mine?"

Before he even got a chance to answer, the bell rang signaling the end of the day. I grabbed my books and rushed out of that classroom.

 

 

 

 

When I got to my locker, I was so completely out of breath, you'd think that I had just ran a marathon.

I don't know why I ran away from the class like that and I didn't want to think it was because of the boy.

No. It was him. He boiled my insides every single time a goddamn word came out of his mouth. I was surprised I hadn't punched his face in.

His arrogance came out in waves and I didn't like at all, even if he was insanely attractive. I wasn't about to fall into that. If anything, I should have been the arrogant one since this wasn't my first day of school!

I never usually liked or associated with those people; the ones who'd make a bad reputation on the very first day here or the people who are just plain tyrants, whether they realize it or not. Like Tara. I don't associate with her, she's just always coming to me.

I was facing my locker, placing the books I didn't need that evening in there when I felt someone place a hand on my shoulder. Stupidly, I thought it was the boy. "What the hell happend to staying out of each--oh." Michael stood in front of me looking confused. "Sorry."

"Seems like someone had a tough last period."

"Tough is an understantement. I've got detention and extra homework."

"What happend?"

I looked around secretively. "Have you seen the new guy yet?"

"No." he whispered back. "But I've heard of him."

"Yeah, well guess who got to sit beside Mr. I Like To Make Bad Reputations On My First Day Of School and Oh I'm An Arrogant Bitch."

"I don't even think people have last names that long."

I gave him a look. He smiled and winked at me. Typical Michael, always joking around. "Well he decided to be mouthy with Mr. Humpfry which caused him to get ordered to sit beside me, get us detention and extra homework for the class. I mean, I was late too but I wouldn't have gotten detention! Mr. Humpfry is so damn lucky I actually like math."

"Yeah, I hate it when you're in a raging moment." He hesitated. "So, when do I get to see this detention buddy of yours?"

I was about to snap that he was NOT my buddy when on cue, the boy walked around the corner. "Oh crap. That's him. Don't let him see me or he'll come over." But it was too late. The cheetah had spotted the prey and he was stealthily pawing its way for the kill. I wasn't dying today. No way, no how.

"So, I guess I know where your locker is now." he said in that smooth voice.

I turned to face him completely. I never truly did while we were in math class, but I couldn't stop myself now. Something flickered across his face but I took to long to realize what it was. "Oh so first, you want me to stay out of your way and now your stalking me?"

He laughed. "I'm not stalking you and yeah, I did say that, but I didn't say I would stay out of your way." I glanced at Michael with a look that said 'I told you so.'

He turned to Michael now, giving him a once over. I didn't like that look he was giving him. Michael has never, ever been hated by someone else. And by the look this guy--who I STILL don't know the name of--was giving him, he'd be the first.

Michael, oblivious of it because he was drowned in love for so long, put out his hand and smiled. "Michael, I'm Hopes--"

"Boyfriend? Yeah, she already seems like someone with horrible taste."

My hands balled into fists. He did not just say that. Michael dropped his hand and his good natured expression. "We're best friends actually, and who are you to tell me that I've got horrible taste in guys?" But considering that I thought he was attractive, he may have a point.

"I don't know, someone who can't find a girlfriend of his own I guess." Michael spat. He was always protective of me.

The boy chuckled. "Please, I probably been in more relationships than you and Mrs. Loud Mouth over here combined."

"Oh, so your the player type?"

"I prefer the resourceful type."

"Let's see how far you get with that."

"In fact, by the rate you're probably going, I'd most certainly get far."

Michael scowled. "You don't even KNOW me."

The boy smirked. "And you know me, right pretty boy?"

Michael lunged, but I caught him and held him back because people were starting to stare. It's been a long time when Michael McDexters got into a fight, and that last time was grade 5, our first year together in elementary. "Enough!"

"But--"

"Enough Michael." I slammed my locker shut and locked it while grabbing my bag. "Let's go."

