Speare of Finality

Chapter Eleven

I'm not laughing for long when I scrape my chair back and let John poke out from beneath the table. He's not looking at me, it's like he can feel my glare as he fidgets before quickly kissing me on the lips, much to my annoyance and races over to Brian before saying the strangest thing.

"So, Ahab...Kybo Mein Doobage?"

Brian reaches into his trousers and gives John his bag of marijuana. I wonder if it's warm?

I'm not wondering for long when I feel John's stare on me, he's smiling at me and reaching a hand out towards me. I want to take it, I really do but I'm still mad at him and also, he's going to smoke his fucking dope, I can't be anywhere near the shit. I'll just be sick, so instead of grabbing his hand I shake my head and answer gently.

"Sorry, no can do, you'll have to do it without me."

John looks put out for a moment, before he turns away from me. It hurts a little to see it because it feels like he's just dismissing me as though I'm not even worth it. Don't even go there, you're mean to be annoyed at him, not the other way around!

"Yo waistoid...you're not gonna blaze up in here!"

Andy's shout doesn't even make John pause, and after a few moments of silence, Brian's the first to stand up and make his way over, closely followed by Claire and eventually Andy who doesn't go over to John, rather a separate room.

Allison and I are the only ones left, so I make my way over to her and sit next to her. She jumps at the sight of me, probably not used to having someone sit with her but I smile at her gently and begin speaking. And I admit, it's really nice to just speak to another girl who potentially could be a friend.

"Hello, you're in my Art class aren't you?"

I already know the answer to it obviously, but she doesn't know that. She doesn't reply to me verbally, she squeaks at me, obviously not ready to talk, so I just speak to her for a little bit, without her replying.

"You usually sleep in Art; well I think you're sleeping. I've never actually checked, but yeah, you're really good. I wish I was that good. I'm better at writing than art though."

"Thank you..."

The voice is so soft that I almost didn't hear it, but when I do I turn to look at Allison full on and beam. I don't know why I'm beaming at her like a weird crazy girl, but I am, and she smiles awkwardly back at me but it doesn't discourage me at all as I begin a rant about nothing in particular.

"You're welcome Ally. Is that alright? Calling you Ally? It's just a cute name, and your voice is cute and all. Not trying to be freaky! Sorry. I don't talk to many people. Can you tell? Oh good. I feel like I'm having a one sided conversation right now. It's alright though, I don't mind. Hey do you think you can teach me some drawing techniques? Is that even possible?"

Throughout my little ramble, Allison's nodding at me contently until the last question when she speaks. I'm actually making a new friend. God. I haven't had a new friend in years. It feels so nice.

"I can try. Do you really like my Art?"

"Yes, it's amazing. You're really good at the landscapes aren't you? I find trouble on them; can never get the whole 3 sections thing. I always make something bigger than the other and it's all out of proportion."

"You just need to concentrate more. You always stop when you're working, that's why it changes sizes with each thing you do."

"That might actually be it, but I can't not stop when I'm working."

"Why not?"

"I get really bad headaches and it makes me sick sometimes, so I have to calm down before I can restart."

"Oh..."

I don't exactly tell her the whole truth, and I'm glad she doesn't pry. I've decided I like her though, she's really nice, so I ask her the one question which could both sound really lovely and sweet or the complete opposite and come out awkward. Through bated breath, I ask softly.

"Hey Ally, will you be my friend?"

At that moment, I feel like a child and an idiot. Who asks people to be their friends these days? People just assume usually. Oh, what the fuck did I just do? What if she doesn't want to be my friend?

I'm so wrapped up in my thoughts, I almost don't hear her response, but when I do, I feel elated.

"Ok..."

"Thank you!"

Before I even know what I'm doing, I reach over and hug Allison tightly, she stiffens for a moment and squeaks rather loudly, but eventually she relaxes and pats my back slowly. I let go of her and smile so wide it begins to hurt, but I'm happy to see a slight twinkle in her eyes.

We sit in silence for a while, Allison slowly drawing a landscape while I watch hoping to catch some tips. I can hear the low thrum of the others speaking behind us, and I resist the urge to turn but I fidget which makes Ally look at me knowingly, to which I poke my tongue out quickly.

"You like him..."

My eyes aren't focused as she tells me this and I can feel my headache coming back on, and for a moment I curse blindly at the inconvenient timing my illness seemed to have. I try to ignore it in favour of speaking to Allison through gritted teeth, as I unwind John's scarf because I know what's coming next.

"I guess I do... I..."

I stop speaking as the feeling of acid building up my throat emerges, and I try my hardest to swallow it but I just can't. Instead, knowing it wouldn't disappear I look at Allison and blankly point towards the bathroom hidden behind the bookshelf hoping to God she understands. She does, she nods at me, before turning back to her drawing while I practically run to the bathroom, which to just my luck, is past John and the others, who turn to stare before ignoring me. Except for John who stares at me with confusion, before I disappear into the bathroom, hoping that maybe it would swallow me up at the same time.

