THE INSTRUCTIONS OF the English homework I didn’t do hang out from the top of my folder: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both.
Story of my life.
According to my football coach, I chose wrongly on the two crap paths I had to face last week. I just ran into Coach on the way to English, and he ripped into me for my sorry decision-making skills when it came to me choosing to stand up for the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club instead of a member of my football team.
I didn’t just get my ass chewed out, his tirade made me late for English with no tardy note. Which is great, since my English teacher hates late students like I hate riding my motorcycle in forty-degree weather while it rains.
I round the corner, then peek through the small window in the door of my class. Ms. Whitlock stands in front of her desk in her patented white button-down shirt, gray pencil skirt and dark-rimmed glasses. From the back row, my best friend Razor meets my eyes and shakes his head. Damn. That means she’s in one of her moods where she’s refusing to let anyone in.
I’m not a tail-tucked-between-my-legs type of guy, but this lady is one of the few who can reduce me to begging. If she doesn’t let me in, then she’ll mark me as absent, the front office will think I skipped, and that means I won’t be able to play at tonight’s football game.
The window rattles when I knock. The entire class turns their heads in my direction, but Ms. Whitlock doesn’t. The muscles in my neck tighten. She is one of the hardest core people I know and my grandfather is the president of a motorcycle club. That says something.
She starts for the whiteboard and I knock on the door again. This time Ms. Whitlock does look my way and she grants me the type of glare reserved for people who kick puppies. I got it. I’m late. I’m the scum of humanity, so let my ass in so I can play football.
There’s this guy in my club, Pigpen. He’s about the same age as Ms. Whitlock, late twenties, and he’s a walking hard-on for this woman even though she would never give him the time of day. He practically runs into walls when she’s around because he’s too focused on checking her out. I don’t see gorgeous—all I see is seriously pissed off and the person standing between me and playing.
Ms. Whitlock points at the clock over her desk. She’s telling me I can wait. If I’m lucky, she’ll open the door after the quiz that I’ll receive a zero on. If I’m not so lucky, she won’t open the door at all.
Two pathetic paths and I could only travel one. Nowhere in that stupid poem did it mention there was good and bad to both paths and that sometimes it’s best not to choose, but to set up camp at the fork and do nothing at all.
I slam my hand into the nearest locker, almost relishing the sting.
A glance across the hallway and I freeze. Doesn’t matter how many times I see her in a day, she still manages to take my breath away. Violet leans against the lockers as beautiful as ever. Red silky hair flowing over her shoulders, a pair of ripped jeans that look like they were tailored for her curves and enough bracelets around her wrists that they clank together when she moves.
Do I feel better? Not really, but I nod anyway as I try to judge if being alone with Violet causes more pain than having my balls ripped off. “Didn’t hurt.”
“Yes, I can see how slamming your hand against a locker didn’t hurt at all.”
My lips tilt up because she got me, and on top of that, Violet made a joke. Since she broke up with me last spring, things between us have been tense. On her side and on mine. Some people, like me and Violet, aren’t supposed to break up. Some people, like me and Violet, don’t know how to be near each other when we do part ways. “Are we talking now?”
“I’m locked out of class. You’re locked out of class. I could ignore you if that’s what you want.”
It’s not. Her ignoring me is never what I wanted. “Why are you late?”
Violet presses her lips together and looks away. A sixth sense within me stirs. Something’s wrong. I’ve known her my entire life. We were born only a few weeks apart and we learned to crawl on the sticky floor of the Reign of Terror clubhouse. We were friends, always friends, until one day, we weren’t just friends anymore. We became more until we lost it all.
“Late’s not your thing,” I say. Violet’s unconventional. Marches to her own drummer, but she’s not the type to be late to class. It’s a respect thing for her, something her dad taught her, and Violet may never listen to another living soul, but she listened to her father. “What’s going on?”
She’s silent and frustration rumbles through me. Violet used to tell me everything. Used to see me as someone who could help solve her problems. She doesn’t see me like that anymore and it pisses me off. I’m angry at her for making us this way. Angry at myself for not figuring out how to fix us.
“You being late wouldn’t have anything to do with Stone, would it?” Stone’s her brother and the question’s a shot in the dark, but I don’t want to miss the chance to keep conversation with her going.
“Why are you late?” she replies as a nonanswer, and my head snaps up. Guess sometimes blind shots do hit their mark. Violet was late because of Stone.
“What happened?” I push.
“I’m not talking about it.”
She cuts me off. “I told you how to help me and my brother six months ago and you told me no.”