Chapter 3

3rd Person POV

Stan was currently sitting behind the gym, smoking a cigarette with the goths. As soon as he got to school he remembered that the majority of his classes had Wendy in them. At her insistence of wanting to spend the day with him, he chose as many as he could with her at the beginning of the year. This only served to soured his mood so he decided to skip class and might as well hangout with his new friends. Once he got there, he saw them already sitting in their usual seats, silently smoking. One thing he'd always admired about them was that they didn't feel the need to fill their silences with small talk, unlike him and his friends that were always arguing about one thing or another.

"Didn't think you'd start ditching so soon." Michael took a drag of his cigarette, not looking at him as he blew the smoke upwards.

"Yeah, how nonconformist of you." Pete didn't look at him as he spoke, flipping his bangs out of his face.

"I just didn't feel like dealing with those conformists." He kicked a pebble and Henrietta offered him a cancer stick which he accepted with only the slightest reluctance, still not completely used to smoking. "Thanks." He took out the lighter he stole from his dad and lit the end, sucking in small puffs until the end was glowing red.

"Sophia said she'd hang out with us today." Firkle spoke up from his spot behind the other three.

"After work, right?" Pete flipped his bangs out of his face and the middle schooler nodded.

"Yeah and she said she might have time for a quick smoke during lunch before she leaves." The boy scrolled down through his phone, before texting something back, presumably to Sophia.

"That's cool." Michael was obviously pleased even if his face didn't show it much. They sat on the floor saying nothing except for the occasional remark about nonconformity or how cruel the world was until the lunch bell rang. Before it was done ringing throughout the campus, soft footsteps walked toward them, given away only by the snow crunching beneath black shoes.

"Sorry I've been so busy." A soft voice apologized and Michael rolled his eyes.

"It's whatever." He said trying not to sound too pleased at seeing her. Stan looked up and his eyes widened.

'This must be Sophia...'

Sophia was a tall, slender girl with mile long legs and very subtle curves. Everything about her was delicate; her slender neck and wrists, even the way she walked seemed to radiate a feeling that if anyone bumped into her she would immediately topple over to the floor without much of a fight. Her skin was almost as pale as the snow around her and her hair was an inky black that reached her waist. The only thing out of place about her look was that she had long bangs that covered both her eyes, almost as if they grew out and she didn't bother trimming them, but unlike Pete she didn't flip them out of her face. There were also strands of hair framing the sides her face and hiding her ears. She was wearing black skinny jeans, black vans, and a blue and black striped hoodie. Stan vaguely remembered seeing her around, he probably saw her in the hall once or twice but he couldn't be sure.

"Oh, we have a new friend." She accepted the cigarette Michael offered her, bringing out her own silver lighter and lighting it with a flick of her wrist. When she was done with it, she put the lighter back into her pocket and blew the smoke up and away from anyone's face.

"Yeah, that's Raven." Henrietta took a deep inhale of her cigarette. Sophia let her backpack fall on the floor and it must have been heavier than it looked because it made a loud thump.

"Cool." She sat next to Michael and Firkle didn't hesitate to move over so he could lay his head on her lap, surprising Stan at how affectionate the younger boy could be, but no one else questioned it so he didn't either. She ran her fingers through the middle schooler's bangs a few times, taking a relaxing breath of smoke. "My next day off is two days from now so I'll be able to hang out the entire day." She said softly to Henrietta who nodded. "Do you read poetry too?" She turned toward Stan and he tensed up a little at the sudden question.

"Yeah, sometimes." He mumbled and she tilted her head.

"Why'd you decide to go goth again?" She remembered her friends talking about him a few times, even pointing him out in the halls sometimes, but she had never actually met him in person before.

"My heart was ripped out of my chest and raped right in front of me." He looked away and she blinked silently, absorbing what he just said.

"Deep. That might go well in a poem." She finally answered, twitching her fingers so the cigarette ash would fall on the floor.

