After School Club

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XXII - True Story

“Right, let’s get to the bottom of this, shall we?”

Timberlea High had never felt so strange and uncomfortable to me as I sat beside Audrey, Maddox and Sebastian. Kayleigh and Jared were opposite; Jared glaring at the ground with his jaw clenched, Kayleigh, smiling innocently at the headteacher Principle Wilson, who sat at the front leaning back on his desk chair. He looked calm and observant, but stern and serious in his own way, with thick black-rimmed glasses and a large silver watch on one wrist that sparkled whenever it caught the light. His dark hair was slicked back neatly, his desk and office that overlooked the school field pristine.

Maddox had talked to his dad about the situation, and surprisingly, Sharon backed him up, advising his father to arrange a meeting. Sebastian had mentioned briefly that he had something up his sleeve for just in case, but smugly refused to say what it was. Audrey was confident and sat up straight, smiling at me encouragingly. Sebastian sat beside his sister, his expression unreadable and arms folded. Maddox himself was obviously uncertain and wary but tried his best not to show it. I couldn’t really say anything since I wasn’t there, but the principle allowed me to sit and listen.

Mr Wilson started a recording on his phone and nodded. “Jared? What happened?”

Jared shrugged, messy bronze locks flopping at his forehead and covering part of his left eye. “He started it. Should’ve minded his own business, shouldn’t he? Look,” he added, suddenly impatient, “why are we going through this again, huh? Thought it already got taken care of.”

“Yes, that was almost more than two months ago. However, an appeal has been bought to my attention, and I do not want to make the mistake of wrongly accusing a student of a serious incident. But I take it you have nothing further to add?”

Jared shrugged again and nodded. Audrey rolled her eyes.

“Kayleigh? Would you share your view of the events?”

“Oh, sure. So, me and Jared when in, like, a small argument at the time, and I was telling Maddox about it. I asked Maddox to, like, maybe talk to Jared about it and convince him to, you know, cool down a little. But it really escalated when Maddox did,” she explained with a sigh, “and before I knew it, they were totally brawling! But I was definitely there, and, I’m sorry to say, I did see Maddox lash out first...”

Audrey scoffed at Kayleigh’s over-emotive story. “You didn’t see hell, you lying-”

“Miss Lennard,” Wilson interrupted with a warning glance. “Do you approve of Miss Skyla’s account, Jared?”

Jared nodded.

“Maddox, do you approve of Kayleigh’s account?”

Maddox looked up, hesitant. Mr Wilson caught on.

“Mr Cole, I do need you to be completely honest with me here. Nothing will happen of consequence if you tell the truth - no retaliations. I will make sure of it. But to get the true story, we need a true answer.”

Maddox glanced at me, then back to Wilson. He shook his head.

“Right,” Mr Wilson acknowledged, and Jared scowled, “Sebastian. Were you at the scene?”

“I wasn’t,” Sebastian responded, nodding to his sister, “but Audrey was.”

“And what did you see, Audrey?”

“Well, first of all,” she started, a brow raised at Kayleigh as her gaze went straight to her, “you weren’t in a small argument - you were in a relationship and you constantly complained to Maddox about it. How Jared was always so possessive and got angry when you wanted him to stop. Then you literally begged him to do something about it.”

Mr Wilson sighed lightly at Audrey’s tone, but nodded; Kayleigh glared straight back at her, annoyed.

“And what did you witness when Maddox confronted Jared?”

“Maddox tried to gently bring it up, and Jared just got agitated. Then he started telling Maddox it was none of his business, and then started getting to him about personal things.”

“Personal things?”

Audrey nodded. “Yeah - like, family. Anyway, Maddox got defensive about it but didn’t drop the subject, and so Jared swung at him. Swung at him first. And Maddox only fought back because Jared wouldn’t shut his fat mouth up about his family.”

Jared growled in irritation, glaring daggers at Audrey. “You shut up, you little-”

“Jared,” the principle interrupted sternly, “that’s enough. Calm down too, Audrey, please. Right, so, from what you’ve said, it contradicts Kayleigh and Jared’s story. You’re positive that Kayleigh... pressured, in a way, Maddox into confronting Jared. And Jared then remarked on personal circumstances, acting violently towards him first?”

