Keep the Beat

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Chapter 19

“Why are you so happy?” Max asked cautiously, as I approached the table bouncing on the balls of my feet.

“Can’t a girl be happy? Jeez.” I scoffed, a smile still etched across my face.

“For real,” Jessica glanced to Shane in horror, “why is she so… Perky.”

“I’m always perky!” I shouted, offended.

“Usually you’re just a sarcastic bitch.” Cassie corrected, “We love it though, don’t worry.”

Shane rolled his eyes at everyone for being so eccentric, “She’s only giddy because Kelly’s making cookies.”

I slapped his arm, “No. These are not just ‘cookies’. These are the cookies! My cookies! She created these for me! They’ve got chocolate chips- dark, light and white chips, with syrup to sweeten it and some melted chocolate right in the middle!”

“They do sound nice.” Josh muses, smiling at how excited I was.

“Oh they are!” I agreed, nodding eagerly. “I’ll let you try one!”

“I want to try one!” Caleb whined.

“You can to-“

I stopped talking when I noticed Keara marching into the dining area looking triumphant. She smirked in my direction causing me to sigh. One day with cookies. That’s all I was asking for.

“What’s she looking so fucking pleased about?” Jessica grumbled, “God I honestly don’t get her. Why does she act like she owns the place?”

We all turned and raised an eyebrow at Jessica pointedly. “Honestly Jess, would have thought you’d know that answer.” Melissa drawled as the rest of us snorted with laughter.

“Everyone.” The nasally voice that I so dearly hate interrupted us. Grimacing I turned to face her direction. “I wanted to say that I hope we all put our differences behind us and start over.”

Shannon’s fork fell from her grip and clattered onto the table, her facial expression basically described what we were all thinking.

“Wait, what the fuck?” Max voiced our thoughts.

“Well I have a new boyfriend, and like Jessica over here’s new man did… He helped me see how wrong I was.”

“So you dumped Marc?” I questioned cautiously, “Good for you.”

“I know. This guy’s so much better. Much hotter too.” She giggled, “But he’s deep. He sees through me, sees the real me. Knows when I’m upset even when I’m acting happy. He won’t say anything though, he’ll just try to make me laugh. And I usually do. He’s an asshole too. So cocky, really annoying and cheesy. But he’s my asshole.”

My heart quickened as I recognised her words. The same words that I had once rehearsed to Jack during a detention we had.

She smirked at me, watching as I put one and one together. “This can’t be happening.” I whispered, confusing those around me.

“Come here my gorgeous boyfriend.” She called, emphasising the title.

I watched as Chase came over, letting her wound her arm around her. His face was neutral as he wrapped his arm around her the same way he would with me. He stared at me, giving nothing away. And I stared too, my face straight, giving nothing back.

“May.” Shane whispered, squeezing my arm.

I smiled, my smile stretched into a grin and soon I was laughing. Everyone watched me as I continued to laugh, most of them lost, some sympathetic. “Oh man, okay. Well I’m going to go get my cookies. I’ll be back in sec!”

I turned on my heel and walked. Keeping my feet light even though they felt as heavy as bricks, I began to skip away, a smile still fully formed on my face.

Get to the kitchens. The voice in my head repeated over and over. To the kitchens.

Once I reached the kitchen that Kelly was working in, I quickly stepped inside and closed the door. Kelly turned to greet me, her fully fledged grin simmering away the moment she saw my face.

“What happened?” She demanded, her eyes scrutinizing mine.

“Nothing.” I responded simply.

“May, you’re like stone. It’s been years since I’ve seen you like this.”

“Chase and Keara are together.” I stated coldly. Kelly didn’t say anything, she couldn’t say anything. She wrapped her arms around me and held me like a child, like someone who was going to break.

I wasn’t going to break. I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction.

“I just want the cookies.” I mumbled into her shoulder. I could feel her shake with laughter.

“They’re over there.” She told me, leading me to the kitchen counter. “May, don’t block me out. Please.”

“I’m not.” I promised, “I won’t. I’m going to be okay, it’s just a guy.”

