Blended Families

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"He said they want to talk to you, David."
"They?" I said. "The cops?"
She nodded.
"What for?" I don't think I ever worked harder at getting just two words out of my mouth. I tried to sound like I had no idea what the cops would want with me.

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Paper Princess

“Ella, you’re wanted in the principal’s office,” Ms. Weir says before I can step inside the Precalculus classroom.

I check my watch. “I’m not even late.”

It’s one minute before nine and this watch is never wrong. It’s probably the most expensive item I own. My mom said that it was my dad’s. Besides his sperm, it’s the only thing he left behind.

“No, it’s not about tardiness…this time.” Her normally flinty gaze is soft around the edges, and my gut relays a warning to my sluggish morning brain. Ms. Weir is a hard ass, which is why I like her. She treats her students like we’re here to learn about actual math instead of some life lesson on loving your neighbor and crap like that. So for her to be giving me sympathetic looks means something bad is cooking down at the principal’s office.

She should save her sympathy for Justin Slade, the captain of the football team, who is unironically sticking his tongue between his fingers and waggling the wormlike thing at me. He bragged about his tongue the day we’d met, when he cornered me in the hallway, informed me I was hot, and graciously offered to give me the best sex of my life. I’d said thanks, but no thanks.

Since then he’s been hounding me to reconsider, but it doesn’t matter, because I won’t have to deal with him for much longer. He’s going to college next year and will be in for a sore surprise when he realizes the best days of his life were in high school. His pathetic attempt at mocking me doesn’t deserve acknowledgement.

“Fine.” It’s not like I can give any other response. I offer a nod and redirect myself to the school office.

“I’ll email you the course assignment,” Ms. Weir calls after me.

Again with the sympathy. I should be worried. The implication behind her statement is that I won’t be returning to class, but there’s nothing Principal Thompson has to say that could faze me.

Before enrolling in George Washington High School for my junior year, I had already lost everything of importance. There isn’t anything else anyone can take from me.

Even if Mr. Thompson has somehow found out I’m not technically living in the GW school district I can think of some lie to stall for time, and if I have to transfer, which is the worst thing that could happen to me today, then I’ll do it.

If he brings up the fact that my mother is a stripper? Well, I’ll call him a liar and remind him that having a stripper for a mother isn’t grounds for suspension or dismissal.

“How’s it going, Darlene?”

The mom-haired school secretary barely looks up from her People magazine. “Take a seat, Ella. Mr. Thompson will be right with you.”

Yep, we’re on a first-name basis, me and Darlene. One month at GW High and I’ve already spent way too much time in this office, thanks to my ever-growing stack of late slips. But that’s what happens when you work nights and don’t see the smooth side of the sheets until three a.m. every night.

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