*ONE 8:00 am. Way to school. I�m slightly nervous.

It�s the first time mom drives a car in one month. The last time she has driven something, we were still living in London. It�s not more than two weeks, but she�s a little bit lost with all the moving-thing - and she�s definitely not what I call a �thoughtful-mother�; she�s the opposite, actually. - Hurry, Lileh! Your dad is going to be out this afternoon, so you�d better make something to eat� Oh God! Mrs. Fleischer must be waiting for me right now! Bye! -Bye. � I answered closing the door�s car. But she didn�t seem to be listening. She was late to a meeting. Unlike other mothers I know, my mom is not a housewife. She�s studied anthropology in Harvard University. Thanks to her, I�m always informed about every human discovery. Recently, the Natural History Museum of Basel hired her, so we came from London, to live in Fr�hlingswald. My dad wasn�t happy about this idea, though. He is a great lawyer and was getting pretty famous back in London; and it took pretty long time for him to be well-known. I heard mom and dad arguing almost every night. Our lives were getting nearer and nearer from hell. After three horrendous months, my dad�s boss came with the solution. After a talk, a friend of his agreed to give my dad a job in his company in Fr�hlingswald. Four months after that, we were all moving into our new house in Apfelsort. 8:02 am. Hauptstra�e � Whatever it means. (rua principal) - Well�That�s it. � I said to myself. I took a deep breath and turned around slowly. The building was starring at me. It was old, made of dark terra cotta bricks; Glumly, I started walking into the building�s direction. There were 30 minutes before the first class and many students walking, laughing, flirting, gossiping and reading. Just like any school. I was looking for the secretaries-room. Some people were staring at me as I passed by them in the hallway, and I knew why. I am 1, 72 meters high and red-haired. That�s not a perfect model of an ordinary girl. I don�t care to be looked at, but stared at it�s a little uncomfortable. There was a boy that wasn�t looking, though. He had brown hair and was kind of tanned; Hispanic maybe. Concentrated on a magazine and listening to music, he didn�t even notice me. Thank God! I looked at the secretaries-room, but nobody was there. I got closer. Nobody came. When I was about to ring the bell on the table, a woman came from behind it. - Good morning, my dear! What can I do for you? - I took a fright. She came too fast. - Hello � my voice was weird - I�m new here and I was wondering if you could give me my schedules, please. - Oh! Of course! Just give me your name, sweetie. - Lily Walters, Class 10. She sat in front of the computer and all the room was in silence. I liked her. She was blond and was about 45 years old. Her jeans dress had lots and lots of pins. One of them called my attention. It was a lollipop, a green and red one; my favorite. I used to buy lollipops almost everyday in a very sympathetic little store in London. Its owner was Mrs. Grey, a sweet old lady, who I�ve known since I was five. She used to give me some free lollipops from time to time. I miss Mrs. Grey; I miss her cute little store in the corner of my street. - Sweetheart, are you okay? � The secretary-lady was worried. I was probably with the empty look that dad tells me all the time. I didn�t want to scare her so I put

a big great - and fake - smile on my face. -Oh�don�t worry! I�m a little bit distracted these days�You know, I�ve just moved from London� -Right� � she answered laughing without diverting her eyes from the computer�s screen � I can�t find your name on our list� I panicked. -What? � I practically yelled � My name�s not there? It has to be a mistake...If my mom brought me to the wrong school, what am I going to do? She�s working right now and my dad it�s out, they won�t answer the phone! Oh my-Calm down, dear! � She was as stressed as I was � Maybe I made a mistake here in the computer. I could�ve changed the files�Let me check. I�ll spell your name, okay? � She didn�t wait for my answer � L-i-l-y W-a-l-t� -Oh! � I interrupt her � My name�s not Lily. It�s Lileh. L-i-l-e-h Walters. � I was used to it. Lileh is NOT a common name. It�s not like Jessica or Mary that there are at least two in your classroom. My mom wanted to make homage to Ireland, her homeland, because she was already living with my dad in England. To avoid saying my name over and over, I simplify it. -Sweetie, are you sure everything�s fine? � Oh no, I had that empty look again. �Yes!� � I faked a smile - �Nothing to be worried about Mrs�� - Miller, Elisabeth Miller. But call me Lizzie. � She said with a radiant smile - Right. Hum�Lizzie � It was weird to call a woman like that � Could you please give me my schedules? Don�t get me wrong, but there are a few minutes left to class and I have to find the classrooms� -Lily, you�re holding them. � She looked at me as if I was purple or something Your right hand � she pointed. I looked at it, and the schedules were really there. What a great way to begin school. I talk to a person for 5 minutes and she already thinks that I�m crazy. -Oh! � I said, trying to be like a joyful person � I thought�Hum� forget It - I checked my watch: 8:50 � Look at the time! I�ll be late! See you! � And ran of the room, hoping for Lizzie didn�t think that I was crazy. SAINT PAUL Classes Schedule Lileh Walters � 1st Year

A m e r i c a n

S c h o o l

English Mr. Johnson � 41 *Locker # 174, 1st floor. * Lunch : 12:00 - 13:00 * 8:30 am � 3:30 pm * Additional information at the secretaries� office.

Math Mrs. Collin � 48 Science Mr. Williams � 43

Social Studies Mr. Brown � 50 Health and Safety Ms. Burnett � 44

Food Menu Free Friday Mon: Potato Bar, Fr. Bread Pizza, Fish Fingers, Meatball Sub, Spicy Chix. Wed: Taco Salad Bar, Burrito Corndog/pickle, Deli Bar, Italian Beef. Tues : Soup & Sand , Chicken Patty, Tuna In Pita ,Indiv. Pizza,Nachos Deluxe. Thurs. Asian Bar, Chicken Parm. Corn/FF, Pasta Bar, Fish Stix.

Great, Science�s the third class, my worst subject. In London, my marks were always C or less. Mrs. Potter, my last teacher, tried very hard to help me, but it didn�t help much. I�m a Science disaster. I hope that Mr. Williams like me; it will minimize the red-marks effects. My bag was full of books so, finding the locker was a priority. It wasn�t very far from the secretaries�-room. Quickly, number 174 was full and my English, Algebra and Biology books were inside my bag. 8:26 on my watch. I ran to the classroom. I felt better on the 3rd floor. It was less crowded and was way lighter. I sat on a bench in the hall near a big window. For the first time, I noticed the walls colour. They were light champagne with some delicate plaster ornaments on the ceiling. It matched with the dark brown furniture and doors. It seemed very old, inspired on the XIX century architecture. I imagined myself building something like that, being the famous architect I�ve always wanted to be. Maybe, when I have time, I�ll go to Basel and try to go to Herzog & de Meuron�s office or go check some of their buildings! I could see the schools yard form the window. There weren�t many people, though. I think they were all inside or getting ready for class. Punctually, the bell rang at 8:30 am. And I entered in the classroom pushed by the other students, that didn�t seem to notice me. I sat on the 5th roll, last desk. It was near a wall with some papers on it. I waited for 3 long minutes until the teacher arrives. He had brown hair and a quite big belly. -Hello everybody! I�m Mr. Johnson, your English teacher. Many of you have already

seen me walking around the school, right? Good. Well�Oh! There�s a new student here! My eyes were probably wide as a scared cat. -Yeah, kid. What�s your name? � He said pointing at me. -Lily, Lily Walters. � I said with a terrible voice. -Nice to meet you, Lily. Talk more about you, will you? I smiled and tried to look glad �Hum�I have arrived form London two weeks ago and I�m still getting used to �� I didn�t how to pronounce the name of the town where I was living! Why it had to be SO difficult?! Suddenly, while I was internally freaking out, I had an idea �Here� � I said with a triumphant voice. Great way to avoid laughing � �But I like it already, it�s different from London. The weather around here seems to be slightly better� � I glanced at Mr. Johnson. I was desperate to have a sit. -So � He said looking for something to say � Welcome Miss Lily! I�m certain you�ll like Saint Paul. - Thank you, Mr. Johnson. � And I sat as quickly as possible. Everything was great.Mr.Johson is very funny. And I understood 100% of class. I hope I keep this rhythm. The bell rang and the class began to complain. I remembered the Algebra class. I think I�ll be the only happy student on Mrs. Collin class. I walked into room 48 direction hoping that somebody would at least say �Hi� to me. That didn�t happen. Once again I sat on the last desk, on the last roll. This time, I didn�t have to wait anyone. Mrs. Collin was already in the class. I recognize many students there, but there were many new ones. The class started normally, but as soon as she turned around, little notes were passed form hand to hand. Some students texted too. No one was paying attention at Mrs. Collin, I was the only one who tried, but the sound of papers being bended and laughs took my concentration away. When the class finished, the whole room got empty in two seconds. - Miss, could you please come here? � Mrs. Collin said to me. I tried not to show, but her request made me nervous. Why was she calling me? I paid attention to her and was the only one who kept my mouth shut. - Of course � I got closer � Here I am. -Welcome to East Side Middle � she said with a shy smile on her face -Thank you, Mrs. Collin. -You should to be a good student. A much focused one. I saw you trying to pay attention at the class. Don�t worry, next time everybody will be quieter. -Thanks! � I said socked. I didn�t think that she noticed me � You teach well, Mrs. I understood everything! -Oh�Thank you! � She said laughing � Well, you should hurry up, or you�ll be late

to class. See you tomorrow. -Right, see you Mrs. Collin! � I said running out of the room. The door was almost closing when I got into room 41. -Hey, there! � Mr. Williams said � What�s the password? I froze, and my face must have changed colour from normal white, to ghost white. I had no idea what to say. -Hum...that was a joke, kid. � He said � Come in. I entered and sat on the first chair I saw. -Well...What�s your name, ginger? The class laugh. I didn�t like the joke. - Lily Walters � I said with a bitter voice. He noticed my voice tone. - Lily...That�s a beautiful name! My daughter will be called Lily... � he said trying to fix the bad joke � But I�ll have to find a beautiful girl to marry with first. Let�s see if Mrs. Burnett says yes... Everybody laugh, including me. His good mood was contagious. - Okay, okay. That�s enough, right? Let�s study people! � He said clapping his hands Biology was quite the same as English. I laugh a lot and understood almost everything. A real record! The time passed so fast that I took a fight when the bell rang, announcing the lunch-time � Even I ran from the classroom. -Bye, Mr. Williams! I didn�t hear any answer, because I was running down the stairs. Many tables were already being used in the cafeteria. I walked straight to the end of the giant queue. While I was waiting, I took my I pod out of my bag and started to listen some songs. The queue wasn�t so long after all. After three songs, I had to turn it off to talk to the cafeteria-lady. She was too young, maybe 24 years old and very skinny too. She had dark blond hair and was wearing a low rise jeans, the school�s uniform shirt open with a pink blouse under it. -Hey! � She said with a big smile � Here�s your dish. Bon a petit! -Thank you! � I said joyfully. And I turned around to look for a table. I walked all over the room, but any table was available. I mean, there were some sits, but the people who were sitting around them weren�t very friendly. Without table to sit, I surrender to my last option: The ladies� room. I walked by the hallway and turned the first left. I put my tray on the sink, and starred the mirror. I couldn�t see anything wrong with me. I was wearing jeans and a long green T-shirt without sleeves, with a pair of brown and cream All-Star. I was just wearing a tic-tac on my hair and a black watch on my right wrist; my hair was okay

