The City Girl

The Replacement

Riley's POV

The news of Lucas's accident had already spread throughout the school. Everyone who once ignored Lucas, even the ones who belittled him behind his back, began to mourn him like he was already dead. People kept praising Lucas and pretended they knew even though they didn't. This might be rude to say, but I'm sick of those mourners. They're just pretending to care because it made them look good. As if any of them felt really bad about Lucas's accident. Lucas never liked attention and now he was showered with it.

The worst part is that I'm showered with attention and fake sympathy as well. Poor little Riley Matthews is lost without her true love so of course the only way to make her feel better is to constantly remind her that Lucas is in a coma and that he will be okay. I just feel like a little kid everyone is spoiling. Every time someone tries to give me just-because hug or pretends to listen to me talk about Lucas, I imagine them thinking "I am such a hero now." Even Principal Adams, the man who says Lucas is "trouble," held a 'be-strong-Lucas' assembly yesterday and advised me to talk to the school psychologist. Maybe these people genuinely want to help but it just doesn't feel like it.

"Lucas is okay, Lucas is okay," I keep muttering to myself as I walk through the hospital hallway. I brought a gift for him, a bouquet of roses, while it sounds girly; I believe Lucas would love them either way.

I couldn't help but research comas whenever I got home. People in comas can hear others talking around them and it can even help them recover when their loved ones tell them stories. I don't have much of a story to tell Lucas, though, except that all Maya can do is cry and the only one who can talk to her is Farkle. Zay is trying to stay cheerful but it was clear that he was breaking down inside. Brandon is doing the same. And all his dad could do is drink, drink, drink.

It was really hard trying to find Lucas's room. I kept running into strangers in their hospital beds, and kept on having to apologize awkwardly to them. On my hunt for Room 203, I ran into another patient's room which held the man who caused the car crash by driving drunk and nearly hitting Lucas. There were no visitors in his room. It was pointless since I didn't know the man but I walked in and got a better look at him. I think he's also in a coma, which a strange coincidence. Maya would call it karma.

I'm not sure if I should hate the man, though. Just looking at him, lying in the hospital alone with no visitors, activated my automatic sympathy. I guess I just forgive and sympathize too easily but I genuinely felt sorry for him and I didn't even know his name. So I prayed that this man would get better and come home to his family, who may or may not care about him.

After leaving the stranger's room, I finally found Room 203. The first thing I noticed in Lucas's room is the overwhelming amount of charity get-well presents from strangers. There were stuffed animals, candy, balloons, and several flowers. Unfortunately, some other people thought of giving Lucas red roses, so my present isn't as special. The second thing I noticed was She-Beast herself standing next to Lucas's bed, grasping his limp hand.

"What are you doing here?" Missy exclaims like I was interrupting an intimate moment.

Like she was the only one surprised. "I'm visiting my boyfriend, what are you doing here?"

"Just because Lucas and I broke up a couple of years ago, doesn't mean I don't care about him," Missy counters.

As if, I thought viciously in my head. Lucas's car crash has made me act more negative and Maya-like; at least that's what my dad says.

I put my bouquet right next to Lucas's side and take his other hand. I was acting ridiculous but I wasn't going to let Missy think that Lucas and I were over.

"I can't believe they replaced you with me," Missy mutters.

"What do you mean, they?" I ask.

"Back in middle school, I was Maya's best friend," Missy replies and it totally shocked me. All Maya does is make fun of her and she even created Missy's code name, and they used to be best friends?

"I know, shocking," Missy continues. "We used to be so close but then she freaked out on me when I played a little joke on her. I don't remember much but Maya took the joke so personally that she totally changed her appearance and attitude, and now years later, Maya decided to get a replacement. You're like a pile of clay to her, all mold-able and defenseless. Lucas even got in on it and started dating you just like that."

I didn't believe a word she said. As if Maya would be friends with me just because she felt like she needed a new girlfriend. I knew her better than that.

"You don't know Maya and Lucas like I do," I reply.

"Maya has a lot of secrets you don't know," Missy says. "Like did you know that she once had a crush on Lucas from fourth grade to ninth grade? She so all over him but when I dated Lucas last year, she got so heartbroken that she began dating other boys, pretending like her crush never happened. I mean, can you believe it?"

"That's not true," I spit out, sounding childish. But I know Lucas and Maya are just friends and that Lucas loves me.

"Face it, Riley," Missy taunts. "You're nothing but another model of me. You don't know anything about your friends and it will always stay that way."

I got so sick of Missy and her evil smiles that I ran out the room, trying to hide my tears. Lucas must've heard all of that in his comatose state and think I'm being ridiculous.

I was so mad at Missy that I almost ran right into another woman. She was tall and had deep green eyes and dark blond hair that looked similar to Lucas's.

"I'm sorry," I apologize and I try to go around her but she stopped me.

"Are you Riley Matthews?" she asks.

"Yes," I respond. Is she another psychiatrist Dad hired for me?

"You may not know this," the woman says, "but my name is Charlotte Anders, Lucas's mother."

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