I haven’t talked to Charity for weeks. She avoids me in the halls at school, she doesn’t call and she never asks me for favors anymore. It’s like she she’s dropped off the face of the earth. Part of it is my fault. I don’t reach out to her either. I don’t know if I am ready for that. Frankly, I am still ticked off at her. Well, hurt might be a more apt word for what I am feeling right now. I can’t get over the fact that she knew what Ethan was up to and didn’t bother to tell me, her friend. From my perspective, she let me down. She helped Ethan make me look like a fool.
On the plus side, The Incident has won me some fans. A couple of girls, Brynne and Aysia, have become my second and third shadow while at school. They think what I did was some groundbreaking event and a testament to girls everywhere not to take crap from a guy. They back me up like Charity should be doing, and hiss at anyone who has anything negative to say. And there are plenty.
Sam is like a plague on my existence. Her friends are even worse, if that’s possible. When I’m not seeing her and Ethan together acting like the perfect freaking couple, I am getting constant updates on their love life. I know what they did at the latest party. I know how Sam got grounded when her parents walked in on them having sex on their couch. I also know about those five minutes when they broke up because Ethan cheated on her, but he managed to beg off of it just like he did with me.
I can’t help the sick sense of satisfaction that consumes me when I think of how Sam, that home wrecking whore, is getting what she deserves. I only wish that Ethan was too. If only Karma would hurry up and do her job.
Speaking of home wreckers… I am standing outside my sixth period math class leaning against a row of unused lockers, killing time before I am sequestered in the stuffy corner room for the next fifty minutes, when I see Sam’s dull reddish orange hair across the way. She is talking with one of her friends, the tall blonde girl who has been spreading the majority of rumors. But she doesn’t know that. Like she senses me looking, her heads turns in my direction and our eyes lock. A silent understanding passes between us and I know, my day is about to get interesting.
She says something else to her friend and together they cut through the wave of students heading to their next class toward me.
“Just so you know,” she says in her haughty tone as she stops in front of me, “Ethan and I are together.”
Every muscle in my body is tight and I can feel my heart trying to beat out of my chest as a bolt of adrenalin rushes through me. I hate confrontation but I refuse to show weakness in front of this girl. I am surprised when I am able to keep my voice from shaking. “Good for you. And I care, why?” As she speaks, I am vaguely aware that I am experiencing some kind of tunnel vision in which she is my central point of focus.
She sneers as if I should be able to answer my own question. “I’ve heard what you’ve been telling everyone, but we’re happy. He doesn’t want you anymore.”
I laugh darkly. “Right, like I would want him anyway. As far as I’m concerned, you can have him.” My body is vibrating with built up anger and my head feels like someone has put it in a vise. If I could form a single thought other than the fact that I want to wring this girl’s neck, I would be wondering if a person could combust from sheer rage.
“I already have him.” Her lips twist into a cruel smile. “So I suggest you quit worrying so much about what we’re doing and get a life.”
That’s it. I want to kill this girl with my bare hands, but I don’t get the chance.
From out of nowhere, Sam’s friend appears and grabs her by the arm, tugging her back. “Come on, Sam. We should get to class.” She’s watching me with a look I can’t decipher just yet.
Reluctantly, Sam lets her pull her away, glaring at me one last time before she goes. After she’s disappeared from sight, sound floods my ears as the tunnel suddenly drops away. Inhaling deeply, I feel some of the pressure in my body wash away, leaving my muscles loose and rubbery. When I turn to enter the classroom, I am surprised to see a handful of my classmates standing there watching me with odd looks on their faces.
“Damn, Tess was about to kick some serious ass,” one of the boys says appreciatively.
“Seriously, you looked like you were going to take that girl down,” another tells me. They make an opening for me to pass through.
I ignore the fact that the distance between me and the lockers I had been propped against moments before, has increased by several feet. I don’t remember moving an inch. Had I taken a moment to think about it, I might find that little detail frightening. It’s like a blackout moment, in which my body and mind were not in sync. It reminds me of the day I slapped Ethan. Right now, however, my only goal is to get to my seat and submerge myself in whatever assignment the teacher has planned for us today.