too. And I haven�t talk to anyone yet so, it�s impossible that they didn�t like me. After some time starring at the mirror, I realized that thinking about it wasn�t going to solve any problem and I had to eat. So,I sat on the toilet and started to eat my fish fingers. Around 12:40 I had finished lunch. I got out of the ladies� room, returned my tray at the cafeteria and walked to the secretaries� room. -Hey Lizzie! -Hello, honey! � She said still eating her sandwich � Did you like here? -Yeah...The teachers are very nice. � I said hiding my sadness with a fake smile -Hum...I see � She looked concerned � What about the students? I wasn�t ready for that question -Oh! � I answered trying to find an excuse � Humm� They are...well...nice. -I can see that. They�re so nice that they let you eat all alone, right? My eyes filled up with some tears, but I couldn�t cry for that. It was ridiculous. There were worse things to cry about than eating alone. I took a deep breath and swallowed the knot on my throat. -What�s the problem with me? I haven�t even talked to them yet! Why are they doing this to me? � I was completely mad� I want my friends; I want to go back London! � Than everything came back, the knot on my throat, the almost sobbing and the desperate feeling of running away. - Easy, sweetie, easy. It�s just your first day. The other students don�t know how to react, too. You�ll see... tomorrow you�ll meet lots of people and make new friends, okay? � Her tone was the sweetest. I sat on the armchair in front of the balcony. -Right... � I recomposed myself - Let�s change subject, shall we? -You�re the boss � said Lizzie making a funny face trying to make me laugh. -Hum...you know that blank space on the classes schedule part? � I asked � What�s that? - I forgot to tell you! � She said looking for something � It�s an activity that you can do here at school...hum� extracurricular activities! � She was still looking for something - Found it! Here, take this with you and decide at home. She gave me the leaflet. - Wow...That�s what I call variety...Computers, instruments, languages, art, drama, physics , soccer , softball, baseball , basketball , chess ,literature, ballet...impressive! Lizzie smiled -So, Do you think you can decide �till tomorrow? � She asked

- Hum�I think I won�t participate this semester�I�m on an adaptation-phase� - Are you sure? � She was surprised � Don�t you wanna think about it? - No at all! � I had too many things to do. - All right, then. When you find something interesting, talk to me! - Got it. � I checked my watch.12:55 � hey Lizzie, I have to go to class� My face denounced me. - Hey�If the situation keeps the same tomorrow, come here! I�d be glad to have to company. She had noticed how sad I was. Her invitation made me happier. At least I had someone to talk to. I was in the middle of the hallway when I heard her calling me. I went back to the secretaries� room -Yes? - Hey�try to make friends, okay? It�s good to have some. � She said seriously -I already have friends Lizzie�But they�re not here. -I know, I know�I meant the ones who study here. They�re nice children� -Whatever, Lizzie! They don�t want to talk to me! � I said two octaves higher than usual � I�ll meet you tomorrow. Bye. I ran to the 3rd floor and sat down a bench near the window. I hated school, I hated it, hated it, hated it, hated it. Why didn�t people want to talk to me? Was I weird or something? I was about to cry again when I saw that Hispanic guy who I�ve had seen that morning. He was asleep in the room across the yard. Girls were laughing at him discretely. The teacher hadn�t notice him yet. Suddenly, some guy threw something at his head, waking him up. He looked at the boys behind him and said something really angry. - Miss! Are you going to come in? � Someone said - Sorry? � I asked turning myself around. The voice was from Health and Safety teacher. � Oh! Mrs. Burnnett! Sorry! � I ran in her direction � I�m really sorry! I sat on the first desk I saw again. -It�s all right�Just don�t let it happen again. � She walked into the board�s direction� Could you tell me what your name is, please? -Hum, Lily Walters � I answered -Nice to meet you, Lily. � She smiled and clapped her hands � Let�s start guys! I didn�t know anybody from other classes, but everything was fine. I couldn�t pay attention, tough .Too many people talking and I kept on thinking on my friends,

who were in England, Greg and Jenny. I missed them so badly. I couldn�t wait until I get home. I would log on my computer and try IM them. I couldn�t stop thinking about the thing Lizzie said to me: �They�re nice children�. Come on! They were mean! She�s not studying with them�That�s why she said it. I she were in my shoes right now, she would know. The bell rang, interrupting my daydream. I just put my things inside my bag and left. Mrs. Burnnett was busy with someone. 2:05 pm. I hurried to my Social Studies class, not paying attention to the colour of the walls this time. Once again, I waited a LONG time before class start. In the classroom, everybody was talking, except me. -Sorry guys, I�m late! � said Mr. Brown running into the classroom Mr. Brown took some time to organize his things �and himself. I leaned on my chair and waited until class start. Once again, nobody talked to me. Finally, Mr. Brown got ready. -Hello! � He was breathless � How are you this year? All the students started to talk about their trips, family events, and their news. I listened to every story. Most of them were funny and made me laugh. Suddenly, a dark-haired girl put up her hand and the teacher let her talk. She turned and looked at me. - What about you, Lily? � She asked innocently � I�m sure you have a great story to tell us. - Great idea, Alicia! Talk more abut you, Lily � He said gesturing for me to get up. I got up -Well�Hi! � I waved quickly to Mr. Brown � I�m Lily Walters and two weeks ago I moved here from London. That�s it. � I sat on my desk. Mr. Brown was disappointed. He was waiting for something more interesting than my super-short story. -Er�Thanks Lily. You�ll like here. � And he turned to the board. The bell rang, announcing the end of the last class. In a few seconds, all the students were gone. Slowly, I organized my things, put my books and notebooks apart, said goodbye to Mr. Brown and left the room. The hallway was a mess. Freshmen, juniors and seniors were all in the same place, desperate to go home. After some punches on my shoulder and pushes, I finally got on my locker. Contaminated with the school�s mood, I threw everything in it and ran out � I was in a hurry to get home too. The students standing on the sidewalk were less excited, but not quieter. People were shouting and laughing too loudly. I had to plug my ears with my hands to pass by them. I was almost getting on the corner of the street when I heard someone shouting my name in the middle of the crowd.

- Lileh! Just wait, damn it! - Who? � My eyes couldn�t find anyone familiar. Suddenly, I felt somebody holding me tighter around my waist. - Buzz off, you perv! � I got ready to hit the creature�s stomach with my elbow - Easy! It�s me, Lil. � I recognized my dad�s voice but my body was faster than my brain � OUCH! What the hell are you doing?! � He yelled in pain. - Sorry, sorry, sorry�I didn�t mean to hit you, dad � Words practically flew out of my mouth � But I wasn�t expecting you, mom said that you had something to do this afternoon, so I thought that some pervert was about to attack me�- His head was down, starring at the floor � Dad? Are you alright? -Ouch � he complained � You�re stronger than you seem to be�my god! He laughed nervously. He was still in pain. -I must know how to survive � I raised my arm and kissed my slim biceps. He laughed again. But this time, he was alright. � What happened to your �afternoon-thing�? � I asked curiously. -Oh�I had an interview with my possible future boss. �Wasn�t the job practically yours?� � I asked vexed �It is, it is�But I have to be interviewed first� � He blinked � �Anyhow, He didn�t show up. That�s why I came here to pick you up� I stopped walking and starred at him open-mouthed. -I can�t believe he left you waiting! � I yelled - What an idiot! I�d kick his butt if � - He called, Lil � he interrupted me - You don�t have to kick anyone�s butt. - Calling was the only decent thing he could do, dad�unless he wants to be known as� - Enough, Miss Lileh Walters � He interrupted me once again; he put his hand on my shoulder and started walking down the street - Come on. Let�s go. I have to prepare a special dinner. -Okay- I tried to walk as fast as him - Can I ask the motive? - My dad opened the car�s door for me � Oh, thank you, by the way. -Not at all, Lil. � He walked around the car and sat on the driver sit � Well, Mark will eat with us tonight � the car dangled and started to move. - You�re kidding me! � I shouted � Really? -Yep � my dad said hiding his big smile - I can�t believe it! � I was so happy that my body felt like flouting. Mark had

moved to Geneva two years before we move to Fr�hlingswald, and I haven�t seen him since then. I missed him a lot � We have to make something really special! -I�m thinking about pasta Carbonara�What do you think? � The car stopped - Delicious! � I said getting out of the car � Mom and mark will love it. - I hope so � he locked the car � Let�s shop! We entered in the sympathetic Grace�s Market Place. The vegetables looked fresh and the fruits, juicy. I walked by the candies� aisle looking for some lollipops, but they were all shoddy. Pasta, chicken and fish were on the other side. So was dad, looking for the best choice. He was standing there, with his right hand under his chin. - Hey, dad � I said walking by the aisle � What about dessert? - I haven�t forgotten! And I already thought about it. I�ll prepare your favourite: Apple Pie! Good, Hun? - Marvelous! � Then, I remembered Mark � But isn�t this dinner specially prepared for Mark? We should make HIS favourite dessert! - You�re right�But he can find vanilla ice-cream everywhere! � He turned to pick some ingredients. - Alright, then! See you outside.

* TWO - Lileh! Could you help me here? - My dad yelled. - Just a minute! � I answered, sticking my glowing stars on the white and clean ceiling � What�s wrong with this thing? � I said to myself. It was supposed to look like the Milky Way Galaxy, but it seemed like a giant open flower � Maybe if I put this one there and � - Lil, I need you! � My dad yelled once again. I jumped out of my bed, closed the window and ran down the stairs. - What�s up, dad? � I asked � You�re not gonna tell me that you screwed pasta, are you? He starred at me as if what I said was something impossible to happen. - Of course not! I just want you to put the apple pie on the oven � he gave me the pie sheet � Mark and mom will arrive soon� - Right � I ran on the oven�s direction and put the pie in it � Done! -Thanks. That�s all! You�re free to go� - and he turned to finish the Carbonara. I sat on the sofa and turned the TV on. I switched channels incredibly fast, searching something interesting that could distract me a little. There were too many bright colors. My eyes started to feel weird. It was a nice awkward feeling.

