I hate fire. I hate it so much. The amount of hatred I possess takes up most of my being. It is true, pure, undiluted hatred.

The reason I'm thinking this at the moment...is because I'm looking at it. Glaring is a more accurate term, I suppose.

Sarah is standing by the gas stove, flipping pancakes-which I'm sure taste horrible by the way, she should just leave all the cooking to David-and Michael is sitting by the kitchen counter, a stool away from mine, staring at his phone.

I'm not sure what he is doing on his phone, whether he's using Facebook or Instagram. Or whatever is popular these days. I'm not really into any of that. I prefer to stare at a book all day. Books are just so much more interesting than people. Seriously. I can never understand people who don't read.

Almost as if they had a will of their own, my eyes trail back over to the gas stove and the blue flames licking their way up the pan. It was a nice shade of blue and it kind of looked like it was dancing, and the motion of it was mesmerizing, almost beautiful.

My fingers unconsciously trail over to my right arm, to the burned piece of flesh there, the memory it contains, and I become angry all over again. These flames looked nothing like those flames. No, those flames were big and scary, but this looked almost as if it was safe. It wasn't safe, of course. Fire isn't safe.

I learned that the hard way.

"Lia?" I look up to see both Sarah and Michael staring at me. The moment I make eye contact with him, he looks back down at the phone in his hand.

I look back at Sarah.

"Um...I'm sorry. Did you say something?" I ask and she looks at me sympathetically.

I hate that look.

She smiles, still looking at me like a puppy that's just been kicked, "I asked if you were ready for your first day."

I swallow.

"Oh. Yeah, yes I am."

I could tell she was hoping for more enthusiasm, a smile maybe, but she hides her disappointment with another smile of her own and goes back to making breakfast.

"Where's Dad?" Michael asks, after an awkward moment of silence. Whether he asks to change the subject or if he's genuinely curious, I didn't know. What I did know was that David had gone out early this morning. I was awake when he left, reading.

"He went to work early today," Sarah answers breezily, but I could tell she was still disappointed.

I hated this. I hated making them-her and David- feel like this. Like maybe it was their fault like they weren't enough. That wasn't the case, of course. The problem was me but I knew they would never accept that. They just weren't the type of people to give up on someone. Or anything, really.

"Why, did you want something?" Sarah goes on, adding more batter onto the pan.

Michael shrugs, and again, takes his attention back to his phone. I look closely at the motion of his hands and it kinda looks like he's typing. I wonder how one can learn to type that fast. I don't ask, of course, because we don't ask each other questions. We rarely ever talk.

Once the pancakes are ready Sarah transfers them into plates and gives them to Michael and me. She never eats breakfast. Maybe it is to stay skinny or maybe it is for some other reason. I've never asked...and still won't.

I douse my pancakes in maple syrup before even trying them. I notice Michael does too. I never thought that a person could mess up pancakes but with Sarah, anything is possible. The ingredients are always either too much or too little, and the whole meal ends up tasting horrible.

I never tell her, though, and neither does Michael. David is conveniently never around whenever she cooks. I don't know whether he disappears on purpose or if it is just a coincidence but either way he's very lucky.

I always want to say something to her but I never do. I even bought her a cookbook for her birthday. Evidently, she never uses it.

Once we've eaten breakfast, Sarah gives us money for lunch. She took the day off today, just to cook us a 'special meal' for our first day of school. She should have just gone to work, honestly.

The whole 'buying lunch' thing is new for me because in my old school I used to take a lunch box. So did my brother. There were donuts and other things like that at the school but I'd never actually seen someone eat actual food from the cafeteria. Maybe the food wasn't good there. I wish I had tried it.

We get into Michael's car, me at the passenger seat and once we start driving, I see Sarah in the rear view mirror standing by the door, looking back at me. That makes me sad for some reason and I can't help but pop my head out the window to wave.

She waves back, quite enthusiastically, actually and I see a big smile appear on her face before ducking my head back in. I see Michael looking at me with a small frown on his face and raise my eyebrows. He doesn't say anything, just shakes his head slightly and looks back towards the road.

Michael is a very difficult person to talk to. Not that I've really tried but he just doesn't seem like the type of person you could have a casual conversation with. I've noticed that he also gives Sarah and David very short replies whenever they try to talk to him and the only person I've seen him-or rather heard-him talk to was Simon. I think he is his friend but I am not sure. We were never introduced. I don't know if Michael has always been a quiet person or if somehow it's because I'm now here. Either way, it makes me uneasy.

I don't know quite a lot of things about Michael. I don't know what his favorite food is, just that he is allergic to almonds. I don't know his favorite color, just that he never wears anything bright and welcoming.

That bothers me a lot, the fact that I know so little about the person living down the hall from me. Probably more than it should but if he didn't want me to know anything about him then I wasn't going to pry.

After a few minutes of silence I ask, "Are there bullies at school?" partly because I'm sick of the quiet and partly because I'm genuinely curious. I always thought bullies were made up, to make books and movies more interesting. I just couldn't believe that people can be that cruel. It literally costs them nothing to leave others alone and yet they never do it.

For a while, Michael doesn't answer and just as I think he's gonna ignore me, he says, "No." I wait for him to add more but he doesn't.

Well, okay then. If he doesn't want to talk, then that was fine by me.

I turn on the radio and look out the window, hoping, praying that today doesn't turn out to be awful.

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