Virginia, United States
"Grow up," Alex whispered, leaning close to my ear. The stuffed bunny I was holding slipped from my hands onto the ground. He turned and left, abandoning me on the playground. I reached down and scooped the tattered rabbit into my arms, feverishly wiping away the warm tears streaming down my face.
I trudged over and sat on a lone swing, the ends of my shoes gently grazing the dirt. I gazed out at the sunset before me. Glancing back, I could see the moon peeking out over the trees.
"You're the one who needs to grow up." I kicked at a stray pebble with my foot. It collided with the jungle gym, the tiny clink barely audible in the deserted playground. I hugged the stuffed rabbit close to my chest and stared in the direction Alex had gone.
"Our house is in the opposite direction," I whispered into the bunny's ear. "I wonder why he went that way?" I gently tucked the rabbit under my arm and ambled after Alex.
After a few minutes of stumbling through the woods, I came across an old, abandoned building. Idle chatter and glass clinking could be heard through the walls. I snuck over to a broken window and peeked in. The room was carelessly filled with various miscolored couches and stained tables, and a pool table sat in the center with several people crowded around it. Only two of them were actually playing, though. The rest just lingered around with drinks in their hands. The smell of alcohol and cigarettes wafted out through the window. I covered my nose to keep from coughing. There were other people besides those at the pool table. Some were strewn out on couches while others stood talking in small groups. I saw Alex leaning against a far wall next to a refrigerator. I ducked down when he glanced in my direction. He'd be pissed if he found out I'd followed him. When I looked again, a few people surrounded him, offering one of the little red cups everyone had. He tried to deny the offer, but one person held him down while another poured the cup's contents into his mouth.
They laughed and left him there, the now free pool table catching their attention. Alex stumbled over to my window, gagging on whatever they'd forced him to drink. He leaned his back against the window frame and let out a sigh.
"Does that make you feel "grown-up"?" I whispered into his ear. He jumped and spun around to face me, his startled expression shifting to annoyance.
"Allison? What the hell are you doing here?" Alex hissed. "You're not following me, are you? Creep."
"You didn't answer my question," I said. Alex glared at me but didn't answer. We sat silent for a while, watching the people at the pool table argue. I glanced at Alex. He looked tired, and his face was a slightly green shade, like he was trying not to throw up. He was eyeing the group of people who had surrounded him earlier.
"Are they your friends?" I asked. He didn't turn to look at me.
"Yes, no…I don't know. If I want to be in their friend group, I have to prove myself." He said warily. "I have to prove that I am cool and…grown-up." I placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I think we should leave," I said. At that moment, a member of the group looked in our direction. He had greasy black hair and was wearing a plain teeshirt and jeans. The rest followed him like lost puppies when he pulled away from the table. He sauntered up to Alex and slung his arm over his shoulder.
"Hey, Alex, what do we have here?" He looked at me, and I didn't like what I saw in his eyes.
"Oh, that's just my little sister, Allison," Alex said. He sounded nonchalant about it but threw nervous glances between me and Jordan.
"Well, hello, Allison. I'm Jordan." He stuck his hand through the window and offered me a handshake. I carefully took his hand and shook, ignoring how tightly he gripped mine.
"Nice bunny you got there." I tightened my grip on the stuffed rabbit. He introduced me to the other three members. Sam, a boy whose only defining feature was his sandy blonde hair; Denis, a guy with brown hair and a crooked smile; and Lilly, a girl whose name didn't match her punk rock style.
"Alex, what were you doing hiding out over here?" Jordan asked him. Alex opened his mouth to say something, but I answered for him.
"We were just leaving, actually," I said, looking to Alex for agreement. Jordan tightened his grip on Alex's shoulder.
"Speak for yourself, Ally," Alex muttered, receiving a shoulder pat from Jordan. Jordan turned his gaze to me, a glean in his sharp green eyes.
"Say, Ally," I didn't like how he said my name. "You should join us. We could have some fun." He grinned at me.
"No thanks. We need to go home." I said, looking at Alex again, silently urging him to leave with me. Jordan grinned at me, but it didn't meet his eyes. I got the impression he wasn't used to being turned down.
"No, I insist. Don't be a buzzkill. Come inside." He stared down at me with a look that
"I said no." I glared at him and then over at Alex, "c'mon, we are leaving." Jordan gave him a look I couldn't read. Alex turned to me, his face flushed with annoyance.
"I told you I'm staying here! Just go home and play with your stupid doll!" He yelled. I turned and left without a second glance, leaving Alex alone with his new friends.
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