XVIII. Best Friends
“You’re telling me you know Joshua Greyson?” Her tone was a mocking one as an excruciatingly uncomfortable laughter exited her lips, “And the two of you are best friends?”
I nodded my head, digging my toes into the dirt since they threw my new shoes down the river earlier. “Josh is my best friend.”
A girl whispered into her ear, and she nodded. “Ah, you two were friends.”
“Not were! We are friends! He isn’t going to like it if you’re mean to me!”
She squatted down and smiled - an unbearably sweet action. “Where is he?”
I suck in my lower lips. “In...New York.”
“Have you ever thought that maybe he is nice to you because your dad knows his parents, and he is forced to be nice to you?”
I shook my head. “Josh says he likes me! I’m his girl!”
She sighed and lifted a circular mirror. “Look at yourself.”
My gaze went towards the mirror, which showed an unpleasant reflection. The girl staring back at me had red acne scatter all over her dirt cover face. Dead blonde locks were in disarray, covering up the chunky cheeks from years of build-ups. I bit my trembled lips, tasting the blood from the cut where she slapped me earlier.
She closed the mirror. “Get out of your delusional state. No one can love a fat pig.” She stood up and turned around. “Go on, everyone, have your fair share of fun with the future, Mrs.Greyson,” she said mockingly.
I inch back towards the wall even when I know I can’t move any further away as they walk closer to me.
Another girl smiled. “I always hate you,” she said before she slapped me.
I told my parents about it once, but I became a bigger target for being a snitch.
I dropped down to the ground and curled up into a fetal position as they kicked and hit me.
It never stopped.
The pain never stops.
Josh cracks his neck and stomps out the door. It slammed shut—my body jolted when I heard screaming from the hallway. The nurse pokes her head out of the other room then shakes it before rolling her chair back into her office.
After a few minutes or half an hour, Josh re-enters the room. His face was calmer as he stepped towards me, settling himself on the edge of the bed. “Hailey,” he said in an overly soothing tone scaring me slightly.
I held onto the blanket. “Y-Yes?”
“Are you feeling better?”
I nod. “Y-Yes.”
“I’m going to go to my first class, but you should relax a little bit more, maybe take a nap. I’ll come by to wake you up later...okay?”
I nod. “Okay.”
He smiles, running his fingers down my hair and curls it behind my head before he walks out.
He turns around. “Yeah?”
“Are you...feeling better?”
He smiles a steady force smile. “I will...soon.”
Sometimes, Josh can be a bit scary.
After he left, I curled under the blanket and stared at the ceiling. I groaned when I heard my phone buzzing, wondering why I can’t have a peaceful day. Reaching for my phone, I saw an unknown number and held it against my ear. “He-”
“Hailey?” an unwanted familiar voice rushed into my ear, causing my body to break out in cold sweats.
“Hailey! I’m so sorry for what I did when we were kids. I’m so so sorry! I was jealous of you and how much everyone loves you. I didn’t mean to push you that far. It wasn’t my fault! Troy told me to do it because you turned him down.”
“A-Ariana. H-How did you get my n-number?” I ask.
Ariana was my number one bully at school. She bullied me after I told Troy I didn’t want to be his girlfriend and how I like another guy. Troy was the only nice guy to me until I turned down his confession.
“I got it from your old friend. I know we have a bad history between us, but I understand why I’m wrong. I stopped bullying you after seventh grade, didn’t I?”
I inhale a deep breath, feeling the tears dripping down. “Because I avoided you all like crazy! I had to walk to class with a teacher! I had to eat in the bathroom stalls or office! I followed the vice-principal around after school to avoid everyone until my parents picked me up! You made my life a living hell, Ariana!”
She starts crying. “I’m so sorry, Hailey, but p-please don’t bring my parents into this. My dad really needs this job.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your dad hired my dad a few weeks ago, and...he just got fired today.”
I frown, glancing at the door where Josh left earlier.
