posted on 11-Sep-2001 12:23:04 PM by Ashley
It's me, formally "Interrupted Girl."

This is a Max/Liz story. For right now it's rated PG-13, 'cause it has adult content, and whatnot. I don't own anything having to do with Roswell, if I did, I probably wouldn't be here, I'd be cashing in on my earnings. Any questions? Ask.

Oh yeah. Terrorists suck ass. A lot of ass.

Part 1

Roswell.

Population: 10

Tourism: Who gives a flying fuck.

“Liz. I thought we had talked about using that word.” She says, looking up from her reading.

My Aspirations: Expose the aliens.

“And who are these,” She makes quotation marks with her fingers, “‘aliens.’”

“Can I go?” I ask.

She glances down at her watch. She does that a lot during our sessions. She tries to be smooth about it. Like stretching her arms while casually glancing towards it. As a rule, I don’t think those in her profession are suppose to continually check the time.

“This is our last session.” She states.

“I’m aware of that.”

“How does that make you feel?”

I think.

“It’s like in grade school, when you become friends with someone and you think that it’ll last forever, but by high school you’re just casual acquaintances. A “hi” in the hallway every once in a while. You’ve grown out of each other. But you’re both too scared to say anything signaling that it’s over.”

“How long did you rehearse that?”

“Three days.”

“Hmm.” She scribbles something down on her notebook.

She does that a lot too. All of them do.

“I’ve talked with Dr. Monroe in Roswell. Your first session with him is two weeks from today. What do you think Dr. Monroe will be like?”

“The same as you.”

Scribble. Scribble. Scribble.

“Well Liz,” She stands up, I stand up. “It’s been almost a year since your first visit. Do you think you’ve changed?”

“I feel as if I’m a better person, ready to take on the world.” I bullshit.

“Right.”

---------------------------------------

“How was your last session?” He asks.

I set my bag down on the table.

“She made me fill out some lame ass form about what I think of Roswell.” I pour a glass of orange juice for myself.

Dad likes to think that I’m cured. Like one year of visits to the shrink makes me okay. Stamped, labeled, sealed: SANE.

“Oh. Well, I’m going to go out for a little bit. I’ll be back later tonight. I left some money for pizza on the table by the front door.” He kisses my head. “Bye sweetie.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Recently my father decided to make a lifestyle change.

Move to Roswell.

Why Roswell? Because it would “be cool to live someplace where aliens live.”

I think my father was drunk when he decided this. But he stuck by it. Sober and all.

Sometimes I wish my father wasn’t the way he was. That he could keep a job. That he could have more than $50 in his bank account at a time.

But life’s not fair. And I shouldn’t be complaining about my fucking pitiful problems when some people have it worse off.

Look out Roswell, here comes Liz Parker.

Part 2

“This is it?”

“Yea, isn’t it great?”

“Sure, if your last place was the dumpster on the corner.”

He ignores my comment and continues into the apartment. I wouldn’t even exactly call it an apartment. More like one big room with a smaller room off to the side.

“You can take the bedroom, I’ll sleep on the couch.” He says, then sets down some of his bags on the floor.

“How very fatherly of you.”

I walk into my room. I used to have a room with a closet this size. There was pink little fringy stuff all over it. I even had a bay window.

Knock. Knock.

“I’m going out. I’ll be back later.” He says, from the doorway.

I wave at him.

---------------------------------

Job hunting is my first priority of the day. This being Roswell, I figure the only places to work are alien themed. How exciting. My first choice is a little 24-Hour convenient store.

“Area 7-11.”

This takes pathetic to a whole new meaning.

I walk up to the counter, and see a guy, about in his 40’s, standing behind the counter.

“Can I help you?” He asks.

“Yea. Any job openings?”

He looks me over, his eyes straying over my chest a little longer. I bend my head down a little.

“I’m up here.”

He coughs a fake cough, then looks up at me.

“How old are you?”

“18.” I lie.

“Any experience working at a convenience store?”

“I worked at one for a year, but I moved so I had to quit.”

“What hours are you looking for?”

“10 p.m. to 3 a.m.”

“Graveyard shift, huh.”

He looks down at what I’m guessing is a schedule.

“When can you start?”

“As soon as possible.”

He bends down behind the counter and comes up seconds later with a shirt and a blank name tag.

“Here’s your uniform. Just write your name on the name tag.” He hands me a marker.

I think for a few seconds. Then write on the name badge.

“Your name is LaQuesha?”

“What, you think I’m lying?” I give him my “oh, please” look.

“Whatever. You start tomorrow night.” Then he picks up a newspaper and starts reading.

I walk out of the store, and head towards a restaurant I saw earlier.

“Crashdown.”

What the fuck. Don’t these people ever get tired of the alien themed shit. One day I’m going to open up a store here and have a hillbilly theme, or something cool like that.

“Welcome to the Crashdown, can I help you?” Asks a girl with long blonde hair.

“I was wondering if you had any job openings?”

She looks me over. I don’t exactly scream “Hire me!” with my baggy jeans, white t-shirt, and a collar blue-striped shirt that has a patch sewn on that reads, “Ed.” I swiped it from an automotive shop I used to work at. I’m quite the rebel.

“Let me get you an application.”

When they mention “application” that means there’s no lying. Because places like this pay attention. I have to be a good little girl here.

She comes back and hands it to me. I walk over to the counter and sit on one of the stools.

“Are you new?” She sits next to me.

“Yea.” I say, absentmindedly.

Name: Elizabeth Parker
Birth Date: July 16 1984
Blah Blah: Yadda yadda.

All these applications are the same. I could probably fill one out blindfolded.

“I’m Maria DeLuca.” The girl says.

“That’s nice.”

I hand her the application.

“I’ll give it to my mom, she owns this place, and she’ll call you tonight.” Pointless crap that I don’t give a damn about.

“Okay, thanks.”

I turn and walk out.

Part 3

I didn’t used to be like this, you know. But times change and you have to change with them. And so, I did.

“What did you do today?” He asks when he comes home.

“I got a couple jobs.”

He flops down on the couch, and turns on our old black and white tv.

“What’d you do? Drink?”

And I know I pushed him too far again.

Open mouth, insert foot.

“What the hell is it any of your business!” The edge is creeping into his voice.

I look down at the coupons I was clipping. I put the scissors in my hands, and hide them behind my back.

“I didn’t mean anything.” I say quickly.

This is one of those rare times when my reassurance does something.

I pick up my purse and the coupons and head towards the door.

“Where are you going?”

“Shopping.”

“It’s almost 10 p.m.”

“We need food.”

He doesn’t respond. It’s not like he cares. He just has to act like a real father every once in a while. To keep up appearances and such.

“Everything okay in there?” Someone says, when I walk out into the apartment hallway.

I look up to see some scruffy haired guy.

Kentucky called. They want their hair back.

“Yeah.” And I leave.

I find the grocery store fairly easy. It’s a lot warmer here than back in Portsmith. Of course the ocean probably had something to do with that, but oh well.

“Macaroni and cheese, peas, toilet paper...” I mumble the list to my self.

I bend down to pick up some pickles and back up to put them in my cart.

“Ow!” A female’s voice yells.

I look to see a blonde haired girl staring at me.

Welcome to Roswell: Where Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

“Excuse me.” She says rudely.

I continue to stare.

“Aren’t you even going to apologize?” She waves her hand over my face. “Hello? Are you deaf? See, a normal person would say they’re sorry.”

“Bitch.” I whisper, then leave the aisle.

“Excuse me!” She yells. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

And she’s left screaming to herself in aisle ten.

I guess I won’t be getting ice cream.

---------------------------------------

Guess what! Like, I got the job at the Crashdown. Isn’t that like, so cool?

See, me doing my impersonation of a happy, normal girl isn’t buyable. In fact, they should take the impersonation, slit it’s wrists, blow a hole in it’s head, and cram some pills down it’s throat.

Don’t I just scream “SANE.”

I start school today. West Roswell High. Home of the Comets. Rah rah.

“We have a new student with us today.” The teachers say. “This is Elizabeth Parker from Portsmith, South Carolina.”

30 students judge me. They put me into either of three categories.

POPULAR.

LOSER.

WHO THE HELL CARES.

I think most people see me as “who the hell cares.” I’m not pretty. I’m not outgoing. I just am.

The class resumes. I take my seat. And life continues on as normal.

Depending on how you define normal.

One girl is reapplying her make up. Another girl is staring out the window watching another class play frisbee. Some guy is sniffing coke. A guy in the back is throwing paper wads at the girl reapplying her make up.

Typical. Public. High. School.

I could probably go to fifty other high school classrooms and the exact same thing would be going on.

When lunch rolls around I decide to take the high road and eat out in the courtyard. Because when you’re in the cafeteria, you have to stand there, looking around for a table, for someone to sit with. I pull out my cheese sandwich.

“Liz Parker.” A voice says.

It’s the blonde girl, the one from my new place of employment.

How fun.

I ignore it, because that’s my style. I’m rebellious. Look at me rebelling.

“Not much of a talker, are you?”

“I only talk when I have something worth saying.”

This is usually where the person leaves and gives up on me.

“Well, what do you find worth saying?” She asks.

Part 4

“Are you going to buy something?” I ask, for the third time.

The same guy has been walking around the store for the past half an hour.

It’s 1 a.m., I’m not in the mood for this shit.

“I’m still looking.”

I turn back to the television. Late night television is horribly underrated. I mean, where else can you see infomercials for leg wax and a cooking device in the same hour?

The guy comes up and sets a six pack on the counter.

“Hmm.” I say.

This guy can’t be more than 18 years old. Plus the whole loitering around the store forever thing didn’t really help.

“I.D.”

He opens his wallet, looks around, then hands me his license.

“Mr. Herishmu Tirismi?”

“Yes?” He’s slick. But I’m not that stupid.

“How idiotic do you think I am?”

“Excuse me?” His eyes dart up.

“How moronic would I have to be to believe that this is your real I.D.?”

“Uh, I’m sorry...” He starts.

I bit my lip, glance at the I.D., then look back up.

“I’m only going to say this once.” I take a deep breath

“Get your football playing-alcoholic-reading capacity of a fifth grader dumbass out of my store and don’t come back till you’re twenty one, okay?”

His mouth hangs open for a while.

“I, I didn’t mean...”

“Out!” I point towards the door.

--------------------------------------------

“Cheese sandwich again?” She sits down.

Did I not just tell this girl yesterday that I didn’t want to be friends. How could I possibly make that any clearer?

“Let me put this as tactful as I can. I don’t want to be friends. I just want to get through this year, and go off to college. I can’t have anything holding me back.”

Leave. Leave. LEAVE.

“Do you have a cheese fetish? Because I’ve heard that dairy can cause severe diarrhea. Not that I would know or anything.” She babbles.

How could I shut her up?

“Ladies, enjoying the quad on this lovely afternoon?” A tall lanky boy comes over.

Great, another member of the Welcome Wagon.

“Alex, buddy, what’s up?” She seems to know him.

“Nothing, just chilling.”

“Alex, this is Liz Parker, Liz this is Alex Whitman.”

He holds out his hand. I stare. He holds it out further. I stare. He pulls it in.

“Not very friendly, now are we?” He laughs.

They laugh. You know, that best friend laugh that nobody but the best friends themselves understand. Kind of makes you sad. Then again, it really doesn’t.

“Kyle! Kyle! Over here!” She waves her hands frantically.

I bet Dr. Sanders would have a field day with this chick.

I turn around to check out this Kyle character.

It’s HIM.

“You!” He says, when he sees me.

“We meet again.” I say lamely.

“You two have met?” Alex asks.

“I tried to buy alcohol from her last night and she wouldn’t accept my I.D.”

It really is a small world after all.

“You didn’t use the Arab one, did you?” She groans.

You know something funny? I could probably not be here, and it would not affect their conversation at all. That’s the funny thing about best friends, they tend to alienate newcomers.

I walk away.

--------------------------------------------

“You want me to wear this?” I hold up the turquoise dress, complete with an alien-face shaped apron.

This is just ridiculous.

“Isn’t it just the cutest thing ever!” She squeals.

I now realize where Maria gets her “Prozac’s my friend” attitude. Ms. DeLuca is ten times worse.

“Do I have to wear this?”

“Of course, it’s the required uniform. All the waitresses have to wear them.” She laughs. “Now there’s the bathroom, you can go ahead and change in there.”

I look in the mirror. This has to be the craziest get up that I’ve ever worn. What the hell was this woman smoking when she came up with this? Maybe I could score some off of her.

I exit the bathroom only to be handed a headband complete with little silver balls attached to springs.

“Tables 1-6 are yours. If you have any questions, feel free to ask either me or Maria.” She pushes me off.

I notice another waitress standing by the counter. This one is shorter than Maria, with shorter blonde hair.

“Liz, table three.” Amy taps my shoulder and points to a table by the window.

If I can just get through this without any problems, I’ll be fine.

“Welcome to the Crashdown, I’ll be your server for the night, what can I start you out with?”

I wonder if I hiked up my skirt some more I could get more tips.

“Oh my God. It’s you!”

Part 5

My God, is this like the smallest town ever or what?

“What the hell are you doing here?” She asks.

“Well, judging by her uniform, I’d say that she worked here.” The short haired waitress says, walking by.

“Stay out of this, Tess.” She hisses towards the girl that I now know as Tess.

“Can I take your order?” I repeat.

“You can do more than take my order, you can apologize.”

“Yeah, I don’t really see that happening.”

I look around, I don’t really want to start anything, this being my first day and all, but this bitch is pushing it.

“I’ll take over from here, you go take table six’s order.” Tess says.

I take the order and walk over to the window to wait for the food to be ready. Tess walks over.

“Ignore her. She’s always like that. I’m Tess by the way.” She holds out her hand.

I actually shake it because she doesn’t seem so bad.

“Liz.”

“That’s Isabel Evans. Queen of West Roswell High. The biggest bitch you’ll ever meet.”

“We had a little run in at the grocery store.”

I glance over. She’s talking angrily to a dark haired guy who just joined her.

“Well fuck me once and call me a slut.” I shake my head.

“What?” She asks.

“Nothing, it just seems like I keep seeing the same people that I piss off over and over.”

“This is Roswell. Population: 10.”

I can’t help but laugh.

“I’ll teach you an old trick.” She looks around, I’m guessing for Amy. “You can “accidentally” drop her food. She ordered a burger.”

She walks away.

“Order up.” The cook yells right into my ear.

I glance around for Amy, pick up Isabel’s burger and drop it on the floor.

“Damn my slippery fingers.”

Look at me acting all innocent and shit.

I set their meals on the table, smile politely, and say:

“Here you go.”

The dark haired guy, a.k.a. Mullet Man, recognizes me.

“Hey, you’re that girl....”

I walk away before he can finish his sentence. I have a Zero Bullshit Tolerance. I try my best not to associate with Bullshitters. I find that it helps.

---------------------------------------------

Fucking roaches. They’re everywhere. Damn low rent housing.

I get home at 3:30 a.m. every day. Work at the Crashdown, work at the 7-11. Pay the bills, pay for the groceries, put the money in the bank for college.

Quite a routine I’ve got going.

“Where the hell is the beer?” He screams.

“I thought you should cut back, it’s not good for your liver.”

No, actually I bought some school supplies. But he doesn’t have to know that.

“Did I fucking say to get some beer?” I can feel his spit on my face.

“Yes.” I don’t like my voice when it’s like this.

“When I tell you to do something, you do it!”

Have you ever accidentally bumped someone in the head really hard? Times that by ten and that’s what a fist to your cheek feels like.

“I’ll go get some right now. I’ll go get some right now.” My voice is hoarse.

He smiles because he knows he got what he wanted.

I grab my purse and walk out into the apartment hallway. I lean against the wall and put my hand to my cheek.

“That’s definitely going to leave a bruise.” I groan.

I’m not crying because I don’t cry.

A head pops out from the apartment next door.

“Everything alright?”

It’s Mullet Man!

“Peachy keen.”

I wonder if he has his own theme song.

--------------------------------------------

“Whoa, monster bruise. What’d you do?”

I look up from my cheese sandwich to see Tess.

“My face had a little run in with the counter.” I laugh. “That’ll teach me to mop the floor barefoot.”

“Yeah, you have to watch out for those mops. They’re brutal.”

Well laddy-fucking-da. Look at me, Liz Parker, having a conversation with someone that doesn’t involve the phrase “screw you.”

Go me.

“Let me give you a little info about our school.” She glances around the quad.

I follow her gaze.

“Stoners.” She points to a group of kids lying on the ground laughing.

“Preps.” She points to a group of cheerleaders and jocks.

“Sluts.” She points to a group of scantily clad girls.

“Geeks.” She points to a group of people behind computers.

“Loner.” She points to herself.

“Doesn’t really care.” I point to myself.

“Bitch.” She points to me.

“Whore.” I point to her.

We both burst out laughing. I can honestly say that I have not laughed like this in a long time.

I don’t know if I like this or not.

Part 6

Dr. Monroe’s office is a lot smaller than Dr. Sanders’. It has that small town charm that I don’t find charming at all, but highly annoying.

“Elizabeth Parker?” The lady from the reception desk calls.

“Yes?”

“Dr. Monroe is ready for you.”

I stand up and walk to the door that leads to the offices. Dr. Monroe is a completely different person than I pictured. I saw him as a short, hefty guy fresh out of college. That’s what Dr. Sanders led me to believe anyway. As it turns out, Dr. Monroe is tall, skinny fellow in his mid-fifties. The short, hefty chap is his partner, Dr. Turner.

“Are you disappointed that I’m not Dr. Turner?” He asks, when I tell him about the mishap.

“I don’t really care.”

He stares a little, then writes something down on his little yellow pad of paper.

Typical.

“How did you get that nasty cut on your forehead?”

Instinctively my hand goes up to the cut, courtesy of Daddy Parker.

“I’m in a gang.”

“A gang?”

“Yeah, you know, one of those rough-tough girl gangs. In order to get initiated, you have to cut your forehead.”

He gives me a disbelieving look, then looks down at his pad. He’s reading something, probably from Dr. Sanders.

“Tell me a little bit about your mother.” He says, not even looking up.

“They have chains too, and signs.”

“Huh?”

“The gang. You know,” I make a “W” with my fingers. “West side.”

“West side?”

“Never mind.”

HIM: Read. Read. Read.

ME: Watch. Watch. Watch.

“Do you know what a pathological liar is, Liz?”

“Someone who lies pathologically?”

I wish I could read my file. You know, find out what they’re saying about me. How crazy they think I am. What’s really going on inside my head.

“How is your relationship with your father?”

“Great. We have these deep and meaningful talks every day, then afterwards we go out for ice cream. We giggle and joke. Good times.”

He stares at me for a few seconds.

“Our time is up.”

Okay, I’ll admit. The guy is covert. I didn’t see him look at the clock once.

“Ay ay.”

He holds out his hand.

I stare.

I think you get the point by now.

“Same time next week.”

I leave him behind in his office and walk out into the hallway. Great, just what I need. Another one that thinks they’re the shit. Whatever.

So I’m walking and BAM. I walk right into some kid walking out of Dr. Turner’s office.

“Jesus Christ!” I say, then continue walking. “Watch where you ’re going, this isn’t a fucking mosh pit.”

I don’t even look back.

------------------------------------------------------

“You know what’s a funny word? Velcro.”

Ladies and gentlemen: Tess Harding.

“If you say it long enough, it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore. Velcro. Velcro. Velcro.” She’s annunciating the syllables with her mouth.

“You scare me.”

“Oh my God. Look,” She points to a crowd of guys. “It’s the Jock Pack.”

Sure enough they’re all wearing letterman jackets.

“And look, it’s they’re leader. Kyle Valenti.” She says, a little too loudly, causing them all to look over.

“Tess Harding. When are you going to accept my offer about that date?” Kyle smiles innocently.

“When pigs fly out of my ass.”

“She’s so sweet.” He says to his friends.

The bell rings signaling the end of lunch period and the beginning of another exciting hour of Biology.

“Shit. I’m off to “slow” math class. We’re up to addition.” She bites her lip, acting like she’s proud.

I give her a thumbs up.

“I’m off to the smart science class. Don’t worry, with a little tutoring, I’m sure we can get you up to basic multiplication by the end of the year.”

“You’re such a great friend.” She pats me on the back then runs off.

For the past two weeks we’ve been listening to the Bio. teacher, Mrs. Lewis go on and on about what we will be doing this year. Two. Fucking. Weeks. You could squeeze at least two chapters in there. You’d think that for an advanced class that we’d at least be half way through a chapter, but you take what you’re given.

“Today you’ll be pairing off into partners. So when I call your name and your partner’s, go to the next available lab station.”

“Gina Bronte and Mark Millsworth.”

This should be very exciting. I bet I get one of those free loaders, you know the one that makes you do all the work while they sit idly by and ask stupid questions.

“Mary Harper and Jim Ruben.”

I hope I get a guy. That way I can flaunt my non-existent boobs and have my way with him.

“Elizabeth Parker and Max Evans.”

Score.

Note to self: Buy padded push up bra.

Part 7

“What do you know about a guy named Max Evans?” I ask Tess while we’re closing the restaurant down.

“Max Evans? You got a thing for him?” She laughs.

“Hell no. He’s my lab partner, and I want to know ways to seduce him into doing all the work.”

I’m such a hypocrite.

“Good luck with that. Max Evans is like, the quietest guy you’ll ever meet. The only time I’ve ever heard him talk is when he apologized for bumping into me in the hall.”

“Well, I’m always up for a challenge.”

It’s just pure luck that tonight is my night off from the 7-11, because Tess asks, no, tells me that we’re going to a party some kid from school is throwing.

“They’re always lame, so I figure that if we show up and crash, then we’ll liven it up. It’s our duty, dammit, to show these dweebs what a real party is.”

She takes me to her house to change. To my surprise, she lives in the most ritzy neighborhood I’ve ever seen, which is saying a lot.

The typical white picket fences. The black, blue, red, etc. shutters. Little kids playing tag in the front yard. Parents talking to their neighbors, laughing. Everything that you’ve ever wanted your life to be like, somehow compacted into a nice, clean subdivision.

We turn onto Oak Street.

Suburbia: Where they cut down trees, and then name streets after them.

Even worse is that her parents are nauseatingly nice.

“Would you girls like some cookies and milk?” Her mom asks.

“How you doing there, sport?” Her dad asks.

They’re like little paper dolls that I used to cut out of books when I was younger.

Now when I first met Tess the first thing that popped into my head was “trailer trash.” She wears ripped jeans, grungy t-shirts, her hair is oily. Basically a carbon copy of me except for our coloring. And the fact that I’m “nasty apartment complex trash.” But believe me, some day I will own a home with wheels.

“And here’s my room.” She opens a door, and we walk in.

Her room is literally bigger than my apartment. Her walk-in closet is the size of my room. Hell, her bed wouldn’t even fit in my room.

“Okay, what to wear?” She’s already digging through her closet.

I awkwardly take a seat on her vanity chair.

“Since this little gathering is in SandWater, that means we’re talking a little fancier than your usual kegger.” She’s talking to herself.

Fifteen minutes later she looks completely different than the Tess I’ve grown to know. She’s wearing a dress. A DRESS, people. Do girls even wear dresses anymore? Makeup, high heels, the works.

“Um, you are aware that you look like a prep, right?” As if she didn’t know.

“It’s all part of my plan.” She says, like I’m suppose to know what her plan is.

“Well, as long as you’re aware.”

I look down at my own outfit. A tight pink shirt that says in bold white letters, “AVERAGE AND PROUD,” blue jeans that I’ve had for three years, and ratty, pink Sketchers.

“You want to wear something of mine? I think I’ve got just the outfit for you.” She teases.

“No. If I wore something like that,” I point to her. “I’d have to kick my own ass.”

And we’re off.

SandWater must be the second richest neighborhood in town. Mansions everywhere. Tess turns into the biggest house on the street. I’m taking it this is where the party is.

“Now, just follow my lead.”

We cram ourselves into the house. Everyone from school must be here.

“Is that Tess Harding?” Someone whispers.

Other whispers follow, and I’m guessing this is the first time they’ve all seen Tess in slut gear.

“I’m going to do something, meet me back here in an hour.” And she’s gone.

So that’s her plan? Take me to some party where I barely know anyone, then ditch me. I bet they’re all in on this.

I walk into the living room and look around for someone I recognize.

“Liz?” Someone screams.

I turn around to see Maria standing there.

“Hey girl! What are you doing here?”

I open my mouth.

“Come on, we’re playing truth or dare. You can play with us.” She drags me to the kitchen.

There’s beer cans everywhere. Do I even need to point out how Teen Movie-Like this is?

“Okay everyone. This is Liz Parker, she’s new to town, and she’s going to play with us.”

No one seems to care.

“My turn, my turn.” Alex yells.

He looks around, and I just know he’s going to pick me.

“Liz, truth or dare.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this game is that if you pick “truth,” they’re going to pick the most revealing questions. Yet if you pick “dare,” they’re going to make you do the most humiliating thing.

“Dare.”

He thinks for a minute, everyone waiting in anticipation of what I’ll have to do.

“You have to perform a striptease for the next guy who walks in the door.”

“Wait. Back the train up.” Maria says. “There’s no way I’m letting her do a full striptease.”

Thank you, Maria.

“Okay, a semi one.”

Twenty pairs of eyes look in my direction. I bet they don’t think I’ll do it, being the new girl and trying to get a squeaky clean image and all.

“Done.”

I walk to the front door and want. Ten minutes later, and me almost stripping down for some girls, a guy finally walks in. And what luck I have, it’s my new lab partner.

I walk up to him. He nervously glances around.

Someone, from the game I’m guessing, turns up the music.

“Hey there, Mr. Evans.” I say.

Now he’s backed up against the door, looking for some way to get out.

I pull off my shirt, thank God I’m wearing a bra, and whip it around in the air.

“Work it girl!” Some guy yells.

Poor Max, who has never said one word to me, is confused and is inching towards the living room.

I wrap the shirt around his neck, and plant a wet kiss on his cheek.

“Liz! Liz, we’ve got to go.” Tess yells from the hallway.

I take one last look at Max, spank him on the ass, and yell, “Go get ‘em, tiger.”

Then I run off towards Tess, shirtless and all.

As I’m passing a door, I see Kyle, tied to a bed in nothing but his boxers.

“Could someone untie me!” He’s half screaming, half laughing.

Written on his chest in bright red lipstick are the words:

“Love, Tess.”

Part 8

“Shit.”

That’s what I hear when I wake up, followed by several stings to the head and chest region.

“Score!”

I pry my eyes open to see Tess, sitting on her bed with a bag of Skittles, throwing them at me.

“What the hell are you doing?” I sit up, feeling numerous Skittles fall down my shirt.

“I was bored, so I thought it’d be fun to see how many I could get between your boobs.” She says casually, like this is normal.

“What time is it?”

She turns around and looks at her alarm clock.

“Almost 10 a.m., why?”

I groan.

“I have to work today at 11 a.m. Another exciting day of serving a bunch of rude, immature jocks, and old people who think the world revolves around them.”

“Welcome to the real world.” She laughs.

--------------------------------------------

“Where were you?” He yells, as soon as I open the door.

“I stayed the night with a friend.”

Usually he doesn’t care where I am, as long as there’s beer in the fridge. And I know for a fact that there was two cases of it in there before I left.

“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?”

“I just thought that you wouldn’t care.” I slid along the wall to get as far from him as possible.

“Wouldn’t care? I’m your goddamned father.” He moves closer.

All I want to do is get closer to the kitchen, so I can be near the knives in case I need them again.

“I....I wanted to just sleep over at a friends.”

The next thing I know he’s got a hold of my wrist, and he’s squeezing it.

“Listen here, bitch. You will treat me with some respect. When you go somewhere, you tell me!”

Then he’s smacking me across the face so hard that I fall.

“Get up! I’m not done!” He screams.

He kicks me in the stomach, and I can’t breathe.
“Get up!”

I pull myself up, bracing myself. Knowing what’s coming.

He hits my lip, and a copper taste enters my mouth. Like pennies.

When I wake up, he’s gone and fifteen minutes has passed. I walk to the bathroom, and clean myself up.

I’ve learned that although makeup doesn’t cover up everything, it helps a lot.

--------------------------------------------

“Damn girl! What happened?” Maria gasps when I walk into the backroom.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that you have to have a made-up story to cover up the beatings.

“I was walking home from Tess’ house, and I didn’t see this crack in the sidewalk. The next thing I knew I was face down on the ground.” I laugh.

A laugh gives the story humor. Making it seem like it’s funny.

Hardy fucking har.

“You’re a clumsy one!” She giggles, then walks off.

Lies can do a lot. They can protect a secret. They can ruin lives. They can completely change your world.

“Welcome to the Crashdown, I’m Liz, your server, how can I help you?”

Yes folks, I’m THAT good at my job. I don’t even need to look up anymore.

“Uh, um.....I.” The kid stutters.

Uh-oh, we’ve got one that rides the short bus here.

“T-t-today, junior.”

“Excuse me?” He manages to get out.

I glance up for the first time. Well, isn’t this just a bed of roses.

“It’s Max, right?” I ask.

“Yeah.” His cheeks turn as red as a tomato.

This could work to my advantage.

I lean forward as far as I can, showing off my non-existent cleavage.

“Want some pancakes, big boy?”

He looks up at my face, examining it. And I remember the bruises and scrapes.

I put my face down.

“So, did you want something?”

“What happened to your face?” He asks.

This is where that pathological liar thing comes in handy.