When we walked past the boy, Michael slammed his shoulder purposely into his. Without looking back, he called, "I'm also the captain of the football team!"

"Oh I'm sorry," The boy shouted back. "I thought that jersey was for school band."

I tightened my grip on Michaels arm just in case he got any ideas. As much as I hated the boy, I didn't want him to beat him to pulp, which is exactly what he'll do.

Once we got outside the doors, I checked to see if he was okay. He was still very tense. I've never seen him this angry in a long time and this was exactly why I didn't want the boy to come over by my locker or something like this would have definitely happened. "Hey," I said to him. "It's alright."

"No, Hope, it's not. Why does everyone have to make you a target?" He stopped walking to look me straight in the eye but I didn't meet his contact.

"Because I'm easy."

"Hope don't--"

"I fucking am, okay?! I've always been, you and I both know it. Everyone knows it. Even the freaking new kid. Michael, the new kid!"

It was my turn to tense up and I was breathing hard. I've never felt truly loved by someone other than my parents. I loved both of them so much, and when my Dad died, I didn't know if I could ever fill that empty space that has been created inside of me, my Mom the same. As much as she didn't show it in public, it was evident to me.

I forced myself not to tear up, not now, not in front of Michael. But he knows me well enough when I was trying to hide my emotions from him.

He brushed my cheek with his thumb. It had been his way of calming me down for years and I loved it when he did it. But this time it felt different. For the first time in this conversation, I looked him in the eyes. His face was expressionless as he stared at me back, still caressing my cheek. He seemed to be relaxed, too. And then I did the one thing I never thought I would do.

I looked at his lips.

"Michael!"

And then, just like that, the moment was shattered. His hand dropped from my face and he took a small step back from me, but the expressionless expression remained on his face.

What the hell just happened?

"Michael!" Of course. Leave it to Tara to come at the wrong time. But did that mean I wanted see, or feel, what could have happened next? "We're going to the Juicy Factory to get some smoothies. You want to come with?" She didn't even acknowledge my existence. Not that I cared.

I looked over her shoulder to see who she meant by "we." Turns out she meant Michaels friends and Taras posey and slaves. I didn't see Natalie, one of her slaves that I actually talked to and who was nice to me, so Tara must have fired her.

"Uh, yeah why not. Hope do you want to come?" Tara didn't look at all pleased witht this request but as for Michael, it wasn't a request. It was a demand.

I sighed. It's the Juicy Factory. We were in public. What could possibly go wrong? Probably everything. But that didn't stop me from saying, "Sure, why not."

"Are you sure? You don't have any homework or anything?" She really didn't want me to come. I evaluated the people I could talk to while I was there other than Michael. Lucy, another slave like Natalie, was there, so that shouldn't be to bad.

"Since when do you care about when I do my homework?" I looked at Michael. I can still feel the touch of his thumb on my cheek. "Let's go."

I walked past Tara, just at the same time when she rolled her eyes in my direction.

 

 

Even though Michael, Lucy and I all walked together on our way to the Juicy Factory, Michael and I hadn't spoke a word to each other the whole way. We were still trying to figure out what had just happened between the both of us at school before Tara came. I had that feeling that I wouldn't be figuring it out very soon, even though I really wanted to. Ruined friendships are the worst thing possible in my life and if anything happened between Michael and I, I would become 'To Kill A Mocking Bird's Boo Radley and never leave my house again. That was how much I cared for my beat friend.

But by the time we got to the factory, we were back to normal again, somewhat, realizing that finding an answer was pointless at the moment.

"What flavor are you going to get?" Michael asked me. "Wait don't tell me..." He closed his eyes for two seconds. "Blueberry mint chocolate chip."

I laughed. "How did you know?"

"Because I'm your best friend and it's a necessity that I know these things and because its easier to remember flavors that don't make any sense whatsoever."