“It is.” She agreed hesitantly. “You could get any guy you wanted, look at you.”

But you don’t want any guy, the voice whimpered.

“Do you mind if I take a few more of these?” I asked, gesturing to the cookies. “Caleb and Josh want some.”

“You can take the whole lot.” Kelly shrugged, gingerly picking them off the tray and placing them into a plastic bowl. When she was finished, she handed them to me.

“May, just smile and wave, yeah?”

“Just smile and wave.” I agreed.

My feet led me back to the dining area. I honestly didn’t want to go back, I really didn’t. But I had said I’d be back in a second. I had to show everyone how strong I was. How strong I am.

When I reached the tables, it was silent. My group of friends were glaring at Keara and her few minions along with her shiny trophy, while they stared back. The other campers were glancing between themselves, some anxious, others giddy from the drama. I’d probably had been giddy from the drama.

I approached my friends slowly, my eyes trailing from each of them to the other. Caleb was staring at Chase, who was staring back at them. They were speaking through eye contact. “I brought cookies?” It came out more of a question than a statement. Max decided to try and lighten the atmosphere by taking a cookie and tasting it.

“Dude! These are amazing!” He exclaimed, stuffing it into his mouth.

“I know right?” I agreed, nodding vigorously.

Cassie reached into the bowl and stared at the cookie in her hand. She snarled under her breath before turning and throwing it at Chase. “You piece of shit!” She yelled.

Chaos took out.

Shannon followed Cassie’s lead and tossed a cookie at Keara, screaming something along the lines of, “My ship you bitch!”

I stood in the middle of the cookie war, staring at the now almost empty bowl of cookies. Shane was pointing at Chase and shouting, while Josh had tossed James aside getting pissed with his shit. Max was trying to save the cookies while everyone else was trying to get a piece of Keara and her bitch squad.

Jessica sidled up beside me and took a bite out of a cookie. “These are actually good.” She murmured.

I stared at the fight in front of us. I’m not going to lie, I was entertained by my gangs fighting style yet the mess was disrupting the other campers way of life and that was unfair.

“Stop it! Now!” I screamed, my voice shaking through the dining area. “Just stop it, god look what you’ve done!”

Everyone stopped and turned to me. My friends looked furious yet apologetic to me.

I stared at the ground which was covered in cookies. “What a waste to such beauties.” I whined. I took a bite out of the last cookie in my bowl, and the taste just made me sadder. Keara wretched it from my hand from right in front of me.

“I’m sorry May. I know this is probably hard for you. First Marc, now Chase. But neither of them were actually with you, so you were just too late. They chose the better option.” She informed me, smiling sympathetically.

I was very close to hitting her, my hands were beginning to role up but I forced myself to breath. “You could see it like that I suppose.” I replied in a soft voice.

“There’s no other way of seeing it.”

“Well, you could see it like this: You just love getting my scraps.” I voiced smirking at her and gesturing to the half-eaten cookie in her hand.

She gasped, her face written with fury. I wasn’t reacting and she hated it.

“I have things to do.” I stated, my eyes focusing on Chase who returned their focus. “Have fun darlings.” I winked and waved my hand before turning around and walking away with no attention of coming back there until I had to.

Trust me, he had said. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.

I laughed bitterly. I felt weak. He made me weak. I tossed a small rock into the lake, staring blankly in front of me.

I didn’t tell anyone where I was going, I went to the same place in the woods that Chase and I had found at the start of summer. Deep down I was hoping that he would know I was here. That he would come and tell me that it was all a joke.

He didn’t.

A sob shook through my body. Tears poured down my cheeks as I curled up into a ball on the dirt. I looked up at the trees, ignoring the dirt and leaves that were sticking into my hair. I tried to control my breathing as I gasped out more sobs.

My phone began to ring and I pulled it out of my pocket to check the ID. I expected it to be Shannon or Shane or Melissa or Josh who had been calling me repeatedly, but it wasn’t.

“Jack?” I whispered.