- Dad! Has the cabo-guy been here yet? � My fingers were enjoying themselves pressing the remote control�s buttons. Up, Down, Up, Down, up, up, down, down. - Oh�- He complained something and whispered some swear words. As he was cooking, I couldn�t listen well pressing the buttons faster and faster� I�ve already called the technician. It should work soon � His voice was tense. - Oh right, then�I�ll check Mark�s bed, okay? � I said. My head was hurting a little. And so were my eyes. I blinked a few times, but I didn�t help much. I could see some colorful squares now. - Again? You�ve checked it, at least, five times since we arrived home! It�s already organized Lileh�control your anxiety � His voice got lower as I walked upstairs � Don�t let me here talking on my own, Lady! Damn�he had noticed. - I�m listening dad... � I answered � It��s just�I want it to be good enough! � I ran into Mark�s bedroom door direction. As dad had said, everything was perfect. On the right, his bed; it had two pillows and was covered with a blue duvet; on the front, his desk, with a computer on it; and on the right, his wardrobe and some posters of his favourite bands - Inspirations as he says. I couldn�t do anything to improve the room�s organization; all I had to do was close the door and go downstairs, to the garden. For some reason, while I walked by the corridor, gloom grew on me. - Oh�The lady has decided to come back? � Dad ironically said sat on the sofa and watching TV. - Hey�yeah. I�m in the garden, okay? � Suddenly, all the rest of happiness was gone in me. I wasn�t walking to the garden anymore; I was dragging myself. -Lileh, what happened? � I heard him asking, but I kept on walking � Come here, lady - I couldn�t ignore him, so I changed my course to the sofa, and sat right on his side. I sighted � Why are you like this, hun? � His arms were around me and my head leaned on his chest � You were so happy and excited with the dinner idea. I sighted once again before start to talk - Oh, dad�I don�t know. I miss London. I miss our old house. I miss Jenny. I miss Greg. I miss all the Walters. Even Isabelle, that pain on� - I know, I know � he interrupted me before I could finish expressing my deep feelings for my cousin � It�s hard for me too. But, mom is happy, and I�ll start to work soon, and you�ll see Mark more often. You can e-mail Jenny and Greg or invite them to come and spend their holidays here, what do you think? � I felt guilty. Dad had his problems, was trying to help me, and I was there, complaining leaned on his shoulder. I swallowed the knot on my throat again. I was getting pretty good on it. - I-it sounds good � I couldn�t talk properly. The knot was bigger than I could�ve imagined � D-don�t worry, dad � I dried my eyes with the sleeve of my blouse � I�ll be fine. It�s just that today wasn�t as good as I expected�

- What happened? � He wanted to know � Any problem with the teachers? - No, no, no � I didn�t want to tell him about my day anymore. He had more problems than I had. � No big deal. You know, I�m new, not too many conversations. The teachers were great, by the way. - Come on�you�ll see. Tomorrow everybody will to talk to you. You�re special, Lil. Soon, you�ll� - he stopped talking for a sec and sniffed the air a few times � Oh my God! The apple-pie! � He took his arms away from me and ran through the living room � I can�t believe I�ve forgotten� - All right, dad� � I stood up to see what was happening behind the dinner table. - Oh shit�- I heard him - Ouch! You bastard, my finger! � I ran there to help. - What�s going on here? � I saw dad cleaning his finger by the sink � Is your finger okay? - It�s nothing, Lil - Are you sure? It didn�t sound like anything � I starred at him with my hands on my hips. - Don�t worry, I won�t die, you know? � I kept on starring him � Well, could you bring me a blaster, please? I laughed. - As you wish�hold on a sec � I ran to the bathroom upstairs. I opened the door and started to search. Behind the mirror, inside the drawers and the boxes lied all over the floor. Things were too messed up, though. I couldn�t find anything. I ran back to the kitchen. - Dad! I do not know where the blasters are�You�ll have to� - Then, I saw Mark, standing right in front of me. His hair was a little bit longer, with some kind of bangs slightly over his eyes. He was wearing his deep blue jeans and a longsleeved red shirt. I went speechless for a few seconds. - What�s wrong Lil? � He asked. His voice was different, deeper. - Nothing! � I squeaked. - So, why don�t you hug me? � And he opened his arms. I ran and hugged him as hard as I could. Then, my feet went out of the floor and I started to spin. After a few seconds, Mark put me on the floor again. - You�re havier, girl. Have you eaten too many lollipops? - I haven�t eaten any lollipops until now� - No?! What happened? You used hide lollipops under your pillow! I ignored the commentary. - I missed you SO SO SO SO SO MUCH!!! � I hugged him again

- I missed you too, Lil� - He lifted me until my feet get out of the floor. - You�re thinner�and taller! What happened to you? � I squeezed him even more. - I�ve been playing basketball with some friends, you know? I have to amaze the girls� - Oh�please. I don�t have to listen to this � I plugged my ears with my hands. - Neither do I � I heard. - Mom? � I turned and she was waiting by the door � How was work? - It was fine! The museum is beautif� - Dinner�s ready, people! � My dad yelled interrupting her � Let�s eat, then you�ll talk. - Great! I�m starving! � Mark said flying to the dinner table. - We talk about it later, Lil � My mother said to me � Let�s eat� - Otherwise, dad will kill us � I whispered. We both laugh and sat by the dinner table. I couldn�t believe how good my relationship with my mother was going. Before, all we talked about to each other was about my behavior or her absence. Dad brought the Carbonara and served us. - That�s beautiful, Harry! � Mom said - Congratulations! - Mom�s right, dad � Mark said gorging his pasta � It�s scrumptious too! - Totally! � I agreed. - That�s great! � Dad said proudly - On the next event, I�ll prepare fish! That market near here is marvelous� - Dad gave a speech about �how incredibly good Grace�s Market Place was� while we ate. Although it was completely boring, I had fun. We had never laughed so much together. Tonight, mom was being nice to dad, Mark was sitting next to me as he used to back in London and I wasn�t talking to Jenny or Greg online, avoiding my mother. It was like it supposed to be: The whole family having dinner together.

- Now�� said Mark getting up � I�ll take a shower, okay? Hum�Lil? � He passed me his plate � Could you put it into the dish-washer for me, please? - Don�t worry � I answered � You�re the gust now. - Great�Thanks! � He was especially polite tonight. Our distance had a good point, after all. - Lileh � Mom called me � Could you please take my plate away too? I�m exhausted�I�ll take a loooong shower after Mark� - You can go first, mom. I�ll watch TV while I wait� - Mark sat on the sofa

- Oh�Are you sure? � Mom asked. - Of course�- He answered � Go on. - I�ll try to be fast � she said with a smile on her voice � So, Lil, will you take the things off the table? All of my willingness of being the good sister and daughter from now on, was gone. - OOWWW, mom�- I complained � It�s� - Okay � her voice was serious � Now it�s an order: You�re taking the things off the table. When I come back I don�t want to see anything out of place, understood? � I hated when mom acted like a sergeant. But mom� � I stopped. It was the first day, in moths, we were all in peace. I could wait until tomorrow, to reclaim her orders � Fine�I�ll do it...- I took the glasses first � Shit � I whispered to myself. - What did you just say? � Mark said astonished � I don�t remember of you saying swear words, Lil� - Yeah�Things has changed, Mark � my voice sound cranky � And I�ve had a great intensive course of swearing when mom and dad agued a couple of months ago. - Humm�that was hard. I remember you e-mails. - Well, whatever � I tried to change subject - Why don�t you help me? There�s not cable on the telly, anyway. He started to laugh. - Do you really think I�d help you to put things in the dish-washer? � He laughed again � Dream about it�As you said �I�m the guest�� I huffed - Gosh! You haven�t changed anything! - Mom was already being bossy and Mark was the same lazy guy from two years ago. I should�ve known that � It was too good to be true. I put everything away as fast as I could, complain loud enough to Mark to hear and come help me, but he didn�t move a muscle. � Finally! � I sat on the sofa - What the hell are you watching anyway? - House � he couldn�t take his eyes from the screen. - It�s old, Mark�We�ve seen it before, remember? � He couldn�t move. - Yeah� - He couldn�t speak normally either � But I can�t remember the girl�s disease. Stop talking for a moment now, okay? � His mouth was open and his eyes were motionless. Now I know why his girlfriend dumped him�sometimes he was a complete freak. I was sure that the girl would die in the end, but Mark was so into the story that I had to keep on watching it. Some minutes passed. Mark and I seemed like two idiots: Wide eyes and almost drooling. I rebuilt myself. - Okay�- 7:10 pm - I�ll be in my room � I staggered by the stairs.

- Right�I�ll take a shower right after mom� Are you okay? � Mark asked - Yeah� Tiring day � - I answered walking by the stairs. I opened my bedroom�s door and threw myself on bed. There was no light and my deformed Milky Way galaxy shinned. I closed my eyes for a minute. It was good to listen to anything. I stayed there for a while but I had to make my bed and find something clean and decent to wear next morning. My body moved slowly to get up again.

Mark appeared on my door, while I tried to make my T-shirt look straighter. - Hum�it won�t look better, you know? � He pointed to my T-shirt, almost laughing. - Whatever� - I answered � You�re not here just to tell me that my straightening method sucks, are you? - Not at all�it�s your T-shirt, not mine. I�m here to say that Greg�s on the phone � he passed me the telephone � Don�t talk too much�it�s expensive! Tell him to IM you or something like that� - I know you�re telling me this because you want to call one of your dates, okay? � I held the telephone over my ear - Hey, Greg! - I closed the door at Mark�s face � Hey! � He yelled � You better don�t do this again! I covered the phone with my hand, so Greg wouldn�t listen. - Shut up, Mark... � I heard him saying something and he ran down the stairs. I smiled. The feeling of telling him to shut up better than it seemed like. I sat on my red armchair over the wall made of glass � Sorry, Greg - Not at all! � He said � well�how was your day, Lil? - Nice�could we have this conversation online, please? I have too many things to tell you and money is a thing hard to get. - HAHA. All right�But I�ll be breaking the rules here! I�m not allowed to use computer at night BEFORE diner. - As if you were a saint� - Bye, Lil. - See yah! � I hang up the phone � MARK! � I yelled turning my notebook on my bed � YOU CAN USE THE PHONE TO CALL SHEILA! - Sheila? � I heard mom shouting � Who is she, Mark? Mark? What happened to Victoria? - Oh, mom�it�s nothing�Lileh�s just kidding�I�ll take my shower now - His voice disappeared while mom shouted louder and louder.

- Mark Anthony Walters! Do NOT turn your back on me! My father tried to calm her down saying �Forget about it, honey� There�s no Sheila�Lileh is not serious.� But I was. Mark was definitely a �serial-dater�, but Sheila didn�t actually exist. I just made that up to make mom stressed. She didn�t like the idea of her son being a Don Juan. Ms.Walters - online Greg: Hey! Ms.Walters: hi Greg! How are you doing? Greg: Fine�what was your day like? Ms.Walters: terrible :( Greg: tell me about it. Ms.Walters: well, nobody talked to me!! They looked at me as if I was a freak� Greg: Ur the new-girl, remember? Ms.Walters: I know, I know. But it was awful!! No talking and being starred at for a whole day!!! Greg: Haha...for u it must has been a torture! No offense, Lil, but u talk a lot. Ms.Walters: Yeah yeah�I know. What�s your problem? Why don�t you write like a normal person? Greg: Aw�ur boring. Ms.Walters: Whatever...I miss you! And Jenny too! Greg: We miss you too� But Jenny cant phone you! Miss Jones caught her cheating on a test. Ms.Walters: So? Greg: she�s grounded Ms.Walters: Oh. Send her kisses then Greg: Sure. R u enjoying the new town? Ms.Walters: Ha! I knew you would forget the name! I knew it! I don�t like it very much� Fr�hlingswald is too calm. Too silent. Greg: How can u remember this name? Its unreadable! Ms.Walters: I live here, remember? I have to know where I am living. I can�t pronounce it, though... but whatever.

