Chapter Thirty Three
My doctor had come over, again, to have a serious discussion with my parents while also checking up on my health and physical signs. It was a quick visit, but it had prolonged my parents’ plans of going out for dinner that night.
I usually zoned out completely when these things happened, a sort of numbness, and I left it to my parents to make the decisions based on my trust. I could be reckless, and we all knew that. My actions in the past had demonstrated it well.
I had been in the living room when my mother informed me that they were leaving, planning to walk the doctor out and lock the door. I replied, turning my attention back to the movie on the flatscreen.
A moment or so later, there was knocking at the door. I furrowed my eyebrow and got up, wearing an expression of confusion. Didn’t they just leave?
I opened the door to Xavier, who had been looking at his feet. He snapped his neck up straight away, taking it my probably awful appearance. Meanwhile, I had gasped and jumped back in surprise. I was expecting my parents, not him.
“Xavier?” I asked. “God, you scared me. What are you doing here?” I let him in, shutting the door behind him and blocking out the cool winds that had rushed to fill the room.
“You look pale,” he observed, ignoring my question. He was acting strange, and I wasn’t sure why. He wasn’t loud, or charming as usual. “and skinner.”
“Uh..” I stuttered. “I’ve been sick lately. Didn’t you know? Bad flu.”
“You’ve been away for weeks.”
“As I said, a really bad flu.”
He shook his head, looking around at my warm house. The heater was on the max, since I was always freezing. He mumbled something under his breath that I didn’t hear, and then he turned towards me again and locked eyes with me.
“You won’t tell us anything,” he started. “And you avoid talking to us at all, plus even Ethan is worried. Oh, don’t give me that face. I knew you two had been playing tonsil tennis since it happened.”
“Wha-? How? Huh?” I spluttered, looking at him with a surprised and slightly impressed expression. “Did he tell you?”
“Nope, I’m just good at making observations and conclusions based on.”
Holy shit. That was cool.
“You still didn’t explain to me why you are here,” I said, changing the topic as I sat down.
“I originally came to come to speak with you about school subjects, what you’ve missed, you know, normal stuff.” He ruffled his hair, sighing.
“Sounds like fun,” I joked. He didn’t laugh. Worry set in my mind, and the conversation had gone dead quiet. “Originally?”
“I had been walking here, and I heard your mother and some lady talking outside. About you,” he said, staring at me with accusing eyes.
My mind went into utter panic. Fear, guilt and more panic ripped its way through my motor neurons and I could no longer function. My breath halted, and my eyes widened.
“You fucking lied to us.”
“I never lied.” My voice shook as my hands trembled.
“You hid the truth— same fucking thing!” He stood up now, more agitated now as he gritted his teeth. “I thought that we were friends, and you fucking lie to us about something as important and your own fucking life? Do you know the meaning of friendship? We were meant to be loyal to each other! Did you not think about how this would effect any of us? For fuck’s sake!” His voice was louder, and my face went pink with guilt.
“I was trying to protect you!” I raised my voice. “And I don’t exactly like broadcasting the fact that I’m sick! Do you know how people at school would react? I’d be the walking disease! It was my secret!” I was angry now too.
“A secret that determines whether you live or die,” he said in a pained voice. “Ever think what might happen if you died? Or do you not believe that we actually might care about you?”
“So I could be the one that you four would take care of and keep out of trouble? You already fucking do that enough! I’m sick of being a burden, okay? I wanted to finish school normally.”
“And you completely fucking ignored our emotions in the process,” he snarled. “Imagine how Ethan would feel. Jordan and Blake adore you, and I thought of you as the one I trusted the most with anything. You have snapped our hearts in half. Fucking Ethan already has an injured mother! Do you not care at all?”
“I’m sorry, okay!” I screamed out, my bottom lip trembling with an overwhelming sensation of pain. “I took the easy way out, so I’m a fucking coward. I didn’t want to hurt you guys!”
“You already have,” his said as his voice wavered and cracked. “We might lose our best friend, who didn’t care enough to warn us. It was selfish.”
“I know,” I broke down as I said so. “I know and I’m sorry.”
“The damage is done.”
And with that, he left my house. I was left on the floor, drowning in my own self loathing and guilt. I knew this was coming, I had just neglected to consider the implications of it. I knew it was selfish, and I did it anyway. Now I had ruined all of my friendships, and pushed away some of the best people in my life.
And I regretted that decision more than anything.
Heading to the school, my legs dragged across the ground and my stomach ached with anxiety. I wasn’t even attending classes, only having a short discussion with the principal about something that happened outside of school.
Anyway, classes were running perfectly as I walked in, the hallways ghostly empty. More feelings of guilt ran through me, but I decided to just ignore it for now. I didn’t want to be suspended, so I had to focus on that.
I walked into the administration office area. I told the receptionist why I was here, and she nodded and allowed me to take a seat. I waited in the silent office until the principal’s door opened, Oscar walking out while sporting a purple bruise on his upper cheek.
He glared at me.
“Have a good day!” I yelled out as he scowled evilly in my direction. He stormed out quickly, heading towards the classrooms.
The principal walked out of his own office, beckoning me to come in. I took a deep breath and walked in.
Now, remember that I had never been in that much trouble before. I didn’t enjoy getting into trouble, as much as my personality might suggest so.