"His girlfriend left him again." Henrietta clarified as she flicked her finished cigarette bud onto the floor. "Dumped him for some other kid and didn't care if she crushed his soul for the rest of eternity. She was a black hearted conformist who sucked the life out of him and bailed when there was nothing left."

"Harsh." Sophia blew the smoke in her mouth upwards. "So your tormented soul sought us out for the cool comfort of darkness?" She put the cigarette to her lips again and he couldn't help but stare at her shiny, black nails.

"Yeah, pretty much." He swallowed the lump in his throat and started coughing after a particularly deep inhale of nicotine.

"Don't force yourself too much." She commented as she stood up, gently patting Firkle's head as she did. "I'll see you guys later, my shift starts soon." She flicked her cigarette bud to the floor and crushed it under her foot.

"But it's barely lunch." Stan spoke up and she turned to look at him, or at least he thought she did, he couldn't tell where her eyes were focussing on.

"I have early dismissal." She shrugged and picked up her heavy backpack, sliding it onto her shoulders. "I've got to go."

"Cool." They all chanted back at her minus Stan who only nodded. She turned around and walked away, her long hair swaying behind her. He watched her leave, thinking that her presence was calming, especially with the soft way she spoke.

"Don't get any ideas Raven, Michael and Firkle will happily skin you alive and wear you like a suit." Henrietta rolled her eyes but there was amusement in them.

"Shut the fuck up, I told you it wasn't like that." Michael tried scoffing and looked away, but his voice was off. "I'm not going to conform to a role like that." He flicked his cigarette bud to the ground.

"I'll still skin you alive." Firkle went back to sitting a few feet behind them again.

"Whatever, who said I was interested?" Stan took a long drag of his cigarette and started coughing again.

"I never said you were." Henrietta raised an eyebrow and he did the same.

"I'm still not." He mumbled and stared at the end of his cigarette, watching the tip glow a dull red and the thin trail of smoke unfurl from it.

"Whatever." They all chorused.

Sophia POV

I unchained my bike from the front of the school and started riding toward Benny's. After hanging out there for so long I noticed a 'HELP WANTED' sign and thought I might as well apply considering I spend a lot of my time there anyway. The place was perfect, the coffee was cheap and it was pretty lonely most of the week except for old people or on Sundays when a bunch of church goers decide to go eat as a family. This job is pretty convenient because I get to see my friends even when I'm busy. I got to Benny's and chained my bike to the side of the building where there was an employee bike rack.

"Hey." I said softly and the other waitress smiled at me.

"Right on time, hurry up and get changed." I nodded and went to the back where there was a small changing room with a few lockers before changing into the uniform consisting of a baby blue polo shirt and some black slacks, once again thankful that I wasn't obligated to wear the uniform dress that the older waitress wore. I tied my hair back in a low ponytail except for my bangs and grabbed a half apron, pinning on my name tag as I did. Reaching a computer in the break room, I clocked in and grabbed a notepad to take orders with.

"Welcome to Benny's, what can I get for you?" I walked over to a table where two old men sat and took their orders. Seems like it'll be another boring shift, it was a pretty slow day and the people who were here ate extremely slow, not giving me much to do. I spent most of my shift pouring coffee and nodding bored at the old people whenever they tried telling me a story. Old people took up so much of my time and they usually didn't leave very good tips, just spare change most of the time since their concept of money was outdated by quite a few years. Of course I occasionally got some nice folks who tipped pretty well, but they were rare. After my shift was finally over I went to the back to change back into my regular clothes, letting my hair down as I pulled out the hair tie, sighing as I stuffed my uniform in my backpack so I could take it home for a wash. "You mind if I take some coffee?" I asked the only other waitress here and she rolled her eyes.

"Go ahead kid, you always do." I gave her a nod of thanks and filled a few of the disposable cups with some black coffee, counting out five before hesitating and filling a sixth one.

"Maybe the new kid likes coffee." I shrugged to myself and placed them close together in one of the plastic bags with the Benny's logo in the front and tied it carefully so that incase of spills I wouldn't get coffee all over myself.