It feels like déjà vu as I step into the bathroom, coming face to face with a mirror but I don't look for long as I rush to cradle the porcelain seat and heave.

My throats burning as I'm sick, and I can feel tears trailing down my cheeks. I feel like I'm falling apart, and everything hurts, it's burning.

I try to stand up after I'm sure I've finished my heaving episode, only to find I collapse straight back down. The ground is cold beneath my head, and my heads hammering painfully. I'm whining slightly, and I really hope no one hears me in here because I don't want anyone seeing me in this state. I reach my hand to my head, but I can't tell if I have a fever or not, so I try to stand again, so I can splash some water into my face.

I manage it eventually, after a few stumbles that make me feel like Bambi, I walk to the sink and grip the counter making my knuckles go white.

I run the taps, letting it go as cold as possible before I put the plug in to fill the sink up.

As I wait, I look into the mirror above me and cringe. Much like before, I look pale, and I can see the sweat on my brow as I burn. My eyes look tired, and my hairs annoying me to God's end as it hangs limply in my face, so I reach into my pocket, hoping to find a hair tie.

I do find one, it's rather stretched but it will do, so I scrape back my blonde hair into a high pony. My hairs long, even when I put it up my curls end at the middle of my back. I admire my work for a second, and I'm happy that it looks alright, not that it would matter since I wasn't about to redo it, since I'm dreadfully tired.

Anyway, I look down to see the sink alarmingly about to overflow, so I quickly stop the water and wait till some of it drains away.

It's like my life force is draining away. Urgh, I'm so dramatic.

I dip my hands into the water and splash it on my face a few times before I unplug the sink. I feel a little better, I don't feel as feverish or sick, my head pounds mercilessly but it usually does. I dry my face with some paper towels before I flush them, as well as the evidence of being sick, down the toilet.

With that, I walk out to find John in front of me. I raise an eyebrow in question but he just grabs my hand and pulls me to the others. They've situated themselves near the history section in a circle, to which John pulls me to sit next to him as pointless questions are asked. Why the hell am I here?

"What would I do for a million bucks? Well, I guess I'd do as little as I had to..."

"That's boring"

Claire groans and I agree with her, because if I had a million dollars I would do everything I couldn't do normally, or wouldn't dare do but Andy's just completely stumped, as if he doesn't know how to respond.

"Well, how am I supposed to answer?"

"The idea is to like search your mind for the absolute limit. Like, uh, would you drive to school naked?"

"Um, uh...would I have to get out of the car?"

"Of course"

"In the spring or winter?"

"It doesn't matter...spring"

"In front of the school or in back of the school?"

"Either one"

"Yes..." as he answers I notice Allison looking at Claire, like she's a scattered puzzle before announcing to us all "I'd do that! I'll do anything sexual; I don't need a million dollars to do it either."

Claire doesn't believe her, not for a second, and neither do I honestly, it doesn't seem like something Ally would do. She seems too quiet for that sort of shit but you never know. You can never really know a person properly I guess.

"You're lying..."

"I already have...I've done just about everything there is except a few things that are illegal...I'm a nymphomaniac!"

"Lie."

Claire rolls her eyes at the possibility that Ally's a sex addict, and I really want to ask if it's true, because I still can't see it. Everyone else's reactions vary, Andy's eyes widen before he settles with a smile, though I have no idea why he's smiling. Maybe he likes her. John just looks at her indifferently, like she's talking about the weather while Brian's reaction is the funniest.

"Are your parents aware of this?"

Yes, because if she was a nymphomaniac she would tell her parents. No, stupid question Bri.

"The only person I told was my shrink"

"And what'd he do when you told him?"

Andy's the one to ask her that, and he just kind of looks at her, fully prepared for her answer. And what she says shocks me but then I know she's lying, because at that moment her arm twitches just the slightest, and I wouldn't have noticed unless it wasn't touching mine but I did, so I can only conclude she's lying, or at least I hope she is.

"He nailed me."

"Very nice..."

Claire's the only one to comment as the rest of us stay silent, trying to figure out if she's telling the truth, but with Claire's mutters of disgust, a little debate happens. Wonder where this will take us.

"I don't think that from a legal standpoint what he did can be construed as rape since I paid him."

"He's an adult!"

"Yeah...he's married too!"

"Do you have any idea how completely gross that is?"

"Well, the first few times..."

At Ally's response, Claire snaps up with horror. I turn to look at John next to me to see his reaction, but he just looks interested. Obviously finds it a good source of entertainment. I grumble a bit at that, making John look at me with a smirk. I roll my eyes at him before turning my attention back, I guess it is interesting. I feel a tug on my hand to see John intertwining our fingers. It makes me feel less alone in that moment, even if I didn't realise it.

