The Space Between Us(2)

By: Anie Michaels

The boy dropped his arm a little, still grasping the rock in his fist.

“You've got a boy's name. Can't you take a little pain like a boy?”

Suddenly another boy came up behind the redhead and shoved him to the ground.

“What's your problem, Ryan?” The boy towered over him, fists clenched at his sides. “You can't go throwing rocks at girls, Dude. You're messed up.” Ryan brushed his hands on his jeans, trying to free the dirt and pebbles stuck to his palms from landing on the ground.

“I didn't even throw them that hard and they were small.”

“Doesn't matter. It's wrong.” The dark haired boy looked over at me, and then back to Ryan. “I think you should apologize,” he said.

“Give it up, Asher. You're just sticking up for her because she's got a weird name just like you.” Ryan stood up, spared one look back at me saying nothing, but then turned away and walked towards the school building. I still rubbed the small knot that was forming on the back of my head.

“Are you ok?” Asher asked, walking up the hill towards me.

“Um, yeah, I think so,” I said, still trying to rub the pain away.

“Is it your first day?”

“Yeah, I just moved here.”

“Do you want me to take you to the nurse?”

“No, I'll be ok, but thanks.” I gave him a small smile and turned back to put my notebook into my backpack.

“So, you've got a weird name too?” He asked.

“It's not really a weird name. It's just not supposed to be a girl's name.”

“What is it? Bob? Max?”

I laughed. “My name is Charlie.” He tilted his head to the side, seeming to contemplate what I'd told him.

“That's not a weird name. There's another girl who goes here whose name is Casey. That's a boy's name I guess. It's could be worse; you could be Frank or something.”

I laughed again. “Asher isn't a weird name, either. I like it.”

“Thanks,” he said as he came up right next to me. “So, why'd you move to Willow Falls?”

I shrugged my shoulders, trying not to let on that I didn't really want to talk about it. “I just go where my dad tells me to.”

“Oh. Are you sure you don't need to go see the nurse? I don't mind showing you.”

“No, I'm good,” I said with a small smile.

“Well, I guess I'll see you around.” He gave a small wave and walked back down the small hill. I continued to put my things away and the longer I thought about Ryan and the rocks he threw at me, the more I thought about why I was here in the first place.

Thinking about my mom and how she died was never fun, but it was something I found myself doing often and usually at times when it was inconvenient - like now. The tear that fell down my cheek wasn't because Ryan had thrown rocks at me, but because my mom died. My dad didn't know what else to do, so he moved me away from my friends I'd had all my life to be closer to my grandparents. That was the reason for the tears, not Ryan. But I couldn't let anyone see. I'd never live it down if I was caught crying on the first day at a new school.

No one would know that every time I wiped away a tear it was because I pictured my mom laying in a hospital bed, tubes and wires coming seemingly from every available inch of skin, eyes closed, chest moving only slightly with each shallow breath. It was not because some idiot didn't like my name. My shoulders slumped, my backpack came to rest at my side, and I looked up to the sky trying to calm down enough to go back to class. Deep breaths - one after another.

I managed to get my emotions under control and headed back to my classroom. The rest of the day dragged on, time slowed down by the loneliness of not being around anyone I know. A girl sat in the desk next to me and I caught her looking in my direction more than once since lunch. My eyes drifted over to her and again, she looked at me. I pushed my black, stick-straight hair over my shoulder, turned my head towards her and gave a faint smile. She smiled back and just that one moment made the day not totally suck.

I gave my attention back to the teacher at the front of the room but a few minutes later I felt something poking my elbow. I looked over and the blonde girl next to me handed me a note. Taking it from her, I hid it under my desk to unfold it.