“I was walking home from that party, and I hear screaming coming from the cemetery. So, being the decent human being that I am, I go investigate. Well, what would you know, there’s VAMPIRES attacking these two, defenseless girls. So, I get into action, and kick me some blood-sucking ass. Finally, I stake them both, and the girls run away to freedom.” I say, looking around suspiciously.

His eyebrows come together, in a confused manner.

“I have to tell you my secret.” I lean closer.

He comes forward.

“I’m a vampire slayer.” I gaze around the room. “That’s how I got these scratches.”

A laughter erupts from the booth next to us, and seconds later a unrecognizable face pops up.

“Max Evans, who is this chick?”

“This chick,” I interrupted. “Is Liz Parker.”

He does that thing that guys think is suave, you know, checking out “my goods.”

“You want to go out sometime?” He asks.

“Sure, when Freddie Prinze Jr. makes a good movie.”

And I’m gone.

Part 9

“What happened?” He asks, when I take my seat on the couch.

“It’s the funniest thing. I was on my way to school one day, and all of the sudden a huge pack of wild coyotes leap in front of me. And I’m standing there thinking, ‘What do they want?,’ you know? Then I remember that I have some turkey in my jacket pockets.”

He sighs, and takes his glasses off.

“And why did you have turkey in your pocket?”

“Because,” I pause, trying to think of something. “Today was ‘Put Meat In Your Pockets’ day at school. And, it has something to do with spirit week. I was just trying to show school pride.”

“By putting meat in your pockets?” His eyebrows raise.

“Go comets?” I say slowly, then give him an innocent smile.

He writes something down on his little note pad. I look around the room at several different framed pieces of paper showing me, his other clients, that yes, he is certified to help us get sane.

“Where did the bruises really come from?” He says, not even looking up.

“Alright, you got me. I didn’t have turkey in my pockets.”

He smiles to himself and I can just see the little thought bubble above his head saying, “BREAKTHROUGH!”

“No?”

“No. It was ham.”

These are basically the exact same conversations that I had with my last shrink. She’d ask a question, I’d give a sarcastic answer, she’d ask again, I’d give an even more sarcastic answer. We never really had any decent conversations in the time I was with her.

“Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Why do you cover everything up with a witty lie?”

This one’s taking a new route. Dr. Sanders basically repeated the question over and over till she either got tired of my answers, or our time was up. This one decides to question me about my answers.

“The gnomes threatened me that if I don’t lie, they’ll come into my room at night and....”

“Stop.” He interrupts.

I have two choices here. I could either find a new therapist who didn’t question me, or I could finally stop the bullshit.

“Do you know any other good therapists in town?”

---------------------------------------
“A basketball game?” I ask.

“What could be more fun then spending a Friday night in a crowded gym with a bunch of guys bouncing a ball back and forth?” She waves the tickets in front of me.

“Have you had a lobotomy since I saw you last?”

“Oh come on, Liz. Just think of the fun! We could make fun of the cheerleaders, show our school pride, and I would finally get a chance to get ultimate revenge on Kyle.”

Tess and Kyle, for some reason unknown to me and just about everyone else at West Roswell High, have this weird hate/hate relationship going on. I’ve never asked Tess because I think the answer would scared me.

“And that would be?”

“That’s for you to find out. And the only way to do that is to come to the game with me.” She was pleading now.

“I don’t know, I have to work tonight.” I bite my lip.

“That’s not an excuse, Liz. I asked Amy if you could get off early to come with me and she said sure.”

I was going to go, but I just wanted to see how far Tess would go to convince me.

“Please? Come on Liz.” She gets down on her knees, in the middle of the hallway, causing about the whole student body to turn and look. “Please, please, please. With whip cream and a cherry on top?”

They were whispering now, wondering what exactly was Tess begging me for.

“No Tess, I told you,” I say, extremely loud. “I’m not gay. I just can’t go out on a date with you.”

Their eyes go wide, and I can tell they’re holding in their laughter. Tess just smiles.

“Why not? Come on Liz! I can’t stand being just friends anymore.”

They don’t even attempt at covering their laughter now, and teacher’s heads start popping out of their classrooms trying to see what’s going on. Pretty soon the principal will be here, breaking it up screaming at us to go to class.

“The truth is,” I start, glancing around for the person whose name I’m about to say. “Isabel Evans already asked me, so I have a date with her.”

There’s a collective gasp from our audience.

“You bitch!” Tess yells, then slaps me across the face.

Now our faces are contorted, trying not to laugh.

“What’s going on here?” Mr. Meyers, a English teacher asks. “Get to your classes.”

“I’ll pick you up at seven. John Mueller is having a party afterward too, so dress accordingly.” Tess laughs, and is gone before I can object.

-----------------------------

The gym was packed with students and parents dressed up in yellow and blue. Some were even covered in body paint, etc. The typical high school basketball game.

“Remind me again why we’re here.” I ask as we take our seat.

“Just you wait. I’ve got something planned.” She smiles evilly.

I’m starting to think that Tess has connections with the mob or something. When she has a plan, it’s usually pretty elaborate, and involves things that no normal teenager could pull off themselves.
The game wasn’t very exciting, and by half-time the score was: Comets- 0; Bulldogs- 52.

Go team, go!

“Okay, I’ll be right back.” When I turn around, I see her blonde hair bouncing as she runs down the bleachers.

I look around, trying to get some clue as to what she was planning, but see nothing. Then, I look up into the announcers booth, and see Tess handing the speakers a piece of paper, and disappearing before he can get a look at her.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the guy says into the microphone, his voice booming across the gym. “We have a special treat for you tonight. Award winning dancers here to dance for our very own Roswell Comets. And I was told to make sure everyone knew who made this possible. So let’s give it up for senior Kyle Valenti!”

Everyone cheers, not really knowing what to expect.

“Oh my God.” I whisper to myself, knowing exactly what was coming.

A group of dancers, decked out in dance team outfits come into the gym, and we are greeted with Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

Yeah, I definitely knew what was going on.

I can almost see the question marks above everyone’s head, including the visitor team’s crowd.

Then the dancers proceed to strip, out of their dance outfits, into barely there bikinis. The males in the crowd love this. The females aren’t too keen.

“What the hell is going on here!” The voice of Principal Short explods from behind me.

The court floods with school administrators, pushing the girls towards the exit doors.

“I apologize for that.” Short’s voice says over the speakers. “That was not part of our planned half-time show, and we had no idea that was going to occur. Kyle Valenti. Meet me in the locker room.”

All the students are cracking up.

I look over at Kyle, his eyes searching the bleachers until they come across to me. I can tell he was looking for the person who he knew for a fact, had done this to him.

Tess Harding.

Then I hear someone yelling my name, and see her standing by the gym doors waving at me. I walk towards her, trying not to look suspicious.

“I cannot believe you.” I say quietly when I get to her.

She grabbs my hand, and we run to the parking lot, falling into the grass, laughing.

-----------------------------

We get to the party early because of our escape. There's only a handful of people sitting in the living room, waiting for the rest to get there.

“Welcome, ladies.” A guy, I’m assuming John Mueller, says. “Grab a beer, and have a seat.”

“You go ahead, I need to use the bathroom.” I say to Tess.

I’m betting that this whole town is rich. I am soon lost in a maze of hallways.

“I need a fucking map, or something.” I hiss under my breath.

I walk over to a patio door.

“What the hell,” I say to myself. “No one will know if I go in the bushes.”

So I pull open the door, and walk outside. It was like a picture out of a landscaping magazine. Beautiful trees, rare flowers, everywhere. I can't help but gawk at it all.

“It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?” A voice asks, from the shadows of the deck.

I squint my eyes, trying to see who it is.

“Yeah. This is what happens when people have too much money and aren’t generous.” I laugh.

He laughs.

Who is that?

“What are you doing out here, Liz?” He knows my name?

“Actually I was going to take a leak in the bushes, but you kind of foiled my plan.”

I walk over and sit.

Max Evans.

I’m beginning to think that this guy is stalking me.

Part 10

“What are you doing out here, Max? I didn’t take you for the partying type.” I swing my legs.

“Every once in a while, you just feel the need to be normal.” He sighs.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing.” He says, even though I know he’s lying.

Max seems like one of those people who doesn’t waste words. Or else he has this big secret and he’s afraid that if he talks to much, it’ll spill out. Maybe he’s gay! I don’t know.

“So Max, tell me a little about yourself, since we’ll be working together for the rest of our high school careers.”

He looks around nervously.

I’m SuperLiz. Able to leap tall buildings and kill conversations with the snap of a finger.

“What do you want to know?”

“How long have you lived in Roswell? Where do you work? How old are you? Any dark and painful secrets you’d like to share?” I ask, casually.

“All my life. UFO Center. Seventeen. No.” He smiles softly.

“Ooo, your secrets must be good then.” I laugh.

“What about you? Why did you move to Roswell?” The tables are turned.

This is where that whole pathological liar thing kicks in.

“My dad is part of that agency that works to cover up the alien conspiracy.” My eyes go wide. “I’ve said too much already. You never heard any of this.”

He makes a gesture of crossing his heart.

“So you live with your dad? Where’s your mom?”

Damn, not even out here ten minutes and already he’s prying more than my therapist.

“She left my dad and I a couple years ago.” I say, quietly. “She worked at a bar, and one day she met this guy. They like, fell in love, or whatever, and she ran off with him.”

Insert uncomfortable silence here.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. It was a long time ago. So, you ready to get down, you funky animal?” I stand up.

“Actually, I think I’m just going to chill here.” He picks at the grass.

I wonder what the real reason is as to why he came. I just know he wasn’t sitting at home tonight thinking, “I should go to a party!” The words “Max” and “party” don’t sound like they should be used in the same sentence.

“Well, I should go see what became of Tess. It’s not good to leave her on her own for too long.” I give him a small wave, and walk back into the house.

The game must be over by now because the party is in full swing. I squeeze myself through the crowds, trying to find Tess.

“Okay, someone forgot their deodorant. Whoa, watch the hands there, buddy. Whew, I’m no longer a virgin!” I mutter, as I squeeze along.

“Tess Harding!” I hear someone yell. “Does anyone know where Tess Harding is?”

I scan the crowd, looking for the source. I’m greeted by a pair of eyes, searing into me.

“You! Liz Parker! Stay right there.” Kyle Valenti pushes his way towards me.

I turn around and walk into the nearest room and slam the door.

It’s dark and I feel around for the light switch.

“Don’t move.” A voice whispers into my ear.

Before I can scream, a hand goes over my mouth.

“Quiet.” It hisses.

“Where’d she go? Liz Parker?” Kyle says, on the other side of the door.

The hand slowly moves away from my mouth.

“That was close.” Tess giggles.

“Dammit, Tess. You scared the shit out of me.” I whisper.

“Sorry, it was necessary. We have to be careful. Kyle is on the prowl.” She pushes the door open an inch, and peeks out.

We walk out of the bathroom and go to the keg in the kitchen.

“Tess,” Laurie Brookson says when we walk in, “You better watch yourself. Kyle was just in here looking for you.”

“Tess!” Tamara Gibson yells. “You’ve managed to top yourself. Strippers? Classic.”

There’s a certain air of respect surrounding Tess. She does things that every girl wants to do to guys. Get revenge. They think that she is full of courage. Personally, though, I think she’s a few colors short of a rainbow.

“No pictures! No pictures.” She shakes her head, laughing.

“Elizabeth Parker.” A voice says, full of venom.

I turn around to see who else, but Isabel Evans and a group of her friends.

“Well if it isn’t my fan club.” I say to Tess.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” She’s inches from my face. “You’ve messed with the wrong girl. How dare you go around saying I’m gay, and that we have a date. Do you realize what I could do to your reputation? I could chew you up, and spit you out. I could make your life a living hell. What do you have to say for yourself?”

I reach into my pocket, and pull out a plastic container.

“Tic Tac?” I raise my eyebrows.

A frustrated scream escapes from her lips and she whips her head around and walks out.

“God, what a bitch.” Tess says.

----------------------------------------------

Five small bruises from a death grip on my arm, and a busted lip are my accessories to work the next morning. I knew I should’ve called him to remind him that I wouldn’t be home that night.

“Five dollars on pump six.” A middle-aged woman says from the other side of the counter.

My shift was switched today because Zoe, the regular morning worker, went into labor. I should get pregnant so I could get out of working.

“Have a nice day.” I say.

This caused me to have to arrange it so I could work at the Crashdown tonight instead of working the noon shift. Thank God Amy was one of those bosses that was expandable.

“So, has Freddie Prinze Jr. made a good movie yet?” A voice asks.

“You.” I simply say.

“You.” He says back.

Great, just what I need. Some annoyingly good-looking guy bothering me. Such hardships I have.

“Whoa, nice lip. More vampire slayage?” He grins, showing off his perfectly white teeth.

“Yeah, I had to save the world again. Buffy look out.”

“Can I be your Angel?” He leans forward, I lean back.

“Sure, it’s just too bad we can’t have sex.” I go back to filling up the cigarette case.

“Personally, I wouldn’t mind having sex, screw the consequences.” He laughs.

I laugh. So he isn’t that bad. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to get all swoony.

“So, you free tonight?”

“Actually, I have to work at the Crashdown till eleven o’clock. Sorry if that puts a damper on your plans. But I’m sure that your hand will make an excellent substitute.” My back is still towards him.

It’s quiet for a few minutes and I begin to think that he left.
“See you at eleven.” And before I can respond, he’s already out the door.

Are you there God? It’s me, Liz.



























[ edited 10time(s), last at 6-Feb-2002 8:35:09 PM ]
posted on 16-Oct-2001 5:16:37 PM by Ashley
I wasn't sure if some of you read part eleven or not, so I brought it over from the other board. Plus, after that, part twelve is up. Enjoy.

Part 11

It’s funny, sometimes my dad is like, World’s Greatest Father. He jokes around, asks me questions about school and life. Tells me I should invite one of my friends to stay the night. Then there’s the times when he’s Jackie Chan Gone Bad. Minus that whole Chinese thing, and all those martial arts moves. Okay, so he’s not exactly Jackie Chan, but it’s all the same when you’re at the receiving end of a punch.

Take today for example, I stopped by el apartmentado before heading off to McAliens for the evening shift. I think he was in a good mood because he had finally found a steady job, which of course he’ll get fired from soon. Anyway, he was making grilled cheese for me to eat for lunch. This doesn’t happen very often, so when it does occur, you don’t ask a lot of questions. I speak from experience.

“Hi.....dad.” I say, when I open the door.

There’s always this little moment before opening the door when I’m not sure what waits for me on the other side of the door. Mr. Cleaver or O.J. Simpson.

“Hi sweetie, how was work?” he smiles, from his position by the stove.

“Good.”

I walk into my room and change into my lovely turquoise dress.

The phone rings.

“Hello?” He says into the kitchen phone.

There’s a few seconds of silence. I continue getting ready for my shift.

“You said you could get me the advance.” He’s quieter.

I go faster.

There’s a little routine my father goes through when he gets angry. First, he’s calm and quiet. Then his voice starts to rise, and everything comes out sounding like a question. Then, he gets really pissed and that’s when things get violent.

“Well, I don’t understand. You told me that everything had gone through and that the checks were signed.” He’s still in phase one.

I grab my duffel bag and put some clothes in it, tonight looks like I should stay away.

“What do you mean you had a change of plans?” It’s louder.

I go to the one and only window in my room. We’re too high to jump. I glance around.

Bingo.

How could I have missed that? A fire escape. I grab my bag and throw it onto the metal balcony.

“Here’s to hoping it holds.” I mutter to myself, then climb out.

“What the fuck? You TOLD me that everything was set!” I hear him yell.

I’ll tell you this much, climbing down a rusty old ladder, with a duffel and a short dress on is no easy task. With this kind of maneuverability I could’ve been a cheerleader.
----------------------------

“Miss! Miss! I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes for someone to take my order.” A short, pointy woman yells from one of the window booths.

“I’ll be right with you.” I say through clenched teeth.

I never before realized what kinds of shit fast-food workers and waitresses go through. I have a new found respect for the pimply teenagers that work the drive-thru at Burger King.

“Liz Parker.” A male voice cheerfully says from somewhere in restaurant.

I glance around to see Kyle Valenti flashing me his pearly whites. You know, the kind that every popular kid in your high school, at every high school in America, have. There must be some dentists that specialize in working with beautiful people. Fuck them.

“What.” I groan.

“Is your friend Tess working?”

“No. But don’t worry, I send her your love.” I flash him my very own set of almost-pearly whites.

Thank you, Crest Whitening.

Ms. DeLuca gave us all a speech on what she wants done in order to get ready for Thanksgiving. Can we say Holiday Nazi? She already has the stock room filled with geeky decorations, like a little turkey streamer thing.

“Don’t forget!” She giggles, as I walk past her. “The Thanksgiving uniforms should be arriving next week!”

I give her a thumbs up, then walk away.

“You are aware that your mother is a few beers short of a 12-pack, right?” I ask Maria.

“Please girl, this is my mother we’re talking about. If anyone is aware of her wackiness, it’s me.” She laughs.

I smile politely. Maria isn’t exactly Joe Cool. I mean, the girl has her own “wacky” moments.

Tonight hasn’t been too bad, I mean, aside from the bitchy consumers. Tess isn’t working, which is too bad because I would love to see what Kyle has planning for her. Honestly though, I think they both have a little crush on each other. Unfortunately, they’re both stuck using the elementary school method of showing affection. Except instead of Tess chasing Kyle around the playground, she’s tying him naked to a bedpost. And they say romance is dead.

“Wake up, dreamgirl. Table five awaits.” Amy playfully pinches my shoulder.

I grab my order pad, and head over to my next adventure.

“Welcome to the Crashdown. I’ll be your server for the night, what can I start you out with?”

“A Will Smith, please.” Max Evans says politely.

“Well howdy ho, lab partner.”

“Hi.” He blushes.

Max is the epitome of small town boy. He has that “aw shucks” attitude. I bet he’s never even been outside of New Mexico.

I sit down across from him.

“Got a hot date tonight?” I tease. His face grows redder.

“Just me and my fries.” He ducks his head down.

He’s cute. “Little Boy” cute. Not, “I Want You Right Here, Right Now” cute. My affection is reserved for the one and only Mr. Tom Jones. The man’s got skill.

“Excuse me.” A voice says.

I look up to see Mullet Man.

“Liz this is Michael, Michael this is Liz.” Max explains.

“We’ve met.” Mullet Man, or excuse me, Michael pans.

“Yeah, we had a quickie in the janitor’s closet, and he never even bothered to call.” I say dramatically.

Michael looks up at me quickly, caught completely off guard. Always keep ‘em guessing, that’s what I’ve always said.

The rest of my evening is pretty uneventful. Well, it was worth showing up just to see Maria jump on the counter while we were cleaning up when I yelled “Rat!”

“Goddammit, Liz. You just don’t do that to people. It’s wrong.” She says, half-jokingly, half-seriously.

I grab my things. I don’t really know where I’m headed. I don’t want to go back to the Lifetime movie I call my home life. Roswell is so ghetto. There’s nothing to do after 9 p.m. The whole town just shuts down and goes into hiding. Like they’re afraid aliens come out and eat brains. Weirdos.

“Well hello, little lady. I see you’re all gussied up for our date.” He says, coming up behind me.

“Shit!” I scream.

“Sorry. I thought you’d hear my footsteps.” He smiles.

I had completely forgotten about my date with Mr. Nameless.

“Yeah, well, next time think before you creep up on a young girl, walking home in the dark.” I smack him on the head.

We walk for a while long, not really heading anywhere. Not really saying anything.

“I never really caught your name.” I say, as we pass the park. “What is it?”

“I’m Sean.” He gives me that dopey grin. “Sean DeLuca.”

Part 12

Who would’ve thought that the guy who wants to get into my pants is Maria DeLuca’s cousin. This sure explains his “Here I Am!” personality, but does nothing to help me decipher his criminal record. Fate has a sick sense of humor.

“Any questions?” A loud voice says, right in front of me.

I drop my pen on the floor.

“Shit.”

“Elizabeth Parker. Thanks for tuning in. It’s such a privilege having you among us to share your insightful thoughts. Do you have any other words of wisdom you’d like to contribute to the class?” Mrs. Lewis, my AP Biology teacher, asks sweetly.

I think Mrs. Lewis has something against me. I don’t think it has anything to do with the time I let all the frogs that the sophomore Bio. class was going to dissect go. And I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t involve the time I accidentally set my lab station on fire. Honestly, I think it’s because I unintentionally shattered her car windshield when my gym class was playing soccer by the faculty parking lot.

“Say no to drugs. Um, don’t drink and drive. And, uh, stay in school.”

Silence.

Then there’s a trickle of giggles slowly escaping from the mouths of my fellow juvenile delinquents. Even my lab partner Max Evans, Mr. Follow-The-Rules can’t help but smirk. This does not go over well with Mrs. Lewis, who practically has steam coming out of her ears.

“Principal Short’s office. Now.” Her voice is low and even.

The class goes silent again. They don’t want something like this on their permanent record. They’ve got Ivy League colleges to go to, and brand new cars waiting for them on graduation day.

“Take some notes for me, buddy.” I pat Max on the back, grab my things, and go to my doom.

-------------------------

There’s a line of kids waiting to see Principal Short, so I take a seat in one of the putrid green plastic chairs that line the wall in the main office.

“Did you hear that the DeLuca boy is back in town?” One of the secretaries asks.

“You’re kidding. They’re not letting him back in here, are they?” Number Two says.

“No. Thank God. He’s on probation. He has to go to this special facility in Barris till he graduates.” Number One replies.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that sitting outside the Principal’s office, waiting, is the best place to catch up on all the school gossip. I think they teach that in Secretary School.

“Kurt Wallis.” Short says, from his doorway.

A tall lanky kid gets up. He turns back and looks at us, as if this is his last look at freedom. The in-school suspension room has taken some of the best of us.

“I like girls.” The guy next to me declares.


I get up and move to the opposite side of the room.

“Yeah, anyway, Marlene Tellson was telling Susan Geiger that Julie Carlsland, who works at the facility, registered him last week.” Number One says, while typing up something on her computer.

Probably a letter about the dangers of inhaling gas fumes to be sent home, signed, and brought back immediately!

“Well, you know what I heard!” Number Two basically yells.

“Nick Harrison.” Short calls his next victim.

“What?” Number One waits eagerly.

“I heard that Coach Raven talked Short into letting Kyle Valenti off the hook for his little surprise at the basketball game.” She clicks her tongue, then shakes her head.

“The nerve of that boy! And can you believe that he tried to blame it on little Tess Harding! That girl couldn’t hurt a fly.” Number One says.

If they only knew.

“Elizabeth Parker.” It’s my turn.

-------------------------

“I see we had a little problem in Mrs. Lewis’ class.” He says, looking down at a file.

“I...me. I had a problem. I don’t recall you being there.” I lean back. This could take awhile.

“Oh, you’re one of those kind of troublemakers.” He writes something down, then sticks it into the Manilla file.

I’ve dealt with many “authority figures” in my time. And I use quotation marks with my fingers when I say this.

“Elizabeth Parker.” He repeats.

“I think we’ve established that you know my name.”

“I’ve been reading up on your record from your other school. Looks like you had a little trouble there.” Oh, so that’s what he was looking at.

“I hope you had a good read.” I glance around the office.

He doesn’t seem like that bad of a guy. He’s got the little posters all over his walls. You know the ones I’m talking about.

“Live life to the fullest!”

“Success can be yours if you work hard!”

“Don’t let others bring you down!”

And my personal favorite, the one with the cat clutching onto a branch with the caption, “Hang In There!”

“Well, this is a little baffling.” He finally looks up. “In your freshman and sophomore year you were a model student. Straight A’s, perfect attendance, honor society.”

“Your point is?” I ask, getting bored.

He sets down the file, takes off his glasses, and puts one of the sides in his mouth. I think people do that to look smart. They’re thinking, “Yeah, buddy. Looking good.” When in fact, they’re trying not to gag from the taste of ear wax.

“Well, when you started your junior year you had a drastic academic change. Your grades dropped, you were on truancy, and when you actually bothered to show up for your classes you were rude and unruly.”

“What can I say? I guess I fell in with the wrong crowd.” I smile.

“You burned down the Math Wing of your old school.”

“That was never proven! It could’ve perfectly well have been a glitch in one of the calculators.” I say, for legal purposes.

“A calculator caused over one million dollars worth of damage?” He shakes his head, disapprovingly.

He’s asking too many questions. This is where cooperation comes in. Just act like you’re not going to do whatever it is that you did again. Nod. Give an occasional “uh huh.” Tell them that you understand what you did was wrong. Next thing you know, you’re in the hallway with a pass back to class. Cooperation sucks.

“I’m not really understanding this.” He opens the file again, then picks up his phone. “Margie, get Ms. Ackerman in here.”

The Guidance Counselor. I love it when they do this.

“Calling in the reinforcements?”

He gives me a look. He thinks the Guidance Counselor can solve this.

“Mr. Short?” A woman’s voice says from the doorway.

“Ah, Ms. Ackerman. Thank you for coming. Please, have a seat.” He’s suddenly transformed into PerfectPrincipalWhoShouldWinAnAwardForBeingSoGreatWithHisStudents.

Ms. Ackerman is a young woman probably in her early to mid 20’s. She seems friendly enough. She doesn’t come in with her arms filled with those lame “The Healing Process” or “How To Deal” pamphlets, so that’s a plus sign.

“What can I do for you today?” She asks.

She doesn’t want to be in here either.

“Ms. Ackerman this is Elizabeth Parker. She just recently transferred here from Portsmith, South Carolina. She caused a little disturbance in Mrs. Lewis’ class today. I’d like you to take a look at her file.” He says, handing her my abnormally thick folder.

The Guidance Counselor, who’s here to guide us mind you, opens it up.

“I don’t believe we’ve met before, Elizabeth. I’m Ms. Ackerman, but you’re free to call me Nina.” At this, Short gives a fake cough that says, “Unacceptable!”

“I’d prefer it if she called you Ms. Ackerman. Students shouldn’t call teachers by their first names, it’s disrespectful.” He says casually, then gets up to pour himself another cup of coffee.

I look over at Ms. Ackerman. She looks over at me, and mouths, “Psycho.” Then rolls here eyes.

“Well, I see what Mr. Short was probably concerned about.” She says. “It looks like something major happened as you started your junior year. Would you mind telling us?”

Yeah right. Like this is Oprah and I’m here to have a nice cry session.

“That’s the year the aliens abducted me.” I keep my voice quiet.

They both whip their heads towards me.

“I’m serious. They took me up to their spaceship and forced me to watch episode after episode of ‘Three’s Company.’” Now I’ve got them wrapped around my finger.

When a student starts talking about aliens or whatnot, this is a general sign to back off and go back to acting like I’m just one of the other 700 students that go to this school.

“And this is your excuse for your behavioral change?” Short asks.

“No.”

“Then what is your excuse?”

“Two words: anal probing.”

They leave the room to discuss me. I think that’s rude. If you’re going to discuss me, at least do it in front of my face. That way I can work on ways to improve myself. Okay, not really. I just want to know what they’re saying.

“....attitude adjustment...” Short’s voice muffles through the door.

I look around again.

“Bingo.” I whisper.

They’ve left my file right on the desk. How dense are these people?

“Suspected of burning down the Math Wing...blah blah blah...Supposedly got the Drug Search Dog high...yadda yadda yadda...” Almost everything I’ve done in the past year and a half, all neatly placed in this folder.

I need to get out of here. I need a ride, too.

I pick up Short’s phone, and dial a number.

“Mrs. Lewis’ room.” My Bio. teacher’s voice chirps.

“Mrs. Lewis,” I say, disguising my voice. “This is Margie. Would you send Max Evans to sign himself out? There’s a family emergency.”

“Right away, Margie. I hope everything is alright?” Fake concern.

“I’m not sure, his parents just called.” I say.

“He’ll be right there.” Click.

Freedom at last.


posted on 21-Oct-2001 7:40:31 PM by Ashley
I know that some of you may be disappointed with this part, but go along with me here. This might be the only part for a week or two, but I'll try to squeeze one in this week if I can get internet access.

----------------
Part 13

Predictably, Max comes out of the student entrance of the school at full speed. You’d think that he just heard that his dad died, or that his aunt was in a car accident or something. Haha, get it? ‘Cause of the family emergency thing...never mind.

“Nice ride.” I say, casually.

He looks up, just noticing me leaning against his jeep.

“Liz? What are you doing here?” He says hurriedly.

It’s sad. Once upon a time, I would’ve been the same way. Very worried. Thinking the worst possible thing had happened. Played the role of the caring, loving, dependable child. But I soon learned quickly that the only person you should care about, the only person who matters, is yourself.

I am all I’ve got.

And that’s enough for me.

“I just thought you might want to get a room at the Motel Six up the road. You know. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.” I raise my eyebrow a couple times.

He blushes. Again, predictably.

“Um, actually, I have to get home.” He hops into the driver’s seat, I sit in the passenger’s side. “Liz, I’ve really got to go.”

“Family emergency?” I smile.

“Yeah. So if you don’t mind.” He hints.

I laugh.

“What?” He’s confused.

“Mrs. Lewis,” I say, disguising my voice again. “This is Margie. Would you send Max Evans to sign himself out? There’s a family emergency.”

There’s a moment of silence, when everything sinks in.

“You?” He asks.

“Yep. Who loves ya, baby?”

