"Do you need a ride home?" I stopped for a split second but kept the pace up. "I know you can hear me." He said, keeping a distance behind me. "You heard my car and my door shut. Will you please stop?"
"No!" I shouted over my shoulder. I did slow, just to hear this guy out. He probably knew that because he jogged up beside me. He didn't say anything for a minute so I stopped and turned toward him. "Listen, I don't know who you are or why you want to help me but-"
He cut me off. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I really do just want to help you. I'm new to town, right? I'm eight-teen and a incoming senior. I'll be starting my first day tomorrow and you kind of look like a highschooler and I thought that it would be cool to get to know someone, so I don't seem like a total loser at school. Right?" I didn't say anything. "And I've heard stories. You're Ashley, right? Ashley Burns?" I nodded. "Yea, I heard stories about you and your mom, right?"
"You say right a lot you know that? And what kind of stories?" Our breaths came out in little white fog whisps.
"Why don't you let me take you home? I'll tell you in the car." I stared him down a minute and figured he seemed harmless. I shrugged.
"Okay. But you aren't getting past the threshhold." We walked back to the car. As I walked around to the passenger side, I noticed he paused at the hood of the car. I ignored the fact and climbed inside. It was nice and warm and the leather seats felt really nice. I clipped the seatbelt over me and laid back and relaxed. I hadn't relaxed like this in months. It felt great. The engine purred to life and we were moving before I realized he had got into the car. I snuggled a little deeper. "Ok, what stories? And I don't even know your name."
"My name is Richard." He said. I laughed. "What?"
"My best-friends name is Richardo."
He smiled. "No lie?" I shook my head. "Ok. Well, my name is Richard and I'm from South Carolina. The story around town about you and your mom is she ran off, right? Just left you alone, right? And that she forced you to get a job at sixteen because she left you. Right there in cold blood. Just stood there and said to your face you were worthless and she hated you, right?"
I didn't say anything back. I didn't even tell him to make a left when the time came. He just slowed down and parked on the side of the road about two miles from my house. He looked at me for a long time. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings or anything. I just wanted somebody to talk to. I'm alone too. I don't have anybody but my dad and he's drunk most of the time since he and my mom get a divorce, right?" My bottom lip quivered for a moment before I gained control. "Oh, man. Jeesh. Don't cry."
"I'm not going to. We passed my road." He flipped the care and drove back. I told him to make a right and then another left to pull into my drive.
"Listen, jeesh. I'm sorry. Like I said, I'm trying to make friends."
I jumped out. "Yea, apology accepted. Just seek me out at school tomorrow, or something. Ok?"
"Okay." he answered. I shut the door and raced up the house steps and unlocked the door. I waved goodbye to Richard and went inside. I saw his headlights back out of the drive and head down the road. I bolted my door and went into the shower.
From there...I cried...