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Benjamin is a sweet guy. I call him my boyfriend because he’s a friend who’s a boy. Well, he’s no boy. He actually looks like a man because of his build and his height, but he’s cool. There’s no love there for us—well, not that kind of love. For all intents and purposes, he’s a boyfriend. We started hanging out at school when we had a science project last year, but we don’t do all that kissy, touchy, feely stuff. We just hang out. He keeps me company and when we’re together it temporarily takes my mind off things—things like the torture behind the doors at 2930 Hell Boulevard. That’s not really my address, but it feels like it. I say it so much that when I actually write my address, I sometimes write it that way: Hell Boulevard.

Pops said that I wasn’t going anywhere—I wasn’t leaving and we were going to have cake and ice cream at home. Cake and ice cream? Seriously, I’m sixteen now. I knew something was up because that would’ve been too normal. We don’t do normal. We don’t celebrate birthdays either. We don’t buy cakes and ice cream. Well, the cake got smooshed all over my mom, Daisy’s face because Pops found something to argue about. That’s normal here—the two of them arguing and fighting almost every freaking day. Mostly him. He starts with her all the time. The ice cream melted in the box on the kitchen table as I avoided calls from Benjamin and Carla all night. I eventually cried myself to sleep. They both rushed over to me the minute I stepped off the bus this morning.

Of course my eyes were bloodshot.

I couldn’t tell them what really happened—so I lied. They didn’t know if I had a dead aunt in Ohio or not. That’s my story and I stuck with it. All day long.

April 18: I’ve been so upset that I couldn’t journal. Tension around here is high—as usual. When I got home from school after the birthday fiasco, the ice cream had leaked through the box, which was still on the kitchen table. The so-called happy birthday cake was still uncovered and the big hole in the middle where Pops had grabbed a man-sized helping with his fingers to smear all over Daisy’s face had crusted over. A trail of ants made their way from the back door to the mess. I found some insect spray and murdered about 300 ants that day. I wiped everything down, and then went to my room. I guess Daisy just went to work and left it for me to clean up. Typical Daisy stuff.

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