He turns and looks towards the school. I can see veins on his neck throbbing. He’s breathing deeply, in and out. Oh yeah, he’s pissed.

“Okay, so maybe it wasn’t as funny as I thought it’d be.” My voice is barely audible.

We sit in his Jeep for about fifteen minutes. We don’t say a word.

Think of something to say, think of something to say.

“So, uh, how ’bout them Bengals?”

“Liz. Get out of the car.” His voice is low and even.

“What?” I don’t get it.

“Liz. Get. Out.”

I grab my purse, and look at him. He’s still staring at the school.

“Okay, but that Motel Six offer still stands.” I joke.

“Liz.” His voice is different now. More emotional.

I get out and turn back to look at him.

“Don’t ever do something like that again.” Then he drives off, leaving me to stand in the parking lot.

“Well that didn’t go as I planned.” I mumble.

I glance at my watch. There’s only thirty minutes left of school, and after that I have another appointment with Dr. Monroe. Yea!

-----------------------------

“So what made you decide to stay with me?” He asks, as soon as we’re alone in his office.

“Well, last night as I lie in bed, I thought to myself, ‘How can I go on without seeing Dr. Monroe’s face ever again?’ So I decided to stick with you.” I say thoughtfully.

Actually, the only reason I didn’t get a new therapist is because there was an extra fee for switching, plus this guy is the cheapest shrink in town. But I’m not about to let him know this is about money issues.

“Right. Well, in any case, I’m glad that you’re still one of my clients.” He smiles. So maybe he’s not that bad.

He gets up and goes to his desk, then pulls a box of tissues out of it and sets them in front of me.

“What are those for?” I ask.

“Just in case you need them.” He smiles lightly. “Are you ready to get serious, Liz?”

This is the scary part. Opening yourself up to someone, especially someone you don’t know. But if you think about it, maybe it’s not that bad. Telling someone your darkest secrets, and not having to worry whether or not it’ll get around school like wildfire. The fact that they probably won’t even remember what you said when they go home to their family, their own problems.

“My lab partner’s name is Max Evans.” I say, lying back on his couch.

“Max Evans?” He gives me a surprised look.

“Yeah. He’s kind of weird actually. Kind of quiet and keeps to himself. I almost got him to yell at me today, but somehow he managed to contain his feelings.” I kick my shoes off onto the floor.

“What did you do to anger him?”

“I acted like his mom to get him out of class and said there was a family emergency, then when he realized it was me instead of his mother he got really, really pissed.” I fluff the pillow under my head.

“That’s understandable. He probably thought something happened to someone he cares about. You shouldn’t do that to people. Get them all anxious and upset over something only for them to discover they were deceived.” He’s actually making sense. Color me stunned.

“Well, it’s not like I wasn’t going to apologize for scaring him. He didn’t give me a chance.” I sit up, and look at him.

“Maybe you should go find him and say you’re sorry.” He suggests.

“Yeah, I guess I should.”

I don’t usually do the whole apologizing thing. Saying you’re sorry shows weakness, and I can’t afford to do that.

“Wait, why were you out of school early anyway?”

“I, uh, I was on parking lot patrol. It’s my job to make sure no one sneaks out to their cars to uh, smoke and do other crazy things that we teens do today.” I say.

He writes something down on his note pad.

“If I ask you where you got that bruise on your forehead, would you tell me the truth?” He asks.

“Sure. I saved a runaway baby carriage from getting hit by a car.” I smile.

“Okay, maybe we should start small and work our way up.” I give him a nod. “What do you do for fun?”

This guy has no idea what he’s in for.

--------------------------------

It’s a long climb to the third story of Tess’ house. Luckily, there’s a tree that reaches her bedroom window. I finally get to the top, and tap on the window.

“Liz? What the hell are you doing out there?” Tess laughs, opening up her window.

“I just thought I’d try something new and different and shimmy up the tree.” I climb into her room.

As per usual, there’s clothes strewn all over the place, dirty dishes on every available space, and school books everywhere else.

“Take a seat.” She pushes some clothes off her bed. “Georgia hasn’t gotten to my room yet.”

“Georgia?” I ask.

“She’s our maid. She always cleans my room last because it takes the longest.” She says, like it’s nothing. Like everyone has a maid.

“I can see that.” I flick a Dorito off her comforter.

She goes and sits at her computer, and starts typing.

“What are you doing?” I ask, over the sound of the keyboard clicking.

“I’m working on my next Operation: Humiliate Kyle project. This one should top all the others.” She gives an evil cackle.

“One of these days he’s going to get revenge on you.”

“Yeah, but he’s Kyle Valenti. Typical jock. How good could it be?” She gives me a dismissive wave.

I’m not too sure Tess has any idea what Kyle has in store for her. I have a feeling that his revenge will be just as humiliating as hers was.

“Well, Tess. I’m just warning you.” I laugh, and lean back on her bed.

I reach under my back and pull out a box of condoms.

“Tess!” I yell.

“What?” I hold up the box. “Hey, it’s always best to be prepared. A sister has got to look out for herself.”

“Whatever.” I say, then throw the box on her dresser.

“What happened to your forehead? It looks like someone roughed you up good.” She says while turning off her computer.

“I feel off my bed. I should really learn to sleep in one position.” I innocently say.

“You know,” She starts suspiciously. “You get hurt all the time. Every time I see you, you have a bruise.”

A little sign goes off in my head, “Lie! Lie! Lie!”

“I’m just naturally clumsy. I’ve always been.” I look at the floor.

I can feel her gaze on me, staring at the so obvious bruise.

“You should really be more careful, Lizzie.” She looks at me for a few seconds more, then gets up and goes to her vanity.

She opens a drawer, pulls out a compact, and throws it to me.

“Put that on it. That stuff is for covering up blemishes.”

I put the compact in my purse.

“Do you know where Max Evans lives?” I ask.

“Why? You want to sneak over and give him some late night nookie?” She pokes my shoulder.

“No, I just have to tell him something. So do you?”

“Yeah. Here, let me write it down for you. It’s right across from the park.” She reaches under her bed and pulls out a piece of paper, and a pencil, then scribbles something down.

“Thanks. I’ve got to go. I’ll talk with you later.” I go over to the window.

“Liz.” I turn around, she’s staring at my bruise. “If you ever want to talk, my window’s always open.”

“Thanks.” I climb out the window.

Just what I need, another therapist.


posted on 6-Nov-2001 2:07:11 PM by Ashley
Sorry I've been MIA. Life is pretty hectic right now, but I'll try to get another part up this weekend. Let me know if you like the direction this story is going in...or not.

Part 14

Max Evans’ house is just what I thought it’d be like. Perfectly trimmed lawn, flowers under the windows, nice cars in the driveway. I bet his mother cooks meatloaf every Monday, and they all sit in the living room on Thursday nights to watch “Friends.”

My mother and I used to watch “The Simpsons” every Sunday; our arms loaded with popcorn and milkshakes as we took over the family room. My father would laugh and call us the Couch Potato Twins. Then, he’d stand in front of the television, acting like he was cleaning the screen just as the show was starting, to irritate us.

“Liz?” I look up to see Max standing in the doorway. “Is there a particular reason why you’re standing in the middle of the walkway staring at the ground?”

I blush. I don’t usually let myself think back to before. When things were good.

“Liz Parker blushing? Wow, that’s a first.” He teases, in that shy-cute way.

“It’s the wind. It’s uh, cold. Or something.” I say, pathetically.

He laughs, but stays in his spot by the door. I wait for him to say something, to tell me what a jerk I am for doing what I did to him. He doesn’t.

“So...” I start.

“So...” He replies.

“I hate when people do things without thinking. Like making someone nervous and worried just for their benefit.” I say, linking my thumbs into my belt loops.

“Yeah. I know what you mean.” He gives me a warm smile. One that basically says, ‘I forgive you, dumbass.’

We stand there for a minute. Me looking like some warped out farmer, him looking perfectly upper-middle class.

“You want to come in?” He asks.

“Um, sure.” I say, then start walking towards his house.

Just then, a blue Mustang pulls up into the driveway. It screeches to a halt, inches from hitting the garage door. The sleek door opens, and out comes brand new sandals, with flawlessly manicured toenails. I look up to see-

“Max! Oh my God! You are not going to believe the sales that Abercrombie was having. I bought six sweaters for just...” Her voice trails off as she sees me. “Who’s this?”

Max looks like he just saw a ghost.

“Addison this is Liz, Liz this is Addison.” The girl holds out her hand, I look at her as if she just sprouted wings.

Max looks at me, waiting for me to do the polite thing. I don’t really see that working for me. The girl pulls her hand back, and looks over at Max, confused.

“Hi Liz.” She says sweetly. “Whoa, that’s a nasty bruise you’ve got going there.”

Instinctively, I reach up and cover my forehead. I look like I just got out of a rough-and-tumble and Addison here looks like she walked off the pages of Cosmo.

“Gang fight.” I say. Max’s eyes widen.

We stand there for a few more moments.

“Oh, wow. Look at the time.” I say, glancing at my watch. “The 7-11’s a calling. Later Max, Addison.”

Before he can protest, I’m already half way down the block.

Well, that answers that question.

--------------------------

“How much is this?” A guy asks from the other side of the counter.

I look up from my position stocking receipt paper under the register. There, in front of me, is a teenage boy, no more than seventeen, holding up a bag of chips.

“Two ninety-nine.” I say.

He nods his head, then goes back into one of the aisles. I look around to see who else in is the store. There’s another teenage guy, shorter than the first, by the fountain drinks, and a girl around the same age standing by him. They are dressed in black. I do the first thing that pops into my head.

No good can come from this.

I reach over slowly, so I won’t draw attention to myself, and take the phone off the receiver.

“....go over...get the money....” One of the voices whispers.

9

“...got the gun?” Another voice asks.

1

“Lets go.” They’re walking towards me now, trying to seem as least suspicious as possible.

1

“Freeze! Put your hands up! Hands up!” The girl screams.

“911, state your emergency.” A tiny voice says from inside the phone.

They don’t seem to hear it.

“Hello?” The voice squeaks. “Don’t worry, we have your location.”

I raise my hands.

“Now listen. You’re going to open the drawer, and gives us all the money in there.” Shorty yells.

Oh there is definitely going to be a problem with that.

“Listen, before I open this drawer, I think you should know something.” I say.

“Shut the fuck up, and give us the goddamned money.” The taller guy barks.

I open the register, and pull out the money that’s under the clips. All $23.45 of it.

“Where’s the rest of it? That can’t be all of it.” The girl looks at her.

“That’s all of it.” I say.

The short guy pulls a gun out and points it right at my head. Just as he’s about to pull the trigger, the door opens, and in comes my very own super hero.

“What the hell is going on!” He yells when he sees the scene playing out before him.

“We’re playing cops and robbers. What the hell do you think is going on!” I yell back.

“Bitch, shut up.” The girls says, then to Michael. “Put your hands up, now.”

Michael puts his hands up and walks slowly towards the counter.

“Give me your wallet. You too, princess.” The tall guy says to us.

I reach down for my purse under the counter, and that’s when I hear the sirens.

“Shit. Who called the cops? Come on, come on. We’ve got to go.” They all head to the back entrance, only to be stopped by the cops who already found the doorway.

--------------------------

“So where’d you hide the rest of the money?” Tess asks, eating another scoop of her ice cream.

After being questioned by the police for what seemed like hours, I came directly to Tess’ house. Which led to now, both of us sitting at her kitchen table at three in the morning inhaling chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

“In my skivvies.” I say.

Tess coughs and a big scoop of her ice cream lands right on my forehead.

“No way!” She tilts her chair back, finding this hysterical. “You did not!”

I get up and grab a hand towel and wipe the now liquid sticky goo off my face.

“Where else could I put it? They probably would’ve looked behind the counter, and my underwear seemed like the only logical place.” I sit back down.

“Dude! I cannot believe the balls on you.” I give her a look. “You know what I mean. Do you realize that like, half the population of Roswell is now going to, in a way, touch your ass?” She spits back some ice cream into the bowl, and rests her head on her arm, laughing.

“Shut up.” I playfully smack her head.

“What the hell was Michael Guerin doing there, anyway?” She asks.

“Who knows. Probably buying some hair gel or something.”

We set our bowls in the sink, then go into Tess’ room. Which is actually clean this time. We both hop onto her bed.

“Who’s Addison?” I ask, playing with the loose threads on her bedspread.

“Addison? Addison who?” She asks, going over to her closet.

“I don’t know. She drives a blue mustang. Knows Max Evans.”

She pokes her head out from her closet, and smiles.

“Max Evans again? I’m beginning to think someone has a crush on him.” She giggles. “Addison is your typical bimbo blond cheerleader. She plays the stereotype to a fault. I don’t know why she would be hanging out with Max though.” Her voice was muffled from being inside the closet.

“They seemed pretty cozy to me. And I do not have a crush on him.” My face grew red just thinking about that. “What are you doing in there, anyway?”

“Don’t you know?” She gave me a disgusted look.

“Know what?”

“Hello, Lizzie. What is tomorrow’s date?” She waves her hand.

I think. I’m not good at dates. I’m not even sure if it’s Saturday or Sunday morning.

“Uh, it’s October, right?”

“Remind me to get you a calendar. Tomorrow is October 31st. You know, Halloween.” She gives an exasperated sigh.

“Oh. My bad.”

“Haven’t you heard the school announcements? You know, the Halloween dance?” She raises her eyebrows.

“No. I tend to block out any school-related events.” I smile.

“Everyone who’s anyone is going to be there, darling.” She says in a breathy voice, then puts her hand to her forehead and falls down dramatically on her vanity chair.

“Oh, well, that means we simply have to go.” I reply.

“You can be my date. Tonight, eight to midnight, school gym. We have to get you a costume, though. We both work till four, right? After work we’ll just go to Costume Castle and get you one. Then I’ll do your hair and makeup. This is going to be fun.” She says all in one breath.

Sometimes I think she forgets I’m in the room when she goes off into her crazy tangents.

“Buckets of fun.” I say sarcastically.

She looks at me, then takes off running and leaps on to her bed, tackling me.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 12-Nov-2001 11:39:46 AM ]
posted on 29-Nov-2001 9:49:23 PM by Ashley
I couldn't post these on this board before, so here they are now. New part hopefully this weekend. I'm not sure if it'll be good or not as I am suffering from sleep deprivation.

Part 15

“There is no way in hell that I am going as a slutty maid. It’s just not going to happen.” I say.

Tess has dragged me to this store that is literally packed with costumes. To top it all off, it seems like every other person in school has waited till today to get their outfit too. Perfect.

“Oh come on! Just think of all the hot guys you’d get.” She holds up this little black and white...thing that can barely pass for a patch of fabric.

“Yeah, my left ass cheek could barely fit into it. No.” I pull it out of her hand and set it back down on a shelf. “What are you dressing as, anyway?”

“I will be going as an alien queen. See, I was smart, I purchased my costume two weeks ago, so now I’m not scrapping the barrel looking for a decent costume that isn’t either a M&M or a bumble bee.” She says, turning to look through a rack of medieval clothes.

“Shall I bow down to you know, or later?” I laugh, then start at the other end of the rack.

“Just you wait, little missy, when I’m up on stage accepting the award for best female costume.” She says, seriously. “Oh, my God! Look at this dress!”

I turn to look and see her holding up a gorgeous dress that looks like something out of those old Robin Hood movies.

“Okay, let’s rewind here for a moment. Me. Dress. Not going to happen. My bosom isn’t heaving enough. My features aren’t delicate enough. Whatever cliche you want to use.” I hold up my hands.

“Liz.” She whines. “Please, please, please. With whipped cream and cherries on top.”

“Nuts, too.” Someone says, from the next aisle.

We both turn to see Sean DeLuca standing there, then burst out laughing.

“What?” He says, confused.

“Nothing Sean.” Tess says through giggles. “What are you doing here? Isn’t there a bank that needs to be robbed?”

“Funny. I am looking for a costume.” And then, off our looks adds, “The youth authority program I’m in, the one down in Barris, has made an agreement with West Roswell to allow the more disciplined of us to attend your little school dance.”

“Sean DeLuca in a costume. Now this is something I have to see.” Tess laughs, then turns back to me. “Liz, if Sean is going to dress up, then that means you have to dress up too. Think about it. The chances of DeLuca here having some good clean fun are highly improbable, it’s a one time event.”

I look at her, then to Sean.

“She’s got a point there.” He smiles.

“Fine.” I sigh, and grab the dress.

----------------------------

“What’s in the bag?” He asks from the couch.

“A dress.” I mumble.

“A dress? Why the hell would you need a dress?” He practically yells.

“I’m going to a Halloween dance at school.” I say, slowly walking towards the door.

He gets up and walks to me. He takes the bag out of my arms, and opens it up, inspecting the dress. Thank God I didn’t go with that slutty maid costume.

“And when were you planning on telling me about this dance?” He drops the bag on the floor, and looks up at me. His eyes are already filled with anger.

Stupid, stupid Liz.

“I...I was going to tell you, I just forgot.” I stutter.

“I...I.” He says mockingly. “How many times have I told you to tell me where the fuck you’re going?”

“I’m sorry. I forgot.” I say, bracing myself for the inevitable hit.

It comes, except instead of my face where it usually is, I feel a sharp, stabbing pain on my arm.

“Ow.” I sob.

“Next time it’ll be worse. Now get out of here.” He says, walking back to the couch.

I pick up the dress, and walk out the front door.

“Liz?” A voice says from behind me.

I turn around to see Michael standing in the middle of the hallway.

“What?” I snap.

“Is everything okay?” He says gently, walking towards me.

“Right as rain.” I say, shoving past him.

--------------------------------

“Holy shit, you are not going out looking like that, are you?” I say, when I walk into Tess’ room and see her decked out in her costume.

She looks like a green Queen Amadala. She even has the elaborate hair.

“Uh, yeah. Do you realize how uncomfortable this green body paint is? I want to itch it off, but I am set on beating Isabel Evans’ ass this year. There’s no way she’s winning four years in a row.”

“Where can I change?” I say, setting my stuff on her bed.

“The bathroom.” She says, pointing to a door.

I walk in. Jesus, even the bathroom looks like it came out of one of those home living magazines. I take off my clothes, and stare into the mirror. There’s already a huge bruise forming on my right arm. He must’ve hit me pretty hard, the bruise goes from a little below my shoulder to my elbow.

“Everything okay in there?” Tess calls from somewhere in her room.

“Yeah.” I reply, pulling on the dress.

I don’t belong in something like this. It’s too fancy. I should’ve just stuck with the M&M costume. A blue one would have been fitting. It would’ve matched my bruise. At least the sleeves of the dress hide it.

“I’m coming out now. No laughing or I’ll be forced to lay the smackdown on you.” I open the door.

“Wow. Look out West Roswell High. Here comes Liz Parker.” She whistles, then hoots.

“Stop, now.” I say, wrapping my arms around myself self-consciously.

“I’m not kidding, Lizzie. You look amazing. Let’s fix your hair now.” She pulls me over to her vanity.

I’m already regretting this.

------------------------

Some lame Nsync song is blasting through the speakers as we enter the gym. I’m counting the days till boy bands go out of style.

“Ugh, could they play any good music for once?” Tess complains, reading my thoughts.

I look around the hormone packed room. Teachers are trying to stop the “suggestive” dancing that’s taking place. One girl is yelling at her date for checking out another chick. Someone dressed up as a grape is pouring something into the punch. Meanwhile, Nsync asks us to “Quit playing games with [their] hearts.”

“Why did I let you talk me into this?” I whine.

“Because, school dances are the highlight of my year.” She gives me this sincere look, then rolls her eyes and smiles.

An hour later, I’m sitting at a table listening to, ironically, a blue M&M go on about Chemistry class. Tess left me about fifteen minutes ago to work on her next operation to humiliate Kyle, who’s somewhere around here reportedly dressed as a cowboy. No sign of Princess Addison, thank the Lord. No sign of Max, either. Doctor Monroe would say that I have repressed feelings for Max. I would say that Dr. Monroe needs to get laid.

“Hey Liz. You look like you have to go to the restroom.” I look up to see Maria, dressed as Cinderella, standing next to me.

“Wow, that’s uncanny. I actually do have to go.” I hop up, then turn back to the blue M&M. “Gee, thanks Larry for all that info about electronegativity. Fascinating stuff, really.”

We turn and walk as quickly as possible towards the bathroom.

“My name’s Melvin, not Larry!” The M&M yells after us.

We burst into the bathroom, laughing.

“Thank you, Maria. I was about to stab myself with table centerpiece.” I say, catching my breath

“I would’ve hated to of missed that.” Someone says from the sinks.

We both turn to see Isabel Evans standing there dressed as a slutty maid. Irony strikes again.

“I’m sure you would’ve.” Maria says, nonchalantly.

Isabel looks in the mirror, fixing her headband. Her hair perfectly in place.

“I’ll see you guys from my position on the stage while I’m accepting my award for best costume.” She says, then walks out looking like a Vogue model.

She doesn’t have her skirt tucked into her underwear, she doesn’t have toilet paper stuck to her shoe. Where’s the justice?

“Ignore her. She’s got something up her ass the size of a pool stick.” She giggles in typical Maria style.

I laugh with her. I didn’t know Maria could be so crude. She always seems so perky and sweet.

“We better get back in there. They’re about to announce the costume winners, and we don’t want to miss Queen Isabel’s record fourth winning.” She spins on her heels and walks out.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here to announce this year’s best female and male costume.” Mr. Short spits into a microphone from a make-shift stage at one side of the gym.

The crowd quiets down. I glance around and see Kyle and some friends standing next to the stage whispering. Isabel and her group are talking loudly. Tess is nowhere in sight. I’m getting a feeling that something is about to go down.

“This year’s winners are,” He pauses to build up the anticipation. “Tess Harding and Kyle Valenti!”

The crowd cheers. Isabel’s face is priceless. Total shock.

“Uh, thanks. I guess.” Kyle says.

Tess grabs the mic away from him.

“God, I have so many people I want to thank. Um, I want to thank the people at Costume Castle for the paint, the costume, everything. My dad, for giving me his MasterCard. And of course, my girl Liz for supporting me throughout this all.” She says animatedly.

And then it happens. Just as she’s about to continue, a bucket from overhead falls down and spills red syrupy shit all over her. Kyle looks like he’s about to explode with laughter.

“I told her.” I say, laughing.

“Told her what?” Maria says between giggles.

“Kyle would get revenge.” We both look at each other and smile.

Tess looks stunned. Then scoops some of the gel stuff from her cheek and licks it off her hand. Her hair, which was perfectly coifed, now hangs in red clumps around her head.

“Mmm. Strawberry.” She says to herself, but the microphone she’s still holding magnifies it, making everyone laugh harder.

“What is going on here?” Mr. Strong comes to the rescue again.

------------------------

“You know, the red hair really does go good with your complexion.” I say, getting out of Tess’ car.

“Laugh all you want, but I have something planned for Kyle.” She replies, matter-of-factly.

“You two should just hump or something, and get it over with already.”

“What?” She stops and turns to me, genuinely surprised.

“Oh come on, you’d have to be deaf, dumb, and stupid not to see the sexual tension going on with you two. Which, by the way, you two are oblivious to it, so that’s saying something there.” I continue towards my door.

“It’s all just a little friendly competition.” She says. I give her a look. “Okay, a little not-so-friendly competition.”

“More like ritualistic-torture competition.” I roll my eyes.

We walk up the steps leading to the run down building.

“Okay. Here’s the lovely cockroach infested shanty that I call home.” I say as Tess and I come up to the entrance to my apartment.

“I could get you some Raid for Christmas, if you want.” She offers.

“Hanukkah.” I correct her.

“Ooo, then after we’re done clearing the place out, we can make dradles out of clay.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I unlock the door to the main entry.

“See you tomorrow at work.” She waves, then starts walking back to her car.

“Bye.”

I walk up the stairs to my apartment careful to make as little as noise as possible. No use waking up Mullet Man. I slip the key into the slot, only for it to open on it’s own.

“The hell?” I whisper to myself.

I walk into to see the room is pitch black.

“Hello?” I say, trying to keep my voice low.

As my eyes adjust to the darkness, I notice a form sitting in one of the recliners. A small red light moves up and down. A cigarette.

“Dad?” I ask.

“Do you know what time it is?” His voice is steady and even.

“It’s only one o‘clock, dad. I told you I was at a school dance. You know, the Halloween one. Don’t you remember?” My heart is speeding up.

This is not good. This is not good at all.

“Did you tell me what time you’d be home?” He still sits there, smoking. “Did you?”

“No. But I just thought you’d know that I wouldn’t be home till late.” My mouth is going dry.

He flicks his cigarette on the floor, and puts it out with his shoe.

“You just thought? That’s the problem Liz. You don’t think. You don’t think at all.” He gets up and walks towards me.

“I’m sorry dad. I didn’t mean to...” But before I can finish, he slaps me across the face.

My lip explodes and I can feel blood in my mouth. It tastes like copper. Like pennies.

“I’m so tired of your excuses. That’s all you do. You’re worthless. You don’t do anything. All you do is suck money out of my bank account.” He punches my temple and I fall to the floor.

“Daddy, please.” I whimper.

It hurts. It hurts so bad.

“Shut up.” His voice is full of so much venom.

He kicks my stomach, then reaches down and pulls me up by my hair.

“I’m sorry.” I sob, my eyes looking into his.

For a moment I can see the regret in his eyes. The realization of what he’s doing. But it’s only for a moment, then he pulls back and slaps me hard across the face. My thoughts become jumbled as my head hits the hard wood floor.

“I’ll be back later.” He grabs his coat off the rack and slams the door behind him.

I can’t get up. I can’t do anything. My face is on fire, my ribs are sore.

“Liz!” Someone yells through the door, then they start banging.

Everything is getting blurry. I just want to sleep forever.

“Are you in there Liz?!?” The voice yells.

I hear the door open, and see the outline of a man walking towards me. He bends down, then picks me up.

Then it all goes black.

Part 16

“Okay, just don’t move and it won’t hurt.” I say quietly to myself when I wake up.

I pry my eye lids open and look around. Where the hell am I? It looks like Bachelor City. Clothes strewn all over the place. Dirty dishes all over the kitchen counter. Some guy lying on the floor with a pillow over his head. I need to get out of here, wherever “here” is.

Shit. Did Tess and I go to a party after the dance? I don’t remember. What happened? And why does it smell like gym clothes and Fruit Loops in here?

“Hey!” I whisper/yell to the guy on the floor.

He doesn’t move. I reach down and pull off one of my socks. Pain erupts from all over my body. I have to lie back for a few seconds so I can breath without feeling like someone is stabbing me. Wait. Where’s my dress? I know I didn’t change out of it. Fuck. Who’s boxers and shirt is this? I definitely don’t remember changing clothes. I wad up the sock and throw it as hard as I can at the guy.

“Hey!” I say a little bit louder.

Nothing. But now the guy is snoring softly.

Maybe I got drunk and had sex or something. I wouldn’t put it past me. I feel like any second now a camera crew is going to pop out and the words, “See what happens when you drink, kids?” are going to flow from my lips.

I sit up and wince. Did I fall out of a window or something, and was too laced to feel this bone-shattering pain at the time? I stare at my feet, trying to breath steadily. The form on the floor pops up all the sudden, like I hit a button.

“Liz.” It says.

I look up to see Max Evans staring at me. Uh-oh. Getting busy with the lab partner is never a good idea.

“Max? Uh, what am I doing here?” I ask, trying not to look at him.

He’s wearing boxers and a tank top. I am admitting now that the boy does have a good body, a great body, in fact. You’d have to be blind not to notice that.

“You don’t remember?” He asks, getting up and sitting on the couch next to me.

“Okay, yeah, sure. I think you’re cute, and maybe I feel a slight attraction to you. But I certainly was not ready to have sex with you. Did I come on to you? Oh God, I did. Hey, be honest with me here Max, was I good?”

“Liz, Liz, calm down. We didn’t, uh, you know.” His face turns bright red.

“Oh.” Now it’s my turn to be embarrassed.

We both get quiet.

“We’re at Michael’s apartment.” He says, picking at his thumbnail.

“Mullet Man?” I blurt out.

“What?” He looks at me like I’ve sprouted another head.

“Nothing.” I say quickly. “So, why exactly are we at Michael’s?”

“You really don’t remember, do you?” He asks softly.

I try to think back to last night. I remember the whole Tess and Kyle incident. I remember Tess dropping me off. I remember going into the apartment and seeing-shit. Dad. The hitting. He left, I know that, then somebody was beating on the door then they were carrying me out. That’s all I remember.

Think Liz, think.

“Oh. I went home and someone was in there. This guy. I think he was a robber, or something. I tried to stop him, but he started hitting me. Then he left.” I say, not able to look Max in the eye.

“Is that really what happened?” He puts his hand on my shoulder.

“Hey.” We both look up to see Michael standing in the hall doorway, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

“Hey.” Max says, like it’s normal that Max and I are sitting here practically naked.

Michael, being the welcoming hostess that he is, looks at us for a few seconds, walks to the kitchen, and pulls out a box of cereal, pours milk into the box, and then proceeds to dump almost a bottle of Tabasco sauce in it.

“Uh, listen. I know you both probably really wanted to check the bod, and I will say that it is quite a bod to check out.” I say, waving a hand at myself. “But please tell me that one of you isn’t the one who changed me out of my dress.”

“Don’t worry.” Michael says, his mouth full of Lucky Charms. “Max’s sister changed you.”

“Oh, yeah. Since that’s so much more comfortable.” I say to myself.