"Hey, blueberry mint chocolate chip tastes amazing."

"Even the people who work here think your crazy. I'll bet you a buck that when you go up to order, they'll know what to give you right before you say it."

I looked at the girl who was at the counter. I've never seen her before so she must have been new, and if she was new, she couldn't possibly know my usual. I smiled slyly at Michael and said, "Your on."

When everyone ordered, Michael let me order before him. I smiled at the girl and she smiled back just as warmly but then her eyes went wide just as I was about to place my order. "Hello, can I have--"

"Blueberry mint chocolate chip, coming right up. That will be $3.57 please."

I stared at her in disbelief. "Is today your first day working here by chance?"

"Yes ma'am."

"And you just automatically knew what I was going to order."

She hesitated. I knew it. Someone told her to watch out for me. "Yes ma'am." she answered.

I could hear Michael giggling behind me. I scowled and handed her my money and I was about to stand by the waiting counter when he slid his hands around my waist and pressed me against him. He put his lips close to my ear and whispered, "You owe me a dollar." I shivered.

I twisted out of his grip to go and wait for my smoothie and for Michael to get his. When I got my smoothie, I stood there staring at Michael. We've hugged plenty of times before, but his actions today have been keeping me off balance.

He walked over to where I was standing with my smoothie and I realized he wasn't drinking his usual strawberry milkshake. "You're right Hope." He took another sip and smiled in satisfaction. "This is really good." I eyed him longer than I intended. He smiled at me. "What?"

"Nothing." I blinked. "So I've decided I'm not going to give you that dollar."

He smirked. "And why is that?"

"Because she didn't actually know who I was or what I wanted."

"Hope, I fully--"

"Berta told her to look out for me." Berta was the manager and she was also a family friend. She knew what I liked.

He hesitated. He knew too. "So?"

"So, it isn't exactly fair, is it?"

"Well if your the one getting the money, then it becomes perfectly fair."

I smiled and shook my head. "I'm not going to give you a dollar."

He grunted. "Fine. Let's go with the others."

He was about to walk over, but I said, "Maybe we should go."

He frowned. "Why?"

"Because they don't even want me here."

"Hope you know thats bullshit. Not all of them are like Tara. And Lucy's over there." I hesitated. "Please? For me?"

And once again, he was standing close to me, brushing my cheek. I was not about to repeat what just happened between us in front of all these people. I bit my lip, then I brushed him away and mumbled, "Fine."

I took a seat in between Lucy and Frank, one of Michaels soccer friends. Michael reluctantly sat beside Tara who had saved him a seat. By the way her arm extended and the way his eye twitched, she had set a hand on his leg. At any other time I would have laughed at this and then bothered him about it for a week, but today was different. Michael caught my eye but I looked away. I could feel the guilt in stare, because I knew he was still looking at me. I don't even know why he felt guilty. I didn't care what Tara did to him. Or did I?

"I think they're so cute together." Lucy whispered to me.

"Who?"

"Tara and Michael." she said, as if this is a fact I should know. I nearly chocked on my smoothie. "Everyone is talking about them these days."

"Really."

"Yeah. You didn't know?" I shook my head. "He and Tara had been secretly dating outside of school. Its been buzzing around the school for a week now."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Who told you that?"

"Marcy. She told me that Jenna told her and Tara herself told Jenna."

"And everyone's been talking about them."

 

She nodded her head vigorously. "Of course. I'm surprised Michael hasn't told you, since your best friends and all... But I guess everyone has got a secret."

I tried to remain calm but it was really hard. "Hope." Michael was already sensing my discomfort. I ignored him.

"What else has people been talking about, Lucy?" Loud enough for Michael to hear but in a way that no one else would care.

"Well, many girls are talking about that new guy, Cole Reagan." Oh dear Lord, not him. Anyone but him. "Have you seen him yet?"

"Yeah, he's in my math class." Unfortunately.

