The Heart of the Ocean

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An Unexpected Invitation


“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

-Maya Angelou

The white hallways of the local Seaworth High School were full of students. After a long and tiring day, the hungry teenagers were trying to reach their rusty lockers as soon as possible. They were so anxious to get home, that they did not care whether they pushed or stepped on anyone in their haste. Aide could already feel a headache forming in the back of her head as she and Aileen were pushed around. They tried to squeeze through the buzzing crowd that seemed like an unstoppable human river.

One might wonder something plausible: how does a small seaside village have so many students? The truth is that the number of teenagers was not the problem. The problem was in the building that housed the high school. The old establishment wasn’t large or glamorous like those you’d admire in movies. It had small classrooms and narrow halls, which became suffocatingly crowded as the teens attempted to reach the exit as fast as possible. Generally, it had seen better days and desperately needed maintenance.

As the two girls made their way to their lockers, Aide observed what was going on around her. She noticed that nothing had changed since their first year -the groups of friends had remained the same just like the peeling paint on the walls. They had the same perception of the world -some thought they were better than others due to their families’ status. She hated their narrowed way of thinking. She hated the way they categorized people as if they were objects. She hated how no one told them anything about it, allowing them to continue judging people and making them feel like shit.

Let’s just say, she wasn’t someone who stayed silent.

And she didn’t regret it once.

As soon as they arrived, a familiar figure greeted them. She was leaning against one of the lockers -her blue eyes taking in the rushing students passing by. Her foot was tapping impatiently on the old tiles as she folded her hands in front of her chest. She glared at the blonde strand that fell into her face, before tucking it behind her ear.

“Petra!“, Aileen exclaimed excitedly before taking hold of Aide’s hand and guiding them to their friend.

At the sound of her name, Petra searched through the crowd for her friends. It wasn’t long until her eyes landed on a short red-haired who was waving at her. She shook her head at Aileen’s excitement before a smile graced her features.

“You guys are late”, she pouted when they finally reached her.

Aide rolled her eyes playfully at her before she put the correct combination in her locker. Leaving her history book inside, she exchanged it with her physic’s notebook and manual. She was ready to go home.

“The bell rang literally a minute ago, P”, Aide laughed as she closed the small metallic door.

The blonde shook her head in disagreement as the three of them started to make their way towards the exit.

“Well, I am starving! Every minute seems like a century when my tummy needs to be filled!“, Petra patted her growling stomach to make a point.

Aide shook her head at her friend’s antics, having already made the same conversation a thousand times before. It was very simple; Petra had a special relationship with her food and absolutely nothing came between them. She could become pretty grumpy and demanding when lunchtime came around, not calming down until she finally had her meal. Although she was used to her being an annoying brat when she was hungry, it didn’t mean it wasn’t getting on her nerves.

“Why didn’t you eat something?“, Aide raised a dark eyebrow at her, “You had plenty of time considering you missed our last class.”

Petra’s eyes widened before she met Aileen’s nervous gaze. The red-haired played with her fingers anxiously as she gave her an apologetic smile.

“Ail”, she whined, “Why did you tell her? You know what happened last time.”

“Because I’m not blind, you idiot”, Aide states the obvious.

Aileen bit her lower lip feeling guilty. The girls had fights all the time -it wasn’t something new. It was understandable since they were two completely different characters. She tried her best to keep them balanced, but sometimes it was easier said than done. That didn’t mean she wasn’t feeling bad whenever a fight occurred -especially when she was somehow involved.

“Can you guys stop fighting?“, she asked in a small voice, “Please?”

Aide’s chocolate eyes softened as she noticed how anxious her friend was getting. It wasn’t just that Aileen wasn’t fond of their fights. Generally, she wasn’t comfortable around loud people or tensed situations. She couldn’t blame the girl -she had been bullied too many times. Her unique appearance and the absence of her family had put a target on her back. Kids weren’t kind to people who were different. Their comments were awful and their behavior cruel. It wasn’t a surprise that Aileen always searched for familiar faces and calm environments.

It’s simple; not everyone understands how beautiful it is to be different.

“Sorry, sweetie”, Aide patted her on the back gently, “Are you okay?”

“Yes”, she smiled softly.

“No, you aren’t”, Petra stated firmly, “Why don’t you tell her what happened today?”

