or he comes back to school with a gun at his side

Bobby, who overhears everything, turns to the new girl. “Because…” He interrupts everyone’s conversation. “Because Michael’s a freak. F-R-E-A-K. He doesn’t care, he’s so busy wrapped up in his notebook.”

“He’s probably got some sci-fi stuff, or a story of how he’s going to come out to mommy and daddy.” Edward snickered. “Because he’s so obviously gay.”

Inside her head Jenny was screaming. ‘How can they be so hurtful? How dare they call him gay! How dare they be so mean? What gives them the right?’ But she didn’t say this, she just shrugged and picked at her salad, stealing glances at Michael every chance she had.

When the bell rang signaling the end of lunch there was an audible groan in the cafeteria as everyone stood up to make the sad progression back to class. Everyone moved slow, hoping to delay the inevitable, everyone except Michael. He swung his backpack over his should and sped up so he’d catch Bobby right at the door.

Hand in his pocket he touched the cold metal. He felt strengthened by it.

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