“I know you aren't.”
"But I am. I just need to be alone."
“Lauren, you've been hiding away in your bedroom, crawling along the edges of the hallway, and brushing everything off like you're okay. You've gone back to wearing dark clothing as if you're trying to hide in the shadows.”
"I think you should go, K."
“No, I'm not leaving you! The last time you acted like this in seventh grade, you fell apart and I had to stand by and watch. It took almost a year for you to recover and I can't watch you go back. We're freshman in high school. We have teachers who care. Maybe if we talk to them they could help-”
"It's too late! No one cares! You don't care, my family doesn't care, teachers don't care, my friends are faking it--no one cares!!"
“I DO care! I can't stand by and watch you collapse and not try to help you back up. I can't watch you die gradually and just stand by. No. Not again.”
"Just leave me."
“I won't. I'm concerned for you. When I went home and saw your poetry blog the other day, I noticed someone commented on a poem you wrote. I know they called you a retard. I know they said no one wants to be seen with you and I know you are starting to believe it. But it is not true, Lauren.”
"But it is, K. You just pity me. You don't really care about me. No one really wants to be seen with me. When they are with me, it's forced.” Lauren pauses for a moment then adds “I am a retard.”
“You aren't. You are beautifully and wonderfully made and I care about you more than you know. I wish you knew how amazing and worthy you truly are.”
"I'm not. I'm unworthy of love, unworthy of friends, unworthy of anything."
“But aren't we all? We all screw up, disappoint one another, hurt and get hurt--you aren't the only one, Lauren. Don’t let those haters get to you.”
"You know I can’t help it. You know I take everything to heart. This is getting nowhere and you know it. K, I should go."
“It might not be, but I can't let you go by yourself. Let me be here for you. Allow me to wipe away your tear-stained eyes. Allow me to show you what you deserve.”
“I'm going now." Lauren starts past K, colliding shoulders.
Snatching her arm, Lauren tries to squirm and tug away out of her childhood friend's firm grip. K refuses to let go and instead tenses her hand around Lauren's arm until she turns a vivid fire red, fearing what Lauren might do if she's alone. All the while, Lauren gets more vicious. As she twists her arm out of K's grip, she scurries away as if she were on the run from the cops.