Chapter 1

My name is Rainie.

Let me start with it would be priceless if my last name was Day.
But it's not. It's Joseph. Rainie Joseph.

My mother named me this. I'm not sure why, it's just how it is. I hope I figure it out someday. But I doubt I ever will. I think I remember asking her once- why I was named this and not something normal like Emily or Sarah. I'm not sure if I remember this right but she may have said I had this name so I would always have something that made me different.

Nobody ever came to school with the same clothes as me. Nobody normally listened to the same music as me. Nobody had the same long fingers as me. Nobody loved the same books as me. Nobody watched my TV shows. Every kid is called different but for me different is the one adjective to describe me.

I live in a town called Kerrington. It's a decent sized town.

From all I've seen in my life so far, Kerrington is a pretty generic town when you first look around. But the thing that makes it different and makes me love it here is because there's never just one of everything.

There are two high schools: Kerrington High School and Coolen J. High School. I go to Coolen but I know some kids who go to Kerrington. I just moved here so I'm pretty sure I don't even know half the people who go to Coolen so I'll probably graduate before I start meeting everyone at Kerrington.

I'm seventeen. A junior if you want to know.

And I am probably going to stay this age forever.

I park my car at the end of a long line of them. My cell phone vibrates beside me. I don't understand why people waste so much money on ring tones for their cell phones. If I do have one set I never hear it. But I can always hear my phone vibrating. Even in I'm in a different room.

I check it, seeing a new text message from Jessicah. I found a boy :] His frend is sngle 4 u!

Jess-ee-cah has been looking for a boy as long as I can remember. When she does find on they never make it past the first few dates, rarely ever making it to boyfriend status before she cuts them loose. I'm not looking for a boy. I had a boyfriend about a month ago, and he was an asshole named Kenny, and like all of my relationships so far it didn't work out.

I'm happy being single. I'm off boys for now.

But since Jessicah is looking for one, it sort of means I am too. I always get stuck with the single friend so she can hook-up with the new boy or to just distract him. They never usually mind getting sent off with me. I've given my phone number to about four guys in the past few weeks. All of them the single friends. But I never mind. They usually never text me anyways.

I start walking texting Jess-ee-cah back. The house is really deep in the woods all these cars parked up along the sides. I can barely see. I don't rely on my cell phone for the common-cell-phone-uses- like calling, texting, and taking pictures and sending them to your friends- I tend to use mine more as a flashlight.

All you need to do is open to a new screen and it works as a light. I try and make sure I don't trip over anything. I'm pretty clumsy in the dark.

The house is huge. It looks like it belongs in New Hampshire.

Kids pouring out of it and standing around talking, laughing and drunk. I ring the doorbell. This kid in my math class opens the door. He looks at me smiling a little funny. He's drunk. That's why. "Hi Tyler." I say waving.

"Hey Rainie!" He says. He slurs something and watches me ignore him walking by.

"Have a good night Tyler," I say smiling at him as I start walking away.

He salutes me. And I keep walking looking around for Jess-ee-cah. She's always in the middle of things which means I have to search for her. What makes it harder is the fact that she's always in a group of boys. So I just walk around saying hello to everyone I know.

I'm naturally confident with myself. It's from spending the first ten years of my life as an only child. But I'll get into all of that later. And I make friends easily and get along with a lot of people. But finally I spot Jessicah. Or she spots me. "Rain-ie!"

So let me put this on the record now. Jessicah, or Jess-ee-cah whichever you prefer, is not a slut. She just likes boys a lot. And she's not stupid she just likes boys more than books. But she's pretty smart. She's my unofficial math tutor. She tries to be all edgy and cool and bad. But I really think she's just looking for the right person. All these boys, and everything, I think she's just waiting and not realizing it yet.

I turn smiling. The boys standing around her are all sort of emo. I walk up to them. She hugs me, probably to make herself look cute. She acts really different around boys. But I think it's half because she has a cup that usually doesn't hold water at a big party like this that's only a quarter full. It's sort of late so I'm assuming it isn't her first one tonight. The boys are all watching us. "Hi there!" I say smiling happily at everyone.