I miss London. Once again, I felt a knot on my throat. I swallowed it and tried not to think about hoe I truly felt. Greg: yeah...Don�t worry. Holidays are coming. Ur spending right? Afterall, ur grandparents r here� Ms.Walters: I�m not sure about that :[ Greg: WHAT?! O.O Ms.Walters: Sorry! Dad can�t effort it! But you can come here...We�ll be happy!! I finally got those shining stars that you stick on the ceiling... Greg: Sure...I just have to ask mom about it... we�ll see. That didn�t make me happier. Greg would MAYBE come here, just MAYBE. And I definitely wouldn�t go to London. I it was time to change subject. Ms.Walters: Right! Mark�s here Greg: Hum...I figured that out. He answered the phone,remember? Ms.Walters: Oh, yeah. Greg: He�s studying in Geneva, right? Ms.Walters: yep. He�s totally different! I mean...he�s stronger and taller. It�s weird. Greg: Humm... Ms.Walters: Well, I�ll keep this conversation to Jenny. Greg: I�d appreciate that. Lil...I have to go...Tomorrow is a brand new day � at school Ms.Walters: HAHA� Right. See ya! Send kisses to Jen! Greg: I won�t forget it, Lil... Take care. Ms.Walters: always . . . Miss you! Greg � offline I checked the watch: 7:45 pm. I decided to take a shower and go to bed. As Greg says �tomorrow is a brand new day�� X-mas around here,

* THREE The alarm clock woke me up at 7:00 am. My body got up while my mind was still off. I dragged myself to the bathroom. Took off my PJ�s and let the hot water fall over my body. �It�s a brand new day. It�s a brand new day. It�s a brand new day.� - I still repeated to myself, though, it had passed 3 weeks since my first day at school. Water stopped falling. I wrapped myself with a white towel and went to my bedroom. My T-shirt was hanging over the armchair. It was decent; Thank God! I got dressed and look at the large mirror near the wardrobe: White T-shirt with a brown corduroy waistcoat over it, jeans and brown shoes; Simple enough. I put a silver ring on my right thumb and my watch on my wrist � 7:30 - and ran down stairs. - Morning everybody! � I said. - Good morning, sweetie � Dad exclaimed � Here�s your mug. Milk�s in the fridge. - Okay, thanks � I pour some milk and sat over the dinner table - Aren�t you going to heat it? � Mom asked me, astonished, with an annoying voice. I looked at the microwave across the kitchen - Awn�No. It�s too far. - You�re too lazy! � Mom complained � Now, Do not be late! - I nodded as a yes signal � Did you listen to me Lileh? Hun? Lileh? � She was about to start yelling - Yes, mom! I DID listen to you! - Why don�t you answered then? � She was already cleaning the table � Hun? - I nodded mom, I nodded! � My voice was louder � You know what? � I huffed Forget it �� I put my mug in the dish-washer, went upstairs and slammed the bathroom�s door. I brushed my teeth violently. - Ouch! � I hit my gum with my toothbrush too hard � Now, I�ll have an ulcer� Damn� - I rinsed my mouth and my tooth brush. My hair was a mess. I opened the drawer and tried to brush it. There weren�t any good results. - Whatever�- I opened my bedroom�s door to catch my bag. - Lileh! WE HAVE TO GO NOW! - Alright mom, alright! � I huffed again, caught my coat and ran downstairs � Here I am�Jeez�Bye dad�see you later? - I�ll pick you up at school�see you. � He blew a kiss � Bye, honey! � He said all romantic to mom. - Bye, Harry � mom answered indifferently. How could she be so terrible to dad? � Come on Lileh� I have to work� GO, GO, GO � she kept on saying while she closed

the door. I pressed the lift�s button and in 5 minutes we were inside our car. - Oh God, Oh God� - Mom kept complaining � What time is it? - Ten to eight �Relax � She didn�t listen to me, as always � Oh�forget it � I whispered to myself � Saint Paul. - That�s right � she replied to my �loud thoughts� � Bye, Lil. See you later.

- Bye mom � I closed the door and turned around. I could here the car accelerating in a frenetic way � I�ve got plenty of time now � I sighed and passed through the gates. Not too many students went to school half an hour before bench by a window. Maybe somebody would talk to me today together. But first, somebody had to arrive. The hallway impatient was a weak point of mine, so I decided to look good person. the and was for bell. I sat on a we would have lunch empty. Being Lizzie, she was a

The way to the secretaries� room was scary. The corridor was dark and empty. I walked by it as fast as I could I opened the door hastily. Lizzie was sleeping on the small sofa near the door. -Lizzie � I whispered � Wake up. She didn�t move. - Lizzie! � I said a little bit louder � Hey! � I touched her shoulder lightly. She opened her eyes slowly. - AAAA! � She screamed � What are you doing here?! - Sorry�I need someone to talk to. - What time is it? � She got up and straightening her black skirt and blond hair. - Hum�eight o�clock � She sat on an armchair behind the counter and opened a black box. � What are you doing? - Makeup, honey � Haven�t you ever heard about it? � She said ironically. - HA-HA. Very funny�- I said with a fake smile o my face. I sat again on the armchair � I�m too young. Besides, my mother would kill me if she sees me wearing that � I pointed at her small Channel-kit. - And she�s right! But a light pencil on your eyes wouldn�t hurt�at parties, of course! � She put her lipstick away and put the black, small box in her purse. - Well�Explain it to my mom, would you? � My mom was the kind of woman that didn�t like to listen. She ignored and ordered instead. My dad always tried to indulge her wishes and treat her lovingly, but my brother and I couldn�t bear so many orders. There were shouting and door slamming everyday. However, when she told my father she had taken a job in Zurich, he got so angry that he couldn�t talk to her for a whole week. �Your father is so childish� she complained �Why can�t he realize that this is better for us?� After a while, he had to accept the idea and we moved to the town-whose-name-I -can�t-pronounce-it.

-Hey Lily! � Lizzie called me - Do you wear enamel? - Not at all ... Let�s change subject, shall we? I�m feeling even weirder than three weeks ago with this conversation� - Okay. � A dead silence invaded the room. Lizzie signed some papers while the computer logged on. Suddenly, the phone rang. Her expression wasn�t happy, she was concerned about something. She should be busy. I didn�t want to mess up with her things, so I decided to walk around the school and wait until the bell ring. I waved at her and pointed to the door. She understood my sign and waved back. I checked my watch - 8:15.The hallway was crowded, noisy. I remembered some faces while I struggled to pass through several cliques. This time, less people starred me. Some just turned to see who was pushing their back, some glued their eyes at me � my hair must have called their attention and some recognized me, but didn�t show much interest. The corridors got emptier as I walked further. The students preferred to be at the gates instead of Saint Paul�s west side. - Hey, you! � Someone shouted. I kept walking into the door made of a light blue glass direction. - Wait a minute, please! � The same voice insisted. � Hey! I looked around. - Uf� - His name was Denny Benson. I was in the same Social Studies class than him. Although he was far from me, I could see his incredibly blue eyes, which were incredibly deep this morning. They were just like the ocean: deep and mysterious. God knows what was behind that beautiful couple of shiny aquamarines. Without mention his light-brown hair. I went breathless every time he touched it. He was definitely the hottest guy I�ve ever seen. - Sorry�You�ve let your pin fall! � He gave my pin carefully � I hope it isn�t broken� - His expression was so sweet, that I couldn�t move a muscle. - Thank you! � I finally said something with a horrible voice. - Not at all! See you around, Lily � he wicked. I couldn�t even think right. Danny Benson had WINCKED at ME! And given MY pin, on MY hand! And knew MY name!! I started to hyperventilate. I couldn�t control my movements. I wanted to say to him how beautiful his eyes were, how sweet was his face, how nice was to hear his voice. But I couldn�t. First: I was frozen, hyperventilating (and somehow, almost drooling) in the middle of the hallway. Second: He would think I�m a total freak! I don�t even talk to him decently! How can I say how hot he was, if I can�t even say hi without melting like butter on the oven inside me? But I must�ve said something because Danny waved while he walked further to somewhere else. I rebuilt myself, took a deep breath and decided to pick up my books at the

locker, and go to the third floor. Just as yesterday, the third floor was pleasantly quiet. I sat on the bench by the window and threw my bag on my lap. I closed my eyes and leaned my head on the wall. I had to stop thinking about Danny. People would think I had asthma by the way I was hyperventilating. I focused on just listening to things. The school�s noise was familiar. The low sound of laughing and conversations echoed through every corner of the building. For the first time, I realized what London meant for me and how deep was that feeling. I could hear Greg�s advice, Jenny�s screams, Grandma Abigail�s stories, Grandpa John cooking lessons all at once. - AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA � I took a fright and opened my eyes quickly � Stop it, Lisa! HAHAHA�AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA - The four girls were shouting so loud that my ears started to hurt. - OUCH! Stop it Charlie� AAAAA! HAHA � Another yelled hysterically. - Excuse me � I shouted. All four looked astounded. They hadn�t realized I was there. I was about to shout �SHUT UP�, when I remembered what dad had said to me. � Behave and try to make some new friends�. Although I hated them, I took a deep breath. - So? - One of the girls said impatiently. - Oh! Sorry. Hum�Could you speak a little bit lower, please Charlotte? � My voice was smoother than I though it would sound. - Sure! � She answered with a wide smile. - Thank you � I smiled back and sat on the bench again. The girls turned and started to whisper. Being all calm and polite was totally worth it. I didn�t have to shout but I got what I wanted: Silence. But suddenly, I heard a terrible sound. All four were shouting together as loud as they could. I plugged my ears with my hands. My anger grew as they shouted louder and louder. Suddenly they stopped and the burnet one walked closer. - Is it quiet enough? � Charlie asked with an unbearably annoying soft voice and started to laugh with all her girl friends. I was so angry that I couldn�t answer anything � Well, I think it is � At the same time, the bell rang. They ran to their classes. I took a deep breath and locked my hands over the bench. - Let�s see how long can you be quiet you�Ouch! � Someone hit my head, muddling my thoughts. - Oh! Sorry! � A very tall guy said as quickly as he continued to talk to his mates. I huffed again with a grim expression on my face and marched to the classroom.

