Death and all His Friends

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The price of my pride.

“That was mean you know.” I told Raith as we walked though the fairgrounds. People turned to stare as we went past, which annoyed the hell out of me.

“What was mean?”

“Making me ditch my friends. Poor Gina isn’t even meant to be working there.”

“It’s only twenty minutes, and you guys weren’t exactly doing great business.” Raith retorted, hitting something with his walking stick.

We came to the exit gate and I was surprised when Raith went through it.

“Hey where are we…wait…is that a walking stick?” I froze as I stared at the thing in Raith’s hand.

“No. It’s a cane.” Raith swung the black walking stick, I mean, black cane, so that I could see it better. It was metal and perfectly straight with a silvery embellished knob on the top. All in all, pretty ordinary and boring.

“So um…why do you have a cane?” I asked.

Raith started walking again and I hurried to catch up.

“Well I realised that every time I want to hit you, I can’t because I can’t physically touch you, so I bought this cane.”

He swung it again, his eyes glittering maliciously. My mouth fell open as I stared at the black metal thing. Was this because of the fight? He bought it so he could hit me? Sweet Jesus what have I got myself into?

“You bought it so you could hit me?” I gasped in horror, voicing my thoughts. Raith rolled his eyes and an elderly couple looked at us in surprise.

“No you retard. Stop taking everything so seriously. I bought it off this dude in Mongolia yesterday because it’s awesome. Check this out.”

Raith stopped walking and gripped the silver knobbly bit of the walking stick. Then he put his other hand on the straight end of the cane and pulled.

My eyes widened as the straight end of the cane came off and a thin blade emerged, Raith pulling it out in one fluid, smooth motion.

“Pretty cool huh?” he said proudly.

“Jesus Christ! Put it back! Put it back before someone sees and arrests you!” I yelled, jumping up and down and glancing around.

“Relax, relax.” He slipped the sword back in its sheath and carried on walking like nothing happened. I looked around quickly but when I saw that no one had been paying attention to Raith’s stupid stunt, I followed.

‘You. Are. Insane.” I grumbled when I caught up with him. He was now holding the cane over his shoulders in his right hand.

“And you are a sad, boring individual.”

“At least I’m not walking around with a walking stick. You look like an idiot you know.”

“At least I’m good looking. What happened to your face?”

I stopped in my tracks and gritted my teeth together.

What. A. Douche.

“Whatever.” I muttered, going red and feeling self conscious. With my eyes glued to the ground, I jogged to catch up to where Raith had stopped to wait for me. “Where are we going? Why aren’t we going to hang around the fete?” I asked.

“Didn’t you listen to what I said before? It’s boring as shit and believe me, your company won’t make it any better.” Raith said simply, turning and continuing his leisurely stroll.

“Then where are we going?” I repeated, getting annoyed.

“Where do you think? The harbour side dumbass.”

I nervously glanced around, aware that once again I was the centre of attention though that may have been because Raith was walking around holding a walking stick.

“Can you at least put your hood up? Everyone is staring at us.” I said uncomfortably.

“Not a great feeling is it?”

Raith pulled up the hood of his jacket, his face becoming partially concealed in the shadows. I was surprised he listened to me.

Feeling more at ease, I continued to walk towards Lake Longtom.

I hadn’t been to the ‘harbour side’ for a while. Jess and I used to go down here a lot when we first moved to Fishbowl but as we grew older, we stopped going out together in general.

I loved it though. It was always so peaceful but still full of life. The harbour side was set out in a semi circle, lined with various wooden docks and walkways. Lining the docks was a massive red brick pathway and behind that were tonnes of restaurants, bars, clubs and shops. The thing I loved the most about the harbour side were the street performers. I thought it was amazing all the tricks and stunts they could do and I usually gave them all my spare change. Too bad I was broke right now. I only had ten dollars which I found in one of my socks under the couch. I was going to use it to pay back Gina and Lizzy.

Lots of people hung out around the harbour, dipping their feet in the water as they sat on the docks watching the small boats. The best time to come down here was right now; during twilight, where the sky was a pale indigo, you could see the stars coming out and there was a nice breeze. The atmosphere made me relax and forget about my troubles.

