I walked over to my usual seat. There was none other than Spot Conlon. He was a new guy here. He was always gloomy and every girl here said he was cute. I didn't see it. We're both outsiders here. ************ He had moved here, to Sleepy Manassas, Virginia a week ago when summer just ended. He now lived down the street from me, and my mom forced me to go over and welcome them to the neighborhood. I trudged over there as slowly as I could. Okay, just pop in and pop out. I told myself, proving that I'm slightly shy. I didn't realize they were a family until I walked up the driveway and I saw him playing basketball. He was medium height with brownish hair and gray eyes. I stood there waiting to be noticed. I really wanted to jump in the game, but I didn't know him. All of a sudden another guy came out. "Hey, Spot can I join? And there's a girl behind you." He said craning his neck to see what I looked like. I suddenly felt self conscious in my worn out jeans and old tee shirt. "Hey, beautiful, looking for someone?" he said smiling, walking up to me. The one playing basketball followed him. I smiled nervously and stared at my feet as the one with the basketball stared at me with his piercing gray eyes. "Uh, erm, I'm looking for one of the Conlons?" The scarier one looked at me. "I'm Spot Conlon, whaddya need?" I looked at him shifting from foot to foot. ""I'm Lydia, I was told to welcome you to the neighborhood." "And I'm Tony, but you can call me Racetrack, Sweetheart." The other guy said. "Hi." I said nervously. "You know how to play basketball?" The one called Racetrack said. "Yeah.." "You wanna play?" he asked. "Sure." "Awesome. That cool with you Spot?" "Yeah." He said throwing me the ball. I came home a while later with my Mom standing at the door her arms crossed. Ever since I turned sixteen, my mom didn't trust me to be alone with a boy for more than five minutes. "Lydia, where have you been?" "Basketball game, I won!" I said grinning hugely. "What am I going to do with you? I told you to welcome the new family to the neighborhood, not beat their son at basketball!" She proclaimed. I smiled even bigger, because that was practically a medal of honor according to her. ************ Spot looked up from his food obviously miserable with the uniforms. "So Ginger, we meet again." "Can I sit here? "Sure." At this, I plunked myself down and started pulling my lunch out of my bag. "Where's your over enthusiastic friend?" He gestured to the popular girl's table. "Perusing the merchandise." There in the middle was Race grinning happily. Secretly, I wished Race was here, Spot wasn't the friendly, sociable type. All of a sudden, four more boys came up. One had curly, light brown hair to match brown eyes, and tan skin. Another, had curly brown hair and brown eyes as well, with paler skin with glasses. Another had sand colored hair with brown eyes and a slight dotting of freckles on his pale skin and a crutch. The last one had dirty blond hair and one brown eye, the other was covered with an eye patch. "Hey Spot, who's the goil? The one with the eye patch said sitting down. "This is my neighbor, Lydia." He said levelly. "So ya into the local normal goils now?" Spot shot him a look that said We'll settle this later. "Hi, I'm Blink, that's Specs, Mush, and Crutchy." He said smiling. Mush sat down next to me. "What do people call you heah?" He asked. "Nothing, just Lydia." I said not telling them the occasional "Nerd!" That was hollered at me. "Ya need a nickname, Lydia is too plain, No offense." Said the one called blink. "How about Sky then?" I asked nervously. They all nodded in agreement. Little did I know, across the lunchroom populars were talking about me. "What is she doing with them?" Emma asked "Nerds don't belong with the cute guys!" Lillie said. "If anything, I should be over there, not her!" Maggie claimed. "What do you think Race?" Asked Katie who was currently perched on his knee. "I think you goils should shove off," He said pushing Katie off and walking over grumbling. "What's wrong with him?" Maggie asked taking her spot next to the baffled Katie. "Who cares? I got an idea." Francine said wickedly. She strolled over to their table, smiling. She stood over Lydia and tapped her on the shoulder. She looked up nervously. "Hi Lydia! I'm so happy for you!" She shouted so the whole lunchroom heard, "You have your own little geek squad! You actually found some Hobbits who pretend you're not Gandalf the Gray! I swear, you work in that little costume room so much, we're gonna have to turn you in to the Mother house soon!" The whole lunchroom exploded into laughter. 