Tyson reached for her arm and gripped it gently. “Where are you going?”
Hilary paused for a brief second. “Home.”
Tyson glanced at his friends, Allen and Jamie. They both shrugged at him.
“Don’t go.” Tyson said even as her dark eyes narrowed. “What’s wrong? What did I do?”
She pulled her lips back, exposing her teeth into a snarl. “The world doesn’t revolve around you, Ty.”
At that, he felt himself flinch.
Allen tried to step between Tyson and Hilary. “He was just worried he did something to hurt you.” A second passed. “Isn’t that right, Ty?”
Allen shot a look at his friend. His wide blue eyes were a shade darker than the afternoon sky.
A warm wind shuffled the autumn leaves at their feet, a swirl of red, oranges, and yellows.
“Yeah,” Ty hesitated, taking a tiny step forward. “I didn’t mean—”
Jamie uncrossed his long but thick arms and walked over to Hilary’s side with his lean legs. “Go home.”
Tyson narrowed his dark eyes, opening his mouth to say something but thought better of it.
Hilary had to tilt her head up in order to meet Jamie’s kind eyes. She nodded, making a move to turn around.
When Tyson tried to grab her arm again, Jamie stepped in front of him. Jamie stuck out his arm. He shook his head.
Tyson closed his eyes, not wanting to watch Hilary walk away. His heart sank to his stomach when he could no longer hear her receding footsteps.
Allen placed a cool hand on Tyson’s back. He could feel the coolness even through the fabric of his cotton T-shirt.
“She’ll be okay. Just give her a day or two.” The corners of Allen’s mouth turned upwards into a smile.
“But why is she mad? What did I do?” Tyson sat down on the grass, crossing his legs beneath him.
Jamie lowered his eyes to look at Tyson. “I wouldn’t worry.”
“I wouldn’t worry,” Jamie repeated, cutting him off.
“I’m not you and you aren’t me.” Tyson picked at a strand of grass on the ground and pulled it out.
A sigh escaped from Jamie’s lips. “Stop being difficult, Ty.”
“Maybe she’s just having a bad day,” Allen offered, bending his knees to squat down to Tyson’s level.
“We’re her friends. She’s supposed to feel better when she’s spending time with us, not worse.” He ran his hand down his face, wicking away some of the moisture and transferring it to his palm. Tyson wiped his hand on his denim jeans.
The three boys fell silent.
“I don’t get it. I don’t get her.” Tyson leapt up, which made Allen scramble to his feet.
“What are you doing?” Jamie asked when Tyson started in the direction Hilary walked away.
“Getting an answer,” he called out over his shoulder.
Jamie shook his head but followed with Allen running to catch up to Tyson.
They arrived at her house a few moments later.
Hilary’s dad opened the door.
“Uh, hi Mr. Chang.” Tyson chewed on his bottom lip. “Is Hilary home?”
Mr. Chang had dark hair and a light complexion, just like her. He was a thin but tall man, looming over the boys in the doorway. “No.” He went to shut the door, but Tyson stuck a foot out.
“Wait, she isn’t?”
Mr. Chang shook his head. “She hasn’t come home in three days.”