Isolation

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Chapter 8: Iris

vAs soon as Astrid ran into the library, I knew something was up. I know I had my key after I left early this morning, but I didn’t tell Astrid the whole truth.

~~~~

I roll over on my lumpy mattress and find Astrid across the room on her bed sleeping peacefully. It must be really early if Astrid hasn’t left yet. I put my hair in a tight ponytail on top of my head and tuck my key into my back pocket. I step outside of the room and walk down to the bathroom on our floor. When I’ve cleaned up and my hair is hanging in blue and blonde wet strands. I hear footsteps outside of the bathroom and still. The door to the bathroom opens and I open my mouth. A guy steps in wearing a Varsity jacket and jeans. His hands are in his pockets and he looks up at me with a smile on his face. I step back as my heart speeds up. I’m not sure why, but I’ve had a crush on Peter since I can remember. Before all this crap happened. I always thought we would be a cute couple.

“Hey, Iris. What’s up?”

“Nothing much. Just finished cleaning up.” I say, casually. My voice quivers with a hint of nervousness.

“What do you think about us hanging out later?” he asks.

“Like you and I? Hanging out together?”

“Yeah. I’ll come by and see you and we can hang. I have a place in mind. But it’s a surprise.”

“Aren’t you dating Rena?”

“No, not really. We’ve sort of fallen apart, but don’t tell anyone.” he says.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s still pretty fresh. She cheated on me with Brent. One of my best friends.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I would never do that.” I say.

“I know.” He steps closer to me and gives me a small smile as he cups my cheek in his hand. I look up at his eyes and try to understand the turn of events. I know Astrid would tell me that he’s playing me, but I can’t keep my thoughts off of Rena cheating on him. I look at his lips which I notice are close to mine. I feel his breath on my lips and shiver. He leans down and presses his lips against mine. He slides his hands down to my waist and kisses me deeply. I dig my hands into his hair and pull him closer to me. This has been my dream and my heart knows it. It flutters in my chest. Peter digs his hands into my back pockets and pulls me even closer. He pushes me against the wall and leaves lingering kisses on my jaw and cheeks, before pulling away. We breathe heavily as he smiles and sticks his hands back into his pocket. With that he walks out without a second glance. I lean against the wall heavily and think about what just happened. A smile creeps onto my lips and I seem to keep that smile in place all day long.

~~~~

As soon as Astrid runs out of the library, I tell Cassidy—the head of the Know-it-alls—that I’ve got an errand to run. When the coast is clear, I run out of the library and run to the gym. I head to the back and make my way into the men’s locker room. I hear a couple of voices coming from inside and recognize immediately the sound of Peter’s voice. I run in and stop with Peter’s hand full of packets of food.

“I knew it. You took our stuff. Give it back. We worked hard for that.” I say.

Peter turns around and gives me a curious look. “What are you talking about? Astrid gave us this. She confessed about doing something and for an apology, she let us have some food.”

“That’s not true. Astrid said everything was stolen. Our clothes, food, and beds.”

“Well, she obviously lied to you. Isn’t that right, guys.” He points to two guys beside him.

“Yeah. I was there. Astrid handed over all that stuff. Wanted to keep her job as head of the guardians or whatever.” the red head says.

“Really? I can’t see her doing that.”

“Well, it’s true. You can believe us or your sister who seems to have lied to you.” Peter says. “Don’t you believe me?” He gives me a look of pure love and sadness.

I hesitate. Astrid has told me many things about Peter, but never a liar. I nod my head and say, “Yes. I’m sorry. I was just really confused.”

“That’s alright. I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Okay.” I say with a smile.

As I step towards the door Peter shouts out, “Oh, and don’t worry about your stuff, tell Astrid you guys can sleep in the gym with The Darlings and The Varsity. We’ll keep you safe.”

“Okay, I’ll tell her.” I say, happily. With that, I walk out of the locker room and head back to the library. I’m not sure where Astrid went, but I’ll catch her before Peter comes to get me.

Later that day, Astrid comes in with a worried look on her face.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I can’t figure out who could have gotten into our room and taken all that stuff.”

“No one took our stuff, Astrid. I know what you did.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Peter told me. He said you confessed about something and in return you handed over all of our stuff. I get it. You wanted to keep the top position on the guard. It’s fine. I’m not mad.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” she asks again.

She never cusses. She must be really mad. “I understand and anyways we’re fine. Peter said we could sleep with them in the gym. We’ll be fine.”

“Peter. I can’t believe he would say this. I never confessed about anything. I haven’t done anything wrong.” she says.

“That’s not what Peter said. Look, I need to get back to work. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

“I...Okay.” she says and walks out.

After stopping by the restroom, Peter comes in and takes me by the hand.

“So, where are we going?” I ask.

“It’s a surprise.” he says, quietly with a small smile. I let him lead me to a classroom beside the gym. He steps in and grabs a flashlight off the whiteboard. He steps around the desk and lifts something up. I step around the desk and see a hole in the floor leading into darkness. Peter steps in and begins climbing down a ladder. When he gets to the bottom, he looks up and waits for me as I climb down. I reach the last rung and feel Peter’s hands around my waist. I shiver and steady myself as he takes my hand. We walk for a long time. Sometimes beside each other, sometimes single file and others crawling. I see a blue light up ahead and wonder where we’re heading. I can’t remember Astrid telling me about secret passageways. I wonder if she knows where this leads to and never told me. I question how well I know my own sister when the narrow walkway opens up into a huge concrete room. In the room is a pool. The pool lights brighten the room and make the ceiling sparkle. My breath catches. I haven’t seen a pool since the last day at my friend’s house. I look at Peter who gives me a small smile and strips out of his clothes, keeping his boxers on. He runs and does a cannonball into the water. I laugh as he resurfaces.

“Come on. It actually feels good.” he says. I take off my shirt and shorts along with my worn converse and run into the pool. The feel of the water on my skin makes me relax instantly. I resurface and laugh with joy. I haven’t laughed in so long. My laughter echoes around the room. I look around for Peter, but can’t spot him. My stomach flips as I search the water, then I feel hands grab my calves and pull me under. My eyes find Peter smiling at me underneath the water. He pulls me close and gives me a kiss on the lips. He pulls back and swims to the other side of the pool. For a while we swim laps until our arms get tired. We kiss and float on the water as we take this moment of peace to refill our deflated spirits.

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