"See ya tomorrow!" I nodded to the cook as he peeked over the counter to send me off with a smile and wave. I walked out to my bike and carefully put the coffee in the metal basket before getting on and riding to Henrietta's house as smoothly as I could. It was only six so I should be able to make it just in time to hear the end of their poetry. The trip to her house was a silent one and I took the time to think about everything and anything that came to mind, mostly about what would be waiting for me when I would go home later. Thinking so much made it seem like I got there pretty fast and I was content to see that I didn't spill any coffee. Before walking up to the porch, I left my bike in their front yard and rang the door bell.

"Oh hello Sophia, here to see Henrietta right? They're upstairs reading poetry." Her overly cheerful mom greeted me and I nodded as I carefully held the bag full of coffee cups.

"Thanks." I walked in and made my way up the familiar stairs, not bothering to knock before I walked in. "Hey, I brought coffee." They all nodded at me and I set the bag down on a table with a few candles on it, taking out the coffee cups.

"I was about to stab my stomach open and rip out my guts, so thanks." Henrietta accepted the coffee and immediately drank from it.

"Dark and bitter, just like my life, thanks." Pete said dryly as he took a sip of his.

"I can't wait to overdose on caffeine some day." Michael didn't smile, but he gave me a not-frown as he took his cup.

"Thanks Sophia." Firkle took his cup and started drinking deeply from it.

"I wasn't sure if you liked coffee or not, but I brought you a cup anyway." I said softly as I held out a cup to Raven and his eyes slightly widened.

"Oh, thanks." He took it slowly and did a bad job of hiding his grimace at the bitter taste.

"I'm sure Henrietta's mom has sweetener if you need it." I drank from my cup and he shook his head with a determined look in his eyes.

"No, this is fine. I don't need any sweetener in my life, it does nothing to me anymore." He had a heavy double meaning in his words which Henrietta nodded approvingly of.

"Woah." Her and Pete nodded at him.

"If you say so." I took my seat next to Michael and Firkle sat with his back against mine.

"We were just finishing our poetry if you wanted to join in or whatever." Michael offered me a cigarette and I took it, flicking my lighter on to light it.

"So I'm just in time then." I took a small book out of my backpack where I'd occasionally write my thoughts down during class.

"I learn to live with contempt, it's depth comforts me as stress eats away at my sanity like maggots on a rotting corpse. Death the only beacon of hope at the end of a dark, dark, cave. Caffeine runs through my veins, warming me like a heroine addict with his fix, temporary promises of well-being about as trustworthy as a cheap prostitute. Both leave their disease in my soul, my friend death won't accept me anymore; he doesn't want to catch something unpleasant."

"Woah." Henrietta sighed as I took a deep inhale of my cigarette.

"My head was all over the place during class." I closed my book and put it back in my bag.

"That was pretty good." Raven said a bit awkwardly, not sure how to praise me

"Thanks." I blew the smoke upwards and the door suddenly opened.

"Sweetie pie! I brought snacks!" Henrietta's mom announced happily as she held a tray of brownies.

"Go away mom, leave me the fuck alone. You probably laced those so I could drop dead once and for all." As she said this, I stood up to take the tray.

"Oh you're so imaginative sweetie!" She happily handed over the tray and left right before I closed the door.

"Conformist bitch, she probably wishes I would be a cute little housewife and bake little treats like a bad 60's fever dream. Disgusting."

"Yeah." Everyone sighed and I took my seat with the tray resting in my hands.

"We don't want any of her conformist brownies, you should throw them away and let maggots eat them." Pete flipped his bangs out of his eyes and I shrugged one shoulder, grabbing a brownie and biting into it. I'd never admit it out loud, but Henrietta's mom was actually a really good cook, a luxury I didn't have waiting for me at home.

"I'm hungry and if people want me to starve to death, I won't give them the satisfaction." I swallowed my bite and they nodded.

"Yeah." They sighed as one and each reached for a brownie, passing the tray around and it was empty in a few minutes. I'm glad her food didn't go to waste, she's actually pretty nice.