29: Franny

780K 30K 10K
                                    

29. Franny

I feel sick. Then again, I'm always feeling sick lately. My mind is down in the gutters and my stomach churns with every breath I take. My dad hasn't woken up and even I know that he should have by now. Sometimes I want to just stand by his bedside and yell at him. Tell him how much of an idiot he is, that he should have never gambled and that it's his fault that he's lying there.

But that only makes me want to cry. I cry a lot now, it seems. I should probably be worried about that. The stinging pain in my eyes shouldn't feel normal. Everything that's happening right now shouldn't seem normal. Yet it is. A man getting beaten nearly to death is normal. That thought runs around my head a lot. How normal and plain all of this seems. I feel blank and cry my way through it, but nothing has a shock factor.

It's almost like I've become immune to it. Like the danger is hanging by a piece of thread that will eventually snap. Something always snaps. Now and then I think it's going to be me. Things turn out so shit that I can't help wondering if I'm already snapping and falling away.

Miss Joit is talking in drama class again. Her arms are flying everywhere. Tyler is nowhere to be seen. I chew on my bottom lip and wring my hands together. We are sitting in a circle as usual, yet I feel like I'm on the edge, at the outskirts and out of view. It's a lonely feeling. I wonder if that's why Tyler always sits off to the side—maybe he likes that feeling of loneliness.

In that moment, the door crashes open and Miss Joit looks over, fiercely angry. When she sees who it is, her gaze softens a little.

"Tyler," she says curtly. "Do you have a late slip?"

He shakes his head and makes his way over to the circle, ignoring the teacher's gaze along with everyone else's. It's only when he gets closer that I see what everyone is gawking at. Tyler's cheekbone is bruised, turning a mix of dark green and yellow. It looks painful. But knowing Tyler, he's probably barely noticed it.

He grabs a chair and drags it to the circle, placing it down loudly beside mine.

"Alright, guys." Miss Joit snaps her fingers. "Focus."

When the rest of the class turns to pay attention to her, I tilt my head over to Tyler. "You weren't in history," I whisper.

"Face was irritating me," he says. "Hit was harder than I thought."

"And who gave you that hit?" I ask pointedly.

"A friend," he says grimly. "A mentor of sorts."

"You could have told me you were going to see him," I say.

Tyler shrugs and drops his arm down the back of my chair, but he doesn't touch me. "It all kind of happened fast. I didn't have much time to think. Didn't even know if I was going to come out of it, to be honest."

I frown at him. "You can't just say stuff like that."

"Like what?" he scoffs.

"Like you're not gonna fucking make it back out," I say. Tyler sighs.

"I didn't mean anything by it," he says.

"That doesn't mean you can say it," I snap. "Because I'm the one that has to hear it."

Tyler stares at me before sighing and slouching in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest. "Your dad hasn't woken up, has he?"

"Stop changing the subject," I mutter, bending forward to bring my bag out from under my chair. I open it up and sort through it until I find my pencil case. I pull it out, but it gets stuck on the corner and won't come out. I yank it over and over again.

Bulletproof (Publishing 2023) ✔Where stories live. Discover now