“It’s okay. Isabel hung your dress in Michael’s closet, and she made sure we were both as far away as possible when she changed you.” Max says, reassuringly.

I sigh a breath of relief. Even I have my dignity. Wait a minute...

“Isabel Evans is your sister?” I spit out.

“Yeah. Why?” Max and Michael exchange a look.

“Fuck.” I say, then look up at them. “Are you both sure that she wasn’t taking Polaroids of me to you know, humiliate me at school tomorrow?”

This causes them to exchange another look. One that says I’m a few colors short of a rainbow.

“I have to go.” I jump up, then run out the door before either of them can say anything.

--------------------------

Isabel Evans saw me naked. Could my life possibly get any worse? Stupid question.

“Earth to Liz!” Tess says, waving her hand in front of my face.

“Huh? What?”

“You’ve been spacing all night. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but seeing as this is a Friday night, meaning our busiest night of the week, I’m minding.” She laughs, then goes to grab an order.

“Sorry.” I mutter, even though she couldn’t possibly hear me.

This has probably been one of the weirdest weeks of my life. And trust me folks, that is saying a lot.

“Maria!” I yell, walking into the backroom.

She sitting there, watching something on the television with Alex.

“...questioning the death of Congresswoman Whittaker, who supposedly died in a car accident a little over a year ago in her hometown of Copper Summit, Arizona.” The lady on the television was saying.

At my entrance they both look up guiltily.

“What are you guys watching? CNN?” I ask, looking towards the tube.

“Alex is news-obsessed.” Maria says quickly, pasting her usual happy-go-lucky smile back on her face. “Slowly he’s lured me in, too. Right, Alex?”

Alex, who’s still watching the news, looks up.

“What?” Maria nudges him with her elbow. “Yeah. News-obsessed. That’s me. CNN Guy.”

Weirdos.

“I wanted to ask you something. I’ve seen you talking to Michael Guerin once or twice, and since he’s friends with Max Evans, I was wondering if you knew why Max has been absent all week.” I say, standing in front of the television.

Both of them lean to the side, trying to get a view of it.

“Me talking with Michael Guerin?” She laughs, but I can tell it’s fake. “That guy creeps me out. Why would I talk to him?”

I bring my eyebrows together, confusedly.

“No. I’ve seen you. I came in late once, and I saw you two sneak into the janitor’s closet to, uh, talk.” I stifle a smirk.

Her face goes white, and she looks over at Alex, who is desperately trying not to look suspicious. What the hell?

“I think you might need your eyes checked. The only time I’ve ever hung out, if you can call it that, with Michael Guerin was when we had to do a class project together. But that was before you even moved here.” Her voice is a little too unsteady.

Why would she feel the need to lie about hanging out with Michael? Oh. Maybe they’re having one of those relationships that Ms. DeLuca doesn’t approve of. She does seem like that type of mother. Maria and Alex are trying to keep it a secret. Forbidden nookie.

“Oh. I got ya.” I say, winking at them. “You and Michael don’t even know each other.”

I look around for Amy, then give them a thumbs up.

-------------------------

I walk up the path leading to the front door of Max’s house. If there’s anything holy and sacred in this world, Isabel Evans won’t answer the door.

“Hello?” A woman I’m assuming is his mom answers.

“Mrs. Evans?” I ask.

“Yes.” She says, probably wondering who the hell I am.

“I’m Liz Parker, Max’s lab partner. I was wondering if he’s home.” I ask, looking down.

The bruises from last Saturday are still visible in all their technicolor glory. Plus some others I’ve collected over the week.

“Oh, right. Liz Parker. Max talks about you all the time.” She smiles politely. “I would’ve thought Max had told you. Him and his sister were invited to the Astronomy Fair in Albuquerque. They’ve both always been so interested in stars.”

Something isn’t right about this.

“Oh. Um, when did he leave?” I ask.

She smiles again, then tilts her head.

“They left Sunday night. They should be home sometimes on Saturday. But if they get chosen for the advanced course, then they won’t be home until sometime next week.” She’s literally beaming with pride.

It’s too bad that her kids are lying to her, for some reason.

“Oh, well, when he gets home, could you tell him to call me? I have some questions I want to ask him. About a lab.” I add.

“Sure, sweetie.”

---------------------------

“What do you know about Max Evans, Isabel Evans, and Michael Guerin?” I ask Tess.

I’m sprawled out on her floor in a sleeping bag, after a, thankfully, uneventful night at the 7-11.

“What do you mean?” She asks, from her bed.

“How long have they lived in Roswell? What are they like?”

She laughs, then is quiet for a few seconds.

“Let me think.” She pauses. “Isabel and Max moved here when we were seven, I think. They’re both adopted, I think that. Michael moved here soon after. He lived with his foster dad. I’ve heard him say what an asshole he was. They’re all like, best friends. Two years ago, I think, Michael was emancipated, so he could live on his own. I remember because Maria was telling her mom about it at work once, and I was eavesdropping.”

Her head pops over the bed, and gives me an evil smile.

“Why am I not surprised.” I laugh.

“Anyway, there was this big town scandal two years ago. Maria and I were working, and I went over to refill these trucker guys coffee cups, but they started yelling. One pulled out a gun, and everyone ducked. It went off, and the guys ran out.”

“Why is that a scandal?” I ask, sitting up.

“Well, it looked like Maria got shot. I ran over to her, but Max pulled me away and told me to call an ambulance. Then Michael went over to her, and a few seconds later she stood up. She had ketchup all over. There was a big rumor going around that she had gotten shot and that Michael had healed her.” She bursts out laughing at this point.

“What? Like he’s an alien?” I say, then start laughing at the idea.

“Yes. Everyone was saying that Michael was an alien. It was so lame. That was all anyone at school talked about for weeks. Then Pam Troy supposedly had sex with Principal Strong to get out of being expelled, so that rumor was like, so five minutes ago.” She says, in a valley girl voice.

“Why did Michael go over to her?” I ask, getting absorbed into the story.

“He put his hand over stomach to make sure there wasn’t any injury. When the gun went off, she jumped at the noise, knocked over a bottle of ketchup, and fainted. So it looked like she had been shot, but it was just a false alarm.” She lies back down. “Why are you so interested in them, anyway?”

“I don’t know. Just curious.” I say, trying not to sound suspicious. “Do Maria, Alex, Isabel, Max, and Michael ever hang out?”

“Uh, not really. There was one time I was working, and I was in the bathroom, you know how there’s two doors to the restroom? A customer entrance and a employee entrance?” She asks.

“Yeah.” I say, silently urging her to continue.

“Well, anyway. I was in the bathroom getting ready to come out the employee entrance and I crack open the door a little and they were all standing there talking quietly.” She says thoughtfully, like she’s putting it all together.

“Did you hear anything that they were saying?”

“Not really. Something about Nacado. Nasado. Nasedo. Something like that. It was kind of weird seeing them all there, because they never talk to each other at school. It’s always Michael, Isabel, and Max, and then Maria and Alex. They’re never together. Plus Michael has always been a little mean, he doesn’t seem like the type to welcome new people in too much. If anything, Max is the nicest one.” She gets quiet.

“Oh, thanks.” I say quietly. “Goodnight, Tess.”

“Night Liz.” But her voice sounds a little weird.

-----------------------

“Well, look who decided to return to the hell pit known as high school.” I say, as Max takes his seat next to me in AP Bio.

“Hey.” He gives me a small smile, then leans over to get something out of his backpack.

“How was the Astronomy Fair?” I ask, seriously.

His head pops up, and he looks scared for a second.

“It was fine. How do you know about that?”

“Your mom told me. I went over to your house a few days ago to see if you died or something.” I start copying the notes off the board.

I turn to look at him. Whoa. He looks different. His eyes have black smudges under them, his face seems thinner, his hair is sticking in every which direction.

“Those astronomers sure like to party, eh?” I start writing again.

“We didn’t get back till late last night.” He spits out.

I glance at the clock. Tess should be getting me out of here any minute.

“You okay, Max?” I ask, keeping my voice low so no one will hear.

“Yeah.” He replies.

He seems a little different. Whatever he did in the week he was gone, it definitely didn’t have anything to do with star observation. I can almost guarantee that.

“Do you...” But before I can finish, the fire alarm goes off.

Bingo. My ticket out of this place.

“Orderly line, class. Remember, we exit by using the east entrance.” Mrs. Lewis yells over the commotion.

Somehow, we all manage to squeeze through the double doors and burst out onto the lawn.

“Psst. Liz.” I look around and see Tess hiding behind a car.

I look around for any sign of a teacher seeing us. All clear. I start walking towards her when someone grabs my arm.

“Liz, where are you going?” Max asks.

“I’m out of here.” I say, pulling my arm free from his grasp.

“You could get suspended.” Mr. Goody Two Shoes says.

“Who cares.” I yell over the noise of 700 plus students, running. “You coming?”

He looks from the school to me, then starts jogging towards me. We hid with Tess behind the car until everyone is back in the building.

“Thank you, Tess.” I say, giving her a high five.

“No problem. But aren’t our teachers going to get suspicious when we don’t return to class?” She asks, with a bit of worry in her voice.

“Trust me. There is no way we’re going to get in trouble. I have everything planned out.” I smile.

“Why does that scare me?” Max asks, sitting up.

Tess laughs, then stops suddenly.

“What?” I ask.

“Fuck a duck. I just remembered I have a Political Science midterm that I didn’t study for. Dammit.” She slaps her hand down on the pavement.

“Why don’t you just make it up tomorrow or something?” I say, taking another glance around to make sure no one is behind us.

“Have you counted all the times we’ve skipped this period? It’s been a lot of times. If I miss anymore, old Mr. Clemons is calling Ma and Pa. And trust me, if he does, they’ll take my car away for a week. I cannot have that happening.” She stands up and starts walking back to the building. “You two have fun, and eat a sundae for me.”

We wait until she’s back inside before talking.

“So what now?” Max slowly stands up, I follow.

“Whatever you want to do.”

------------------------

“This was not what I envisioned doing when I woke up this morning.” Max laughs.

After ditching the hell pit, we went to grab some food. Now, here we are, sitting at a picnic table in Roswell Park. Original name, I know.

“This is exactly what I envisioned doing when I woke up this morning.” I say, taking another lick of my ice cream.

“Are you always like this?” He asks, looking over at me.

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. It just seems like you don’t care what happens to you. Like you don’t care if you get suspended or anything.” He’s looking right into my eyes.

“I guess. Ever since my mom,” I pause. “Ever since my mom left, I’ve been like this.”

“You must miss her.” He says softly, gently.

“Yeah, she was the best mom. I remember one time my dad was out of town on business, and he wasn’t going to be home till like, three in the morning. So my mom and I stayed up waiting for him. We ran around the front yard with those sprinkler fireworks. I bet the neighbors thought we were crazy.” I laugh.

He laughs.

“What’d your dad do when she left?” He asks.

“What?” I ask, a little taken back.

“What’d your dad do when she ran off with that guy?” He repeats himself.

“Oh. He was upset. They were college sweethearts, and he thought everything was fine, but one day she just up and left.” I glance away, blinking back tears.

“College sweethearts? I thought you said your mom worked in a bar?”

“S-she did. It was just that she worked at the bar on weekends. She loved that whole atmosphere. Like, how everyone talked with everyone like they were best friends even they just met five minutes before.” I sigh a little.

“What were your parents like together?” He asks.

What’s with the interrogation?

“Love sick fools. My dad treated my mom like a queen. I don’t know why she left. She had everything. She just left me there with, I mean she left us there.”

Max puts his arm around my shoulders, pulling me close.

“I have to go. I have something I need to do.” I say, pushing his arm off me and standing up.

“Wait.” He says, standing up too.

“I have to go.” I say, running from him again. “I’ll see you later.”

------------------------

Dr. Monroe could really use some new pictures in this place. It practically screams “Grandpa.”

“What good is sitting alone in your room, put on a happy face. Brush off the clouds...” Dr. Monroe sings as he enters his office. “Holy shit! I mean, Liz what are you doing here?” He screams, spilling some of his tea.

“Apparently not singing show tunes.” I say, from my position on his couch.

What is it with me and couches?

“Aren’t you suppose to be in school till 2:30?” He asks, looking at his clock as he sets his stuff on the desk.

“I figured I’d give myself an early release. So I had my friend pull the fire alarm to get me out.” I am Tactless Girl. Hopping from town to town, telling the truth.

“Is that even legal?” He asks, taking my jacket out of his chair, then sitting down.

I shrug.

Forty-five minutes later, Dr. Monroe and I have done a complete circle, thanks to my planning, and are now back on the whole pulling the fire alarm thing. Luckily for me, however, our session is over.

“Gee, Dr. M, is our time over already? I can’t wait till next week.” I say sarcastically, sitting up.

“Liz ,we really need to talk about this attitude. Especially towards school. It’s getting out of hand.” He says, in his practiced “I need to show authority” voice.

“Righto boss.” I salute him, then walk out the door.

It’s so funny how easily you can manipulate someone’s mind, telling them what they want to hear and them believing it.

“...just normal teenage stuff.” A voice says from Dr. Turner’s office.

Max?

I stop and peak through the door, which is cracked open.

“Oh my God.” I whisper to myself.

There, sitting on a couch almost identical to the one in Dr. Monroe’s office, is perfect Max Evans.

“My world has suddenly gone askew.” I mutter to myself, as I exit the building.






posted on 5-Dec-2001 8:39:02 PM by Ashley
Let me know what you think of this part.

Part 17

“Liz? Liz Parker?” Someone yells at me from down the hall.

I think it’s funny how my whole goal at this school was to become as invisible as possible and in the process of doing that, I’ve managed to become the butt of everyone’s joke. Go me.

I turn around to see Alex Whitman running up to me.

“Alex. Hey buddy, what can I do you for?” I ask, turning to open my locker.

“I was just wondering if you’ve seen Isabel Evans anywhere?” He asks, glancing around the crowded hallway.

“Probably primping in the bathroom. How the hell am I suppose to know?” I snap, my head buried in my locker.

There’s a few seconds of silence, and I think he walked away.

“Well, you know, it just always seems like wherever you are, Isabel is there trying to make you feel like shit.”

“Oh, gee. It’s compliments like that that make my heart go pitter-pat.” I say, turning to face him.

He gives me a faraway smile, then glances around.

“You know me. I’m a heart breaker.” He pats me on the shoulder, then walks away leaving me wonder if that whole encounter just happened or not.

I shake my head, slam my locker closed, and walk towards my next class.

“Liz Parker, right?” A female voice ask, practically shouts into my ear.

“Jesus Christ. What is this? Annoy The Hell Out Of Liz Day? Did I not get the memo?” I growl.

I spin around on my heels to see Addison, my new best friend.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She says in a saccrine sweet voice.

“No, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” I say without any indication in my voice that I’m really sorry.

She obviously misses that.

“Oh, no problem sweetie.” I wince. “Listen, I’m looking for Max. I know you two are history partners--”

“Lab.” I interrupt.

“Lab partners. Whatever. Anyway, I thought that maybe you knew where he was this bell. I really need to talk to him about something.” She tilts her head to the side, giving me a puppy dog face.

She oddly resembles Jenny McCarthy.

“Oh, sure. He’s working as an aid in the administrative building.” I lie.

The administrative building is on the other side of school, which means she’ll have to walk outside and be late for her next bell.

“You are so precious. Thank you.” She hugs me, yes folks, she actually hugs me, then walks away.

I walk into Journalism class and slump down into my chair, awaiting today’s festivities.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Brooks says, as soon as he walks in. “Today’s class should prove interesting. We’re going to be doing an experiment.”

Everyone groans predictably. I glance around. Maria is nodding her head and tapping on her desk while singing something under her breath, Isabel is staring straight ahead at the board, unsettlingly looking not quite as perfect. Rough night? I turn my head to look at the other side of the room. Some football players are whispering to each other and laughing. I could probably hop on top of my desk and start tap dancing and no one would notice.

“I will be pairing you off into twos and give you a set of questions. These questions will not only help you get a better understanding of your peers, but also let you catch a glimpse at the rawness and the amount of digging and searching it takes in order to be a reporter.” He says passionately.

Did I mention I only signed up for this class because I needed another elective? In fact, I suspect that almost 95% of this class has no intention of ever working in a career that involves journalism.

“These questions are to be turned in Monday.” He starts handing out a packet.

“Do we get to pick our own partner?” Some girl asks from the front of the class.

“No. I will be picking your partner.” He walks back to his desk.

I look down at my own packet, which is pretty thick. I glance over the questions. These are pretty personal:

“What is the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through?”

“If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?”

“These are kind of personal, don’t you think?” Maria voices my question.

“That’s the goal here. Journalism isn’t a piece of cake, people. It takes hard work and willingness to dig up the dirt.” He picks up a piece of paper. “Now here’s the partners: Maria DeLuca and John Vincent, Charlotte Zimmerman and Brittany James, Bobby Fischer and Tim Baker, Elizabeth Parker and Isabel Evans--”

“Fuck.” I say.

Mr. Brooks looks up quickly.

“What was that Ms. Parker?”

“I said, ‘what luck.’ Isabel is one of my favorite people.” I smile at him, then turn to Isabel and give her a death glare.

“Oh, well, good.” He says, then continues down his list.

-----------------------
“Isabel Evans.” I bang my head against the wall again.

“Oh come on, I’m sure it won’t be that bad.” Tess says from the couch, trying not to smile.

“Are you forgetting here that Isabel and I are mortal enemies?” I groan and walk to sit next to her on the couch.

“Well, look on the bright side.” She says cheerfully. “Maybe she could teach you some of those cheerleader moves.”

I punch her on the arm.

“Funny.”

“Ladies, are we forgetting that we have a restaurant full of hungry people out there?” Amy says from the doorway leading into the backroom.

“Righto Sarg.” Tess salutes her, then pulls me up.

We walk out. I try not to gag from the smell of the somebody’s perfume.

“Oh, Lizzie, there’s a girl here to see you.” Amy smiles, then points to the register station.

I follow her gaze to see Isabel standing there impatiently tapping her foot.

“Great. Is it cool if I go on a break really quick?” I ask, pleading with my eyes.

“Sure. Just make sure you remember you have milkshake machine duty tonight.” She pats my shoulder then walks away.

It’s too bad that Ms. DeLuca is so nice. If she was a real bitch I wouldn’t feel bad about doing a half-ass job cleaning the milkshake machine. Unfortunately, she’s probably the sweetest person I’ve ever known, so I feel compelled to clean it decently.

I grudgingly walk towards Isabel, prolonging the walk from the backroom door to the register station as much as possible.

“I only have about fifteen minutes.” I say, already wanting to run away.

“Okay, that’s fine. Where should we sit?” She asks, switching the strap of her backpack to the other shoulder.

I lead her to the only open booth and sit down across from her.

“So, where shall we start?” I ask, pulling my questions packet out from inside my apron.

“I guess number one is always a good place to start.” She quips.

I give her a look.

“Okay, first question: What is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?” She reads off the paper.

“Um, I guess when I won the regional limbo contest back in ‘98.” I look up as if I’m remembering.
I wasn’t even in that limbo contest. In fact, I’ve never been in any limbo contest.

“Okay.” She shakes her head skeptically, but writes it down anyway.

“What about you? What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?”

She looks down at her paper, then up at me.

“Getting adopted when I was seven.” She smiles, not at me, but at the memory.

I write it down. It is actually kind of sweet, if you’re into that whole fire: bad; tree: pretty thing.

“Question Two: What is the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through?” I read.

Probably breaking a nail or something.

She pauses and I can see her eyes water up a bit.

“I guess when our dog Checkers died.” She ahems.

Oh poor baby.

“You?” She asks, turning her head away.

“Um, I guess when my cat Sparkles got hit by that car.” I feign a dramatic sigh.

I’ve never had a cat named Sparkles, and if I ever had had a cat, I would rather cut off my own fingers than name it Sparkles.

Ten minutes later we aren’t even half way through it. It’s going to be a long weekend.

“What time do you get off?” She asks, putting her stuff into her bag.

“Ten. Why?” I can feel the dread climbing up me.

“Just come by my house and we’ll see how much we can get done.” She smiles at me, then walks towards the door.

I’m left in shock wondering why Isabel Evans, Bitch of Roswell, is suddenly acting like we’re actually friends.

“Come on, get busy Lizzie!” Maria says in a sing-song voice as she walks past me, then adds quietly to herself: “That rhymed. Sweet.”

I’m really starting to wonder why I hang out with these people.

-------------------

“This is like the fucking Brady Bunch.” I mutter as I walk up the path leading to the Evans’ front door.

I subconsciously pull down the hem of my dress. Why Amy thought these uniforms would be hip and cool is still lost on me. I tentatively knock on the door, looking around to make sure no one drives by and sees me.

“Can I help you?” A man, I’m assuming is Mr. Evans, opens the door and gives me a weird look, taking in my outfit.

“I have orders from my planet to take over the Earth. Take me to your leader.”

“Huh?” His eyebrows come together.

“Liz! Hey, why don’t you just come in.” Isabel pushes past her father, grabs me, and drags me towards her room.

I look around the house, taking in my surroundings. Just what I thought. Nice and homey. Not too big and elegant like Tess’, but then again not flea infested like mine. Just like Max.

“This is my room.” She practically shoves me into her room and slams the door closed.

I hold back a grimace, she just hit my newest bruise.

“What?” She asks, concern in her voice.

Wait. Back the train up. Isabel Evans, actually concerned about someone that isn’t her. Wonders never cease.

“Oh, nothing. I just bumped my arm walking in.” I say, looking away.

Holy shit. Her room is nothing like a thought it would be. I was imaging ballerinas and teddy bears and pink everywhere. Her room is more dark with maroons and deep purples. Kind of artsy. Note to self: Appearances aren’t everything. I, of all people, should realize this by now.

“So, we should get started. My shift starts at midnight, and I work tomorrow and Sunday, so we need to finish this tonight.” I set my jacket and purse down and take out the infamous packet.

“Shift? I thought you just got off work.” She says, retrieving her own packet.

“Oh. It’s just a little work to earn some extra cash.” I look down to hide my embarrassment.

“Max never mentioned that.” She says quietly.

“What?” I ask, looking up.

“Um, nothing. So let’s get started.” She gives me a smile, what is this all about? “Okay, we left off on question twenty: Have you ever experienced a death of a loved one? Jesus, is this like an FBI investigation?” She laughs nervously. Almost suspiciously.

I give her a weird look simply because she’s acting weird. Very non-Isabel like. This disturbs me.

“Mr. Brooks is CIA, didn’t you know?” I say casually.

“What?!?” She barks.

“Whoa, calm down there Sparky. I was just joshing with you.” I give her another look.

I can visibly see her shoulders relax. Geez girl, lay off the caffeine.

“Okay, so, have you ever experience the death of a loved one? I’m here for you.” I lightly pat her knee. She recoils. “Joking, again.”

“Sorry. Um, I guess when my great-aunt Francis died. We weren’t really close to her, though.” She says.

“Oh. Well, I guess for me it was when my Uncle’s cousin’s sister’s godchild passed away.” I sniffle a little. “I’ll always miss little Johnny.”

I look away for effect.

“I’m beginning to think that you’re making all these answers up.” She declares, that good old Isabel attitude evident in her voice.

“God! How could you say that! Johnny and I were tight. We were like this.” I cross my fingers and hold them up.

She stares at me for a few seconds, deciding what to do.

“Uh, sorry, I guess.” She says, a little weirded out.

Isabel is the kind of girl I used to hang out with. Part of the self-designated popular crowd, always coming up with the perfect comebacks, always free to do whatever the hell they wanted to do. Now, I look like a homeless person and my comebacks have been a little bit on the sucky side lately.

“I gotta use the john. Mind telling me where it’s at?” I ask, setting my stuff aside.

“Second door on your left as soon as you walk out of here.” She says, pointing as though it helps.

I walk out and head towards the bathroom.

“...her dad. I know it is.” A recognizable voice says from a partially opened door.

I twirl around and head back to the door.

“Listen Max, you can’t be sure of that.” Michael’s voice replies from within the room.

“Michael. You’re the one who hears it all. Are you honestly telling me that you don’t believe Mr. Parker is doing this all?” Max whispers angrily.

My breath stops in my chest.

Someone sighs.

“You’re right. God. This is so not what we need right now.” Michael whispers back.

I swallow, but a lump has already formed in my throat.

“Well, we can’t just do nothing. What if next time he kills her? Could you live with that?” Max says helplessly.

There’s movement in the room. I step back a little, waiting for one of them to open the door. Nothing happens.

“No.” Is his simple response.

Jesus. What is going on here?

“Oh my God.” Michael says, almost inaudibly.

Shit. Did I make a noise? Do they know I’m out here?

“What?” Max asks, and I can imagine his head jerking up to see what is Michael’s deal.

“You’re in--” Michael starts.

“Liz.” Isabel hisses at me, I spin around. “I thought you fell in or something.”

Okay, breathe, breathe, breathe. Maybe Max and Michael didn’t hear Isabel. Maybe their still discussing my life like it’s a television show.

“Uh.” I squeak pathetically.

Max’s door flies open and I look up to see them both looking at me, their expressions just as shocked as mine.

“Liz.” Max spits out.

“Hey, man. What’s going on?” I smile and nod my head.

We all stand there for a few seconds. This is like the intervention from hell.

“Oh well, look at the time.” I glance down at my wrist, which is bare of a watch. “I should really be going.”

I turn on my heel and walk straight towards the front door.

“It was nice meeting you Liz!” Mr. Evans yells from somewhere behind me.

“You too!” I yell back politely.

This is not good.

-----------------------

“Please don’t let Max be here, please don’t let Max be here.” I say, repeating the same mantra I’ve been chanting since school started.

No such luck. Evans walks in and parks his perfect ass in the seat next to mine.

“Okay kids, get out your notebooks.” Mrs. Lewis says cheerfully.

Max sets something down next to me. I look over.

“You left your purse and jacket in Izzy’s room.” He says, trying not too look at me.

“We’re going to be discussing in greater detail...” She blathers on.

I tune her out and turn to Max.
“Stay out of my personal life.” I whisper to him.

I turn back to Mrs. Lewis, but I can feel his angry gaze on me.

“Not when it involves you getting hurt.” He spouts back.

“It is none of your business.” I growl.

“Ms. Parker, Mr. Evans. Care to share with the class?” Mrs. Lewis says in a light tone.

It’s Monday. She is still feeling the freeness of the weekend. Had this been a Wednesday, she would’ve told us to write a five-page essay on disrupting her class.

“Um, I was just asking him about something on the notes.” I lie easily.

See how years of experience work to my advantage?

“Oh, okay. But from now on, any questions should be directed at me.” She turns back to the board and continues writing.

“Liz, you have to do something.” He says quietly.

“Max. Just leave me the hell alone.” My voice rises a little.

Everyone turns to stare at us, including Mrs. Lewis.

“That’s it. I warned you both. Out in the hall. I won’t have this kind of disruption go on in my class. Stay out there till class is over, then we’ll discuss your punishment.” She points her finger at us, then points it towards the door.

We both stand up, grab our stuff, and walk out of the room.

“Nice going Max. Way to get us kicked out of class.” I glare at him.

“Me?” He questions, his voice filled with raw anger.

“Just leave me alone. I didn’t ask for you and your little friends to decide to play make-over on my life.”

Max gives me an exasperated look.

“I can’t believe you Liz. This isn’t some little thing we’re talking about. This is physical abuse.” He’s pleading.

“I know what you’re doing. There’s something fucked up going on with you, so you decide to try to control my life. Screw you. Just leave me the hell alone.” I clench my jaw together.

“Liz.” He starts.

“Yeah, I know all about you, therapy boy. Perfect Max Evans isn’t so perfect after all, is he? So what is it Maxie? Girl break your heart? Sexual frustration? One too many bad episodes of Dawson’s Creek?” I wave my hands around, counting the possibilities.

He just sighs, and looks away.

“Looks like the shoes on the other foot now, eh?” I give a disgusted laugh.

I shake my head and start walking towards the exit.

“Where are you going?” He asks, walking over to me.

“I’m out of here. Have fun in detention.” I smile, then push open the door.

--------------------

I end up in the library. My mother used to take me here all the time. She loved to read. Anything from William Shakespeare to Stephen King. On Sunday mornings we’d both sit in the kitchen and just read our separate books. We wouldn’t talk for hours, we’d just read. It was probably my favorite time of the week. Just relaxing and being so comfortable with each other that we didn’t need to talk. Dad always worked on Sunday mornings. He said that’s when he got the most work done because no one was in his way.

Sunday mornings were the only days my mother was fully relaxed.

Why did she leave me?

“Liz Parker. I didn’t take you for the bookworm type.” Sean DeLuca teases from the other side of my table.

“Looks who’s talking. I didn’t even think you knew what a library was.”

“Haha, funny.” He pulls out the chair across from me and sits. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in school right now like a good little girl?”

I set my book down.

“Thought I’d give myself a break. All work and no play makes Liz go crazy. What the hell are you doing here?” I ask, leaning back in my chair.

“Shh.” The librarian says from her position behind the check-out counter.

We both look at her, then at each other and laugh.

“Project. They loaded all us delinquents on a bus and brought us here to research.” He says, then waves his hand around to show me the dozen or so guys that are wearing the same pale blue shirt he is that says, ‘Barris Juvenile Detention Facility’.

“Nice fashion statement you all have got going on there.” I point at his shirt.

