Status: Finished


Welcome Back

I had History first, with Pennylee. She was quiet beside me, hands clenched at her sides. I actually had to start the conversation. “So...uh..” “I looked up the information we need last night. I’ll give it to you so you can write it down.” “Okay.”
Pennylee sniffed, and I started when I saw she was tearing up. “Uh, Pennylee?” She shook her head angrily, wiping her eyes. “It’s nothing.”
I’m not sure what came over me at that moment, but my mouth was moving and I said, “Do you want to come over after school? We can work on the project there.” She was silent for a bit, and I expected a firm ‘No’. But Pennylee never fails to surprise me.
“Sure.” She smiled carefully at me, and I smiled back. It was, sadly, the first real, friendly human contact I’d had with anyone at my school since sixth grade. “You don’t have to take the bus with me. It’s probably best if we’re not seen together.” Biting my lip, I turned away from her. It humiliated me to admit that, but I didn’t want her bullied too.
“No, I’ll ride the bus with you.” When I opened my mouth to warn her she put her hand over my lips. I froze, staring. Her skin was cold and smelled like lavender. Pennylee had always smelled like lavender, but her lips tasted like strawberries. The memory made me flush and pull away, avoiding her eyes. “I don’t care, Willa.” “Okay.” We didn’t really talk for the rest of class, so I tuned out the chatter around us and worked.
I was tripped twice as I walked to classes, shoved into a locker once, pinched and poked and mocked more times than I care to count. It was an average day, and I sighed when I realized how depressing that is.
The whole day there was a worry in the back of my head, doubt that Pennylee would actually show up. But when I got to my bus she was there, looking nervous, fiddling with her hair. She’d never cut it, so by now it reaches past her bum.
She followed me onto the bus without speaking, ignoring the glances of other people. We rode the bus in silence, and I was beginning to wonder if she was regretting saying yes to me. I couldn’t blame her if she did. Hanging with me doesn’t exactly bring friends.
At home, Pennylee walked up the path behind me. It was so quiet I could hear her soft breathing. When we reached the door I stopped, putting a hand on the knob. “Hi.” “Hey.” My throat felt blocked, and I couldn’t think of anything to say. “Well...this is my house.” I pushed open the door and we stepped inside.
Davey wasn’t home yet-he was out at the temporary job he’d taken. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.” Pennylee said, trailing her fingers along the walls. “Nothing’s really changed.” She smiled slightly, taking in a deep breath. “Even smells the same.” “Yeah.” How could she talk like this about our broken friendship, the time before my life was screwed, before I had scars on my wrists? Was it really that easy for her? “We should start the project.” Pennylee sat on the couch, spreading our work before her.
Davey came home about ten minutes later, “Will, you there? I’m home.” Pennylee jumped and looked up. “David’s home?” “Just visiting. He’s going back tomorrow.” I swallowed the sadness in my throat. With him gone, I’d be alone again. “Hey, Davey.” He walked into the living room, hesitating when he saw Pennylee. “Uh, hey. Who’s this?” It’d been so long, he didn’t even recognize her.
“You don’t remember me?” she asked softly. “Should I?” Davey studied her for a moment before his face hardened. “Pennylee. I’m surprised you came here.” She flushed and ducked her head under his glare. Davey blames Pennylee for my problems, even though I don’t. It’s not her fault I’m a dyke. Davey kept staring at her, fists clenched by his sides. “Davey, please. Don’t.” I hissed.
He huffed and stomped past us to his room. I looked at her. “Sorry.” Pennylee shifted awkwardly next to me. “He really hates me, doesn’t he?” “Just a bit.” We could hear Davey upstairs, banging around angrily. “He doesn’t want me here.” “I want you here.” I blurted. Pennylee grinned. “I want to be here too.”