I smiled when I saw the water’s edge and felt the cool wind through my hair. The sights and the smells of the place made my chest feel lighter and for a moment I didn’t care about my ugly face or my troubling dreams or even the selfish bastard next to me.

I turned and saw Raith looking at me strangely.

“What?” I asked, my good mood making me feel buoyant and light. It almost felt like I would float up to touch the moon.

He didn’t say anything as we continued to walk. In fact, his eyes seemed to narrow as he stared at me.

“Seriously, what?” I almost laughed this time. Something about this place just filled me with joy.

After a few more seconds, Raith turned away. How strange.

We followed the path and began to make our way around the harbour. There were a lot of people here tonight but it wasn’t too crowded. I also noticed a lot of couples, staring lovingly into each others’ eyes, holding hands or hugging. I bet Raith and I looked like one of them, except for the show of affection of course.

I slowed down and stopped when I saw a group of people surrounding a street performer.

The guy looked to be in his late twenties, with dirty blonde hair and a huge cheesy smile.

“And for my next act,” he said picking up several large sticks, “I’m going to juggle these flaming torches!”

Everyone cheered, including me. I loved watching these things.

“Come on Tegan, what are you doing?” I heard Raith calling me.

Oops, I had almost forgotten he was there. Taking one more regretful look at the flaming torch guy, I walked quickly towards Raith, who was standing on one of the wooden docks.

“Geez Raith. I was watching that.” I muttered once I was standing beside him.

“If you like that douche so much, why don’t you just give him some money.” Raith glowered as he sat down, his legs dangling off the edge. The water was pretty shallow today, so his feet didn’t get wet.

I did the same, my fingers curling underneath the edge of the planks of wood.

“Well I don’t have any money.” I said, turning so I could face him.

“Get a job.”

“Well I…uh…lack the motivation, attitude and people skills. Besides, I did have quite a lot of money before. I just spent it all. On food. And a big hat.”

“Well you shouldn’t complain about having no money then.”

We had a weird stare off, which was hard since his eyes were like bottomless emerald pits that seemed to suck everything into them. Beautiful though. Unfathomable. Perfect-

“Eek!” I flinched as gross harbour water splattered all over my face. “Ew! Raith! That’s disgusting!”

That idiot splashed me!

I would splash the jerk back but my arms weren’t long enough to reach the water. And he used that stupid cane of his. That was basically cheating.

Raith, on the other hand, was rolling around laughing his head off.

“You should have seen your face! Priceless.”

“Not fair.” I crossed my arms over my wet shirt and sulked. Stupid asshole.

“Cheer up. I’m only messing with you.” Raith prodded me with his cane, still snickering.

I inhaled deeply, savouring the smell of the night air.

“Well now I’m all cold.”

“Bullshit. It’s such a warm night.”

“Ok, fine. But the water smells dodgy.”

“Yea. There must be heaps of pollution and piss in there. Look how green the water is.”

We both leaned over and stared past the wooden planks we were sitting on.

“Eww!!!” I shrieked, shuddering.

“Suck it up Tee, you’re such a pussy.”

“And you’re an immature dip shit. How old are you anyway?”

The mood of the conversation changed and Raith suddenly turned away to stare straight ahead at the darkening horizon.

“What do you mean?” he asked, fiddling with his cane

I sighed but kept my eyes glued to his profile.

What did I mean?

“You look around my age, but how old are you actually?”

“Um…let me see…” he scrunched up his face and mumbled numbers under his breath.

I laughed at the look of deep concentration that seemed so foreign on his features.

“Not good at maths?”

“Terrible.”

“I figured.”

“Twenty eight.”

“What?”

Raith shrugged nonchalantly, still not looking at me.

“I died when I was eighteen. If I’d still be alive, then I’d be twenty eight years old.”

I stared. Ok, so he wasn’t that old. But damn.

So Raith died ten years ago. I would have been…seven…wow…

“So you don’t age at all? You’re immortal?”

Raith scoffed.

“Immortal? I’m already dead. What do you think I am? A faggy vampire?”

