I was approximately seventy-five percent certain I was going to die on my first day back from winter break.Heath thought I was overreacting, but if anything, I was preparing myself for the worse. During the last weeks of school—after the break up—Silvia had grown a strong friendship with Pierson and his friends.
They were fairly popular.
I wasn’t anymore.
They were fairly rich.
I definitely wasn’t. I could barely pay for gas, and that was on most days of the week.
Pierson already hated me before the break up. After the break up, it was even more clear that Pierson had some kind of plan to screw me over. I didn’t know if the last day of school prank was his only jab at my nonexistent social life, but I had a gut-wrenching feeling that he had something else in store for me. I called nearly every day during winter break to make sure my request to switch over to Boulder Valley High went through or not, but because of the recent fires, Boulder Valley got a high influx of students pouring into their system. My request was pushed back, meaning it was inevitable for me to return to Crescent High.
I would’ve purposely ditched the first day back, but Dion had slept over at my mom’s place. I could think up a long list of things I’d rather do than be stuck with him at home.
There was a perk with living in two different homes. Whenever I got in a fight with my brother, I could stay at mom’s house. If I had some issue with my mom that day, I could crash over at Dion’s apartment.
I had two of everything. There was nothing wrong with having two different beds to sleep in, two different kitchens to make food in, and two different laptops to watch porn on. If one got a virus, it was okay. I had another one to fuck up.
Dion was messing up the purpose behind living in two different homes by staying here after what happened with Carmen. How was I supposed to stay away from him if he was snoring down the hall in his old room?
I knew what he was trying to do. He was attempt to make any excuse to talk to me. I had told him that I wasn’t mad anymore, but he didn’t believe me. I wasn’t lying. I wasn’t mad at him for messing-up my relationship with Silvia and I wasn’t mad at him for sleeping with Carmen. Mad wasn’t right word to go for.
I was fucking disappointed in him. There was a difference.
Going to school wasn’t up for debate. I couldn’t stay. Around seven-thirty, I was in the school parking lot, waiting during the last few minutes until the first bell would ring.
One on one, I wasn’t afraid of fighting someone. But Pierson was one of those people who brought an army of his friends along, even though he could do perfectly fine on his own. He had brought a lot of people to the Smell last semester just to confront Heath.
I didn’t like people who fought unfairly. There was a nine out of ten chance he would bring someone with him if he planned on beating me up.
“Why are you still sitting in your car? The bell is going to ring soon.”
I was startled at the random voice, appearing out of nowhere. Heath stood outside of car, peering at me from the driver’s seat window with a puzzled expression. I was the one who was supposed to be confused, not him.
“What the hell?” I hissed, unbuckling my seatbelt and opening the car door. “Why aren’t you at Boulder Valley High?”
“I don’t go to Boulder Valley anymore.” He said while thrusting a yellow sheet of paper at me. It was a schedule.
“What the...” I trailed and shut my car door. “How?”
“There’s not really a waiting list here.”
“Yeah, I know.” Boulder Valley had a larger population than Crescent Heights. It was a bigger town, which naturally meant there would be more people attending their high school. “But why the hell would you do that?”
He raised both of his brows at me. “Shit. If you didn’t want me to—”
I didn’t let him finish his statement. “It’s not that I don’t want you to. Think about it in a logical way, Heath. There are far more people who don’t like you or Boulder Valley students.”
He snatched the scheduled back from me. “Oh, don’t worry. I already have that figured out.”
“Which is what?”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s not anything dangerous. Or illegal.”
“That’s really clears everything up,” I said humorlessly. “Tell me.”
“What’s with all of the secrets?”
“You are the last person to call someone out for being secretive.” He lowered his eyes on me.
When I had told Silvia about my involvement in Segg, I had told Heath in the attempt to get some sympathy. I needed someone to vent to. Every fiber of my being was against her proposal to remain separated. Initially, Heath sided with me when I said a Segg member had information about Diana.
He expressed to me that he would do anything if it was for his own sister, who had gone missing around the same time of Diana’s death. But the sympathy on his face began to fade when I said what I had done while deceiving Silvia.
"I don’t blame her for hating you,” he had said. ”Look at it from her perspective, Dakota. I’m only guessing here, but if she has previous trust issues and got screwed over by someone she cared about, then it’s no surprise that she’s mad at you for following the footsteps of the ones before you. Instead of bitching about how she won’t take you back, you could take a breather before begging for her back. It’s a little pathetic, man."
