family, but he’ll probably send at least half to shut her up and feel good aboutwhat an involved parent he is.Jake still won’t talk to me, and I miss him so much, it’s like I’ve beenhollowed out by a nuclear blast and there’s nothing left but ashes flutteringinside brittle bones. I’ve sent him dozens of texts that aren’t only unanswered;they’re unread. He unfriended me on Facebook and unfollowed me onInstagram and Snapchat. He’s pretending I don’t exist and I’m starting to thinkhe’s right. If I’m not Jake’s girlfriend, who am I?He was supposed to be suspended all week for hitting TJ, but his parentsraised a fuss about how Simon’s death has put everyone on edge, so I guess
he’s back today. The thought of seeing him makes me sick enough that Idecided to stay home. Ashton had to drag me out of bed. She’s staying with usindefinitely, for now.“You’re not going to wither up and die from this, Addy,” Ashton lectures asshe shoves me toward the shower. “He doesn’t get to erase you from the world.God, you made a stupid mistake. It’s not like you murdered someone.“Well,” she adds with a short, sarcastic laugh, “I guess the jury’s still out onthat one.”Oh, the gallows humor in our household now. Who knew Prentiss girls hadit in them to be even a little bit funny?Ashton drives me to Bayview and drops me off out front. “Keep your chinup,” she advises. “Don’t let that sanctimonious control freak get you down.”“God,Ash. I did cheat on him, you know. He’s not unprovoked.”She purses her lips in a hard line. “Still.”I get out of the car and try to steel myself for the day. School used to be soeasy. I belonged to everything without even trying. Now I’m barely hanging onto the edges of who I used to be, and when I catch my reflection in a window Ihardly recognize the girl staring back at me. She’s in my clothes—the kind offormfitting top and tight jeans that Jake likes—but her hollow cheeks and deadeyes don’t match the outfit.My hair looks tremendous, though. At least I have that going for me.There’s only one person who looks worse than me at school, and that’sJanae. She must have lost ten pounds since Simon died, and her skin’s a mess.Her mascara’s running all the time, so I guess she cries in the bathroombetween classes as much as I do. It’s surprising we haven’t run into each otheryet.I see Jake at his locker almost as soon as I enter the hallway. All the bloodrushes out of my head, making me so light-headed I actually sway as I walktoward him. His expression is calm and preoccupied as he twirls hiscombination. For a second I hope everything’s going to be fine, that his timeaway from school has helped him cool off and forgive me. “Hi, Jake,” I say.His face changes in an instant from neutral to livid. He yanks his locker openwith a scowl and pulls out an armful of books, stuffing them into his backpack.