• Ch.1

    Life can be so much better. I don’t know why, but I feel like I was destined for a different life, one with more excitement and clarity. Not much happens here in Grayson Valley, all I really have is my band and friends. Even though I live in this god forsaken town, I know that with my sense of grandeur and brilliance amongst my peers I could go somewhere and be someone great.
    - Mina

    Why is this world so cruel, why can’t mom see that I’m not her perfect little angel. I want to be the one with all the attention, not Nicholette. I want to be the rebel no matter what I do, she always does worse. It’s so not fair. I know I’m pretty and everything I want falls at my feet, all the boys can’t get enough of me, and I’m filthy rich, but I want to stand out in my family. All of my friends have it easy.

    Oh cry me a river. I have no sympathy for the streets of Grayson Valley. My stupid drunken mom and dim-witted convict of a dad couldn’t care less if I left. Everyone here is so oblivious to anything outside of their average routines, anyone who looks different is suspected of something. I want to get out, but I have no where to go. I’m tired of people looking down on me because of the way I look. So what if I have piercings and tattoos. And dyed my hair cherry red. And I cannot be looked at funny for vandalizing school property. Everyone here does it.
    - Raven

    She so digs me and my new guitar. She loves me. I can see it in her eyes. The girl with the flourished, boundless, blonde, hair and livid, puerile eyes. When she sings, she can make the whole world stand up tall. All of the other guys she dates can’t compete with me. She’ll notice me one of these days. Man I love her, Valentina.
    - Johnnie

    Why can’t I have a normal life like everyone else? The girl I like doesn’t want to be with me, my best friend is the most annoying piece of s**t I’ve ever come in contact with, my step dad beats me and my damn whore of a mom won’t do anything about it. I wish I could just live like my uncle Wyatt; he doesn’t give a damn about anything or anyone, just lives on the road carefree with no authority at his belt.

    - Chris


    This is where I like to be, watching the sunset with my best friend Raven in the Old Slaughter House parking lot. It may sound strange, but the slaughter house is right on top of Claw Gate Hill, the most altitudinous hill in Grayson Valley. The slaughter house was shut down some twenty years ago. No one knows why, but of course rumor has it that more than just cows and pigs were chopped up there. Why is it that society always has to make every reason for something unexpected sound gruesome?
    Anyway, the view is great to watch over Grayson Valley when the sky lights go out and the luminous glimmering of the town below. It’s a great way to end the day, talking about what happened. Raven and I have been coming here since we were a couple of freshman.
    “Why do you like coming here so much Mina, I mean its kind of an odd place to be, right?” Raven laid her head back on the wind shield of my hoary black jeep.
    “I don’t know it just feels like a great place to be you know. This is where everything pretty much happens.” I said.
    “Yea, my mom does get on my nerves at this time; you know she actually accused me of stealing her money even though we both know she spent her money on her “refreshments” the other night.” It was true; her mom did have a habit of squandering all of her money away towards alcohol and lottery tickets.
    “Yea, well it’s only seven, how long do you think your mom’s gonna be at the house?” Raven shrugged, we usually headed back when her mom went to work. It was easiest for raven because her mom worked the late shift all night and partied all day, it gave Raven some time to sleep and get out of the house before there was trouble.
    We got to her house at about one o’clock, which was about the usual time for us on any given Sunday. That was the best day to hang out and relax all night, little trouble, little rules, but only for a little while.
    I can’t even remember the last time any of us had a curfew. Tonight was different though. Raven got new neighbors a week ago. It was kind of odd since she lived in a trailer park, not a lot of NEW people move there.
    Anyway, she said that they were always so quiet and secretive, something she took a liking to. Even though no one ever came out of the place during the day, the same boy came out every night and just wondered around town, nobody really knows his name. Every time we saw him, Raven grew more and more curious of him.
    So when we arrived at her trailer that night, she planned on waiting for him to get back to home so she could try and make a conversation with him. I never was really interested in that kind of stuff, weirdness was always something I shied away from. Besides, I had no reason to stay there, I needed to get back home and cook my little sister something to eat.
    When I got home expected the same routine as any other night. The only one spotting me would be my little sister Jayda. She liked to assume a story of what I did that night. Usually it was “MINA WENT TO A PARTY AND CAME HOME LATE!!!!” Waking up my mom and getting her annoyed because Jayda is so obnoxious. Instead, Jayda was watching television and didn’t even acknowledge my presence when I walked through the front door. Her eyes were glued to the TV, and bundled up in three blankets, as if it were freezing ice cold in the room.
    She’s only thirteen but she really had no reason to be up that late on a school night. I went in my room and laid down on the bed that was completely covered with twelve blankets and a rainstorm of pillows. Jayda used to sleep in here and with me because she always had a fear of being alone.
    It was probably because when we were younger, we planned a family vacation to Hawaii and my parents mistakenly left her home alone for a week. She was seven at the time and I could only imagine how scared she was by herself. The sad thing was that they didn’t even notice her absence until four days into the trip. By then they decided that they might as well enjoy the rest of the week and send my grandma to check on her.
    When we got back, she was so panicked that the motherly and fatherly thing for them to do was to let her share a room with her big sister until she was over it. She was not the best roommate for a girl entering middle school, in fact, she kind of ruined my chances of popularity because I had to drag her anywhere I went and what teenage boy would want to go out with a girl that had a fourth grader attached to her hip. She got over her fear about a year ago (or so she says) and finally got her own room back. She apparently only sneaks into my room in the middle of the night to make sure I don’t get kidnapped.
    “Jayda are you hungry?” I asked her. She silently shook her head and pointed to the pizza box on the dining room table. I sighed with relief that I didn’t have to cook. I headed over to the box and grabbed one of the remaining slices and ate it, thanking god that it was still warm. Then I wondered what pizza place is open for 24 hours.