“Well technically vampires are dead too…”

Raith grumbled something which I chose to ignore.

“Did you really go to Dellacruse Academy?”

There was another pause in the conversation and I watched as the seagulls weaved back and forth across the water.

“Yea. It’s actually a boarding school in the middle of nowhere for conditioning misbehaving kids. Bit of a hell hole.” Spite edged his words as Raith talked and I realised that once again I was prying into his personal life.

I sighed, thinking back to the fight we had.

“Why did you come back?” I asked, wondering if he’d answer me.

“What?” he finally turned to look at me and I taken aback by the strange emotion in his eyes.

“When I told you to leave me alone when we were fighting, you left and didn’t come back for ages. I thought you wouldn’t ever come back since you told me how to get rid of Babu. Why did you return?”

Raith was silent again.

“Well, to be honest, I was a little worried Babu had decapitated you by now. Knowing you, you wouldn’t be able to handle doing something as simple as helping a classmate.”

“You were worried?” I started to smile to myself. Raith’s left eye twitched and he cleared his throat.

“I was worried because if you died then I’d be in trouble with the higher powers. Besides, when do I listen to you?” he snapped.

“Whatever you say.” I said teasingly.

My stomach suddenly growled.

“You hungry?” Raith changed the subject.

“Not really.”Alright that was a lie. I was starving. I hadn’t eaten since midday.

“You just don’t have money to eat out, do you?”

“Maybe. Let’s go back to the fete. I’ll convince Lizzy to give me some popcorn for free.”

We stood up and began to walk back. I sighed as I watched Raith swing around his cane.

“You look like a dork with that thing.” I commented when he caught me staring.

“I pull it off. And it doubles as a sword. Come on, how cool is that?”

“Almost as cool as the creepy thin man in Charlie’s Angels. I’m pretty sure he had a cane sword too. Remember what happened to him?”

I smirked triumphantly as Raith flipped me off.

We passed a group of people surrounding a huge, buffed up guy lifting all kinds of things and balancing stuff on his nose; from stacks of cups to bowling balls.

“Wow!” I stopped and watched for a bit before Raith jabbed me sharply in the back with his cane.

“Why are you so fascinated with these people?” he snapped as I started walking again.

“Because it’s amazing.”

The next street performer I saw was a young guy in his early twenties juggling fire torches, knives and even a rifle whilst balancing on a unicycle.

“Oh my God that’s so cool!” I shrieked, joining the crowd and clapping enthusiastically.

“Jesus Tegan, it’s not that hard doing all that.” Raith cried.

“Shut up. Of course it’s hard. Look! He’s even cycling in a circle while he juggles!”

“Pfft, even I could do that.”

“Stop talking bull…Wow did you see that?” I, and the crowd, went wild. I swore the guy just swallowed one of his knives.

“You call this street performing?” Raith snapped.

I ignored him and continued to walk only to stop when the guy who swallowed his knife took out a guitar.

Then he began to sing, his voice rich and melodious and soothing and strong all at the same time.

A lazy smile formed on my face as I and the rest of the crowd began to sway in time with the music.

“Hey!” I heard Raith say beside me. I replied without looking at him.

“What?”

“I’ll give you two hundred dollars if you go and kiss that guy right here right now.”

What?” I broke out of my trance at the words ‘two hundred dollars’ and ‘kiss’.

“Two hundred dollars if you kiss this guitar retard.” Raith repeated.

I glared at him, my pride wounded. Raith just waited expectantly and I realised that he was being fully serious.

“I would never do something like that, especially for money. I bet you don’t even have two hundred dollars!” I said angrily.

With a smirk, Raith reached into the pocket of his dark jeans and pulled out two hundred dollar bills.

“It’s all I have on me right now. It’s yours if you just go up to that guy and kiss him.”

My eyes were glued to the money. Was he being serious? Was he really going to pay me to humiliate myself? There were so many things wrong with this situation.

“You’re sick.” I told him. “You’re sick for-”

“For what? I’m basically helping you out. You need money. I’m bored. I know you’re tempted. I promise I won’t go back on my word.”

