FLAME

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New trouble.

The next day I went to school alone since they both went to Vian’s home after dropping me off. So I waited for them under our favorite tree but they didn’t show up until the first bell rang. So I understood that they took the day off and went to my classes. The last class before lunch was Mr.Harrison’s class and apparently, he informed the class the day before about a quiz along with a warning that whoever failed to attend the quiz will be failed in the midterms.

I didn’t know because I was absent yesterday but that wasn’t the problem. I can get good marks even without studying. The problem is Vian and Jay are not here and that idiot Vian didn’t just forget about it, he also forgot to mention it to us. I tried to call them with my phone under the desk, but they weren’t picking up.

Mr. Harrison started taking attendance. My name came up, “Ava Morgan.”

“I am here.” I let myself known raising my hand. After few names, he called out Jay’s name.

“Jay Jenkins… Jay Jenkins?” No one answered, and I don’t know how to handle this situation.

“Miss. Morgan,” I didn’t hear him saying my name since I was busy calling my stupid best friends again and again

“Ava,” this time he yelled my name which made me startled.

“Do you know where is Mr. Jenkins is?” he directed the question to me.

“Um… may be in the bathroom,” I said hesitating. Mr. Harrison threw me that ‘I know everything’ look towards me.

“What about Mr. Smith?”

“Um… Vian? I guess he is with Jay. I am sure they will be here any minute now.”I lied through my teeth.

“Ok then, let’s wait for those two gentlemen for another five minutes.” Mr. Harrison decided to be unexpectedly generous that day. Usually, he never waits for anyone.

It was one hell of an awkward five minutes. I caught Mr. Harrison glaring at me now and then with that ‘You guys are finished’ look all the while I was praying for those to appear out of nowhere.

“Okay, let’s start the quiz. I just hope that those who are not here to take the quiz have some pretty good reason. Because I am not going to give a second chance.” He announced the class.

“Excuse me, sir. May I use the restroom?” I raised my hand.

He gave me a doubtful look like ‘what are you up to now?’

“I will be real quick,” I begged.

“Fine, go.”

I breathed out once I was out of his sight and tried to call Vian and Jay a couple of times. I have no idea what the hell they were doing not to pick up my call after I called a thousand times. I wandered in the hallway here and there biting my nails thinking what to do. Failing Mr. Harrison’s class is not an option. It might have an impact on their scores in finals and above all, they didn’t have a good attendance record either. At this rate, they might not even graduate.

While walking restlessly, I saw a red square box and FIRE ALARM was written on it, a few steps further. I went near it and seeing the letters ‘pull down’ made me think that it was my call. My brain warned me about all the consequences, so I turned away but I couldn’t take any further steps. So I turned around and looked at it. It was like the letters were calling my name asking me to pull it.

“I hope this works.” I closed my eyes tightly and pulled it. A blare of the fire alarm went on, and people started to scram outside the classes immediately. It was a total disaster and everyone went out of the school in a panic.

I tried to go along with the crowd, but I was caught by Mr. Harrison who was glaring at me from the entrance of my class. They stopped the alarm, and everyone was sent to the cafeteria after checking everything was fine since it was lunchtime and I was sent to the Principal’s office accompanied by Mr. Harrison.

I was afraid that I might get a brain hemorrhage listening to Mr. Donan for an hour. He was going on and on about how I was stupid to do that and being responsible. I knew I was stupid but do I feel guilty? Not in the slightest. I would do it again without blinking if I have to for my friends.

But the hard part was standing there like I was feeling guilty and listening to him and apologizing continuously when I didn’t mean it. So halfway through his speech, I decided to use this time to plan two murders.

I finally breathed and almost fell on the floor after one hour of pure torture. Thankfully he let me go with week detention, and he also warned me that this incident will be reported to my mother. Now that was a serious problem but I will handle her later.

When school was finally over, I decided to go to Vian’s place to check on them but when I was about to leave someone called my name.

“Hey, Ava.” Ryan was running towards me from the ground calling my name. He was wearing his sports clothes, and I guess they have basketball practice that evening. Jay and Vian are going to be in trouble for missing practice.

“I have been looking for you.” He said catching his breath.

“Why?”

“You missed school yesterday.”

“Umm… Yeah…” I was surprised he cared enough to ask me but I was also not ready to tell him the truth. We are not that close enough yet.

“Are you ok? Were you sick or something?” he asked me concerned.

“No, I’m ok. It’s… personal reasons.” I said vaguely.

“Oh…” he looked like he understood.

“So why were you looking for me?” I asked him.

“Oh… that… um… In yesterday’s art class, everyone was assigned a partner and given a project to complete in two days.”