    “Valentina take out the trash,” my mom yelled across the hall. Wait mom I’m on myspace, in the middle of a conversation,” I yelled back.
    “No Valentina, Nicholette did it yesterday so you’re going to do it today.” she insisted. She’s lucky she’s paying for my prom dress, otherwise I’d kill her. I love her but no one interrupts me when I’m chatting. I grabbed my backpack and that smelly trash and dropped the trash on the front porch. I hopped in my Mercedes and drove to school. All I could hear in the distance was-
    “MOM, VALENTINA DROPPED THE TRASH ALL OVER THE PORCH”. It was okay, Nicholette would just have to clean it up since I wasn’t there.
    For some reason every time I come to school, people stare at me, I’m not surprised though. It’s probably because I’m so hot. I hopped out of my car and looked around for a beat up jeep.
    “Oh look there it is,” I said while walking towards it.
    “Goodness gracious Mina when are you gonna get a new car?”
    “Hey valentine,” she said with a sigh. “Where are the 20 bucks you owe me Raven?” I said.
    “I don’t owe you anything,” she said.
    “You Will. When Mr. Prolong gives you that A in Science, I will have proved you wrong.” I said.
    “What did you do?” Raven asked with suspicion.
    “Okay, I really just wanted the satisfaction of knowing that I could do it,” I replied.
    “Well I personally think betting is stupid and a waste of time, you can try to school anyone around here but me. Everyone knows you can talk a teacher in to doing anything you want them to. You’re rich and beautiful, occasionally,” She said.
    The second bell rang.
    “What is that supposed to mean?” I commented. Raven giggled and walked to class.
    “Hey, come back here, what did you mean by that?” I followed.
    “She meant that your beauty, money and lies always win over who ever you want something from,” Mina explained.
    “Oh. Yeah, that does pretty much cover it.” I agreed. Mina and Raven rolled their eyes as we went to class. It was pretty obvious, the answer, but I just loved hearing it because of the truthfulness of it. As I walked down the hall of Claw Gate High School-yes, the hill is named after the school- I passed up about a hundred guys trying to flirt with me and about a hundred girls scowling at me with either disapproval, congeniality, and of course envy. All I had to do was strut down the hallway.
    My first period class was Algebra 2, the most pointless class ever known to man. Of course I’m passing but that’s because my teacher Mr. Tumburd is easy to persuade. I come to his class late practically every day, and those are just the days I show up.
    When I came in the classroom, Mr. Tumburd was giving a lecture, I don’t know what he was talking about but I just managed to slither into the back and sit down before he noticed. Lucky, for me, he wasn’t like other teachers, he took role right before he dismissed the class. This was mainly because the teachers didn’t need to turn in role until the end of the day and he didn’t find it necessary to take time out in the beginning of class and do it when he could easily just start his lectures.
    Mr. Tumburd was a fairly short man, he wore half-moon glasses and always wore a suit. He had a sallow comb over and a goatee. Some students think that his class is too easy, but I never understand a word that comes out of his mouth.
    You would probably think that after three years in this hell hole of a school I would probably get in trouble or get a teacher fired. The answer to that question would be that my mom donates millions of dollars to this crappy solitude for education, and they usually fear that if they punish me for my behavior my mom would stop her bountiful gratuity.
    “Alright everyone today is going to be a free day for homework ONLY. I want peace and quiet and if I see one note passed or hear a single voice, the entire class is staying after, any questions?”
    “Yeah I got one,” said a skater in the back,
    “Yes Wade,” Mr. Tumburd said, a little regretful for allowing Wade to ask a question.
    “Yeah I was just wondering who tied your panties in a bunch, since when did you start holding entire classes after class?” Mr. Tumburd rolled his eyes, tempted to just sit down and ignore the question.
    “Well… My wife kicked me out and threatened to file for a divorce and I got no sleep because I had driven to a bar. When I got there my car broke down and I had locked myself out, so I decided that I’d look for my key that I lost a few minutes earlier after a few drinks. That plan didn’t work out because the bar ended up being closed and I had to try and it was dark. So I pushed the car to the closest hotel which was six miles away and when I got to the hotel, I called my wife and told her the situation. She said that I was an incompetent, unrefined, moronic clown. Also, when I had gotten to the hotel I had to break into the car to get my wallet and pay for the room. By the time I could lay down and try to rest, it was five in the morning so I took a shower and got dressed in the suit that I had to go across the street and rent, and hotwired my car to get here and see all of your… happy faces this morning.”
    Everyone just stared at him for a few seconds, and in all of a sudden, we all just burst out laughing. Some were laughing harder than others, some kids were on the floor dying with laughter and others were laughing so hard that they began to cry. I just laughed hard enough to lose my voice, it doesn’t get any funnier than that. Mr. Tumburd just walked to his desk and sat down, rested his head in his hands and sighed. I guess he just realized how pathetic he sounded.
    The class laughed for about ten minutes and finally started on the homework. When the bell rang, the class packed their things and stood up to leave.
    “HOLD IT!” Mr. Tumburd yelled. Everyone silenced and froze where they stood, confused. “Everyone sit down right now.” His face reddened, “I did not excuse any of you, nor did I take role.” He walked back to his desk and started taking role, “Everyone sit down.” Without question, we all planted our butts in our seats. Wade yelled out, “Are you freakin kidding me Mr. Tumburd I have Auto shop next period. Why do we have to sit here, we’re gonna be late.”
    Mr. Tumburd just gazed up from his computer, stared at Wade and lowered his eyes back down at the screen. The majority of the class sighed and whined. When he was done he just sat in his chair and looked at the clock.
    “Can we go now?” Asked a curly red headed girl in the corner.
    “No. Don’t any of you remember what I told you in the beginning of class? The entire class stays back for the entire passing period.”
    “Are you serious?” Wade said, “We thought you were joking.”
    “Well I wasn’t” Mr. Tumburd said. Everyone sat back in their chairs, placed their chins in the palms of their hands, or simply banged their heads on the desk.
    Two more minutes went by and the second bell would ring in one more minute. Mr. Tumburd was still pissed and the entire class was complaining and making paper airplanes or doodling, waiting for him to let us leave.
    “Can we go now?” I asked in a kind of distressed tone. He looked at me, smiled, and turned his gaze back to the clock.
    “You may all go,” He finally announced. Everyone sighed with relief and murmured things like, “It’s about time” and “He just made me hecka late” and of course “I hate him.”
    “Hey Valentina,” I heard a voice behind me as we all ran to our next period classes. I quickly turned and met the gaze of Wade. He was good looking, I hadn’t noticed in class since I was behind him. He had brown eyes and dark hair. He wore baggy clothes and his biceps were fairly muscular.
    “Hey.” I said, smiling at him, he returned a smile and went into the garage where shop class was being held. I wanted to say more to him, but he had somewhere to be and so did I. I ran to my Mercedes, hopped in, and drove off.


