"Alex, get up!" Mary, Alex's mother, called to him.

"Muhhh!" He called back, his voice muffled by his pillow.

"Don't be late for your first day at a new school. You need to make a good first impression."

"I will, mum, I promise." He got up and put on a green shirt and camouflage cargo shorts. He fixed his brown hair and went down stairs. His sister, Alice, was sitting at the table eating cereal; he sat down in front of her. "So, finally, a big seventh grader, how does it feel?

"Like crap."

"What? I was so excited for my first day, I begged mum to take me early!"

"Yea, I don't share the same enthusiasm." Over the summer Alex had seen changes in Alice. She had stopped dyeing her hair and returned to its natural jet black, a trait she inherited from their father, and started putting beads in her hair, wearing darker colors, as well as spending more time alone in her room. The shell had fallen off, when their father died Alex cried it off in a month, Alice though acted normal, the same ditzy blonde façade she but on every other day, until last summer. It had happened fast. Mary didn't seem to notice, but Alex did and does what he can to keep her above the water.

"Well, I will always be here for you."

"Yea, fine." She walked out to the front door.

"Yea, fine" Alex said to himself. After fixing some breakfast for himself he walk out to his truck, he hated the monster, it got eight miles to the gallon, the rear bumper hung at a 45 degree angle and the passenger window wouldn't roll down; but is was a set of wheels that got him to point A to point B. That's what he had to do. He got in and flipped the key into the start position, but the engine didn't turn over, he tried again, didn't turn over, tried again, didn't work. "Come on, come on, COME ON!" He looked up to see his mod pull out and head off to work. "Looks like I'm walking." He said angrily and started off with a run. After about five blocks some person pulled over and asked him if he needed a ride. She seemed his age, so he accepted. "Thanks, I'm Alex."

"An English boy, eh? I'm Susan."

"Really, you didn't call me British, this is new."

"Yea, I try to avoid saying things like that."

"So, are you on your way to Centerscore High too?"

"Yep, I'm a freshman this year."


"Where you from, other that England"


"Huh, I heard that place was kind of depressing."

"Nah, the flat we lived in was nice, and the other parts of the city were decent."

"Here we are!" She said pointing to a tan building with the word Lizards on the side in green text with a lizard mascot leaning on the word.

"Thanks a lot, Susan." Alex said exiting the car.

"No, problem, Alex." She said smiling and exiting the car. When Alex entered the building he noticed a very attractive blonde girl. He approached he acting like he was lost

"Could you tell me where the front office is?"

"Go down that hall and to the left, then take right and go forward until you find the doors marked one. Are you an exchange student?"

"Why do you ask?" They started walking down the hall while still talking.

"You have an accent and I've never seen you anywhere before"

"No, I'm not, my family just moved here."

"Oh, where are you from?"

"Manchester, England."

"How is it? I've always wanted to go to England!"

"It's a fine place, the government is kind of dumb, but hey that happens."

"I'm Beth, by the way." The girl said.

"I'm Alex."

"Hey!" A voice called.

"Oh god, not again." Beth said burying her face in her palm. "You need to get out of here."

"What?" Alex asked Beth.

"You, get away from her!" The voice shouted at him, the voice now had a body, a tall, heavily built, guy wearing a white shirt.

"Adam, leave him alone!" Beth told the monster running at Alex.

"What the heck is going on here?" Alex asked, extremely confused.

"You, what are you doing talking to my girl?" Adam barked at him.

"Is she yours?"


"Sorry mate, I'll back off if it will make you happy."

"No, it will not." Adam said and pushed and held Alex against some lockers. "You need to know to stay away!"

"Get off me you git!"

"What did you call me?"

"A git."

"What is that?"

"A childish person." Alex said with a deadpan expression.

"You… You're going to lose your face!"

"I spent twenty minutes getting my face to look like this!" Alex said sarcastically.

"You're going to get it!"

"Then go!" Alex yelled in to his face.

"Fine!" Adam pulled his arm back and made a fist, then sent it flying into Alex's face.

"Adam!" Beth screamed

"He had it coming!" Adam answered and that's all that Alex heard before slipping into unconsciousness.

"Hey, Alex." A familiar voice called, Susan's voice.

"What?" Alex said groggily.

"What happened to you?"

"I got punched, in the face, hard."

"By who?"

"Adam Jensen apparently. Well, his name was Adam, that was wittier than I than intended."

"Jesus, why?"

"He took offence to me talking to his girlfriend."

"Why were you talking to her?"

"I didn't know. Where am I?"

"Nurses office."

"Why are you here?"

"Fake stomachache, didn't want to go to gym." Alex sat up. The room had a color scheme of blue and white, the walls were white, the cots and chairs were blue. Suzan was lying on the cot beside him. "You want to wash off your face?"

"If I can stand." Alex tried to stand; he stood up and wobbled a little bit and fell back down on the cot. "Where is the restroom anyway?"

"Right over there." She said pointing to a dark room. "Do you need help?"

"Yes, please, if it's no bother. Wait, where is the nurse?"

"Out to lunch, she's not very good at her job."

"I'll say." Suzan stood up and pulled Alex off the cot. She wrapped her arm around his neck and he did the same to her and the made it the restroom. "Can you do the rest yourself?"

"Yea, I think so." He walked into the room and walked up the sink. He looked at himself in the mirror, he looked terrible, his face was bruised, and dried blood covered his upper-lip area and down to his neck. He turned on the sink and got a paper towel from the nearby dispenser and but under the water stream. He took it and scrubbed off the blood, it hurt terribly but he looked a bit better and walked out and sat back on the cot. "How do I look?"

"Better, defiantly better." Suzan reassured him.

"Thanks." After that Suzan went back to class and Alex went home early. The call home went something like this, "Mrs. Tyler there has been an incident involving your son, Alex." "He got in a bit of a scuffle and…" "Yes, he's fine…" "We don't know that yet." "Okay, goodbye."

When she got to the school she helped Alex up and to the car, during the drive home Mary started the conversation. "What happened?"

"Some guy punched me."


"I was talking to his girlfriend, he took offence."

"Did you do anything to provoke him?"

"No," Alex lied.

"You said you would make a good first impression."

"I tried to."

"Well hopefully tomorrow will be better." They pulled into the driveway, Alex looked at his watch, 1:53; he slept through lunch. He decided to just go to his room and take a nap. When he woke up he heard his mother and sister talking down stairs. He walked down stairs and to the kitchen, and his sister brushed past him to her room. "Alex, I made an appointment to have your nose checked, it was be broken."

"I don't think so, mum."

"Well we'll see, are you going to go to school tomorrow?"

"Yes, I will not talk to anybody this time."

"Don't do that. Just watch what you say."

"Yea, I suppose so I'm going to go watch some telly."

"Fine, do you want to eat anything?"

"No, I'm not hungry."

"Fine but, don't watch that thing for too long."

"I won't." He walked into the living room and flipped on the machine. He found a football match and fell asleep watching it.