After lying around for a couple more hours, flipping aimlessly through the channels on my small television, I finally decided to get out of bed and go to the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. I quietly tiptoed down the stairs, as if trying not to disturb anything. The house felt so empty and strange without anyone else there, and even more so that I knew I was supposed to be at school. I was definitely not one to just ditch school like it was nothing, especially without having a legitimate, honest explanation, and I couldn't contain the guilt seeping into my conscience.

I hated lying, especially to my best friend. Joe and I were always honest with each other, no matter how crazy the truth might be. We had even pinky promised on it back on the very first day we met each other, when we were only five years old.

All of these thoughts and memories ran through my head as I began scouring the pantry for the ingredients to make pancakes. I finally found them and twenty minutes later settled down into a chair at the dining table, ignoring the complete mess I made in the kitchen. I slowly cut off a piece and took a bite. They were decent, but not nearly as good as Joe could make them. On top of everything else he was good at, Joe was a surprisingly excellent chef, which was nice, considering my mother and I hardly knew the difference between fried and scrambled. Joe had cooked a countless number of meals at my house over the years, his signature dish being his warm, fluffy buttermilk pancakes every Saturday morning when he would come over before spending the rest of the day with me. He attempted to teach me a few things, and I picked up on some of them really well, too, but I knew I would never be able to match the heavenly delicacies that were Joe's special pancakes.

I wasn't even sure why I had decided to make pancakes in the first place, having known I would be utterly disappointed with the way they would turn out. Joe's skill was just much too good for my own.

Joe, Joe, Joe. Just stop thinking about him. It can't be that hard.

It was time to start taking my mind off of him. Immediately. So I grabbed my plate of food and settled onto the soft leather couch in the living room, propping my feet up on the coffee table and flipping on the television.

The first thing that popped up? The Amazing Spiderman cartoon, of course.

I let out a dramatic sigh and flipped through the other channels, desperate to have something that could distract me from the terrifying abyss of my own thoughts. I eventually settled on some kind of soccer movie playing on a random channel, and lay back on the comfortable couch, resting my head on one of the small pillows.

I soon found myself drifting off, eyelids drooping heavily. I pulled a blanket over myself and curled up, gratefully falling into the peaceful state of the unconscious.

After what seemed like only minutes of falling into a blissful, dreamless sleep, I awoke to someone forcefully shaking my shoulders.

"Katy. Katy, wake up! What are you doing here? You're supposed to be at school, young lady!"

I slowly retracted my closed eyelids and squinted up at my mother, who wore a strange expression on her face, one that I had never before seen. It was one of surprise, anger, and a little bit of fear, all wrapped into one suspicious, unsmiling face.

I tilted my head up drowsily and let out a big yawn, buying a few more seconds to remind myself how to act.

"Oh, hey mom. What're you doing here?" I asked innocently. I smiled at her cautiously while trying to feign as much weakness and helplessness as I could, attempting to mimic the expression I usually wore whenever I was legitimately ill.

She cocked her eyebrow and continued to look down at me with the same strange expression. "I realized when I got to school that I left some of my graded papers at home, and decided to come pick them up during my lunch break. It's half past noon."

"Oh, ok" I said nonchalantly.

"Katy, I'll ask again. What are you doing home?" she said sternly.

"Uh, well…" I coughed. "I think I'm sick. Last night I started feeling bad and it wasn't any better this morning, so I called Joe and told him not to come pick me up for school."

At this information, my mother's features changed from accusation to one of worry and sympathy. "Oh, no. I'm so sorry, dear. I wish you would've told me, I could have gone by the drugstore to get some medicine." She rushed over to the couch and sat down on the edge beside me, gently patting my head.

"It's okay, mom. I'm sorry, I should've told you." The guilt I had already been feeling about lying to Joe now almost doubled in size, realizing my lie was now spreading to my mother.

"Do you still have a fever?" she asked, bringing a hand to my forehead. She left it there for several seconds, and then felt both cheeks. Her brow furrowed once again, suddenly making me uneasy. "Hmm, well you definitely don't have a fever. You actually don't feel warm at all. What else is hurting, dear?"

"Oh, uh, uh…" I sputtered. "Well, I've had a headache, and have been coughing and stuff, I guess." I looked away, not wanting to meet her gaze. I knew she could tell when I was lying; it definitely wasn't one of my strongest points.

She had since returned to the original expression she had worn when she first walked in. "Mhmm, well, that's strange. Because I know for a fact you only get a cough during the winter, when you have a cold."

"Well, I guess it just came late or something."

"No, it didn't. Look at me." I slowly lifted my eyes to meet my mother's, which seemed to burn straight through me. "Now, why don't you tell me what's actually going on."

"What do you mean?" I asked innocently, my mind frantically searching for some kind of logical answer to provide her.

"You know what I'm talking about."

I turned away from her. "I-, I can't."

She started rubbing my back softly. "What's wrong? There isn't one thing you shouldn't be able to tell me."

She gently forced me to sit up and speak. Once again, I refused to meet her gaze.

"Honey, what is it?"

"No, mom, I can't." Tears slowly began to prick at the corners of my eyes.

She took a long look at me and then slowly turned her face away to the television screen, suddenly dropping her voice to a whisper. She knew exactly what happening. "Is it…problems with your friends?" she lied.

"No, mom. Please, just stop!"

But she didn't.

"Boy problems?" Her voice got even softer.

I clenched my eyes shut, but a few tears still leaked through, running silently down my cheeks.

My mother's voice was now barely even audible. "Is it…Is it-"

Please don't say it.

"Mom, please" I begged, tears now streaming freely down my face.

"Is it…Joe?" she whispered, finally looking back over to me. One look at my face, however, and she knew she was right.

My silent crying now turned into soft sobs, muffled by the couch pillow as I desperately clung my face into it.

"Oh, sweetheart" she said sympathetically, wrapping her arms around my body. "It'll be ok."

I was actually surprised she wasn't jumping up and down with joy at this point, her years of trying to convince me to like Joe finally paying off. But she knew that wasn't what I needed, so she just held me close, reassuring me that everything would be okay.

Except I knew it wasn't.

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