"First few times? You mean he did it more than once?"

"Sure..." another careless shrug from Allison as Claire asks in a high pitched voice."Are you crazy?"

"Obviously she's crazy if she's screwing her shrink"

Brian points out the obvious, and I find he's not so bad, really does remind me of me. However, my attention focuses on Allison as she leans towards Claire and starts striking,

"Have you ever done it?"

"I don't even have a psychiatrist"

"Have you ever done it with a normal person?"

Allison leans in closer to her, waiting for an answer, and I loosely wonder if this was the whole plan. To get Claire to admit if she's a virgin or not, I don't see why it's so hard to say. It's not that much of a big deal. I look at Claire and smile mockingly, because she looks flustered, seriously though, the question isn't that hard. I never did understand why people did this. Lied about being a virgin or pretending they had sex to make themselves seem like a total hot shot. It's beyond me and I think it's pathetic.

"Now, didn't we already cover this?"

"You never answered the question..."

John's reply is smooth, and she's looking at us, obviously thinking of a way out of this. She's skittish, purposely avoiding for as long as she can. I don't blame her for not wanting to share but I still don't see the big problem about admitting she's still got her virginity intact.

"Look, I'm not gonna discuss my private life with total strangers."

With a squeak, Allison asks Claire a question, though it seems more rhetorical than anything.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword, isn't it?"

"A what?"

"Well, if you say you haven't...you're a prude. If you say you have...you're a slut! It's a trap. You want to but you can't but when you do you wish you didn't, right?"

"Wrong."

"Or, are you a tease?"

Claire obviously doesn't answer that; it's Andy who does surprisingly. How does he know she's a tease then? Hm, maybe there's a previous relationship they had together or something. Not that it's my business I'm just curious. Curiosity killed the cat.

"She's a tease."

"Oh why don't you just forget it."

Andy scoffs mildly, he knows she's lying, even if she doesn't realise.

"You're a tease and you know it, all girls are teases!"

"Hey, wait a minute. I'm not a fucking tease!"

My voice pipes in and it's high from the stress I'm laying on it. I'm not a tease. No one even looks my way, so how can I be a tease. Not every girl is a tease. A squeeze on my hand makes me look to John who's already staring at me with a weird look on his face. Why is he looking at me like... like I'm something to eat? Awkward. Awkward stare! But it's the thing he says that has me freezing up, it's like he directed it to me and not red.

"She's only a tease if what she does gets you hot."

I look away from John's freaky stare and look at Claire as she shouts, her face red to match her hair, which I chuckle at, trying to forget John's weird staring episode.

"I don't do anything... Ok, let me ask you a few questions"

Claire's response has Allison sitting up, and leaning away, she's suddenly defensive about the questions she may be asked. I knew she was lying about the whole shrink sex thingy.

"I've already told you everything!"

"No! Doesn't it bother you to sleep around without being in love? I mean don't you want any respect?"

"I don't screw to get respect...That's the difference between you and me..."

"Not the only difference, I hope." Claire growls back at her before John answers her with a shrug. "Face it, you're a tease." To which she again shouts that she isn't one. God, my head hurts really bad, please shut up and stop shouting everyone.

It's not long before John fires back something that sounds twisted; we can all see it but also could be taken from her words. So I suppose it is almost plausible.

"Sure you are! You said it yourself sex is a weapon, you use it to get respect!"

Claire's beginning to look scared as she looks at John, she's got tears gathering at the corner of her eyes and her lips are trembling. At this point I begin to feel sorry for her; she doesn't deserve this, no matter if she picks on others. Maybe their taking it a little too far.

"No, I never said that, she twisted my words around."

But John doesn't take it, he's being harsh and it makes me rip my hand from his, which doesn't do anything that I can except make his fist clench. He's being a douchebag right now, and I can't stand it.

"Oh then what do you use it for?"

"I don't use it period!"

Claire is on the verge of tears, the gathered tears are falling partially, and it's only then do I really begin to feel bad for her. I start punching at John but he pins down my arms and continues to assault Claire while I struggle in his tight grip.

"Oh, are you medically frigid or is it psychological?"

"I didn't mean it that way! You guys are putting words into my mouth!"

Then suddenly everyone is hitting her with the same sentence with new words all at once, all except me. I don't know why people can be so mean. No compassion at all.

"Well if you'd just answer the question..."

"Why don't you just answer the question?"

"Be honest..."

"No big deal..."

"Yeah, answer it!"

"Answer the question, Claire!"

"Talk to us!"

"Come on, answer the question!"

"It's easy, it's only one question!"

Claire silences all of them by screaming.

"No! I never did it!"

Silence dawns over us and at this point John's let me go and I've moved as far away as I can move, which I can tell he doesn't like as his jaw clenches and he looks at me angrily. The silence is shattered as Allison jumps in calmly.

