Chapter Nine - No Luck And Fresh Out Of Ideas
There was no way I was risking going into that cafeteria Monday at lunch. I was lucky to have made it through all of my classes. I got a lot of catcalls and wolf-whistles and dirty looks from girls, but so far no-one had come up to me. Thankfully. I couldn’t handle any confrontations over that.
I sat with Matt out in the sun at a picnic table in the middle of the quad, grateful for how deserted it was. I needed quiet time. And I needed Matt.
No, what I needed was…
“Matt, I need a plan,” I whined, stirring my plastic fork around my home-made Caesar salad and heaving a sigh. “Something that’ll bring Cole down once and for all.”
“Do you have to?”
I dropped my fork in surprise, and it hit the tub with a clatter. “What do you mean? Of course I do!”
“Oh, come on, Grace. Can’t you let it go now?”
I pulled out my phone and showed him the picture of me wrapped in a towel, refreshing his memory of what exactly Cole had done to me. “Are you kidding? You can’t possibly think after this I could let it go. Why are you taking his side?”
He had been staring at the picture with a really strange look on his face, but at my words, his eyes flickered to me quickly. “I’m not,” he said quietly. “I think what he did was awful. But think about this… If you pull a prank, he’ll fight back again. And next time it’ll be even worse.”
I pursed my lips. I hadn’t really thought about that. I had been so hellbent on revenge, I hadn’t considered the consequences once again.
“Oh, who cares, Matt? Any shred of dignity I once had vanished when that picture went out. How could he possibly top that?” i questioned doubtfully.
“He’s Cole Adams. I’m sure he’ll find a way.”
I hated that Matt was right. Of course he was right. That was the reason I clung onto him so tightly in our friendship. He was my rock; he always knew the right thing to say, and had the right time to say it. He was amazing. And he also knew when enough was enough.
I sighed. “What do I really have left to lose, Matt? My dignity? Hello, the picture. My pride? Vanished when I ran out of the cafeteria after he dumped the tray on me.” I leant back in my chair and crossed my arms tightly over my chest.
“How about all your friends?” he said. “The ones who stick by you. Who says they won’t turn on you when they realise you’re being as bad as him?”
“What?” The whisper came out of numb lips. Had he really just said that to me?!
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, tousling it around his head. “That came out wrong. I didn’t mean it like that.”
I stood up angrily, pushing the food away from me and grabbing my satchel bag. “That’s exactly what you meant.”
“No, Grace…” he trailed off, standing up and beginning to follow me quickly. “I didn’t mean it like that! Please, just listen to me!”
I stormed away, listening to him call my name. “Grace, will you just stop?! I didn’t mean it like that.”
I whirled around and pinned him with a glare. Sometimes they could actually be pretty deadly coming from me, thinking bad thoughts.
Who says they won’t turn on you when they realise you’re being as bad as him? Meaning that I was being shallow. I was being as bad as the Bad Boy. I would lose all my friends because I was pranking him. Humiliated him like he had humiliated everyone else at this school.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” he whispered weakly, his eyes casting a desperate look to me.
“You wanna know something? When someone’s angry and frustrated, the endorphins take away their inhibitions, letting them say stuff they wouldn’t normally say if they were calm. So, yeah, you meant it, Matthew.” He opened his mouth and went to talk, but I cut him off again. “And you wanna know something else? I’ll find a way to get back at Cole. You can say whatever you want; go ahead. But I won’t let what he did slide.”
I ignored him calling my name, until I reached the corner of the brick wall separating me from the Science block, where my next class was.
“Oh, one more thing, Matt? Lose my number. Go back to worshipping Cole, since you seem to be so damned good at it. I don’t need you.”
I’ll never forget the look on his face when I disappeared around the corner, the desperation of his voice when he called my name one last time. Hurt, sad….
And completely and hopelessly heartbroken.
My anger lasted all through physics and English, while I drove home and all the way while I trudged up the stairs. Right until I pulled back the covers of my bed, turned my phone on silent and put it in my top drawer where I couldn’t see it and wouldn’t be tempted to check it.
I stared at the ceiling, letting the waves of anger roll over me for five minutes. Until my calloused words and his apologies and his face came back to me and stung my mind guiltily like a million little hornets, over and over and over again.
What I said… That wasn’t sweet, naïve Gracie Holland talking. That was a new, cold Grace that I didn’t like at all. Sure, the endorphin level things were right, and I had been angry, but that was no excuse. I hadn’t let Matt explain himself. I had jumped right in and abused him verbally. Wow, what a great best friend I was. I had no idea why he even stuck with me, anyway. Being as sweet and kind as he was, he could do so much better in the friend department than me.
Was I changing after this whole rival with Cole? Was I becoming a new me? Was I becoming someone I didn’t want to be? Was I becoming… like Cole?
I sat up and opened my top drawer, pulling out my phone with a sad sigh.
Seventeen Missed Calls from Matt
Four New Texts from Matt
Two New Texts from Annie
I quickly checked them. One from Annie was about homework, the other was informing me she had found out about what happened with Matt and I, and asking me to please pick up the phone because Matt wanted to talk.
To give a brief overview of the four from Matt, they were basically him begging me to answer the phone so we could talk it out, and apologizing for what he had said. Admitting that he was wrong and he shouldn’t have said it.
I sighed and put it back, walking over to my desk and pulling out a piece of clean white paper and a blue pen. I had to write down my thoughts, since they were all so jumbled right now. I popped the cap and started writing:
I am Grace Holland. I am seventeen years old, I live in Florida, I have an eleven-year-old sister Angel, and a mother and father.
I am a hippie, a tree-hugger, a vegetarian and protester for animal’s rights. I love my family and my friends.
I hate Cole Adams.
He is obnoxious, arrogant, impolite and just plain mean. He needs to be brought down a notch.
I want to be the one to bring him down a notch.
I am changing into a selfish, catty person. I am turning into a girl version of Cole. You might as well call me Nicole.
Today Matt tried to make me see that I was turning into someone else. I was turning into a meaner, spiteful version of the old Grace. I didn’t listen. Instead I just proved his point by showing him just how malevolent I could be.
He deserves a major apology.
But I still want revenge.
I have to make Matt see my reasoning, show him that I can still be a better me. That I can be the old Gracie. While still getting payback for what Cole did with that picture.
I have to do what my mother always tried to tell me.
I have to be me.