Aide looked at them confused.

“What happened today?”

“It’s nothing really”, Aileen mumbled nervously, “You don’t have to worry about it.”

“Olivia and her squad apparently locked her in the bathroom”, Petra’s voice was filled with fury.

“What?“, Aide’s hand balled into tight fists, “When? I was with you the whole time!”

“We have different classes during the third period”, Aileen tucked a red strand behind her ear, “Besides, Petra got me out. It’s okay -I’m fine.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?“, Aide’s voice cracked at the sight of her –she hated when these kinds of things happened.

“It isn’t such a big deal”, the red-haired shrugged her shoulders.

“Aileen!“, Aide’s eyes widened, “Of course it is a big deal! Bullying is unacceptable! You shouldn’t have to go through this! First, Alastor and then, this! I-”

A hand was placed on her shoulder.

“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you. Because I knew you’d be so worried”, Aileen gave her a saddened smile, “You always worry about something. You worry for Petra’s future, for my well-being, for your Nana not taking her pills. You worry so much about everyone else that sometimes you forget to take care of yourself.”

“Aileen...”

“I love you for being so supportive and caring, Aide. You, Petra, and Nana have helped me through a lot”, the red-haired smiled at her, “But you have to understand that you can’t take care of everyone. At some point, you have to make yourself a priority.”

Aide didn’t say anything –she didn’t know what to say. She didn’t feel like she wasn’t taking care of herself. She was just overly protective of the people she loved. She just wanted them to be safe and sound. You can’t blame a girl for trying to protect what was left of her family –yes, she considered Aileen and Petra family. Because family isn’t about blood; it’s about love. And they had plenty of it.

“If it makes you feel any better, I poured my steamy coffee all over Olivia’s brand new white top”, Petra chuckled in amusement, “I’ve never seen a cheerleader running out of practice so fast.”

Aide couldn’t help but laugh. There were times like these that she couldn’t stay mad at her. Petra was an untamed spirit, wild and free. She didn’t obey to rules –she always did whatever she wanted, even if everyone was against it. They didn’t always meet eye to eye with one another –Petra was doing her thing while Aide was trying to reason with her. Honestly, they were arguing a lot –screaming profanities to one another until their throats were dry. It was quite expected since they were so different.

However, Petra was always there for her friends. No matter their differences, she was always there to support them in her own way. And that’s why Aide loved her so much.

But isn’t that what friendship is?

Friendship isn’t about being the same. It isn’t about having the same opinions and liking the same things. It’s about being there for someone and support them through thick and thin. It’s about seeing the beauty of your friend’s differences and accept them. It’s about not letting them do stupid things...alone. You love them, even when they annoy the shit out of you. And you are there for them not only when they smile, but when they cry too.

That’s what friendship is.

“At least, was it worth it?“, Aide smirked at her, “Skipping class for practice?”

Petra started jumping up and down in excitement, making the people around them watch her curiously. She had a dreamy look on her face as she sighed deeply.

“Oh, you have no idea! You both should have been there! Honestly, I didn’t know Thomas Barton had such a firm ass! You should have seen him while he was running!“, Petra exclaimed enthusiastically, “What a blessing to know your crush has such a nice ass!”

Aide’s smile widened as she hit her shoulder playfully.

“You lucky bitc-”

“Language!”, Aileen screamed while covering her ears.

The three girls laughed as they walked through the streets of Seaworth. That’s how things had always been for them; they had each other’s back. They were like the three musketeers; all for one and one for all. Their differences didn’t matter –they only complimented each other’s personalities.

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you!“, the blonde clapped her hands, “I got some exciting news!”

The two girls watched as a grin decorated her face. Emerald eyes found chocolate ones in bewilderment. The last time Petra was so excited about something, Aide puked on a shocked Nana and Aileen had the stomach flu for about a week. That’s how they realized that perhaps, it wasn’t the best idea to steal those small licker chocolates from Petra’s father. In their defense, it was their first time tasting alcohol and they hadn’t thought they could get drunk by a few pieces of chocolate. They soon found out that sugar and alcohol are not to be mixed. And Nana Alexandra wasn’t happy at all...

“Before I say anything, you gotta promise me that you are gonna say yes!“, Petra widened her eyes, “Please, please, please, say yes!”