    “Who here knows why we come to school on time” asked Mr. Prolong, “anyone, hmm, no, how about you Raven, Any Ideas.” I looked at him while doodling my name on the desk.
    “I don’t know, its not like I come to school anyway, I just woke up, SIR”
    “Don’t get an attitude with me young lady and erase the crap off the desk before I send you to the principals office,” he said with a bit of irritation.
    “Sorry, can’t erase it its sharpie, oh well too bad,” I teased.
    “Go to Mr. Dean’s office,” he yelled.
    “Whatever. Oh and what’s a Pro on you that’s so long?” I teased again. The class laughed.
    “That’s not funny now go,” He screamed at the top of his lungs. I put my pen in my pocket since that’s the only thing I bring to school.
    “And I’m failing you for the semester too,” he said as I walked out the classroom. All I could do was laugh.
    I didn’t care that I was going to the office, they all know me here. “Hi Carol,” I said to the secretary as I entered. She gave me a ignoble look and asked,
    “What’d you do this time?”
    “I didn’t know the answer to the question,” I smiled.
    “Okay, what was the question?” she asked.
    “Why is it important to come to school on time?” I said.
    “Well of course you wouldn’t know that answer because you don’t show up until 30 minutes before lunch. You, Mina, Clarissa, Joe, Chris, Annette, and Paula, You guys are juniors now and I’m sick of seeing you guys in here. You’re even starting to influence the younger kids. You guys need to realize that you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t start caring, where’s you’re backpack huh raven, where is it?” She lost me after you wouldn’t know the answer and caught me at where’s you’re backpack.
    “Heck I don’t know, my dog ate it. Look lady, stop talking to me like there’s more than one person in here, it’s just me, so open you’re eyes.” I hope she didn’t think of that as a racial comment since she was Asian. Instead, she just rolled them and pointed to Mr. Dean’s office.
    I stepped inside to find Mr. Dean rustling through some papers that seemed to be important. When I shut the door he looked up and glared at me. He made a weird grunting noise and signaled for me to sit down.
    “So Raven, making trouble in Mr. Prolong’s class again? What did you do this time?” I glanced at the awards he had on the wall, and then back at him. I noticed that he hadn’t looked at me when he asked the question, as if it were a daily routine for me to show up and decided not to let it interfere with his daily work. Although it was kind of a daily routine for me to get into trouble, I still thought that was pretty rude.
    “I asked him what pro was so long on his body,” I said with a smirk. Mr Dean’s eyes shot up to reach mine,
    “You do realize how inappropriate that is don’t you?”
    “I do now, are you happy? Can I go now?” He just looked at me. Then he shook his and waved his hand for me to go. When I stood up, he said,
    “You know you have detention after school. One hour.” I rolled my eyes and turned toward the door, just because I knew I had detention, didn’t mean I was going.
    “Oh, and if you ditch this one, it’s another Saturday detention.” I turned back around to ask what would happen if I ditched the Saturday detention, but before I could ask, he shot me a stern look, so I didn’t ask. I left and walked to the movies across the street. I really wanted to see a scary movie.