"I never did it either, I'm not a nymphomaniac...I'm a compulsive liar..."

"You are such a bitch! You did that on purpose just to fuck me over!"

Claire's face was full of rage, and I kind of worried for Ally since she was in the direct path. Though, I wish I could say I told you so, but I didn't tell them my thoughts so it wouldn't make sense and would probably piss most people off. I'd rather stay out of it.

"I would do it though. If you love someone it's okay"

She doesn't say anything, only scowls in response before taking a deep breath and letting loose her anger, well only a little of her pent up anger. She's still got a red face, which I shouldn't find funny but I really do.

"I can't believe you, you're so weird. You don't say anything all day and then when you open your mouth...you unload all these tremendous lies all over me!"

"Honestly Claire, it's not that big of a deal. Most people are virgins. No need to get pissy about it."

I say this with the utmost confidence, because I really felt that. No need to get worked up over nothing. Most people were virgins, and it's nothing to be ashamed of like most people make you believe. I can see her mouth opening, and I just have a feeling she's going to ask if I'm a virgin but she doesn't have time as Andy cuts in, for which I'm thankful right now.

"You're just pissed off because she got you to admit something you didn't want to admit to."

I look over the group and find John looks amused, though there's something swimming in his eyes, something dark, Allison seems almost shameful, Brian looks more thoughtful than anything and Andy is too busy defending Allison to contemplate the issue fully, or maybe he doesn't want to really acknowledge it. Claire though, she doesn't look any less pissed off than she was before, so I can safely say my words of comfort had no affect at all. Shame.

"Okay, fine, but that doesn't make it any less bizarre."

"What's bizarre? I mean we're all pretty bizarre! Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."

Now that is bizarre, a popular admitting to being different and that everyone is. Is he labelling everyone together now? Maybe this whole line between the cliques has diminished a little.

"How are you bizarre?"

Andy doesn't answer, Allison decides to instead as if to reinforce his oddity.

"He can't think for himself."

"She's right. Do you guys know what, uh, what I did to get in here? I taped Larry Lester's buns together."

Claire's the only one who laughs at that, John and Allison smile together, Brian's moans in horror and I gape because who does that to a person?!

"That was you?"

Andy just nods "Yeah, you know him?" Brian can't take his eyes off the guy who hurt his friend and answers slowly."Yeah, I know him..."

Andy decides to share his story, and I don't know how to feel about hearing it.

"Well then you know how hairy he is, right? Well, when they pulled the tape off, most of his hair came off and some, some skin too..."

"Oh my God..." all the faces fall drastically because that's horrible, and I would be so humiliated by that act alone that I would transfer schools.

"And the bizarre thing is, is that I did it for my old man. I tortured this poor kid, because I wanted him to think that I was cool. He's always going off about, you know; when he was in school, all the wild things he used to do. And I got the feeling that he was disappointed that I never cut loose on anyone, right. So, I'm...I'm sitting in the locker room, and I'm taping up my knee. And Larry's undressing a couple lockers down from me. Yeah...he's kind of...he's kind of skinny, weak. And I started thinking about my father, and his attitude about weakness. And the next thing I knew, I uh, I jumped on top of him and started wailing on him...And my friends, they just laughed and cheered me on. And afterwards, when I was sitting' in Vernon's office, all I could think about was Larry's father. And Larry having' to go home and...and explain what happened to him; and the humiliation, the fucking humiliation he must have felt. It must have been unreal...I mean…"

At this point he's crying, he's actually sorry for what he did and I just want to hug him in that moment, and hug Larry as well, because Larry shouldn't have gone through that pain, and Andy shouldn't be made into something he's not. I'm glad that I didn't have my parents to do that to me, though mum would never have done something like that, dad would have probably.

"I mean, how do you apologize for something like that? There's no way...it's all because of me and my old man."

Brian is hiding behind his hand; he's sniffling softly, hoping none of us notice, Allison's eyes brim with tears, Claire looks on with a shamed glaze while John stares intently at his hands. No one knows what to say. It's impossible to say something without sounding like an idiot because we don't understand. All of us are different.

"Oh God, I fucking hate him! He's like this...he's like this mindless machine that I can't even relate to anymore... 'Andrew, you've got to be number one! I won't tolerate any losers in this family...Your intensity is for shit! Win. Win! WIN!' You son of a bitch! You know, sometimes, I wish my knee would give and I wouldn't be able to wrestle anymore. And he could forget all about me."

It's silent for a second before John breaks through with a darkly humorous suggestion.

"I think your old man and my old man should get together and go bowling."

Andy laughs briefly, and we all share a wicked smile, until Brian lowers his hand from his mouth and looks at us all skittish like, obviously about to confess something no one knows.

"It's like me, you know, with my grades like, when I, when I step outside myself kind of, and when I, when I look in at myself you know? And I see me and I don't like what I see, I really don't."

