I followed the two inside the house. Sabrina and Emmie talked on the way, talking about things that I wasn’t interested in. The house was awfully loud and now messy. I let out a tired sigh, remembering back then when uncle and aunt would throw dinner parties and I had to clean up after. It wasn’t as bad as this party. But the number of dishes piled up in the kitchen almost made me cry. You see I hate washing the dishes. Particularly, I hate the part where I get wet. My clothes I mean.
Another sigh escaped my lips, and this time I felt the two stopped to turn to me.
“I swear Jessica if another sigh escapes your mouth, I’m gonna rage.” Emmie dramatically flails her arms, which made her look silly.
“Right. Like that’s going to happen” I fired back.
“Women and their mouths. My dear child, who taught you to talk back?” She pointed her finger at me as if she was scolding her child. I bit my lip to suppress a laugh. Sabrina watched us, shaking her head.
She then waved her hands and said “Okay stop. Seriously. Just stop sighing already. We’re gonna have fun in the pool. If you keep your face like that, I’ll be sad. This day would end in pure sadness.”
“It’s your birthday. I don’t get how it concerns me.” I said and shoved both of my pockets in my pants. We were now in the hallways, on our way to my room.
“Isn’t it obvious. You’re my best friend. Now shush and enjoy. Or else I’ll keep your mouth shut” Emmie grinned and rested her arm on my shoulder. I rolled my eyes at her and shoved her arm off.
“Bitch much. I swear you’re in your period.”
“Am not,” I said quickly.
“Sabrina always remember that she always has her period by the end of the month. Mine past on the first week already,” she told Sabrina.
Sabrina laughed hard and nodded. Meanwhile, I kept myself 2 meters away from them while trying to relax my face cause I was pretty sure I was red all over. How embarrassing is that! I heard both of them giggle until we got inside. It was when I went straight to my closet to find my swimming trunk.
“Nuh-uh. Excuse me.” I heard Emmie say behind.
“No no no no.” She shook her head and went through her stuff at her luggage bag and pulled out a very revealing piece of clothing.
“Yeah no,” I said right away. No way was I wearing those.
Sabrina laughed and turned, her dimples showing. “I can’t picture you wearing those kinds but I bet you’ll look good at it”
Just then did I remember why I hated wearing those kinds. They’re meant to reveal skin. And to reveal my own is like revealing my story. Sab and Em high fived, laughing. But I remained silent, now holding over the scar underneath my shirt. I now felt self-conscious. Maybe much more worst.
“I uh... I’m just going to go the washroom” I hurriedly went to the nearby door and locked myself inside. Another sigh escaped my mouth as I sat on the covered toilet seat. The scar, if you looked from a small distance was very noticeable. It would be covered and be unnoticed under the water. But still. I felt nervous. And just by looking at it gives me chills.
I closed my eyes to help me relax. It was about five minutes after when I heard a knock on the door.
“Jessica open up.” Emmie’s voice came through the door. Slowly, I got up and walked to open it. A very concerned face was sketched on her face.
“Sorry for teasing you earlier. I’m sorry I forgot. Here I bought some clothes. My batman shirt would cover it up good cause it’s dark. Here are your black shorts too.” She handed me my clothing and hugged me tightly, whispering “Sorry” repeatedly.
I understood her and laughed the nervousness away. She brightened up when I hugged her once more to help me ease my mood. After we finished changing, we went back and was greeted by other familiar faces. The popular twins, Taylor and Tyler, stopped by to say ‘Hello’ at us.
“The party is great. Your house is quite amazing.” The older brother, Tyler, said. His twin, Taylor, busily eyed the other guys like a predator. I was guessing she was already picking whom she was going to hang out with later.
“Thank you.” Emmie and Tyler had a quick conversation until it was finished. She then led me somewhere around the house where there was an indoor pool. Somewhere I didn’t even know existed. There were people gathered around already. Some sat on the edge of the pool while conversing with a friend. Most relaxed on those folding beach chairs. Then there was a group, playing volleyball with a beach ball. Among them was Sabrina.
I wouldn’t say I was attracted nor interested. I’d say I got distracted. I believed there was a difference between those words. To say that I nearly tripped when I lost focus on where I was walking. Her stomach caught my eye, especially when her muscles would flex whenever she would jump or hit the ball. You can see it. Everyone does. I gulped as I tried to listen to Emmie’s rant about evolution and creation. Like how did we end up talking about that again? I was for sure, the last time that I remember that came out of her mouth was how she felt cool that we had matching shirts. Well not really. I had her Batman shirt, and she wore my Superman one.