* *

*

While I waited on the line in the cafeteria, I saw those four screaming girls sat in a table, laughing. I wanted to rend their hair slowly, whisker to whisker, and burn all of it in front of her eyes. Then, I would punch their faces until their eyes and brains melt into a sticky disgusting paste. I woke up from my perfect daydream when the girl from the cafeteria said something. - Sorry�What paste? � She wanted to know. I panicked. - Oh�hum�well� - I couldn�t think in anything that made sense. - You mean sauce on the chicken? Sorry, it�s only on Thursdays - Oh! Too bad for me� - I said with a fake smile � I�ll have it without it, then. She smiled back and put the Chicken Patty on my plate. I continue to stare at the �happy table� trying to think on a plan to revenge. The blondie one, Charlotte Venner, noticed me and I divert my eyes to something else before I could stick my hands into her throat. Once again, I had lunch in the ladies� room all alone listening to music. vegetable soup was fine but didn�t match to the nachos. The

I checked my watch � 12:30. The minutes starring at that hyena made me lose time. I put my tray over the waste bin and ran to meet Lizzie. The hallway was full of people and I had to kick some feet to pass through the crowd. - Hey Lizzie! � I opened the door joyfully. - Hello, sweetie! How was today? � She put away some forms. I sat on her dark blue armchair. - Well�Do you know Charlotte Venner? - Yes! � Her voice was excited and her eyes shinned � Did you have lunch together? - Hum�No. � I answered while I spun on the armchair - Have you talked to her? - Nope. - School project? - Hum�No. - So what did you do? � She secretly begged for more information. - Nothing. I hate her � I kept spinning. She stopped the armchair with her hand. - Explain yourself � she lifted on eyebrow - I know you, Lileh Walters� - she sat

behind the balcony with a funny smile on her face � I�m waiting! - Okay, okay � I huffed � I was sitting on a bench when Charlotte Venner, Charlie Belrose, Megan Shepard and Lydia May started to scream and laugh extremely loud. - Oh� You don�t need � - No, no, no�Let me finish! You�ll be surprised! � She rolled her eyes and leaned on her armchair. - I wanted to shout �SHUT UP�! � She giggled silently � And I was about to do it but� - I stopped talking for a second. It�d drive Lizzie crazy. - What?! � She yelled anxiously � Tell me!! - BUT I remembered that I should act politely, as a good and sweet girl. - HAHA�I doubt it! � Lizzie started to laugh out loud � You wouldn�t do this expontaneously � - Damn! You really know me � I said annoyed � Whatever�But I haven�t fought or anything! I just went there and asked them if they could talk a little bit quieter� - Dad had asked me to behave at least the first month and try to make some new friends. He wanted me to be happier. Lizzie was in shock. - I can not believe it! � She yelled � Since when you started to listen to what people say? - I have to respect my dad�s deal! If I behave for a month, I�ll be rewarded! Besides�mom is acting totally like a jerk so� - I�m astonished! � She interrupted - Okay, okay� � I said with a bitter voice � May I continue? - HAHA�Sure. - They just said �okay�, and when I sat again, they shouted as loud as they could and then Charlie asked me with her annoying voice if it was quiet enough! - No! � Her mouth was open � She didn�t say this! Oh My God!! Sometimes Lizzie acted as a teenager. - Yeah�I was so angry that I couldn�t move� - There was a long pause. Lizzie�s eyes were wide and her mouth was open - Lizzie! Say something! - Sorry � she said � I just can�t believe you stood quiet! - I couldn�t move, Lizzie! It wasn�t a choice of mine! - Still! You were polite before the screaming part� - Yeah, yeah�I love dad more than I imagined... � I remembered Mrs. Burnnett � Oh! Have to go, Lizzie! Ten to one!

- Hey, hey, hey! � She called me before I closed the door. - What? � I asked in a hurry. - I�m proud of you! � She winked. - Right, Lizzie�Thanks! � I smiled and closed the door. I picked my book inside the locker and ran to the third floor. The view from the fifth window was the best, and I had a few minutes of peace until everybody comes up to class. - Gosh�� I said to myself wheezing � These stairs are killing me� I sat by my favourite window, put my bag on my lap and clanged my head over the window to take a look at the school�s yard. All trees were brown and their leaves covered the grass. As always, the place was deserted and terribly dirty, but Benson kept going there with his sketchbook and pencil. Although he�s totally intelligent (and gorgeous), I have never seen anyone talking to him. Suddenly, he checked his watch, threw everything in his bag and ran through the door. At the same time, I looked forward. That sleepy-guy was having class again. Exceptionally, he wasn�t asleep today. Well, not yet. He struggled to keep his eyes open and his head up. The same boys and girls were laughing silently at him, but the he didn�t seem to care, his head kept falling from time to time. Suddenly, everybody took a fright. The teacher had hit the table with the book and was saying something very angry. The sleepy-guy kept focused just a few seconds before turn his head to the window. He fixed his look at something in the yard and out leaned his chin on his left hand. I starred him for a second and looked down. I couldn�t see anything interesting. I looked at him again: He was expressionless. What was he thinking? Maybe class was just boring and he needed something to do before he fell asleep. As I was lost on my own thoughts, I hadn�t realized that he had noticed me, until he waves me. I shook my head and approached my head to the window�s glass. He made a funny face and waved again. I was completely embarrassed, and wanted to put my head inside my bag, run to class and pray for that I would never see him again. But I couldn�t do that. He would think I was a freak. So, I took courage (and controlled my nerves) and waved him back with a completely fake smile. He laughed putting his hand over his mouth. Suddenly, the bell rang. I was saved. Before he could get up, I waved him once again, and pointed to the classroom. He understood and waved back, smiling. I ran to Health and Safety class. Thankfully, I managed to get my favourite desk, in the end of the row, so that Mrs. Burnnett couldn�t ask me to explain every single thing she said. However, today class was interesting with all her videos, pictures and schemes. * * *

As I had predicted, at Social Studies, I sat right next to Benson. - Hello people! � Greeted Mr. Brown � How was the weekend? - Great! � All the class answered together. Benson�s hair WAS amazingly cool

today. What happened? - I hope so, because today I have a surprise for you! � He turned back to pick some papers � What do you think about making some projects? - NOOO! � I shouted as everybody else. - Yes! � Mr. Brown was delighting himself � For next week! I huffed and raised my hand. - Yes, Lily � Mr. Brown bowed to hear my voice. - Excuse me� - I shouted to make sure Mr. Brown heard me. But he didn�t. He made a weird expression and shouted: - Quiet everybody! I can�t listen to Lily! � As he looked at me again, the whole class stared. Oh! Great� - Sorry Mr. Brown, but I think projects are useless � I tried to keep my voice in a composed tone. - Hum� - Mr. Brown�s thought a little � What do you mean? - Oh! Hum� - Get up, please � He insisted � Talk to the class. My mouth dried. I wasn�t ready to make a speech. Though mom explained me that if you express yourself with arguments, everything you say becomes a speech. I took a deep breath and got up. - Well � My fingers were cold � Has anyone here ever learned something with projects? � I asked but all I heard in response was dead silence � I haven�t. I�ve just learned to how say things by heart. � I heard some buzzing. - Sorry Mr. Brown � he goggled his eyes � But projects are used by teachers who are too lazy to teach students. Instead of explain us the subject, you just make us research and memorize everything to give us a random mark. Besides, we all get nervous, don�t we? It�s not fair when we get low marks. Neither people who are presenting nor people, who are watching the presentation, learn! What are we doing here, after all? If I wanted to make researches, I would do it at home. My computer is working! � I was interrupted by a noise. I looked forward and heard some clapping. I felt happy for the first time at school. - Okay, class! � Mr. Brown shouted � Silence, please! The noise got lower bit by bit. - Thank you! � He turned to me � Thanks, Lily. Great speech. - Oh! � I said stunned � Thank you! � I sat on my desk as fast as I could.

Mr. Brown took my place in front of the black board. - Well�Because of Miss Walters� speech, I�ll think about the project and talk to you about it next week, okay? Everybody cheered. - Okay, okay�It�s a yes, I presume. Let�s start class, shall we? He kept saying and explaining every single thing written on the book. Suddenly, I felt something poking me on my left shoulder. I turned quickly. - Hello � said Benson whispering. - Oh! Hi. � I couldn�t breath. - Humm�I�well�Congratulations! � His smooth voice was so low, that I almost couldn�t listen. - Thank you! It�s my opening on this speech-thing.I was so nervous! I my heands are cold and sweaty�Er�Anyway, It was great � Come on, Lily. Be focused. You don�t want him to think you�re a weirdo. It�s your chance to say something interesting. He leaned his head slightly to the right with a funny expression on his face. He definitely wanted to laugh at me. - Well�congratulations! � He finally said. - Thank you � I smiled and turned my head to Mr. Brown�s direction. Oh my God! Why was I so stupid? The guy who I have a crush at is congratulating me! Why can�t I say something to keep his attention?! Now, he�s laughing at me! And probably thinking how stupid I am! Damn it! He could�ve stayed there, drawing on his sketchbook �as always- instead of talk to the stupid girl on Social Studies class.

The bell rang. I put some notebooks aside and the rest of my material inside my big moss green bag full of pins. I twisted my hair on an awfully botch ponytail and put my bag�s grip across my chest. - Goodbye, Mr. Brown! � I said. - Lily! � He called � Could you come here, please? - Sure � I tuned around and went to his table. - Congratulation for your speech. - Thank... � I said before being interrupted. - Despite your subject�. � He wicked. - Oh! Sorry! Mom always tells me �if you express yourself with arguments, everything you say becomes a speech� � the only useful thing she ever said to me You see, I just called a spade a spade. People liked it!

- I�m kidding, Lily � he said smiling � The way you put the words together was absolutely correct! I�m impressed, actually. Would you like to join our� - Sorry, Mr. Brown � I interrupted him � But I rather wait until�early spring, maybe. My family and are adapting to our new life and I don�t think I�ll be able to give my best effort � It was a great way to get rid of things �and I don�t think I�ll be able to give my best effort� - Okay�It�s a shame, Miss Walters. You�d be an incredible backing in our class. - Yeah� - I checked my watch aiming to an excuse to go home. � Oh! I really have to go, Mr. Brown. Thank you for everything! � I didn�t wait his answer. I ran through the corridor to get to my locker as fast as I could. Once again, I just threw everything inside it and went outside. Charlotte, Charlie, Megan and Lydia were gossiping right next to the main door. - Oh! � Charlie exclaimed with her shrill voice � Look who�s here! I realized it was for me. - Miss Lily, the students� defender! They all giggled. - You know�Trevor told me about your speech � Do you want to compete with Charlie? President of Students� Council sounds attractive? Calm down, Lileh Do this for dad I kept thinking. My breath was deeper and longer as they provoked me. - Own�She�s deaf! Poor girl � Charlotte said falsely and laughed. They all laughed again. - Let�s go girls! � Lydia said � My mom�s over there. - Bye-bye, redhead! � They sang in chorus. - Oh my � I huffed. I was still breathing deeply when something poked me on my left shoulder � WHAT? � I yelled with a grim voice. - Hum�Sorry! � It was Benson again. - Oh�Hey! � I turned to him completely embarrassed. How can I so stupid? I shouted at the most charming guy in the world! � Sorry� - It was the only decent thing I could say. He laughed shyly. - Are you okay? � He asked - Just fine! A little bit cold but, I can handle it � I smiled - Why? - Well�I heard Charlie Belrose making fun of you � His voice was bitter. But he had noticed me!!!! � Megan provoked.

Easy now, Lileh. You�re just doing fine�Finally a normal conversation.