“Oh really? I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, so you are my partner and I called you last night about that but…”

I remember seeing missed calls on my phone from a new number but I ignored it with everything that happened.

“Sorry I didn’t know it was you and I was a bit busy so I couldn’t call back.” I apologized.

“It’s okay. So you want to do it at your place or mine? Either is fine with me.”

I was taken aback by this. I was used to teaming up among the four of us including Hazel. Even if we teamed up with others somehow, we changed the names so that we are assigned among us. I have never been in a situation where I have to go to someone’s home or invite them over to mine.

Now I can’t change the team because they are not in my class and I don’t want to invite Ryan to my house. Call me stupid, but it’s kind of our place, only for the three of us. Hazel was there a couple of times but I don’t want a stranger in our haven.

“How about I come over to yours?” I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted.

“Really, Are you sure?” he looked surprised and excited like he didn’t expect me to say that.

“Yeah, text me your address and I will be there… say five?” I said looking at my watch.

“If you don’t mind to wait, I will take you myself. Practice will be over in an hour.” There was this competition coming soon between our school and our rival school. So they have been practicing hard. Unfortunately, even though we have good players, we never once won. Because there is no team coordination. Imagine Jackson, Ryan, Jay, and Vian cooperating and playing together, hell freezes over before that happens.

“Okay, but would you mind picking me up from the nearby convenience store. I will wait there.”

“Okay sure. I will be there as soon as possible.” He said while running back.

I informed grandma while walking to the store that I will be late. And then when I was about to text Jay and Vian, I saw them sitting on a corner table of the convenience store eating ice cream.

“Hey Aves, hey babe,” they both greeted me in unison when they saw me walking towards them.

I hit them hard behind their head before I sat beside Vian.

“Ouch… What was that for?” Vian whined rubbing his neck.

“Do you know what happened today? How many times do I have to call you? Why didn’t you pick up?” I bombarded them with my questions.

“What happened?” Jay asked me cooly eating his ice cream.

I started telling them from Mr. Harrison’s class and continued, “You have no idea how hard it was to stand there and…” while ranting I noticed that they were still eating their ice cream and not listening to me.

“Are you guys listening to me?”

No answer

I took the pepper and salt that was kept on the table and sprinkled it on each of their ice creams.

“Hey,” They both groaned in disapproval, but I just kept glaring at them. I was about yell and was interrupted by a text message. I saw that it was Ryan saying that he is here. ‘He is early.’

“Now that I have got your attention, I need to go somewhere so I will leave first,” I said annoyed.

“Where are you going?” Vian questioned.

“None of your business. Go on eat your ice cream. Why do you care where I go?” I was pissed.

“Hey, Aves sorry. We were just playing. We know you would be angry, and we just wanted to cool you.” Jay tried to calm me down.

“Damn right I was,” I said standing up ready to walk out.

I was angry, but I have never been anywhere without them so this is new to us and I knew they will be worried if they don’t know where I am. But I was also angry.

“I am off to Ryan’s place to do an assignment. I will be home for dinner.” I said without looking at them and tried to leave.

“No, you are not.” Vian stopped me grabbing my arm.

I know they didn’t like him but this is school work and I can’t do anything about it. I told them what happened and assured them that I will be okay.

“Then let us come with you, at least one of us,” Vian said almost pleading with his eyes.

“Let her go, V.” Jay removed his hand from mine.

“Be careful and call us if anything happens.” He said looking at me. I know that he doesn’t like the fact that I am going with Ryan, but he let me go because he respects my decision and trusts me.

“Fine. Then let me drop you. I brought Grandpa’s truck.” Vian offered.

“It’s okay. Ryan’s here to pick me up.” Hearing that even Jay looked a bit shocked.

“NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. You are not going anywhere with him.” Vian protested.

“Ava, go,” Jay yelled grabbing Vian tightly from behind preventing him to move so that he won’t stop me.

I smiled mischievously at Vian and ran out.

I met with Ryan outside the shop. He was driving his Porsche 911 Targa 4s, gentian metallic blue with the convertibles open. He gave off this rich cool guy vibe with his tousled blonde hair due to the wind and with his sunglasses on.

“You are early,” I said while hopping on the passenger seat.

“Coach let us go early.” He said removing his sunglasses and smiling but it faded away when his eyes caught something behind me.

I saw Jay and Vian glaring at him through the glass wall. I could feel the tension already, and I was thankful that they didn’t start a fight. I waved them bye with a smile and asked Ryan to go.

I just wish that this was the last time that I get tangled between them. Ryan looks like he is a good person but I don’t want to keep doing this if it upsets Vian and Jay this much.

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