Things were getting worse by the minute. One thought was running through their minds; would they survive this time? If not Alexandra will surely resurrect them, only so she could kill them herself. Both options didn’t sound good; losses will be made.

“So, as I was talking to Thomas today, he-”

Aha!“, Aide smirked slightly, “I knew it!”

“You actually talked to him?“, Aileen smiled widely, “That’s awesome, P! He’s been your crush for a while now!”

“Shhh, not so loud!“, she warned them as she glanced worriedly around, “Anyway, he told me that the Soccer team is having a beach party on Friday night!”

“Beach party? At the beginning of October?“, Aide furrowed her eyebrows, “Did playing soccer deprive them of the ability to think?”

“Oh shush! The party is going to be on the beach so that the whole Seaworth won’t find out about it”, Petra explained.

“Why?“, Aileen asked confused, “What’s so wrong about it?”

“It’s a high school party, Ail!“, Petra stated in frustration, “If the whole village finds out about it, we’ll have to deal with a party full of elders and children. Where’s the fun in that?”

“Yeah, because having a beach party when the temperature has dropped so low is an ideal way to have fun”, Aide shook her head at the thought.

“It will not be like that”, Petra started to explain, “There will be a huge bonfire and everyone will be dressed really cozy! There will be music, cute boys, and alcohol -lots of alcohol!”

Aileen looked at Aide in worry.

“Come on, guys! Please!“, Petra jumped excitedly, “It will be so much fun!”

“That’s what you said last time”, Aide murmured, “And the time before. And the time before th-”

“I promise this time will be super fun!“, Petra quickly cut her off, “Come on, guys! We are teenagers only once!”

“We are adults only once too. And I would like to be alive to become one, thank you very much!“, Aide crossed her hands above her chest.

“Don’t be like that, Aide! It’s just a party; the worst thing that can happen is getting drunk”, Petra hugged her tightly, making her gasp, “Please, please! Do it for me! This is the first time Thomas has acknowledged me! He invited us to the party!”

“An invitation can be refused”, Aide gulped as Petra’s eyes narrowed, “Just saying!”

“Think about it as a date; if I don’t go to the party, he’ll think I rejected him and probably, never speak to me again!“, Petra explained as calmly as she could.

“Is it a date?“, Aide raised an eyebrow.

“It could be.”

“So, it isn’t”, Aide stated.

“Aide, I swear to G-”

“I get it, P! He is your crush! You want to impress him!“, Aide cut her off, “What I don’t understand is why I have to freeze by going to a beach party when it’s almost winter!”

“Because I am your friend!“, Petra gave her the puppy eyes, “And you love me! You have to support your bestie as she tries to impress her crush, no?”

Aide rolled her eyes, before gazing at Aileen pointedly.

“Um, I-I mean...“, the red-haired stuttered.

Petra gazed at her pleadingly.

“I suppose we have to help her”, she finally whispered.

“Oh my God! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!“, Petra hugged her tightly.

“Don’t get too happy about it!“, Aide warned her, “Under no circumstances, do I want to have to explain to your mother why her daughter is totally wasted!”

Petra groaned, slightly pouting.

“Party pooper”, she accused.

“Hey! Be happy I agreed to this!“, Aide gave her a warning glare “You know parties are not my thing.”

“Oh, come on! Live a little, Aide!“, Petra patted her on the back, “You got to loosen up some times! You are seventeen, not seventy!”

A growling sound interrupted Aide’s answer. Their attention turned towards Petra’s empty stomach. Her cheeks turned red as she shrugged her shoulders.

“Don’t look at me like that!“, she mumbled in embarrassment, “I told you I was starving!”

Aileen shook her head in amusement as she patted her friend’s growling belly.

“Come on”, the red-haired urged, “Let’s feed that beast of yours.”

As the three girls left the building, Aide couldn’t help but think of Petra’s words. She didn’t really want to go to the party, but wasn’t that what normal teenagers do? On the other hand, she would rather spend her Friday watching her favorite shows under the warmth of her blankets rather than freeze on the beach.

“Oh, suck it up”, she thought to herself, “The girls are right -you gotta act your age.”

Besides, what could possibly go wrong?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

End of chapter 4!!

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