- Yes�Don�t worry! They�re stupid anyway� - I smiled at him. - You�re right � His smile was the most perfect existent. Both of us stayed quiet for a moment. What could I have done? Insist on some talking and say rubbish? No way! The wind was cold and I was almost shivering. I should�ve brought a warmer coat. I had to distract myself before falling frozen over the floor. The best thing to do was listening to Benson�s voice. So, I risked saying rubbish asking about Charlie. - She�s�hum�a�.She pisses me off � His voice was low. - You too? � I exclaimed � Oh! Are you new here? I haven�t heard anything about it� - No, no, no�I mean...I�ve been studying with her since 5th grade. - 5th Grade?! � I yelled � How can you stand her?! Once again, my instincts of talking were stronger than me. And though I tried, with all my strengths to stay quiet, my mouth started to jabber. - I can�t imagine myself dealing with them for so many years! Gosh! How can you do this? Do you beat a pillow when you get home, or something? I would do this�If I were you, of course. Well�I think I�d beat Charlie instead. Not that I�m a beating-other-girls girl�not at all. It�s just that patience is not my best quality. I slapped a girl�s face four or five times once. But, what else could I do? She said that my brother was a �vulgar womanizer�. It wasn�t his fault if her sister got dumped by Mark � my brother � who deserved a way nicer girl as date. Oh! Sorry! Where was I? Humm�Charlie! I�d beat her if I really needed to�No problem! What else we were talking about? Oh yea- You should ask what YOU were talking about � he interrupted me with a grim voice. Ouch. It wasn�t my fault if he had a busy day or something like that. Okay, I talked a lot. Still, there was no reason for him to be so rude! What happened to that cute and kind boy who I study with? I glanced at his incredibly deep blue eyes. Suddenly, I wasn�t mad anymore. I didn�t care if he were being rude ten minutes ago, I didn�t care about his bored face while I talked to him and I didn�t care about his this-girl-is-completely-mad face when I said I�ve slapped a girl�s face four or five times. These were all details, when compared to his deep blue eyes, to his light-brown hair, his cool and smooth face, to his perfection on matching clothes, or anything about him. Danny Benson was incredibly charming. - So � He said breaking the awkward silence, ignoring completely the terrible situation fourteen minutes ago � I�m Danny Benson. � He outreached his hand. - Pleasure. Lily Walters � I said politely while I shook his hand.

I�m touching him! I�m touching him! I�m touching him! I�m touching him! I�m touching him! was all I could think. I felt something behind me. Without thinking, I picked a pen on my pocket and turned around quickly. - Hey, Lil! Easy girl�- It was my father - Are you trying to kill me? � He said joking. I laugh totally embarrassed. What was I doing? Sticking a pen into my father�s stomach in the middle of the street? Well, I guess I was. - So�are you going to introduce me to your friend? - He said with a weird voice. - OH! Dad, here�s Danny Benson. Be�Danny, this is my father. - Hello! � Dad said already shaking Danny�s hand. - Hello � His voice was all relaxed and friendly � It�s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Walters � I blinked. He knew my surname!!! - Yeah�- I said freezing � So, see you tomorrow, Danny. - Oh�hum�okay, okay. See you! - Bye, Danny! � Dad said Danny waved at us with a radiant smiled. I waved back and dragged my father to the car�s direction. - Come on, dad! � I kept saying � I�m freezing! - I�m going, Lileh! Stop it! � He was a little bit annoyed today, so we walked in silence the rest of the way. Today, the Sun was cold. Its sunshine was there, but the heat wasn�t. � Here, get in� - He opened the door for me. - Thanks, dad � I said hurrying to sit on the car�s sit warm my arms. - Welcome � He closed the door and in a minute, he was sitting next to me, driving � How was school today? Better? � He asked with a smile. - Yes. - Benson seems to be a great boy � He said without averting his eyes form the street. - He�s amazing� � I blurted. My dad�s eyes got slightly wider. I tried to fix it � I mean�he�s very intelligent � and handsome, and gentle, and kind, and�totally AMAZING. He sighed. - What? � I asked - Oh�it�s just that �� His voice sounded disappointed � Hum� never mind.

- What? � Had he noticed my interest at Benson?! I panicked � Tell me! - It�s nothing about you. Forget it� - Please!! � I begged � I HAVE to know!! - Okay. Well�- He was interrupted by another guy who asked for information, while we waited the light turn green. - Daaaad � I called him � Tell me! - Oh yes! So�I�ll start working next week! Isn�t it marvelous? His eyes shined as he gave me the news. - Oh my God!! � I yelled � Dad! It�s wonderful! He laughed. - Yes � He said � I can not wait to go to the office again and feel papers on my hand. I miss them� - Haha�I imagine dad. - Can I ask you a favor? � He asked. His voice wasn�t so happy. - Sure� - You�re old enough to walk on the streets alone, right? - Humm�yes � I said halting. - Good. Could you go back home alone from now on? - I mean�from tomorrow to, like, forever? - Yes. I have to go to the office to see how it works�and next week I�ll be working and I won�t be able to pick you up. Please, Lil�Promise you�ll take care. I wanted to yell NO, dad! I�ll wait until evening for you to pick me up, then. I won�t walk around in a town I don�t know n my own!! But I couldn�t. It was so important to him�I wouldn�t bring more problems. I don�t want to become a miniNorah, and mess up with his life. So, instead of yelling everything I wanted to, I just replied: - Okay, dad�Don�t worry! I�m not a child anymore, you know? He smiled but wasn�t peaceful. We both knew that I wasn�t 100% secure. But it was a peaceful town. There wouldn�t be big problems. In our way home, I told him about my speech, and how happy Mr. Brown was with it. I complained again about Charlotte Venner, Charlie Belrose, Megan Shepard and Lydia May, and told him what they have done today. It didn�t take long to get home. I ran through the hallway, opened the door with my keys and flew upstairs to turn the computer on. I HAD to tell Jenny what happened! About Benson and me, I mean.

- Lileh! � I heard my dad yelling � Would you set the table today? - Own! Right now, dad? � I yelled back -No, no! About�6:30 pm, okay? - Sure! � I yelled again. I waited some minutes until my computer was ready. Thankfully, Jenny was online today. I hurried to write as fast as I could. I had to tell her about Benson. Ms.Walters - online Ms.Walters: Jenny!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HELLO!!!!!! ShadyLady: LIL!!!! How are you doing??? Ms.Walters: Fine, fine�I HAVE to tell you some news!!!! My fingers were cold and almost trembling. ShadyLady: say it, say it, say it !!!!! Ms.Walters: Remember Benson? ShadyLady: What Benson? I couldn�t believe she had forgotten about HIM Ms.Walters: OMG! Danny Benson!!!!!! That hottie who�s studding with me!!! ShadyLady: ?????????? Ms.Walters: Tall, deep, beautiful, hypnotizing, blue eyes, light brown hair, super intelligent and loves to draw?? ShadyLady: Oh!!! The sketchbook-guy? I couldn�t believe that, with so many great things about Danny Benson, Jenny could just remember about his dumb sketchbook. Ms.Walters: yes�that�s him: The incredible sketchbook-guy. ShadyLady: Tell me about him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ms.Walters: I talked to him today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ShadyLay: OMG!!!!!!!! REALLY???!!!!!! Ms.Walters: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still can not believe it! I mean�I gave a speech about how useless are school projects etc�and he told me he liked it!!!!!! He congratulate MEEEEEEEEEEEEE !!!!!!!

ShadyLady: No! =O Ms.Walters: YEP!!!!! :P I�m so so so so so so happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ShadyLady: OMG, Lil!!!!!!!! I can�t believe!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is he asking you out too??!! Ms.Walters: What?! No!!!!!! It was the first time I had a decent conversation with him!!!!!!! And then, we talked about Charlotte Venner, Charlie Belrose etc� I hate�em!!!!!!!!!!! ShadyLady: What have they done? Ms.Walters: I was all happy sitting on this bench when those IDIOTS started screaming hysterically! Remember that deal a made with my father? Well, I tried to follow it, and asked them if they could stop. They stopped - For a second. Suddenly those morons started to scream as loud as they could and then, Charlie said to me: �Is it quiet enough?� Can you believe it?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ShadyLady: What a bitch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW.I didn�t see BITCH coming! Jenny must be on her PMS Ms.Walters: Totally!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate them!!!!!!!!!! And so does Benson!!! Charlie is mean to him since 5th grade!!!!! I don�t know how he tolerates her!!!!!!!!! I rather skip Benson�s rude moment. I wouldn�t add anything to this conversation anyway. And Jenny would definitely start to tell me how horrible he was etc� ShadyLady: Neither do I !!!!!!!!!!!! Well�around here everything is doing fine� Hey�Did you notice how ridiculous Greg is writing?!!! Ms.Walters: YES!!!!!!!!!!!! Haha�terrible! I like him and etc but� �How r u� is ridiculous! ShadyLady: And he started to wear some colorful bracelets too� you know�those made of fabric or something� God save me!!!!!! I don�t know what�s up with him!!!!!!! Ms.Walters: Bracelets? Oh my! The situation is even worse!!!! ShadyLady: Yeah! I�ll try to send you some pictures� We�re going to the movie theatre to watch the new Harry Potter film Ms.Walters: WHAT?!!!!! I�m SO JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to watch it so badly !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ShadyLady: Sorry, Lil We�d invite you but�you not even in the same country� Ms.Walters: I know I know� Damn. ShadyLady: I�ll tell you how it was, alright? If it�s worthy Now, I have to go� Becca here is pissing me off to use the computer! Ms.Walters: HAHA�send her kisses!!! ShadyLady: Right� I�ll punch her�that�s what I�ll do! Why younger sisters have to be so spoilt?!!! Ms.Walters: Ask your parents! HAHA ShadyLady: You bet I will!! Ouch! She kicked me!!!!! Have to go now! Ms.Walters: Please, don�t kill her. ShadyLady: I�m not sure about it� See you! And Miss you !!!!!!!! Ms.Walters: Bye! Miss you too! ShadyLady � offline I missed Rebecca, Jenny�s younger sister. Although she was totally pampered and snobbish, she made us laugh with her �top model poses�. I used to go to Jenny�s and take pictures of Becca in front of the mirror, all pretty, with necklaces, bracelets ,make up, fashion clothes. The challenge was taking as many pictures we could before she noticed us. But after she realizes that she was being observed, she started to shout and run after us, trying to take the camera. Jenny and I spent hours trying to find the perfect excuse to go up to her room. Now, I can�t annoy Becca anymore. I can�t go to Jenny�s. I can�t meet them whenever I want. I have to wait until holidays and hope that they�ll be able to come here. But it�s not sure. The truth was that I was still sad because of the moving, and I tried very hard not to demonstrate it, especially for my father. He was sad too and had his own problems. A girl crying around the house wouldn�t help much. Besides, my life is good. I live in a pretty nice house, near two very cool cities; I have food, water, a cozy bed, a notebook and a very nice family who likes and worries about me - except for my mother. - Lileh! Have you done your homework yet? � My dad yelled. - Humm�no! � I answered � But I�m about to start it! So, I jumped out of my bed, and did what I said to dad I would do: Homework.

