40: Tyler

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40. Tyler

 "Look who's not dead." Ethan grins and I take in the bruise on his face.

"I see they got you too," I comment.

"Actually, they knocked me out with a blow to the back of the head. My beautiful face was fine until some bastard kicked me in the face when I was out."

I wince. "Did they do anything else?"

Ethan shakes his head. "Left me in the parking lot when they took you and Franny. You guys were okay though, right?"

"Yeah, we're fine," I lie. "Just a bit beaten up."

"Is Franny fine?" Ethan asks again.

"Yeah," I say.

No, she's not.

I lean against the side of my car and look over at the school and then glance over at the football field. Mid-year exams are coming up soon, and eventually, graduation. Then what am I supposed to do? I can't stay here forever. Something has to change, something has to move forward.

Carl is finally gone. I don't have to fight anymore. I'm finally free to do whatever I want yet it feels like suddenly there are too many possibilities. Too many questions that there are no answers for.

Ethan comes up beside me and we both look out at the football field.

"You were good," he says, tilting his head towards the field.

"You say it past tense for a reason," I comment.

"It doesn't have to stay past tense," Ethan says. "The school year might be half over but that doesn't mean that all your chances are gone. There are options."

I look down, away from the field I used to do laps around every Wednesday and Friday after school.

"And what are you going to do?" I ask.

Ethan shrugs. "I'll figure it out. Not sure I want to keep up with the motor-racer thing. There are endless possibilities for a junkie like me."

I crack a smile. "You used to want to be a cop."

Ethan scoffs. "Like they're going to accept me now. But the military's standards are a little lower."

I look over at him. "Military?" I echo.

He nods. "Just a thought."

The bell rings and I sigh, picking up my bag from the ground by my feet. "Don't get too high while I'm gone."

Ethan grins. "I'll try and contain myself."

I roll my eyes and head towards the back doors of the school. The roaring engine of Ethan's bike echoes through the parking lot before it fades away down the street and out of sight. I turn off when I'm near the doors and rush down the stairs leading to the football field.

Coach Artegon is exactly where I thought he would be. He's sorting through the equipment in the boy's gym, where the doors are open wide out onto the field. I walk up to the gym doors and knock on the hard metal.

Coach looks up and places the equipment down on a bench.

"Tyler," he says. "Didn't expect to see you here."

I gulp and walk inside, heading over to him.

"Sorry if this is a bad time. I just needed to ask you something," I say.

"Timing's perfectly fine," Coach says. "Mind helping me get the volleyball nets up while you talk?"

I nod and grab the poles from the floor, slotting them into the ground where I know they all go.

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