12 | The Long Awaited Meeting
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
When I was four years old, I did something dumb. I was playing outside with Martin and Brock, we were hunting for snails so that we could have a snail race. It was all planned out. We had made a track, we had costumes for the snails and we had invited Callum. I had finally found a snail, but it was on the road. So I stepped onto the road, without checking for any cars.
And then, all of a sudden, a car appeared. I hadn’t noticed it because I was too entranced by the snail. Just before the car hit me, two things happened. One: my brothers both screamed, in complete fear.
Two: Callum, who was only four years old, saved my life. Callum had run onto the road and had grabbed me; pulled me off of the road. If he hadn’t of done that, the car would have hit me. The driver was too busy looking at his phone to notice a little girl in the road.
When we were safely on the path, he hugged me. When we pulled away, I stared into his beautiful eyes, seeing the fear, anger, and sadness. Guilt knawed in my stomach at the fact that I made him feel so worried because I was stupid.
Today, when I left the drama hall, I saw raw sadness in Callum’s eyes. And once again, I felt guilty. I made him feel sad - I could change everything but I didn’t want to. Despite telling myself that I’m brave and strong, I’m also a coward. I should face them, I should finally stop running.
“Hey, Whitney? Do you mind if I just quickly nip to my locker?” Hannah asks me when we leave the hall. I had managed to avoid a confrontation with the rest of the group and I had managed to get Hannah to come with me.
“Yeah sure. Meet in the carpark in ten minutes?” I suggest and she nods her head excitedly. With that, Hannah spins on her heel in the opposite direction to her locker. We decided to go out to the local cafe here for a hot chocolate. I hope we will end up going to the one I used to go to when I was younger. They made the best drinks there.
If you’re going to talk to them, it should be now. My subconscious says. It would make sense to talk to them now, whilst Hannah is gone.
I feel bad for lying to her about this but if she found out, I fear she would treat me differently. Or at least, she would view me differently. And I couldn’t afford for that to happen.
You can talk to them. It will probably only take five minutes. I reason with myself. I mean, all I have to do is say hi and to basically tell them that I’m happy now. Simple.
With that thought in my head, I inhale and turn back around to the hall. Hopefully, they will still be in there.
I open the doors and poke my head through. I sigh in relief when I spot them sitting in their seats, arguing. Quietly, I sneak into the room.
“Why are you sneaking around?” A male’s voice whispers into my ear from behind me. Startled, I yelp and swivel around to see Alan.
“Alan!” I exclaim, placing a hand on my rushing heart. He’s talking about me sneaking when I didn’t even realize he was behind me. “You big buffoon, you scared me.”
Alan throws his head back and laughs at my choice in words. “Big buffoon? Really, Whitney?” He asks through his laughter. I scowl and smack his rock hard chest. Dammit, he probably didn’t even feel that.
“Shut up,” I mutter, embarrassed. From my peripheral vision, I notice my former group of friends looking at me. Well, they definitely noticed me.
Alan glances behind me and sees the group. Immediately, he composes himself so that he’s presented as cold and closed off. The sparkle in his eyes dim and he practically glares at them.
“Alan,” I hiss, gaining his attention again. “Stop doing that. I just want to talk to them.”
Alan gives me a sceptical look. “Are you serious? They don’t deserve your company, Whitney!”
I sigh and run a hand through my hair. I knew he wouldn’t understand where I am coming from. I love Alan as a brother but he can be so overprotective sometimes. It is so infuriating.
But I love him. He’s always been with me.
“Whitney? What are you doing back here?” My drama teacher asks, curiously.
“Oh, I’m just...“I pause, trying to think of something to say. “I’m... here to talk to them over there,” I tell her, motioning to my old friends.
She opens her mouth in understanding and nods her head. “Well, I’ll see you next lesson. Keep up the good work.”
I thank her and watch her skip off. She is happy all of the time, it's unnerving.
“She’s definitely...active,” he says, watching her go as well. I laugh. That is one way of describing her.
“Right, I’m going to...” I drawl, hoping Alan catches onto what I’m about to say. He flickers his eyes to them briefly and then back to me. Reluctantly, he nods his head. “Five minutes. You have five minutes.”
I smile and take a deep breath. I can do this, its not like I’m speaking to some of the people that made me leave this place two years ago. Its not like I’m going to talk to them for the first time in two years.
Don’t go there. Think positively.