“Oh really? You like? We got them at ‘What Do You Get For The Criminal Who Has Everything!’ store. Just opened at the mall.” He smiles proudly.

“Ooo, I should check that out.”

“You should.” He laughs.

“Shhhh.” The librarian looks over at us again.

“Damn, was that an angry ‘shh’ or what?” I ask, lowering my voice.

“You ain’t lying.”

I look around for a guard or a teacher or something.

“What would you say if I asked you if you were up for some good old fashioned fun?” I ask, smiling evilly.

He glances around.

“I’d ask you what you had in mind.” He leans closer to me. “Nothing that violates my probation, I hope.” He winks.

“Oh, of course not.” I say innocently.

It’s time to find out who Max Evans really is.

posted on 27-Dec-2001 7:31:05 PM by Ashley
Hope everyone had a happy holiday.

Don't have time to double check for grammar errors, I'll try to fix them soon.

Part 18

“My foot! My foot!” I half-whisper, half-yell.

“Sorry.” Sean whispers back, stepping off my foot.

“Jesus. You’d think for a guy that has breaking and entering on his record a couple times that he’d at least do it flawlessly.” I bend down and rub my foot.

“Hey, breaking and entering is not my specialty. I never claimed it to be.” He says back, pulling the window shut behind him.

“I’m sort of afraid to ask what your specialty exactly is.” I reply, pulling my black beanie farther down over my hair.

It was my idea to break into Dr. Turner’s office, but Sean seemed a little to ready to jump on the illicit bandwagon. So he talked Amy into letting him stay the night saying that he wanted to stay with Maria while Amy went out of town, and she in turn convinced the detention facility he’s staying at to let him.

“Car theft.” He says casually.

“It’s a good career choice you’ve got going there.” I sweep my flashlight over the reception area, making sure it’s clear.

I slipped out of my window at midnight, it’s not like dad would notice if I walked out the front door, but I didn’t want to take the chance that Michael would. Sean and I met up in front of the park and headed to the shrink’s office.

“Now, what exactly are we doing here again?” Sean asks, sliding against the wall behind me.

“I told you, I have to steal some files out of here for a friend of mine. She wants to know what they’ve got on her.” I snap angrily.

“Okay. Easy tiger.”

We walk down the hall, stopping every few seconds to make sure the coast is clear. Finally, we reach Dr. Turner’s door, pick the lock, and walk in.

“Damn, this looks like the fucking Ritz, or some shit like that.” He says, in awe of the luxurious room.

“Well, they get paid a hundred an hour to act like they’re listening to you and nod every couple minutes.” I say, already sifting through the files on his desk.

He follows my lead and picks the lock on the filing cabinet.

“So who’s files are we looking for?” He asks.

“Max...” He turns to look at me. “...ine. Maxine Evans. But she just goes by Max.”

I open his desk drawers and sort through the files in those.

“Here we are.” Sean says, pulling a file from the middle drawer. “Whoa. She looks kind of masculine.”

He gives the file a strange look. Oh shit. I forgot that they attach pictures to the files.

“Oh, well. She wants to be a man. So she dresses like that, and cuts her hair like that.” I say, walking towards him.

“Weird.” He mutters to himself.

I grab the file from him, walk back to Turner’s desk, and plop down.

“Don’t get too comfortable, you don’t know if we might’ve tripped a security alarm.” He says, turning back the cabinet and pulling out a file.

I open the file and start laying out the papers.

“Look at this. This guy thinks he’s Elvis reincarnated.” Sean laughs, taking the file and sitting on the couch.

“Hmm.” I grunt.

I start reading:

“Patient has repressed feelings. Seems to have some sort of secret that he is trying to keep covered up. Patient is often seemed to appear exhausted and weary, like he constantly has something on his mind. Increased weariness as of late. Patient seems to be in deep concern over someone or something. Patient’s sister also seems to be experiencing this same sort of weariness...”

Isabel comes here too? What is up with those people?

“Holy shit! Listen to this Liz: Patient tells stories of alien abductions and tells stories in detail of these experiences.” He bursts out laughing at this point. “Some people are so crazy.”

“Who is it?” I ask, turning the page in Max’s file.

“Brody Davis. Ever heard of him?”

“Nope.”

I look back at the file.

“Patient’s mother has expressed concern that he is withdrawn from his peers and tries to be as unnoticeable as possible. He has rejected any attempt at getting involved in activities in or outside of school...”

Jesus, Max really is one fucked up person.

“Fuck.” Sean whispers, looking from the door to me.

“What?” I ask, glancing up at him.

“There’s someone out there.”

“How do you know?” I ask, lowering my voice.

“I heard them talking. We have to bail now.” He picks up the folders he was looking at and shoves them back into the filing cabinet.

“Here.” I say, cramming the papers back into Max’s folder and handing it to Sean, who in turn, drops them into the cabinet and locks it back.

“The window!” He whisper/yells.

“...in Dr. Turner’s office.” A man’s voice says from somewhere on the other side of the door.

“Shit, let’s go.” Sean pulls me up and pushes me towards the window.

“Oh, that was my boob.” I moan.

“Sorry, but go.” He unlatches the lock open on the window and pushes it open.

“...got the key.” Another voice says, then there’s rattling.

“My purse!” I say, then turn around looking at where I put it.

“Forget it Liz, we have to go now.” He waves at me frantically, urging me to go out the window.

“You go ahead, I’ll catch up.” I say, searching anxiously.

“I’m not leaving you here Liz.” He says, then looks back at the door.

They’re still looking for the right key.

“Sean, you can’t get caught. You’ll get more time in juvy. Just go. Don’t worry about me.” I say desperately.

“Liz, I’m not going to leave you here to get caught.” He says hurriedly.

The Rent-A-Cops are still at it, and I have the feeling that it won’t be much longer till they find the right key.

“Sean, go now.” I walk over and push him out of the window.

I stand around long enough to hear his grunt as he hits the ground then I slam the windows shut and hid under the desk.

“Finally.” Number One says, opening the door.

They walk around, inspecting the room.

“Everything looks fine to me.” Number Two says. “We should get going, I want to see what happens at the end of that movie.”

They continue talking and start shutting the door.

My breath starts to quicken. Aw, fuck.

“Ah-ah-achoo!”

“Who’s in here?” Number One flashes his light back into the room.

“Nice Liz. Maybe next time you should break out into a musical number complete with choreographed dancing.” I mumble to myself as I come out from behind the desk.

Both of them put their flashlights right into my eyes.

“Well, gee golly. There’s that contact lens!” I exclaim.

-------------------

“What were you doing in Dr. Turner’s office?” Officer Hanson asks, for the fourth time in the past hour.

“I told you. The aliens were after me, and the only safe place was his office.” I say, suspiciously looking around.

He rolls his eyes.

“Ma’am, I just want the truth here--” He’s interrupted by the sound of his phone ringing. “Yes sir, I’ll send her right in.”

He hangs up and looks up at me.

“Come with me, Ms. Parker.” He helps me up, and takes me to a door marked ‘Sheriff Valenti.’

Kyle’s dad?

“Thanks Hanson, that’ll be all.” A man dressed in casual wear says from his desk.

I pull my handcuffed arms away from Hanson’s grasp.

“So, Ms. Parker,” Valenti says as soon as Hanson closes the door. “What were you doing breaking into a psychiatrist’s office?”

“Are you Kyle’s dad?” I ask, changing the subject.

“What?” He asks, a little taken back. “Yeah, why?”

I see that fear in his eyes. The one that says, ‘God I hope my son doesn’t know this girl.’

“Kyle and I go way back.” I smile in a reminiscent way. “So, Sheriff Valenti. What’s my punishment?”

“Ms. Parker, I need you to tell me why you were in Dr. Turner’s office.” He says, looking down at a paper.

“You mean that wasn’t the bakery?”

His jaw clenches. Oh yeah, he’s pissed.

“We weren’t able to get a hold of your father, and since you don’t have anyone else to bail you out now, you’re going to have to spend the night in one of our cells.” He says, not looking me in the eye.

I know what he’s thinking. ‘Oh poor little white trash girl can’t get someone to come down and bail her sorry ass out of jail.’

“Can’t wait.” I say, pasting a smile on my face.

---------------------

“Six bottles of beer on the wall, six bottles of beer on the wall...” I sing to myself.

“Parker.” Someone says from down the hallway.

I glance down at my watch. It’s almost dawn. I’ve been sitting in this hell pit for almost five hours now, first counting the water spots on the ceiling, then belting out every Elton John song I’ve ever heard before being told to shut my “fucking trap” by the old lady in the cell next to mine.

I sit up and look to see who called my name.

“Deputy Hanson, we meet again.” I say, winking at him.

“Someone’s come to bail you out.” He says, ignoring me.

“Daddy dearest?” I ask, picking up my coat off the dingy floor.

At least it’s nicer than my apartment.

“Nope. Come on Parker.” He unlocks the gate.

“I’ll miss you Blanche!” I yell to the old lady.

We walk out of the cell block and back into the offices. It’s more crowded than it was when I got here. I guess most sane criminals don’t rise till at least 5 a.m.

“Take a seat here, Parker.” Hanson pulls out a chair.

I sit there for ten minutes waiting Deputy Dumbass to get back.

“Oh my God! Lizzie!” Amy DeLuca squeals from behind me.

Aw, horse shit.

“Amy. What are you doing here?” I ask, looking around. Please don’t say she’s the one who came to pick me up.

“Sweetie, are you okay? God, I was so worried.” She runs over and hugs me.

I look around confusedly. Is she talking to me? Someone is actually worried about me?

“I’m so sorry I didn’t come sooner. I was visiting my sister in Clovis and didn’t get here until about four, and by that time Maria and Sean had called everywhere trying to find me. Apparently, they’d heard from Kyle that you’d been arrested and that they couldn’t find your dad.” She’s practically squeezing the oxygen out of my system.

“Ms. DeLuca, could you sign these?” Hanson shoves a stack of papers in front of her.

“Hey Amy.” We all turn to see Valenti standing in the door of his office.

“Jim.” Amy says, a secret smile on her face.
I turn, looking from on to the other.

“Ooo, gross. Old people doing it.” I shudder.

Amy punches me in the arm, and finishes signing the papers.

“Bye Jim, I’ll call you!” She waves to him as we walk past, and he smiles back.

We load up into Amy’s red Jetta, but she doesn’t pull away.

“So, Liz. Are you going to tell me what happened?” She asks, turning towards me with a sympathetic smile.

“I was uh,” I think quick to come up with a lie. “I actually have the hots for Dr. Turner. I’ve seen him at the Tasty Freeze a couple times, and man, is that guy fine.”

She gives me a weird look, but seems to accept my lie.

“Okay, but what was the point in going to his office?” She asks, starting the car and backing out of the police station.

“Well, I thought it was a good way to get to know him. You know, you can always tell a lot about a man from what he has on his desk.” I nod matter-of-factly.

Like I have any idea what I’m talking about. I’m just making this shit up as I go.

“Oh, well okay then.” She laughs, not asking anymore questions. “Where should we drop you off at?”

I glance at the car clock, it’s almost 6:30 a.m.

“I guess you can just drop me off at school.” I say, realizing that I don’t have any of my books or homework (which I didn’t do) with me.

“You sure? You want to wear the same thing you wore yesterday?” She asks, turning onto Main Street.

“Do you have body spray?” I ask, glancing around her cluttered car.

“Yep. Open the dash.”

I pop it open and see five bottles of body spray.

“Did you rob Bath & Body Works on the way over?” I ask, pulling them out of the drawer.

“I love the smell of that stuff. Go ahead, pick one and you can have it.” She smiles.

I look down. I’m not really the kind of girl who gets into this whole glitzy glam thing.

“I guess I’ll just take the strawberry one, is that okay?”

“100%” She giggles. Just like Maria.

It’s amazing how much they’re alike. Kind of like my mother and I. It’s uncanny.

I spray some on me, trying to get the jail scent off of me. I don’t think it helps that much, but it’s better than nothing.

“Here we are.” She says, pulling up into a spot.

The lot is almost full with a couple of last minute students running towards the building.

“Thanks.” I open the door. “What about Maria?”

“Oh, Maria got picked up earlier by that guy with the hair.” She waves and drives away.

Michael. I thought she never hung out with him.

“I have a feeling things are going to get a hell of a lot weirder.” I mumble then start towards the school.

------------------

“Liz Parker, so nice of you to join us.” Mrs. Lewis says as I enter the class, ten minutes late thanks to that stupid hall monitor.

“Always a pleasure.” I take a small bow and head to my lab station.

Max is sitting there writing something down.

“We were just writing our conclusion over what we learned with last night’s reading. Would you like to share what you learned with the class?” She smiles smugly. She knows I didn’t do the reading.

Just be really, really general.

“I’ll tell you what I learned. I learned that it contributed to making this one of the biggest breakthroughs in Bio. history.”

She gives me a confused look and everyone in the room laughs quietly.

“I wasn’t aware that the rituals of slug mating did so much for us.” She says from behind her desk.

“Well, ya learn something new everyday, right?” I give her an innocent smile.

She just rolls her eyes, and goes back to teaching.

Max doesn’t seem to pay any attention to what is going on. He only looks up when someone walks in the door. Mrs. Lewis stops talking and walks over to talk with the man who just came in. She stops and looks over at our lab station. They must’ve heard about my little field trip.

“Max Evans.” Mrs. Lewis says over the noise of the classroom. “You’re dismissed.”

He picks up his stuff, without even acknowledging me, and leaves.

“Can I go to the bathroom?” I ask, interrupting her lesson.

“What? No. You should’ve gone before class.” She says, her voice filled with anger.

She goes on talking about slugs getting it on.

“It’s an emergency!” I shout, everyone turning to look at me.

“Ms. Parker, how could it possibly be an emergency unless...” Her face turns red.

“That’s right. I just started my period. I should probably go to the bathroom and...well, you know.” I say looking at her. “Oh, unless you’re past that. And there’s nothing wrong with Menopause. Every woman goes through it--”

“Ms. Parker. That’s enough. Go. Now.” She yells.

I think I went a little too far with that one. I grab my stuff and leave. I walk towards the office where I think Max is.

“Listen Maxwell, we need to get our asses in gear. Nicholas isn’t just going to give up.” Michael’s voice floats from around the corner.

I stop abruptly and press myself against the wall, getting as close as possible without being seen.

“Michael, you interrupted me during class for this?” Max asks with a weary sigh.

“No. Valenti called me this morning.” He pauses. “Addison never came home last night.”

“What! Why didn’t he call last night?” Max’s voice fills with worry.

I knew it. I knew those two were doing the nasty.

“He didn’t notice till this morning when he went to wake her up. He thought she was studying late or something.” Michael’s footsteps come close to me.

I suck in my breath. His footsteps stop right on the other side of the corner.

“What is going on?” Isabel’s voice joins in.

“Addison is missing.” Max deadpans.

“What?” Isabel gasps. “What happened?”

“Come on, let’s go find Valenti. Did you guys get Maria and Alex?” Max asks.

Maria and Alex. This whole town is just one big conspiracy.

“Yeah, they’re meeting us at Valenti’s. We’ll explain on the way.” Michael says, their voices receding.

I’m tired of all this lying bullshit. It’s time to find out what the deal really is. I walk to the payphone, put fifty cents in, and dial the number to the main office.

“West Roswell High, this is Marjorie Sanders, how can I help you?” A woman’s voice answers.

“Hi, this is Mrs. Harding. I’m calling for Tess Harding. I need her to sign out. Her great aunt Hilda had a stroke, and we need her at the hospital as soon as possible.” I explain, hoping to sound distraught.

“Oh, Mrs. Harding. I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ll make sure Tess signs out. My prayers are with the family.” She says, her voice empathetic.

“Thank you.” I say lightly, then hang up.

I walk out to the parking lot and lean against Tess’ car. A few minutes later Tess comes skipping out of the student entrance. She looks up and laughs.

“I figured this was your doing, seeing as I don’t have a great aunt Hilda.” She digs in her purse for her keys. “Where are we going?”

“To discover what the hell is really going on in this town.” I reply, waiting for her to unlock my door.

She presses a button on her key chain and unlocks both our doors.

“Cool.”


posted on 1-Jan-2002 2:36:19 PM by Ashley
Hope everyone had a safe and happy new year.

Let me know what you think.

Part 19

“So, where exactly are we going?” Tess asks as she pulls out of the school parking lot.

“Do you know where Kyle lives?” I ask.

“No way are we going to Kyle’s.” She laughs, stopping at a red light.

I laugh and look over at her.

“Okay, tell me now. What is going on with you and Kyle? Is it some weird type of sexual frustration?” I grab onto the door handle as she sharply cuts a corner.

“You really want to know?”

“Yes. I think everyone at West Roswell wants to know.” I prompt her.

She makes a right onto Main Street, ignoring the speed limit.

“Hey, that was a nice looking stop sign we just passed up, wasn’t it?” I add.

“Ha ha. Okay, the truth about me and Kyle? Well, it starts back in Kindergarten, we were in the same class and he used to chase me around the playground.” She says, looking back.

“And this is the reason why you torment each other now?” I shake my head, not getting it.

“No. We dated back in the ninth grade. We were together for almost four months. Then one day, a group of my friends and I heard some noise coming from the eraser room, our “romantic hideaway”, so we thought it’d be funny to find out who was in there.” I look over at her, and I can see tears in her eyes.

This must be deep. Tess isn’t the type of girl that wears her emotions on her sleeve.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me.”

“No. Anyway,” She says sniffing. “We opened the door and surprise! It was Kyle. Making out with my best friend. I haven’t talked to Vicki since that day. I started thinking that it was somehow my fault that he cheated on me, like I wasn’t good enough.”

She clears her throat, but doesn’t go on speaking. We’re outside of what I’m assuming is the Valenti residence. Max’s Jeep and Maria’s Jetta are parked in the driveway. We’re parked on the street, both looking at the house.

“It wasn’t your fault. You know that now, right?” I ask, turning towards her.

“Yeah.” She smiles. “I know that now. But then it was harder. I started blowing off my friends, because I was afraid that they would hurt me the same way Vicki and Kyle had. After a while, we stopped talking altogether.”

“So that’s why you’re always alone?” I ask, she just nods. “What made you change your mind? About me, I mean. Why did you decide to become friends with me?”

“I don’t know. You just seemed different. Like, I don’t know, you seemed like you understood a little. I know that’s totally stupid.” She laughs through the tears.

“I know what you mean.” I smile back at her. “So then what is it with you guys and the practical jokes?”

“Oh, that started in the tenth grade. I thought it was about time to get even, and since I had nothing to lose, I thought I might as well go for it. Since then, we’ve been going back and forth.”

“Has Kyle ever said anything to you? Apologized? Anything?” I ask, unbuckling my seat belt.

“Of course. He basically stalked me for months. Always calling me, trying to apologize and get me back. But I knew that it couldn’t be. I couldn’t risk getting hurt like that again.” She takes a deep breath, and looks up at me. “Okay, enough of Bonding Hour. Let’s see what’s going on.”

And just like that, she’s back to being the same Tess she always is.

“Alright, here’s the plan. We’re going to sneak along the back of the house, and listen through the windows. There has to be something going on, why else would Maria and Alex lie to me about hanging out with Michael? I mean, sure, the guy’s hygiene isn’t perfect. Unsanitary, even. But bad hair aside, his personality isn’t all that unpleasant.” I say, shrugging.

“Okay, Nancy Drew. Then what?” She opens her door, and we both head towards the house.

“We’ll play it out from there.”

We ease along the side of the house, ducking under the windows.

“...well, couldn’t she just be off doing an Addison-like thing? You know, shopping?” Maria’s voice comes out of one of the windows.

“Right here. Stop.” I whisper to Tess, who has walked past the window.

“Alright, calm down Sherlock.”

“I don’t think she’d just bail to go on a shopping spree. She knows that we have to be extra careful with Nicholas and Khivar after us.” Isabel says back.

“Everybody calm down. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll split up into two teams. We’ll cover as much area in and around Roswell as possible. Michael, you take Isabel and Kyle. Maria and Alex are with me. Sheriff, you go back to your office and try to see if any of the surrounding counties have any information.” Max says, his voice calm and leader-like.

“What do you want to do?” Tess whispers.

“I say we follow them.” I whisper back.

“Liz. We have know idea who these people are. And who the hell is Khivar anyway? This could be dangerous. What if it’s a drug thing or something?” She asks.

“Has something being dangerous ever stopped you before?” I say, more as a statement than I questions.

“You’re right.” She nods. “Who are we following? Michael or Max?”

“Max.”

“Now I’m beginning to think it’s a little more than a crush.” She laughs silently.

“I do not have a crush on Max Evans.” She just looks at me. “Okay, so he isn’t that bad. But I don’t like him.”

She just rolls her eyes.

“Did you guys here something?” Alex’s voice questions.

“Shit.” I whisper as their footsteps come closer to the window we’re under. “Quick Tess, bark like a dog.”

“What!” She whispers. “I am not barking like a dog.”

“Just do it!” I smack her arm.

“Woof! Woof!” We bark in unison.

“It’s just some stupid dogs.” Michael replies.

We both breath a sigh of relief. Then we crawl back to Tess’ car and wait.


-------------------

“Tell me again why we’re skipping school to follow Max Evans and Company?” Tess asks, a half an hour later as we’re still waiting in the hot desert sun for them to exit the Valenti house.

“First off, because I’m tired of feeling like there’s this huge secret that everyone but us knows. Secondly, I have an English test that I didn’t study for.” I say, watching the front door.

A few seconds later, Max and the rest walk out. Max stops and looks around, probably checking for spies or something.

“Duck!” Tess says, pushing my head down.

We wait till we here three cars pass us, then we look up.

“Ready?” Tess asks, starting her car.

“Yeah. Just stay back, and don’t get too close to them.” I say, buckling my belt.

“Relax, I used to tail my dad all the time.” She says casually.

“Can I ask why?”

“I thought he was having an affair one of the wives of his co-workers. Turns out he was there helping his co-worker build a chest for the guy’s wife for their 20th wedding anniversary. It took me about two weeks to realize this.” She says, laughing.

“Oh, well then I guess you’re a seasoned pro.” I say, as we come to a stop behind them.

All the sudden, her car stalls out.

“No, this doesn’t look suspicious at all.” I mutter. She just gives me a look and restarts her car.

We follow them through town and end up accidentally losing them when we’re cut off by a semi.

“Aw, fuck.” I say, as Tess pulls over.

“What now?” She asks.

“We go home. There’s no way telling where the hell they’ll end up. It’s been like a wild goose chase so far.” I say frustrated.

“Okay, how about this. Tomorrow at work we compare notes? We both work the closing shift, so that’ll give us some time to get this all figured out. Plus, Maria is off, so we don’t have to worry about her getting in the way and finding out we’re on their trail.” She replies, pulling out back into the road.

“Deal.” I say.

---------------------

“Where have you been?” His voice asks as soon as I enter the apartment.

“What?” I ask, taken off guard.

“I said, where have you been?” He repeats, stepping closer.

“School. I had to stay after to finish a group project.” I lie, hoping he’ll buy it.

“Where were you last night? Huh? Got an excuse for that?” He yells, grabbing a hold of my wrist.

“I...I was, I stayed the night with my friend.” I sputter. His grip hurts like hell.

“How many times do I have to tell you, if you’re going to stay at one of your little friend’s houses, you’re to tell me what the fuck is going on.” He yells, then smacks me across the face.

“I’m sorry.” I say, biting my lip, trying to keep the tears from spilling out.

“Bullshit.” He says, then smacks me again. “That’ll teach you to talk back to me again.”

“Daddy, please.” I sob, which only earns me a punch in the mouth.

“Don’t start that crap.” He pulls back his arm and lets it hit my shoulder blade.

I try not to whimper because I know this will only get me more hurt. So I keep silent and try not to look anywhere except the ground. One wrong motion and I could be unconscious again. In situations like these, you have to know what movement goes with what punishment. If I looked him in the eye, he’d punch my face. If I tried to walk away, he’d kick my legs out from under me. After years of this, you get used to where the hits will be.

“I’m going out.” He says, suddenly releasing my arm.

And just as quick as the first hit, he’s gone. I get up to go survey the damage. There’s a small bruise along my cheek bone, and where he hit me on the shoulder it’s a deep black color already. Just as I put my shirt back on, the phone rings. I go out to the kitchen and pick it up.

“Hello?”

“Liz, it’s Tess.”

“Tess?” I ask, confused.

“Yeah. Listen, something’s come up. I won’t be at school for the next few days or at work.” She says.

“Why? What happened?”

“My uncle had a heart attack, so we’re going up to Los Angeles to visit him. They don’t think he’ll make it.” She explained, with a hint of sadness in her voice.

I could tell that she was trying not to cry.

“I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do?” I ask, trying to be helpful.

“Uh, actually, my parents were wondering if you would come over and walk the dog every afternoon and feed her.” She said, laughing a little at her parents.

“Yeah, that’d be fine.” I say. “Tess, if you want to talk about it, I’m here.”

“Thanks Lizzie. My parents left the key to the house under the backdoor mat. Just keep it until we get back. The food and her dish are in the garage. You can just feed her when you come to walk her. I’ll see you in a few days.” She sighs then hangs up.

Well that sucks. Just what Tess needs. More crap to put up with. I got back into my room to get ready for the dinner shift at work.

-------------------

“Did Tessy give you an address where we could send flowers?” Amy asks as I put my stuff in my locker.

“No, but when she calls me I’ll get an address.” I say, feeling uncomfortable.

“I can’t believe that. Let her know that Maria and I are praying for her family.” She says, then walks over and hugs me.

Amy is so warm and open that it’s hard to stay uncomfortable for long.

“I will.” I smile.

“Okay, lets get our minds off this for a while. Maria said she’ll fill in for some of the days that Tess is going to be gone. Do you think you might be able to fill in some?” She asks.

“Sure.” I could use the money anyway.

“Thanks.” She hugs me again then goes out into the dining area. “And make sure you put some ice on that cheek.”

I grab my apron, tie it on, and walk out to the counter.

“Abby, what section am I tonight?” I ask the older redhead who’s working the counter tonight.

“You’ve got the booths, sweetie.” She smiles sweetly.

“Thanks.” I give her a smile back.

I take orders and give them out for two hours before anything interesting happens. And by that I mean that Maria walks in with Max, Isabel, Michael, Kyle, and Alex in tow. They all sit at one of the larger tables on the other side of the restaurant from where I’m working. I try my best to avoid looking over there because I know that once they see the bruise on my face, I’ll never hear the end of it.

“Looks like they’ve thrown being discreet out the window.” I mumble to myself as I make my way over to the order window.

I pick up the burger and fries and walk over to the table that ordered it: Two little old ladies. I have to be quick with this one because this table is pretty close to the one that Mullet Man and the rest of the Super Hero League.

“Oh, dearie, what happened to your face? Are you okay?” One of the old ladies asks.

“Oh, um, I fell during basketball practice.” I say, hoping Max didn’t overhear any of this.

“If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again,” The second old lady says to the first. “Girls just don’t belong in sports. In the kitchen is where they belong, right Bev?”

“Right.” Bev agrees. “Kids today, they don’t know what they want. And those darn drugs. You don’t do drugs do you, Liz?” She asks after looking at my name tag.

“I pride myself on saying no to drugs.” I smile at her, then walk away.

I just don’t understand some people.

“Hey Liz!” Maria’s voice calls from their table. “Come here!”

God dammit. I walk over, sideways so that my bad cheek doesn’t show. This makes for a very odd sight.

“Hey guys. What’s up?” I say, looking at the back wall the whole time.

“Is there something interesting on the wall back there?” Alex asks, looking past everyone to look at the wall.

“Actually, I should get back to my shift.” I say, shifting my feet, now looking at the ground.

“Did you hear about Tess’ uncle?” Maria asks, her voice concerned.

“Uh, yeah. I’ll see you all later.” I wave then start to walk away.

“Hey Liz.” Isabel says.

I stop and turn back, still keeping my face away from their view.

“Yeah?”

“I made up the rest of those answers for journalism, is that okay?” She asks, and she actually sounds sincere.

“Uh, yeah sure. I did the same for you. But you might want to watch out. If he’s read them by now, Mr. Brooks probably thinks you’re a kleptomaniac with a drug habit.” I reply, looking anywhere but at them.

“What?!?” She says, spitting out her Coke.

“Oh, it’s okay though. Because he also thinks you’re getting help for it.”

I risk a glance out of the corner of my eye. Maria is laughing over what I said; Isabel is still coughing over choking on her Coke; Alex is patting her on the back; Michael, of course, is looking annoyed; Kyle is sipping Sprite from his glass and looking around at everyone; and Max is staring at me probably trying to see if Daddy gave me a new souvenir.

“Okay. Well, I’m going to go back to work.” I wave and walk into the backroom.

I open up my locker and look for my bottle of Tylenol. I lean against the locker, take a deep breath, and try to relax a little.

“Get it together Liz.” I whisper to myself.

I walk towards the sink and fill up one of the small Dixie cups with water and drink down the pill. I splash some water on my face trying to cool down.

“Liz?” Max’s voice says from the doorway.

“This is an employee’s only room, Max.” I say, wiping the water off with a paper towel.

“Yeah, I know. I just wanted to make sure everything was okay.” He says, coming closer.

“I’m fine. Just a little tired, I didn’t get much sleep last night.” I reply, backing away.

I walk around him, keeping the bruised side of my face hidden. He walks over and leans against the lockers.

“Yeah, Maria told us what happened last night.” He says, looking down trying to hid his embarrassment.

