Tyler returned from the hospital after three weeks. Lawrence, Eugene, Colin, and Heather went to visit him every day. Lawrence also introduced them to Claire. She was so excited to have new friends. Seeing how all she could do all day was watch T.V and make small talk with the staff on hand. Claire would jump at the chance to meet new people. The only true friends that were her age lived almost a state away. She was diagnosed and hospitalized her junior year of high school, all the friends she had made would come and visit her. Until they moved, that took it’s toll on Claire. Lawrence always asked why she didn’t just stay? She would always smile and laugh. The tell him “Lawrence you're my little brother, friends come and go, but family is forever. Besides if I wasn’t here who would pull you out of a jam?”
That was one of Lawrence’s greatest memories of her, how she was always there for him. One time in particular Lawrence could remember was a summer befor Claire was hospitalized. She was 15 and Lawrence was 11. Lawrence had picked a fight with some other kids at school. When Lawrence was walking home the other kids started to chase him. Lawrence ran as fast as he could for as long as he could until he reached an old retired rail yard with a chain link fence around the perimeter. Lawrence thought he was doomed until he felt something. Claire, who was hanging around the rail yard with her friends, was pulling on Lawrence’s sleev. She helped him through a small gap in the fence, then they took off toward home.
Lawrence would never forget that day she saved him, never in a million lifetimes.
As for Tyler his injuries healed in time, as did Max Fisher’s. Yet every day from that night on, Max never did act the same toward Lawrence or his friends again.
A few weeks had passed and Tyler had gotten his cast removed, he walked with Lawrence as they made their way to the next class. Lawrence and Tyler were half way down the hall when they started to hear something, two people talking. Lawrence knew immediately from the sound of their voices that it was Anna and Eugene.
“Anna, don’t walk away from me. I want to talk about this.” Eugen said, trying his best to keep his anger contained.
“There’s nothing to talk about Eugene. I tried to look past it, tried to make what we had work, but I can’t keep playing these games. It’s over Eugene.” Anna told him. Anna was a different kind of girl. She was always a little defensive. She had just recently changed her hair color. She dyed it blonde with black highlights. I big change from her normal brown hair. Although Lawrence thought her new hair looked better on her.
“Don’t say it’s over. Please I want you to be happy, I want us to be happy together.” Eugene continued.
“Eugene look, you're a sweet kid, but what was between us is gone. I’m sorry.” Anna said now starting to walk away.
Eugene was now speechless, Lawrence and Tyler came out from around the corner to see if they could comfort him, but he was gone. Without a word Eugene had vanished. Lawrence and Tyler were about to go off looking for him, but the bell had rung and class was starting.
After school Lawrence, Colin, and Tyler went off looking for Eugene. They searched the town for hours and found nothing. His mother said he hadn’t come home and no one at their favorite diner had seen him. Lawrence and his friends had all but given up on finding him, until they went past the school. They heard something, the faint, but unmistakable sound of music. As they came closer they could hear it was a Breaking Benjamin song, Diary of Jane. From what they could hear it was coming from the roof. Lawrence, Tyler, and Colin made their way up. The halls were dead silent, the faint light coming through the fog of the town gave the school a gray tint. The emergency exit to the roof was propped open by a backpack, it was Eugene’s, what he was planning to do up there was unknown to all the boys.
Eugene was sitting on the edge of the roof with his legs dangling off the side. He had a beer bottle in his hand and his Ipod was plugged into an amplifier. He saw they were there and turned down the music.
“Hey.” they all repled.
Eugene took another beer out of a cluster he had next to him. “Want one?” he asked.
Tyler and Colin went over to him sat down and took a beer, Lawrence just sat next to Colin.
“What are you doing up here?” asked Lawrence.
“Just trying to figure stuff out.” replied Eugene.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, just looking out at the town. The four story school provided a great view. Lawrence always thought it was strange that they had such a big school for only a high school population of about three hundred students, but never the less the view was beautiful.
“So what are you guys doing here?” asked Eugene after about twenty minutes of silence.
“We heard you and Anna in the hall, we just wanted to make sure you were OK.” Tyler said.
“Thanks guys, I’m OK. It’s just, well, almost three years together and now it’s over. Just like that.” Eugene said, doing his best to hold back a tear.
They all sat in silence together again, the sun started to go down. The orange light of the sun behind the hills spilled over the buildings like a tidal wave. As dull of a circumstances where, Lawrence smiled thinking how happy he was to have friends such as his, who cared for one another, who watched over one another, it was bliss.
