Aaron walked through the doors into the school, looking up at the high pillars and crosses perched above his head. He silently crossed the hallway, watching his fellow students mingle, talking either in large groups or in small pairs. All around him, locker doors slammed, and footsteps echoed through his ears. Aaron wrinkled his forehead, and walked on.

What a stupid town, he thought, why was I forced to come here?

But deep down, he knew. It was because his mother had made him, insisting that they start fresh, with a clean slate, by moving to a new town. Ever since the death of his father, Aaron's mother had taken a new perspective on life, something that caught Aaron by surprise. It seemed like she had more control over her emotions, like a whole new person.

She kept her head high, her shoulders straight, and put on a daily smile. Aaron had to admit, it was a healthy attitude to take on after the death of a husband, but Aaron himself was not yet ready to move on. Not that his mother had completely moved on. At night, when Aaron struggled to sleep, he would lay awake, listening to the sounds of her sobs, easy to hear through the paper thin walls of their new home. Every once in a while, her cries would cease, and he thought she'd fallen asleep, only to be proved wrong when the sounds of her shudders filled the air once again. At night, she would mourn, and during the day, she would smile. Things had not been as easy for Aaron. A new town and a new school were hard enough, and they were not helping his cause for recovery. He wouldn't have minded the move as much if it had been to a big city, some place with lots of people where he could hide in a corner, invisible to the rest of the world. But no, his mother had to choose one of the smallest towns in existence. Bathory. A town where everyone knows everything about you. There was no escaping attention in a town like this. So desperate for change, everyone runs to your side, wanting to know you, to know everything about you.

Aaron was pondering over those thoughts when suddenly; he was knocked to the ground.

Aaron grunted and opened his eyes. About three feet away lay the boy he must've run into. He was tall and thin, with pale skin and black hair. When the boy opened his eyes, Aaron noted that those too were black. The boy rubbed the back of his head and stood, picking up his fallen book bag. He then walked over to where Aaron still laid, and held out a hand. Aaron took it, the boy's skin was cold and soft, and he was pulled to his feet.

"You all right?" the boy asked.

Aaron brushed the dirt off of his pants and answered, "Yeah, I am. Sorry about that, I wasn't paying attention."

The boy smiled and shook his head, "Nah, its fine."

He stuck out his hand again, "I'm Vlad."

Aaron took Vlad's hand in his and shook,

"Aaron."

Vlad smiled and tilted his head, "You new here? I don't think I've seen you around."

Aaron shrugged, "Yeah, me and my mom just moved here.

Vlad nodded, "What about your dad?"

Aaron shook his head and sighed, "My dad died last month. It's just us."

Vlad frowned, "I'm sorry. Its hard losing a parent, isn't it?"

Aaron nodded, "Yeah it really is…"

Vlad crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, "I understand,"

Aaron tilted his head, confused,
"Have you last a parent?" he asked.

Vlad gave a sad half smile.

"Both of my parents are dead," he replied, saying it without even a hint of emotion.

Aaron shifted, suddenly uncomfortable, "Oh. I'm sorry." He mumbled.

Vlad opened his mouth to reply, but the bell rang, cutting him off.

Without another word, Vlad nodded his goodbye, and walked down the hall. Aaron just stood and watched his first and only friend walk away, thinking about how lucky he was to have found someone who finally understands.