You can find Part One here and Part Two here.
The next morning, Megan left for school after ensuring that Justin looked presentable. She did. Once Megan was gone, Justin changed back into jeans with holes and a dark sweatshirt. She threw the nice clothes into her backpack to change into before coming home. She couldn’t let Megan see her without them. She even remembered to grab a brush on her way out the door.
Justin shared a bus stop with Charlotte and she couldn’t start the day with teasing and questions. Instead, they talked about whatever came to their minds, including how poorly school was going. “I can’t get any of it!” Charlotte began. “It just won’t stick. I don’t know why they even try!”
“Yeah. I just don’t get it. Especially math. What a pain!”
“I know, right?” Just then, the bus pulled up and they climbed on, unhappy with the day planned out for them.
Justin did not live up to the deal. She was late, she was dirty, and she still hung out with Marty’s group. But never in front of Megan. Things were going great until the next Wednesday when Justin’s mom got a phone call. From the school.
Justin slouched in the cold plastic chair. She wasn’t so upset by the fact that she had been caught. That had happened plenty. It was the fact that the rest of Marty’s gang had split at the first sign of trouble. They had always got in trouble together if they did something together. If one of the group did something by themselves, it was on them. They weren’t getting bailed out by their friends. But they had never just left one person to suffer - it was usually at least two.
Justin hadn’t even noticed they had left. She was too busy reaching her thin arm up the vending machine and grabbing a soda to think of much else. That’s where Mrs. Newman had caught her. With her arm up the vending machine. It had been a short walk to the principal’s office, followed by a long lecture with a lot of “You’re better than this!” strung through it. The whole scene had been topped off by a phone call to her mother.
It wasn’t worth explaining things to her or the principal. They wouldn’t understand that it had been Marty’s idea, that the rest of the group had split as soon as Mrs. Newman had shown up. So she just sat and listened. She nodded and looked guilty when she needed to, but she didn’t think any of the adults were fooled. She was sitting there half listening when something caught her ear. “Since this is a third offense,” Principal Bright was saying. “I’m afraid it means a two day suspension this time.” That caught Justin by surprise. It had never been more than a week or so of detention before now. What would her dad say? Worse, what would Megan say?
That’s what she was thinking about on the way home: what to say to Megan. Dad was like any other adult. Nod and look appropriately guilty. But Megan. She was not an adult. She really believed that Justin had been keeping up her end of the deal. She would be so disappointed. And Justin didn’t want to disappoint her. She didn’t want to break her trust.