( 2 ) Bittersweet Memories
It's been a week since that day. The number of insults that were thrown at my face lessened but there were still some people who couldn't stop with those sardonic remarks that were made in jest. Some would actually walk pass me in the hallway on purpose just so they could mock me with puke-y faces.
"Ignore them, Lace. They're all a bunch of losers," Claire snarled at them as they left for the cafeteria.
"Trying to... But it seems like you need to calm down more than I do," I laughed a little when I turned to see her throwing scowls directed towards them in an attempt to scare them off.
"Wait till I get my hands on them... They won't have hands by the time I'm done with them," Her eyes were squinted and her mind was probably filled with little scenarios that I'd rather not mention.
"You look like you need some help, Lace," I heard the ever-so annoying voice booming in my ears and my eyes turned on him.
"What is it that you want, Ian? If you want to help, how about you get those little minions that your girlfriend carries around twenty-four-seven to stop with the lame jibes?" I smiled sweetly at him, then returned to my original glare that I always had whenever he was around. I turned to Claire who was trying to catch my attention.
"Lace, I'll go ahead first? Mr.Matthews isn't going to be happy if I'm late for Chemistry for the fifth time," she showed me a pleading look and I nodded my head in response, as if to say that I could handle Mr.Hotshot over here.
Watching her run off to her next class, Ian started opening his mouth, unfortunately. "No can do. I don't own them so I can't tell them what to do... but there is one thing I can help you with," He smirked, almost grinning to the point where his white, pearly teeth were visible.
"Oh really? Then you should leave because I don't wanna hear it--" I turned to walk off but I felt a sharp tug on my right arm, pulling me backwards.
"I signed you up for counseling classes," He said, grabbing my arm tightly.
"Counseling classes? Why would I need counseling classes?" I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion, trying to shove him off of me when he tried moving closer.
"To get over your stage fright--"
"I don't need your help, Ian! Just leave me alone already, is that too much to ask?" I pushed him away forcefully, making him fall backwards in shock.
"Whatever you're trying to do. I don't need it. It's been six years we've talked, so don't tell me you want to help because I've had my share of the populars trying to 'help' us normies. I don't know if you realize this, but being popular doesn't make you 'all that'. The world doesn't revolve around you. You're only popular because you're either feared or hated. And what I'm feeling for you, Ian, is pure hatred. So back off and get lost! I've had enough of you people trying to mess our lives up just because you don't have one," I glowered, shaking my head in disgust.
"I'm not trying to--"
"Save it." I didn't let him finish his sentence and immediately stomped off to my next class, just in time to get scolded by the teacher for turning up late. Guess who was the cause of it? That's right, the one and only Ian Harris.
"How can you be sick?" I frowned, looking down at my food. This time I was sitting at the cafeteria table alone, without my best friend.
"I'm sorry... I guess I caught the flu from my brother," I heard her groan over the phone. Judging by the muffled noise and shuffling of blankets, it sounded as if she were deep under the covers, hiding from the light like a nocturnal creature.
"When do you think you can come back?" I bit my lip, feeling nervous from noticing people around me staring, from the corner of my eyes. Apparently, I was an outcast whenever Claire wasn't there with me.
"Maybe in a day or two? Don't worry, Lace. When I return, I'll make sure I beat those creatures down to pulps," She managed to let out a croaky laugh.
I sighed silently, "It's fine. I'll manage. Just get well soon, all right?"
"Roger." The line went dead after she ended the call and I slid my phone back into my pocket.
I heard whispering around me one after another.
"Is that the girl that fainted on stage?"
"How is she still alive after that incident?"
"Hey, look, we better call the ambulance before she passes out again while eating," one of them chuckled and fist pumped the other. That was the lamest thing I ever heard all day. I almost wanted to drown my sorrows in my bowl of chicken soup when I heard someone scoot over to the seat across mine to join me in my misery.
I looked up to see Ian with his tray in his hands.
"Can I sit here?" He finally spoke after a while.
"And let more people start rumours about us? No thanks. Leave me alone," I muttered, not bothering to even have any eye contact.
"I'm here to help. Just give me a chance, will you?" I could almost hear the irritation in the tone of his voice and I slammed my spoon down on the table, losing it entirely. The ringing vibration of the stainless steel buzzed through my ears as it clinked in contact with the metal table.
"Why?" I looked up at him, "Why should I? Why help me Ian? Why now, why not then?" I squinted my eyes at him, searching his eyes for an answer. He stayed silent for a moment before parting his lips to speak. "For the past five years, you completely pushed me away. When I needed you Ian, when I needed you. Don't speak to me like you're still my friend," I shook my head at him, unable to look at him the same way I used to.
"So that's it? I make one mistake and I don't get a second chance?—"
"O-one mistake? You forgot that it was the most stupidest one that you've made. Second chances don't exist, Ian. Not anymore," I slowly loosened my grip around the metal spoon. " If you want to help me, you can start by staying away from me." I stood up and started packing my stuff, utterly losing my appetite. Before I walked away, I paused for while and stared at him, "And it shouldn't be too hard for you, right? I mean, all those years of practice?" I scoffed, slinging my bag over my shoulder then roughly brushing my arm past his on purpose.
I walked out of there, passed plenty of faces and finally got to an empty table in the school library. There was barely anyone here. No one would actually come here to study despite it being the only place of knowledge, so it was one of my usual hangout places with Claire. We wouldn't call ourselves nerds. We just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere since the rest of the world seemed to have so many loud opinions on everything. I took out one of my books that I recently borrowed and flipped back to the chapter where I left off, just to pass the time and also try to block out thoughts about Ian. He seemed to be popping out of nowhere lately for the past few weeks, especially trying to send me off to my death bed a little too early with the surprise greetings behind my locker.
Yes, Ian and I go way back in the day. I'd rather not say anything but just to end your misery and stop your curious minds from exploding with a thousand questions, I'll admit it. Ian and I used to be best friends since the first grade. Sounds unbelievable, but it's true. We used to spend every single day together. When I was a kid, I was pretty much socially awkward. I couldn't make any friends, even when I tried to. I ended up sending weird messages and people got the wrong impression of me. No one dared or cared enough to try clear the misunderstanding and find out the real me; except for Ian. So did Claire, but I only met her two years ago. Ian was a good guy. Well, I perceived him to be until it happened.
He blocked me off entirely for no reason in the fifth grade . He never answered my calls, texts; blocked me from any of the social networking sites, emails and everything that involved any kind of contact with him. Why? Until now, it's still unknown. The worst thing was that even when I needed him that night, he wasn't there. Even when I almost begged. He didn't care. That night was when my father died from cancer. That agonizing night when I felt so confused, so empty, so unstable. I was a troubled thirteen year old kid then. I waited four long years for Ian to return, still having strong hopes which soon started to weaken as days passed. I met Claire two years later and everything turned out fine again.
I stopped crying every now and then. My life got better, healthier and I finally felt accepted once again with Claire by my side. I learned to get used to that empty feeling to the point where it didn't feel empty anymore; to the point where he didn't even exist in my life.
Now I'm actually hear sentences coming out of his mouth, directed towards me? How was I supposed to react? This isn't some cliche romance novel where the girl always forgives the guy and they live happily ever after in the end. This isn't some fairytale fiction. This is reality. And reality can suck really bad.
Does Claire know about this? No. She doesn't, and I don't plan on telling her. She doesn't need to know because I've decided that it didn't happen.
He and I were never friends.