“Ooh! Let’s go play with them!” she squealed and ran. I watched as she jumped up and fall like an oversized whale on the pool. She may be small but she could make big splashes with her body. I, on the other hand, walked slowly as ever, taking my time to process the images that were seen by my eyes moment ago. Just then, I saw Leylah sitting on a chair. She was wearing pink shorts and a yellow hoodie, which I thought was cute. She held a lollipop in her hand and a phone on the other. Time to time, she would smile and laugh about something, which made me curious.
Quietly, I approached her from behind and then rested my hands on the back of her neck, which made her jolt in surprise. I laughed at her scared face and sat down next to her after I’ve calmed down.
“Shiz. You scared me!” she held her hand over her chest and tried to regulate her breathing.
“Sorry.” I apologized and made a peace sign. She smacked my arm which made me chuckle at her.
“You seemed quite busy smiling over here so I got curious,” I said.
“Oh. You meant this?” She leaned closer until our shoulders were touching and showed me a funny picture of a little girl. “This is my cousin. Well, she’s four years old, of course, she’s not the one I’m chatting with. It’s her older sister that I’m talking to.”
“Ah” I nodded in understanment. Makes sense.
“She sent me these funny pictures of her little sister. Here look” She scrolled down the conversation, and I was able to see more funny pictures. I laughed along with her. After a minute, her phone made a ‘ting’ sound, indicating that there was a new message. Leylah scrolled all the way up and saw a video was sent to her. She then played it, and right away, the little girl’s face comes out again. This time she was dancing along with a song. Halfway through the video, a cat passes by, and the girl grabs it. Yep, she started dancing with the cat, holding its paws and making it stand. At this point, we were laughing crazy when she started spinning the cat. I swear there were tears in my eyes. The video finishes when the girl stops dancing and leaves the cat rolling uncontrollably on the carpet.
“Oh my god. My stomach hurts”
“That was so mean,” I said laughing. My face was probably red now.
“Yeah, but it was hilarious”. After the video, we just roam around her social networking sites and commented on different things. And by who knows or how long, we were scrolling down a site filled with pictures of hairstyles.
“Ooh. I like this red one” Leylah pointed at the picture. It was pretty indeed.
“I like this,” I said pointing to a very simple but cute hairstyle. It’s a style that suits my personality. I was too ugly for the rest. “Maybe I should get a haircut soon”
Leylah looked at me and then touched my hair. “Your hair is really long. It’s so shiny and soft too.”
“What shampoo do you use?” she asks.
I shrugged. “I just buy the ones on sale”
She cracked up a smile. “Do you want me to cut your hair? I cut my own”
“You know how?” I asked, amazed by her hidden skills.
“Yeah. My friend taught me. I’ve been practicing for over a year.” she said. “I’ll do it for free”
She nodded. “Of course. Plus I’d be honoured. Your hair is a gem. Too precious and beautiful.”
That made me smile a bit. Until she said, “Just like you”. I felt quite embarrassed to be complimented. And I felt relieved when she didn’t make it awkward.
“Oh come on Jesse. You’re so easy to tease” She gently tapped my back and chuckled.
“So you’re kidding?”
She was taken back from my question. I was too. Like why the hell would I say that? Was I playing back too? Dear god, I felt thankful when Emmie called out to me.
“JESSICA! Get yo ass in here. Let’s play”
I rolled my eyes and turned to glare at her. I heard Leylah giggle. She pushed me away for a bit and said, “Go play”
“What about you?” I asked.
“I’ll join later” she smiled.
“Are you sure?” I asked one more time. She nodded and let me go afterward. I went over the edge of the pool, while Emmie swam towards me. But what I didn’t expect was when I was about to open my mouth to say something, she then surprised me when she pulled me down, making me fall, face first in the pool.
It took me awhile to resurface, and my whole self-control to not scream at her in public.
“What the effing was that for,” I growled that only she could hear.
“Fun. F-U....N” she smirked.
“Not fun...ny” I glared.
“Alright. Let’s go join” she reached for my hands and raised it high. “We’re the hero team.”
The group was the actual lunch table group and other people. Kristina was with Angela. They both were stretching for some reason. They couldn’t be that serious over a game in a pool. So we’re still playing volleyball. It’s been long but I was quite prepared. Emmie, Nat, Tyler, and I were team hero. The other team consisted of Angela, Kristina, Sabrina, and Lucas. The whole athletic people were in one package. Meanwhile, we only had Nat excelled in basketball, Tyler who was an expert as a heartbreaker, Emmie who was wild and young, and lastly, me, a former volleyball player back then.
“We’re gonna lose,” I said suddenly.
“Hey! Don’t give up now” Nat cheered up. Tyler didn’t care. He just winked at me when he saw me looking at him.
“Girl. Eyes on the front” Emmie said behind.
There was a whistle, indicating that the game started. A volleyball with four players each. There should be been five but then others were too lazy to join. Nat served and I wasn’t surprised when that ball went over the net and was caught by Jace who then bumped it. Knowing it was going on my way slowly, I volleyed it using the tips of my fingers and called for Emmie. She ran fast and jumped to spike the ball down.