“Nothing completes my day without a run in with the law.” I say jokingly.

He doesn’t laugh, but just continues to stare at me. Just as I’m about to make some excuse for him to leave, Amy walks in, arms filled with a bin of dirty dishes.

“Hey you two. Making out in the backroom. Tsk tsk.” She says, then continues on into the kitchen.

We both just stand there, not sure what to make of her comment.

“Well, I should probably--” I start.

“Hey Liz, you should really put some ice on that cheek before it swells.” Amy says, handing me a wash cloth filled with ice, then she walks out.

Leave it to Amy to pop my little bubble of secrecy that I was building.

“I need to get back to work.” I say, walking towards the door.

“Liz.” He says, I continue walking.

“I have to get---”

“Liz.” He says firmly, and grabs my arm. I wince as a reflex, and his eyes soften. “Liz.”

He takes my face in his hands and turns my head to examine my cheek. He lightly rubs his thumb over where the bruise is, careful not to hurt me.

“Liz. Why do you let him do this to you?” He asks softly. I can feel the warmth of his breath on my face.

I can’t help but let one solitary tear fall down because I realize that my secret is out now and I can’t make up lies and excuses anymore.

“I have to.” I whisper back.

I look down at his lips, almost touching mine.

“Hey guys, what’s taking so long?” Maria asks, bursting into the room.

We both jump apart, looking guilty.

“Whoa, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She says, backing out of the room.

“No, I need to get back to work.” I say quickly, then push past Maria to go out into the dining room.

I can’t let something like that happen again. I have to be strong. I deserve it anyway.

----------------

“Hey Maria.” I say, while mopping the dining room floor after closing.

Maria, whose sitting at the counter writing something in a notebook, looks over at me.

“Yeah?”

“I thought you said that you don’t hang out of Michael, Max, and Isabel.” I say.

“Geez Liz. Subtlety is not your strongest point.” She laughs, closing her notebook.

“Yeah, so are you going to answer my question?” I ask, dumping the mop in and out of the water bucket.

“We were....um, we all have this group assignment...okay, you want the truth?” She asks, spinning on her chair.

“Yes.” I say, hoping that this will finally answer all my questions.

She stops spinning and looks around, for her mother I’m assuming.

“We’re all in a drug ring.” She says, seriously.

“No way.” I say, stopping and walking over to the counter.

“Yes way.” She says. “We’re all in this together. We run one of the most successful drug rings in New Mexico.”

I just roll my eyes and get up to start mopping again.

“Sure you are.” I say, laughing at the idea of Alex selling drugs on a street corner.

She just gives me a look, trying to be serious, but I can tell she’s trying not to laugh.

“I’m telling you Liz...” Her voice drifts off.

I look over at her to see her looking towards the employees only door, which is swinging.

“I just remembered, I have to go help my mom put up one of her paintings on the wall.” She jumps off her stool and walks to the backroom.

I set down the mop and walk over to the order window. I lean over the edge, trying to catch a glimpse.

“...Valenti said they found her car out by the pod chamber.” Michael says from behind the wall.

“Did they find the granolith?” Maria asks, her voice worried.

“No. We think that they drug her out there to try to get her to tell them where it was, but she refused.” Isabel’s voice joins in.

“Well did he find any sign of her? Does Valenti have any idea what happened?” Maria’s voice rises a little.

“No. He has no idea. We think Khivar had something to do with it.” Isabel replies.

Whoa. There’s that guy Khivar again, and what the hell is a pod chamber? Sounds like something from a cheesy sci-fi movie. I turn around fully intending to go back to mopping, but Maria’s notebook is just lying there. If she didn’t want me to read it, she probably wouldn’t have left it there. Open. Practically begging me to read it. I walk over and look back at the door to make sure that she isn’t coming.

“Okay Maria, lets see what you’re hiding.” I say to myself, flipping the pages.

Suspects

Nicholas
Khivar
Skins
FBI

What the hell? Why would the FBI be interested in some boring teenagers from Roswell? I flip some pages, nothing too interesting. Then I see it. Underlined and circled:

LIZ IS ON TO US!!!

Okay, so Addison is missing, the sheriff is somehow involved, and the FBI could possibly also be involved. This is just getting too weird for me. For some odd reason Maria is denying having any affiliation with Max, Michael, and Isabel. I should write this all down so Tess can help.

“No problem, Mom.” Maria yells from the backroom.

I hop off the stool and slide across the floor to the mop.

“Woo, that was a heavy picture.” She says, laughing as she walks back to her notebook.

Thank you Maria for just giving me another clue to your little mystery.


posted on 26-Jan-2002 2:35:44 PM by Ashley
I posted these on the old board when this one was down, so I'll repost them here. There's also a new part at the end. Let me know what you think.

The last line of part 22 is from the Matchbox 20 song, "Girl Like That".

Part 20

“So your parents took you to Disneyland?” I say into the phone.

“Yeah, they thought it’d cheer me up.” Tess says, her voice a little preoccupied. “My mom was all, ‘Tess, you need to pep up.’ She actually used the word pep in a sentence.”

“Oh my God. That sounded exactly like your mom.” I say.

“My parents always said I could do pretty good imitations.” She says, laughing. “So yeah, we went to Disneyland.”

“Was it fun?” I ask, leaning against the kitchen counter.

“Yeah, sure. If you like breathing through your mouth.” She says.

I bend around the counter to make sure dad hasn’t somehow come in when I was talking. He doesn’t like when I talk too long on the phone.

“When is the funeral?” I ask, with sympathy in my voice.

“It’s this weekend.” She pauses for a minute and takes a deep breath. “Liz?”

I stop fidgeting, knowing she’s about to ask something serious.

“Yeah?”

“Would you, um, would you mind coming up here this weekend for the funeral?” She asks, her voice faltering a little.

“Of course,” I say quietly. “I’m here for you.”

“Thanks. Listen, I need to go. The funeral is this Saturday at Glendale Baptist Church at 11 a.m. Directions to it are written down in my mom’s address book at our house on the kitchen table. Just look under Harding, Matt. He was a minister at the church, so the number’s there too, just in case.”

“Oh, okay. I’ll see you then, and don’t worry. I’ve been going over to your house and taking care of Dave.” I say, referring to her dog.

“Thank you so much. My parents really appreciate it. They said that you should expect a big reward when they get back.” She said, laughing.

“They really don’t need to do that.” I reply, getting uncomfortable.

“Liz, shut up. I’ll see you later.” She says stubbornly and hangs up.

I set the phone back on the cradle and walk to my room. I look around the scant space. The twin bed in the corner has one mattress on it and is covered only by a wool-like pink blanket that I’ve had since I was a little girl. The dresser is a tall one that my dad found at a garage sale and bought for ten dollars. It was falling apart when he got it, so the legs are super glued on, and there’s only one knob for one of the drawers. In the corner is a metal rack, like one you’d find in a clothing store. It’s what I like to call, my closet. There’s t-shirts and jeans, all from the local thrift store in the uh, not so good side of town. By this I mean, right near my apartment. Other than my one pair of shoes that I own, that’s all there is to my room.

“I really need to get a new pair of gym shoes.” I say, holding up the shoes.

I bought them two years ago at Wal-Mart. My dad had sold my other pairs to get money for God knows what. All of my designer label shoes which had cost hundreds of dollars were sold off for anything from a dollar up to ten. The only pair of shoes I had left was a cheap pair of flip-flops from Old Navy. I had to walk five miles to the nearest Wal-Mart to get them, and they were the cheapest, least offensive pair I could find. I’ve never had to wear anything nice, so I never bothered to buy a new pair. All of my money is saved up to get me to college. Or out of here anyway. I guess with the funeral though, I should buy a decent pair of shoes, and outfit for that matter.

“I should just find something at Wal-Mart. They haven’t let me down yet.” I say to myself as I climb out the window and onto the fire escape.

It’s gotten a little big chillier these past few days. I’m guessing that this is about as cool as a New Mexican winter gets, though. I look around at windows from apartments on my floor. Michael’s just happens to be open.

“Liz. That would be wrong.” I mumble, but climb to the ledge anyway.

Michael’s window is right outside of the fire escape’s rail. All I have to do is climb over the railing and try not to fall five stories to my death. I put one leg over the rail and grab onto the ledge of his window. I put the other over and pull myself into Michael’s living room. I pull a very uncoordinated summersault and roll right into his couch.

“Ow. That kind of really hurt.” I say, rubbing my head.

I stand up and look around. I can tell by the still silence of the room that no one is home. Good. Now I can snoop around with out any interruption. Michael’s pit is well, in a word, disgusting. I step over the piles of clothes and start looking through papers in his room. I open one of his dresser drawers and see two silver oval shaped things with a weird symbol on them. I hold them up and stare at them.

“Weird.” I say, then set them back in the drawer.

I pull a black and white composition book and sit on his bed to read it. I open it up to a random page and start reading.

“...Addison came here with Nasedo, posing as father and daughter...”

“Oh my God! Michael has a journal!” I burst out laughing, and continue reading.

“...no idea what happened. One minute Maria and I are making out in the eraser room and the next thing I know, I’m told that I’m suppose to mate with Isabel...”

Oh, how gross. Michael and Isabel? That’s just wrong on so many levels.

“...don’t think they’re going to win.” Shit. The real live version of Michael just walked in.

I run over to the dresser, put the journal back in, carefully shut the drawer, and slid under the bed just before Michael walks into the bedroom.

“Oh please. They’re a lost cause.” Max’s voice says from the living room.

I can hear Michael rustling around in his room.

“Please don’t look under the bed.” I whisper as quietly as I can.

I’ve always wondered why people who are hiding in movies always whisper to themselves. I guess it’s just a impulse.

“Is Maria meeting us here?” Isabel asks, her presence surprising me.

“She’s on her way. She had to stop by and pick up Alex.” Michael yells out to them.

Meanwhile, he continues looking around his room. I can see his feet over by the dresser. From the shuffling noise, I can tell he’s looking through that drawer, probably looking at his journal.

“What the hell?” He says to himself.

Fuck, he probably noticed that someone was looking through his diary. All the sudden he walks over to his closet and flings open the door. He’s pushing clothes out of the way, and I realize that he’s looking for the person who went through his stuff. He’ll be looking under the bed in a matter of seconds. Sure enough, he shuts the door and walks towards the bed. His shoes are inches away from my face. Just as he starts to bend down, there’s a knock on the front door followed by Isabel announcing the arrival of Maria and Alex. Michael stands back up and leaves the room. I, in the meantime, breath a sigh of relief and slowly slid out from under the bed.

“Hey.” Maria says cheerfully, her voice filling the whole apartment.

“I brought donuts!” Alex says, and I can hear him shaking the bag.

“That’s nice, but lets get down to business.” Isabel says.

I slowly walk out of the bedroom and into a dark part of the hallway. From my position, I can see them, but in order for them to see me, they’d have to be at least three inches from my face.

“Yeah. Maria, what the hell did your notes mean?” Michael asks, pulling a piece of paper from his pocket and waving it in the air.

Isabel grabs it from him and reads it.

“Liz is on to us.” She looks up alarmed. “How did she find out?”

“What?” Max’s eyes go wide and he turns to Maria.

“Okay, okay. Everyone calm down.” Maria says, waving her hands. “Let me explain what I mean.”

Everyone quiets down and stares at her.

“A couple weeks ago, Liz asked me if Michael and I had ever hung out. I told her no, that we had just gotten together to do that class project. You know, the story we all agreed on. So, I thought that she had bought it, but the other night when we were all there at the Crashdown she brought it up again.” She stops and looks at each of their faces, then continues. “It’s not so much that she knows about the whole, you know, Czechoslovakian thing, but I think that she suspects something.”

“Great!” Isabel cries. “We just have to figure out what to say to Ms. Nosy.”

“I kind of sort of told her we were involved in a drug ring.” Maria says, looking away from Isabel.

“You what?” Isabel practically yells.

“I don’t know if that worked, but she seemed to believe it.” Maria shrugs.

Oh, poor, naive little girl. Thinking that an excuse as lame as that would actually convince me.

“There’s something else.” Michael says, before someone else can say anything. “Someone went through my stuff. You know, the orbs and some notes of events that I have.”

“Oh my God.” Isabel whispers.

“Was there anything missing?” Max asks, standing up.

“No. Not that I noticed anyway.”

Max walks around the room, rubbing his face. Then all the sudden he stops, turns, and looks right at the spot where I’m standing. I suck in my breath, hoping he hasn’t seen me.

“Max? What is it?” Alex asks.

Max continues to stare at me, and I’m not sure if he can see me.

“Max?” Isabel repeats, standing up beside him.

He tilts his head a little, his gaze seeming to get stronger. Then, all the sudden, he shakes his head and looks around.

“What? Oh, sorry. No. I just thought I saw something.” He shakes his head again and turns away. “Okay. Michael, make sure when you leave all the windows are closed and locked as well as the doors. Maria, try to think of something else to say to Liz. I know her well enough to know that she didn’t buy that drug thing. We all need to be more careful. If Liz wants to find out about us, she will. Watch out for Tess, too. They’re like the three musketeers...only there’s two of them. And they’re girls.”

This makes them all think for a minute then give him a weird look.

“Okay, whatever. We have to concentrate on the most important matter at hand right now. Addison.” Michael says, which causes Isabel, Alex, and Maria to roll their eyes a little.

“What do you guys think of the note?” Isabel asks, opening up her purse and pulling a piece of paper out.

Maria grabs it out of her hand.

“We have Ava. If you want her, give up the granolith. Meet us at the pod chamber in exactly two cycles, or two Earth weeks at 0500 hours. There, we will negotiate a compromise. If you fail to meet us at the designated time, Ava will be killed and the rest of you will suffer similar consequences.

-Khivar”


“Gee, doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy you want to bring home to mom.” Maria says, as she finishes reading the note.

“What are we going to do?” Alex asks from his position on the couch.

“We have to meet him.” Max says, his voice sounding tired.

“What? Maxwell, no. It’s a trap. He’s leading us right to him.” Michael says angrily.

“Are you all willing to take that chance with Addison’s life? Any of you?” Max asks, looking around the room. “She is one of us. Whether you all want to believe it or not. I’m not proud of the way I’ve treated her and I’m sure none of you are. We have to do this. If we don’t, who knows what Khivar will do.”

I look at the other’s faces. I can see the shame in each of their eyes.

“We should show this to Valenti.” Michael says quietly.

In silent agreement, they all get up to go. I take this opportunity to hide in Michael’s closet. Through the slits of the door I see Michael walk in the room and shut and lock his window. Then he walks over to the bed and looks under it. Satisfied, he turns off the light and walks out of the room. A few seconds later I hear the front door being shut and locked. I wait in there a few more minutes just to be sure.

“Jesus, does this boy ever do laundry?” I ask myself, then climb out of the closet.

I walk back out into the living room, unlock the window, and climb back onto the fire escape. I reach back and slam it shut. When he sees that it’s unlocked, he’ll probably think that he forgot to lock it.

--------------------

“I love goldfishes ‘cause they’re so delicious. Got gold fishes. I could eat ‘em everyday...” I sing to myself as I stock the bags of Goldfish Crackers onto the shelf at 7-11.

I turn to look at the clock. It’s only 1:23 a.m. I still have about another hour and a half. My job at the 7-11 has been pretty uneventful since the attempted robbery. Pretty much the same old thing. This is why I’m surprised when ten minutes after loading the shelves, Max walks in just as I’m putting rolls of receipt paper in a drawer under the cash register.

“Hello? Anyone here?” Max asks from the other side of the counter.

I’m so shocked to hear his voice that I jump a little and bash my head on the shelf above the drawer.

“Son of a bitch.” I say quietly, rubbing my head.

“Excuse me?” Max says, taken back.

I stand up, still rubbing my wound, and glare at him.

“What?” I snap.

“Liz? What are you doing here?” He asks, looking around.

“I tied up the cashier, and am in the process of stealing the money out of the register. What do you think?”

He continues to look at me then shakes his head.

“You work here?”

“No. The guy that works here had to take a leak, so he asked me to fill in for him.” I say, going back to filling the drawer.

“Oh.” He says, confused.

“What do you want Max?” I sigh, wishing he’d leave already.

“Um.” He gets silent for a few seconds.

I stand up to see what is taking him so long. His face has turned a bright shade of red.

“Earth to Max.” I say, waving my hand in front of his face.

“Isabel wanted me to pick up some, uh, pads.” He says, then looks away.

“Oh. How’d she rope you into that one?” I ask, walking around the counter towards the aisle where the hygiene products are.

“Isabel with PMS. Enough said.” He laughs, and follows me.

I watch him stand there, looking at the packages of pads and tampons, trying to decide which kind to buy.

“Max. Do you have any idea what you’re looking for?”

“Uh, medium to heavy with propellers.” He says, still looking at the pink and blue boxes.

I burst out laughing at his response.

“What?” He asks, turning to look at me.

“You mean wings?” I say, raising an eyebrow. “Here just take these.”

I toss him one of the plastic packages.

“Thanks.” He says, his face reddening just holding them.

We walk towards the register, but before we get there I stop at the medicine display.

“Wait. You might want these too.” I say, tossing him the small box.

“Midol?” He says, reading the back of it. Then it dawns on him. “Oh! Yeah. This would definitely help.”

We walk to the register, and I ring up his stuff. After he pays for it, there’s an awkward silence.

“Liz. Why are you working here? Did you quit at the Crashdown?”

“No. Money makes the world go ‘round. Got to put food on the table.” I simply say.

We stand there a few seconds longer.

“Listen, Liz. We really need to talk--” He starts.

“I need to get back to work.” I interrupt. “And you don’t want to keep Isabel waiting, trust me on that. Her cramps must be pretty bad if she got you out of bed at this hour.”

He stands there for a few more seconds, giving me a look. I’m so tired of him and his posse’s cryptic-ness that I’m half-tempted to just flat out ask him what the hell is going on, and where is Addison?

“Bye Liz.” He says, then leaves.

-----------------
I’ve never considered myself a fashion guru. I mean, sure, back in the day I could match accessories to an outfit with the best of them. But as the money started to dwindle, and we had to slowly sell all our stuff, I kind of lost the ability to, uh, pick out a decent outfit. Or even match for that matter. I think the main thing here though, is black. Nothing too fancy. Conservative, that’s what I’m looking for.

“Definitely nothing from the Kathy Lee collection.” I say, putting back one of her skirts on the rack.

I finally decide on a knee length black skirt, a long sleeved black shirt, and, after some careful budgeting, a pair of some simple black shoes. Funerals were never my thing.

“Liz Parker? From Portsmith, South Carolina?” A female voice says from behind me.

As I recognize the voice, a sudden sickness comes over me. I slowly turn around to face Nina Roberts. My ex-best friend.

“Nina? What are you doing here?” I ask nervously, while looking around the store.

“I was about to ask the same thing.” She laughs. “I’m actually here for Thanksgiving. You remember, right? My grandparents live in Tucson and every Thanksgiving my parents and I drive cross country to visit them and sightsee.”

I look at her. She hasn’t changed one bit. Her outfit is of course, perfectly matching. Her hair is all in place and held up by a small pink clip. She’s a less glamorous version of Isabel.

“Oh, yeah. I forgot. What are you doing in Roswell, though?” I ask, putting the clothes and shoes behind my back.

“Dad wanted to see some aliens. You know him. He’s kind of weird.” She says, then adds a nervous laugh. “What are you doing here, Liz?”

“We moved here a few months ago. Same reason as yours, I guess.” I reply.

The last time I saw Nina was a long time ago. We didn’t part well.

“Yeah, jeez. No one knew where you had moved to. You just kind of disappeared on us.” She smiles.

A lady on the intercom announces that there’s a sale on Covergirl makeup products.

“It was kind of hectic. How long are you guys staying in town?” I ask. Her being here is dangerous for me.

“Just a few days, actually. We’re leaving on Friday.” She nods her head. “So how are you? Last time we talked you were a mess about--”

“Nina! Honey! Come on. Your father is waiting in the car.” Mrs. Roberts yells from down the aisle.

“Mom, look who I bumped into.”

Mrs. Roberts gives her a frustrated look then sees me. I can practically see the thoughts running through her head.

“Little Lizzie Parker?” She says, walking towards us. “Where have you been?”

“Around.” I say, trying not to look at her.

She grabs me and pulls me into a hug squeezing the air out of me.

“I really need to go.” I say into her hair.

“Oh.” She says, letting me go. “How have you been? It’s been a long time. You know what? We’re staying in town till Friday at the Tumbleweed Inn. You should really come by and eat dinner with us.”

Mrs. Roberts was always a rambler. It was a rare occasion when you actually got to answer one of her questions. This was a common joke between Nina and I.

“I’ll try.” I say, starting to walk away.

“Why don’t you come by tomorrow night? It’ll be great and we can catch up!” Mrs. Roberts yells to me.

“Yeah, that’ll be great!” I yell back, turning into one of the register lines.

There’s no way in hell that I will be visiting the Roberts family. I have to make sure though, that no one I know runs into them and decides to have a lovely chat about me.

I pay for my stuff and get home quickly. I need to email Tess everything that I’ve learned about everybody’s favorite enigmatic group. Maybe she’ll have some ideas about what they’re hiding. In the meantime though, I need to try to keep as far from Nina as possible.

-----------------

“Okay class. I’m passing back the interviews that you did. Most of you did a great job of really digging in and getting the dirt.” Mr. Brooks says, as he walks from row to row. “Some of your answers were interesting, to say the least.”

I down at my paper. Instead of passing back the questions we asked, we get back our answers. Well, it’s good to know that Isabel can’t go waving this paper around and using it for blackmail. I flip open the packet and look at one of the questions Isabel said she made up:

What do you think of the image you perceive to others?

I try to dress as unattractive as possible. This includes wearing red and orange at the same time. My shoes have holes in the toe part, and my jeans are circa 1998. What I mean by this is they’re baggy and have rips in the knees.

Jesus. Cruel much? I shoot Isabel a death glare, and to no surprise, she’s staring me down too.

“And Isabel Evans? I’d like to talk to you after class.” Mr. Brooks says, giving her a worried smile.

The drug habit comes through again.

“Okay, we’re going to discuss what we learned from this experience.” He walks up to his podium in front of the class.

Before he can continue, his phone rings and he goes over to answer.

“Mr. Brooks.” He says as his greeting.

The class takes this opportunity to be as noisy as possible. I’m surprised Mr. Brooks can hear over the sheer volume of the room. He hangs up the phone and looks directly at me. This can’t be good.

“Liz, get your stuff. Someone’s here to pick you up.” He says, then writes something down.

I look around the room which has suddenly gotten quiet and is now staring at me. I pick up my bag and scoot through the backpack filled aisles. The hallways are empty except for a few stragglers and some scraps of paper here and there. I walk up to the office not sure what to expect. I’m sure Tess isn’t the one who got me out, after all she’s in California. I can’t imagine anyone else getting me out besides Dad. And he’s probably passed out in some bar. My stomach is starting to hurt. I hope nothing serious has happened. Then it happens. Just as I’m passing the eraser room, the door opens and a hand reaches out and pulls me in.

“Holy shit!” I whisper.

“Shh.” Sean whispers, looking out into the hallway then shutting the door.

“Sean? You got me out?” I ask, astonished.

“Yeah, I thought you’d need a break. It’s been what? A couple days since your last ditching.” He laughs.

I look around the room. So this is where everyone comes to make out. Nicer than I thought it’d be. A little chalk dusty, but other than that, it’s pretty clean.

“True. How’d you get out?” I ask, referring to the boot camp he lives at.

“Aunt Amy again. I did so well the last time that she thought I’d be okay to get a vacation again. I, of course, left out last time’s whole breaking and entering thing.”

“Yeah. That probably wouldn’t of helped at all.” I say, sitting down on a stack of boxes. “So, what do you have planned?”

“How do you feel about---” He starts, but before he can finish the door opens.

“Well, what do we have here?” Mr. Short says.

"Fuck.” I whisper.

“What was that?” He asks, angrily.

“Damnit.” I say, covering my mouth.

He ahems.

“I’m just going to shut up now.” I say.

“You two. My office. Now.” He spits out, and points to the office.

A half hour and a couple phone calls later Sean and I are still sitting inside Mr. Short’s office. He unsuccessfully tried to reach my father, then called Amy who immediately came down.

“Liz and Sean, I never would’ve guessed it.” She says as she walks into the room.

“Ms. DeLuca, nice to meet you.” Mr. Short shakes her hand. “Now, from what I understand, you’re Mr. DeLuca’s aunt and Ms. Parker’s employer?”

“Yes, that’s right.” She says, giving us a look.

“Well, I caught them hanging out, or so they say, in our eraser room. Which I regularly check because many a student has been caught making out. To add to that fact, Sean here illegally got Liz out of class when he isn’t even suppose to be on school grounds.”

He proceeds to grill us on how irresponsible we are, and how we could’ve gotten in trouble with the law had he not caught us in time. At this point I cough “too late”, and Amy elbows me. I’m assigned to pass out fliers on safe sex (I think he thought Sean and I were about to get it on, plus he wants to humiliate me), and Amy punishes Sean by promising to alert the people at the detention facility.

Amy and Sean leave and Mr. Short says that this is going on my permanent record. Then he shoves me out into the hall for the lunch rush to pass out the fliers.

“I’ll be watching you.” He says, then walks back into his office.

I’m sure at some point, Mr. Short was a cool guy. He probably came to this school with tons of new and innovative ideas. It’s kind of funny how a group of teens can crush all your hopes and dreams. I take a moment to reflect on this.

“How to do it safely! Get your sex fliers here!” I yell, waving the stack in the air.

As any teenager, or former teenage, can expect, there’s soon a crowd surrounding me grabbing for a flier. What Mr. Short didn’t count on was the human nature of adolescents. These fliers will come back and bite him in the ass.

“Liz?” Max says into my ear to be heard of the noise.

“Oh, hey Max.” I say to him while handing people fliers. “What’s up?”

“What is going on?” He asks, bumping into me a little.

“Mr. Short told me I had to pass out fliers on safe sex, so that’s what I’m doing.” I yell to him.

I hand out the last flier and turn towards him.

“Sorry Max. I know you’re probably not all that experienced in the sack, but if you really need safe sex advice, I’m here till Saturday.” I say, walking to my locker.

I hear his footsteps following, but try to ignore them. What is with him? How many more signals do I need to give him before he leaves me alone? I pop open my locker and unload my books into it.

“Liz, I was wondering if you would want to do something on Saturday.” He says, then looks at the floor.

“Really, Max. I’d love to go out and listen to you go on about what a loser I am, and how weak I am, but I’ve already got plans on Saturday. Or weren’t you listening?” I reply, zipping my bag shut.

“Oh, you were being serious? Where are you going?” He asks.

“Not that it’s really any of your business, but Tess wants me to go her uncle’s funeral up in California.” I slam my locker shut and turn towards him.

“Oh. Well, do you need company?”

“What?” I ask, surprised.

“Do you want someone to go with you?” He asks, giving me that smile.

“Don’t you have something to do?” Like look for Addison, I add silently.

“No. I can just explain it to my parents and they’ll understand.”

I give him a weird look because he’s voluntarily wanting to spend time with me. This is a new concept to me.

“Well, okay then.” I say, then walk down the hall.

This is going to be one hell of a weekend.

Part 21

“Do you want sprinkles on that?” I ask, with my pen to the order pad.

“Yeah. Whipped cream too.” She gives me a smile.

“Okay, I’ll have that out to you in a few minutes.” I smile back.

There’s one main rule in waitressing. If the customer is sincerely nice, then there’s no reason not to be nice to them. This lady has been really decent, so I don’t feel the need to “accidentally” drop her food on the ground.

“Liz, I’m going to need your help in a few minutes upstairs. I put up a shelf last night, and this morning I put something on it and when I looked back at it, the shelf was laying on the floor and a piece of plaster was hanging off the wall.” Amy says from the kitchen.

Raul, the regular cook, called in because his wife went into labor. Amy couldn’t find anyone to fill in, so she ended up doing it. Amy’s probably the best cook because she is the one who created and perfected the menu, but shit, does she make a mess. It’s going to be a long clean up tonight.

“That’s fine. And Amy?” I say, while making the sundae.

“Yeah?”

“Word to the wise. That whole Bob Vila thing you’ve got going on, you should really reconsider it. Remember that whole coat rack fiasco?”

“I thought we agreed never to bring that up again.” Amy says from the fryer.

“Oh, right.” I say walking away. “I don’t remember anything about a coat rack that fell apart after you put it together and almost took my eye out and a little kid.”

I walk over to the booth and set the ice cream down.

“Here you go, and here’s your bill.” I set it down too, then walk away.

I go back over to the counter and start clearing up dishes left from another customer.

“Ready Liz?” Amy asks from beside me. “Jill, you cover Liz’s tables. She’s going to help me hang something back up.”

“Dun dun dun.” Jill says, then bursts out laughing.

She too has been the subject of one of Amy’s projects gone horribly awry.

“Let’s go.” I say, setting the rag down.

Just before we can get into the backroom, the Crashdown door opens.

“Oh my God, Liz. How weird is this?” Nina’s voice yells over the crowded restaurant. “You work here?”

I stop in my tracks. Great. I should’ve known she’d find me somehow.

“I’ll be up in a few seconds.” I say to Amy, then turn back to Nina. “What are you doing here?”

“I saw this place and thought it looked so adorable, so I had to come in. You work here?” She asks, looking down at my outfit.

“No. I choose to walk around looking like this.” I say lamely.