He waved the money in front of me again and I was torn. An inner, moral war was raging inside me. The virtuous part of me refused to stoop to such a level but the selfish, greedy part reminded me that it was a lot of money. It didn’t really surprise me that the greedy part won the battle.

“Fine.” I spat angrily. “But this is the one and only time I’m doing this. And we are never going to speak of this again.”

“Deal.”

Raith pushed me towards the guitar playing street performer with his cane.

I took a step forward and faltered. I couldn’t do it. My pride and ego wouldn’t allow me to. I had suffered enough humiliation after the Sabrina incident. I couldn’t do this. I had dignity damnit.

I turned back to Raith and saw the money in his hands.

“Oh screw it.” I growled and pushed my way towards the front of the crowd of people around the guy.

He was still singing happily and I took a deep breath. Alright, I just needed to run up to him, close my eyes and kiss him. It would be less than a second. I didn’t even need to kiss him on the lips either. It’ll be fine.

When the guy finished the song and everyone started applauding, I sprinted towards him, leaping over the circle of rope on the ground that he was using as a barrier.

“Hey!” He shouted but before he could say anything else, I closed my eyes, leaned down and pressed my lips against…something. That didn’t feel like his cheek. It was hard and wet…?

“Ouch!! What the hell?”

I stepped away quickly and opened my eyes to see the guy rubbing his left eye in confusion. I went red. I felt sick. Oh Lord I just kissed his eye!

Before he could say anything, I ran away, shoving past all the people and dashing as far away as possible.

I could hear Raith laughing behind me and I wanted to punch his stupid face.

“That was the most upsetting thing I’ve ever done in my life!” I screamed at him when we were well away from the street performer.

“That was classic!” Raith snickered. “Almost as good as when you threw Coke all over that girl and accused that kid of drugging her!”

Ugh I had forgotten Raith had been there. Why had he been there?

“Well I’m never humiliating myself again, especially not for you!”

“Alright, alright, I guess you deserve this.”

Raith threw the money at me and I flailed around trying to catch the notes.

“Damn right I deserve this.” I spat.

“I feel like eating. Let’s buy some food.”

I stared at him in shock, clutching the money to my chest.

“You want me to pay for you to eat?” I stated in disbelief.

“You could eat too. Besides, it was my money first.”

He was insane. He was un-freaking-believable. I was hungry though.

Smirking, Raith led me to a nearby fast food restaurant, the walk slowly calming my temper down. I just had to suppress the memory of that street performer and I’d be fine. Suppressing memories has become somewhat of a specialty in my case.

I bought us two hamburgers and two large fries and we sat at one of the tables next to the window.

“That cash register dude looked pretty pissed that you were the one who paid for the meal.” Raith commented as we ate.

“He’s probably just disgusted at how un-gentlemanly you are.” I responded, shoving my fries in my mouth.

“Bah, I’d like to see him try to put up with you.”

I rolled my eyes, watching as he crammed half the hamburger into his mouth.

“So you can eat food?”

“Yea. I don’t need to. But I can if I want. Besides, food tastes nice.”

I was surprised when I realised that he had already finished his meal. I mean, I considered myself a fast eater but I had barely touched my burger.

“I’m going to go buy a sundae. Want one?” Raith asked as I hurriedly tried to finish my food.

“Yea. Strawberry.”

Raith nodded and, with a sly look at the guy at the cash register, turned to me and yelled loudly, “Bitch, money!”

“Take it! Just don’t hurt me again!” I wailed back, pretending to be distressed and frightened as I threw the cash at him.

Frankly, the guy at the cash register looked appalled as he served Raith and I tried to hide my smile.

By the time he returned, I’d finished my food and was eagerly awaiting my sundae. I loved desserts.

“Here.” Raith gave me my strawberry ice cream and began eating his chocolate one. I stuck my spoon in and begin to eat too, though I couldn’t help but eye Raith’s. I looked at my sundae. Yea, it was good. Strawberry was my favourite but I always got strawberry.

“Hey Raith, can I have some of yours?” I asked feebly.

“What the hell woman? Eat your own damn sundae!”

I swallowed several more scoops, still pining for the chocolate one.