It was the first serious conversation we had ever had, besides the times when we talked about getting information about what happened to Sherri or Diana. He sucked at giving advice though. His type of advice was telling me to go sleep with someone so I could forget about Silvia.
The serious tone in Heath didn’t last very long. He was kind of known for saying something smart and then finishing it off by involving sex or getting drunk to solve problems that would make you question everything he said prior. He was my best friend, but I could honestly admit that and say it to his face. And he knew it was true, too.
He concluded his advice for me, this time, with something that wasn’t as idiotic. He said that if I wasn’t going to listen to his “stay away from her” advice, that I should at least try to make her trust me again, show her that she had fallen for the real me and that it wasn’t some artificial version of myself to manipulated her into liking me.
By that point, things got all sentimental and shit so he started cracking jokes about how I’d make a great house wife because I was acting really clingy. Then he proceeded to say I had “forever a bottom” written across him forehead. That particular joke got him a slap to the back of his head.
We were in front of the student porch now, going up the steps. “Be honest though, Heath. Why did you transfer?”
“I saw you freaking the fuck out at going here for the last semester, so I figured I might as well support your wimp ass. If you’re going to get beat up at lunch, at least I can be there to get punched with you. But for whatever reason, if I turn up late to the fight, I’ll be there to record it and post it online and I’ll even make sure to scream World Star in the background.”
“I’m not fighting anyone,” I stated and opened the glass doors that led to the noisy cafeteria. “That’s the last thing I want to happen. I’ve five months left before the end of the school year. I think that’s long enough for me to stay away from trouble.”
“That’s more than enough time to start some problems though,” Heath puffed. “We can ruin a substation number of people’s lives in that timeframe.”
“I don’t want to though.” I said, but without any conviction. I knew it would be too tempting to punch that stupid smirk off Pierson’s face the moment I saw him. “Promise me you’ll stay out of trouble.”
“Why the fuck would I promise that? Do you want me to remind me what Mister Lucky Charms did—”
“I don’t care what Pierson did. Getting back at him for doing a Segg prank isn’t going to make the score even.”
Though having Heath around was a good thing, it definitely would change from being a good thing into being a recipe for disaster if he kept on pestering me about revenge. I wanted someone to tell me that starting up trouble with Pierson wasn’t a good idea and to tame my temper.
Heath prodded me with his elbow. “You’re just worried Silvia will be mad at you for punching her friend.”
“She’s not friends with him,” I growled. Ronnie informed me days after her birthday party that Silvia wanted distance from everyone, including Pierson. “She knows what he did.”
“Simply because she’s ignoring you doesn’t mean she’ll ignore him, too.”
“You don’t know Silvia-“I stopped myself. “I see what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to piss me off so I’ll fight Pierson.”
Heath shamelessly nodded at this. “At least I tried.”
“You’re unbelievable.” I shot a dark look at him. “You know, I liked it better when you went to another school.”
He slapped a hand down on my shoulder. “Ah, that’s not true. Things will be a lot better now that I’m around. I mean, who in their right mind would mess with you?”
"Everyone,” I breathed.
. . .
An antsy sensation shook into me as I shuffled into the east hallway men’s restroom, dodging the possible looks of many.
In other words, I really needed to take a piss.
Ever since first period had ended, the hallways recharged itself into madness; so mad that I questioned if it was the first day back or not, given the amount of energy bouncing around. People seemed a little too happy to be back in this hellhole. It was brought to my knowledge, quite early on, that it was gossip that sparked the air.
The blue chipped paint on the restroom door crinkled in my hand as I pushed it open. Unfortunately, the four urinals were all occupied. This meant I had to walk over to the stalls instead.
I fucking hate stalls.
There was nothing more I hated than going to the stalls. The smell was much fouler and not as clean. I wasn’t OCD, but I was a human being, like most things on this earth, and liked to keep clean if I had the choice.
“Did you hear? There’s a new girl that’s going here. Her and her brother just moved into town,” someone outside the stalls announced. I hadn’t gotten a look at who had taken over the urinals, but I recognized Doug Lewis’ voice instantly.
“I hear she’s hot,” said a deeper voice.
“Ten bucks say she won’t take two glances at your sorry arse,” joked a familiar voice. It was Pierson, I noticed.
