In Pre-Cal, Mary sat next to Sienna. Sienna, along with her boyfriend David, were probably the only two people Mary spoke to beyond the obligatory niceties.
"You're here!" Sienna said cheerfully. "How are you doing?"
"I was sick the day of the accident," Sienna said. "It must've been crazy."
Mary took her books out of her bag. "Yeah, it was."
"Have you seen Carter?"
"Once. At the hospital.”
"How about today?"
Mary shook her head. "I haven't been back to the hospital. Besides, it'd be kinda weird since I'm not a family member or friend, you know?"
Sienna raised her eyebrows. "No, I meant here. Have you seen him here at school today?"
Mary looked at her, confused. "Of course not."
Sienna looked her dead in the eye. "Mary. He's here. He was back at school on Friday."
"I didn't believe it either at first. But David and I saw him in the hall after lunch."
It had taken Mary days to stop aching enough to function. With pain meds.
Carter had nearly died. And he came back to school just two days after the accident?
"I heard he went to class and basketball practice and everything like normal," Sienna explained. "Well, maybe 'normal' isn't the right word. He’s been acting weird."
"Weird?" Mary asked. "How so?"
"Well, you know what an asshole he can be. But not since he's been back. He hardly talks to anyone. Not even Laci."
Mary stared at her blankly.
"Laci Wallace. His flavor of the month.”
More blank staring.
Sienna rolled her eyes. “His current girlfriend.”
"Oh," Mary said.
"No one saw him during lunch last week, which is weird because he's always at the popular table with his friends," Sienna continued. "At practice, Coach Hannigan made him sit on the bench. You know, being in an accident and all."
"What's strange about that?"
"Carter Maxwell? On the bench? He would've had a fit! But I heard that he just sat there without a single complaint. He's totally different."
The bell rang again, and Mr. Hubert began the lesson. But Mary hardly paid attention as she thought about what Sienna had told her.
Was Carter really here at school? Now?
She only had her last class with him--Physics. He normally sat in the back with some of his friends, while Mary took one of the lonely desks near the front. She'd have to wait until then to see if he was in a body cast or something.
When Pre-Cal finished, Mary gathered up her stuff and headed out the door with the others as usual.
And nearly collided with another person.
"Gah!" she cried as pain surged through her bruised side, bringing her to her knees.
"Mary!" Sienna came over to her. "Geez Carter. What's wrong with you?"
Mary looked up.
The person she had run into was Carter Maxwell.