Riptide

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Chapter 4

Butterflies swarmed inside my stomach worse than I had ever felt them before. The debate had ended and the results were encased in tiny blue envelopes which had been licked shut and sealed. I felt like I was going to puke as Mrs. Hunter collected the envelopes from each of the state’s top five debate judges. “The winner of the powered vigilante debate was…” she knew I wanted to know what she had to say. She knew I was dying to run up and rip the envelope for her. She took pleasure in fumbling with the envelope and increasing the suspense. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, she opened it and allowed its secrets to be poured out. “Olivia James, with four votes,” she said. I bit my lip to keep from jumping up and down with excitement and instead, kept with tradition and stood quietly. I walked to the front of the stage and shook hands with Rebbecca before pausing beside her and facing the crowd.

Chloe jumped up and down as glitter of every color rained from the hot pink sign she held above her head, “that’s my best friend,” she would yell to the person to the right before turning and yelling something similar to the person on her left and then repeating this process until the entire crowd knew that I was Chloe Allan’s best friend. This almost distracted from the words which came out of Rebbecca’s mouth next.

“You didn’t deserve this win,” she said. “People are just afraid of the truth and want to vote for the popular opinion,” she whispered.

I was about to turn and respond when Mrs. Hunter continued naming the people who won their own debates. “Wendy Yung won the zoo legalization debate,” she said. I could hear the sadness in Tony’s steps as he trudged up to the front of the stage and shook hands with his own opponent and stood beside Rebbecca, on the “loser side,” as he referred to it. In the end, our team won with only one vote toward Peter and his flawless “pro paternity leave” debate. He shook the hand of his opponent with such pride, such glory and such confidence one would never have thought he could have been so worried about the debate. I wanted to run up and hug him, I wanted to tell how great of a job he had done and that he was the one who had given us our victory, but I stayed in my place. I couldn’t do anything but exchange nervous glances with him and avoid eye-contact with Chloe. She knew my secret. Chloe knew about it from day one. Chloe knew everything.

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