0000000000000 I stood up and smiled at her. "And I'm glad you have some friends who are stupid enough not to say you don't look a day over a hundred!" I said pushing past her to the theater. Show choir was practicing for their competition in Boston this weekend. I walked past them quietly and went downstairs to the lab. My friend, Annaliese was working on the costumes for the play. I sat down next to her and started some water for tea. This was my world. "Hey Annaliese," I said pulling out a shirt for Peter Pan, it needed taking in, the cast was so skinny, all the costumes hung off of them. "Hey, you're here early, what's bugging ya?" "Francine." I said. She sighed knowingly. "You gotta stop letting her bother you. Did the Doctor get anywhere by letting the fact that he'll die soon get to him?" "No, but that's different." "Not really, calm down." This was what happened to me for two weeks. I ended up eating in the Lab, which is what we call the costume room. Jen came and went while I worked constantly on costumes. On the walk home Race tried to lighten my mood but it didn't help much. Eventually he snapped. "Why are you so damn gloomy all the time?" he asked. "How about you ask your girlfriends over in Popular world?" He stopped walking and held me in front of him at arms length. "Listen, I didn't know they were out to get you'se! You can't let 'em beat ya and if it bugs ya that much I won't talk to them, I swear! We're getting worried about ya, you're wasting away in that back room! Mush said you don't eat much anymore, you never talk to anyone anymore, it's like you're a zombie dragging yourself through the day, and Spot said you never go outside like ya used to." "It's called laying low 'till everyone forgets." I said turning around. He still held me in front of him. "I'm worried about you. Just sit with us tomorrow. If that bitch hurts ya like she's doing trust me I will get Spot after her. We got you're back. Remember that." "Thanks," I said. "So, you up to basketball today?" He asked. "Maybe, Thanks Race, for everything." He smiled and draped his arm around me. "No problem, Sky." I walked upstairs to my room later and turned on the radio. Then I did my homework. My phone buzzed. There was a basketball game on at Spot's. I rushed through my homework hoping the game would keep my mind off of things. I walked down stairs. "Going over to play basketball!" I hollered as I opened the door. I hurried down the road, when I got there they had already started a game so I sat down on the porch with Crutchy who grinned. "Heya Sky, how's it going? You feeling better? You look better." He said smiling. I nodded. "How's life been treating ya, Crutchy?" "I went to that Doctor in Buffalo, and he said I could try a new surgery so I won't have a bum leg!" He said happily. I smiled. "That's great! Are you going to sign up?" "I don't know, it costs a lot. I would have to work double shifts." "I'd be willing to chip in." "Really? That's great! Thanks Sky!" He said giving me an awkward hug. "Ha! 'Hell went for a stroll with his sleeves rolled up.' That's brilliant, Pratchett!" Specs said his nose in a book. "Hey, Specs. Whatcha reading?" "Thud" "Another Terry Pratchett? I told you, you have to read Tolkien!" "Well, I was going too, but this jumped out at me when I went to The library." "You only say that because a guy's getting hit on the head on the cover!" "Shh! There's a good soaking coming!" He said putting his hand over my mouth. Spot, Mush, Race and Blink walked over. "Hey, you wanna take a shot?" Mush asked using his tee shirt that was cast off on the porch to mop up the sweat on his face. "Sure I'll-" "Five to one Sky soaks em! Who's betting?" Race shouted sitting down. "You're on Mush's team!" Blink declared. We lost 29 to 25. I sat back down. After a few more games, the sun was starting to sink below the horizon. "See ya guys!" I said waving as I started off for home. Someone grabbed my wrist. It was Mush. "How about I walk you home? There aren't sidewalks for a few blocks, I would never forgive myself if you got hit by a car." I nodded. We walked back laughing and talking. "So how are things. Sky?" "Not bad." "You had me worried for a while there. You never ate, I got real scared." "Sorry." I mumbled. "Promise me you won't let that girl get to you." He said looking at his worn out converse. "I swear." I said drawing an invisible 'x' over my heart. Once I said 'Bye' to Mush and walked inside. I trudged upstairs and collapsed on my bed. I fell asleep with my clothes still on glad that tomorrow was Friday. 