“Are you mad?!” I heard Sky scream before pulling me flush against her by my shirt. I muffled, surprised at the action. Everyone in the hall was giving us weird looks. They soon looked away, more interested in the morning announcements that were about to happen on the hall’s big screen.
“Chill. What did he do?” Jasper asked, forcing her hand away. She stepped back, sighing as she ran her hand through her hair.
“It’s really not your business Jasper,” she pointed out, looking from him to me with urgent eyes.
“Of course it is. We’re pals, Travis tell her!” Jas said, shaking my shoulder. He’s way more overemotional than people thought he was. I blinked, finding it hard to focus on Sky’s words. She was mumbling something along the lines of leaving with her now.
Jas cocked his brows in confusion at her mumbling. “Do you mind starting over?”
“Urg!” Sky groaned before mumbling something about giving up as she walked away.
The whole hall went silent as the screen came on. The chubby girl in glasses that usually did the announcements cleared her throat as she fixed them.
“Hello, I’m Becky Roland, and I’m here with the morning announcements.” Jasper yawned beside me, and I rolled my eyes. There was no need announcement her name, we already know that.
“It seems like our very own soccer team won the regional’s this year,” she said, making everyone cheer. Jas nodded in approval, showing off a big grin. I looked around trying to find the others. Tony and Jonah were a few feet away from us, standing side by side as they clapped in approval.
“The semester’s tests are starting next week Wednesday...” the girl trailed, making everyone groan. Sure, an earlier break meant an even closer longer Easter break, but still...
My mouth went dry at the thought of the break ahead. Maybe I could ask Alex out then...
“The principal is asking that we respect learning hours and refrain from spending more time than necessary in the hallways retrieving books...” she was saying before she suddenly frowned. She adjusted her glasses, giving me an impression that she was finding it hard to read the sheets.
“I, err... What? This isn’t my manuscript,” she muttered under her breath as she turned away from the camera. The whole hall soon began to murmur, as we watched her get off the seat and out of the camera’s view.
“What’s going on?” Jasper asked, practically reading my mind.
“I can’t say that...” We heard the girl say a little over her voice. There was some silent bickering for what seemed like minutes until silence took over.
I raised a brow in question as Alex walked in and took the girl’s place as if it was nothing.
“What’s he doing there?” I heard Casey say as she came up my shoulder. I shrugged. I really had no clue.
“Sorry about that,” Alex said, looking straight at the camera. I shivered at the odd feeling that he was looking directly at me.
He rubbed his eyes, sighing softly. He looked tired as if he’d been up all night. I blushed guiltily, quite aware of the cause, or maybe I’m imagining things.
“It seems your newscaster there lost her balls... Couldn’t handle the manuscript I see,” he said, looking down at said manuscript.
“He should fuck out of that set,” a teammate of mine said making everyone around us laugh. I thanked the lord the Alex was up there and not down here. He’d have had quite a mouthful to say.
“Now let’s see...” Alex trailed, putting on his glasses. He examined the manuscript before sighing. He fidgeted with it a little before frowning. He bit his lip as if deep in thought.
“Why read it if I can play it?” he said all of a sudden, dropping the sheets of paper before reaching out for his bag on that was propped on the table. People were starting to groan, unsatisfied. No assembly had ever taken this long. Okay, apart from the ones when our principal was present.
“Play... Play what?” Casey asked frowning, corking her head to the side, her bouncy brown afro hair following her. I frowned along with her. What on earth could he possibly be playing?
We watched as he took out a cassette and feed it to the CD player.
“It’s an audio, don’t get too excited,” Alex said, pushing in his glasses.
The whole hall went silent as the audio began to play... I froze like a block of ice, recognizing Alex’s voice... recognizing the incident.
“Leave me alone, okay?!”
I heard Alex’s voice scream out the speakers, followed by the sound of screeching snickers.
No... I thought, taking an instinctive step back. Jasper gave me an odd look, taking a hold of my shoulder. I shook my head, shaking his hand off me. I knew I was acting weird. Somehow my survival mechanism had shifted from fight to flight.
No... I thought again, giving Jasper a far from a focused look. I had to get away. Get the fuck away, fast!
“You can’t just kiss me and get away with it!”
I heard my own voice project through the speakers. I felt Jasper’s hand leave my shoulder. I turned to find that he and the rest of the gang were taking questioning steps away from me. They were going to leave, just like Sky said they would.
No! I thought as the murmuring and voices began to fade in and out of my consciousness. I can’t believe Alex is doing this... I’m not ready. I wanted to do this at my own time!
“It’s just some sick game! Get it out of your system!”
Alex’s voice projected the hall, as the sound of banging lockers followed soon after.
“Get it out of your system? You put it there, so you’re just going to have to deal with it!”
The tape screeched, stopping right there. By now I was crowded. My ‘friends’ were already a good distance away from me.
I closed my eyes, expecting the worst. A pounding seemed most likely. I tensed myself waiting. A few seconds passed with nothing happening, and I opened my eyes to find everyone giving me odd looks as they muttered. It seemed — well, like they were confused.
“It must be hard, but your star soccer striker is indeed homosexual, or at least sexually confused,” Alex said, picking at his nails.
“Oh well, that’s it for the morning announcements,” he said as the screen went blank. The hall was soon swallowed in awkward silence — more like the tone of my death.
“You suck, like literally,” Tony said, breaking the silence. Then everyone continued with the regular insults. But no one touched me. It was if they were confused over how to take it.