    “Hey Mina,” I yelled across the room.
    “Hey, Johnnie,” She said.
    “So, what are you up to,” I asked.
    “Oh just tuning my guitar a little, you?” She replied.
    “Nothing, hey you know Chris thinks you’re an amazing
    guitar player.”
    “Really, that’s so sweet.” Mina said. As much as she denies feelings for Chris, I can tell that there’s something there.
    “What about Valentina, has she said anything about me?” I asked.
    “Nope, not that I know of sorry,” She said. Mina is pretty cool; she’s the only friend I could find myself talking to. She’s the only one that knows about my crush on Valentina, and she said I’m the only one that knows about her crush on Chris. Well, that’s what she would say if she did have a crush on Chris. I know he has a thing for her though, he’s pretty much love struck over her. He’s loved her since they were in the fifth grade and she hasn’t felt a thing for him other than friendship.
    I do kind of see why he’s so in love with her. She’s a pretty girl, she’s tall and her skin a dark sorrel, her hair is curly and consists of different shades of brown. It is layered with terra-cotta, ginger, burnt umber and black. Maybe what attracted Chris most to her are her hazel eyes and dimples.
    “I guess we’re pretty lucky that the drama department is letting us play our instruments in the show. This a lot less geeky than being in a band right,” I commented.
    “Yea sure, But don’t wear yourself out getting ready for this drama thing, remember we have to practice tonight,” She said.
    “Alright, Alright, Actors and actresses be prepared, we have postponed the performance to April instead of May since there has been a major change in the scouts’ calendars. So we will need to do a lot of practice for this, meaning no more improv Day on Mondays,” Ms. Grey explained.
    “Awe,” the class complained. All I could think was what the heck is improv Day. I’ve only been here for a couple months and I still don’t see the lame acting performances on Mondays any different than on any other day. All in all, I don’t really mind having to spend more class time on rehearsals. We don’t do anything in that class anyway except practices and improv, we usually just talked about Shakespeare and practiced lines that ultimately we would have to recite to the class. Those activities together don’t do much to our grades, it’s all about how well we act. Although, I’m pretty sure she’s not supposed to pass or fail us based on just that.
    Mina sat down her guitar and grabbed her script, we were going to perform a play written by the teacher called Grayson Days of Summer. Even though the title was completely lame and uncreative, it was a pretty good script. Mina had gotten the lead role in the play as the entire class and drama club expected. I felt kind of sorry for Chris though because the leading lady has to kiss the male leading role. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal if the male leading role hadn’t been taken by Devon Harrison, the school’s star baseball player and future