*

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*

A couple of hours later, I went downstairs to see if my dad was doing alright. And actually he was. - Hey, Lil! Do you want to join me? � His voice was all relaxed and happy. - Hum�sure. What are you watching? � I sat next to him on our long, black leather sofa. - Cooking channel � he smiled � I have to know what how he manages to keep his chicken soft and wet! Wow. That�s what a call boring. I couldn�t say this to my father, though. So, I just said: -Oh! That�s quite difficult, hun? I mean�Keeping the chicken soft and wet -Sometimes was impressed with my ability to lie. The worst of it was that I could smile or laugh without anybody even notice! But this was a white-lie, just to make my father happy, so I was forgiven. -Yes � he said focused at the TV. The silence got into the room. After a while, I realized that I couldn�t understand anything the guy was saying. I must be deaf, just like those girls said I thought for a moment. But I looked at my father�s expression and saw that he didn�t understand much, as well. - What is he saying? � I asked confused. - He�s talking about how he mane- No, no, no! � I interrupted � I meant the language. It�s not English, that�s for sure. - Oh! It�s German � He laughed a little. - How can you understand what the man is talking when he is explaining everything in German?! � I said shocked. - Well�I took some classes a long time ago � I was astonished � And I have to know it well for my new job! You should start learning it too! - I can survive with my shoddy French. - Learning is always good. Now�I really have to know about his chicken-secret � he turned his face to the television again.

Oh�just great, substituted by a chicken. That�s was all I needed. I leaned back, crossed my arms and waited until the freaking-chicken-French-guy stopped talking. In about, fifteen minutes, the program came to an end. Then, my father turned to me and gave a small smile.

- Now, Lileh � He said turning off the TV � What is this grim face about?

Oh my! He knew me better than I did! My lying skills weren�t that accurate after all.

- Nothing � I answered dry. - Come on�I know you for a quite long time, Miss. Tell me. - It�s just that�- What could I tell him? I�m mad because you prefer watching a chicken than talking to me? It was ridiculous. My abilities to be spoilt impressed me too! Luckily, according to Jenny, I was too withdrawn and hardly talked about my �true feelings� � Magazine crap � So, I was able to keep my feeling inside me, with no problem. - Humm�- I couldn�t find a decent excuse. He was still expecting my answer. - So? � He asked. I could see that he was challenging me. - Well�it�sSuddenly, I heard some noise by the doorway. It was mom. Thank God! I�ve never been so happy to hear her coming! I jumped out of the sofa. - It�s mom � I tried not to show my relief � I�d better set the table. - Sure � My dad said laughing. How could he know what I was thinking?! I mean�It was written right on his forehead: �Saved by the bell, Lileh.�

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- Dinner is delicious, Harry � Mom exclaimed � Except for the fact it is frozen � she pointed out with her annoying voice. - I made it yesterday, Norah � My father�s voice wasn�t so smooth. He was nervous with his first day at work next morning � Do you want me to throw this all away � He pointed where the bowl of mashed potatoes was � while people are starving on the streets? Is this what you want? - I didn�t say any of it � Mom replied � I just said it was frozen. You misconceived things, here - My father�s lips twisted in anger. How could she be such an idiot? I know it�s not right to call your mother an idiot, but there was no better word on my mind. She always found a way to upset dad, no matter where or when. Our dinner with Mark, three weeks ago, was the only

time that nothing happened. We all had a nice, peaceful and delicious dinner, without any kind of conflict. Except for the incident with �Sheila�, but that was alright. It was between me and Mark, nothing to do with my mother. �Fine, Norah!� - My father said really annoyed � �Next time I cook, you should eat somewhere else!� �Oh, Harry�I�m sorry to disappoint you but WE can�t spend so much eating in restaurants everyday, honey.� � My mother replied with her most ironic voice. My was about to say something, but he glanced at me and took a deep breath. �Norah� � He said in a lower tone � �Not now.� The awkward silence made evident that I was blocking their ague. I pretended not to be listening, although it was impossible for me not to do it. I put as much as food as I could to keep my mouth shut. �Oh Lileh� � My mother said angry � �We all know that you�re not a baby anymore�Come on! Stop stuffing food in your mouth and be a real woman. Face the facts! Show us what you think about�� �Argh!� � I yelled leaving the dinning room and marching to my bedroom. What was she doing?! And why did they have to ague every time we were together?! I tolerated enough last year, just a few moths before we move here. I was being a good daughter! I swear I tried very hard not to upset my father and not to be (very) rude to my mother, but she couldn�t care less! The heavy meals were still going on; the dirty looks in the morning were still evident and fights were still present in our routine. Was I the only one who tried not to demonstrate how bad our situation was?! I couldn�t stand any of it anymore. I couldn�t stand anymore minute seeing my mother.

* FOUR I woke up, took a shower, put some clothes on and went downstairs. �Morning, Lil� � My father said gently with my mug on his hand. �Hi. Thanks for the mug� � I took the mug, dragged myself to the chair near me and let my body fall over it. �Did you sleep well?� � He asked me suspicious. �Normal� � I said with an out of spirits voice. �Hum�� � He muttered � �So�what are you up to this weekend?� �I guess I�ll stay home, if you don�t mind. School�s tough next week.� �Okay�you choose.�

I drank until the last drop of milk all at once and put my mug inside the dishwasher. �I�ll just brush my teeth and I�m ready� � I informed my father. �Sure� � He replied I went up stairs and locked myself inside the bathroom for a moment. I sat over the toilet and embraced my legs tight. My ordinary friend, the knot on my throat, met me once again. It was an unusual time for it to come, too early. As always, I swallowed it and took a deep breath. �There are worse things to cry about�. �There are worse things to cry about�. �There are worse things to cry about�. Slowly, sadness started to spread through my body. I first felt it in my chest. Then this agonizing feeling went to my legs, my arms, my neck, my feet, my hands, my toe, my fingers, and my brain. A thin and soft veil blurred my vision. My world now was dimmer and shadowy; and my body, soulless. �Lileh!� � A terrifying � and known - voice called me � �I�m LATE! HURRY UP! Otherwise, I�ll leave you here! And you know I would�� The dismal feeling in my chest was so strong that impeded me to yell. I just didn�t have energy to do it. My mother, though, kept �talking� to me even without hearing my voice. I sighed. School was the last place I�d like to go this moment, but it was unavoidable. My mother would force me anyway. So, unconsciously, my feet and legs moved making me stand up. My fingers unlocked the door and my body leaded me to my bedroom. I felt the weigh of my bag hanging on my left shoulder as walked downstairs. My mother was waiting for me by the door, tapping her foot on the floor with her arms crossed. �Oh! The princess is ready?� � She said ironically I sighed and kept walking into the doors direction. I�d be free in less than half an hour if I didn�t say a thing. �Have a nice day, Lil!� � My father muttered gently. I stopped. What was I doing to my father? I didn�t wish him good luck today or said good morning! I was being stupid! He wasn�t the blame. My mother was! Yes. She was the one messing up with our lives, not my father. My throat hurt again. But this time, it hurt so badly that I couldn�t even breathe or speak properly. I just turned back and waved to my father. My mother pushed me out and closed the door. Our way to school was the most silent and the longest ever. Neither she nor I were in the mood to fake a nice and light conversation. She dropped me off and I walked straight to Lizzie�s office.

I opened the door and was putting my bag on the floor when I saw him. Danny Benson was right in front of me, talking to Lizzie. Neither of them noticed me at first, but then Lizzie turned to me.

�Lily!� � She exclaimed � �Just hold on a second! Mr. Benson here is about to leave�� �Don�t worry� � I squeaked � �I�m not in a hurry�� �Hi Lily� � Benson greeted smiling discreetly � �How are you?� His voice and eyes had a hypnotizing effect. I took a little bit more than usual to answer. �F-Fine, thank you� � I squeaked again � �You?� �Fine� � He replied with his most deep tone. Suddenly, I felt my heart beating again. The veil covering my eyes was still there, but I could see Benson�s colours now � even brighter than before. His blond hair looked even more touchable, his eyes even deeper and his thin lips even more kissable. Benson turned back to finish his things with Lizzie. My legs were trembling so much I had to sit on the beige sofa for a moment. Actually, I threw myself on the sofa. God�How could a person be so attractive? Ah, if he ever had a real conversation with me�No, what If he asked me out�OW� I would accept it easily... what about if he kissed me? OOWWNN�I would melt just like butter on Mc Donald�s hot plate� �Lily!� � Lizzie called me sounding annoyed �What?� � I said still daydreaming. �What is this?� � She pointed at me horrified. �What?� � I asked annoyed. I couldn�t see anything to cause such a terrifying expression on Lizzie�s face. �Lily, where are your manners?� � Her expression changed from angry to serious in a second. She sat next to me and held my hand. �What Lizzie?� � I asked beginning to feel worried as well. �What�s the thing between you and Danny?� � Her eyes were extremely wide I gasped. She HAD NOTICED! What means that Benson probably had noticed it too! Oh my God�I was so stupid. My breathing became more and more unstable. �Did he notice something, Lizzie? Do you think he knows something? Oh My God�I�m so embarrassed�What am I going to do? I�ll never look at his face again! Oh, damn�we�re in the same social studies class! He must think I�m a freak! Oh God�� �Lily!� � Lizzie yelled confused � �Look, I won�t lie to you. I don�t know what you were thinking � And I truly don�t wanna know � but the way you were starring at him totally denounced you�unless he�s blind...� �Oh� � I muttered ��Than you, Lizzie. I�m feeling great now.� � I ruffed and rolled my eyes.

�Lily! Listen to me just a second! For what I saw, you really like him. Be brave, girl. Make him pay attention to you! Well, now there�s no better thing to do�he already knows everything�� � She laughed �Shut up, Lizzie�� � My voice sounded even bitterer than I thought it would sound �Okay, smitten-girl� � she said in an annoying voice. �I�m leaving now� � I said dry. She waved goodbye. The moment I passed through the door, the veil fell again over my eyes. The sad feeling started to spread again and my heart stop beating. * * *

Finally, the bell rang, announcing the end of the class. I threw everything inside my bag � just like everybody - and left the classroom as soon as I could, trying to avoid any conversation with Benson. I roved by the full hallway. People pushed and pulled me on every direction, stepped on both of me feet and I even heard some cursing and swearing. My mind didn�t have space to think about it, though. In fact, it couldn�t think about anything. All I wanted was going home, lock myself into my room and wrap myself under my beautiful and floral duvet. I put everything I wouldn�t need on my locker and hurried went outside.