Nina was never a bright one.

“That’s funny. Those are cute uniforms. You even have the antennas.” She says, reaching up to my headband and flicking the spring.

I’m reminded of when we were friends and how it used to annoy me that Nina used words like “cute” and “adorable” in every other sentence.

“Yeah. Where’s your parents?” I ask, looking around to make sure no one I know is around.

“They’re at the Inn. Why didn’t you stop by last night?” She asks, smiling then tilting her head.

She looks like a clueless puppy.

“I had a lot of homework. Exams are coming up, so I’ve been studying hard.” I say, hoping to get her out of here.

“Yeah. You always were the smartest one out of our group. Getting straight A’s, perfect attendance.” She looks up towards the ceiling as if she’s actually remembering all this crap.

“Yep. That’s me. Learn girl.” I reply.

“Well, hey. Do you go on break soon? Maybe we could talk and catch up.”

I look at her then at the employee door. I really don’t feel like going into one of those “learn and grow” conversations. Especially not with Nina, who can get like a broken water pipe at times. Finally I realize that there’s really no way in getting around this, so I might as well get it over with.

“I have to go help my boss with something upstairs. Why don’t you just wait in the backroom for me.” I say, then lead her through the blue swinging door. “You can just sit on the couch. It’s clean.”

I add that last part because Nina is one of those people who think anything that didn’t cost a certain amount of money is obviously unsuitable for use.

“Okay.” She says, wearily looking at the couch then finally sitting down.

I just shake my head and walk up the steps to Amy’s living room. I find her balancing the shelf and a glass vase with fake flowers.

“Need help?” I ask, taking the shelf out of her hand.

“Thanks. I’d get Maria to do this, but she’s off with her little friends.” She laughs, then attempts to superglue the plaster back into the wall.

Ten minutes later we’ve managed to get the shelf back up and make it so that you can’t see the place where the plaster had fallen off.

“I renounce mocking your superglue method. It seems to have worked.” I say, making sure the shelf won’t fall down when something is set on it.

“See? I’ve got a little Bob Vila in me yet.” She smiles at her work.

We stand there for a few more minutes to make sure it’s not going to fall once we’re gone, then start walking towards the stairs. Before we get down there, the apartment phone rings and Amy excuses herself to go answer it. I continue and start down the stairs.

“...tell me if Liz Parker is working?” Max’s voice says from down in the break room.

Oh God.

“Liz Parker? As in skinny, short brunette?” Nina asks.

I scoot over to the edge of the step and peek down into the room. Nina is sitting on the couch looking over at Max who apparently came from the back door.

“Yeah. Is she here?” Max asks, his gaze looking out the tiny window on the swinging door.

“Uh, yeah. She’s upstairs helping her boss right now, but she should be back down in a few minutes.” Nina gives him a flirtatious smile.

Max being, well, Max, is completely oblivious.

“Thanks.” Max says, standing awkwardly by the lockers.

“Are you her boyfriend?”

Max looks over at her, surprise in his eyes. He’s probably laughing in his head over the idea of a girl like me ever having a chance with a guy like him.

“No, not exactly. We’re friends.” He says, leaning against one of the lockers.

“Oh. Well, it’s good to meet one of Lizzie’s new friends. I’m Nina Roberts. We were best friends back in Portsmith where we grew up.” She says, getting up and shaking his hand.

This is not good. This is so not good. I should do something. I should go down there and stop the conversation before it can go any further. But something holds me back. I slid down against the brick wall and sit on the step.

“Really?” Max’s eyebrows raise. “Are you here visiting her?”

“No, actually. We’re visiting relatives in Tucson and my dad wanted to stop in Roswell. It was kind of a coincidence running into Liz. I haven’t heard from her in months.” She leans against the locker next to him.

I bet she’s formulating a plan to get Max. I wouldn’t put it past her.

“That’s weird. You know, since you guys said you were best friends.” Max stutters.

“We didn’t really part well.”

I think it’s amusing that I’ve become such a good eavesdropper. When you’re alone most of the time, and don’t have anyone to talk to, or really anything to talk about, it helps to listen in on other people’s conversations and see how other people’s lives are. It comforts me in a way. Knowing that there’s life out there and that it’s not all just this void space. Like, just because I’m empty doesn’t mean that everyone else is.

“...well, it’s kind of weird. Liz has never had it very easy.” Nina is saying, deciding to tell my life story.

Nina never knew when to keep her mouth shut. It often was the cause of many of our problems. But I know that she would never tell my secret to someone. She knows how sensitive I am, even if we haven’t been friends for a while.

“Yeah. Her dad seems kind of...rough. I just don’t know why she hasn’t gone to live with her mom.” Max says. “I mean, her mom seems cool from the way Liz talks about her.”

I’m getting an aching sensation in my stomach. But some part of me wants this to be over with. Wants all the lies to end. I’m so tired of this all.

“What are you talking about?” Nina asks, her face full of confusion.

“Well, you know. Her mom ran away with that guy. I honestly don’t think her mom would care one bit if Liz wanted to live with her.” Max explains, his face taking on a saddened look.

“I think you’re mistaken.” Nina says, giving him a look.

“What?” Max asks, turning to look at her.

“Liz’s mom didn’t run away with some guy.” She pauses, looking up at him. “Liz’s mom is dead.”

Max becomes completely motionless. His eyes freezing to their spot on the floor.

“God.” His voice is barely audible.

I stand up and finish walking down the steps. Both of them turn to look at me. Max starts towards me.

“Stay away from me.” I whisper.

“Liz.” He whispers back.

I walk over and grab my coat off the makeshift coat rack and walk to the back door.

“Liz, honey. Where are you going?” Amy asks from halfway down the stairs.

I stare at her, not sure what exactly to say. Max and Nina are silent beside me.

“I just remembered that I have to go pick up my brother.” I say, off the top of my head.

“You don’t have a brother.” She says, laughing.

I just look at her, open the door, and leave, slamming it behind me. I stumble through the alley and start running. I run past the neat, quaint little shops. Past the middle-class homes. I run all the way home, including up the stairs.

“Hey Liz.” Michael says while unlocking his door.

I continue to go past him, rushing into my house before he can get another word out. My father isn’t home, thankfully. I rush into my room and pull out my duffel bag. I start shoving all my clothes into it along with my black shoes (for some reason) and the gold necklace my mother gave me for my 14th birthday. I have to get out of here. I should’ve stopped her. But for some stupid, insane reason I let her. I let her do it when I knew fully well that I could’ve stopped her.

“Stupid bitch.” I whisper to myself.

I zip up the bag and head for the window. I don’t want to take the chance of running into Michael out in the hallway. Now’s not the time to start being neighborly. I throw the bag out onto the iron balcony and step out onto it. From here I can see into Michael’s apartment. He’s standing there reading a magazine when there’s a knock at the door. A few seconds later, Max walks in.

“Max, what is it?” Michael asks, annoyance is obvious in his voice.

“Have you seen Liz?” He practically yells.

Michael sets down the magazine and looks at Max like he’s crazy.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Liz. Have you seen her?” Max asks while pacing around the room.

“Yeah. She ran into her apartment a few minutes ago. Why? Did she find out?” Michael asks, alarmed.

“No. I have to go.” Max says, walking back out of the room.

I can hear him banging on my door, yelling at me to let him in. I start my descend down the ladder careful to not fall and hurt myself. I throw the bag down behind me to make my climb easier.

“Liz! Are you down there?” Max yells from Michael’s window.

I’m not sure if he’s seen me or not. I jump down off the last step and take a glance back up to see if he’s still there or not. He’s looking right at me.

“Liz. Get back up here.” He says, his voice angry.

“Fuck you, Max.” I say back to him.

I turn and run, not sure where I’m going, but running anyway.

------------------

I end up at the Roswell Bus Depot. The only place I can think of going to and that’s L.A. to meet up with Tess. Hopefully she won’t care that I came early. I just need to get away and think for a few days.

“Now boarding Roswell to Los Angeles, California.” A voice says over the speakers.

I pick up my bag and walk towards the bus. If Tess is going to find out, I should tell her myself. I don’t want her to find out like Max did. I take my seat on the bus. It’s going to be a long way, but at least it’ll give me time to figure out what I’m going to say. I just need to calm down.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re departing from the station. Tonight’s movie is ‘Shrek.’ An animated feature about an ogre and a princess falling in love...” The bus driver drones on from the front of the bus.

I close my eyes and let myself fall asleep. When I wake up next, it’s daylight and we’re almost there. I haven’t really slept in so long. With working at the Crashdown, then at 7-11 till 3 a.m., I only get about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. On weekends, I’m up and out of the house because I don’t want to take the chance of my father being there. So now that I actually get to sleep for that long, I feel more refreshed than I have in months. For the rest of the trip I stare out at the scenery and try to avoid conversation with anyone sitting near me.

“We are now arriving in the Los Angeles Bus Station. Please make sure you have all of your belongings. We’re not responsible for anything left behind. If you have any trash around you, please pick it up and deposit it into the trash can outside of the bus. Thank you for riding with Greyhound, we hope you ride with us again.” The bus driver says nicely from her seat.

I get up and wait for everyone else to file out before I leave. I look around making sure I haven’t left anything. It’s very disorienting when I get off. I’ve never been to L.A., but from what I’ve seen on television and stuff like that, I think I have a pretty good idea. That is until I get off. Los Angeles is a whole lot bigger than I imagined. I’m going to get lost, I just know it.

“Taxi!” I yell as I walk to the curb.

A beat up yellow taxi pulls up beside me. I open the door and set my stuff down.

“Glendale Baptist.” I say.

He nods showing he knows where that’s at, and we drive off.

Glendale Baptist is a beautiful church. It looks like ones in England. Very classic and romantic.

“Here you go.” I say, handing him the money.

I get out and walk into the church. It’s littered with people praying and talking. I walk passed them, careful not to disturb, and into what I’m assuming is the minister’s office. There’s a blonde woman and a man with graying hair standing with their backs to me.

“Excuse me?” I say, knocking on the half-open door.

They turn around and I realize that the blonde woman is actually Tess’ mom.

“Liz? Sweetie, what are you doing here? We didn’t expect you till tomorrow.” She smiles and I know that she doesn’t mind me being early.

“Sorry. I thought Tess could use a friend, so I just came up early.” I say, making up a lie on the spot.

“That is so sweet of you.” She gives me a hug, then turns to the man standing next to her. “Liz, this is Walter Fox. He’s one of the church’s members.”

We shake hands.

“Um, Mrs. Harding. Do you think you’d be able to give me a ride to where you’re all staying?” I ask, embarrassed that I don’t have a car.

“Sure, honey. I was actually just about to leave.” She hugs the man, picks up her purse, and leads me out to her car.

“I’m sorry about your loss.” I say sympathetically.

“Thanks. It’s been pretty hard, especially for Tess. She and her Uncle Matt were close. I just hope that she gets through the funeral okay.”

When we get to the house, I’m not surprised to see that it’s very upscale, much like Tess’ house. When we get inside, the house is filled with family members and friends. Mrs. Harding introduces me to some of them, then sends me upstairs to find Tess. I go from room to room, hoping I don’t walk in on something I shouldn’t walk in on.

“Liz?” Tess says from behind me.

I turn around and see her standing in the middle of the hallway.

“Hey. Sorry for just popping in. I wanted to come early.” I walk over and hug her.

She looks like she hasn’t slept in a few days. Her hair is disheveled and she has dark circles under her eyes.

“You okay?” I ask.

“Yeah.” She smiles. “I was lying down, but heard someone walking around out here. Thank you for coming. I could really use a couple laughs.”

I can’t do this. I can’t tell her now, especially with what she’s going through. That’d just be wrong.

“Let’s talk.” She says, pulling me into a computer room.

Tess tells me all about her and her uncle’s relationship, how he used to take her to the zoo and the water park. I didn’t know that she had such a close relationship with her uncle and relied upon him. I guess it’s kind of like how it was with me and my mom.

“Tess? Liz?” Mrs. Harding calls from the bottom of the stairs.

“Yeah mom?” Tess yells back.

“Someone’s here to see Liz.” She says.

Tess and I exchange a look. Who would come to see me? Please don’t let it be my father. I don’t think I could take the humiliation of him yelling at me in front of Tess’ entire family. How did he find out where I am? I walk to the door, dreading it the whole time. I can’t believe who it is when I get there.

“Max.”

Part 22

“What the hell are you doing here?” I say incredulously.

“I have to talk to you.” He says, only looking at me.

I look back to see Tess’ family all staring at us.

“We should probably go outside.” I say, pulling Max out the door. “Tess, I’ll be right back.”

“Take as long as you need.” She says with a knowing smile on her face.

I shut the door behind us and walk towards Max’s Jeep.

“Come on. I don’t want to talk in front of the house where anyone can see us.” I state, sitting in the passenger side.

Max just looks at me, then walks over to the driver’s side and starts the Jeep up. We drive aimlessly around for ten minutes without either of us talking. Finally, Max pulls into a parking lot. I don’t realize till I get out that it’s actually a park, specifically a little park called Robert Townsend Memorial Park. We walk over to the swings and sit down. The park is empty with the exception of Max and I, and a mother and her two children over by the sand box. The park itself is surrounded by trees, allowing only slivers of sunlight to flow in.

“How did you find me?” I ask, twisting from side to side on the swing.

“I figured you’d come here, because I know you wouldn’t want to upset Tess by not showing up. So then I went to all her neighbors’ houses and asked if they had any idea where Tess’ uncle lived. I went to about six houses before I finally found someone who knew where you were. I think they’re going to start a neighborhood watch because of me.” He laughs. “Anyway, the lady said that she was collecting the Harding’s mail and that she was given a number to reach them in case anything happened to the house. It took a lot of convincing, but she finally gave me the number. Then I called information and got the address.”

He gets quiet and starts digging his shoe into the sand.

“Why did you even bother?” I ask.

“Why did you lie to me?” He turns to look at me. “Why didn’t you just tell the truth?”

“I don’t think it’s really any of your business.” I simply say.

He rolls his eyes and looks over at the children playing in the sandbox.

“Are you and Sean DeLuca dating?” He asks, not even bothering to be subtle.

“What? Me and Sean? Gross.” I say, shuddering a little. “Sean is my friend. Nothing more than that. Why? Who told you that we were dating?”

“Well, it’s actually a rumor going around school that you two were uh, caught in the eraser room.” He says, his face flushing a little.

“Yeah, we were. But definitely not in that way. Sean and I kind of understand each other’s need for a little rebellion every once in a while. Us together, in the couple sense. That just wouldn’t work.” I say while pumping my legs to swing higher.

After a few minutes I slow down and finally stop. I look over at Max who hasn’t said anything in a while.

“So why did you really come? Are you trying to get in my pants?”

“You’re so, God, I don’t even know how to describe you.” He says, sighing heavily. “And coming here to tell Tess was really selfish. She has her own problems right now without having to deal with yours.”

He read my mind.

“Gee, that was really romantic.” I reply, looking back at the kids.

The mom is collecting the toys around the box and putting them in a large white bag. The little girl is beating the other kid over the head with a plastic shovel.

“Ah, the joys of childhood.” I say, pointing to them

Max follows my finger to the scene playing out in front of us.

“Yes, the fond memories of being knocked unconscious by your sister.” He says, swinging a little.

We sit there watching the kids. Eventually the mother realizes what is going on, and yells at the little girl. This causes the little boy, whose head she was hitting, to laugh at her. The mother pulls the two of them to the car.

“I didn’t want you to know.” He looks over at me. “I didn’t want to have to deal with all the questions that I knew would come.”

I stop for a few seconds to calm myself down. He scoots his swing over and rubs my back.

“If you really don’t want to Liz, you don’t have to.” He says softly.

“No. I need to.”

I can already feel tears welling up in my eyes. I take a couple deep breathes and begin.

“My mom really was great. All those stories I told you, they were true. She was a great, wonderful person. It’s just, I don’t think she was ever really happy with my father. He was abusive with her. Really abusive. It was like, she had to do everything perfect or else he’d hit her. I remember how she’d clean the house three or four times a day just to make sure everything was perfect and that there wasn’t any dust or anything anywhere. She would take naps in the afternoon because she never slept very well at night. I guess that had something to do with the fact that she was sleeping next to an abusive psycho.” I laugh bitterly.

“Anyway, she had really bad migraines. I guess from all the stress. So she would have to take a lot of medication. Once, my father found the pill bottles and got really pissed. He said that she was wasting his money, so he threw them all away. After he left to go to a bar, or wherever, I went out and retrieved them and we had to hide them again. So, when I got home from school, she’d go to sleep because she knew I’d warn her in case dad decided to come home early. I cooked dinner and set the table and everything. Then, when I saw dad pulling up, I’d go wake her up and have her act like she had cooked it all.”

I pause for a minute, remembering all the times we did this. How mom would jump around when she got out of the bed to make it look like she had been up all along.

“It got worse. He started hitting her more and more. I mean, yeah he had a really successful business, and we lived in a big house, and we were well off financially. But it seemed like the more successful he got, the more he beat her. One day I came home from school, dad was out of town on business, and mom was asleep. I didn’t really suspect that anything was wrong, everything seemed normal. Around six I went in to wake her up, because we were suppose to go see a movie at seven. I stood in the doorway and called out to her. I started getting ready, and when I realized she wasn’t up yet, I went back in there.”

The tears are coming now, as much as I wish they weren’t.

“‘Mom, come on. We’re going to be late!’ I yelled. But she just lied there. I thought maybe she had taken one of her sleeping pills, which made her harder to get up. She only took those every once in a while, and that was only when dad was out of town. ‘Mom! Wake up!’ I kept yelling at her, but she wouldn’t get up. I went over to the bed and sat down and she didn’t get up. I started shaking her, ‘Mom! Mommy? Get up!’ I was screaming and shaking her, but she wouldn’t open her eyes.” I’m sobbing now, trying not to let Max see the tears. “And she was cold, and her skin seemed thin and translucent. And she wouldn’t wake up. She was just this thing, this dead weight in my arms. I called 911, and I tried CPR, but she just wouldn’t wake up.”

Everything is completely silent. The only sounds I can hear are Max’s and my own breathing. I look up at the sky. Somewhere in between my story and my pathetic crying, the sky grew dark and cloudy. There’s that electric feeling in the air, the kind you feel right before a big storm.

“After that, dad started hitting me. It wasn’t that rough at first, ,but it kept getting worse and worse. He began skipping work too, and going out every night to bars. Pretty soon he got fired for not showing up and he was spending all our money. We lost the house and had to move to an apartment. For some reason a few months ago, he decided to just up and move to Roswell. So here we are.”

Now that it’s all out there in the open, I feel so vulnerable. Maybe I should’ve left some of it out. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him anything. What if he decides to use it against me?

“Liz...” He starts, but before he finishes big splashes of rain start falling on us.

We both look upward at the dark sky. Max looks at me then at his Jeep, which isn’t covered.

“I need to go.” I say, standing up.

“Yeah. We need to cover the Jeep first though.” Max says, getting up too.

“No. I need to go.” I say, then start running.

“Liz! Come back!” He yells after me.

“Go back to Roswell, Max!” I scream to him over the rain.

I run through the street without looking back at him. What have I done? Why did I have to open my big mouth? Now he’s going to treat me like I’m some weak little girl. I run until I get to the street where Tess’ uncle lived. This surprises me because I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going, and I really didn’t think I’d find my way back this easy. I walk to the house, soaking wet, and knock on the door. Tess answers it.

“Liz, oh my God. Are you okay?” She asks, pulling me into the house.

“I’m fine.” I say, shivering.

Tess yells at her mom to get me a towel and she leads me into the kitchen which is empty except for dozens of casserole dishes lining the counters.

“T-thanks.” I stutter when Mrs. Harding wraps the towel around me.

“Are you okay, Liz?” She asks, her voice filled with motherly concern.

“Yeah. I’m fine.” I say, hoping that my voice sounds somewhat like a calm person.

“Alright.” She says, not looking to convinced, but leaves the room anyway.

Tess just laughs and goes over to one of the casserole dishes. She peels back the aluminum foil, picks up one of the plastic forks, and starts eating.

“Okay, Liz. I know you don’t think I bought that.” She says, her mouth full.

“It’s nothing. Really. Just some me and Max stuff.” I reply, hoping that it satisfies her.

“Are you sure?” She asks, still looking concerned.

“I’m positive.”

She doesn’t say anything, but continues to eat.

----------------

“Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Harding. Bye Tess, I call you later.” I say as I get out of the car.

The funeral went well. As well as a funeral can go, anyway. Tess was heartbroken, but I think she’s going to be okay. She got to say her final goodbye. It wasn’t as rough for me as I initially thought it would be. I mean, with my mom’s death not that long ago, I thought that maybe the funeral would be a little too much for me, but I kept it together. I half-expected Max to show up even though I told him to leave. He didn’t though. I’m not sure if I’m glad or not.

“Bye Liz!” They all yelled back in unison.

I walk up the steps to our apartment. As I pass Michael’s apartment, I hear murmurs, but keep walking. I’m not really in the mood do deal with them. I crack the door open a little and wait to hear my father’s voice. When it doesn’t come, I slowly walk into the apartment. It’s completely silent. I set down my bag and walk into the kitchen. Everything is just as I left it. Spotless. Or as clean as this apartment can get. I look into my room which also looks the same. Something definitely isn’t right here. I walk back out into the living room and see an envelope sitting on the bare wooden box we use as a coffee table. I pick it up and read the message on it:

“Liz,

Went to Carlsbad with some friends. Be back next week.

Dad”


I release a sigh of relief at knowing that I have a whole week to myself without worrying if he’s going to hit me or not. A whole week without the ulcer-like stomach pains of not knowing if the next beating could be my last. I go to sleep that night peacefully, because I don’t have to think that I could be woken up with a slap across the face.

--------------
“Wait. Let me get this straight. Some guy named Khivar is holding Addison hostage, but he called her Ava, and everyone else didn’t seem to think that was not of the norm?” Tess asks, as we’re sitting at the lunch table the next day.

“Yeah. I mean, they were talking about Addison, then when they read the note, it was just like that was a nickname or something. And they just all accepted it.” I say, eating another fry.

“Okay. So Ava, or Addison, or whoever she is, was kidnapped by this Khivar guy. Then he sends Max and Company a note to meet him at a....” She drifts off, her face full of bewilderment.

“Pod chamber.” I supply.

“...pod chamber. In two weeks, or now I guess it’s only a week, at five in the morning. And if they don’t show up, this guy is going to kill them all?”

“Right.” I say, drinking my Coke.

“And they’re from Czechoslovakia?”

“Yes.” I reply.

“Which hasn’t existed in over a decade.”

I open my mouth to say something then stop.

“Czechoslovakia hasn’t existed for over a decade?” I say, my eyebrows furrowing together in confusion.

“Yeah, Liz.” She says, like everyone knows this.

“Okay, where was I when that happened?”

“Uh,” She starts, her nose scrunching up, “Preschool? Probably in the slow development class.”

“Hey!” I say, hitting her arm. “Okay, so now what? We have no idea where the hell, or what the hell the pod chamber is.”

She sips milk through a straw loudly while thinking. I turn my head and look over at their table. They’re all huddled together closely. I wonder what you’re hiding Max Evans.

“Oh! Idea!” Tess says all the sudden, causing me to spit a little bit of my Coke out.

“Jesus, don’t do that.” I say, wiping my mouth with a napkin.

“Sorry. Anyway, lets say that I call Max and pretend I’m Isabel. I’ll say that I’m at the pod chamber and that I need help with something. He drives out there, and we follow.” She says with a big smile on her face.

“Right, and since when do you sound like Isabel?”

She clears her throat.

“Max, I need your help. Meet me at the pod chamber.” She says, her voice sounding so much like Isabel’s that I get goose bumps.

“Holy shit.” I say, in awe. “That sounded just like her.”

“I told you Liz. I have a wonderful ability to mimic people’s voices. And, might I add, it has been very helpful for when I skip school and they call home. They have yet to figure out it’s really me and not my mother.” She says, taking a huge bite out of her sandwich.

“That is so weird. How do you do that? You’re like that chick from that Katie Holmes movie.”

“I don’t know. It’s like, the palate of my mouth and my tongue do this weird thing. It’s too hard to describe.” She says, swallowing her food. “I’ve done it ever since I was little.”

“Well, thank God you have it. This could help us finally find out what the hell is going on with them.” I reply, pointing to their table.

For the rest of the day, Tess and I plan exactly what we’re going to do the morning that the five go to the pod chamber and meet with this guy Khivar. If I do say so myself, we do make a pretty good team. Sure, we have our less than brilliant moments just like everyone else, but I think we can really do this.

“Okay, what’s his number?” Tess asks.

We’re outside of Max‘s house. As soon as school let out, we drove straight here and prepared ourselves for what we were going to do. We borrowed Tess’ housekeeper’s car, so Max wouldn’t recognize Tess’. Then, we made sure that Isabel wouldn’t be home. Luckily for us, she ended up going to the mall with a group of her friends.

“555-9358. If his mother answers, just use your regular voice.” I whisper.

“Why are you whispering?” Tess says in her normal loud voice.

“I was trying to be discreet.” I say, still keeping my voice low.

She just gives me a look, then dials the number. I put my ear right against hers to listen in. It’s three rings before someone answers.

“Hello?” Max answers.

“Max, it’s Isabel.” Tess says, her voice not giving any hint that it’s not Isabel.

“What is it Isabel?” He asks, resigned.

“I need you to come to the pod chamber right away.” She says, adding urgency to her voice.

“What’s wrong?” He asks, his voice filling with concern. “Is it Addison?”

“Yes. It’s Addison. Just hurry up.” She says, then slams down the phone.

We duck our heads just in time, Max runs out of the house and jumps into his Jeep. From where we’re parked, he can’t see us. We follow him, but not too closely.

“Just stay back for a few seconds.” I say.

“Liz, haven’t we already covered this. I know how to do this.” She says, just shaking her head laughing.

We follow the Jeep out of town into the desert. Tess stays as far back as she can to make sure Max doesn’t realize that the same car has been behind him since his street. He turns off the road and drives up to a huge rock formation that points up.

“Just keep driving, but slow down a little.” I say as we come up to the rock.

From where we’re at, I can see Max climb up the side of it. Then he waves his hand over something and a little door opens.

“Okay, is it just me or did Max walk into that rock.” Tess says, her eyes bouncing from the road to the rock.

“No, you’re not the only one who saw that. Maybe it’s, um. I don’t know.” I say, completely at a loss.

We continue to stare. As soon as Max goes into the rock, the door closes back up.

“What now?” Tess asks, stopping her car.

“We go back. Now we know where the pod chamber is. On Monday night we’ll steak out the pod chamber and wait for them to come. Then we’ll confront them.” I say, still looking at the spot where Max stood minutes earlier.

“Okay.” Tess replies.

A few minutes later Max comes back out and pulls his cell phone out.

“He’s probably calling Isabel to see where she is.” Tess says, starting her car. “We need to go.”

We drive away, but the thoughts of what just happened stay with us.

After Tess drops me off at the shoe repair shop (I didn’t want her dropping me off at the shrink’s office because I didn’t want her to know I went there), I start the short walk to Dr. Monroe’s office. I’ve canceled my last few appointments because I’ve been so busy lately, what with running away to Glendale, that I haven’t had time to go see him. Not that I’m all that anxious to go anyway. Dr. Monroe is not my favorite person.

“Hi Liz, you can go on back to Dr. Monroe’s office.” His assistant says as soon as she sees me walk in.

I give her a smile and open the door to the hallway where all the offices are. I start to Monroe’s office and try to hear in to the other offices. I want to see what kind of problems my fellow crazies have. By the time I get to the Doc’s office, I’ve learned that one of the patients has issues with her mother, and one of them, apparently, has a thing for Mel Gibson. According to her, they’re destined to be together. Just as I’m about to walk in, I hear voices inside. The door is ajar, so I get as close to it as I can without opening it.

“Her father? God. I thought it was a boyfriend. I notified the school and told them to be watchful of her. I called her house. I wanted to alert her father of the situation, but every time someone actually answered it, it was Liz. I didn’t want to give her the impression that I was being forceful and scare her off, so I hung up.” Dr. Monroe is saying.

No, no, no. This is not even happening. Why does everyone think they can just tell my life story whenever they want to. Like I have no feelings. Who is it this time?

“I think you should call social services or something.” Max’s voice reveals the answer.

I can’t believe this.

“I’ll do it right away. And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to tell the social worker to say that someone in the building reported a disturbance.” Monroe says, shuffling some papers.

I turn my head a little so I can actually see them.

“I just don’t understand it. Why would she stay with him? How could she when he does all that stuff to her?” Max asks.

Dr. Monroe pauses for a second then looks up at Max.

“Well you’ve got to think with a girl like that, any love at all is better than nothing.”







[ edited 1 time(s), last at 26-Jan-2002 2:39:12 PM ]
posted on 3-Feb-2002 4:42:25 PM by Ashley
Let me know what you think.

Part 23

“I can’t believe he forgot to pay the electric bill.” I say to myself, lying on the couch in the dark.

I gave him the check. It was made out to the electric company, in an envelope addressed to the company. I already had a stamp on it. How hard could it be, really. Now I’m going to have to go down there and see what happened. I should really get up and do something, but the thing is, I haven’t been able to just lie down like this and relax in forever. Even without electricity, it’s not so bad.

“Liz?” Someone says outside the door, followed by knocking.

“God.” I hiss under my breath.

I get up and walk over to the door.