“Please, our family needs this job. M-My mom, she’s in the hospital and-”
“Well, you should’ve thought about that before you slapped me.” I snap and end the phone call.
Throwing my head down on top of the pillow, I know I’m going to receive a phone call from my parents tonight. I held the blanket over my face and exhaled sharply; an extremely uncomfortable feeling lurks inside my chest.
I place my hand on it. “Why are you feeling bad? She deserves it,” I grumble into the pillow. “But her parents don’t.”
Taking a few blinks, I look out the massive window and realize it was nighttime. An arm curls around my waist, and I turn around to see Josh. Lifting a finger, I poke his nose, causing it to scrunch up and twinkle.
“Just five more minutes,” he grumbled. He inhaled a deep breath through his nostrils and then - snores.
I pinch his nose.
“Ow,” his voice sounds hoarse.
“You told me you’d wake me up when first period ends.”
Josh pout. “I was, but you look so peaceful, so I didn’t want to disturb you.”
I flick his forehead while holding his nose. “You told my parents without my permission.”
His lips scrunch up in an unsatisfying manner. “I did.”
“It’s not your place to tell them, Josh.” I respond. I remove his hands and turn my back at him.
After a few minutes, I felt a finger poking against my spine. “I...I know,” he mumbles. “I was wrong to tell your parents.”
A grunting sound left my throat, and I sat upward, turning my head towards him. “Josh! When I’m ready, I would’ve told them! It’s not your place to tell my parents that I was-” I swallow. “being teased,” I mumble.
His face grew a light shade of red. “You call kicking you in the face, teasing?”
My eyes widen. “H-How did you know?”
Josh sat upward, rushing his fingers through his hair. “Hailey. Your parents aren’t stupid. They know," he exhales. “Trip onto a doorknob? Really?”
I scrunched my hands against the sheets and threw my legs towards the ground. Grabbing the backpack, I rush out the door, giving the nurse a quick: “Thank you” before entering the empty hallway.
Josh grunt and rushed after me. He grabs my hand then spun me around. “What am I supposed to do? Wait till you tell us?”
“Yes! Why can’t you wait?!”
“Because you never tell me anything anymore!”
He punches the lockers causing it to dent, and I leap back, eyes fixed on the broken piece of metal. “No, you don’t!” he licks his dry lips. “These past years, you haven’t told me anything,” his molars ground against one another. “I know you, Hailey,” he said, inching closer to me. “You’re a damn fucking terrible liar.”
Josh slams both hands beside my head. I inhale a shaky breath at his proximity, curling my fingers into a fist as I inhale his intoxicating scent. His ocean eyes leak into mine, causing my legs to tremble as he hovers over me. “I’m sorry for discussing your situation with your parents without your permission, but I need to know, Hailey. I need to understand what’s going on, and you refuse to tell me.”
“I-I told you everything.”
He chuckles unamusingly. “Everything?” he whispers, lips curling into a sadden manner. “Even the time you were hospitalized because you fell down too many stairs?”
Josh sniffs and lowers his hands, allowing them to dangle to his sides. “You told me you were sick those past two weeks,” his voice cracks. “That’s why you were in the hospital.” His eyes narrow, cloud with water. “But, you lied to me, Hailey.”
I open my mouth, unable to rebuttal against his words because it was the truth. I got beat up so badly; I was hospitalized.
At that time, a part of me knew that my parents knew what was going on. They couldn’t do anything because I refuse to say any names.
I was afraid.
Afraid of what they’ll do next.
Afraid of what they say is the truth.
Afraid of admitting, I was weak.
I bit my lower lip. “It’s still not your place,” I whisper, feeling my guts churning under his burning glares.
Josh scoffed at my line and nod firmly. “You’re right. It’s not my place to interfere with your life-” he ran his tongue across his cheek. “and here I thought we were best friends.”
“We are best friends.”
“Best friends don’t lie to each other.”