She’s just busy, she tells herself. That’s all.
Tires screech into place, and then suddenly she slams the car door as quickly as she arrived. Tail lights flash. Laced up toes pitter patter down the steps. The toast and coffee her dad laid out for her sits disregarded on the passenger seat.
She was going to be late to first period. That’s all.
“Stop the car, I don’t feel so well.” That boy she spent so much time thinking about holds her hair back without knowing why. He doesn’t ask questions.
She must have eaten something bad. Food poisoning is a possibility.
Dark circles under her eyes stare back at her, patient reminders of anxious nights. Raucous shouting from the kitchen. Her mother calls up to her. Mom, she says, I can’t, I have too much homework to do. I’ll grab a snack later.
A text illuminates her phone laying on the bedside table next to her. She discards her book, pushes away the nearly empty bottle of Advil sitting next to that book she hasn’t continued reading since two weeks ago.
It’s him. Why aren’t you coming to that party tonight, he wants to know.
I’m just tired, she tells him. It’s what she tells herself. That’s all.