17 | The Art Room Confrontation
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
When my alarm went off the next morning, I am greeted with the sound of the overly cheerful radio presenters. For once though, I felt happy and ready for school. Earlier that night, Alan asked me what time I wanted to leave for school. I told him I wanted to walk for a change. The paparazzi will be here fairly soon so I might as well enjoy the freedom I have whilst I can.
About halfway through my journey to school, I spot three people I never thought I would see again. My parents and Martin. Unfortunately for me, I have to pass their house on the way to school.
They are leaving the house and are getting into the car. Since I’m on the other side of the street, they don’t notice me. I freeze and openly stare at them in shock, whilst trying to take in everything about them.
My parents look older. Their blonde hair is beginning to thin out and I bet a few grey hairs can be seen. They both look frail as well. Perhaps from ageing or maybe something else. Like stress? They always did work too hard.
Martin, on the other hand, is looking rather good. It appears my older brother has been spending a lot of time in the gym. He must be in his third year at college now. I wonder how he is doing. When I last spoke to him two years ago―admittedly, it wasn’t a very long conversation ―he briefly outlined how he wasn’t enjoying law at all. He regretted taking it.
Since both of our parents are successful lawyers, they wanted all of us to follow in their footsteps. Martin is very confident and rather arrogant, which are both fine qualities for someone in that field. Out of all of the Claire children, I would have thought Martin would be the best lawyer.
Once again, the memories of when my parents gave me disappointed looks about my grades filled my head. I always had to be the best. Brock and I had to fill our brother’s shoes when he left for college. Whilst Brock impressed my parents with his athletic skills, I didn’t impress them with anything...
No. You are stronger than this. My conscience asserts confidently. And with my newfound courage, I stroll along the path, eventually passing the now empty driveway. They must have left whilst I was taking a trip down memory lane.
Arriving at school, Alan and I head over to my locker. I still receive many envious looks from people. Most have now realized I’m not going to talk to them unless I wanted to. It still doesn’t stop a few from approaching me though. I guess some people let their want cloud their perception.
“Whitty!” An excited voice exclaims from behind me.
Spinning on my heels, I turn to face the one and only Hannah, with Ares and Athena flanking her. A warm smile instantly stretches on my face at the sight of all three of them. A sense of normality overwashes me. This is what I want. My friends. Real friends.
“Hannah Banana!” I reply with an equal amount of enthusiasm, opening my arms for her to hug me. She skips over to me giddily and embraces my hug. This girl is always eager.
“I missed you,” Hannah says, her voice muffled due to the fact that she’s talking into my top.
I chuckle at her adorableness. This girl is one of a kind.“You saw me yesterday.”
“But still...” She whines.
Rolling my eyes, she steps back, allowing Athena and Ares to greet me.
We start conversing about simple things like what our homework. I forgot how much I missed talking about such things with people my age. As amazing as Casey is, she is an adult. She has friends her own age to talk to about certain things whilst I don’t. She doesn’t understand teenagers.
“Right kiddo, I’m going to go and sit outside. I’ll see you at lunch?” Alan informs me. Nodding my head in agreement, I watch him glide through the hallway. He slips in and out of open spaces with great ease, like a stealthy panther. Last night, after my run, Alan and I discussed him being my bodyguard. Now that I have three of my friends back, I don’t really need someone to look after me. Plus, Alan feels a lot more reassured I can handle myself since I put Nicole in her place. So Alan is going to hang outside of the school to stop reporters and keep guard. He will be seeing me at lunchtime because its when the student population peaks in one place.
“Your bodyguard looks so intimidating,” Athena states when he's out of hearing range. I chuckle, knowing he's actually a massive teddy bear.
“He really isn’t,” I tell her, hoping to convince her that he's the complete opposite. “He’s actually a massive softie. He just appears like that to everyone else to keep them away. Once you get to know him, you’ll see that he’s not scary in the slightest.”
Athena raises her eyebrows in disbelief. “Are you su― ”
Athena is cut off by a gawking Ares. “Oh sh*t,” he mumbles to himself, loud enough for me and the other two to hear. I follow Ares’s line of sight to Callum who is heading our way, with Brock next to him. Both of their eyes are set on this group or rather, they are locked on me.
Gulping, I mask my stunned face and slam my locker door shut. I have been expecting this to happen and now that it finally is, I’m nervous. Petrified in fact. My hands feel clammy and my brain is thinking of a million and one different things. I can’t focus on one specific thought - there are too many of them.
I know before they reach me what they are going to say. The whole ordeal is playing out in my head already. The end of this conversation is going to be me and them talking. Gosh, I hate the fact that I’m talking all of the time. All I do is talk about what happened and how I feel.
In all honesty, I am so sick of it. I want to distract myself and have fun. Not dwell on my horrible past. I want to move past everything.
The two muscular boys stop directly in front of me, enclosing the circle. All six of us remain in silence, staring. Hannah frowns in confusion, clueless about everything. I feel a pang of guilt. I should have told Hannah about who I am to them but I don’t want to risk losing a friendship. Now I just might for lying to her.
I’m the first person to speak. “Where do you want to talk?”
Brock and Callum’s mouths open, confused. They probably assumed I would put up a fight but right now I’m so tired of fighting. For some reason, I want to give them a chance. Well, Brock. Callum has already explained.
Perhaps after seeing my parents ageing woke something up in me. I realized how short life is. Two years ago, they looked so healthy and young. But life catches up with everyone.
