5 | Callum Jerald
"Callum,” Nicole whines in her high pitched voice. “You said you would meet up with me tonight.”
I turn towards the girl who has the ability to irritate me at the very sight of her. She has her brown hair pinned into a high ponytail, neatly. Instantly, I know what she’s trying to do. She’s wearing her hair the same way Anastasia did.
My throat clogs up at the thought of my once best friend.
The golden girl of Hollywood now.
I hate standing near Nicole. She is one of the main reasons Anastasia left. She drove her over the edge.
I can clearly remember the day I found out about Anastasia’s disappearance. Brock, her older brother, had come into school with red eyes and puffy cheeks. At first, I thought nothing of it. He never had anything to do with his sister so I didn’t think it concerned her.
When Anastasia didn’t come over to my locker, I still didn’t think anything of it. She sometimes went to the bathrooms before the start of lessons. At lunch, Nicole was with me. She was complaining about her nails or something.
I asked Athena where Anastasia was but she didn’t know. She was just as curious as me. Anastasia never missed a day of school unless she was really ill. And then, Brock dropped his tray on the table and sat with us.
We all sat there shocked for a few seconds and stared. He had never sat at our table before. I knew he hated being associated with Anastasia, which infuriated me. All she wanted was her brothers back.
Athena was the first to question him.
“Why are you here Brock?” Athena hesitantly asked, flickering her eyes to Ares and me. Nicole simply sat in her seat and rolled her eyes.
Brock stared at all of us for a few minutes. “I’m here because of Anastasia.”
We all frowned. I even caught Nicole leaning closer in interest. She knew all about the relationship between Anastasia and Brock and loved to taunt Anastasia with it. That’s one of the things I hate about her.
“What? Do you know why she’s not in school?” Athena quickly jumped in.
Brock nodded his head and ran a hand through his dark blonde hair. The same hair color as Anastasia’s.
“Well?” Athena raises an eyebrow. “Where is she?”
Brock sighs. “She’s...gone.” He pauses for a second and glances at all of us. It's then that I notice his blue eyes are glistening—with tears. Immediately, I know its not good. Oh god, is Anastasia okay?
“What do you mean she’s gone?” This time its Ares that asks, in a snappy voice. He sees Anastasia as his own sister, blood or not. Ares deserves the title of brother, not Brock.
“I mean, she ran away.” Brock breaks down. He starts sobbing into his hands—his shoulders violently shaking.
“W—what?” I stammer, my eyes remaining on Brock’s small form.
For several moments, we listen and watch Brock cry. I hear his painful sobs of sadness. We all stare at him in shock and sadness—even Nicole looks a bit sympathetic.
My heart is hammering in my chest with anticipation. It can’t be that bad. Anastasia has to be okay. She was...oh god. She has to be okay, she just has to be. Anastasia is my best friend, the only girl in the world who understands me and sees me. The actual, real me.
The girl I think I love.
“Brock, you better tell me what you mean now,” I demand, angrily. He snaps his eyes to me in surprise and fear. The guy hasn’t seen me angry in a long time. I’m normally able to control my temper.
“Anastasia, she’s gone. I got home from school and found Martin hovering over a piece of paper. He was crying. It said Anastasia was running away because she couldn’t take anything anymore. She went to find herself. She left. Mom and dad are devastated. Martin’s devastated. I’m devastated. My baby sister, who I neglected and pretended to hate has finally gone. Oh god.” He rushes out and begins to cry again.
“You’re lying,” I growl at him.
Brock furiously shakes his head. “I’m not, I’m really not. She’s gone. She’s...”
After school, we had all gone to Brock’s house to read the note. Sure enough, Anastasia had written it. A few of her belongings were gone and so was some of the money that she hid. The house had suddenly seemed even more depressing, now that the one girl who shined had left.
Athena had cried in their living room for hours, Ares looked upset and I...I was lost. We all helped look for her, we all tried to locate her but it was like she vanished. There was no trace of her.
And then over four months after she left, we saw her. Well, everyone saw her.
The twins, Brock, Martin and I were all at my house. They had come round to try and figure out where Anastasia went but we had come up with no theories so we decided to watch some TV.
And then a trailer for a new film came on, with Anastasia Claire as the main character. But she wasn’t Anastasia Claire, she was Whitney Winters. Her film was a huge hit and everybody loved her.
The news went wild for her, saying she was Hollywood’s fresh new face. She became a model for famous brands, she filmed new films. She even released a new song. But when I first saw her after so long, I could only stare at her beautiful electric blue eyes. The ones that shined brighter than ever, that took my breath away along with everyone else.
As soon as we saw her face on the TV, we searched for everything on her. We read about how she was recently signed with an agency and was already set for another three roles in films. Brands like Vogue, Chanel, and L’Oreal. it was so surreal. One minute she was nowhere and then she was everywhere.
We saw her on Billboards, adverts, TV interviews, Magazines, and films.
And she always looked happy.
Since then, we’ve always kept up with her news. Each one of us missing her. Brock joined our friendship group, followed by his girlfriend Hannah, who moved here a few months after Anastasia left. She doesn't know a lot about Anastasia because Brock could never bring himself to tell her about his baby sister. He feels so guilty. If you look into his eyes, you can see sadness. He hides it well but not well enough for us not to see.