“Hey gorgeous.” He replied, “Are you okay?”

“How did you know I wasn’t?”

“Um, Melissa texted me. She said shit happened and that I should talk to you.”

I sighed and sat up on the ground. “I always fuck things up Jack.” I whimpered, “Why do I always fuck things up?”

“May what happened?”

“Remember that guy I told you about? Yeah well he’s Keara’s new boyfriend.”

“May…” Jack trailed off, he sighed. “What an asshole. I’m going to kick the absolutely shit out of him. Like is he stupid? Why the hell would he ever-“

“Because I’m a crazy bitch.” I finished.

“But that’s your best quality.” Jack added, “Where are you right now? Are okay?”

“I’m the woods.” I shrugged, only realizing how weird that sounded.

“You aren’t burying a body though, right?”

“Maybe.”

He chuckled softly and I lay back down on the ground.

“He told me that I could trust him Jack. He said he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. I feel so stupid, I thought he-” I let out a growl and clutched my hair with my free hand, frustrated.

“Can I tell you a story?”

“Is it Cinderella? Sleeping beauty? Shrek?”

“Remember when we were twelve.” He interrupted, I could see him rolling his eyes in my mind. “We both had geography together, I didn’t talk to you, well I didn’t talk to anyone really.”

“You were pretty shy.” I agreed, “I let you borrow my colors once.”

“You were that kid that the teacher loved to hate. You were pretty popular too in a way, you had your small group of friends. Mostly boys because you played soccer with us at break.”

“Hardly any of them went on to our high school.” I remembered sadly.

“Well one day you and another kid fell out. He said that he wasn’t going to be your friend anymore because he thought Keara was cooler than you.”

I smiled to myself as he relayed the story. “Crazy ass bitch didn’t know what he was saying.”

“You laughed at him and bade him goodbye. For the next couple of weeks you smiled at him even though he sat as far away from you, you’d still pass the ball to him, you still called him by his nickname and soon enough he was your best friend again leaving Keara to her stupid bratz dolls.”

“I remember.” I laughed, “Thank you.”

“All I did was tell you a story… But I’m not saying be desperate and get back with him. If you want him get him, May. But if you know that he’s not worth it, then don’t.”

“I don’t know anything Jack. All I know is that he was my friend and he broke his promise.”

“You’ll figure it out babe. You always do. Are you and Mel still coming to watch my fight?”

“Definitely. We’ll sneak out somehow.” I promised.

“You guys better. I’ve been telling my friends that I got three pretty ladies on my fan base.”

I snorted with laughter, “Three? Does your mum count Jack?”

“Of course, she does.” He chuckled, “I have to go and train. I’ll see you soon then?”

“You will.” I agreed, “Bye Jackie Chan.”

“See you Esme.”

I stared at my phone that was sitting on my lap, and began to pick the leaves and twigs out of my hair. Most of my messages consisted of Shane demanding to know where I was and if he was okay. Apparently, he was already in the woods looking for me.

Chase hadn’t shown, which stung a little. If this was just a ploy, he would have come to find me.

It’s his call now, the voice told me.

“No one knows where the ladder goes.
You’re gonna lose what you love the most,
you’re not alone in anything…
You’re not unique and dying…” I whispered.
I feel estranged every now and then.
Fall asleep reading science fiction,
I wanna fly in your silver ship, but…
My mamma hanging my sister, sit”

I got up from my position on ground and brushed the dirt off my clothes.

“It’s on now, the days are long now!
The ups and the sun downs,
in the twisting mind!” I sang my heart out, shaking the anger and sadness from myself.
“If I gotta go first,
I’ll do it on my terms!
I’m tired of traitors!
Always changing sides…
They were friends of mine.”

“Don’t hang around once the promise breaks.
Or you’ll be there when the next one’s made-“

“May!” A voice yelled, halting my singing. Shane’s arms engulfed me, holding me protectively. I rested my head on his shoulder.

“You’re not alone in anything,” He murmured the final words of the song to me, “You’re not alone in trying to be.”


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