"What's wrong with you? Why don't you like yourself?"

Claire asks this with a frown, and I wonder why as well, I mean there's nothing wrong with him. Not that I can see at least, then again, it's probably inside, just like me. Though I'd never admit that to anyone, not ever.

While he's talking, Brian doesn't look at any of us, he stares at the floor solemnly.

"It sounds stupid but because I'm failing shop. See we had this assignment, to make this ceramic elephant, and, um, and we had eight weeks to do it and we're supposed to, and it was like a lamp, and when you pull the trunk the light was supposed to go on but my light didn't go on, I got a F on it. Never got an F in my life. When I signed up, you know, for the course I mean. I thought I was playing it real smart, you know. 'Cause I thought, I'll take shop; it'll be such an easy way to maintain my grade point average."

John's voice cuts in, and he sounds pissed off and oddly hurt. He takes shop you idiot.

"Why'd you think it'd be easy?"

"Have you seen some of the dopes that take shop?"

"I take shop...you must be a fucking idiot!"

"I'm a fucking idiot because I can't make a lamp?"

"No, you're a genius because you can't make a lamp."

"What do you know about Trigonometry?"

"I could care less about Trigonometry."

"Bender, did you know without Trigonometry there'd be no engineering?"

"Without lamps, there'd be no light!"

Before they can argue further, Claire breaks in trying to sooth them into submission.

"Okay so neither one of you is any better than the other one."

Not wanting to be left out, Allison jumps in with a strange talent, which I find slightly disturbing because I have a fear of feet. All but my own that is. Don't know why, it just happens that way.

"I can write with my toes! I can also eat, brush my teeth."

"With your feet?"

Ally doesn't take notice of Claire's 'I'm above you' voice as she just proudly states another fact.

"...play Heart & Soul on the piano."

Suddenly Brian chirps, and to me it seems like we're all going to share our talents. I rack my brain for a talent I can quickly say before it actually comes around to me and I flounder.

"I can make spaghetti!"

"What can you do?"

Claire asks Andy, and he looks thoughtful until he answers with something that makes me cringe.

"I can, uh, tape all your buns together. Alka?"

I jolt at the use of my name before I smile, and think a little more. There's not much I can do. There's little I'm really allowed to do, so I'll play it safe and tell them about my violin. That reminds me, I need to play that soon.

"I've been able to play the violin since I was 6."

It's not an impressive thing but each of them looks at me like I have a third head, as if I wouldn't even go near a violin. I shrug earnestly, because it's not actually something I would play but my mum started me up with lessons when I was young and when she died, I didn't have the heart to let go of something she loved me doing. So I stuck at it, and I play occasionally, though never for other people and I don't really have a teacher anymore, I got too old and it cost more money than I had. I don't have time to think anymore as John demands in a funny voice.

"I want to see what Claire can do!"

"I can't do anything."

Claire's response is really quick, and I wonder if it's something odd that she doesn't want to show, which I get but there's got to be something she can do, though I don't like the tone John's voice has settled with, it's riled up for some reason, and I bet he's going to mess this calm air we have going for us.

"Now, everybody can do something..."

He says it in a reprimanding way, and it's hinting at something blankly, but no one seems to notice. Maybe I just think into things way too much. Either way, Clairegains a pondering look on her face for a minute before giggling.

"There's one thing I can do, no forget it, it's way too embarrassing"

"You ever see Wild Kingdom? I mean that guy's been doing that show for thirty years."

At John's words we all look over to the girl in question and smile reassuringly, we wouldn't laugh at her. Not now anyway. She nods after seeing our faces, but a light blush dusts her cheeks.

"Okay, but you have to swear to God you won't laugh...I can't believe I'm actually doing this..."

Fascination covers my face as I watch Claire along with the others to perfectly apply her lipstick while it's pressed between her breasts. I flounder at the spectacle. Hot damn mama, my boobs are too small for doing that shit.

"All right, great! Where'd you learn to do that?"

"Camp, seventh grade"

Between all this, it's only then do I notice John's clap is slow and mocking. He's being a prick about it as he smirks wolfishly at Claire.

"That was great; Claire...my image of you is totally blown"

"You're a shit! Don't do that to her you swore to God you wouldn't laugh!"

I didn't expect Ally to chew him out but she's the one doing it. Her voice is loud and snappish, she's glaring at him and I swear it was one of those if looks could kill moments.

"Am I laughing?"

I start punching John again as he starts mocking Claire, but he only shoves me away while Andy swears at him. I can't stop glaring at him, I really can't.

"You fucking prick!"

John doesn't look at Andy at first, he looks at me, his usually soft brown eyes are hard and cold as they stare into my blue ones, and I look away from him as they just keep getting harsher. John turns as well and glares at Andy as he speaks familiar words, Andy's words and you can see the gaping hole John's creating in all of us.