Hannah sees it and tries to make him happy. But nothing will beat the gaping hole in his heart from his baby sister.
Athena is trying to put on a brave face but even she crumbles sometimes. Her and Anastasia had some weird friendship that bonded them in a special way. A way I would never understand. Ares often tries to talk to the both of us about her but we both refuse.
And I try to think of the positives. She’s happy now, she has an amazing life filled with excitement, drama, and fun. She found herself. So, despite the hole in my heart, I go on.
“Nicole,” I hiss, glaring at the girl in front of me. “I never said that. I said I would meet up with my friends this evening. Not you.”
Nicole rolls her eyes, “Potato, tomato.”
That’s not even right. God, this girl.
“Listen, Nicole, I don’t like you. We dated because your dad told my dad we had to. But even he saw how much of a b*tch you are. I can’t stand your presence so leave me the fuck alone."
Her mouths hangs open in shock. But she quickly recovers from it and narrows her icy blue eyes at me.
“Ugh! Screw you, Jerald! I don’t even like you anyway, I was only pursuing you because of a bet. You’re not even that handsome!” Nicole rants furiously, her eyes blazing with fury.
I roll my eyes at her pathetic excuse, knowing she’s been obsessed with me for years. Tomorrow this girl will be chasing after me again. “Whatever.”
Nicole growls and stomps her high heel on the ground. Some of the students around us stare curiously, wondering why Nicole is having a temper tantrum again.
“Goodbye Nicole,” I taunt her with a smirk.
Her upper lips curl up and her eyes flash. If she’s trying to make herself look threatening, it's not working. Nicole then turns on her heel and storms off. Some of her minions pop out of nowhere and scurry after her. I honestly feel sorry for those girls, who have to listen to Nicole whine all day. I could not do that. I can barely stand being in her presence for a few seconds.
That girl made me lose Anastasia. My Anastasia.
For that, I am never going to forgive her.
“Hiya,” Hannah chirps and sits down on our table in the cafeteria. The same table we’ve been sat since Anastasia left. Now, I only sit with these people and not the rest of the football team. In a way, I feel like it's my duty to because I abandoned Anastasia.
“Hey red.” Athena greets back, using the nickname she gave Hannah. Hannah has shoulder-length red hair and dark brown eyes. She detests the nickname—whilst Athena loves to tease her. I think Athena does it because she misses teasing Anastasia.
“Hey babe,” Brock smiles lovingly at her and wraps an arm around her shoulder. I avert my eyes when they both get into an intimate kiss. I feel a pang of jealousy at the sight of them so in love. I’m jealous because I want that. With Anastasia.
Ares joins our table shortly after with a massive pizza. As soon as he sits down, he’s devouring it. If there’s one thing I can tell you about Ares, its that he chews really loudly. It's not nice at all.
“You’re such a pig you know,” Athena states and looks at Ares in disgust.
Ares swallows a big piece and wipes his mouth. “Doesn’t stop the girls from loving me.” He smirks and winks at a girl a couple of tables away who was ogling him.
“I don’t even know how girls can date you.” Athena scrunches her nose up. “You’re not even that handsome. I’m definitely the one who got all of the good genes.”
And then they start to bicker about who looks better.
“Yo guys, should we go out this weekend as a group?” Hannah interjects, cutting Ares off from his point.
We all nod our heads.
“Great!” She says excitedly. “We can go and watch that new film that’s in cinema’s starring Whitney Winters and Jason O’Connor. What’s it called?”
Everyone except for Hannah stiffens at the name Whitney Winters. Memories flash before me of her. I see us all happy, laughing and messing around. I remember when just the two of us went on strolls to our secret tree in the forest. The place only we knew about, where we could talk to each other about anything.
I glance at Brock’s expressionless face. He tightens his arm around Hannah, who is still blabbing on about forgetting the title name. Ares stops shoving food in his mouth and is giving Athena encouraging looks.
“Wait! I remember. Lovers Lie. Its called Lovers Lie.” Hannah shouts. She grins in accomplishment, oblivious to the sad atmosphere. “Did you know that apparently the two of them are dating. At least, that’s what reporters think since they’ve caught the two of them together a lot. It makes sense since they are both really famous and pretty. But then again, it could be staged. You hear a lot about their stage relationships these days in Hollywood for publicity. Would they do that? But they look happy in the photos I’ve seen. I bet—”
Hannah is cut off by Brock.
“Baby please stop talking,” he pleads. She stares at him startled for a second but then her face contorts into concern.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay? Are you annoyed I started word vomiting again? Or are you jealous?” Hannah fires questions, worriedly.
Brock sighs and rubs his cheeks, “its just...you wouldn’t understand. One day, we’ll tell you.”
Hannah frowns but doesn’t push. She can see his upset and doesn’t want to make him feel worse.
“So we’re not going then? Because I really want to watch it. Whitney Winters is basically my idol.”
I swallow at the name again. Whitney Winters.
“Sure we’ll go. Right guys?” Athena steps in and asks. I can tell it's taking a lot of energy for her to not start crying at her best friends new name but she’s putting a strong face on for her new friend. Who it seems, admires Whitney Winters. A lot.
If only Hannah had met Anastasia. They would have been great friends.
“Of course,” I answer and flash a fake smile, hiding how I truly feel, once again.
It's all I do these days. Fake smile.