"Everyone this is Rainie," She says pointing at me looking at the three boys. "This is Jack," A really tall dorky looking kid. He says hello. And I wave at him. "Brent," She touches his shoulder. I smile at this boy. He's the one. The single friend. He smiles quietly. And looks at me. Then Jess-ee-cah plants her arm on the last boy's arm. "And this is Thomas." Marking her territory.

"Hi," I say. I have always gotten along with people easily. I think it's a good thing. The fact that tonight is a party with the alternative crowd doesn't surprise me. Jess-ee-cah had come to me saying she was sick of jocks. You wouldn't think there were that many emo kids in Kerrington at all. But that's just because it's a very sports orientated town. The biggest days of the school year aren't like prom or anything like that. It's the day when Coolen play Kerrington at football. Coolen always wins, but when it comes to baseball we don't stand a chance against Kerrington.

But at these parties with the quote unquote 'emo kids' everything is totally cool. Everyone's really nice and my friend Bennett Williams plays a lot of them. He's this really nice kid that writes these really emo songs. He's really hot, but everyone is meant to him because he's the emo king. He's the definition here. But he's so nice and goofy and sweet.

I join into the group easily. The conversation is mainly Jess-ee-cah flirting with Thomas and Thomas flirting back. This leads to twenty minutes or so of awkward conversation for the five of us. But I have a feeling Jess and Thomas are hitting it off.

Brent is sort of cute. He is really quiet and doesn't say a word. He isn't drinking anything which sort of disappoints me because you can't drink when you're technically with someone at a party when they're not. It's rude. And usually that means they're straightedge and they start resenting you.

Jack suddenly bursts to life, standing there slouching and looking bored. I'm pretty bored too because Brent and him are so silent. I feel awkward joining into Jessicah's conversation especially when she's flirting with Thomas. He smiles at a girl, she's short and blonde and she waves to him.

"See you," He says to all of us. And he goes over to that girl. They smile and are a cute little couple. Kissing and saying hello. I turn back and I see Brent looking at me sort of waiting to get my attention.

"Hey, do you want me to get you a drink?" He asks.

I smile. "Sure."

He smiles back a little. Insecure. And cute. He's alright for one night right? Maybe not a date. But one night isn't a huge commitment. It's a beer and a party.

Thomas looks at Jessicah's drained cup. "I'll go with you," He says to Brent. He takes Jess-ee-cah's cup and she smiles at him. They'll hook up by the end of the night. I can tell.

She looks at me eagerly. "So..." She moves closer to me. "What do you think about Brent?"

I shrug. "He's a little quiet." I say. Knowing very well that word cute only goes so far. "But he's cute. I don't know."

She's so happy and bubbly. "You guys look so cute together. You would make a cute couple." I'm not sure how many times you can use 'cute' in a conversation. But we've nearly broken the world record.

I nudge her. "So what about you and Mr. Thomas?" I smile at her.

She grins, shrugging one shoulder likes it's no big deal. "I really like him."

"Date material?"

"Yeah," She says. "What about Brent?"

"I'll think about it," I said. I have a feeling it maybe on the fence- I mean, I haven't given to boy a chance. But he's sort of leaning towards a no.

She sighs. "You're so picky." She says laughing a little. "I need to find you a boy somehow."

I laugh a little. "I don't need a boy, Jess."

"Do you want to go downstairs?" He asks pointing toward where the stairs are. I've been waiting for this. Jess-ee-cah keeps shooting me these looks but I don't want to come across as a pushy type of a person. And I was waiting for him to finally get the hint from Thomas.

I smile. "Sure, I'd love to."

Whenever I smile at him, he gets all insecure and smiley and looks down. And cute. I'm so sick of that word. It just sounds like a euphemism or something. I need to come up with a more interesting word in place of that.

We walk along the side of the room. Most boys would take the liberty to dive into the heavily packed part of the room and hold your hand our something. But I just follow Brent stepping over a drunken couple. Making our way over to the downstairs. Where the music is softer and the people are talking.

It's a nice finished basement. There's only one couple making out and there are a lot of couches and TVs. Clearly a few from downstairs have been moved here. Brent leads me over to these two couches facing each other near a cold dead fireplace. Jack and his girl are there. Sitting together smiling when we come over. There are two other boys there. Neither of us turning to look me or Brent just sitting there.

