Chapter Three - Revenge is Sweet... Or Spicy
Nothing happened for the first part of Monday. I walked in to school in the morning with my head held high, ignoring the whispers and dirty looks a lot of girls shot me. Some guys nodded appreciatively at my bravery, but others just smirked as if they knew that something bad was coming.
Something for me to look forward to.
Note the sarcasm, by the way.
Cole was in his first-period class with me as usual. He didn’t glance at me, pass me a dirty note, or send any of his cronies in to flush my head down the toilet or something. It was my only class with Cole, and I was thankful. I don’t know how much more I could take of being in such a cramped space with a boy like Cole without exploding from fear.
As you could see, I was really regretting what I did Friday night. Sure, when I did it, I felt empowered, like my revenge had been extracted and I had kinda owned Cole in that last comment.
But over the weekend I had come to realize how totally idiotic my actions had been, and how much Cole was gonna kill me when he got his hands on me next.
The first half of the day passed uneventfully. No-one talked to me, hurt me or generally did anything offensive. My guard wasn’t completely down, but I was relaxing ever-so-slightly.
Maybe Cole didn’t want revenge. Maybe he respected the fact that he had started it and I was only giving him payback. I voiced this theory to Matt when I saw him in the halls in between first and second period, but he just looked over at me doubtfully. He didn’t say anything, though, which caused my stomach to curdle.
By lunchtime I had almost completely managed to forget about the glares and rumours directed at me. Hey, if that was the worst I got, I’d take it gracefully. Things could’ve turned out a lot worse.
And they did.
It was the simple cafeteria joke. Oh, how it should’ve been expected. The special today was spicy Mexican food—you know, chilli nachos, burritos, that kind of thing. I just got something from the table that held the everyday foods—I ordered a Caesar salad with croutons. I had no desire to have garlic breath and spinach stuck between my teeth. I’d had enough vicious comments for one day.
Annie was in the library completing some Advanced Biology homework and Matt was quickly going to the Coach’s office to ask Coach Simpson about some kind of football drills. I was going to get my lunch and meet him there, as I usually did when he had to see Coach. When Annie was studying, Matt and I kept each other company, laughing and joking about everything.
I was weaving my way through the crowded cafeteria tables, trying to pick my way through the students towards the doors when it happened.
Naïve, unsuspecting Gracie was too preoccupied with not tripping over her own feet and going splat on the tiled floor to notice the boy with bottleneck-glasses and terrible acne who was only about fourteen or fifteen, a weedy little Mathlete.
He lacked acting skills, so what was meant to look accidental any person could see was really purposely done. He tripped over, and his lunch tray filled with about as much spicy Mexican food as one person could possibly consume, and more, was upended straight onto my sunny yellow dress and leather boots. And let me tell you, that stuff was hot, and my clothes were expensive.
I gasped as the chilli dripped down the neckline of my dress and my face was covered in chilli sauce and corn-chips. The whole tray clattered to the floor with food remnants. When I say remnants, I mean little tiny bits of meat. The rest was all on my dress.
What happened next I doubt even Cole could’ve predicted. No, I did this to myself. While the rest of the boy’s lunch was smeared all over me, his bottle filled with orange juice had spilt all over the floor. I stepped forward to go to the doors and sprint to the bathrooms—away from the laughing student body—when the heel of my boots slid across the orange juice.
I barely had time to shriek out an obscenity before the world was spinning around me and I fell straight down in front of everybody. Cole just about fell out of his chair he was laughing so hard. I bet to anybody else it would’ve looked funny, but now it was just mortifying. My cheeks burned red and I felt my hands begin to sweat. Tears filled my eyes but I refused to let them show. No, Cole Adams would not see my cry. I had to stay strong and pretend that their stares and mocking laughter and haughty comments didn’t affect me, that I was fine.
I slowly got back up, the hem of my dress dripping with orange juice and my heart hammering against my rib cage, my throat feeling like someone had filled it with cotton. People from all around me called out insults, and I felt my breathing quicken.
“Hey, Grace!” Before I even thought about it, my head whipped to the side at the sound of my name. It was Cole. Of course. “Nice outfit. I guess revenge really is sweet.” He bit his lip, as if contemplating his words. “Or I guess in this case, spicy.”
Like the coward I was, I turned around and ran out of the cafeteria, my legs carrying me as fast as they could. I ran to the bathroom and closed the door behind me, leaning against the marble basins and taking deep breaths as tears slowly made tracks down my dirty face that was covered in chilli sauce. My whole face and body was covered in mince and chips and spicy sauce. Being a vegetarian, this was like some kind of nightmare, and I shuddered slightly.
The door opened and I internally groaned. It was probably one of Cole’s minions, come to pick on me some more. That would just top my lunch off.
But instead a very pretty girl faced me, with olive skin and almond-shaped eyes. Her hair was the shiniest black I had ever seen, and she offered me a kind smile, her pink lips pulling up into a sweet smile.
“Did Cole send you in here?” I asked, watching her in the mirror as I picked cubes of meat out of my hair and tried to indiscreetly wipe away my tears.
“Um… no,” she said, looking tentative. There was a harsh undercurrent to her tone and her back had stiffened when I mentioned Cole. “I came in here because I thought you might need help cleaning up. I brought some shampoo and body wash. I keep it in my locker and only use it for gym, and I thought it might help.”
