" Hey Ami! You alright in there?"

I heard my best friend Sodapop Curtis, yell from the other side of the bathroom door.

The door shook from the banging that followed the question.

" Yeah Soda. Just trying to get myself cleaned up a little."

I was currently staring at myself in the mirror, taking in the damage. All around my right eye a dark purple bruise was starting to form and was swelling up to the point that i pretty much couldn't see out of that eye any more. I had a fat lip and a few finger- shaped bruises turning purple around my throat where a Soc had just had his hands trying to choke the life out of me not even 5 minutes ago. I had got jumped on my way home from work. I'd decided to walk home alone from the DX station where I worked with Soda and our friend Steve Randle. Probably I should've waited for them. Probably.

I splashed some cold water on my face and walked out of the bathroom. Soda was leaning against the wall across from the door, waiting for me. He looked up from the floor when he heard the door open and smiled at me, although the look in his eyes didn't match the smile.

" Let's get some ice for that shiner, eh, Ami?" he asked me, then grinned suddenly.

" Once the swelling goes down on that eye, you'll sure look tough."

I just had to grin back, all the while ignoring the tightening in my stomach when he grinned at me like that.

" Sure, Soda. Whatever you say."

After I sat down at the table in the kitchen, Soda grabbed some ice from the ice box and wrapped it in a dish towel. Then he held it against my face and stared at my face for a moment.

" What?" I asked, shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I hated it when people stared at me.

" Why didn't you wait for us today?" he asked quietly after a minute.

I took the ice from his hand and held it up myself. I sighed. I couldn't tell him it was because I hadn't wanted to watch him make out with Sandy. So I lied.

" I wanted to check on... my dad." I rushed out.

Soda gave me a doubting look.

" You wanted to check on your dad? That sounds like a pretty lame excuse to me, Amara Janay Morgan. Whats going on with you? You've been acting weird all week."

I looked away from him, my good eye now roaming the faded floral wallpaper that covered the kitchen walls.

" Its nothing Sodapop. Just leave it alone." I turned my head towards him again and gave him a pleading look. " Please."

He gave me a somewhat hurt look and nodded slowly.

" Okay, Ames. But I wish you'd just tell me what's on your mind."

I gave him a weak smile. " One day Soda. When I feel the time is right."

I got up out of the chair and Soda had to step back or he would have fallen over. I walked past him in to the living room and sat on the couch with Steve, who was smoking a cigarette and watching Mickey Mouse.

I saw him glance at me from the corner of his eyes.

" Nice shiner there, Ami."

I turned to him and stuck out my tongue.

" Up yours Steve."

He smiled and continued watching Mickey.