Chapter 20: Max blew my mind
When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. they wanted her to change back into what she always had been. BUT SHE HAD WINGS.
April was furious. She wanted to see me suffer and she had gotten a very pleasant surprise when I stood near the bleachers in max’s jacket.
Moreover, right after max amazingly scored four goals in one game he was laughing and way too happy. He faced the bleachers, flashed the most dizzying grin, and blew a kiss while staring right at …me.
Well, some girls imagined it to be them but then when I ran to the edge of the bleachers and he climbed over it to hug me it became excessively obvious. April threw a fit right in the middle of the ground and, well, as usual people rushed over to her.
“Didn’t sleep last night?” max asked.
I groaned and slowly tilted my head away from the library table to glance at him. He smiled and settled in front of me.
I raised my head but a spear of pain went straight through the middle of my head. Bile rose in my throat and I struggled to not scream. Clutching my head in my hands, I willed the bloody headache to go away.
“Crystal? Are you still having your headaches?” max asked softly as he encircled my wrists in his hands.
My eyes were brimming with unshed tears. I bit on my lip when the throbbing just increased in intensity. He pulled my hands down and peered at my face. I closed my eyes shut, another wave of nausea swept through me.
“I think you should see a doctor.”
“It’s just a little headache.”
“Every day? It’s too bad to be ‘just’ a little headache”
“Drop it max,” I whined.
He started to say something but an arrow of agony went through the center of my head and I spat out, “DROP IT!”
I slowly opened my eyes and the whole world tilted. Gripping the table tightly, I blinked. Max was tilted, the bookshelves were tilted, and the whole world was tilted. I blinked again and everything was fine.
“Are you okay? You look as if you saw a ghost.” Max muttered worriedly.
“It’s just that you look so handsome today. You just blew my mind.” I told him with a painted smirk.
He scoffed then shook his head as a smile made its way on his perfect pink lips.
“This is the last day of our week-long detention,” Max spoke as he typed something in his scientific calculator.
“You must be so pleased that you don’t have to tolerate me every morning.” I drawled while highlighting a whole paragraph in my bio textbook.
He put the calculator down and looked at me. Even I stopped reading to stare back at him. He was freshly shaven and his hair was tousled just the right amount.
He smiled at me and softly spoke,” I don’t mind.”
I smiled shyly and looked down at the textbook, “but you are happy that you wouldn’t have to come to school early.”
“Yeah” he leaned back on his seat and twirled the pen in his hand, ”I had to skip half of my gym routine to reach here early.”
“oh, my god” I mock gasped, "Maxwell wester skipped his gym. Now he will have a flabby belly!”
Max smirked at that and looked down at his practically flat stomach. He looked back at me with a flirtatious smile, “wanna see what’s underneath this shirt?”
“Nah. Not interested.” I waved him off and started reading my book.
He chuckled at my feigned nonchalance and we continued studying. When the bell rang, I stood up and tried following max out of the library but everything seemed to have doubled.
Blinking my eyes, I tried to push my anxiety attack to the back of my head. No need for that. Slowly and steadily, I dragged my feet and passed my table. Max was looking at me in bewilderment. I took a deep breath and started walking towards him in a straight line.
A mistake, it was a huge mistake.
My hip collided with the edge of the table and I crouched in pain. Great! another bruise. I straightened myself and collided with three different tables four times before reaching to where max was standing.
He looked down at me and asked with furrowed eyebrows,” are you drunk?”
I shook my head at him and he nodded grudgingly before going out of the library. I tried following him and ended up colliding with the wall beside the door.
“What the fuck crystal? Are you all right? What is wrong with you?” max asked me as he looked at me rubbing my now severely bruised hip.
“Nothing. It is nothing. I didn’t sleep properly yesterday so I am still sleepy.” I mumbled.
If I told mom she would panic. It was not a big deal. Just a little problem. No need to visit the doctor just yet. I reassured myself.
Max caught my hand and pulled me out of the library. Slowly he looped his arm around my waist allowing me to lean on him completely. I was so grateful for his arm around my waist.
But the fierce independent crystal in me reared her head, ”max, I can walk by myself. I don’t need your help.”
“I know that.” He said looking down at me.
He smiled slyly, "but you have the tiniest waist I have ever seen. I just wanted to check how tiny it actually is.”
He squeezed my waist for emphasis. I laughed at him, I knew my waist wasn't tiny.
It was an English class and Mrs. Sheikh entered with a stack of papers. Our test papers. All chatter stopped.