“Raith, please?”

“No!”

“Pretty, pretty please?”

“No!”

“Come on! I’ll give you some of mine. I haven’t had chocolate in forever.”

“That’s your fault isn’t it?”

“Jeez, just give me a little. It’s not that much. Just one spoonful! That’s all I’m asking for! You won’t even notice it’s gone! Please, please, please find it in your stone cold heart to give me some ice cream! Come on! Just-oomph!”

I went cross eyed as I stared at the spoon sticking out of my mouth.

Mmmmm chocolate. But oh my God Raith stuck his spoon in my mouth. But mmmm that tasted good. But ew! That spoon had been in his mouth! It had his spit on it! But mmmmm…

“Will you shut up now?” Raith hissed angrily, yanking the spoon back and returning to eating his sundae like nothing had happened.

“Hey Raith?”

WHA-”

His eyes widened as I shoved my spoon into his mouth. Then-

ACK! DISGUSTING! WHAT THE FUCK?”

“Hey, you did it to me!” I tried to defend as he stood up and started to choke and gag.

“Yea but that’s because you were annoying the shit out of me and you wanted me to give you some! I fucking hate strawberry!”

“Yea well I didn’t ask for you to stick your spoon in my mouth!”

“What else did you expect? You think I’m diseased or something you little shit!”

“Excuse me, is there a problem here?” the dude from the cash register approached us, glaring at Raith and giving me a sympathetic look.

“We’re fine.” Raith hissed, spitting into his napkin and wiping his mouth with a grimace. Talk about a drama queen.

“Are you sure?” the guy turned to me with a worried expression.

“I said-” Raith began again but I cut him off.

“No Chad! I’ve had enough of this!” I shrieked. Raith’s eyes widened.

“Huh?”

“I’ve put up with your abuse for all these years but I’ve had it! Wasn’t it enough that you got me pregnant when I was fifteen?” I screamed.

Now everyone in the fast food joint was staring at us. Raith’s mouth had fallen open, and his eyes were almost bulging.

“But even then you kept hitting me! You killed our unborn child!”

“W…What the fuck are you talking about?” he managed to get out.

“Well of course you wouldn’t remember! You’re always drunk half the time you beat me. You punched me in the stomach! You killed our son!”

On that note, I burst into tears and sprinted out of the place.

Once I was far away enough that I could stop pretending, I wiped my eyes and sat on a nearby bench.

The ability to control my tear ducts was one of my one and only talents and I think I used it well tonight. I thought back to the scene and laughed. That’s what he got for making me embarrass myself for two hundred dollars.

Just as I expected, a few minutes later Raith showed up and thrust two chocolate sundaes into my hands, his fingers almost touching mine.

“You win, you cheap bitch.”

~

“So how did you get all that money? Were you from a rich family or something so you have a trust fund somewhere?” I asked Raith as we continued to wander around the harbour.

“I wish. My mum was a druggie and her boyfriend an abusive alcoholic.”

I looked at him sharply, trying to tell whether or not he was being sarcastic.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” I whispered.

He didn’t respond, looking in the other direction. I let the matter drop and instead enjoyed the scenery.

Night had truly fallen now and the harbour looked even more beautiful with the sparkling lights against the dark sky.

There was a particularly large Ferris Wheel by the edge of the water and as we walked past, a stingy bearded man popped up and grabbed me by the arm.

“You take ride on this, yes?” He asked in a think Romanian accent.

“No thanks.” I said quickly, trying to get out of his grip.

“Please, please, only three dollar.”

“She said no.” Raith said stiffly, his expression menacing.

The guy hesitated but still didn’t release me.

“You got beautiful girl. Come take ride. Very romantic.”

Raith twitched and looked like he was going to beat the guy with his cane so I quickly intervened.

“Okay! Okay! Three dollars right?” I cried, moving between them quickly.

“Are you serious Tegan? Look at that thing. It’s rusty and will probably fall apart if the wind blows.” Raith said stiffly, a look of distaste on his face.

“Come on. It’ll be fun.” I said, finally managing to rip my arm away from the creepy man’s hand. He stunk like sweat and cigarettes.