0000000000000 The day passed by quickly for everyone as they discussed their weekend plans to best friends across the aisle while the theology teacher began her usual chatter. Last period theater finally came around and Sky hid behind the curtains as everyone left. She quickly changed into all black and waited for the others to show up. She swept the stage and silently prayed they would show up. As if her prayer was answered, Ginny and Prim burst through the stage door. A second later, Meghan came, then Adriana, Jen, Anneliese, and Emily who was staring at the props list. "Ginny and Prim, you're going to rig the wall, Adriana and Lydia, can you paint the stump? Meghan and I will paint the nursery wall." She said plugging her iPod into the speakers and putting it on shuffle. They got to work and two minutes later, they're favorite song came on so they all stood up and sang at the top of they're lungs and danced terribly with each other. "I swear, Blink I left my backpack right here!" Mush whispered from the balcony. He looked around but when the song, 500 Miles came on, he looked down at the stage when he heard singing. He saw a bunch of girls wearing all black painting props. In the middle of the group, he saw someone who looked and sounded like Sky, but it couldn't be her. She was smiling brighter than the sun and was radiating happiness. He stood there dumbfounded. How come she didn't smile like that on a regular basis? She was so beautiful when she smiled. This wasn't the same Quiet, shy, self conscious girl he had talked to an hour ago. He heard Blink say, "Hey, Mush you found your backpack yet?" Very loudly. Suddenly, all music and work stopped. He knew the consequences to being up in the balcony without a teacher. He had to get to work, he could get fired if he was late again, he didn't have time for detention. He saw someone stare at him even though the set lights were blinding. "Who's up there?" She said glaring. Blink motioned for him to forget his backpack and leave. They quietly crept out. At least Blink did. Mush tripped over a stray cord and fell flat on his face, taking a music stand with them. "All right, have it your way. I'm sending a scout!" The girl said. Mush scrambled to his knees and made it to the hallway. He heard someone come up the stairs. He backed away, pushing himself against the wall. A girl with mouse brown hair and hazel eyes in all black walked up the stairs. Her eyes widened at the sight of him. "You're a cute one, can you paint?" He nodded wondering where this was going. "I have a deal for you, you paint our scenery and we won't get you in detention." "I've gotta get to work." He said brushing dirt off his shirt from falling. "How much do they pay ya?" "Ten an hour-" "We'll pay you double." His eyes widened, "And provide dinner when we work late" That wasn't a bad deal. "What's the catch?" "You're painting scenery, there is no catch." "Lemme think about it." He said walking away. The girl turned around. "Your Girlfriend, Lydia, works on stage crew, you'd get to see her all the time." "Well, I wouldn't call her my girlfriend, just a friend that's a girl." She rolled her eyes. "I'll think about it." "Well think fast we have Bruce coming tomorrow to work on scenery." She yelled after him. Later, they all sat on Spot's front porch eating pizza. Specs was eating one handed with the old library copy of Thud. Crutchy was telling everyone bad jokes that everyone had heard a hundred times over. Spot and Race were playing BS and Mush was scribbling on a notepad with old pencils. Sky was trying to sit still. "Sit still and Smile! Is that too much to ask?" "Well you're the one telling me I never eat!" Sky said trying to resist the warm cheese pizza with mushrooms that was sitting on a paper plate just out of reach. "Give me five more minutes!" "Fine, what is this for anyway?" "Studio and Art, they wanted us to draw something that we see everyday." "Couldn't you draw someone else that ate already?" "Everyone else is busy." She sighed and sat still defeated. "Done." He said looking proud of himself. She stared at the picture dumbfounded.