Mrs. Sheikh announced, "I am not happy with the results.”
Faces turned pale and I quickly tried to remember how horribly I answered my test.
“Only one student scored A. actually, this student scored A+, which is a first in my class.” She spoke and everybody turned towards gale.
He just gave them a tentative grin and looked back at Mrs. Sheikh distributing papers. Gale took his paper and frowned deeply at it.
“I got a B,” gale told the person beside him, I remembered him as Fredrick.
“Well, no one else got an A. If it’s not you then who is it?” Fredrick asked.
Gale shrugged with slumped shoulders. I patted his back and reassured him. Apparently, he was always the top scorer in English.
“Winget, crystal.” Mrs. Sheikh called out.
I abruptly stood and went to her.
She looked at my paper and then smiled at me proudly, “excellent writing style. I am proud of you.”
I smiled at her and took my paper. The smile disappeared from my face. What in every known god’s name…
“Crystal what is your grade?” June asked with a smirk. I vaguely recalled that she was April’s best friend.
“I …uh…” I struggled to form words.
Mrs. Sheikh clapped my shoulder and declared, ”She got an A+”.
There was complete silence for a moment, which was then followed by thunderous applause. I tried not to blush at the sudden attention.
However, even gale laughed in disbelief as he took my paper to read my answers. It was the same story for every class. I scored exceptionally good marks while the student body just gaped at me.
Max took his test paper and strutted back to our seat in chemistry hour. He received 99 out of 100.
I looked at him in awe, "you got too much marks.”
“I am one of the highest-scoring students in this school, crystal.” He told me proudly.
I went to take my paper from Mr. James who smiled appreciatively at me, “very good Ms. Winget.”
It was impossible to get any compliments from Mr. James. I grinned and thanked him before moving back to my seat.
“How much did you get?” max asked with a slight frown.
I grinned at him and gave him my paper with extreme grace and elegance. He took my paper and stared at it. Slowly his eyebrows rose until his hairline and his lips parted.
He looked at me with wide eyes, "100 out of 100?”
I grinned and wiggled my eyebrows.
Max knew all my marks since he decided to escort me to every class today because ‘an angry mob of nerds planned on killing me’. At least that’s the excuse he gave for holding my hand in the corridor.
“What did you say?” I sang.
“Come on max. I love to hear my praise. Go on.” I told him as I cupped a hand around my ear and leaned towards him,” oh wait, I can read your mind! You are saying that I am an amazing person. Well, thank you max. Thank you.”
“Shut up.” max mumbled while pouting.
His mood did not escalate even in physics hour when Ms. Ramona raised her brows appreciatively while handing me my test paper. Max and I got the same marks.
I nudged max and made kissy faces while he just turned every other way except to look at me. Sulking max was extremely cute. A janitor entered the class and called for me. Max gave me an inquisitive glance.
I made my way towards the principal’s office. The janitor peeped his head in and told her that I was here. I shifted slightly in my shoes. Did I do something wrong?
Next moment a girl with blonde hair came out. She was scared to death. The moment she spotted me, she burst into sobs. Running towards me, she clutched my forearms tightly. I was glued to my place.
“Please, just, please. I am sorry.” She sobbed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her. She was trembling so I hugged her. She took a vice-like grip on my shoulders and started sobbing.
“Please. You have to understand if I am expelled my mother would …..” she broke down into uncontrollable sobs.
I was beyond confused. Who was she? What was she talking about? And then I remembered.
She was the girl who copied my history test. And with the realization came the slow dread. Connelly academy hated dishonesty from its students. I vaguely remembered the ninth rule in the rules and regulations of this school.
‘Any student caught cheating or resorting to any other dishonest methods in school tests will have to face strict consequences or possible expulsion.’
My hands went slack around her waist. They must have understood that she copied. Damn her for not making any changes in copying!
She looked at me desperately, “please. I am sorry. I don’t want to get expelled.”
What choice did I have? Tell them I did the mistake and get expelled? I did not study so hard every day just to be tagged as a cheater.
Principal ma’am called for me. I entangled myself from her. She took one look at my face and paled even more. I entered the cold arctic office.
There were four others in the principal’s chamber; Mrs. Sheikh, our vice principal, and another woman who I assumed to be a trustee.
“Crystal winget. You have been called here for a possible case of cheating.” Principal ma’am said but then a small smile spread across her motherly face, ”but I know you did not cheat crystal.”
Mrs. Sheikh nodded her head. The vice principal was looking at his laptop, possibly my file. Even he nodded. I gulped.