"Oh my gosh. You are SO lucky. Isn't he just gorgeous?" she gushed. Yeah so are cow intestines.

His personality just made him ugly. I avoided her question by saying, "I don't really think that I'm very lucky."

"Why?"

"He got us detention after school on Friday and the whole class extra math homework."

Her mouth dropped. Good she saw my point before I even stated the arrogance. "You get to spend three hours alone with him in detention?! Do you still think your unlucky?" I was wrong. Totally missed my point.

"Hope." Michael called again. I still ignored. Before, I could never picture he and Tara together, but the more he called my name, the more it seemed real. "Hope."

I continued to ignore. "Hope.."

Lucy looked between us, then she whispered to me, "Uh, Hope? I think Michael is calling you." I shrugged.

 

"Hope." Ignore.

"Hope." Stop.

"Hope." Don't call me.

 

"Hope..." Stop. Stop. STOP.

"HOPE!"

"WHAT?!" I yelled and banged my fist on the table.

Mistake.

Even though the Juicy Factory was an amazing smoothie joint, it was still a pretty old building. The tables weren't that stable so one wrong move and something could go flying, and in this case, that flying object was my smoothie headed straight for Michael and Tara.

When it hit, blueberry smoothie oozed off of Michaels shoulder but it was Tara who got most of the blow. Half of her shirt was covered in juice and some of her expensively permed hair.

I stared in shock at what I just done, something I would have laughed at any other day. "I am so--"

"You BITCH!" She yelled. The whole joint suddenly went quiet. "Look what you've fucking DONE!"

"Tara, it was an accident, just leave it alone." Michael said quietly. I knew that voice. He was annoyed.

"Don't you DARE defend her! Why did you even bring her? She ruins EVERYTHING! Why are you even friends with her, Michael? Look at everyone else who are your friends with and then look at her. She's nothing!" She turned at me just as a lump in my throat formed. "You think this funny you fucktard? You think it's SO FUNNY dumping fucking smoothie on me?"

"It was an accident." I croaked. What was wrong with my voice? I NEVER got nervous while battling with Tara.

You can practically see the smoke coming out of her ears. She picked up her smoothie and walked over to me in a second and dumped the whole thing onto my head. "You want to be the center of attention? Well here you go!"

"Oooooh." That's when I noticed the phones were out. This is why I never associated with these people, because accidents like this happened and they never turn out good. But when you've got friends there that could have done something, who could have prevented it from happening, that's what hurts.

No one helped. Not Lucy. Not Michael. No one.

My eyes started to sting with tears but I refused to cry in front of everyone. I grabbed my bag and rushed out the door but not fast enough to not hear Michaels voice call my name.

I took out some tissue to wipe out some of the smoothie out of my hair. The sticky substance eventually started to stick to my tissue because of the weather so I decided to give up as I walked back home. I didn't run. I had more dignity than that.

But Tara was right. I shouldn't have come.

Michael didn't chase after me after the incident like I expected him to, but right now I was happy he didn't. I was mad at him and I really needed to be alone. A walk home was just the thing I needed at the moment.

My street wasn't too far from our school. It was about a 15 to 20 minute walk, so the walk from the Juicy Factory was about a 40 minute walk, no interruptions.

I made sure I had all my stuff in my bag, so I wouldn't go nuts at home if I up remembering I forgot something. I kept walking till I got to my street and stopped short when I saw the move in truck parked on the driveway beside ours. The new neighbors were here. My Mom and I have been waiting for them for the longest time and almost gave up, thinking that they would never come. Three weeks ago, our old neighbors sold the house. They were just one couple with no children of their own in a large house, identical to ours. The Hutchingsons were a nice couple, always inviting us over for dinner when my Mom didn't want to cook that night. When they decided to move into a smaller house in Buffalo, New York, it was pretty sad. We really didn't want them to leave Virginia, but we have been keeping in touch since.