"What do you care what I think, anyway? I don't even count, right? I could disappear forever and it wouldn't make any difference, I may as well not even exist at this school, remember? And you...don't like me anyway!"

He's turned to point at Claire at his last sentence, and he has a point. She doesn't like him, we can all tell, so why does his opinion matter to her so much. But no one ever likes to be insulted, she's probably used to being loved because she's a popular girl isn't she? She looks torn, hurt at his words and I don't understand why fully, but John, he doesn't look remorseful or hurt, he's hiding his emotions away again as Claire speaks to him.

"You know, I have just as many feelings as you do and it hurts just as much when somebody steps all over them!"

It's horrible watching this, watching him like this as he furiously rips Claire apart in front us, completely disregarding her feelings. His face is stuck in rage, and Claire looks as though she's about to cry all over again. Why's he being so horrible to her? She's not so bad if you look past all the faults but every has those.

"God, you're so pathetic! Don't you ever, ever, compare yourself to me! Okay? You got everything, and I got shit! Fucking Repunzel, right? School would probably fucking shut down if you didn't show up! 'Queenie isn't here!' I like those earrings Claire."

"Shut up..."

"Are those real diamonds, Claire?"

"Shut up!"

"I bet they are, did you work, for the money for those earrings?"

"Shut your mouth!"

"Or did your daddy buy those?"

"Shut up!"

"I bet he bought those for you! I bet those are a Christmas gift! Right? You know what I got for Christmas this year? It was a banner fucking year at the old Bender family! I got a carton of cigarettes. The old man grabbed me and said 'Hey! Smoke up Johnny!' Okay, so go home'n cry to your daddy, don't cry here, okay?"

No one speaks. I don't think any of us can honestly, we're all choked up over the emotional turmoil and there's nothing any of us can say to make it all better. I think I understand though. Why John raged off on Claire. He was sick of her, I mean she's the picture of a spoilt rich girl, and she flaunts it in our faces each and every damn day. It was jealousy that stroked up this conversation, finally finding something not so perfect about her and he abused it. I always find in these situations that I try and reason John's behaviour, and I shouldn't but I do because he isn't a bad guy, he isn't, he's just a little broken as cliché as it sounds but we all are in our own little way.

Breaking through the tense silence John created, Andy asks a question that doesn't affect me half as much it does the others.

"My God, are we gonna be like our parents?"

Claire's response is instant.

"Not me...ever..."

"It's unavoidable, it just happens." Allison's crying at this point, and Claire wipes her face before asking what she meant."What happens?"

"When you grow up, your heart dies"

"Who cares?"

John shrugs it off as he leans back against the pillar, effectively shutting us out, and I wish he would care. I open my mouth to at the same time as Ally and we both speak the same thing, but John's the only one to look at me, having been the only one to hear me clearly.

"I care..."

John and I continue to look at each other, searching each other's eyes, searching for answers. I don't know why I'm searching, maybe I hope that John really does care about all this but it's impossible to think that. We don't turn away though, even as Brian speaks hesitantly.

"Um, I was just thinking, I mean. I know it's kind of a weird time, but I was just wondering, um, what is gonna happen to us on Monday? When we're all together again? I mean I consider you guys my friends, I'm not wrong, am I?"

This question has me thinking and I finally drag my eyes away from John as I frown heavily. I wouldn't think friends is the correct for us, because we don't really know each other, then again friends is a good word to describe us because we've spoken about secrets and things we wouldn't tell other people. Maybe I'm wrong but before I can answer Brian and tell him of my confusing thoughts on the matter, Andy speaks.

"No..."

Brian almost smiles at his answer, but he doesn't as he asks the question I desperately want to know. Things are bound to get ugly.

"So, so on Monday...what happens?"

"Are we still friends, you mean? If we're friends now, that is?"

I look over to Claire and I shake my head at her, because you can see in her face she doesn't class us as friends. She never has and she's fine with the fake friends she had before. I just hope I'm wrong about her, but then I can't help but think, I don't class these people as my friends. Or at least I don't want to. It's hard enough having John knowing, but if I had friends then that would mean they would eventually find out. Less people I have as friends, less people I have to hurt, and less I have to hurt. Always a risk for me.

"Yeah."

"Do you want the truth?"

"Yeah, I want the truth."

"I don't think so."

Brian looks heartbroken at that, because before today he would have never of guessed he would speak to the girl you can clearly see he likes but now he knows her true feelings he's hurt by it. I would be too but I just can't be. I don't react to her sentence, I sit perfectly still, my eyes locked on the ground as Allison questions her.

"Well, do you mean all of us or just John?"

"With all of you"

Claire has the decency to look ashamed at that, as Andy practically shouts at her.

"That's a real nice attitude, Claire!"

