Cedric gazed listlessly at the front door to Lakedry Middle School. He was only a few weeks into fifth grade, but he’d been an outcast for almost two years now… and Aspen had been beating him up once a week for most of it.
A nearby forest caught Cedric’s attention. He couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he just… left. Ran off and never came back. He’d probably die, but it couldn’t be worse than a swirly. At least drowning in a river wasn’t humiliating like drowning in a toilet bowl. After that, he’d be in heaven, right? Then everything would be okay, and he could stop being scared all the time… unless he didn’t deserve to go to heaven.
Cedric shook his head. Aspen hadn’t bothered him once since the new school year. He should be relaxing, not more paranoid than ever. Sure, this whole thing reeked of the calm before a storm – but now the two of them didn’t share any classes, maybe things could finally be different?
Sure enough, the first half of the school day went fine.
Then lunch ended.
Aspen’s voice came from behind Cedric – sending a shiver up his spine. His entire body felt cold and overheated at the same time, his mind was screaming at him to run. But Cedric couldn’t run, he was too terrified to move.
“I’ve been letting you off the hook because you haven’t been acting creepy lately…” Aspen grabbed Cedric by the shirt and slammed him up against the nearest wall. Cedric’s eyes darted about the hallway, looking for help… but as usual, no one seemed interested in anything other than getting as far away as possible before things got ugly. “But you talked to Marigold, didn’t you?”
Cedric hadn’t talked to Marigold. Marigold had asked for his help on a math problem.
“Now I have to -”
“HEY!” A new voice came from down the hall, a voice Cedric had never heard before. “Let him go!”
A note from the
Both Dyllan and Cedric have skipped a year, and both Cedric and Dyllan have been held back a year… though for different reasons.