“Max. What do you want?” I ask, after opening it.

“I just wanted to see how you were.” He says, coming into the apartment.

“That’s great.” I say, going over and sitting on the couch.

He shuts the door and comes over to stand by the couch.

“Can I ask why all the lights are off?” He asks, looking around.

“I’m having a seance.”

“Oh. T-that sounds like, uh, fun.” He says, nervously.

“I’m kidding. My dad forgot to give the electric company the bill. Apparently the concept of putting an envelope into a mailbox is too hard for him.” I reply. “Have a seat Max. Tell me what’s on your mind.”

He looks around the dark living room and takes a seat on the old chair that sits adjacent to the couch.

“I just wanted to make sure you’re okay. I mean, I know it was hard to tell me--” He starts.

“But it obviously wasn’t as hard to tell Dr. Monroe, now was it?” I say angrily.

He freezes and slowly turns his head towards me.

“Liz, I did it because...” He stops, rubbing his hands together. “I couldn’t stand the thought of you being in this apartment and him hurting you.”

I can barely see his face in the dark but I can tell he is upset. I really don’t appreciate him telling someone something that I told him in confidence.

“Max, I know you thought you were doing me a favor. Maybe it gives you a good feeling that you’re doing something to help someone. Maybe it’s that boy scout thing they teach boys when they’re younger. I don’t know. All that I do know is that you had absolutely no right to do what you did. I mean, who gave you permission to---”

But before I can finish he leaps off of the chair and is pressing his lips against mine. His lips are soft, warm, and gentle. His hands cupping the sides of my face.

“What are you doing?” I ask, pulling away.

Even in the darkness I can see the outline of his face. His eyes are closed, his breathing steady.

“I have loved you since the moment I first saw you.” He says, his forehead against mine.

Well shit. I wasn’t expecting that.

“I was sitting in the back of Mrs. Lewis’ class, falling asleep and then you walked in. You were wearing this mechanic’s shirt with the name ‘Ed’ printed on the patch. And your hair was down with a few of little braids in it. You just looked around the room with this annoyed look on your face. Like they were inconveniencing you by just making you be there.” I can see his lips curve up in a smile. “And you were beautiful. You are beautiful.”

I sit there for a few seconds, speechless.

“Well, you sure know how to make up an excuse.” I say, for lack of anything better.

He just lets out a little laugh.

“That still doesn’t give you the right to tell Dr. Monroe my own little Lifetime movie.” I say, but the anger has left me.

Okay, seriously though. What the hell am I suppose to say to that?

“Liz, did you hear anything I just said?” He asks, his voice wavering on the border of either hurt or happiness.

I could change his world in just a few words.

“I think you should go.” I say, because that’s all I can think to say.

He stands up, not sure what to do.

“I need to tell you something.” He says, going over and sitting back down in the chair.

I lean back and pull a pillow into my lap.

“What is it Max?” I ask with a sigh.

He sits there for a few seconds, staring at the floor. I’m not sure what he’s about to say but I’m thinking it may be serious.

“I’m not who you think I am.” He simply says.

“Hey, you’re not from the Portsmith Public Library, are you? Because I meant to return that book.” I say, trying to lighten the atmosphere. He just sits there. “Yeah, even I didn’t think that’d work.”

“I mean, I’m not what you think I am.”

“I think I’m with the mice in the apartment when I say, huh?” I say, with another lame attempt at humor.

He pauses for a minute. He’s nervous. I can tell by the incessant tapping of his foot against the chair. I think now is really not the time for the infamous comedy stylings of Elizabeth Parker.

“I’m sorry. I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”

He smiles.

“I shouldn’t tell you this, it really isn’t something I should decide on my own. But I think you already have an idea of what is going on.” His voice seems amplified in the dark, bare room.

“Does this have something to do with Addison?” I ask, hoping I’ll finally get my answers.

“Yeah, it does. Um, I saw you.” He says.

“What?” I ask, taken back.

“That day when you were in Michael’s apartment, I saw you.” He says, surprising me so much that I actually stop breathing for a second.

“What are you talking about?” I say, regaining my composure. “That wasn’t me. That was my...evil twin.”

He just gives me a look, the one that people generally give me when I crack jokes at really inappropriate times.

“Liz. It may seem like I’m oblivious to what you and Tess have been doing. I know everyone else is. But I know you were at Michael’s house, and I know you had something to do with that trip to the desert. I don’t know how you imitated Isabel’s voice, but I know it was you. And I also know that you two have been investigating us. I think you should know the truth before something serious happens.” He rubs his face and leans forward. “Michael, Isabel, Addison, and I are different.”

“Different how?” I ask, unsure of whether I now really want to know.

“We’re...I don’t know how to say this. We’re not from around here.” He says quietly.

“Are you guys witches?” I ask straightforwardly.

“What?”

“Are you a witch? Or, I guess in your case, a warlock. Tess has this theory that you all are part of some witch tribe. I told her that it’s probably some illegal immigrant cult thing. Plus there was some early American colonization themes in there, but I don’t think she understood that.” I ramble.

“Whoa, calm down. No, we’re not witches or warlocks, or even some wayward cult trying to colonize America. Well, Michael might be, but that’s not what I mean.” He says, actually shaking his head as though to clear his thoughts.

“Okay then Max. What is it?”

“I’m an alien.” He says, getting it right out there. “As in not of this world, as in E.T. phone home. As in I was in the crash back in ’47.”

I sit there for a minute, completely blown away. This guy is an alien? Okay, how stupid does he think I am?

“I know that I’m not too bright, but you an alien? Yeah right.” I say, trying to convince myself that I’m right.

He brings his hand up, palm out, and aims it towards the television. A few seconds later the tv comes on and lights up the room.

“What the hell just happened?” I ask, trying to figure out how the television came on when we have no electricity.

“I told you, I’m an alien. I have special, well, special powers I guess you’d call them.” He says, laughing a dry laugh.

Oh my God. This is not happening. This is definitely not happening. I’m asleep. I fell asleep and now I’m dreaming that Max Evans is not only in love with me, he’s also an alien.

“That’s not funny Max.”

From the glow of the television, I see his mouth open a little, as though to say something.

“Turn the television off.” I say.

He waves his hand over the tv and in seconds the room is dark once again.

“I think you should go.” I say, repeating my earlier comment.

“Liz.” He says, making that one word, that one syllable sound in a way like no one else has said it.

I get up and walk towards the door. I look back at him, seeing the outline of his body. His shoulders sagging, his head bent down. I look back at the door, not sure what to say, or what to do. I open the door, the light from the hallway filtering in.

“Goodbye Max.”

He turns around and stands up to face me. He walks over to me, looking at me the whole time.

“Goodbye Liz.” He says, then walks out the door.

I wait till I can no longer hear his footsteps before I shut the door. I walk into the kitchen, feeling my way along in the black of the night, open the fridge and pull out the carton of apple juice.

“What is that smell?” I say aloud after I get a whiff of the odor in the refrigerator.

I drink it out of the carton because I don’t want to take the effort to find a glass and pour the juice into it without spilling any of it. I gulp down the rest of it and throw the carton into the trash can.

“I am so bored.” I say to myself, walking over to the couch.

I plop down onto it and stare up at the ceiling. I can’t believe this. Max is an alien. Of all the things I thought he’d be, I definitely was not expecting that answer. I mean, how is that even possible? Aliens? Real? All this time, Max Evans, my lab partner, is really an alien. And he’s in love with me. Me, of all people. Liz Parker. Weak, pathetic Liz Parker. Who stays with her father even though he beats her. Who couldn’t even save her own mother from committing suicide. And even with knowing all of this, knowing all of my flaws, he loves me.

“Oh God.” I say, sitting up. “I just made a big mistake.”

And with that, I jump of the couch, pull my shoes on, and run out the door where I run directly into Michael.

“Hey Liz. What’s up?” He asks, flipping through his mail.

“Can’t talk. Gotta find Max.” I say, continuing past him.

“He’s at his house!” He yells.

I run down the stairs, pull open the main entrance door, and out into the warm air. I keep running even though I can’t breathe, and still continue running even though my side feels like it’s about to explode. I run so fast that when I finally do reach Max’s house, I slip on the damp lawn and fall straight on my ass. I pick myself up and limp the rest of the way to Max’s bedroom window, where I see him sitting on his bed staring at the wall. I take a second to catch my breath, and then knock profusely on his window till he looks up, his face filling with surprise. He walks over and opens the window.

“What are you doing here, Liz?” He asks, looking around outside to see if I brought anyone with me.

He probably thinks I’ve got the FBI and the CIA behind me.

“I need to talk to you.” I say, still breathing hard.

He just looks at me then finally moves aside to let me in. I carefully come in, trying not to do further damage to my bottom. I look around his room.

“Nice room. You even have your own computer.” I say, trying to ease his nerves.

“Uh, thanks.” He says, shutting his window.

I walk over to his bed, which is made. Typical Max. I look over to make sure the door is closed and sit down, making myself as small as possible.

“I’m sorry about earlier. I just freaked out a little.” I say, looking everywhere but at him.

I feel the bed sink a little beside me and I look over to see him sitting there.

“It’s okay. I mean, I didn’t exactly expect you to just accept it.” He says, his voice soft.

I sit there for a few seconds, twisting the bracelet on my wrist.

“I really shouldn’t have just made you leave like that. I just needed to be alone for a few minutes.” I reply.

“Can I just ask you a question?” He asks, scooting a little closer.

“Sure.”

“Why do you stay with him? I mean, he hurts you, but you just stay there. And I know you Liz, you’re strong, you’re bold. But when it comes to him, it’s like you’re protecting him.” He says, without looking away from me.

I think for a minute, trying to think the best way to say this.

“He’s my father, you know. He’s the only relative I have left. If I lose him, then I’m alone. I know it doesn’t seem possible, but I love him. You grow up, and you see your mother and father as these two invincible, perfect people. But they’re not. And as you get older, you try to hold on to those ideals. I love my father. But I don’t like him.” I say, breaking his gaze. “I don’t want to be alone.”

He takes my hand into his.

“Why do you go to Dr. Monroe?” He asks, still holding my hand.

“Ah, good old Dr. Monroe. It’s kind of sad, actually. Spending one hundred dollars a week on therapy when you’re trying as hard as possible to not have a breakthrough with your therapist. Dr. Monroe isn’t bad, I’ll give him that. I mean, the guy’s just doing his job. The reason I go there is because, if I stop going, she’s gone. There’ll be no one else to talk with about her. No one who constantly reminds me of her. That she was alive, that she was real. That I didn’t make her up.”

“You know you can always talk to me about her. Anytime you want.” Max says, giving my hand a little squeeze.

“Yeah.” I say, smiling at him. “Listen Max, I’m not mad at you for telling Dr. Monroe. But you should know that when those social workers come, I will lie to them. I will tell them that my father is the role model dad. I will say anything to get them to believe me. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again.”

I pull my hand out of his and get up. I walk over to the window, and prepare to climb out.

“I won’t tell anyone about the whole alien thing.” I say, turning around to face him. “Not even Tess. It doesn’t really surprise me now that I think about it. I mean, you, Isabel, and Michael all being friends? There’s no way that would happen unless you all were aliens. And you’re not an alien to me. You’re still Max.” I give him a smile then turn to leave.

“Wait.” He says, getting up and walking over to me. “Can I ask you something? I promise this will be the only time I ever ask it.”

“Sure.” I say, wary of what he’s about to ask.

He looks down at his feet, looking completely boyish in his jeans and t-shirt.

“Do you love me?” He asks, looking up from his feet when he says the word ‘love’.

“No.” I say, without even thinking about it.

Then I leave before he can reply.

-------------------

“You want to hear something weird?” Tess asks, wiping off the counter.

“Sure, why not.” I say, stacking up cups on the other side of the empty restaurant.

“I get home yesterday and I check my messages. So I’m erasing all these annoying calls from some kids who keep pranking me and all the sudden I hear Kyle Valenti’s voice. Asking me out on a date to talk.” She says, laughing at the idea of it.

“Well, are you going to go?” I ask, trying not to let one of the stacks fall over.

“No, of course not.” She says, dismissing the idea.

“Tess. Think about this. Kyle has grown up. He’s not that same cheating bastard he was back in the 9th grade. I know that stupid saying, ‘once a cheater, always a cheater,’ but you have to give him a chance. Kyle is a good guy. I think he really is.” I say, thinking of Kyle and his role in the whole alien fiasco that has been going on.

I sincerely believe that Kyle is a good guy. Maybe he was an immature little punk when he was a freshman, but I can tell that the alien thing has really taken its toll on him and helped him to see what is important and what’s not. And I think that he realizes now what a mistake he made with Tess. Anyone close to her can see how great Tess is. Deep down inside she wants to be loved and cared about just like the rest of us.

“I don’t know, Liz. I don’t want to take the chance that he’ll decide to go and cheat on me again. It’s just that, I don’t know, I like Kyle. I know that sounds weird, especially considering our history together, but I think he’s an okay guy. I mean, it was really hard for him when his mom left, and after that he just started getting really rebellious. But these past few years, I’ve noticed some changes. Like, he’s quieter, and he doesn’t hang out with the jocks as much. But still...” She says, getting quiet.

“Tess.” I say, walking over to the counter. “Just give him a chance, okay? You don’t have to start dating him again. Just go out with him once and then you can see how you feel then. Please?”

She continues wiping, then looks up at me. A smile erupts on her face.

“Alright. Fine. I’ll give him a chance. But if he tries anything, I’ll leave. After beating the shit out of him, of course.” She says, being completely serious.

“Of course.” I repeat.

I laugh then go over to the register to count up the amount in it.

“You know what I don’t think is fair?” I say, straightening out all the bills and making sure they’re all the same way.

“What?”

“That somehow Maria never has to close.” I reply, counting.

“I think she pays her mom off.” Tess states matter-of-factly. “I mean, Amy’s not the one to give her special treatment just because she’s her daughter. How much do you think she’s giving her?”

I just shake my head at the thought of Maria paying her mom off. I think her absence of closing lately has something to do with the alien thing.

“Hey Liz, I wanted to tell you something.” She says, putting her rag down and coming over to the register.

“Okay.”

“This will probably sound a little weird, but my parents would very much like it if you moved in with us.” She says, wiping some sweat off her forehead.

“What? Why?” I ask, genuinely confused.

“Because, well, I know things aren’t exactly perfect with you and your dad. My mom and dad told me that there was more than enough room for you at our house, and that they would love it if you moved in.” She says, not looking at me.

It’s just at this moment that I realize how see-through my little stories were. I mean, if I had been the one hearing them I wouldn’t have believed them in an instant. But for some reason, I told myself that since I believed them, everyone else obviously would too.

“I’ll think about it.” I say, and I will.

It would be weird to live in someone else’s house, with someone else’s family. But I think it’s about time that I put my father behind me. Max showed me that, even if I don’t realize it, people do love me and care about what happens to me. I will always love my father, but I don’t think I can live with him anymore. And I have this weird feeling that I’ve seen the last of him.

“How about this: if you think about living with me, I’ll go out with Kyle.” She says, holding out her hand.

“Deal.” I say, shaking it.

She walks back over to the counter and starts wiping off the napkin holders.

“So, tomorrow night. Are we still going to the infamous pod chamber?” She asks, saying it dramatically.

“You know what? I don’t think we should. I heard from someone at school that they’re involved in some really heavy drug trafficking.” I say, hoping she doesn’t realize that I’m lying.

She looks over at me.

“That’s probably a good idea. I know I don’t want to get involved in anything like that.” She gives me a wink.

I don’t know if she knows whether or not I’m lying, but just like that she accepts my answer and doesn’t ask anymore questions about it.

“So what do you think of fly fishing?” She asks.

---------------

This seemed like an excellent idea when I left the apartment last night. Truly, it did. But now, here I am, squatting behind a pricker bush, my coffee thermos long empty, freezing my butt off in the desert, waiting for Max to show up. I glance down at my watch, which reads 4:45 a.m. I am crazy. No sane person, aliens not included, would be out here at this hour. I look up just in time to see Max’s Jeep turning off the road into the desert near that weird, jutting rock.

“No, it was a good idea that they don’t come along. If something happened to Maria, Alex, Kyle, or Valenti, it would’ve been our fault. If Khivar tries something, we’re the only ones who can handle it.” Max says, climbing out of the Jeep.

Isabel and Michael follow him. They walk right past where I’m hiding, and luckily don’t see me.

“Let’s just hope that he tells us where Addison is...” Michael says, his voice becoming harder to hear as they get farther away.

I look up from behind the bush to see them working their way up the side of the rock. In the dark, they look like three little spots floating. I get up, leaving my bag behind, and quietly walk towards the mountainous rock. Even with my jeans and sweater, the air still feels like it’s stabbing me. Shivering, I start the steep climb to the top. As I get closer, I start to hear their voices again.

“Max, focus. You’ve been zoning out all day. What is your problem?” Michael asks, his voice taking its usual annoyed manner.

“Nothing.” Max answers, shaking his head. “It’s nothing. Let’s just get this over with.”

“Well, what if we have to--” Isabel starts, she’s clearly upset.

“Isabel, we have to do what he have to do. If it comes down to that, then that is our only option.” Max says, suddenly taking on an commanding voice.

I’m about five feet away, hiding behind a protruding piece of rock, when it happens. Max waves his hand over a chunk of rock that looks like a wall, and a glowing silver handprint appears. Max matches his hand up to it, and a few seconds later, the same little door that Tess and I saw days earlier opens up. The three of them walk in. Just before it’s about to shut, I run and slide in just as it closes up. None of them hear me come in and continue to walk into a little room. From where I’m hiding, I can see four little...oh, okay I get it now. Four pod things, in a square position. That’s where the whole pod thing comes from. The three of them walk just stand there, looking around, not sure what to do.

“Okay, so what now?” Isabel asks, backing up against a wall.

“No idea.” Michael says, doing the same.

Just as Michael finishes, the room is illuminated in a bright yellow light. I shield my eyes and look up to see a gorgeous looking man, probably in his twenties standing in front of them.

“Khivar.” I whisper to myself.

The room goes back to its original appearance. Khivar just stands there, his eyes going from Michael to Isabel, then from Isabel to Max.

“Ah, Zan. Our fearless leader.” He says, with a mock salute.

Zan? That must be Max’s alien name. But what is the fearless leader part about?

“Where’s Ava, Khivar?” Michaels asks, using what I’m assuming is Addison’s alien name.

“You are in no position to make demands, Rath. I am here to talk to Zan and only Zan. He is the leader. He is the one who holds the power.” He turns his glaring eyes to Max. “Many people on our planet, Antar, are very loyal to you. They’ve banned together to overthrow me and almost succeeded. So we decided to bring back the queen, hoping that would make them calm down.” He says, walking over to Max.

“You took Addison, I mean Ava back to Antar?” Max asks, his voice almost at a whisper.

“Yes. I did. I felt it was necessary. Ava was a beloved queen to our people before she was killed. When we learned that the four of your essence’s had been duplicated and put into human bodies, we immediately started a search. When we discovered that you were here, living in Roswell, one of the most obvious locations, we actually found it quite comical.” He says, laughing bitterly.

I want to know is what is this whole ‘we’ thing.

“What did you do to her?” Isabel asks, surprisingly strong.

Khivar looks over at her and smiles.

“Vilandra. I remember you, although I fear that you have forgotten about me. You always were a frisky one. Always wanting answers.” He says, going over to her and touching her cheek. She jumps away from him. “Don’t worry, my love. Ava is safe. Now, onto what we’re really here about. The Granolith.”

Max and Michael exchange a look that is lost on Khivar because he’s still looking at Isabel.

“Granolith? What is that?” Max asks, acting confused.

“Don’t try that bullshit with me, Zan. I know you have it. You’re going to give me it, and I’ll give you back Ava.” He says, his voice almost like a growl.

“I don’t know where the Granolith is. I don’t know what the Granolith is.” Max says, still acting innocent.

“Don’t piss me off. You do not want to piss me off. I could kill you like that.” He says, snapping his fingers.

You know, for a psychotic alien, he sure learns human clichés pretty quickly.

“Then why don’t you try.” Michael says, obviously not thinking.

“Michael!” Isabel yells.

“You always were an impatient moron.” Khivar says, continuing his pace around the small room. “You know--”

He suddenly stops talking and look around the room.

“There’s someone else in here.” He says, looking into the pods.

“What are you talking about?” Isabel asks, scooting closer to Michael and Max.

“There’s someone in here.” He says, closing his eyes, like he’s listening closely. “A human.”

Fuck. I have to get out of here, I can’t believe I did this. Now I’m going to be some evil alien’s bitch just because I decided to be Nancy Drew. I turn around and start walking in the direction of where the door was. Let’s just hope that if I beat on it enough, it’ll open.

“What are you talking about? It’s just us.” Max says, confusedly looking around.

Khivar turns his head in the direction of where I’m hiding.

“You.” He says, looking directly into my eyes. “Come out here.”

“Damn alien powers.” I mutter to myself as I walk out into the room.

Max, Isabel, and Michael all utter a surprised gasp when I finally come into their view.

“Liz.” Max whispers.

“Hey guys, how’s it going?” I say, smiling. “Just wanted to see what was up. I guess I’ll see you all at school.”

I turn around and start walking towards the door.

“Wait a second there, human.” Khivar says. “Come here.”

I turn around, like he’s pulling me back. I look from him to Max, then back to him.

“You’re a pretty little thing.” He says as I walk up to him.

He runs his hands through my hair.

“You’d make an excellent queen. I could take you back. They would love that. An innocent human, free of the corruptness of my planet.” He continues, pulling me closer to him.

“Leave her alone.” Max says, walking towards us.

“Hold it there, Zan.” Khivar says, waving his hand over Max and freezing him in place. “Liz? Was that it?”

He smiles, then looks over towards the three of them.

“New deal,” He starts. “I take Liz here back with me, I send Ava back. She helps me control the revolution that is going on there. The people of Antar have expressed quite often the need for new blood. For someone free of the politics of our planet. Liz here could help me very much.”

“You’re not taking her.” Max says, trying to pull free of the spell he was in. “Take me, but don’t take her.”

“Zan, I’m sorry. I believe you are under the impression that your opinion matters to me.” He says, taking his gaze off me to look over at Max.

Michael and Isabel walk over to him and try to help him to move.

“Ava should return in a few days. It was a pleasure seeing the royal four again.” He says, smiling evilly. “Liz, my future bride, shall we?”

He grabs my hand into his. Then he puts his hand up into the air, the room lights up in the same yellow glow as before.

“No!” Max yells, finally breaking free of Khivar’s hold.

All the sudden, Max holds out his hand and an iridescent green glow lightens up the other side of the room. I look at Khivar’s face, which is full of confusion, to Max’s. Michael and Isabel put their hands together with Max’s and the green glow grows more powerful. Khivar’s hand grows hotter, and I try pulling away to keep from burning. Just as I manage to pull it free, Khivar lets go an animalistic scream before literally bursting into ashes. I jump back, not sure what to expect next.

“What just happened?” Michael asks, bringing his hand down.

“I think we just killed him.” Isabel says, bending down by the ashes.

I just stare at them, shocked at the fact that I almost left Earth. That’d be pretty funny. Me, Elizabeth Parker, first person to go to another planet.

“Liz.” Max says, looking at me.

“S-sorry I just showed up like this and almost got you all killed. I was just, I don’t know. Being stupid.” I say, not sure what to do now.

“Maxwell, what do we do now?” Michael asks, kicking Khivar’s ashes with his foot. “We can’t leave Addison up there.”

At this point, we all look up at the ceiling.

“We have no choice.” Max says, resigned. “We have to go back to Antar.”

I release a deep breath of air, like someone just punched me in the gut.

“What? No. We can’t leave our parents, our home, our friends.” Isabel says, getting panicked. “What about Alex? And Maria?”

Max turns to both of them.

“You two can stay. I have to go.” He says, then looks over to me. “Can I talk to you Liz?”

“Yeah, sure.” I say, walking over towards the door, the only private place in here.

Isabel and Michael look away, trying to give us as much privacy as possible.

“Max, I’m so sorry. I didn’t meant to put you in that position.” I say as quickly as I can.

“Liz, it’s okay. Just calm down.” He says, putting his hands on my shoulders. “Why did you come here?”

I turn away from him, my face turning red. I knew that this moment would come up sooner or later, that I would have to tell him. But now that it’s here, I’m not so sure about it. If Max leaves, I don’t know what I’ll do. He’s the only one who actually broke through my shell.

“I wanted to tell you something.” I say, fidgeting with my hands. “I lied.”

“What?” He asks, crossing his arms.

“I lied.” I look up at him. “When you asked me if I loved you, I said no. I lied. I didn’t want to take the chance of setting myself up for hurt. That if I let you get too close, you’d hurt me.”

I think back to Tess and what I told her about giving Kyle another chance.

“I’d never do that.” He says softly.

“I love you, Max. You have changed my life these past few months in ways that no one else ever has.” I say, before pulling him into a hug.

I squeeze him as tight as possible, realizing now how much I really do love him.

“I love you.” He says, kissing me.

I kiss him back, letting myself do it. In the dark of the cave, I let myself fall in love without any inhibitions.

“Come with me.” He says, his forehead against mine.

“To your planet?” I ask, already knowing.

“Yes. You’d be safe. I would never let anything happen to you. We could be together, and you wouldn’t have to worry about your father.” He says, pleading almost.

I kiss him again, thinking of what life would be like on another planet. Anywhere with Max would be perfect.

“Liz?” He says, desperately waiting for my answer.

I intertwine my hands with his, lifting them up to our faces. I kiss his hand, then look into his eyes.

“I can’t Max. I belong here. Even if my life sucks.” I say gently. “I’m human.”

A single tear falls from his eye. I reach up and wipe it away. Just my luck, I finally find someone who makes me happy, and he’s from another planet.

“I’ll stay then.” He says, his eyes still watering.

“No, Max.” I say, feeling my own eyes watering. “You have to go and save your people. You’re a leader. I know that it feels right to stay here, but you belong there. And when you come back, I’ll be here. Waiting.”

He bites his lip, and pulls me into a hug releasing an almost silent sob.

“I’ll always love you.” He says into my ear.

“You know I will too.” I say back.

“Max, it’s time.” Michael says from near the pods.

We pull away, still looking at each other. He turns and waves his hand over where the door is, and it opens, letting a cool breeze flow in.

“Goodbye Max.” I say, giving him one last kiss.

I turn and walk out without looking back because it would be too painful. I run, trying not to slip with the tears in my eyes. The cold desert air, the blackness of the sky. I’m surprised that I make it down without breaking my neck. I turn back to see this pod like thing explode from the rock and shoot off into the sky, leaving me sobbing. Max is gone. I stumble over to where I left my bag, composing myself.

“Breathe Liz, breathe.” I say, wiping away my tears.

I pick up my bag and start walking towards the road. Towards Tess’ house, my new home. Towards my new life.

THE END.

Girl Like That
By Matchbox 20

You think this life would make me bolder,
But I’m running scared is all.
I hang on everything about you,
You think I’d settle down cuz I’m older,
But I roll with the changes is all.
I’m same old trailer trash in new shoes.

She gets sad when there’s nothing going on,
She says it makes her feel damn worthless.

Well you got to think with a girl like that,
Any love at all, is better than nothing,
Is better than nothing.

I put my hands around your shoulder,
You’re saying you’re scared is all.
I think I know too much about you.
You think this life would make me colder,
I’d give in to the alcohol.
I put my loving arms around you, child.

You knew damn well there was nothing going on,
Is that what makes you feel damn worthless?

Well you got to think with a girl like that,
Any love is better than nothing,
it’s better than nothing.
You got to think, with a girl like that,
Any love at all, is better than nothing.
It’s better than nothing.

Yeah well she drags you down and she pulls you up,
She pulls you up.
Says that she’s sorry now but it’s not enough,
To pull you up.
She’s sorry now.

I wake up quick just like I want to,
Yeah but I stay out much too late.
You think this life can get a bit unkind but she stays,
Down till the worth is gone.
And pulls you up, she pulls you up,
She pulls you up and over, over.

You've got to think with a girl like that,
Any love at all, is better than nothing.






[ edited 1 time(s), last at 3-Feb-2002 4:57:54 PM ]
posted on 6-Feb-2002 8:32:07 PM by Ashley
I'm so mean to you guys. The two reasons I ended the fic so suddenly is because: 1. I wanted to surprise you, piss you off, keep you wondering what the hell just happened, and give it a surprising ending; and 2. Because I hadn't planned on making it a happy ending and I saw an opportunity and took it. I don't know if I will write a sequel. If I do, it won't be for a while because I need to "get away" from the story for a while because it was getting hard to sit down and write for it because I knew my ending and I really wanted to get it out there. There is a possibility that I might write a sequel. I don't have a plot planned yet, so I can't carve out a time when it'll be out.

I want to thank you all for taking the time to read this story. I put a lot of work into it. I literally sat down and spent three hours on one part (okay, I was usually watching television or writing essays also), but I am happy that you all enjoyed it. It's been a wild ride; Liz's life was truly screwed up in this one. I didn't usually take the time to answer the feedback, mostly because I didn't exactly know what to say (she says, even though she talks non-stop). I have this tendency to be sarcastically mean when I don't mean it. So if I ever say something that sounds kind of rude, chances are I'm joking.

If you have any questions, I will gladly answer them as best I can. Again, thank you so much for loving reading the fic just as much as I did writing it.

-Ashley

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 6-Feb-2002 8:33:08 PM ]