My palms were starting to sweat as he closed the door behind me. I took a seat in a red chair that sat across from his desk, in which he sat. It was a standard, modern office with white furniture and bookshelves.
“Hello Stef,” he greeted kindly. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine.” He nodded at my reply.
“Now, I have spoken to Veronica and Oscar who have given me two accounts of this incident,” he said. “I’m here to hear your side of the story.”
I nodded, sighing lightly. “Alright.” So, I told him the whole story. I told him of what they said, and how it made me furious. He sat quietly and listened, patiently waiting for me to finish.
I finally finished telling me story. He spoke next, “The only issue with all of these stories is that they change. The way in which the fight was instigated is not the same in all of your stories.”
“What? What did they say?” I asked, willing myself not to become irritated.
“They claimed you approached them, and started verbally insulting them, before Oscar stepped in to calm you down and then you reacted violently,” he said with slight disappointment.
“What? No! I would never do that! Why would I go up to them?" I questioned out loud, feeling slightly helpless in the situation.
“Both of their stories say that, while yours pins them as the antagonists,” he responded. “Who am I supposed to believe?”
“Me!” I exclaimed. “You know what they are like. They are lying. They hate me, so they want to save their own asses and get me in trouble.”
The principal sighed, deeply in thought as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. “I either suspend you alone, or give out no punishments.”
“Just don’t punish anyone, then,” I replied. “I don’t want my report being ruined by this. Oscar already got what he deserved.”
“You and Veronica are to stay away from each other,” he said sternly. “I won’t have this happening again.”
I breathed out a sigh of relief. “Thank you, sir.” My manners seemed to reappear as late as possible.
He nodded, waving me towards the door. I stood and walked out, needing some fresh air.
A rushed and frantic receptionist then pushed past me, apologising profusely before running into the principal’s office. “Sir! Sir! There is commotion in the cafeteria!”
“What?” he demanded, standing up.
“A fight has broken out, sir,” the receptionist responded, panting a little. I decided to leave then, jogging to the cafeteria where I heard chanting and yelling.
Inside was chaos. No one sat at their seats, they all stood in a circle with their phones out while they encouraged the situation in the centre.
“A fight,” I mumbled to myself, unable to resist as I walked towards the fight. I managed to push through the crowd, who didn’t seem to notice me, until I saw what was really happening.
Ethan and Xavier were throwing their fists towards Oscar and some of his friends, somehow seeming to have the upper hand even though they were outnumbered. I spotted Blake and Jordan on the side, watching with pure disgust as Ethan and Xavier administered broken noses and bloody mouths to the losing side.
I stood with my jaw dropped, not gaining the attention of anybody. Ethan and Xavier didn’t stop inflicting pain, and I watched on as more blood pooled on the floor.
One of the history teachers came and broke up the fight quickly, the crowd dispersing in the blink of an eye. I heard Ethan continued to utter threats towards Oscar, at least until the history teacher literally pulled them away from each other. Mr Jote was his name, and he taught me history before I had left.
The boys, seemingly all at once, locked their hard gazes on me. Suddenly, I was the deer caught in headlights.
“To the principal’s office. Now,” Mr Jote commanded, sounding furious.
“Uh, sir?” I asked. “Could I please have a moment to talk to them? I’ll take them to the office.”
As one of his best students, I figured I had a shot at this one. “Fine. But make sure they get there.” He dragged Oscar away to the sick bay. I also noticed Veronica watching, seeming to feign worry for her boyfriend.
I grabbed Xavier and Ethan by the back of the shirt, and dragged them into an empty classroom nearby.
“Damn, your grip is tight,” Ethan groaned. “You’re pulling my skin.”
I didn’t say anything as I shut the door. Blake and Jordan had followed, however their facial expressions indicated that they weren’t in good moods.
“What was that?” I asked. “What happened?”
“Ethan had a motive,” Blake explained. “And Xavier was just incredibly pissed off all day for no reason. Oscar picked a fight, they responded and won.”
“What if you get suspended now, guys?” I asked.
“You aren’t here anyway, why would it matter?” Xavier asked with a dismissive tone. I glared at him and I noticed Ethan glance at him with a slight questioning look.
Then I noticed that they didn’t seem any different. They weren’t angry at me, they weren’t interrogating me. All of them seemed to only be on an adrenaline rush, except for Xavier.
He didn’t tell them.
I felt like breathing a sigh of relief, but I couldn’t because more feelings of regret flooded through me. I would have to tell them. I almost wished Xavier had told them, and saved me from having to. But I knew that I had to do this.
“Actually,” I said, suddenly very calm. “I honestly couldn’t care less if you guys decide to beat the shit out of someone. I won’t stop you.”
They wheeled their heads to look at me with so many confused expressions.
“What?” Jordan questioned.
I shrugged. “I don’t mind if you fight. He had it coming.” I was being sincere, I really didn’t mind. Oscar deserved it too.
“Uh?” Blake stumbled. “Alright? Thanks?”
My controlled tone started to falter, as I knew I had to do it now. My skin paled, and my throat was suddenly dry and scratchy. I looked at the boys, and especially at Ethan, wondering if this would be the last time they spoke to me.
“Ignoring that whole situation,” I said, my voice suddenly becoming a lot quieter and shaking a little bit. They noticed, and I could tell. Xavier’s eyes narrowed in realisation, while more confused glances were shared around. “I have something to tell you guys.”
They waited for me to speak.
So I did.