That was how it started.
And that’s how it lasted.
Our team lost. Not surprised. But people congratulate me for my hard work. Sabrina then stood next to me. I watched as she shivers in cold.
“Aren’t you freezing?” she asks.
I shook my head.
“You did well.”
“Thanks” I smiled.
“Um...you sure you’re not cold?” she asks once again. I chuckled and said ‘no’.
“That’s too bad. I’m cold and was hoping you could warm me up” she smiled.
“I heard that” Emmie popped out behind Sabrina, which made of us jumped. “I’m watching you two”. Emmie went over to Kristina and jumped behind her back while saying “cheaters!“. Of course. Emmie never accepts defeats. Kristina laughed and kept hold of Emmie. It was a great time to rest. I was exhausted.
“So...” Sabrina started. She awkwardly laughed and came closer. “Do you want...I mean can I get a..umm..can we just...ugh..fuck.”
“No, I mean...I didn’t mean that. But it would be nice in the future. I mean- NO! Dammit!” she rambled and started making these hand gestures that I completely did not understand.
‘Maybe she’s too cold to say something straight’
“I’m just gonna get you a towel.” I offered. She then stopped talking, then nodded her head, and left immediately with her head low.
I walked towards the end of the pool when I felt a splash behind me. I turned to see a boy smirking and Sarah whom just about to sit next to the pool.
“Yo,” she turned to look and then grabbed the boy to make him sit next to her.
“But I want to go in!” he whined.
I watched the two of them.
“When is later?!”
“When I get in the pool...”
I laughed. He was too cute. “Wanna come with me?”
“Jessica no,” Sarah said.
“I said later.”
“When is later?”
Then she laughed. “You sound like Jackson now.”
“No need to apologize,” she says.
“Maybe you should get that towel you were going to get”
I looked at her, confused and then I realized and remember that I was going to give Sabrina one. “Right. I’ll see ya”
I got back half an hour later. I didn’t know why it took me that long to get a towel. Probably because I got lost, or was distracted watching people party at our house. I hated the noise and just wanted to stay in my room. But no,I couldn’t. I was tired, exhausted. A symptom of my anemia.
When I got back, there were fewer people. Emmie was talking to Kristina, and so was Angela. Or at least that’s what I think. Or maybe I just noticed that Angela would try and get Kristina’s attention and not mind Emmie. I didn’t know.
Sabrina was resting on a beach chair. Her flawless skin revealed. I threw the towel on top of her legs to shield it from the possible perverts out there. She was startled when she saw me and nearly fell off.
“Don’t mention it,” I said and was about to leave when she spoke up.
“Wanna play again?”
“Soccer on the pool. Well, kind of. You just hold the ball in your hand and get it passed the goalie. Kind of like ultimate” she said.
Just then, Sarah, who was now wearing a similar revealing swimsuit approached us. “I’d like to compete. Plus Jackson here wants to get in the pool already”
“We cant play two on two with a kid you know” Sabrina stated.
“Oh no. I didn’t know you’d think of him as my partner. Carly will be with me”
Sabrina stood up. “She’s here?”
Sarah then pointed to a girl who was busily tying her hair up in a ponytail. Carly looked up and greeted me with a hug.
“Jessica you look so cute,” she said, pinching my cheeks.
“Carly you wanna play with me?” Sarah asks her.
“Um...sure. What are we playing?”
“Sabrina will explain.”
Sabrina awkwardly looked at Carly but then still explains the game and the rules. I tuned out halfway cause I was tired. It was two on two. Sabrina and I were a team while Sarah and Carly were the other. I wished I was Leylah at this point cause instead of joining, she volunteered to watch for Jackson. Soon, the game had started. Some watched and cheered on. I was the goalie. My job was to prevent the opposite team to get past me with the ball. Carly was a goalie too. So it was mainly Sarah and Sabrina fighting over the ball. I watched the two wrestle in the middle. It was actually quite funny. But there were some parts where I have to kept attentive because the ball would fly over me if I don’t hit it back.
“You’re good.” I heard one of them say.
Half an hour passed. I was exhausted. The game was quite hard. But I had to stay attentive. Sabrina and Sarah were trying hard. The game ended when Sarah sneakily went under Sabrina’s protective arms. She then threw the ball over. I followed the ball and swam where it would possibly land. But then my feet suddenly stopped working. It was like my body became paralyzed. And I fell.
Where it was dark.
And I couldn’t breathe.
I heard my name.
And so I called out mom. But then I remembered she was gone.
Who was there to save me again?
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Sarah had told Carly to call Kristina and Emmie.
She then crouched down to check on Jessica.
After glancing a for a second or two at Sabrina who looked more panic, she then told her to move aside.