“So, you never did tell me. What brings you to Two Rivers?”
Everybody asked that question, and I’d perfected an answer weeks before I moved here, lie number two. “My mom’s a nurse in the Army Reserve. She deployed to Afghanistan, and I chose to stay with her best friend Maggie Flynn and her family and finish school here.”
I hated lying, but I couldn’t tell anyone the real story. Last year, my mom had returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan a wounded warrior, with shrapnel implanted in her hip, chronic pain, an opiate addiction, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She stole drugs from her employer, from her patients, and a coworker turned her in. Given her situation, the judge was lenient, but sentenced her to six months in a correctional facility where she would also receive treatment for her addiction. It was a long, sad story, and not one to share with the kids at Two Rivers High School. They’d never understand that Mom was more victim than criminal.
“What about your dad?” Mel asked.
“Not an option. My parents are divorced. He’s remarried and has a couple of bratty step kids. I stayed with them while my mom did her first tour of duty in Afghanistan, and I hated every minute. And my grandparents moved to some senior citizen condo in Florida last year so I couldn’t stay with them. When Maggie offered to let me stay here, I jumped at it.”
“Starting at a new school must be hard.”
I shrugged. “This is my third high school. It’s a piece of cake.”
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