The days following were filled with, awkward tension. Eugene and Anna no longer spoke to one another. She stopped talking to Lawrence, Tyler, Colin, and Heather as well. Just as Lawrence’s group of friends changed so to did the months from November to December, Christmas grew near. It was a cold December Tuesday and another poorly school made lunch. Lawrence sat alone at first while his friends stayed in their classes finishing school work. It was that day that Lawrence, meet Lola Valentine.
She was the girl that every man wanted, her long dark blood red hair reached her waist, she wore revealing clothing, and had control over any boy she wanted. Sadly enough she chose Lawrence, she walked up and sat next to Lawrence resting her chin on her hand.
“Hi, your Laurence right?” she asked, her green eyes were like a viper’s trying to look into Lawrence and see what she could find.
“Ya and you’re Lola Valentine.” Lawrence replied.
“That’s right, you know what Lawrence I’ve been watching you for some time now.”
“I guess something came up wrong.”
“No not at all, it’s just well, I’m really curious about what you’ve been hiding under those sleeves of yours.” Lola said as she ran her finger’s up Lawrence’s arm and without her knowing touched on of Lawrence’s fresh burns on his forearm. Lawrence pulled his arm back and clenched it, Lola’s eyes light up. “Oh, I like a boy with a secret. Very mysterious.”
She was about to say more, but stopped as Heather sat down.
“Hey Lawrence, who’s your little friend?” asked Heather as she sat down. Lawrence didn’t have time to answer before Lola stood up and started to walk away.
“If you ever get bored Lawrence, give me a call.” she said placing a piece of paper in his hand and giving him a wink as she left.
“What was all that about?” asked Heather.
“I don’t even know myself.” Lawrence replied.
After lunch the day progressed slowly, at least to Lawrence. It was about third period and his class had gone to the library, Lawrence stood by a desk in the library waiting for the teacher to take the class back to the classroom. Colin and Eugene were in his class off looking at some to books. Just then Lawrence’s phone rang, he looked down and saw the number was from the hospital. As Lawrence answered his phone, he could tell something was wrong.
“Hello?” Lawrence said.
“Hello Lawrence, it’s Dr. Kelly.” replied the man on the other end.
“What is this about?”
“I’m afraid I have some bad news,” the doctor took a pause before continuing “it seems that your sister, Claire, can no longer stay here.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Lawrence with a mixture of rage and sadness in his voice.
“The state can no longer afford to keep her here. With you family having no insurance and the state no longer willing to pay for her, she is being transferred to a hospice across town. I figured it would be better to hear it from me and not a man in a suit.”
Lawrence was dead silent in shock.
“For what it’s worth Lawrence I’m sorry, I did everything I could to keep her here. If you would like to come by the hospital, I can give you directions.”
Without another word the phone was hung up, Lawrence could not believe what he just heard, Claire’s death was all but assured. Lawrence stood their in silents, a tear came out the corner of his eye. Eugene and Colin noticed something was wrong and went over the check on him.
“Lawrence is everything alright?” asked Colin.
Lawrence did not answer he just stood there in a almost zombified state. Then anger filled him, not anger toward anyone, but at himself. Lawrence was angry with himself, without a word Lawrence threw his phone at the wall shouting and cruising as he did so, then he grabbed a near by chair and threw it at the opposite wall. Eugene and Colin grabbed Lawrence and tried to restrain him. They then pulled him out of the library and tried to calm him. After that Lawrence sat in the principal's office. Lawrence explained what happened and all was forgiven. The principal gave Lawrence his condolences and sent him to class. Lawrence didn’t say a word the rest of the day. He went to the hospital and got the information. Every doctor and nurse in that hospital knew Lawrence, but not one knew his pain.
The hospice was small and old, it was about as far from school and home as the hospital. Lawrence walked the halls and found Claire’s room. A small room, with a T.V, a window facing north and a bed. Claire was sleeping, upon seeing her and knowing now that he could do nothing to save her, Lawrence started to cry uncontrollably.
“I’m sorry Claire, I’m so sorry.” he said to himself.
Lawrence didn’t want to disturb Claire so before his emotions got the better of him, he left. What Lawrence didn’t know was that Claire wasn’t sleeping, she had heard what Lawrence had said, her eyes too filled with tears.