I wasn’t mentally prepared to forgive him or listen to the message he left me but I did anyway. And as I heard his deep, raspy voice begin to talk, there was something inside me that just burst. A sense of guilt and pain washed over me. I felt homesick and I felt betrayed as well.
Kai was one person who I trusted after a long time on a more deeper level. I thought he didn’t hide things from me but that one bet was a hell of a secret that I didn’t really know how to handle.
The only thing - and I know nobody would ever be able to truly understand this - I wanted to do was get away from the negativity. I felt trapped and unable to break free from my brother’s influence. I needed my own space to figure things out and that’s exactly what I had here.
I know that I’ll have to forgive them all sooner or later but right now, I’m just trying not to think about it too much. It was easier to ignore everybody when I didn’t really have to see them every day.
Still, my heart broke but I pushed all the broken pieces deep down and took a deep breath. I had classes to attend.
I saw Lilith at breakfast and as soon as my eyes landed on her, she knew something was wrong.
“You okay?” She asked as I sat down at her table.
“I’m getting really frustrated,” I sighed in annoyance and put my hair up in a ponytail. We had bagels and sausage rolls today and I was happy to finally get my breakfast. Hunger made me irritated.
“Why?” Lilith asked cautiously and sipped her ice tea.
“Because I shouldn’t have come here in the middle of the year! I screwed myself over big time. I’m falling behind and trying to catch up. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to finish the year. And to top it all off, I listened to Kai’s message.”
She listened to me complain about the mess I created but straightened up immediately at Kai’s name. “What did he say?”
I filled her in on the details and would have said more had I not seen her brother and his friends just walk in.
“I’ll talk to you about it later,” I said and waited for them to join us.
“Good morning, ladies,” Abbott greeted us happily and I looked down at my food, realizing that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. In other words, I was cranky. Him and his friends sat down at our table, all sunshine and rainbows.
“Yeah, yeah,” Lilith waved him off and checked messages on her phone.
“Sleep well?” Riley asked both of us but only got silence from Lilith and a half-hearted shrug from me.
“Okay, not chatty today, I see,” he pointed out.
“I’m sorry, I haven’t gotten much sleep these days and I have so much studying to do it’s driving me mad,” I replied and stuffed my face with food to forget about my feelings.
“What’s your excuse?” Abbott asked Lilith who was on her phone the entire time.
“I have things to do,” she told her brother, not really caring to elaborate. “I got the lead in the musical.”
“Oh really? Congratulations,” Skye cheered her on and this time, she actually looked up from her phone, smiled and thank him.
We all congratulated her anyway but none of us got a smile like Skye did. Was there something going on between them? Who knows...
“Oh, by the way, I could help you out with your school but I’ll need you to be my understudy for the musical.”
“Don’t the teachers decide who the understudy is?” I asked, confused.
I got a bunch of head shakes, raised eyebrows and I half expected somebody to start saying,
“Oh no, honey, that’s not the way things work here.”
Instead, the only explanation I was offered was, “No, the actors choose their replacements.”
It seemed weird and really biased to me and I didn’t wish to be Lilith’s understudy. I hated standing in front of massive crowds anyway. It was a fear I knew I’d have to get over but until I could, I just tried not to think about it too much.
“So, do we have a deal or what?” Lilith asked, raising her eyebrows intently.
“Can’t you just help me out without dragging me into all of this? I’m the new girl after all,” I sighed. I really wanted her help though.
“Alright we’ll just talk about this later,” she said and shrugged. “Moving on,” Lilith spoke after a minute of silence. The guys have really made themselves comfortable and ate more than I ever thought was possible. “What do you think about Sierra’s party tonight? Is it going to be a hit of the year or just another failed party?”
Riley shrugged. “We heard everyone who’s anyone already RSVP’d.”
“I don’t think I’ll go, though.” Skye said.
“Are we going?” Lilith asked me. I shook my head. “Do you even like going to parties?” She interrogated me. We didn’t know much about each other, since we’ve only met yesterday.
“I do go to parties occasionally. But I really have to study before I fail anything.”
Lilith nodded, “Okay then.”
We continued to eat and after that, they all urged me to follow them to the game room, which just so happened to be empty at the time.
I plopped down on the couch next to Lilith as the guys continued with their conversation. Reluctantly, I checked my Facebook profile once again. Nothing new, except Diana and Addie posted a picture of them hanging out. I felt a pang of jealousy because I missed having someone I could talk and open up to. I couldn’t really tell if they posted that to hurt me or because they just wanted to share the picture.
I couldn’t help myself and went on the school forum to see what everybody was talking about. I opened the same page as before and read the hurtful things people were saying about me. Only this time, Delilah’s name caught my eye under one of the comments. She wrote a long paragraph, defending me and telling people to ‘fuck off’.
That’s when it occurred to me that she might have not known about the bet at all.
I knew I wanted space but I also needed to battle my demons, starting with getting to the bottom of this mess.
It took me five minutes to gather my courage and actually text Delilah. Everybody else was too busy either talking or playing video games.
Did you know? I sent.
It took two minutes for her to reply.
I didn’t. I swear. I’m so sorry
A part of me felt relieved and yet suspicious. How could Delilah - a girl more popular than my two best friends not have known about this? Maybe because she was the one person who did have the guts to tell me and not hide.
It’s okay. Was what I had sent back.
No, it’s not. Fucking hypocrites, Delilah texted.
I don’t know what to make of any of this. Maybe we could talk later. I need someone on my side. I sent.
Only did I now realize how desperate I was to have some normalcy back in my life. I felt desperate to get at least one of my old friends back.
Call me whenever. I’m here and I mean it. I just wish you’d come to me first instead of leaving.
I sighed again. All of this made me realize that I just couldn’t force myself to stay in such a toxic environment. I felt miserable after I found out. You have to understand. I replied.
I do. And I’m not judging you because you have every right to do whatever you want.
Could you do me a favor? I asked.
In less than a minute, I got a reply. Anything.
I took a leap of faith and only hoped that trusting her wouldn’t blow up in my face later. Don’t tell anyone that we’re talking. I don’t want them to know.
It’s not like we’re on speaking terms anyway...
I’m sorry :(
It’s okay. I have to go, but we should talk some more, okay? <3
I decided to ask more about that later as I put my phone in my pocket again. Twenty minutes later, Lilith and I headed to our IE classroom. IE eas Instrument Education. I had to remember that. After IE Piano, we had Makeup Class and then Math.
I was nervous but Lilith told me not to be. Our IE Piano teacher was kind and apparently in love with teaching. So, even if I messed up, the teacher would be patient. I guess that was good.
“Hi Mrs. Darcie,” Lilith said cheerfully as she opened the huge doors and dragged me behind her.
Mrs. Darcie looked up and smiled at us. She hugged Lilith and I felt a little out of place and unable to comprehend as to what was happening.
“You must be Astrid,” Mrs. Darcie said and introduced herself.
Lilith and I were both given a music sheet and I had to go first, to show how good I was. There were a couple of notes that were causing me trouble and it was clear that I was out of practice but with a couple of minutes to warm up, I was making progress.
Makeup class was at 3 pm. Lilith and I headed towards the classroom and she told me what that was going to be about.
“Makeup class is where you learn how to make yourself look presentable. We do different looks every week, trying to switch it up. It could be from grunge fashion to classic beauty. Or, you could do Halloween makeup or any special effects they do in the movies. When you graduate, you get a certification that you took makeup classes and have a better chance to go to Beauty school if your heart desires,” Lilith explained. I had no idea why we had any of these classes but this school certainly seemed unusual. It’s like one of those weird adds you see on Facebook about different places in the world trying new, different things.
“Oh,” Lilith said as if she almost forgot. “We work in pairs and style each other so we could learn better but it usually just ends up with people either making it a competition or trying to dress them in the most ridiculous look just for fun. You can work with me.”
“And what are you trying to do?” I asked her.
“I’m trying to outdo them all,” I nodded in appreciation because I realized that somehow, I respected Lilith.
After the class started, our teacher Frankie Donnegy came in. He insisted on us calling him just Frankie though. He was sassy and a really fun person to work with. His teaching methods were easy to remember because he interacted with you and got your attention effortlessly.
Lilith and I immediately headed to work. She wanted to do hair first and then makeup, which was actually kind of the wrong order but I didn’t object. She obviously had more experience in this class than I had.
While I was blow drying her hair, a girl named Sierra - the one who was throwing a party - decided to start a conversation with me. I realized that Lilith and Sierra were actually friends. That surprised me though.
Sierra was nice but she insisted to take a picture of me and Lilith while I styled her hair.
“This is your first Makeup Class. You need to document it so that one day when you look back, you’ll think: Damn I’m glad this random girl called Sierra took this picture.”
Lilith laughed and tried to convince me as well. She actually told me that Sierra’s hobby was photography and that she loved to take pictures of anything and everything.
After moments of begging, I finally gave in and posed with Lilith.
“You have to post this pic,” Sierra said and I was too busy to notice that she gave my phone to Lilith.
“Done,” Lilith stated proudly. And that was when I noticed what she did. I didn’t get mad though. There was one thought that went through my head and as selfish as it was, I felt good about it.
Make Adelaide and Diana know I’m having fun and that I have new friends. That was the thought that went through my head.
I couldn’t help but feel like they were going to try to respond by taking even more pictures and this would all end up in some kind of competition.
But no matter what, I had Lilith to help me and together, we could outdo them.
“Bring it on,” I said to myself and felt absolutely fucking petty.