"Hi," Brent says when we're over there. We sort of stand there in the distance in between the two couches. "This is Rainie."

Jack's girl's name is Gina. She's small and cute and smiles up at me. Waving and saying Hello. Then there's this kid Paul. Who's muscular looking. But he has this emo haircut and the emo clothes down. In fact I found myself reading his shirt- an Alkaline Trio one. I like that band. He just looked like he should have been a jock. Then there was this gorgeous kid. I didn't know his name but he just stared at me. His eyes sort of spacey and grey and empty. But he was hot and had this really perfect golden skin. He kept staring at me. It made me uncomfortable and mumbled a lot and nobody seemed to pay much attention to him.

I sit next to Brent finally. And we settle in. Myself a friendly distance from Brent. We sit there and it's like we're not even there. It returns to normal except for that kid who looks like Hercules or something staring at me.

It takes me a few minutes but I caught on. The conversation is more like a debate between Gina and Paul. Jack joining in sometimes but he just sits back. I think a little scared to join in. I finally figure out what band they are talking about. Three Cheers.

I saw them two weeks ago with this kid named Jonathon. He loved that band. It was an awful date and he was an awful and sloppy kisser. It's obvious though what the sides are. Gina thinks this band is so good. Paul thinks they suck.

I jump in when there's a short break before anyone says anything. "I agree with Paul, they suck." I say.

I feel Paul look at me. It's not long he looks at me quickly for a fraction of a second. "Thank you," He says to me putting a hand out towards me. He had someone on his side. He had been winning this debate before. But now Gina would just be beating a dead horse by going on.

He's intimidating. His arms look really strong. He has to be a jock. I put money on it. When he and Gina start fighting again I look at him. He's not that beefy though. A quick glance and he looks like a skinny alternative kid, but when he talks he uses his hands sometimes. The muscles moving. There clearly there. I look down at my boney wrists. He could break my arms like toothpicks probably.

You can tell though he'd rather fight about whether or not this-or-that band sucks than with an actual person.

"You probably haven't even seen them live." Gina says. This is like tug-of-war. Paul would win in both instances.

"I have, it was a fucking waste of time." He sits back a little. "I saw them with you." He leans forward again. Jack laughs.

"Well, have you seen them recently?" Gina asks.

"I saw them two weeks ago," I said. "They were awful. They were just another generic high school cover band."

"Exactly," Paul says moving looking at me. "They just cover lame mainstream crap."

I nod opening my mouth to agree with him. But Jack laughs. "Dude, you're in a generic high school band."

Paul looks away from me laughing a little. Sitting back again. "At least we can write halfway decent songs." He said. "They cover complete shit."

"True," Jack says considering this.

"No they don't!" Gina says. "They-"

"They cover fucking-" Paul starts but he's interrupted by- surprisingly Brent.

He hasn't said a single thing since he introduced me. And he sits forward a little more looking at Paul. Hercules gets up suddenly and walks away. We all listen to Brent talking. "They're not that bad." He says crossing his arm uncomfortably. "I mean, they're better than the emo crap coming from Kerrington-"

I interrupt him. Whenever someone starts ripping apart Bennett- which is surprisingly common- I always stick up for him. Bennett has to be one of the nicest people I've met in Kerrington. "Oh, Bennett Williams, right?"

Brent stops. Nobody says anything. "Yeah-" He says.

"He's a good friend of mine." I say smiling. It's such a bitchy thing to do, especially with someone like Brent. "His music is so good. I'm a huge fan of his. He's amazing." I mean his songs are emo, but they're so good. He's such a good singer. I would have added an "and-he's-so-hot" comment, but I would never do that unless the person was a complete asshole.

Everyone stays quiet for a second. A slight delay of Brent just staring at me. Beaten like Gina but he gives up. "Doesn't he play a lot of Kerrington parties?" Paul asks. I turn away from Brent. I had to stand up for Bennett though.

"Yes," I say. He's sitting across form me. "And he plays the coffee-shop downtown sometimes too."

"Yeah," He says nodding. "I used to work there; I mean I've never seen him, but..."

