He'd loved her for the longest time…

Since the first time she punched him in the arm, Wybie had loved Coraline Jones.

At first he'd just been watching her because Cat had told him to, but the more he watched her, the more she intrigued him. She wasn't like other girls. He'd guessed that from her blue hair, but she was just so… he didn't know how to explain it. She was brave, and tough and smart. She liked exploring and insects, best of all, she wasn't afraid of him. He'd liked other girls before, but they'd get scared whenever he tried to talk to them. Coraline was occasionally annoyed by him (okay, often annoyed by him) but she was never frightened. In the months since she'd moved into the pink palace, she'd become his best friend- in fact, his only friend, besides Cat, of course.

Wybie sighed as he pondered these thoughts in his bed. The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon and he needed to get up. He had a lot of work to do this morning- the right gasket on Frankenstina had blown out last night, and he had to fix it if he wanted to get to school on time. And he had to put food out for Cat, or Cat would get inside and start scratching Gramma's couch again, and then Gramma would kill both of them…

Reluctantly, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and shivered. It was freezing out this morning. He hurriedly pulled on his work overalls and headed to the garage. He'd replaced gaskets in his beloved bike before, so all he had to do was find one in the muddled mess that was his workbench. Grandpa had showed Wybie how to use tools as soon as he was big enough to hold them, and set up a nice little workbench that was all his own. When he'd only had simple tools like wrenches and screwdrivers, it had been easy to keep the space organized, but after Grandpa died and he taught himself how to fix Gramma's car, the space had gotten significantly more cluttered with power tools of every kind. He didn't mind though. It was all in finding the thing he needed. As he found the replacement gasket and began patiently fixing Frankenstina, his thoughts wandered to Coraline again, or, specifically, Coraline's hair. He'd always been curious why she'd picked blue to dye it. It was strange to him- she wasn't the type to be called a "rocker" or anyone else who'd stereotypically have blue hair. Not that he minded of course, he liked her hair. It was… interesting.

I still don't see why you can't just tell her how you feel…

Wybie shifted his eyes and saw Cat perched on the hood of grandma's old Cadillac licking his paws and staring at him with the same dry amusement as always.

"You'd better get off of Gramma's car." Wybie said nonchalantly. He'd been able to understand Cat for as long as he could remember. "If she finds out you sat there she's gonna have a heart attack"

You're dodging the question, Wybourne

"You didn't ask one" Wybie answered smugly, twisting the gasket into place. "Now do you want breakfast or not?"

You know my weakness, I'm afraid. Cat's ears twitched but don't think I won't bring it up later…

"Whatever you say, Cat" Wybie scooped Cat up and laughed as he headed back to the house.

As he came through the door, Wybie saw that Gramma was already up and cooking breakfast. He saw a plate of scrambled eggs on the counter and smelled sausages cooking on the stove. Wybie smiled, Gramma was 73 years old-she could barely see and was finding it harder and harder to get around- but every day she insisted on getting up at 6:30 in the morning and cooking breakfast.

"Morning, Gram." Wybie said as he reached into the pantry and pulled out a can of tuna for cat.

"Good morning, Wybourne" Gramma's wrinkled face folded into a warm smile. "As soon as you feed that cat of yours, you go and get your school clothes on. Breakfast is almost ready."

"Roger." he said as he rummaged through the kitchen drawer for the can-opener and put the tuna into a bowl for cat. He ran up the stairs and put on his dreaded school clothes-boring gray pants, a boring white shirt, and the itchiest gray sweater in the world. He always felt uncomfortable in them- and at school in general, but Gramma was adamant about him getting a good education, and there was never any use arguing with gram.

"WYBOURNE!" he heard her yell from the kitchen "BREAKFAST IS READY!"

"COMING!" he yelled as he grabbed his bag and raced down the steps. He was pleased to come down to see breakfast on the table.

"Thanks Gram," Wybie smiled as he reached for the maple syrup to pour on his sausage.

"Wybourne," Gram sat across the table from him and sipped her tea. "I got a call from your uncle Herb last night, your aunt Pam is sick. We're going to go visit her this weekend."

Wybie nearly choked on his chocolate milk.

"What?! I can't go this weekend! Coraline and I are supposed to go see Zombie Circus! We've been waiting for it to come out for 3 months!"

That was the wrong thing to say. Gramma's soft face became stony. Wybie cringed. His grandmother was a sweet woman and Wybie loved her very dearly, but she was terrifying when she was mad.

"Now you listen to me Wybourne Jeremiah Lovatt" Wybie winced at the sound of his full name "This zombie-whatever-it-is will just have to wait. Your aunt Pam is much more important than some silly picture show. Now, you will tell that Jones girl that you will not be able to go this weekend, and you will come straight home after school and pack your things. IS THAT CLEAR?"

"Y…yes Gramma" Wybie choked.

"Good. Now finish your breakfast or you'll be late for school"

"Yes Gramma"

Wybie finished his breakfast in silence. Crap! He'd been waiting to see this movie forever, and Coraline had even agreed to go with him- and she'd seemed excited about it too! Now he was going to have to spend the weekend sitting in the Cadillac next to Gram instead of next to Coraline in the PG13-zombie-bloodbath of his dreams. Kill me now, Wybie thought.

Wybie ate the last bite of his eggs, rinsed off his dishes in the sink, and kissed Gram on the forehead before getting on Frankestina and riding off to what he was sure would be the worst day of his life.