It’s night and Springwood High School is vacant and still. It’s every fluorescent light burns overhead, inanimately mocking a horrible and sustained proof of my estrangement, to the center of infinite black empty. I can hear his clothes before I see him rounding the corner at the end of the tile and wood hallway. He announces his entrance, walking the line of tall and proud lockers, running his hand under their locks. His mouth breaks to a kind smirk as he reaches me, where I stand clutching a textbook under my wrists.

“Hey there, lonely girl.”

“You’re not gonna make valedictorian like that,” I tell his cool attitude.

“You’re not gonna make prom queen like that,” he tells my World History: Volume 2.

“No, you are.”

“Think so?”

He leans into me, his hand next to my head, to steady himself. The metallic punctuation of my back against a locker forces a tension between us. Feeling it too, he almost laughs at my nerves, a breathy and curious huh from deep in his chest.

“Whatsa matter, Rosie?”

“Nothing,” I say in a register high enough he knows I’m lying.

He searches my face for what I think might be some ratio of love to fear but doesn’t linger. His hand flicks up to me, and I flinch in his sharp and sudden threat. My chest heaves slow, my breath blowing soft and short through his tightly spread fingers rotating the space an inch from my face. His hand finds my neck, where he finally touches me. I swallow with his hand sliding warm down to the delicate, silver chain adorning me. He lifts the tiny St. Vitus medal and his eyes go blank as if meeting those of an old enemy.

“Yeah,” he says to my chest. “Yeah, you’re gonna need this.”