Hello. I haven't updated in a while, and it's all entirely my fault - so my apologies. This chapter is what people call the "calming before a storm", so I'll let your imagination wander to what might happen next.

Disclaimer: James Patterson owns Maximum Ride.

There is a ringing in my ears. I jump, startled, only to find myself in my classroom. The ringing mixes with the noise of students rushing to their next class, busily stuffing papers in their folders in an attempt to stay organized.

I have been falling asleep more often. The thought of what lies during my sleep, where I cannot control myself, disturbs me. It is not that difficult, either; to keep focus, I only need to think of the face of the girl in the mural. Hating, disgusted.

I, too, follow the students out of the classroom and into the narrow hallway. Although it has been a week since I have seen my father, the bruises on my body still ache in discomfort like a rusty wheel.

My fingers wrap around my tattered notebook and binder set - one I have used multiple times in the past two years - more securely as my feet shuffle to my locker. Already they are shoving me, pushing me into other students. Making fun of me for who I am, for who my mother cannot be. For who I am not.

The sigh that escapes my lips is hushed halfway through and replaced with a wince as my ribs shout in protest. I loosen my grip on my books and quicken my pace to the other end of the hallway.

As I open the door to my locker, water balloons fall out of it, too fast for me to move out of the way. They splatter on the ground and water shoots up all of my clothes. My shoes are soaking wet, my hair surprisingly dripping, and my jeans two shades darker from the water.

The explosion of laughter that arises at the throats of students in a thirty foot radius from me is not that unusual. My hands fumble to reach my head, and when they do, I begin to wring out all of the water that got to it.

"Why are you so mean to him?" a familiar voice asks. I already know who it is without turning to look in their direction - Max. I begin to retrieve my spare clothes from the back of my locker, wrapped in an old plastic bag from the grocery store in town, Renwick's.

With my sunken through books in one hand and my bag in the other, I face the crowd of students.

"Well, emo?" asks Patricia Muratore, captain of the volley ball team. "Why don't you explain to her why you're such trash?"

I turn to walk the other direction, but I am stopped. "No thanks," I mumble.

"Oh? Then why don't I tell her, before she gets infected."

That gets my attention. Max is the one person who does not know about me, who has been the closest thing to a friend I have ever had.

"Don't." The words are a command, paired with a glare that makes Patricia flinch.

For just one second, I peek to look at Max. She is shifting her weight on a different foot every few seconds uncomfortably. Her eyes are confused and she is biting her lower lip.

Sarah McKinsey, a girl in the grade above me, says, "I'll say it, then. We all know."

I have had enough. I have seen too many people with a repulsed glint in their eyes after my most known secret is flown out of the mouths of other repulsed people.

"Do what you want, then," I say. I push my way through the crowd of silent students, my sneakers squeaking against the tiled floor of the school with the resemblance of a duck. It is the only sound, resounding throughout the halls in a melancholy echo.

I look straight ahead, not stopping, even as I hear Sarah's words. "He's been raped. He probably has herpes or something, so don't go near him. Ever."

Blocking out harsh words and insults from my mind has been a skill that has been etched into my daily routine for many years. Although it is quite a depressing action, it is becoming increasingly difficult with the amount of slander I have been given.

The solution is music.

A clearing in the woods that lies just behind the school acts as the area for the music. Often, I have left my house in the middle of the night after my father has been gone for far too long for a beating to not be in session, and simply camp out in the clearing. I no longer care about the risks of animals or death, as anything is more preferred than my "home".

In a swift motion, the base of the violin is set at my chin, the bow poised at the higher strings. My eyes flutter shut and release a cool breath.

As the bow strikes the violin in the fast pace of the song, the lost tangents and unfiltered memories escape my brain in the form of a melody. It is a blissful feeling, and I find myself twirling in circles, the wind catching my baggy clothing in wisps. A laugh escapes my mouth, one that only appears while I play music.

As the last note of the song rings throughout the entire clearing, I lower the violin and bow and let out a chuckle. Although the song has ended, my vision is still spinning. I lie down with my violin next to me, my bow still in my hand, staring up at the blue sky, thinking.

What if I lived here forever? No worries, no expectations, and no fathers. Would it be lonely? But I'm used to being alone...

No, it might not even be that bad. Not at all.

I think I smile while falling asleep, but I am not sure. It is hard to feel anything lately.

I hoped you liked it. I haven't been feeling well, so I didn't edit it. I tried, though.

Expect another update soon.