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One - Unreported Victim

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Haley

Rain splatters wildly against the high, glass windows of the cafeteria which is brimming with students desperate to avoid getting their belongings wet. The warm aroma of freshly made food is drowned by the pungent smell of wet socks. The place is impossibly noisy today, ruining my attempt to cram Shakespearian drama for the classics test I have ten minutes from now. My anxiety increases with every passing minute and as it does, my foot drums faster against the leg of the wooden cafeteria table.

"Did you see his face?" Nancy whispers loudly next to me and I wonder why she even bothers to whisper when it doesn't help lower her volume even by one decibel. "He split his cheek this time."

"Nancy!" I jump, exasperated. "I don't care."

Nancy presses her lips into a thin line, giving me the most challenging glare she can muster. Her brown eyes stare into mine and her brown curls seem to crackle with electricity.

"I have a test, Nancy," I explain myself with a sigh. "I didn't get to study for it. All this noise is not helping and neither are you."

"I get it. Your test is more important than your best friend," she says. "I'll just go --"

"No, wait. Fine. What were you saying?" I give in and Nancy beams, her anger dissipating quickly.

"I was talking about Xavier." She lowers her voice to a whisper again.

"What is it with everyone being obsessed with him?" I ask but she ignores me.

"Did you see him today?"

I shake my head and she huffs in a what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-you way.

"He's bleeding ... again," Nancy tells me and my eyes widen in disbelief. "Looks like whatever he does really got him this time."

I look towards the other end of the cafeteria, where Xavier usually sits. He's always alone, whether in the café or in the class, or just silently strolling the football field.

"He's not here," Nancy tells me, noticing my gaze trying and failing to see his table through the thickening crowd.

"Where is he?"

Nancy shrugs. "When I was coming out of my world history class, I saw him following the counselor to his office. Mr. Robinson probably wants to know what's going on with him."

I frown to myself.

"I wonder what he does," Nancy voices her thoughts and I nod, feeling the same way. "Maybe he's got that fight club type thing going on during the nights."

I almost laugh at her inference. "Yeah, he might be Tyler Durden for all we know." I roll my eyes.

Nancy gasps comically. "Oh my Lord, I love Brad Pitt," she squeals. "I mean, who doesn't, right? I would marry the man if I could."

"Pretty sure he won't feel the same way," I say and Nancy scowls at me. "Besides, the actor is older than my dad."

I glance at the silver watch at my wrist, a gift from my mom, and see it's time for class.

"I'll see you after class," I tell Nancy, quickly gathering up my books, notes, and stationary and stuffing it haphazardly into my bag. I jump to my feet and fling the bag over my shoulder as I spin around and hurry away from the table.

"Good luck! Don't flunk English," Nancy yells after me. "You already have to flunk calculus tomorrow. There's no way you're skipping tonight's get-together."

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