Raith reluctantly agreed and we climbed into one of the rickety barred carts with peeling white paint and rusted edges.

“If we die on this, I’m blaming you.” Raith said as we sat on opposite sides of the cart, as far away from each other as possible. There were two seats on each end of the cart and we both sat in each diagonal corner, looking out across the dark water.

“You’re already dead.” I said stubbornly.

“I still feel pain.” Raith said with gritted teeth.

I’m pretty sure we were the only people on the ride so a minute later the carts started moving and we were raised higher and higher into the sky.

The moon and stars were reflected in the water and the sight was hauntingly beautiful, taking me back to a time years ago when I had been standing on the beach. I felt the sand beneath my toes and the scent of salt in the air. Most of all, I remembered watching a similar sight with the person closest to me. The one person who I loved with all my heart. The one person who I’d never see again. For some reason it didn’t bother me at the moment, remembering this person. I knew it would later but for now I felt as if I would cope.

I gripped the bars of the cart tighter as I watched the waves ripple and turn with the evening breeze. The horizon seemed to melt away as the black night sky sunk into the dark lake and the only difference between sky and land was the way the water glistened in the moonlight.

I felt something strange; an eerie déjà vu as the wind rushed past my face and fanned my hair out behind me. It was as if someone was trying to tell me something, like there was something I needed to remember.

The sky looked endless, stretching out into eternity. The stars speckled the darkness like grains of sand on the beach and again I felt a light sensation in my chest.

I turned away from the scenery and watched Raith for a bit.

He was also looking out across the water but I couldn’t see his face. I wondered what he was thinking. I wondered what he saw when he looked out across the water.

Perhaps he was reminiscing too; reliving a forgotten part of his life.

It was funny how comfortable I felt at the moment, sitting in silence with nothing but the sound of water and the creak of the cart. It was funny how comfortable I felt in silence with another person.

I rested my head back and realised that there was a window at the top of the cart so I could see the sky directly above my head. Now I could count the stars and get lost in the wonder.

We sat like that in silence, not looking at each other for the rest of the ride.

There was a peacefulness about the quiet and in those minutes that passed, I knew I would treasure this moment for a very long time.

I felt an odd kind of solace that I hadn’t felt before and I had no idea why. It came upon me so suddenly and unexpectedly. I knew it wouldn’t last but I treasured it. I treasured the way the air felt against my face, the way the darkness held me close and protected me, even the smell of cinnamon from a nearby doughnut stall.

Then the ride was over and we got off without a word.

We walked side by side back past all the stalls and street performers, past all the lights and restaurants back the way we had come an hour before.

We entered the fete and I tried to remember where the popcorn stand was.

All around me, teens were walking around laughing, tugging oversized plush toys or holding bags of popcorn. Like at the harbour side, most of them were couples.

Suddenly, Raith darted behind me and-

SMACK!

I froze in alarm. Raith had just swung his cane around and hit a younger boy in the shoulder with it.

The boy let out a strangled scream as he fell to the ground.

“What’s you problem?” he yelled angrily at Raith.

“What’s my problem? You just pick pocketed her!” Raith jabbed a finger in my direction as he glared the boy down.

He what? I checked my pockets and discovered that…oh man, the money was gone. Raith was right.

The terrified boy submitted after a few seconds, fishing out the money.

“Stand up.” Raith ordered. The boy stood shakily, his eyes downcast. “Now give the money back to the girl and apologize.”

The boy gave Raith a defiant look but still handed me the money. I took it from him awkwardly.

“Apologize.” Raith hissed.

“S-sorry.” He whispered, not looking at me, then ran off in the blink of an eye.

I fiddled with the cash in my hands before tucking it back into my pocket.

“Thanks Raith. You were a little rough on the kid but thanks.”

I gave him a small smile which he ignored.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” he asked instead, sounding annoyed.

“W-What do you mean?”

“Well, usually when you stare at me, you just look horny, but just now-”

“I what? I do not look horny-”

“Yes you do. Believe me, I would know.”

“Stop being such a jack ass.”

We both turned away stubbornly and I felt my temper returning.