I shouldn’t be stubborn about such important matters. Knowing me, I will regret it in the future. I need to be the bigger, better person here and listen. They were both very close to me and so, a part of me owes it to them to talk to them.
And then, after I’ve done this, I don’t have to have these talks again. They are mentally and physically draining. I can begin living in the now.
“Oh―um.” Brock stammers, clumsily.
“How about an empty classroom?” I suggest, helping him out.
Dumbly, they nod their heads.
Sighing, I lead the search to find a classroom. The other three must have understood that this is a private conversation that’s between the three of us because they don’t follow. The bell rings but I block it out.
My nerves are incredibly high right now. I am going to be alone in a room with them. I can't escape. Not until I talk to them. Not until I face them.
Eventually, I find a spare art classroom and swing the door open. Entering the room, I drop my books on one of the tables and hop onto it, sitting down so I can swing my legs back and forth. My brother and Callum awkwardly stand at the front of the classroom. They both don’t know what to do―whether to sit down or stand.
“So, Ana―” Brock clears his throat but stops when I cut him off.
“What?” Callum questions. “You just said we could talk so why would you interrupt him?”
I smirk to myself when I notice the irritation in his green orbs. It satisfies me seeing him getting all riled up. I’m reassured by the fact that I still affect him, even in situations like this.
“Because.” I pause, just to annoy them further. “I’m tired of listening to people apologize with the same crap. You are going to say stuff like, ′I didn’t mean to do it′ or ′I missed you’. And sure, you are probably saying it from the bottom of your cold, worthless hearts and all but I don’t care. For once, I want to speak. I want to tell you how much you hurt me.”
Callum shuts his mouth and backs off. I take that as my cue to continue.
“I loved the both of you, deeply. Which is why what you did hurt the most. You betrayed me, the pair of you. That―that day, in the cafeteria, was the worst f*cking day of my life. I had always been able to brush off some things because I knew you guys cared for me but when everything went down in the cafeteria, it was the breaking point. I thought, the two of you, despite your negligence would still stick with me when things got very tough.” Swallowing the lump in my throat, I gather my next words together. I can't lose my confidence now. I have come so far. “But you didn’t. You humiliated me, destroyed me. Well, you broke Anastasia Claire.”
“I suppose I have to thank you for one thing. If you hadn’t of pushed me off the edge, I wouldn’t be here together, stronger and better than ever.” I laugh non-humorously at the thought that just crossed my mind. “Isn’t it funny that I have to be stabbed in the heart by everyone I love to become a sensation? Gosh, that’s f*cked up.”
“Don’t do this," Brock begs, coming to sit next to me. He attempts to capture my shaky hands but I swat him away. I can do this alone.
Inhaling, I add: “So yeah. I’m now back. When I left two years ago, I cried so much. After running home, I wrote that letter and got all of my cash together and hopped on the first bus to a station. From there, I went to LA. I went to a cheap motel and began searching for jobs. Luckily for me, Casey Jones found me. And saved me. She set me up with the agency and after one audition, I was chosen for a big role. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, I feel as though you deserve to know this. I don’t want to hurt you because that would make me as bad as you. And I can assure you, I am not. Whitney Winters is strong, independent, kind and confident. You all made me feel weak and ugly but I was shown how beautiful I am. How worthy I am.”
“Thus, I don’t think I could ever fully forgive you. You have no idea how hard it is to be in the same room as you without wanting to vomit or run away. Maybe in the future, I could somewhat forgive you and have a close friendship with you guys but not right now. I’m still healing.”
“But Ana―Whitney,” Brock starts, intervening. His blue eyes plead desperately with mine.“I understand that. Clearly, you know how regretful I feel. I just want to say that I want to be able to hang out with you, know a part of you. Because from what I’ve seen so far, you are f*cking amazing. Believe it or not but you were amazing two years ago and I did love you. So much. But I was going through some sh*t in high school and I’m sorry I acted the way I did to you. I’m so proud of you and I want to be part of your life again. Even if it was only as someone who you don’t trust.”
“Same here,” Callum adds, stepping closer to us. “I just want to be involved in some way, I want to listen to you speak about the fantastic times you had in Hollywood. I want to hear you laugh and tease Athena.”
A tear slides down my cheek and I fiercely wipe it away in hopes they don’t notice. But of course, they do. Brock stares at me sadly whilst Callum intense gaze at me is indecipherable.
Sucking in a breath, I purse my lips together. After my long speech, I should at least consider letting them be included in something. Technically, I owe them nothing but as a morally good person, I want to be that person that moves forward. I can’t just keep living this facade of pretending they don’t exist, that they are people I walk past in the halls or share a class with.
It’s time to move up the ladder and do this.
It’s laughable how last week, in Lulu’s office, I was whining and complaining about how I would never forgive any of my original friends. Yet, here I am, considering to let two of the most important people in my life have another shot. Did I fall out of bed and hit my head really hard or something?
“12:05, meet in the cafeteria,” I tell them, calmly whilst standing up from the table.
In unison, they both speak their confusion. “What?”
“You want to be part of my life? Then I will allow you to eat at lunch with us. Think of it as a test, if I feel comfortable around you, you can eat with us in the future. This is your second chance boys, don’t waste it.” I explain, moving towards the door. Pulling the door open, I’m just about to step out when I suddenly remember something. “Oh, and, Brock?” His head snaps to mine. “Don’t tell Hannah I’m your sister.”
And with that, I leave.
Whitney is literally a bada*s! I love her so much!
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. My next update should be soon.