An image of amber standing beside my bed flashed through my mind, her tiny arms colored with bruises, holding me as I sobbed in pain.
“I am sorry ma’am,” I whispered.
Everyone looked at me in confusion. Amber had so many bruises every day. The girl standing outside this office bore similar bruises. A wave of nausea overwhelmed me.
“I am sorry ma’am for cheating in my history test.”
None of them believed me. It was clear from the looks on their face. The trustee frowned at me though.
The vice-principal shook his head, “that is impossible. You have scored exceptionally perfect marks in all your tests, not just this one. Whereas Ms. Vela barely managed to scrape by. It’s obvious that she cheated.”
“No sir. I cheated on my history test.” I dug my nails deep into my palm, “I couldn’t study for the history exam.”
“And why is that so?” the trustee asked.
I took a deep breath and lied, “I was in the hospital the night before these tests. I …I did not study for the history test at all. I hate history.”
When I looked up, understanding dawned in the principal’s eyes. She looked at me pityingly,” are you fine now, my dear?”
“Yes. I am fine. I am sorry.”
“You will still be punished. We do not tolerate such blunders in Connelly academy.” The trustee spoke. Mrs. Sheikh was disappointed.
I looked at my feet,” I am sorry. Please, don’t ruin my chance at a normal life.”
I knew I had said the right words when the principal sucked in air and the voice principal looked pained. My mom had told them everything about me. They discussed something in hushed whispers while the clock ticked. My headache started with a renewed force.
“Ms. Winget you will be punished but lightly since we sympathize with you. Although this should not be repeated in the future.” She waited until I nodded fervently. “You will have to serve early morning detention for the next three months till the Christmas holidays. You are dismissed for now.”
I willed my legs to move out of the office. I was in a daze. The blonde, vela, was still standing there. She was red and her cheeks were tear-stained.
“You don’t have to worry about anything. I cheated and I am going to serve detention for the next three months.” I smiled at her softly, “sorry for the inconvenience.”
She looked at me in shock and then glanced at the office, when no one called for her she looked back at me, “why would you do that for me?”
I looked at her with a reluctant smile. There was only a minute left before the bell rang.
I shrugged at her as I moved down the hallway,” you just remind me of someone.”
The girl tackled me in a bear hug,” thank you so much crystal. Thank you.” she started crying again.
I patted her back.
"you really are a nice person.” She told me as she looked at me in wonder. I gave her a tight-lipped smile and shrugged.
Did I ever tell you that news travels at the speed of light in my high school? The fact was proven when max stormed into the library during my study hour and settled down beside me.
“What the actual fuck crystal?! You did not cheat in history.” He hissed at me.
I continued solving the math worksheet, “I did cheat.”
“No, you did not.” Max snapped but then lowered his voice to a whisper, ”you were reading history during our detention hour on the day of the tests. The same chapter that came for the test. It is impossible for anyone to forget what they learned on the same day. And even more impossible for you!”
My head was giving me periodic shocks of pain and I had skipped breakfast and lunch due to nausea. Moreover, the whole school was now concluding that I cheated on every test.
I mean it was such a simple answer. I might have fluttered my eyelashes at some nerd or just simply bullied them for answers. Of course, I could not have studied and scored. It is impossible for me to be popular and a nerd.
“Max I did copy. Now let us not talk about-“
“No, you did not. That girl Amy something copied. And everyone thinks you-“
“Why? I asked her and she told me that you lied to the office because she reminded you of someone. Who did she remind you of?” max asked aghast.
My body froze. I had faith that she would not open her mouth and tell anyone about it. Nevertheless, she did.
“Amber. She reminds me of amber.” I whispered quickly, ”happy? Now leave me alone max.”
“Who is amber?” max asked while holding my hand, stopping me from arranging my stationery pouch.
“None of your business,” I muttered.
I was not ready to go around telling people about amber. I did not want to.
“It is my business! You are my friend, I am supposed to kn-“
“Who is Yasmine then?” I asked him angrily.
He stopped. His hands slowly released my hands. I was fed up of everyone tiptoeing around that name. Nobody ever told me who she was yet everyone mentioned her with max.
“Who the hell is Yasmine? What is she to you?” I urged him.
He moved away from me, “none of your business.”
I laughed at that. He looked at me furiously, his hands clenched into fists on the table.
“Why not? What did she do?”
“Nothing.” Max grit through clenched teeth.
I was fed up with everything. In my whole academic life, I was known as the girl who worked hard and achieved everything. And this time? The whole school called me a cheater. Everything that took place in this month came to me in a rush and I had the overwhelming urge to cry.
