My father's eyes were hollow the next morning, like two abysses of empty darkness. That's how I know he hadn't slept a wink. And I also knew why. Max hadn't come home last night. I gently put a hand on his. He doesn't respond, just keeps glaring at the wall with those hollow eyes as if he might find Max hidden behind it or camouflaged into the wall. I let out a sigh, as it was no use, and stare out the large window right beside the wooden entrance. It's not that I wasn't worried about him, too, but the fact that dad hadn't seen any of us or talked to anyone other than Max frustrated me.
I understood, too. He loved his first wife, Maryanne so very much. He wanted to cherish the only thing she left behind: Max. he wants Max to see him as his father again. He wants Max to forgive him. Because dad just never could forgive himself. Maybe he thought that if his son forgave him, only then could he forgive himself. I hadn't had good sleep either; and I don't think anyone in the town has either. We were all waiting for the next victim, bracing for the next tragedy to strike. I rub my stinging eyes and slowly stir my cereal, with no real appetite nor strength to lift the spoon into my mouth and swallow. Josh sits opposite me, watching the news on the TV with interest and munching down his cereal so fast I itched to stop him every time he lifted that spoon.
But I don't, and I let my hair cover my eyes instead. I don't want to look. I don't want to see the floods and the deaths and the pain on people's faces on the screen. For once, I was sick of it all. My stomach churning, I get up and pour all the cereal into the trash. Nobody looks at me as I begin sobbing quietly, as if they couldn't hear me. As if I was in another world. I grab a fistful of tissues and walk out as if nothing had happened.
The school's gate is closed when I arrive. For a second I just stand there, reading the motto several times: Reach for the stars. I groan, shaking my head, and climb the towering fence gracefully. All those P.E classes finally payed off. I jump down and curse, tingling pain coursing through my feet, and sprint towards English as though my life depended on it.
The teacher shoots me a glare as I walk in, but doesn't say a word. I stare at the empty seat of Chris, scoffing under my breath. He always skipped class, solely for going out with his many girlfriends. They sure love them bad boys, he answered every time I asked him why; I later gave up on changing his mind, for Chris Fox was the most stubborn person on the planet. Arguing with him resulted in a long rant from him about his rights and his choices and how he would stay who he was for all time. I didn't doubt that one bit.
Chris was a good guy; we had been best of friends since kindergarten. He had been climbing the trees when I spotted him, so shocked that I couldn't speak, and then before I knew it I was on top of the tree with him holding my hand. I took one look down and froze, shaking like a leaf. Needless to say, I cried out so much that we both got in trouble with the teachers and had two stars off our score board.
The score board was for discipline, which worked in a simple way. When we did a good job of behaving in class, we got a star. If we didn't behave, two stars got taken off. The punishment was double the reward, so nobody was tempted to misbehave. Chris, on the other hand, nothing could stop. He cut the other kid's papers, swore at the teachers (no idea where he learned them from; his parents are pretty decent) and got into all sorts of trouble, dragging me with him.
He picked fights with older kids every time they acme an inch close to me, and nobody really wanted to bully a loud kindergartner that swore at you. The teachers had given up on disciplining him long ago, and his parents payed no mind to his misbehavior.
"Let him be a child while he still can" His dad always calmly told the teachers that complained about him. He first started dating in grade 5, a girl by the name of Kat. Her last name was a twist of letters I couldn't ever remember. The kids had given her the nickname 'Kit Kat' as a friendly gesture, not to irritate her. She was a loud, strange girl that wore jeans and short hair just like a boy. That's what drew Chris to her; they had so much in common it was like looking at the female version of Chris. I could swear she was his long lost twin. We joked about it all the time, and he tried many times to get me into dating as well, but not with much luck.
That was one promise to myself I would not break; that I wouldn't date until I was off to my senior year in Jackson Secondary. I dully watch the clock tick on the wall, tuning out Mr. Parkers's voice explain how to tear away at a poem and dissect it to find the emotions hidden inside. The bell rings and I stand, throwing my bag over my shoulder, when I'm stopped by Chris's paper white face, standing at the doorway looking as if he'd just seen a ghost. He only utters one word: