’Even now, as broken as you may feel, you are still so strong.
There is something to be said for how you hold yourself together and keep moving, even though you feel like shattering. Don’t stop. This is your healing. It doesn’t have to be pretty or graceful. You just have to move on and keep going.′
~ Maxwell Dawuoh
Astrid wanted to take back her words. So badly. When she said yes, she did not know that she would have been forced to sit and watch a rom-com with a bunch of kids in the front seat throwing around popcorn and someone’s knee pushing her seat from behind. Asher, who was sitting beside her, was having the time of his life. Not because of the movie but Astrid who let out all the swear words that she knew and was about to pounce at the guy behind her. Sadly, Asher pulled her back to her seat before she could do anything.
“Relax. The movie is about to end,” he whispered in her ear, chuckling while putting his arm in front of her to restrain her from knocking the guy out.
She huffed and sat back in her seat, scowling. At least the others seemed to be enjoying it. Madilyn, Elisa and Barbara had not taken their eyes off the screen once, as their hands mechanically shoved popcorn into their mouths. They guys were in a world of their own though none of them was paying attention to the movie, with their phones.
Another torturous half an hour later, the moment the credits started to roll in, Astrid shot out of her seat and not bothering to see if the others were behind her, she left the theatre as if her life depended on it.
She waited outside for a few minutes as the others strolled out. She could hear Madilyn and Barbara gushing about a cute guy in the movie and Barbara was listening to them with a small smile on her face. Madilyn had already started to fit in with the bunch, with her bubbly and outgoing personality. Astrid could not have been happier. After all, she was not exactly the fun person to be around it.
Madilyn noticed Astrid and immediately grabbed her arm and pulled her towards the other girls.
“The movie was so good, wasn’t it?” Astrid could literally see hearts in her eyes.
“Yeah,” she said, half-heartedly. Madilyn looked at her for a few seconds before laughing.
“You don’t have to lie, you know. There is no way you would have enjoyed that movie,” she said, smirking.
“Then why the hell did you make me come?” she hissed out.
“Because you need to go out and enjoy life, babe, instead of staying cooped up inside your house,” Elisa replied, grabbing her other arm. Astrid simply rolled her eyes playfully.
“What should we do now? It is just a little over eight now,” Ryan asked as the other guys soon joined them. Astrid’s eyes unintentionally searched for the bottle green ones. Asher gave her a small smile as she looked away rather quickly.
“Let’s get some ice cream,” Barbara suggested, pointing at the ice cream parlour as the others nodded their heads in agreement.
“Race you,” Ryan said, giving the others competitive looks before taking off to the parlour. Madilyn and George ran after him, shoving at each other while the others simply laughed at their antics. Astrid was slowly trailing behind the other four, lost in her thoughts.
Asher, noticing her at the back, slowed down and once his pace was equal to her’s, he started talking.
Astrid looked at him and raised her eyebrow but still replied.
“Let’s play 21 questions.”
“Isn’t that cliche? You know, the typical walking together at night comes first, then comes that game, and then the confession. I didn’t peg you to be that type of person.” She sounded amused.
Asher let out a throaty laugh before replying.
“What type of person?”
“You know, the lame, cheesy one.”
“There are a lot of things that you don’t know about me. Which, by the way, is the whole point of the cliche game.” Astrid chuckled at his words but didn’t bother replying as they entered the ice cream shop.
“Over here, slowpokes,” Ryan called out, waving his hand wildly above his head as George tried to whack him behind his head but missed. They had already got their ice creams and were sitting at a table, waiting for these two to catch up.
Asher went to the counter and asked for a chocolate ice cream and a vanilla ice cream, without asked Astrid.
“You remember,” Astrid stated, feeling strangely happy that he did remember what she liked.
“Of course I do.” He gave her s strange look before smiling and once they got their ice creams, they joined the others. There were two seats left for them next to each other and as they sat, the three girls look like their dreams had come true. Clearly, the three cupids had something in their minds.
“What took you so long?” Ryan asked them, giving a suggestive look while raising his eyebrows at the two of them. Astrid’s face remained as passive as ever and Asher gave him a look that clearly told him to shut up. But this time, George did not miss as Ryan yelped in pain, as he rubbed the back of his head.
Strange and weird topics like Dr.Phil and their chemistry teacher found a way into their conversation as they ate their ice creams. Though Astrid did not enjoy the movie, she was happy where she was now, just listening to them banter to and forth.
“Let’s play something,” Elijah suggested, as he moved all the trash to the corner of the table.
“Let’s just ask some random questions that we are curious about each other,” Elisa said. While the others nodded their heads, Asher eyed at Astrid’s tensed up form warily.
“Nah, It’s getting late. We should head home,” he started but as usual, the others did not notice his warning look.
“It is just half-past eight. And it’s not like you pay any attention in class so you can just sleep there tomorrow. Have fun while the night is still young.”
Asher opened his mouth to argue back but he felt Astrid’s hand gripping his before squeezing it and letting it go. Astrid shot him a grateful look. It made her happy that he was trying to help her all costs. It felt good to know that someone always had her back and she was happy it was him.
“Okay. I will start.” Elijah said quickly. With an evil glint in his eyes, he turned to Ryan.
“Ryan, what is your middle name?”
Ryan groaned as the others burst of laughing while Madilyn and Astrid looked clueless.
“Come on. We promised we wouldn’t do things like this to each other,” Ryan said calmly, a passive look on his face but the moment he saw that Elijah was not going to change his question, he immediately dropped his act. He looked like he was about to cry while the others sniggered at his face. Finally, after letting out a sigh, Ryan replied.
“Maurice.” He said in a small voice.
“What?” Madilyn asked, not hearing him properly.
“My middle name is Maurice.”
Astrid couldn’t help the small snigger that left his mouth while Madilyn roared in laughter, clutching at her stomach.
“That is one hilarious middle name that you got there,” she wheezed out before adding, “Maurice.”
Ryan immediately leapt at Elijah who was, fortunately for him, next to him and soon the two were wrestling at each other in that tiny space.
“Okay, my turn,” Barbara said, as the guys finally settled down. She thought for a second before turning to Astrid. Astrid could feel her pulse quickening as she struggled to keep on a straight face. She might like the people around her but she was not ready to just spill everything to them. Everything that she had tried so hard to keep hidden. Not like this.
“Was it you who put that dye in Rebecca’s locker?” she asked slowly before adding,” You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to. I just heard people talking and your name was mentioned.”
Astrid let out a sigh in relief. For a second, she thought she had to just get up and run away. The others, on the other hand, were listening to what she was going to say very intently, for it was something that they all wanted to know. Asher included, as he looked at her curiously. Madilyn gave her a knowing look, but didn’t say anything.
“It wasn’t you, was it?” He didn’t sound too sure.
“Yeah. It was me,” she stated bluntly, waiting for their reactions.
The guys stared at her in shock while the girls gasped. A brief moment passed between them in silence as Astrid started to get uncomfortable.
Suddenly, Elisa let out a squeal.
“That was you! Oh my god, that is amazing. How did you do it?” She could not contain her excitement. She looked at Astrid in awe.
“I wish I had guts like you,” she sighed before adding,
Asher was looking at her in surprise as she grinned at him sheepishly. Looking at her face, he couldn’t help but laugh.
Astrid did not tell them about how Rebecca knew because she knew that if she told them that, she would have to tell them about the weekend and she did not want to do that. She did not want to break her promise to Rebecca.
Soon, the conversation shifted to the small pranks that they had done when they were children when Asher’s phone rang. The others continued talking as Astrid looked at him, slightly cocking her head to the side. Asher gave her a small smile before answering his phone.
Astrid did not know what was happening on the other side but judging from the anger etched on his face, she knew it was no good.
“How dare he!?” Asher gritted out into his phone. By this time all the others had gone silent and were looking at him with widened gazes. Astrid tensed up slightly but continued looking at him but did not say anything.
He immediately stood up and without another word stormed out of the place, not sparing others a glance. Astrid kept her eyes trained on him, a silly part in her, hoping he would turn and catch her eyes once.
And she couldn’t help the disappointment that rushed into her when he didn’t.
Probably, the longest chapter that I have written so far. What do you think?
Question for the chapter: Have you been in a rollercoaster? If yes, how was it? If no, would you like to?
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