I regarded it as if it were contaminated. Who knew what was in there? Maybe the shampoo had green dye and the body wash self-tanning lotion. Then I would come out of here looking like a carrot.
“I can see why you’d be suspicious. I would be, too. But I swear there’s nothing bad in here. I really did just come to help. My name’s Emilie, by the way. Emilie Robinson. There. Now if I give you some kind of potion or something, you have my name to report me. So, do you want my help?”
Emilie seemed sincere, and she didn’t seem like the kind of girl who would lie to me. I took a deep breath and blew it out. “Okay. Thanks. My name’s Grace Holland. But I swear to God if I come out of this looking like a carrot…”
She seemed confused and nodded uncertainly. “I won’t make you look like a carrot.”
“Or cotton candy…”
“Or cotton candy,” she repeated.
“Or a hot-dog…”
“Grace, you’ll look like a normal human being by the time we clean this all up. You will in no way resemble a food product, okay?”
“Okay,” I agreed. As I leant my head over the basin so she could wash it, I said quietly, “Thank you, Emilie.”
She nodded and massaged the shampoo—or what I prayed was shampoo—into my hair. “I wasn’t there when it happened, but someone videotaped you dumping that soda over Cole. I thought it was pretty cool. I’m glad somebody finally got up the courage to do something to Cole.”
“You don’t like him?” I inquired curiously.
She sighed and squirted more shampoo into her palm. “He messed with my twin, Alyra. Completely broke her heart. He said he loved her and then just… left her once he got what he wanted. She transferred schools recently. You probably heard about her. Everyone has.”
“Right,” I whispered, recalling the vicious rumours that spread around the school like wildfire. “Aly Robinson. I didn’t know that was your sister.”
“Yeah, she is. She had to move schools because the bullying got too much for her. So I guess both of us have to thank you for what you did to Cole. It obviously had repercussions…” She gestured to my skin and hair, “…but it was still a really gutsy move. I think half of the school is silently thanking you. What you did was amazing. I’m glad he finally got what he deserves. And Aly would be grateful too.”
“Well, I thought he deserved it. I think he deserves more than that for your sister. I’m sorry she had to go through that. That’s terrible. I hope she’s okay now.”
“She’s better. She’s still a little shy towards guys now, but she’s recovering. She’ll be ecstatic when she finds out what you did. It looked awesome. And that comeback?” She giggled. “Priceless.”
I smirked. “Yeah, I liked it. I hope he’s learnt his lesson.”
“If today is any indication, Gracie, I don’t think he’s learnt a thing. I think he’s finally got someone who can match his pranking skills. Unfortunately, you’ve made yourself a pranking partner.”
“What do you mean?” I asked quietly, my heart quickening again.
She sighed and leant back, grabbing paper towels and attempting to dry my hair. I grabbed some as well to help, but it was a dismal and failed effort on both our parts.
“It’s just… normally he pranks people for the fun of it. For the thrill, I guess. And no one has ever retaliated. Nobody dares. I mean, it’s Cole Adams for God’s sake! But you… you’re not afraid to fight back—don’t bother denying it, you showed it on Friday night—and now he has competition. Finally he has someone who’s willing to fight back. Grace, you’ve started an all-out war.”
Her words made my blood ran cold. Had I? I mean, I had finally gotten payback for his humiliating prank two years ago. I had finally fought back. But did that mean that I had started some sort of competition between us? I had just given him what he deserved. I had given him revenge. But had I started some kind of rivalry between us? Oh no, what had I done?
Emilie helped me clean the rest of myself up. My clothes were a lost cause. It would probably cost me a week’s worth of pay at the drycleaners. She got me a denim skirt and tank-top from her locker and it fit reasonably well, though she was a little taller than me.
I thanked her profusely for her help and she told me it was no biggie. I was grateful that she’d helped, but also still angry at Cole for what he had done to Emilie’s sister.
By the time we parted ways there was only twenty minutes left of final period. I was clean, my skin soft and pale as usual. My hair was semi-dry, though it still hung in limp tangles around my face.
I looked myself in the mirror, and pretended I was staring at Cole. Cole, who had hurt Emilie’s sister, Alyra, whom he had left heartbroken. Who had been forced to move to another school due to the velocity of the rumours and bullying. Cole, who had pulled that science prank on me my very first day, without even knowing who I was, just because I was “The New Girl.” Cole, who had only an hour ago, humiliated me in front of the whole school, ruined a perfectly good dress and pair of shoes, and who had caused me to feel such a degree of hatred to one person that I never thought I would feel.
So, he thought he had competition? He thought that there was some rivalry between us? Let him think that. Let him think that we were only doing this because we wanted to out-prank each other.
I knew the real reason, though. My motivation for doing this. Not because I wanted some competition between myself and the Bad Boy. No, because I wanted revenge for all the wrongs he had done. For Alyra, for every girl he had left heartbroken, all the people he had pranked. For myself. He deserved to know how it felt. To be publicly ridiculed and embarrassed. He deserved to hurt. He could throw whatever the Hell he wanted at me. Let him. I could handle it. I was ready for it. But there was no way he could prepare for some of the things I was going to do to him.
To the seventeen-year-old girl in the mirror, with wavy blond hair, icy blue eyes and a cold smile, I whispered in my most venomous tone, “Time for a little revenge.”