Justified Textworks

This Sucks

Tony shoved Mike aside and said "I'm fine."

Mike sighed. "No, you're not," he said. "Give 'em up." He held out his hand, but Tony just grinned, like an idiot. A stupid, gap-toothed cretin. He lunged past Mike and fumbled into the lock.

From behind them, someone shouted "Hey!" It was Jen. "What's going on?"

Tony closed his eyes and let out a long, angry breath. He looked toward her, then quickly away. He threw the keys on the ground and stormed back toward the house. "Fine," he said. "Whatever."

Susan balled up her napkin with the hamburger wrapper. "I don't effin' care," she said, drawing her soda. "We're her freakin' friends. You do not do that to your friends."

Karen fidgeted. "But if she'd told everyone, it wouldn't have worked?"

"No," Susan snapped. She jabbed a finger toward Karen. "She made it very clear who her real friends are, and we didn't make the list." She sat back. "You wanna hang out with her, go ahead. As far as I'm concerned, it actually happened." She crossed her arms and drew soda. "I'm done."

Dave dropped the phone. It clattered on the hardwood floor. After a few seconds, Mike's voice came through. "Dave?" he said. "You there?"

Dave was staring at the fireplace. He was in the family room. He looked down at his red bracelet, then at the phone. "Dave," Mike said in a tinny, faraway squawk. "Dave, what happened?"

Zombie-style, Dave picked it up. "I'm here," he said. His voice was thin and insubstantial; watery.

"Yeah, I know, right?" Mike said. "They only told a few people."


"Angela, Mary, Rachel, Ronnie. Steve."

Dave blinked; he couldn't think of anything else to do. "So they were all acting?"


"And her parents? Mr. Keyser?" He scowled. "The freakin' cops?"

"Yeah, all the way down."

"I cannot freakin' believe this," Dave said.

Mike sighed. "Believe it," he said.

Mike leaned back in his chair. "This sucks," he announced to no one in particular. "Why do we have to have homeroom today?" Susan smiled and worked through another geometry problem. "Yeah, really," she said.

Ms. Lopez let out a slow breath. "I need your attention, everyone." She waited a second. "Susan, please put the math down for a minute."

Susan rolled her eyes and shut the book. Hesitantly, she looked at Ms. Lopez.

"Now today's homeroom is for everyone in the school, but I know you two were friends with Jen."

Susan looked at Mike quickly, then away just as quickly. The last two weeks had been a blur. She fingered her red wristband. "Yeah," she said quietly. "What about her?"

From out in the hall, a shriek slammed into the door. Susan looked up at Mike; but he was just as confused as she.

Ms. Kinley stepped aside from the problem on the board. "Okay," she said to the room of comatose eyes. Half of the students were still asleep. First hour on Mondays were the worst. "The first thing we want to do," she said, "is cancel out the like terms." She began slashing through letters and numbers on both sides of the equation. Susan yawned and did the same on her paper.

The door opened quickly; Karen ran in. Her eyes were puffy and red. She darted for Susan.

Susan sat bolt upright. "What?" she said.

Karen's hands shook "Jen's dead," she said. "It was a drunk driver."