How to Save a Life(9)

By: Emma Scott

“A few months after the Salingers officially adopted Evan—three years ago, or so—there was a factory shooting up near Jefferson. Six people dead, thirteen injured.”

My eyes widened. “Evan was involved in a shooting?” That would explain a lingering bad rep, and then some.

“Not directly,” Marnie said. “But the morning of, Evan started freaking out, screaming and yelling for help; shouting at someone to stop doing whatever horrible shit they were doing. Someone only he could see. And all this right at the exact same time as the shooting.”

Now I did roll my eyes. “Seriously? A coincidence…”

“You would think. Except Evan seemed to know it was happening before anyone else heard about what was going on in Jefferson. It’s not like the news was on. No one knew shit. Except for Evan. He knew.”

I crossed my arms. This all smelled like so much rumor-mongering bullshit, but I played along. “So he’s psychic or something? How did he know?”

“That’s the kicker,” Marnie said. “They asked Evan a hundred times and kept saying he saw it in a dream.”

Adam shook his head. “The cops came and they hauled him off to a doctor, and apparently Evan told the doc a whole lot more stuff he’d ‘seen in a dream.’ Stuff that wasn’t really possible for him to know.”

“Stuff like what?”

First bell rang.

“To be continued,” Marnie said, and put her hand on my arm. “Until then, remember: Social. Poison. You start associating with Evan Salinger and even we can’t help you with the fallout.”

Adam nodded solemnly and the two of them headed off to their next class leaving me standing there with a hundred more questions.

I sighed. Fucking cliffhangers.

I walked to my next class, and recalled what Marnie had said about standing next to Evan. Like standing under power lines.

It’s not like that, I thought. Not an itchy buzz but a warm ray of light…even when he wasn’t looking at you.

All through Calculus, I didn’t stop thinking about Evan. Since I was thirteen years old, I’d gotten really good at not giving a shit about other people. But I sort of felt bad for him. Not for being institutionalized, but because he’d needed to be. He’d hit some kind of breaking point, I guessed. I could appreciate that. I’d been there too, and wore the scar to prove it.

That afternoon, while Jared was fumbling his way up my skirt behind the bleachers, I asked him about Evan.

“What?” Jared stopped, blinked at me. “What about him?”

“Why do you guys rag on him so hard?”

“He’s a freakshow, that’s why.”

“Seems pretty normal to me.”

“He’s a mental case and shouldn’t even be allowed at school.” Jared was intent on his prize, like a little boy rummaging in a cookie jar. “He’s a liar and a lunatic.”

Jared’s enthusiasm was getting rough and it was unspooling a sickening sensation in my gut.

“The fuck do you care, anyway?” Jared said, grabbing at me hard.

“I don’t,” I said, and bit down on his neck, harder.

Jared tore away from me. “What the hell?”

My terms. My call. Always, my call.

The mantra repeated in my head and I made my hand reach for Jared, not the other way around.

“You need to chill,” I said, and I reached for the zipper on his fly. Me. Because it was my fucking choice.

Jared eased back toward me. “I just don’t want a hickey. Laney will see.”

I slipped my hand down his pants. “I’ll try to be more gentle.”


He tried pushed me down to kneeling but I was already on my way.

I left the field at quarter to four. The sun was sliding toward the horizon, and the school was empty as I made my way to the bike rack. Mine was the only one there beside some rusted junker someone must have abandoned.