Audrey nodded emphatically, Sebastian nodding too. Jared just scowled, Kayleigh dropping the innocent act and looking annoyed.

“Maddox? Can you confirm Audrey’s words?”

I bit the inside of my lip nervously, glancing at Maddox. ‘Come on,’ I urged him in my mind, ’come on, please...′

“Well, yeah,” Maddox said, and I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. “Yeah, that’s right.”

Kayleigh shifted in her seat, aggravated. Principle Wilson nodded in acknowledgement.

“Okay. Thank you, Maddox. Audrey. Now I’ve still got a problem. You both have a different account than Kayleigh and Jared. So I really don’t know how we can solve this once and for all without evidence.”

Kayleigh’s lips upturned into a small, proud smirk, and Audrey clenched her fists in anger. Sebastian, however, suddenly raised his hand.

“I actually thought it might come to this,” he said. “I know I wasn’t there when it happened, but someone I know was on duty with the CCTV cameras inside the school. They saved it and passed it on to me recently when I asked them about it.” And with a few swipes and taps on his phone, he handed it to Mr Wilson.

I bit back a hopeful smile, Audrey’s eyes sparkled in anticipation and Sebastian watched with a pleased smirk. Audrey nudged him appreciatively when Wilson connected the phone to his PC, and he nudged her back. Kayleigh and Jared watched; Kayleigh nervous and ticked off, Jared even more so. The principle tapped onto the video, turning it to full screen and moving his chair to the side, watching leant back in his chair so we could see too.

The video started, and although there was no sound - since they were cameras - you could clearly see what was happening.

Maddox spoke to him, and Jared rolled his eyes in annoyance, saying something back and then grinning. Kayleigh watched from the side, whispering to her friends. Audrey watched from another side, frowning. Then Maddox said something again, and Jared scowled, obviously shouting something back. Then he punched him in the face, laughing and yelling something. Maddox fought back, and after about a minute or so a couple of teachers came rushing towards them, rising them apart. The video stopped.

The office was silent for a long moment, then Jared bolted out the room. Mr Wilson merely sighed and picked up a walkie-talkie from his desk.

“Jared Guilde’s heading toward the field. Stop him,” he said simply, to which a couple of staff responded to immediately. Then Mr Wilson smiled appreciatively at Audrey and Sebastian.

“Thank you, both of you, for telling me the truth. As for you, Maddox, you have yourself a formal apology. Thank you for speaking up.” Then he glared at Kayleigh over his glasses, stone-faced.

“As for you, Miss Skyla, I am not impressed in the slightest. You are to stay out of Maddox’s life and business, along with Jared, if Maddox agrees. Mr Cole, we can provide a restraining order for Jared if you approve. That way it’s done legally and seriously. I’ll be speaking to your parents or carers later, Kayleigh. Thank your friend for me, Sebastian, for the footage - and thank you for showing it. Maddox, if you wouldn’t mind waiting outside for a minute or so to talk to me privately. Dismissed.”

The group of us came out of the room, Audrey grinning ecstatically and hugging me tightly. “There! We did it!”

“For, as thou urgest justice, be assured - thou shalt have justice, more than thou desir’st,” Sebastian quoted with a smile. Audrey rolled her eyes, shoving him playfully.

“Nerd.”

I laughed, looking questioningly to Sebastian. “Since when did you get into Shakespeare?”

Sebastian simply shrugged and gave me a boyish smirk, leaning against the wall. Audrey beamed, but it dropped as quickly as it came when she noticed Kayleigh approaching Maddox.

“Hey, Maddox - I totally understand you telling it how you saw it, the truth and everything - but when Wilson said about, like, staying away from each other, you don’t have to agree to it.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Maddox, his brow raised, “but I will. Push off, Kayleigh, I’m not interested. Go cause drama somewhere else.”

Kayleigh’s jaw dropped, and she glared at him. She looked to me then - a cold, bitter stare - but I looked straight back at her until she broke the eye contact and flounced off.

Maddox grinned at me. “Told you, you were a bad girl. I’ve done well.”

I smiled back. “Good luck in there. That was great.”

“Wasn’t it?!” Audrey exclaimed with a laugh, “wanted to add more describing words, but the head cut me off.”

“Next time,” Sebastian said with a smirk.

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