    I woke up feeling a little dizzy today and I’m not surprised. The burning of a cigarette butt was still on the back of my head. But it was still hard to remember what happened last night. I just know I fell down the stairs. At least that’s what Jacob said when he handed me a cup of water when I woke up. I know he did something but since I can’t remember what, there’s nothing I can do about it. I turned over to the clock.
    “Man I already missed school, I have band practice today,” I complained.
    “Yea, I wanted to wake you up but you were knocked out cold, didn’t wanna bother you,” he said, I knew he was lying and I wish he would get out of my room.
    ”Can you please get out of my room, I need to change,” I lied, I just wanted him out.
    “Yea sure whatever,” He said walking out. I got up and grabbed my phone; I heard a knock on my door.
    “What,” I said. The back of my head still burned a little. “Your friends are here, should I tell them to leave?” My mom asked through the door.
    “No, I’ll be right out,” I said. I opened the door and she was down stairs at the front door.
    “Sorry, he’s not feeling well,” I heard her say. What is wrong with her? I stormed downstairs before she could shut the door.
    “No I’m fine, I’m right here,” I yelled.
    “Honey you need to rest after you’re little accident last night.”
    “What does it matter,” I walked outside fast enough to catch up with Mina at her jeep.
    “Be back before late,” She yelled.
    “Whatever mom,” I yelled back. We drove out of the driveway.
    “Hey you okay, where were you today?” asked Mina.
    “I don’t know, I just woke up like 20 minutes before you guys came,” I said.
    “Dude, you overslept?” asked Johnnie.
    “Look I don’t know, I just know my head is killing,” I explained.
    “Well do you know how it got there?” asked Johnnie looking at the mark left from the cigarette.
    “No but I have a good feeling Jacob has something to do with it,” I said.
    “Well, we need to go pick up raven for practice so hang in there,” said Mina.
    We drove into the trailer park, I’ve never been to Raven’s house before, but I’m not surprised she lives here. It had a weird smell to it, I’m pretty sure something must’ve died near Raven’s trailer but I’m not sure. She came up to the car and hopped in.
    “Hey guys,” She said with a fake smile plastered on her face.
    “Hey, what’s up with that smell?” I asked.
    “Good so I’m not the only one that smells it,” Johnnie butted in.
    “Oh I don’t know, it usually smells like that in the morning, well at least ever since those people started moving in. I don’t get it all of that noise and I haven’t seen one person bring something into that trailer. I don’t even think they go grocery shopping. I met the boy that comes out every now and again. He’s pretty cool. Says he lives there with his uncle and is gonna start going to our school in the winter,” She explained.
    “What winter? It’s the middle of March. Hey, is he cute?” Mina asked. I didn’t think I could be any sicker to my stomach than I already was.
    “Duh,” Raven answered and they giggled.
    “Okay can we go now?” I asked.
    “No, not yet, I invited him to come to our practice, He says he plays the drums and that he was in a band back where he used to live, I think he could maybe give us some pointers,” Said Raven.
    “You invited him without talking to us first?” Johnnie complained.
    “Oh relax Johnnie, It’s just for one practice,” replied Mina.
    “If he’s helpful maybe even more practices,” Raven added. He finally started walking out of the trailer. He was wearing a hoodie and some long pants. This was kind of awkward considering the fact that it was sunny out. He looked like he was pretty built. His muscles were visible through his sweater. I could hardly see his face, but as soon as he sat next to me in the jeep, I knew there was going to be a problem.