Soon enough I saw the long line outside the kissing booth and opposite that, the popcorn stand.

To my horror, I also saw Cory standing with Lizzy. Suddenly I felt an impending dread. Cory and I hadn’t really been on speaking terms since I accused his friend of spiking Sabrina’s drink. Lizzy thought I was just being paranoid but I doubted it. I didn’t know why he was so mad at me, or why he’d been avoiding me. He hadn’t called me all week. It was partially my fault though. I hadn’t been making an effort to talk to him either.

“There she is!” Lizzy exclaimed, pointing at me. Her eyes glazed over a little when she noticed that Raith was still there.

“Tegan! I’ve been looking for you everywhere.” Cory’s expression darkened a little when he saw Raith with me, which was strange because I thought he had liked Raith.

“Oh hey Cory. Lizzy.” I said with little emotion.

“Hmmm?” Lizzy mumbled, grinning giddily at Raith who gave her a sly smile.

“Can I talk to you privately?” Cory asked, frowning.

“Sure.”

He grabbed my hand and led me around the carnival, pulling me behind one of the stalls so that we could talk privately. Now that it was dark, the fete was in full swing and there were crowds of people everywhere.

“So what’s wrong?” I said when he didn’t say anything and we were just standing awkwardly in front of each other.

“Tegan, I’m just really sorry about how I’ve been acting lately.” He put his hands on my shoulders and stared into my eyes.

“The…the way you’ve been acting?” I knew it! I knew he had been avoiding me. Cory, on the other hand, took it the wrong way.

“You haven’t noticed?”

“No! That’s not what I-”

“You know, this is just like you!” I was taken aback by the spite and venom in his voice.

“What?”

“Don’t give me that crap. You never notice anything. All I do for you, all I sacrifice!” his fingers dug into my shoulder blades and his eyes became wild.

“Sacrifice? Wha-”

“You think it’s easy being the guy whose girlfriend acted like a complete idiot at Jason’s party? The girl who threw her drink at Sabrina Saintly? Why did it have to be Sabrina of all people? Are you that stupid?” he was basically shouting at me now and I flinched, looking away.

“Cory, it’s not that big a deal.”

“Yes it is! You just don’t get it! You never take anything seriously! Jesus Tegan, what the hell is wrong with you.” He started to shake me, his fingers clenching so much that sharp stabs of pain shot through my shoulders.

“Cory-”

I bet you never even think about how I feel! About all the things I do for you!” He was shaking me so hard that my head began to pound and his fingers were practically ripping into my flesh.

“That hurts you asshole!” I shouted angrily, pushing him away. Something flashed in his eyes and he grabbed me by the hair fiercely, pulling my head close to his. I let out a frightened yelp.

“Don’t you ever talk back to me, you stupid bitch.” He hissed. At my frightened eyes, something seemed to change inside him because he suddenly let go and stumbled backwards.

I stared at him in horror. What on earth was wrong with him?

“Oh Jesus Tegan, I’m sorry.” Cory took a step towards me but I moved away.

“It’s ok…just…don’t worry about it.” I gasped, rubbing my shoulders.

“Did I hurt you? I-I didn’t mean to…”

“Yea I know. Let’s just forget about it…”

Cory nodded and I cleared my throat.

“I’m going to go back to Lizzy now.”

“Ok.”

“Well bye.”

“I’ll call you.”

“Oh…ok. Bye.”

I turned and bolted, running as fast as I could back to the popcorn stand. I was filled with a strange kind of fear. Why did Cory react like that? He’d never been violent before. What should I do?

I was relieved when I saw Lizzy and Raith still standing where I had left them. Raith was saying something and Lizzy was laughing really hard, her cheeks flushed.

“Tegan!” she said happily when she saw me. Raith smiled but it faded after a moment.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Yea. You look a little pale.” Lizzy added with a confused look.

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.” I grumbled, brushing my messy hair back and trying to regain my breath.

“So where’s Cory?” Lizzy continued.

“He…uh…he had to go.”

Lizzy nodded and accepted my answer. Raith gave me a serious look but I ignored him.

So Cory lost his temper for the first time ever. It was no big deal right?


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