37: Franny

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37. Franny

Tyler and I sit at the end of a long table in the cafeteria, facing each other. We both have our books and binders laid out around us, and a bit of crap food from the cafeteria sitting in front of us. I take a bite of the pizza and turn a page in my history textbook.

"I'm gonna fail," I say.

"No, you're not." Tyler rolls his eyes. "Just study, you'll be fine."

I huff and put the pizza down. Looking up, I notice Tyler glance across the room. I slide my eyes over to where he's looking and see a table filled with a few boys, most of them wearing our school football shirts. I look towards Tyler and sigh.

"I know you miss it," I say. "You always try and convince me you don't, that you're over it but you're not."

Tyler snaps his eyes over to mine before looking down at his food. "I just . . . sometimes I miss little things. How I'd feel when we finished a game. When we'd all go to the same place to eat every time we won. How the coach would tell me that I'd done good. And yeah, sometimes I miss them. They used to be my best friends."

"Why aren't they still?" I ask.

"I pushed them away," Tyler says. "Wasn't really in the mood to try and keep friendships going so eventually they gave up on me. Not their fault."

"I'm sure they still care about you," I say.

"They have a new captain of the football team," he says. "They don't need me anymore."

"That's a lie." I give him a pointed look. "They'd take you back in seconds and you know they would."

Tyler looks back over at his old friends and shrugs. "Not yet though. Not ready yet." He clears his throat. "How's your dad?

"Good," I say. "Pretty much back to normal now. He's used to the whole missing eye thing. He sometimes gets a little freaked out but he's okay."

"Is he any . . . better?"

"You mean has he stopped being an asshole?" I smile. "Yeah, a bit. I mean, I don't know how long it will last but he's nicer." I trace my finger along the table. "I missed that."

Tyler squeezes my hand briefly and finishes up his food.

"What are you doing tonight?"

I shrug. "Probably just stay home and relax for once. You?"

"I have a fight," Tyler says tightly.

My face falls. "A fight?" I echo. "I thought Carl would be easier on you now."

"He already has been," Tyler says. "He thinks it's been too long since I did a fight. He wants to see another one."

This is getting out of hand.

I close my eyes and reach along the table to touch the top of his hand as he did to me a few moments before.

"Be safe," I say. "Please."

Tyler winces. "I'll try."

***

Tally completely destroys any hope I might have had of a peaceful night in, when she comes barreling towards my locker at the end of the school day. She slams her hand against the one beside mine, making me jump nearly a mile in the air. I narrow my eyes at her and zip up my backpack and slide it over my shoulder.

"Can you not do that?" I ask.

"You remember that father-daughter dance?" she asks, completely ignoring what I just said.

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