I wondered what the new ones would be like. I see the family, a family of four: a boy who seemed to be the age of ten, who was taking a piggy back ride on his Fathers back, then followed by the Mother and another boy who looked about 17 but was oddly familiar.

No. It couldn't be.

The way the truck was parked on the driveway made it impossible for me to slip into my home without being seen. I doubt it would have made a difference if the truck was on the curb. I really didn't want to talk to anyone right now but there was a chance I will be. But what could I really do? It shouldn't be that bad if I say hi once.

So I walked past the truck and just I suspect would happen, one of the workers who was helping another guy with a couch shouted, "Hey!" I turned around and pointed to myself. "Yeah, you. Need help with the new supplies for this house. Can you give us a hand? Go grab that mini cabinet over there. You look strong enough to carry it." I said I didn't mind saying a friendly welcome to the neighbors, not carry their furniture.

"Uh... Yeah, sure." I put my stuff down at my door step and then jogged back to the truck to do what was asked of me. I climbed the truck, grabbed the mini cabinet, and jumped off.

Second mistake.

 

Right I after I landed I bumped into someone. "OW! Gosh what the hell is in this thing?"

The boy groaned. "Well it's an antique so a lot of shit. And if it gets broken or scratched, it's something my Dad will not approve of."

"Well, your Father is going to have a hissy fit because of that scratch we just made." Then, I took a good look at him at the same time he looked at me. I took a sharp intake of breath at the same time his eyes went wide.

"Cole." I hissed.

"Hope." he snapped back. Then he gave me a sly smile. "So, we meet again."

"I still think your stalking me."

He cocked an eyebrow at me. I take back everything I said about welcoming the new neighbors. This guy deserves to be shipped to a Marine base for life, with no friendly hospitality. "If I was, would I seriously bring my family into the matter?"

I grimaced. "Well you never know."

He rolled his eyes and took me in. Then he realized the smoothie. The smirk came back. "What happened to you?"

Remembering everything that had just happened in the last couple of hours caused my eyes to water again. Oh hell no. There was no way I was about to cry in front of Cole. But he saw my moodiness and his smile faltered. "Hope? What happened?" Then he looked around. "Where's lover boy?" And that was enough to make me snap. He actually sounded like he cared in that moment and now he just ruined it.

"Don't you DARE call him that, okay?" I dropped his precious cabinet and he flinched. "You have no right to come marching into our school and suddenly crowning yourself king. You are NOT and it is fucking annoying. You don't know any of us yet so just stop this okay? I had just found out shit that I never knew about and I don't even know if I believe, I had just got my ass mocked, I got strawberry banana smoothie dumped on my head, and my best friend didn't stand up for me in my time of need, something that I would have done for him. So, Cole Reagan, are you really going to give me this crap right now? Because I sure as hell I'm not afraid to punch your fucking face in if you lay down one more insult to me, Michael, or anyone at this very moment."

He just stared at me for a couple moments before he took my hand and said in a soft genuine voice, "Follow me."

I don't know what possessed me keep my hand in his and step into his household, but thats exactly what I did. He led me though the house and up the familiar steps that I've been up and down so many time before. He took me into the washroom, pointed to the closed toilet seat and said, "Sit." I sat.

 

He opened the curtain the shower and reached in. "I am not taking a shower here."

He stopped reaching to smirk at me. "I wasn't going to make you. Unless..."

"No thanks."

 

He chuckled and continued to reach. "If you continue to leave the smoothie in your hair, its going to be hard to get it out. Were you going to do anything before you washed it out?"

"I don't see how thats any of your business." He gave me a look and I sighed. "Yes."

"Okay well I'm going to put some of this in you hair so it should be easier to wash by the time you do it."

I looked at the bottle in his hand then back him. "How do you know about all this stuff?"

"My Mom owns a hair product line. Emerald Butter."

My mouth dropped. "You're Mom is the owner of Emerald Butter?!"