The ice cold breeze on my face made me feel slightly better, but I still didn�t have the strength to go home. Although, in my mind, I was desperately willing to go, my body didn�t respond to any of my commands. I stood near the crowded main door for the longest fifteen minutes in my whole life. My thoughts were the only thing I could control � At least, I thought they were. And I was really wrong. Though I tried, the image of my mother fighting with my father appeared on my mind, no matter was I did. I shook my head, trying to shake it off, but anything happen. I couldn�t stand one more minute with THAT woman anymore. She was making me miserable, no matter what I did to smile! Suddenly, my house didn�t seem so cozy as before. My mother�s perfume, her clothes, her computer, her paper-work, and pictures would be everywhere in the house � and I didn�t want to see or remember of her while she was out of my eye�s range. My energy was blown out of my body with a breeze. My feet refused to move once again but at this time, I didn�t mind. I was so fed up, that my head was about to explode. Jenny and Greg were still too far from me. Grandpa John and Grandma Dorinda were still living in York. And London was still far, far away. My parents couldn�t stand each other anymore and Mark was studying in Geneva. I was alone in a strange country and living with nobody that could help me. I decided to wait a little longer and summoned my strengths - which was a terrible mistake, because suddenly, Charlie�s big head appeared from nothing in front of me. �Hello� � She said trying to annoy me � �What are you doing here all alone?�

I stared at her right in the eyes. I was willing to punch her in her nose, but my arm was too weak, so I just ignored her �That�s very rude, Lily� � Megan said pointing her crooked finger to me. �Ooh�Bite me, idiot� � I replied with a grim face. �Oh my God! Even upset she�s volatile!� � Charlotte giggled along with the others. I huffed and turned round. �We won�t let you alone, Lily. We want to ask you something, actually.� � Lydia said with her hands on her hips and her long and black hair waving on the wind. They didn�t wait for my answer and asked with a mean smile on their faces. �Are you into Danny Benson?� � Charlie asked excited I stopped breathing for a moment. How could they know it? Lizzie wouldn�t do this to me! And I haven�t talked about it with anybody else! � Well, I haven�t talked with anyone, truthfully. Anyway, I couldn�t let them suspect of anything, so I used all of my lying abilities. �Argh! Benson?! That one on my Social Studies class?� � I said as loud as I could, faking to death. �Yeah. That one. I know you like him�� � Lydia whispered on my ear. I pushed her face away from mine. �No, I�m not, quote, into him. He�s horrible, and completely impolite! Why would I ever like him?� � Oh�If they knew my effort to say this� �Because he told us!� � Charlie looked right into my eyes. I panicked � internally, of course. How could Danny tell them?! He hated them! I turned to her tried to dare. �Oh really?� � I used my most ironic voice� - So, you�ve got the proof that he�s a freaking liar. He must be trying to call your attention, girls. You know, boys are crazy about you!� � ARGH! I got nauseous as I pronounced the last sentence. My lies manipulated even me! ARGH� �Come on, Lily�We all know that you�re lying. Anyway�Danny asked to say that you�re marks are getting lower and lower, and he suggested that you stop looking at him during the class� � They all giggled. � �Well�Let�s go girls� � She snapped her fingers. For the first time on weeks I felt heat over my body. And I was so happy to feel it again! But at the same time, I was angry; really angry. This lie about Danny was the last straw. A wave of anger started in my feet and went up to my head. �Yeah�you�d better go, BITCHES!� � I yelled without thinking. Seconds later, I realized what I had said and I shut my mouth with my hand as soon as I could. Oh my�Jenny�s dirty vocabulary was contagious. Everybody turned round with a dirty look, and the girls all stopped and turned back furious.

�What did you just called us?� � Charlie came near me. �Oh�sorry! I�m really sorry for this one! It wasn�t my intention to�� � The words flew out of my mouth in such a speed, I couldn�t stop talking. �Shut up!� � Lydia yelled � �You won�t mess up with us ever again!� � Her eyes were really dark and deep of anger. She walked closer and closer. I knew I should walk or punch her, but I couldn�t. My body was still too tired. The last thing I felt were her hands pushing my shoulders and my feet getting off the floor.

I could hear some buzzing, but I didn�t know from where, exactly, it came. I lifted my head and looked round. I was lying on the grass. It was sunny and hot and everyone was wearing colourful clothes, playing with water and laughing. Jenny and Greg were lying next to me, sunbathing. I got up and saw my grandparents and my father. I ran to hug them and tell them how much I missed them. I noticed that my father�s fingers were free - without a specific ring. A wonderful feeling touched my heart. We were free, at last! I hugged him harder and he lifted me gently. I turned round to celebrate and I saw Danny coming to my direction. His hair was shiny as gold and his eyes, matched the deep blue in the skies. He smiled and took me on his arms. �Are you okay?� � He asked with a very different voice. Not less sweet, but different. �Of course!� � I said in my sweetest voice. �Hey, can you hear me?� � He asked again with a worried voice, but a peaceful face. �Of course I can hear you� � I muttered like melted butter. �Hello!� � He called again � �Are you okay?� � His voice was even more urgent. Why was he worried about me? I was absolutely fine and everything was perfect! He was just a few centimeters far from me, and all I had to do was lift my head a little bit to put my lips against his. �Hey!� � Somebody called me, and making me wake up from some weird daydream. I scratched my eyes and the grass was gone; my family was gone; my friends were gone; My Danny was gone. In his place was a different guy, who was embarrassingly near me. Or, should I say: �who I was embarrassingly near him�. �Wow� � I dodged as fats as I could � �What�s happening?� � I prepared myself to get up, but a huge headache got me before my brain could order my legs and feet to move � �Woooow�� � I felt my body falling to the side. �Gotcha� � He said caching me before I hit the ground � �You should sit here for a moment�� � He helped me to sit, but kept his hand behind my back. Just in case I fall, I think. �No,no,no�I�m fine.� � I answered quickly. I don�t know how, but I managed to get up in seconds � �See? I can do this myself�� � My head started to drop a little to the right � and do did my whole body again. �Yeah, I can see that� � He said ironically holding my waist again.

�Whatever�� � I hissed. My head hurt; My arms hurt ; My hips hurt ; My legs hurt ; My ankle hurt. Everything round me was spinning and it seemed like my feet were off my body. My vision was blurred and I didn�t know what exactly was happening. I had to lean my chin over his shoulder to avoid any more falls. I focused my eyes on four colourful spots immersed in many other dark spots. Bit a bit, they got clearer, and I realized what the spots were. �YOU PSICHOS!� - I yelled as loud as I could at Charlie, Charlotte, Megan and Lydia across the path. They exchanged desperate glances and sneaked out behind some bushes. �COME BACK HERE!� � I continued trying to get rid of the arms which were holding me back. �I�M GOING TO KILL YOU ALL! ESPECIALLY YOU, LYDIA! YOU�RE INSANE, GIRL!� � Although I tried, with all my strengths, I couldn�t move. I was being held back. �Let me go, idiot!� � I yelled to the guy who was still holding my waist � �I�m busy, here! Take off your hands of me!� � I tried to unwrap myself, but he was too strong. His fingers wouldn�t move a centimeter. I kept trying, without diverting my eyes from the girls. They were pretty far. �Look! There�re going away! There�re going situation didn�t change much. Actually, it throat came back violently and my arms and bended by themselves and my anger got even me, holding my back telling to some people that I didn�t see anyone round us. He must away!� � I kept saying, but my got worse. In a sudden, the knot on my legs became extremely weak. My knees stronger. I could hear the guy behind to buzz off, but the weird thing was be crazy.

I looked up discretely just to check. It was my huge mistake. A crowd was surrounding me. All the school must have been there. It was so embarrassing. The knot on my throat got worse and worse, so I buried my head between my legs and strained myself not to cry. I thought about on my father, who was going to be really disappointed with me when I got home. I thought about my mother complaining about my behavior as usual. I reminded myself of Mark, grandpa, grandma, Jenny, Greg�everyone who was far away from me�I missed them so badly. I thought about how stupid I�d acted was and how embarrassed I was sitting on the ground in the middle of an enormous crowd. It was being very hard not to cry right now. �Hey� � Someone called me poking on my shoulder gently. I looked up. It was the guy who had helped me. DAMN. I buried my head again and closed my eyes. I wished I couldn�t open them ever again� �Hello�I know you can listen to me�� � He kept saying. I took a deep breath and looked up huffing. �Ah! Finally!� � He exclaimed smiling � �So�I think you should get up now�Here, I�ll help you� � He hold out his hand to me. �Thank you� � I hissed. I slapped my trousers a little to clean them and straighten my orange T-shirt. �You�re welcome. So� C�mon. You gotta go to the nursery�� � He said pulling me into the school building�s direction.

�Oh no!� � I protested taking my hand away from his - �I�ve had enough humiliation for today. I�m not going anywhere with you.� � I turned back and went to the busstop. I sat on the bench exhausted. My headache hadn�t stop yet and my knee and elbow were hurting too much. I couldn�t wait to take a nice shower and throw myself on my bed. Everything would be perfect, except for the fact that my mother would come home, no matter what happened. I noticed someone walking beside me. �Hey, there� � The brown haired guy said smiling � �You don�t mind if I walk you home, right?� �I don�t need any help� � I growled vexed. �I think you do.� � He replied � �You�ve just fallen from a stairway.� �Whatever�� � I huffed � �Now, leave me alone.� � I turned my back on him and crossed my arms over my chest. By this time, even the thought of walking or running was like a torture. The pain had spread all over my body, from the tip of my toe to the tip of my nose. Those morons will be sorry for throwing me on the stairway. My hands got anxious to hit something as I thought on the possibilities that I had for my revenge.

�Hey, are you fine? �Cause I think you should go to the hospital, you know?� �I�m good� � I snapped with a bitter voice � Bitterer than I had planned actually. �Wow! Whasup with you, cranky?

He sat next to me and started to whistle a familiar song. My head started to pound. The ache was so strong that even the lightest sound seemed like a huge explosion by my ears. After a few minutes, the bus arrived. I stood up and got on the bus � and so did the brown-haired guy. �What are you doing?� - I asked him huffing. �Making sure you won�t faint and hit your head� � He said annoyingly. �I don�t need you. Go away.� � I snapped on my bitterest tone. �Whatever� � He muttered. On the next bus-stop, the lady in front of me got out of the bus. He took her place and kept starring at me for a pretty long time. Looking more carefully, he was quite cute. His messy brown hair, lighted by the cool spring-sun accentuated his tanned skin and green eyes. It was different green; a deeper and brighter one, but it was mixed with the red wine colour of his sweater. His blue jeans were tapered, just like his black all-star. My eyes met his. I averted my eyes as quickly as possible. Had he had noticed? I

panicked. My intentions weren�t call attention or make a signal, it was...just� unconscious. I risked looking again at his face. Big mistake. He was still starring at me. Some kind on unease was spreading over my body; from my feet to my head, inside to the outside. I remembered of taking deep breaths constantly. Okay, I was starring at him too but it was completely innocent! I didn�t want any kind of human-contact. �WHAT?!� � I growled completely embarrassed thinking on the possibility that he had misunderstood my gazing. I heard some buzzing and saw come people shooting me dirty looks. �I�m waiting� � He said gesturing. �Waiting for what?� � I whispered. �I already tried to talk to talk to you; It�s your turn to come up with a subject� � He shrugged and muttered something to himself. I rolled my eyes relieved. Wow. That was close. �So�� � He gestured. Damn. Hadn�t he noticed I didn�t want any kind of interaction? I didn�t know him; His name, age, school year�NOTHING! And I don�t need to get to know him! Oh yeah, I don�t want to! Was he mental, or what? �Don�t hold your breath� � I snapped. He sighed and rolled his eyes - and so did I. I was okay being I want to do was again, because I should be frozen quiet, why couldn�t he do the same thing and leave me alone? All get on my bed and have a big mug of hot chocolate to warm my body was probably suffering from hypothermia. Seriously, my fingers by the time I get home.

And unfortunately, this was being the longest bus-trip I�ve ever had. Both of us stood quiet. Sometimes our gazes met each other, but still, we didn�t say a word. Suddenly, he got to listen to some music. And he seemed very enthusiastic with this new idea, because his feet couldn�t stay quiet for a second! They were always drumming something and his hands were � obviously � drumming along with them. I started to get a little bit annoyed at first, my but After a while, my eyelids started to drop and my legs began to ache � as well as my whole body.I leaned my head on

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