"Oh, be honest, Andy, if Brian came walking up to you in the hall on Monday, what would you do? I mean picture this; you're there with all the sports. I know exactly what you'd do, you'd say hi to him and when he left you'd cut him all up so your friends wouldn't think you really liked him!"

"No way!"

The way Andy says this ain't very convincing, but I'm happy that he's trying rather than just giving up. Like Claire and me. I feel horrible about it, but I can't be their friends, I mean, I'm not even sure I can be with John even though we've been all through that stuff. That makes you a bitch. I know. Allison speaks after Andy, she leans forward and looks like she's about to cry again, not that I blame her.

"Okay, what if I came up to you?"

"Same exact thing."

It seems John doesn't like how Claire's putting everyone downs as he leans forward furiously, and he screams at her. If only I could say the same about her but I can't if I agree, though we're different, her and me. She's doing it because she doesn't want her friends to know about this, she doesn't want to fall to the bottom of the schools food chain while I am only thinking about saving them heartbreak if we got to close. But it's still the same in the end; we're both hurting their feelings. Well, she more than me, they don't know I think the same.

"You are a bitch!"

"Why? Because I'm telling the truth; that makes me a bitch?"

"No! 'Cause you know how shitty that is to do to someone! And you don't got the balls to stand up to your friends and tell them that you're gonna like who you want to like!"

"Okay, what about you? You hypocrite! Why don't you take Allison to one of your heavy metal vomit parties?" Allison's face lit up over the idea."Or take Brian out to the parking lot at lunch to get high?" Brian looked wary of that one."What about Andy for that matter, what about me? Better yet, what would your friends say if you and Alka walked down the hallway together, you'd probably lie and say you were doing it with her just so they'd forgive you for being seen with her."

I hoarsely chuckled at that because it was true, if that was to happen that is. It won't though, generally speaking, none of the things she described would happen because John would never do that. He's the same as Claire. As all of us really. Hardly any of us are good people, maybe Brian and Ally. Ally already is your friend, you asked her. You can't back away from that, she doesn't have anyone else. But I can't be friends with her. You shouldn't have asked her then. I feel ten times worse now, knowing that I shouldn't have asked Allison to be my friend, she doesn't deserve this and I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I asked her, or even spoke to her. I came here not wanting friends, I still don't really. Liar.

I lean away slightly from John as he starts shouting aggressively at Claire. And what he says proves to me that I shouldn't have listened to him, or told him anything and I certainly shouldn't rely on anyone.

"Don't you ever talk about my friends! You don't know any of my friends, you don't look at any of my friends and you certainly wouldn't condescend to speak to any of my friends so you just stick to the things you know, shopping, nail polish, your father's BMW and your poor-rich-drunk mother in the Caribbean!"

"Shut up!"

"And as far as being concerned about what's gonna happen when Alka and I walk down the hallways at school, you can forget it! Because it's never gonna happen! Just bury your head in the sand and wait for your fucking prom!"

"I hate you!"

"Yeah? Good!"

Claire's crying again and John's angry but he's looking at me, eyes all apologetic but I don't give him the time of day as I move my eyes to the floor. He doesn't get to look at me like that especially after completely killing any hope I may of had remaining from my doubts. Could have just been said in the heat of the moment, you don't know until you talk to him, which you should probably do soon.

It's awkward for a spell, each of us gathering pieces of ourselves until Brian speaks. At his words, I clench my eyes shut because he's got me pegged all wrong and I want to die on the spot. I know what he's going to ask me.

"Then I assume Allison, Alka and I are better people than you guys, huh? Us weirdo's. Would either of you do that to me?" I can feel him looking at us but I refuse to say anything as Ally replies. "I don't have any friends really."

Hearing what Allison says makes me think she can see it, what I really think, maybe that's why she didn't out me as her friend right then and there.

"Well if you did?"

"No, I don't think the kind of friends I'd have would mind."

"Alka?"

I flinch at the sound of my name, and I feel tears gathering in my eyes but I lift my head to see them both looking at me, hope and desperation covering their face, while the other 3 stare at me curiously. I shake my head at them, sadly before I answer in the gentlest voice I can.

"I'm not meant to have friends, but if I was, I wouldn't ditch you but as it is, then I have to."

Each of their faces fall, disbelief clouds them and also confusion. They don't understand, none of them do and I don't feel inclined to tell them just what I meant. Ally shakes her head at me angrily, while Brian seems to accept it, though hurt, he understands what most cannot. I can see John looking at me with confusion, since I didn't completely explain before so he doesn't understand that life for me is shorter than the average, but the words just crawl done my throat before I can even begin to think about speaking them.

Brian doesn't say anything for a second, just smiles slightly before it changes into a frown, and he then declares with the determination that none of the others have that we're wrong in other words.

"I just wanna tell, each of you that I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't and I will not; because I think that's real shitty."

