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She's fragile.

I had seen her around so much but never mustered the courage to ask her how her day went or if she was okay. Instead, I stared lifelessly as she breezed past me. A confident smile was plastered on her ruby lips, but I could taste the sorrow in her eyes.

Attendance. Early. Tuesday morning. I chipped the dark green polish I painted on my nails Saturday afternoon and observed the class. Beside me was Opal, doodling in her famous tawny notebook. She'd never show anyone what's behind the cover. I was her only exception. We exchanged an apathetic glance, eyes dull and weary. Mrs. H called out names.

"Here!" I exclaimed loud enough when she says Isabelle Karlsson.

"Lundyn Pierce?"


I glanced around the small, cramped room and attempted to find Lundyn sitting at her desk, silky blonde hair pulled back into a long ponytail grazing her back. She wasn't at her desk.

"Has anyone seen Lundyn?" Mrs. H asked us. Clueless, we all either mumbled a no or shook our heads. Lundyn's best friend, Zoey Rogers-Moore, scanned the room frantically. We briefly caught each other's eyes, but she turned away too quick before we exchanged any emotion.

But we were all wondering.

Where was Lundyn?

It wasn't like the Princess of the Valley to miss a day of school. She'd always come to class on time, well groomed, and barely keep a straight face as she bat away admirers and applied another coat of lip-gloss, chatting with her clones.

And it wasn't like me to care. I never even liked Lundyn or Zoey or Saoirse Lynn. They all shunned me, ignored me, and rolled their eyes when I passed them. They expected me to be graced with their presence.

I wasn't.

The hallways were anything but silent with little whispers in between each clique. Of course, it was all about Lundyn's disappearance.

Even my friends were amused at the topic.

"Looks like the Bitch had a bad hair day," grunted Layne Ramos, my good friend, as she sucked on her cigarette in the school's parking lot. Blaine, Layne's little sister, nodded in agreement.

"Don't be harsh, Layne," I warned in a sarcastic voice.

"Me? Harsh?" Layne widened her eyes innocently and mocked Lundyn's famous kitty smirk. "Oh, whatever do you mean? I'm Lundyn-f**king-Pierce, Flathead's very own slut-face and hoe-bag. Not only will I steal your boyfriend, I will seduce him, screw him, and then throw it in your puny little face! Of course, I must cheat on my homework and get my nails done in between." She rolled her dark brown eyes in disgust.

"I agree Layne," Opal commented from my left side, finishing off her smoke and tossing the dud at the ground. "She's a cold-hearted freak and expects to be worshipped! Or something. I don't know and I don't care."

"Amen," said Blaine.

The rest of the day toiled on bleakly, aside from the occasional rumor that Lundyn was pregnant and was getting checked out at the doctor or something gruesome along those lines.

The next day at school, neither Zoey nor Saoirse Lynn was at homeroom. Of course, neither was Lundyn.

What was going on?

It didn't take us long to find out. First period was an assembly. We all fled into the auditorium, anxious to hear whatever our school was about to say to us.

As soon as all of the school was in, all three assistant principals were standing on the stage solemnly. Mr. Jobe walked to the center of the stage and projected his voice.

"Many of you students know Lundyn Pierce," he boomed. "She has been at this school since she was a freshman. In the sophomore year she was elected treasurer for Flathead’s National Honor Society. She has always actively participated in many different sports, as you all know. However, we have some very unfortunate news about Miss Pierce." He then paused for effect.

I felt my heart begin to race. Why? I had no clue. It's not like I cared for – or even liked -- Lundyn Pierce. Right?

"Yesterday morning, as most of you know, Lundyn Pierce had not come to school. This is because she was dead." He lowered his head sorrowfully. "She was found in her bedroom. She hanged herself the night before and had left us a three-page note. I am going to read it aloud."

And so he did. As her words poured slowly out of his mouth, I couldn't help but feel warm liquid outlining my eyes and dribbling down my cheeks. There were so many days that I've seen her, so many days I made fun of her behind her back – and look where she is now.


The word struck me like a seven-ton bus, as did a sudden realization that would haunt me for the rest of my life:

At least she's not fragile anymore.
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