“I told you that you were going to get screwed. You should have watched your back,” Sam said, whispering in my ear as she walked past me with the rest of the gang.
I closed and opened my eyes, trying to clear the events from the past few minutes back. I eventually ended up strolling to my class at the pace of a snail. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t the end of the world. If anything, Alex had come out for me.
The rest of the morning was a pain in the ass. My regular class seats were occupied with new faces, so I had to sit up front. Jonah had unbelievably stabbed my hand with a compass at the end of math as I strolled past his seat. One of my teammates had spilled water on my jersey with the fakest apology ever. And the words... the fringing assumptions and conclusions people talked about as they passed by me was unbelievable.
I sighed making it through the cafeteria line. Now that I think of it, I’ve never actually waited in line before. I shook my head, trying not to think about it.
I paused looking towards my old table, not knowing what to do. Jonah was giving me a look, as if daring me to take a step towards them.
I shook my head and headed towards the opposite direction. There was no need forcing myself into where I was clearly not wanted.
“Come sit with us!” I heard Sky’s voice ring through the cafeteria. I turned to meet her at her now regular table, with Paul. Alex was oddly absent.
“Don’t try to be modest, we’re the only option you got,” Sky said with a grin as she beckoned me towards the table with her hand.
I headed towards them, accepting her offer. I heard Paul take a deep breath as I settled on the seat beside him. Sky looked towards him, giving him a ‘this is temporary’ look before turning to smile at me.
We ate with small talk, Sky asking me about everything except what happened this morning. I could see she was trying her best not to bring it up. She even brought up my mum’s birthday.
“Paul, how was the mock test?” Sky suddenly asked, looking towards him. The kid dropped his fork as his eyes widened. I doubt he thought Sky was ever going to reel him into our half-hearted conversation.
“Err... it was okay, I guess... Thanks for helping me study,” he said, wiping his fork with a tissue.
I gave him a stern look, just realizing he looked like a leaner version of Alex with short dark hair, and eyes a deeper brown. He soon looked up to find me looking at him before turning away sharply.
“Do you need a lift back home after school?” Sky asked, taking a sip from her juice box. Her red hair was forcefully packed in a puffy ponytail behind her head. Being one of the people Mrs. Brown, the cafeteria manager blamed for hair in food, Sky had to take matters into her own hands.
“Sure,” I said, realizing Jasper wouldn’t be quite willing to take me back home, and I wasn’t quite in the mood for practice after school either. I’m not really on any hype to get egged either.
“Okay. Paul?” she asked, turning to him. He nodded sharply, making the drink in his cup spill slightly. I laughed sincerely for the first time today, almost missing the sight of his reddened face.
“We’re here,” Sky announced, pulling up at a Victorian style house in a pretty well out neighborhood.
“Thanks,” Paul said, getting out the back seat. I corked my brows in confusion as I tried to place the kid in a jagged looking dark green sweater and large gray shorts into the two-story building.
“He lives here?” I asked as I watched him unlock the gates before walking into the compound.
“Yup,” Sky said as she waved him off. He waved back before she finally pulled into the road and drove off. She drove in silence for a while, before speaking up.
“So...” Sky trailed.
“So...” I repeated, not quite ready to talk.
“Alex,” she plainly said as she turned up the radio. ‘King’ by years & years soon rang through the car.
I sighed, tapping my fingers on my lap lightly. I was really not ready to talk about it.
“He’s angry,” she stated, biting her bottom lip.
“He’s quite pissed the school took it quite easy on you. You know, he was expecting them to throw more than petty insults and cruel jokes your way,” Sky said, adjusting the volume of the radio.
I bit the inside of my cheek. She was right. They did take it easy on me. I could just imagine if it was someone else... Someone that wasn’t in my circle. I was left winching at the imagination alone.
“He found out about Chris, right?” I said, putting one and two together.
“You think?” Sky said in a sarcastic tone.
“Can you tell him I didn’t mean to hurt him, that I just wanted a chance... that I still want a chance?” I asked. Sky frowned, turning to give me a look of disbelief.
“You still want to date him?” she asked, turning away. I sighed, muttering a small ‘yes.’
She sighed shaking her head. “It’s not possible Trav, how many times do I have to point that out?”
“You’ve always been so negative about this, I...”
“I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. If I wasn’t your friend I’d say you’re just being greedy. There are people... someone... who’d die to get half of the attention you’re giving to Alex. Travis... Just forget it,” she said, ending her rant as she shook her head.
I gave her an odd look, parting my lips, but saying nothing. What did she mean by someone? But I decided not to ask her about it, and let the silence take over.
“We’re here,” she said a few minutes later as she pulled up at my place. I opened the door to get out, not making any attempt at reconciling with Sky.
“Travis,” Sky called, making me turn back to meet her gaze.
“Forget about what I said before. I was just seriously stressed out. Who you want to be with really isn’t my business,” Sky said, tightening her grip on the steering wheel.
“It’s nothing. I made it your business. Sorry for stressing you,” I said, running a hand through my hair. I really wasn’t good with apologies.
“So, should I come and pick you up tomorrow?” she asked. I nodded. I wasn’t really ready to get my car or bike egged.
“So that’s settled then. See you tomorrow,” she said, giving me a wave before winding up and driving away.
I smiled. At least I didn’t lose all my friends today. I turned to find Catherine’s caretaker at the door with her. I waved, making Catherine return it with a wave of her chubby hand. I smiled, before frowning slightly.
How on earth am I supposed to tell my parents about this?