Abby always thought she’d get used to the cold. That bitter, snot-freezing cold that defined Omaha winters. The cold you feel in your bones the minute it engulfed you. She never did though, get used to it. She hated it, and it made it all the more easy to spend her days inside. She was scraping the frost off her car with the ice scraper tool that mystified her cousins in California. They didn’t have such manual labors to start their days anyway. After clearing a six-inch view hole in her window, Abby sat inside her running car trying to get warm.
She sat inside rubbing her hands together and tuning out the pop song on the radio. It didn’t take much to bring her back to that day, the dark day. The gentle whir of the car engine did it, even though it was a completely different car.
She wasn’t going to think about it again. It was Tuesday. She had school. She would think about school. Did she finish the math assignment for Mr. Shank? Yes. She made inroads on her English project last night as well. She hated English, and especially Mrs. Andrade, but she wanted to get good grades. It had been awhile since she had an ‘A’ in anything, much less everything, and she needed to maintain. This was her identity now. She was the ‘A’ student. Well, an ‘A’ student. Benning East wasn’t nearly as prestigious as St. Michael’s, the school that failed her last year (in a lot of ways), but with five times as many students, it was harder to stand out. This suited Abby just fine. The whole reason she transferred schools –okay not the whole reason, but a big one- was to disappear into a crowd. She was too well known at St. Michael’s after the dark day, that there was no other option for her.
She was thinking about it again.
Abby tilted the mirror down to check her make up. She was getting used to the blonde hair, though even she could admit it wasn’t the right color for her. Mom was totally right. What a terrible thought. Even as the defroster was kicking in, she could still see her breath.
It was barely winter. November. It had snowed the week before but it had all melted. Now it was just cold. She was freezing, even with the hat and gloves and scarf. At least she could wear jeans now. St. Michael’s uniform rules did not allow for girls to wear pants of any kind. Jesus wouldn’t like it or something. And although Abby secretly hated having to pick out new clothes every single day, it was still preferable to the blue shirt, gray skirt combo that was forced on her at St. Mike’s. She wasn’t a real girl anyway. She didn’t care about dressing up the way the others did. She was just fine in a different t-shirt and hoodie every day. But even the t-shirts were judged at B’East. No matter. Abby was never going to get in with the popular crowd at her new school anyway. After everything that happened the year before she found herself really not caring about anything that the other students found important – partying, hooking up, drinking, music, drugs, fashion – all the things teenagers hold near and dear. She didn’t mean to be condescending. It wasn’t that she didn’t like the other students. She just felt so much better than them, even when she was at her lowest. She just knew they were beneath her.
Her window was almost clear now. She could see enough to drive. She popped it in reverse and slowly backed out of the driveway.