“Gangs?” One of the girl asked.
“What about them?” I responded.
“There’s gang in your home town?” Another girl demanded.
“How did you know about that?” I shot back quickly.
“Brenna told us.” A third girl laughed. “So it is true, are you part of a gang?”
“I’m not.” I retorted.
“Do you know people who are?”
Reluctantly I nodded.
“Like who?” Other girls were starting to join in on our conversation while I was trying to study for finals. They should have been studying, too, but the gossip circle was forming, and I was stuck int he middle of it. There had to be at least twenty girls sitting around me by the time I was ready to answer the question.
“Oh come on! Who? Anyone you’ve told us about?”
“I haven’t told you about anyone, Kayla! I don’t speak to any of the boys in gangs. When I got home for the holidays, I mostly just stay in my house.” I answered.
“Any cute boys?” Brenna walked through the door.
“I wouldn’t know, I don’t find druggies attractive.” I shot back at her and raised an eyebrow to just to put an extra little punch behind it. A bundle of gasping raised through the small crowd.
“And you think I do?” She scoffed.
“What about Alec?” I said slyly.
“How would you know?” Brenna shot back quickly. I laughed and shrugged to them but they all knew that I wasn’t lying. Some of the girls laughed, others shot me dirty looks, and very few went to Brenna to try to console her.
“So how many gangs are there?”
“Just two.” I answered simply. “Girls, I really don’t want to talk about it. It’s not something I’m proud of.”
“Probably because she’s only here to get away from some stalker ex-boyfriend, or maybe she’s on a hit list.” Brenna chuckled and walked towards me. Sitting on the couch above me, her grimy feet were right in my face. “So tell us, why did you come here?”
“I’m not on a hit list, I’ve never talked to any of those men since they joined the gangs.” I retorted.
“So what is it then? Did one get you pregnant or something like that? It’s okay, you can tell us.” Brenna was now just making up stupid ideas, and everybody knew it. They’d all been around me for a year, only Brenna would question why I’m here.
“No.” I laughed.
“Family member in the gang? You have a brother, don’t you?” She smirked. “How many has he killed?”
I jumped to my feet and towered over Brenna before she slowly got to her own feet.
“My brother is not in a gang.” I growled. “And you should watch yourself. I’m not in a gang but living in a neighborhood like mine, you learn a few fighting moves.”
“Is that the reason you came here?” She snickered. “Got in a fight and then expelled from your old school.”
It took all my will power to keep myself from throwing her a left hook, which was my strongest punch. My brother had taught me how to defend myself, but he’d warned me that if I ever used it for any other reason that self defense, he’d kick my ass.
“Better life.” I snarled.
“Why? You want a better life for your baby, damn teen moms.” Brenna was taken by surprise when I clocked her upside the head. All the other girls gasped even though they knew it was coming. Her nose instantly broke beneath my fingers.
Suddenly one of the teachers noticed the blood spilling from Brenna’s nose.
“What happened here?” She demanded and slapped a ruler stick down on the coffee table.
“She punched me!” Brenna snapped.
“No she didn’t.” The quietest one, Taylor, spoke up. “Brenna slipped and slammed her nose against the table.
“Carly, what happened here?” She demanded.
“Like Taylor said, Brenna slipped.” I beamed at both of them knowing that being caught in a fight meant that I’d have to leave.
“No! She punched me!” Brenna screamed.
“Come, come, child. We’ll take you down to the nurse’s office.” She rushed her off. I turned to Taylor and Carly, waiting them to give me the “you owe me” look, but they never did.
“Thank you.” I whispered. Taylor stepped forward first and wrapped her arms around my shoulders before Carly hugged me.
After finals the next week, I had to leave because my father and brothers needed me back home. All of my friends had been expecting me to stay the summer, I had been looking forward to it. My stomach was twisted into knots as I boarded the plane with all my school friends watching. Many of them told me that they hoped I’d have a safe trip home, but I wasn’t going home. I was leaving my home.