"Your friends wouldn't mind because they look up to us."

I'm not being funny, but no one looks up to them. The most people do is be nice to them, or squirm out of their way because they are afraid to be picked on for the remaining school years, because who wants that? She's such a conceited bitch, and it's shocking when Brian, of all people, responds to her with just what I think.

"You're so conceited, Claire. You're so conceited. You're so, like, full of yourself, why are you like that?"

"I'm not saying that to be conceited! I hate it! I hate having to go along with everything my friends say!"

"Well then why do you do it?"

"I don't know, I don't, you don't understand, you don't. You're not friends with the same kind of people that Andy and I are friends with! You know, you just don't understand the pressure that they can put on you!"

Claire's preaching to the wrong Church here, because she doesn't have the guts to stand up against her friends. She's basically saying she isn't strong enough to tell them off for doing something she doesn't want to do. Everyone has pressure placed upon them, just in different ways.

"I don't understand what? You think I don't understand pressure, Claire? Well fuck you! Fuck you!"

Brian crying now, he hides his face in his knees so we don't see, but he is and it's horrible to watch. I avert my eyes eventually just as he starts to speak in a cracked voice.

"Know why I'm here today? Do you? I'm here because Mr Ryan found a gun in the locker."

My chest constricts painfully at the thought of Brian feeling that low. Andy's the only one brave enough to ask him what we all need to know. Even though we aren't friends, not really, we're concerned just as much. I'm more scared though, because I know how it feels, to be at your lowest point and want a way out. I know. I've thought about it loads, wondered why the hell should I stick around to die a way I don't want to die. I tried to do it, so I understand what he's going through.

"Why'd you have a gun in your locker?"

"I tried. You pull the fucking trunk on it and the lights supposed to go on...and it didn't go on, I mean, I..."

"What's the gun for Brian?"

"Just forget it..."

"You brought it up, man!"

"I can't have an F, I can't have it and I know my parents can't have it! Even if I aced the rest of the semester, I'm still only a B. And everything's ruined for me!"

Claire's looks on at Brian with pity, and I know he doesn't want that, but I can't move as she speaks. I'm stock still.

"Oh Brian..."

"So I considered my options, you know?"

"No! Killing yourself is not an option!"

"Well I didn't do it, did I? No, I don't think so!"

I can't take it anymore, and before anyone can stop me I race over to him, collapse onto my knees and grab his hands, pulling him into a hug before pulling back and telling him I understand. I know everyone can hear, I know they are looking at me with shocked expressions as I move back after telling him my darkest secret.

"I understand Brian; I completely get why but don't ever do it again. Trying... It... It doesn't help none of the pain."

It's silent as I move to sit back next to John, and I can feel their eyes are trained on me but I don't look at them, I can't. Though, just as Ally speaks softly, a hand reaches to grab mine and without a seconds thought, I grip to it like a life line because I'm breaking down on the inside.

"It was a hand gun?"

"No, it was a flare gun, went off in my locker."

"Really?"

Andy's laughing, and even though Brian is trying not to, his sentence is full of muffled giggles.

"It's not funny."

We all start laughing, but instantly laugh harder at Brian's next words.

"Yes it is...fucking elephant was destroyed!"

I don't know how long we're laughing for, but I can hardly breathe after we all calm down, just long enough to hear the reason Ally was in here.

"You wanna know what I did to get in here? Nothing...I didn't have anything better to do."

And just like that we all burst into laughter again, and I can help but be glad that the serious talk from earlier is over and we can relax a little.

"You're laughing at me..."

"No!"

Andy doesn't help us, since he's laughing still, and Allison eventually joins in after the exclamation that we are in fact laughing at her. It's funny watching people while they laugh, John almost falls over from laughing, but didn't since I still had a good grip on his hand while Brian actually collapses to the side, grabbing at his stomach. We're a bunch of idiots.

Eventually we all come down from our high, and can actually talk again. This time the question comes to me, and it's Claire who's staring at me expectantly. Something I don't have to lie about, finally. That sounds horrible.

"Alka, what did you do to get in here? You haven't mentioned it."

I chuckle at that and remember exactly what I did to get this detention. It was the face on Vernon's face when he first opened his car door after hearing a strange noise emitting from it, it was scrunched up horrendously, and tears were at the corner of his eyes. It was a beautiful moment and one of the funniest for me. I snap out of the memory, seeing as their all looking at me now, and I grin hugely.

"I planted an egg bomb in Vernon's car."

I don't say anything else, as my grin grows bigger at their stunned expressions.

"That was you?"

John's voice sounds impressed, and I turn to nod at him.

"I felt like planting an egg bomb somewhere, it's not my fault he left his car out in the open, unlocked."

With that the laughter starts up again, just as hard as the times before. It's nice to know we can all get along even though we pretty much piss each other off all the time. It's really nice. Maybe these are my friends.



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