He smiled sheepishly. "Yeah..."

"I use her products all the time!" I paused. "Then why don't you guys live somewhere more..." Fancy.

"She wanted to live somewhere more humble. So she picked a normal three story. Which is also pretty expensive..." He glanced up at me. "What do your parents do?"

"Um, my Mother is Josephine Rodriguez."

It was his turn for his mouth to drop. "The action writer?" I nodded. "I've got all of her books."

I looked at him incredulously. "All 150 books?" he nodded vigorously. "I'll show them to you if you let me put this in your hair before you become smoothie girl forever." I eyed him a couple times before I sighed and gave in. He smiled and stood behind me. "Its waterless shampoo. As in you don't need to wash it out with actual water. Its the whole process in one."

"Cool." Is all I said.

 

There was some silence between us as he massaged the shampoo into my scalp--which felt so good, by the way--until he spoke up. "So what does your Father do for a living?"

I cleared my throat. "He's dead."

The massaging stopped for a second before he continues to scrub. "Sorry."

"That's alright. You didn't know." But he and I both knew that it sure as hell wasn't okay.

"I also wanted to say I'm sorry about how I've acted today." He took a deep breath and I waited for him to continue. "I shouldn't have acted that way to all those teachers, especially Mr. Humpfry, causing you to get detention, and I shouldn't have picked a fight with Michael. It's just... I've moved a lot and I've met so many people and I guess that was me trying to fit in."

"Well, it needs work."

He laughed. "Yeah, I know. It's going to take time for me to realize that though, because I've been acting like it for so long." He stopped scrubbing and look at me through the mirror. "I'm not always like that."

"Then what--"

"COLEE!!!!" The little boy I had seen one his Dad's back came rolling into the washroom. Yes, rolling. The little boy was on a wheelchair. "I can't find my red Power Ranger!"

Cole removed his hands from my head and wiped them in a towel on the towel rack. "Did you check all of your boxes?"

"Yes!" He started to tear up.

"Hey, hey Kyle, it's okay." He bent in front of him and squeezed his shoulder. "We'll find it." He paused for a moment. "Hey, didn't Mom take it from you when you asked her to take care of it on the way here?"

Sniffle. "Yeah..."

"Then maybe it's still in her purse... Stay right here." Cole glanced at me and then left the washroom, leaving me with Kyle.

"Hello." I said, smiling warmly at Kyle.

He hesitated and then blushed, smiling sheepishly. He and his brother looked alike, but while Coles eyes were blue, his were green. "Hi... Are you another one of Cole's girlfriends?" Another? Not surprising.

I smiled at him. "No, just a..." What were we exactly? At school we were ready to tear each other's throats out and now I'm letting him wash my hair. "Friend." I said, though I wasn't completely sure.

He grinned wider. "Did you know my brother likes to read comic books?"

I laughed. "Oh really?"

"Yeah, and he has his own set of dolls!" I chuckled some more. "What's your name?"

"Hope."

 

"I'm Kyle." He pauses, with a small smile on his face. "Did you want to know what happened to my legs?"

My smile faltered, but just a bit. "Sure." I said in a soft voice.

He rubbed his tiny hand up and down his leg. Without looking me in the eyes he said, "I can't walk. I lost them in a car accident with my Daddy. Mummy called it para... Pari..."

"Paralysis?"

"Yeah." He sighed, then he smiled. "But that's okay. At least me and Daddy are alive right?"

I smiled genuinely at him. "Right."

"Has anyone in your family died before?"

I was about to answer when, "Kyle! Look what I found!"

He looked up happily and grinned. "My red Power Ranger!" He tried grabbing for it but Cole held it up high.

"Hey, what do you say?"

He pouted and glanced at me. "Do I have to?"

 

"Yes."

He sighed, annoyed by his older brother. "Thank you and God bless!" Cole laughed and handed him his toy. He giggled and rolled away with it.