"Isn't he the skinny kid that goes to all of those concerts?" Gina asks me. Brent shrivels away. Not even seen anymore or noticed.

"I've heard of him." Jack says shifting. "Yeah," He says to Gina moving his arm behind her. "We saw him a couple weeks ago at that party."

A few minutes later, Brent sits forward. He looks at me ready to stand up. "Do you want me to get you another beer?" Any chance we had of anything is completely dead right now. There's no connection at all.

My cup is empty on the table mixed in with all of the other empty ones. I look at which one might be mine. "Yeah, thank you." I said looking up at him smiling a little.

He just nods and gets up not looking at me anymore. Jack asks Gina if she wants another too. He stops though looking at Paul. Brent looking around waiting for Jack. "Paul?" He asks.

"I can't." He grumbles, sitting back into the couch now. "I have to work tomorrow."

"Dude, its Saturday." Jack says.

"I know," Paul says.

Jack walks by patting Paul on the shoulder as he passes. I watch Brent disappear upstairs. My eyes land on Paul who is just sitting there looking over at Hercules as he sits down next to him again. This time Hercules' eyes are rolling around in his sockets all over the place.

I inch a little forward towards him. "So," I say, he looks at me suddenly. "You like Alkaline Trio?"

Most guys would look down at their shirts nervously. Paul didn't though. He just nods. "Yeah," He says. "I saw them a couple months ago."

I smile. "I missed that show." I say. "I was going to go with my friend but something came up." I was going to go with Bennett. But I didn't have enough money and so I got stuck baby-sitting that night.

He leans forward. "It was a good show." He says nodding. "At the venue the sound wasn't that great that night, but they were pretty good. That was the only time I've seen them."

"I wish I had gone."

Gina has been sitting there looking back and forth in between us. "Aren't they the band that sings that song you guys cover?" She moves closer to us.

Paul looks at her a little confused. Then he shakes his head. "No," He says. "That's a New Found Glory song." He makes a face like he can't quite understand how you can mix those two bands up. I feel the same way a little.

Gina looks at me. "They're in a band." She says.

I smile looking at Paul. "What's your bands name?" I ask happily. "Maybe I've heard of you."

He's hesitant. But he finally forces it out. "Caustic," He winces when he says it. Most guys are really cocky about being in a band. Like it makes them big rock stars, but Paul seems a little... embarrassed I think. Maybe just about the name. But even when guys in bands just say the name they act like it's a huge deal. I haven't seen a guy act like this before about being in a band. Maybe Bennett, I don't think that counts though because it's just him and a guitar.

I furrow my eyebrows. "What does Caustic mean?" I ask.

Gina inches forward. "It means to eat away at metal or something, right?" She asks Paul.

"Yeah," He says a little quieter. "Thomas thought of it."

"Oh, I met him tonight; he's in your band?" I asked. Jess-ee-cah's Thomas.

"It's not my band," Paul says quickly. "He sings, and Jack plays bass and Brent plays drums." It's hard picturing Brent playing drums at all.

"What do you play?" I ask smiling.

"Guitar," He says. There isn't even a thread of cockiness in his voice.

"I haven't heard of you guys." I said. "What do you sound like? I'll listen to you sometime."

"Rock, I guess, I don't really know. We're getting sort of pop-punk." He winces again saying this. I laugh quietly at this.

"They play the Church downtown a lot." She says to me.

I look at Paul smiling. "So you're like Christian Rock?" I ask to tease him.

"No," He says defensively. He scratches his arm. "They have some bands play downstairs a couple times a month. It's just for the church to make some extra cash."

I nod. "So what do you listen to?" I ask him. "Besides Alkaline Trio."

He seems a little more comfortable talking about this than his band. He's talkative too, he just doesn't sit there and expect me to drag along the conversation. That's always a good thing I think. He's not that intimidating now. He's sort of cute actually.

"I've been listening to Thursday a lot." He says. "And the Get Up Kids."

Bennett likes them. "Are they still around?" I ask. "The Get Up Kids? I haven't heard anything about them lately. Just from my friend."

He shakes his head. "No," He says. "They broke up three years ago."

"What do you think of Bright Eyes?" I ask. "I've been listening to him a lot lately."