I blurted out the words before thinking about it, “why don’t you want to talk about her? Did she murder someone?”
“Enough!” max roared.
I had gone too far. He stormed out of the library without even glancing at me. My anger stayed for a record thirty minutes before guilt started chewing my insides.
I should not have said those things to him. I was studying psychology for god’s sake! I should have known when to keep my trap shut. When study hour finished I ran to the school grounds where the soccer team always practiced.
There were many girls in the bleachers giggling down at the boys. Max was kicking balls at a goalkeeper who looked bone tired. Half of the soccer team was running circles around the ground while the other half was busy doing different fancy soccer moves.
I approached the bleachers and stood near the boundary of the field. Damon and sam were running together. When they saw me, they stumbled towards me and sprawled face-first on the ground at my feet. I knelt in front of them.
“That bad?” I asked them with a small smile.
Sam turned on his back and shrugged his shirt off. His abs were glistening in sweat. There was obvious squealing from the girls at the bleachers. Sam managed to wave at them before collapsing again.
“Save us. Max is going crazy. He stormed in angry as fuck and then he began torturing us.” Damon took a moment to suck a lungful of air so sam continued instead of him, “we have been running laps ever since. Without breaks. He multiplies the laps every time he sees us resting or slowing down.”
“Then why are you sprawled here?” I asked them while glancing at max worriedly as he told two people to stop being a loser and take the game seriously.
“That’s because we are near you. When he will see you he won’t get angry at us.” Sam wheezed.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I suggested.
“I think that’s the best idea. If he is still angry, smile at him or something. No one can resist you.” Damon panted.
Just then max spotted them sprawled on the ground. His eyes glinted in fury. He looked at me and his eyes turned cold as bullets of ice. Oh, god he truly hated me now.
“Sam! Damon! Fucking move your asses!” he bellowed.
I got startled at the amount of anger laced in his tone. Even sam and Damon straightened up.
“We were just talking to crystal,” Damon called out hoping to cool him down.
However, he ended up adding a tank of fuel to an already burning forest.
“Stop fucking wasting your time on girls! Get back over here or I will kick you out of the team!”
Damon and sam looked at me with wide eyes. Max had stared at me with extreme hatred while yelling those words. I was screwed. They started running again.
It took another 15 minutes before max called out the session. People literally collapsed on the field. But max was still furious. He had worked twice as much as others.
The guys stumbled into the locker room. I went and stood against max’s car.
Hoping to catch him and maybe ask for forgiveness. Damon was the first to arrive. He went to a silver Camaro and gestured me to join him.
“What is up with max?” Damon asked softly.
“I don’t know,” I mumbled softly.
“He was so angry. This school year he was better. He stopped snapping at others. plus he smiles and laughs a lot at school. But today…it’s as if he is back to being the moody max.”
“I am so sorry.” I broke out clamping a hand on my mouth. It was all my fault that max punished his whole team.
“I am such a fool. I asked him about Yasmine.”
“Oh, no…you should not have done It,” Damon whispered with wide eyes.
I was already miserable but hearing it from Damon just sunk my ship. My biggest weakness? Disappointing others. My face crumpled.
Damon hugged me tightly as I struggled to blink back tears that were brimming my eyes. It was then that I heard the familiar tune of max’s car unlocking.
I untangled myself from Damon and searched for max. He was staring at me with undisguised fury. He stomped to his car and roughly opened the door.
“Max, listen I did not mean-"I started as I stopped him from entering his car.
He looked at his car refusing to even look at my face, “doesn’t matter. Move away.”
“I am sorry,” I whispered. He pushed me aside gently and opened his car door.
“Seriously. You are making me miserable here.” I told him a lump rapidly forming in my throat. He slowly turned to me, his eyes darkened.
He looked me straight in the eyes and said,” I don’t care anymore.”
He sat in his car and revved the engine. I snapped out of my daze and opened his car door. A vein in his jaw was twitching violently.
“Why don’t you go and plaster yourself on Damon? “ He sneered.
I was shocked enough by his words that when he closed the door and ran his car out of the parking lot, I could do nothing but stare at him in silence.
“Crystal? Come on I will give you a ride back home.” Damon spoke softly as he tugged on my elbow.
I shook my head and smiled at him, ”no Damon, I will be all right. I always walk home. Goodbye.”
He tried to say something but I shook my head and gave him my brightest smile.
The smile that vanished in seconds.
Max hated me so bad.
I screwed up everything.
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