He ran his fingers through his hair and looked at me. We stared at each other for a long moment. "That was my little brother."

"Yeah, I noticed." And I realized that I really did want to be Cole's friend. The way I saw him with his brother... And the way he's acted towards me all evening, it's made me think that he might not be all that bad.

He grabbed a comb out of his pocket. "Here. You need to come it out." the shampoo. I almost totally forgot about it. I grabbed it from him and quickly combed out my hair. When I was finished, I washed the comb and handed it back to him.

"Thanks."

"No problem." He looked away and then looked back at me. "I would be careful about what you do after today."

I stared at him. "What do you mean?"

"What exactly happened between after school and when we bumped into each other?"

I hesitated. Did I really want to tell him the whole thing? But I already knew the answer to that. I did want to tell him everything. As much as I didn't want to talk to anyone, I owed him this much. So, I started to tell him everything that happened: with Michael, with Tara, with Lucy, the smoothie incident.

This was the first thing he said when I finished my story: "So, most of the female population is attracted to me, eh? Does that include you?"

I stared at him as my cheeks started to burn. "Are you kidding me?"

He laughed. "Sorry." Then he turned serious again. "I don't understand... Isn't he your best friend? Why wouldn't he tell you that vital information if you guys tell each other everything? And why didn't he help you out when you became the clown of the group?"

"I don't know, Cole. I've got no idea." I sighed and sat back down on the counter.

"Well then, is he really your best friend? Because if I was your best friend, I'd stand up for you, no matter the cost."

"Well, I was ignoring him."

"Well it's not your fault. You discovered something vital from the wrong person. Cowards aren't the greatest best of friends you know."

"Michael's not a coward."

"Then where was he when you needed help?" I didn't answer. "Oh yeah, that's right, watching it all happen."

I rolled my eyes. "And here we go again. You judging people. When will you ever learn?"

"And when will you realize that maybe things can change? Think about it Hope. You'd do it for him and he knows that. Why didn't he for you?"

We regarded each other for a long time. His eyes had turned a darker blue than from the first time I saw him. "I've got to go." I announced, as I pushed my way past him.

I jogged towards his front door. "Bye Hope!" Kyle waved. I quickly waved back.

"Hope! Wait!" Cole called. I didn't do such a thing.

I ran home, picked up my bag, quickly opened the door, and closed it behind me. I ran upstairs and through my stuff in my room. I turned on the T.V. and grabbed a snack. I always ate when I was aggravated. Just when I sat on the chair, my Mom came inside the house.

"Hi honey! How was your day?"

"They same, Mom." I said blandly.

"How is Michael?" my Mom asked. She was always asking the same questions every time she returned home from work. My responses were always quick and easy but this time it was hesitant.

"He's fine Mom. Is there anything else you want to ask me?" I yawned.

"How about why don't you ever give me honest or specific answer about school anymore? We never talk like we used to." I waited for her to continue. "Or, if you said hi to our new neighbours yet? Surely you would've seen them as you were walking up the driveway."

"I did Mom. I helped them with their antique cabinet."

"How did you know that their table was antique?"

"Cole told me."

Her lack of response told me she was confused. "Who's Cole?"

"They're son. He's in my math class."

"I see. Well, what do you have for homework? Anything new?" I was surprised she didn't ask further about him. I didn't want to talk about him anyways.

"Well, I have this new essay to do. We read a story about this girl who had leukemia and we have to write what we thought about it. Or we have to write about any connections we can make when we hear the word cancer." I explained.

"Oh, interesting. Do you need any help? When's it due?" She asked.

"End of May. And, no Mom, I think I'll be okay."

"If you say so..." And I heard her shuffle around downstairs. This conversation was over.

That night, I went to sleep not thinking of Michael, or Cole, or Tara, or my Mom or even my Dad. I went to bed thinking of little Kyle, and how he might me the strongest person I knew.

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