When the bell rings to indicate the start of class, I slump down in my chair. Ms. Arding lowers her oversized body into a chair at the front of the room and scans her sights over us. “Who knows how to find the square root of a triangle?”
I slide further down and keep my eyes downcast. I haven’t studied in a while. I’ve been too depressed. If she calls on me, everyone will know how lost I am. The last thing I want to do is make a fool of myself in front of an entire classroom.
“Treyvon,” she calls out, and I hear the boy behind me groan.
Silently, I am thanking God above for sparing me this singular embarrassment. Small favors—I tell myself to be thankful for each and every one.
“Have you heard about Ethan?” Brynne is practically jumping up and down in her blue and red bowling shoes. For a brief moment, I hope she slips on the polished wood. That about sums up my attitude lately, mean and hateful, at least on the inside. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? If so, I’m screwed.
I hold up my hand. “I came here to bowl. I don’t care what Ethan is doing, has done, or will do, now or ever.”
Her exuberant smile slips, but she quickly recovers. “Oh, sure. I get it. No talk of exes tonight.” I can’t help smiling when she pretends to zip her lips and throw away the key. She’s so childlike sometimes. It’s sort of refreshing.
I select a pretty marbled pink ball and dip my fingers into the holes, pleased to find it’s a perfect fit. Brynne selects hers—a blue and red ball that matches her shoes—and we carry them to Lane two.
It’s nice getting out of the house. When Brynne caught up with me after last period and asked if I wanted to hang out tonight, my gut reaction was to say no. Her incessant pleading eventually broke me, and now I have to admit, it was a good idea. Anything is better than sitting at home listening to angry girl music and wallowing in self-pity. Again.
“Okay, so.” It seems Brynne has stashed a spare key somewhere. I resist an eye roll and tell myself it’s time to quit being so antisocial and start having some fun. “First of all, I am so glad you agreed to come out tonight. You totally saved me from another one of my father’s business dinners.”
“No problem,” I say with a smile. But I’m curious. “Where’s Alaysia, though. I’m surprised you didn’t ask her to come along.”
“Unfortunately, she couldn’t get out of it.” Seeing my puzzled frown she explains. “Her dad and my dad work for the same company. I guess her mother insisted she go along. One of the downsides of being an only child.”
“Oh, you have brothers and sisters?”
Brynne busies herself setting up the screen so our names and scores are displayed overhead for everyone to see. “Just my brother, Bryan.”
I finished lacing up my shoes and, seeing that she has put my name first, I pick up my ball and get into position. “Bryan?” I rack my brain, but I don’t think I know of any Brian.
“Oh, you don’t know him,” she confirms. “He graduated last year. He took a year off so he could do some traveling. I hope I’ll get a chance to do that. I’ve always wanted to visit other countries, like Machu Picchu,” she says wistfully.
“I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think Machu Picchu is a country.” I grin back at her and then throw the ball down the lane. The pins crash together a moment later, leaving nothing in their wake.
“Oh, I know,” Brynne says coolly. “I just meant I wanted to go see it. I think it would be cool to visit the kind of stuff we only get to see in books.” I knock down seven pins and pick up a spare with my next two rolls. “You’re really good at this.”
“Thanks. And I know what you mean. I’ve always dreamed of visiting the castles of Scotland.”
“Not to mention all those men running around in their kilts. Do you think they wear boxers or briefs?” She waggles her eyebrows.
“I’ve heard true Scotsmen forgo underwear altogether,” I say, playing along. Brynne’s knees wobble and she pretends that she is lightheaded as she stumbles and braces herself on the ball return. I burst out laughing at her crazy antics.
We have so much fun tonight that by the time I crawl into bed and my head hits the pillow; I realize that for the first time, I haven’t thought about Ethan all day. I also notice that I feel lighter than ever, like an invisible weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I know it has something to do with tonight. Who would have thought that simply having fun could have made such a difference? Heck, who would have thought that Brynne would turn out to be such a fun person to hang out with?
I go to sleep that night with a smile on my face and hope in my heart that tomorrow will follow the same pattern. I’m tired of being tired. Tomorrow is going to be the start of a new day and a new outlook on the future.