“I bet I could get more out of the new chick than you could,” someone else barked back. I could tell that it was Ollie.
Great. The three stooges were formed.
A shoving battle, from the sounds of it, had broken out from the two competing suitors, but then a voice finally broke out, “Is today her first day?”
“Yeah, it’s her first day,” Dough chimed, “And already claimed to be a complete bitch.”
“I heard that too,” Ollie supplied, “She entered the main office, acting like a H.B.I.C., and walked straight to the counselor for her own petty problems. She cut a whole fucking line just to get her schedule issues fixed.”
“I heard Mr. Jennings just about drooled over her,” Doug commented, “Such a little perv.”
“Figures,” scuffed a new voice. I couldn’t tell who it was though. “She’s probably had everything handed to her.”
A wave of laughter shook out of me when I opened the stall door and saw who it was. “I don’t think you have the right to say that, Hunter,” I boomed, stepping out of the stall and fixing my belt. “Last time I checked, your mom sleeps with a married men to help her finical issues. Has she ever even had a real job before she became a full-time homewrecker?”
What are you doing? My thoughts snapped. You’re supposed to NOT get in fights. This isn’t how you do it.
Hunter’s eyes pierced into mine, shaking off his hands as he backed away from the sink. But instead of Hunter confronting me, Pierson was the one who said: “Who the hell said you could speak, Ridgewood?”
I shrugged simply, advancing forward across the green and white tiled floor. “It just strikes me as strange that no one ever puts you in your place-”
“I’ve been nice to you,” Hunter noted.
“Yeah, that doesn’t really make up for being a cheater,” I reminded him. “I guess I shouldn’t blame you. It’s clearly a trend in your family, almost as if it’s in your gene coding to be a fornicator.”
Hunter’s companions widened their stance, acting like body guards, but Hunter held them back; curiosity brewed deep inside his eyes. “You’re still mad about that?”
“I wasn’t ever mad at the cheating, Hunter. I was annoyed...sad, maybe, but never mad. I was mad more so on how you were my friend when you first moved in. And how you smiled in my face every day while stabbing a knife in my back. You’re really something else.”
I waltzed my way past the guys around the sinks. One of them flinched at my first step, jumping in front of Hunter as if he was some kind of gem, “Don’t worry. I have no interest in hitting him.” I gave a good look over the group of guys I actually used to consider my friends less than two years ago. A lot had changed since then. They were still brainless jocks, though. That hadn’t changed.
“The only reason he’s acting this bold is because he lost Silvia,” Pierson grumbled. “What? She didn’t forgive you?”
“It’s not like she forgave you.”
“She did,” Pierson said smugly. I couldn’t tell if he was lying or not just to piss me off. “I told her my side of the story and we’re back to how we were before.”
“I don’t believe you.” I wasn’t 100% sure, but I was hoping –more than anything—that he was lying. I hadn’t seen her today. She had changed her AP class around so we didn’t see each other. Tomorrow I had P.E., which was another class I had with her. If she showed up, that is.
Pierson’s smug grin blossomed into a full on smile as he laughed in my face out of pure amusement. “I don’t have to make you believe me. It’s sad, really. She couldn’t even take back her boyfriend, but she’s able to forgive me at the drop of a hat. It’s funny as hell.”
“You’re only convincing yourself.” I snarled at him. My hands balled up into fists inside of the pockets of my jacket. “I know you’re lying.”
Pierson folded his arms. “I’m not lying though. I guess she was tired of waiting for a virgin.”
“What?” Doug burst out loud, chuckling like a ten-year-old. “No, he’s not.”
“Yeah, he is. Carmen told me that you’re still clinging to your purity,” Pierson boasted.
Blindsided, a crippling wave of embarrassment poured into me, making my knees lock and heart pound louder in my ears. Throbbing evenly and rhythmically like a melody.
Carmen, the pounding seemed to say.
Did Dion tell her? I didn’t know. I didn’t think she could’ve found out through him. Maybe there was someone listening in on us.
Eyelids fused together, I blocked out the laughter that cackled-yes cackled like witch-out of them. What else had Carmen told him? Suddenly, I thought of all of the things I had ever told Dion or Carmen.
Long before Pierson could even begin to crack a joke, I met my clenched fist to his overly amused face, connected it to the bridge of his nose.