Ever had that thought, back when you were a kid, about running away? I guess everyone who didn't have a life to brag about did. We did, too.
All four of us had our reasons to leave. Jonathan had to escape his sheltered lifestyle. Adrian wanted to sit among the stars and be the brightest of them all. Ian's was simple; he just wanted to stay out of jail.
Me? Well, I wasn't sure at that point. All I'd wanted was to stay with the only friends I'd ever really had. Call me selfish, but at least it's the truth.
So the four of us went. Maybe all anyone needs to run away is a group of friends, because it certainly did the trick with us.
We all went to Pengrove High, in the one-horse town of St. Pengrove's Reach. We all had our own families, our own friends, our own lives. We were all so different.
I remember waking up one morning. I smelled toast. I don't remember getting showered and dressed, packing up my Marvel schoolbag, and heading downstairs to get some of that toast. My name is Silas Finnian, and I like toast.
After my breakfast, my brother and I walked to school, waving goodbye to our parents over our shoulders. My brother was a sophomore, and I was two years his elder. Between the two of us, I was the one who looked like a punk, and he was the one who acted like it. When I got three extra piercings in my right ear, Scott started locking himself in his room and blasting punk rock. When I had learned to play the guitar, Scott had formed a band.
"Ready for school?" he asked me, digging through his pockets for lunch money.
"Yep. Any tests?"
He was the kind of kid that could get away with not studying for a math test and pass. I was the kind that could bullshit an essay for an A. We were similar that way.
Inside the doors of Pengrove High, we split off from one another. He had his own world at school, and I wasn't concerned much for him during the day. My locker was close to the stairs, where Adrian was sitting with a group of girls, telling them one of his stories. As I approached, he caught my gaze and gave me a quick nod. I responded similarly, and then gathered my things without another glance. I went to class. One look through the doors of Calc, and I was comforted by the sight of Jonathan in his usual seat. Front right, one seat from the window so I would have a nice view. I strode over casually. He looked up through the thin black rim of his glasses and smiled patiently. "Hey."
"Hey." When guys talk, they don't need to actually say what they mean, like girls. When he said hey, I heard his, "Did you get enough sleep last night?"
My hey meant, "Yeah. You don't look much like you did."
In reply, he just smiled.
Calc trickled by slowly, and the rest of the day was a monotonous blur, up until lunch. That was when my day really started. We met at a corner in the cafeteria, our trays piled high. Adrian was wearing his trademark cocky grin, and we knew he'd scored a new girl or gotten the lead in the play for the eighth time in a row, something or other fairly impressive that he would then blow out of proportion. Ian, as usual, was an unreadable hulk of pale skin, unkempt dark hair, and dark bags above his cheekbones. Adrian led the way to our spot on the school roof, his golden halo of hair glimmering in the noon sun. Yes, I said glimmering. Why do you think I only have a few friends?
We sat, we ate, we listened to Adri rattle on and on about fifty things, related only by a few words. At least he was interesting to watch when he talked. He was an actor, aspiring anyway, and his wild gestures and bright expressions drew appreciative chuckles from us every time he spoke. Even Ian cracked a smile. Sometimes I imagined if he ever really smiled, his face would crack right open. I'd told him that once. He'd blinked at me owlishly, and then rolled his eyes.
"And then he said, 'J'ai un chat!'" Adrian cracked himself up. His laughter was unfairly melodic; no wonder he himself thought he was some kind of angel. We all laughed, though only Jon got the joke, as Ian took Spanish and I hadn't really listened. Jon was smart and a very hard worker, but Adrian was the group genius. Not that he ever put his brain to work.
"God, I am so funny. Too funny." We knew he was just joking now. Even he wasn't so bad. "They're gonna love me in Hollywood."
Ian groaned. "Not this again…"
"Yes, this again! You should expect this by now. Someday, you'll all be going to the movies to watch me. I'll be the next George Clooney. I'll be the next Robert Downey Junior! You'll see."
"So you're just going for comedy then?" I mused, pushing a button as I always did.
"No! I'll be an all-around actor. And I'll be the best of them all."
Jon grinned. "All-arounds aren't usually the best in anything, Adri."
Adrian huffed. "I'll be the best in everything."
He was the youngest of us, just a bright-blue-eyed junior, sixteen years old. He was also the most conceited, but we let him have it and he let us call him out on it. For all his talk, he was, in fact, talented.
I noticed Ian staring off into space, and Jon looked more exhausted than ever. "Why all the long faces, guys?"
Adrian piped up, too. "Yeah, you're both being seriously quiet. I at least expect our resident gay to dish about the guys he likes," he said good-naturedly, elbowing Jon. Jon chuckled wearily.
"All the hot guys are from out of town. I just stayed up reading and lost track of time." He was known for this. All eyes turned to Ian. "Why are you so quiet?" I questioned. "You would have at least made some sarcastic quip by now."
"I don't know what the hell a 'quip' is," was the sour reply. Adrian snickered.
I grinned. We all knew not to take anything he said seriously. "Really, though. Something going on with your dad again?" My voice hit a cautious note at that, and the other two went silent, waiting for an answer.
"Drunkeness. Idiocy. The usual." He eyed us all and said, "I don't know why you keep asking. It's always the same. I'm bigger than him, so it's not like there's anything to worry about."
None of us laughed the rest of lunch.