Without a second thought, I head over to them. They give me shocked expressions, clearly having no idea why I’m coming over to them. Okay so they know why I'm marching towards them, they are just shocked that I am actually doing it.
Internally, I’m smirking evilly at their faces. If I was in a movie right now, I would so shout ′ha! Now, look who's confident’. But unfortunately, this isn’t one of my movies.
When I make it to their little section, I plaster a smirk on my face and square my shoulders. Hopefully, I radiate confidence right now.
Finally, I stop mere inches from them. Whilst they all stand, stunned, I take a moment to take note of what has changed about them - from a closer perspective.
They have all grown a few inches, that’s for sure. Ares and Athena’s skin look pale, not tanned like it used to look. They still appear fit and healthy though so I assume they are still playing sport.
Brock--my older brother--doesn't look the same though. His blonde hair appears lighter and his blue eyes shine with sadness and despair.
Callum is the last person I assess. I discreetly examine him, noticing that his hypnotizing green eyes look dead. Before I saw sadness but I didn’t think twice of it because at least he was feeling something. But now his eyes look empty like an empty shell.
For a split second, I wonder if that could be because of me but then a scold myself. He’s probably devastated about something else like his latest girlfriend. I bet he’s had plenty of those to fill the tiny little gap I filled once.
“Hello,” I greet, keeping a cool and calm expression on my face even though my heart is freaking out right now.
“A-Anastasia?” Athena stammers, her voice wavering as if she can’t believe I’m standing here right now.
“Its Whitney actually,” I correct her, matter-of-factly. Hearing my old name infuriates me. My throat goes dry and my fists curl up. I hate being reminded of who I was once. Anastasia is a weaker form of me. Even though I know I can never fully rid her of my life, I can try and hide her.
“Oh,” Athena mumbles, dishearted.
I know Athena technically did nothing wrong but she will always be a reminder of the old me. I don’t know if I could handle seeing her every day and being reminded of those awful days of torture.
“So,” I clear my throat. “I’m going to keep this short. I think its best if we stay clear of each other, don’t you? What went down two years ago...” I hesitate. My mind flashes with certain images of my first two years at school that I’d rather forget. “Well, I think it's safe to say none of us wants a repeat of it. Right?”
They all nod. I don’t think they can still fathom that I’m here talking to them.
“Yeah. So I think it would be best if we all just...get on with our own lives separately.” I finish and wait for their reply.
Athena blinks back what I think is tears, Ares and Brock’s features turn grim and Callum looks emotionless.
“But Ana-Whitney,” Athena corrects herself when she sees my eye twitch. “I miss you. You’re my best friend and when you left...please, I’m begging you. Please. Give us a chance.”
For a very brief second, my facade cracks. My smirk falters and my eyes widen. I did not expect her to burst out like that. I thought she would just accept.
“Oh-uh...” I stumble. Compose yourself! I mentally shout at myself, annoyed that I’m acting like this in front of them. I want to act cool and collected - not like this.
“Whitney, please,” this time, its Callum who speaks. His deep, masculine voice sounds even rougher than it was two years ago. It makes him sound sexier.
Wait - what?
Bad Whitney. Very, very bad.
He takes a step forward, closer to me. My breath hitches at such the simple action.
“No, no.” I shake my head, stepping back.
“Tia,” Brock pleads, using the annoying nickname he gave me when I was six years old. “I want my sister back.”
My eyes narrow at his words. He didn’t care about me for so long; now, all of a sudden, he cares. I bet it's only for fame. They all probably using me for my fame.
That has to be it. There is no other explanation. They only want me to be on TV or something like that. I knew they never cared.
“I’m warning you guys. Stay out of my way.” I angrily demand, clenching my jaw. Suddenly, I feel a large, warm hand on the bottom of my back.
From my peripheral vision, I see Alan in his black suit. I almost sigh in relief - extremely happy for his appearance.
“Are they bothering you kiddo?” Alan asks me. For once, I don’t scowl at his nickname for me, instead, I feel a sense of comfort from his stupid nickname. It brings security.
“Not anymore,” I answer, casting one last look to the group before leaving with Alan. His hand is still resting on my lower back as he leads me out of the drama hall. Several eyes stay on my form, following me as I leave. But I pay zero attention to that.
When we exit the hall, Hannah springs on me and starts chatting about how much she loves whipped cream and marshmallows together. Allowing me to forget about the whole confrontation momentarily.