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from A Test of Loyalty by Laurie Stewart

Part 6
Ashleigh and Samantha

Ashleigh
Seven o’clock in the freaking morning. Whose idea was it to have a seven in the morning, anyway? Some sadistic government clerk probably.
My eyes felt like sandpaper, and my hair was plastered to my neck with sweat. Mom and Jeff had argued half the night, and now they were both sleeping in, while I had to get up for school. I was tempted to say to hell with it and go back to sleep. But welfare was never going to pay enough to get away from here, so I had to find a job. And unless I wanted to say “you want fries with that?” for the rest of my life, that meant graduating.

I’d hoped when I heard the argument that mom might throw Jeff out, but no such luck. I’d heard him come in again at about five, so I was extra careful to be quiet.
As usual, there was no real food in the fridge. I managed a piece of toast and peanut butter, and decided to look for some cash to buy lunch at school. Mom had left her purse out, but Jeff had beaten me to it. The wallet was totally empty.
I wondered if Miss Priss upstairs had any money.
I grabbed a couple of cigarettes out of mom’s jacket and headed upstairs.


Samantha
The Mary, Queen of Heaven High School stood before me. My imagination had painted a Victorian brick building with white pillars and marble floors. Reality was somewhat less impressive. Square cement block, windows that don’t open, paved yard, no fields, no trees, and no benches. It looked as ugly and unfriendly as any building I’d ever seen. Ashleigh just headed on in like it was normal to enter such a dead and hopeless looking place.
A few of her usual crowd were hanging out on the steps, smoking. A weary, beaten-down l...






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