14: Tyler

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14. Tyler

I yawn as I lean back on the brick wall. The sun is long gone, hidden behind a mass of white and grey clouds. The cigarette between my fingers just hangs there, burning away. I don't want it anymore. My thoughts have turned darker.

Nearly at the end of last class and I find myself here—doing absolutely nothing, slacking off like any other day. It's been a few days since I was beaten up and the marks are still there even though the swelling has gone down. My side still hurts but so far is okay. Though I'm not exactly a doctor so for all I know, it could be infected.

The cigarette is suddenly yanked out of my hand and I jolt upright, looking up to see a familiar guy smoking my own cigarette. He leans against the wall beside me and blows out smoke slowly.

"I didn't know you were a compulsive smoker," he muses.

"I'm not," I tell Ethan. "I'm a social smoker."

"Is that what they call it now?" He smirks.

"Screw off," I mutter and grab the cigarette, throwing it down on the ground and stomping it out.

"Well, that was a waste." Ethan sighs.

"What are you doing here?" I ask. "You shouldn't be hanging around a school when you're not a student. Someone's gonna label you as a pedophile."

"I'm checking up on you," Ethan laughs. "Jesus, when did that become such a bad thing?"

"You're not my dad," I mumble, raising myself up higher against the wall.

"Aw," Ethan coos mockingly. "Are you having an inferiority complex?"

"Fuck off," I hiss.

"Alright, alright!" Ethan raises his arms and then drops them after a few seconds. "Your face does look messed up, though."

"Thanks. I always like my friends to make sure I know I'm beautiful and don't get any insecurities."

"Insecurities," Ethan scoffs. "You don't even know what a damn insecurity is Mr. Let's-beat-the-crap-out-of-everyone-for-money. You ooze confidence like a zit."

"That's disgusting," I groan.

Ethan just flashes me a smile and shoves his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "So, are you coming?" he asks as the bell rings for the end of class.

"Coming?" I frown.

"To my race." He rolls his eyes. "You said you'd be there. You know . . . seeing as last time you were getting the shit beat out of you."

"It's always nice to have a friend who cares about when I'm being attacked," I deadpan.

"So are you coming or are you going to stand here and whine?" He raises his eyebrows.

I open my mouth to rattle off some poor excuse when the back doors to the school open right beside us. Laughter follows through the door and two familiar girls come walking out. I can tell by the huge smiles on their faces that they're talking about something amusing.

Franny quickly stops when she sees us, and her smile fades a little. "Hey, Tyler," she says, a little hesitantly.

I smile. "Hey, Franny."

The ginger friend looks at both of us with a smirk. Franny catches her friend's look and quickly slaps her shoulder. I bite back my laugh.

"Who's this?" Ethan asks from beside me.

The two girls look at him as if only just noticing he's there. I take a step to the side and gesture towards my friend. "This is Ethan. Ethan this is Francesca, and, uh . . . "

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