He stares at me for a few seconds like I'm crazy. "Ugh." He says wrinkling his nose a little. "I hate Bright Eyes."

I look at him shocked. "What?" I ask. "It's so good. Have you heard 'Lua' or anything off I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning?"

He wrinkles his nose again. I smile a little. Opening my mouth to speak again. But Brent and Jack come back. Jack sitting next to Gina handing her a beer. Brent stays standing handing me my beer.

"You're, uh, friend Jessicah is looking for you upstairs." He says.

"Thanks," I say sipping the beer in my hand, it's really fuzzy. "Okay," I jump up. "I'll be right back." I start walking.

"Uh, Rainie," Brent says. "I sort of... I have to go. But I'll see you later."

This happens sometimes. He probably thought I was obnoxious for sticking up for Bennett. Or annoying, but I try and act disappointed. "Oh, you have to?" I ask. Fake as can be.

"Yeah," He says. I touch his arm.

"I'll see you around, okay?" I say. Maybe I overdid it but I end up walking away sort of relieved. I go upstairs. Looking around for Jess-ee-cah. Brent was too quiet. But this isn't the end of me being stuck with the single-friend. There will be probably a dozen more guys like Brent. It's just spring.

He's just another boy.

I had found Jessicah. She had come up to me. Smiling and all happy. She and Thomas are gone doing who-knows-what. And I just walk around saying hello and talking to people. It's alright. Sometimes it's more fun having a group of people to talk to like downstairs talking to Jack and Gina and Paul, but I felt weird going back.

Because in a sense I had been rejected. I doubt that Brent really had to go somewhere, but there's no sense being disappointed about it at all. He wasn't anything special. He was too quiet.

It was a little while later. And I was just walking around. Not really talking to anyone. Saying hello and waving to people. I saw Paul standing in line at the keg. Alone. Just standing there. I thought it was fine. I could go say hi to him couldn't I?

So I walked up to him, smiling. "Hi," I said.

He turned suddenly seeing me. He looked a little surprised seeing me. "Hey," He said. "What's up?"

I stand beside him. "Nothing," I said. "Just walking around." I nudge his arm. "What happened to work tomorrow?"

He sighs. "Whatever, I hate my job anyway." He says looking at me.

"Where do you work?" I ask.

"A store in the mall." We move up in line. I look at Paul. He's reading the back of the kid's shirt in front of us. Paul's sort of cute. I mean he's not amazingly gorgeous, but he's not heinous. He's not bad-looking at all. I start reading the words on the back of the kid's shirt. They're really violent lyrics or something .The kid looks like a metal-head anyways. "Brent was a total asshole to you."

I look at Paul suddenly. He said this very subtly I have to admit. He looks at me. I shrug. "He wasn't my type." That's the perfect thing to say when someone says something like that. "Way too quiet."

"He's lucky you ever gave him a chance." He says smiling at me a little. We move to the front of the line. Paul asks for two beers. I was a little surprised. But no wonder. He's not disgusting, he could meet a girl he liked at a party easily. I tired coming up with an excuse to go, I felt really awkward suddenly standing there with him gettign a beer for anothe girl. But when the kid hands him a beer, he passes it to me.

I smile at him. He just waits for the second not noticing. I take a sip, it's a lot warmer than the one Brent had gotten me. Paul is pretty good-looking actually. We move out of line going to the side. I thought quickly. Now was when we it wasn't said it was just decided unintentionally. We were saying goodbye. There was nothing wrong with it. Why not?

"Hey, can I see your cell phone?" I ask. I start fishing mine out. He looks a little unsure and confused at first. Not knowing what I'm doing. He holds it out to me. A nice expensive one.

I've had years of experience at this. In a swift movement I trade my phone for his. He take mine. The "New Contact" page already open on mine. I start to put my phone number into his phone. "So text me sometime," I say. "I want to see that band of yours playing, but text me whenever."

He smiles trading my phone back for his. "Okay," He says to me. "I will."

I smile at him. Pushing my bangs out of my eyes. "So, I'll see you around."

"Yeah," He says. "Bye."

And we both walk away in different directions. Another night. Another party. Another boy.