Soundtrack To My Youth (book 1)

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Better

“Thank God you’re back” Kate greets me as she slides into the backseat of Sam’s truck. Dad had stayed at the hospital again last night and Sam wouldn’t let me stay in my house alone, not that I minded sharing my bed with him. Dr Lions was set to release Bridget on Wednesday so tonight would be my last chance to snuggle up to Sam.

The handprint around my neck was still visible under my school uniform, if it hadn’t been Summer I would have considered wearing a scarf to cover it up. I could only imagine what Petra was going to say about it, both to my face and behind my back.

“Did you miss me?” I ask her, it was a rhetorical question really.

“I had to eat lunch with Kristen and Petra, ugh. Luckily Amber was there though so that was one saving grace but you’re never to leave me alone ever again” She complains, making me laugh, it’s nice to be appreciated.

“What about Alex?” Sam questioned Kate, “Wasn’t it his first day back?”

“Yes but he has two weeks of catch to do so he’s not around at recess or lunch” She groans, “I hate Carson, he took three people from me”

“Well I’m back now and we can get our tickets for the dance” I tell her, attempting to lift her mood and it works, she dances happily in her seat.

“Of course you two are attending that” Sam laughs

“You’re not?” I ask him surprised, I’ve never known Sam to miss a dance but I guess things are different now.

“Probably not, they never play any of the music I’m into and I feel like my ears are just bleeding from the shit they do play” Sam explains to us and I’m deflated, in my mind I had pictured him being there and there’d be a possibility of us dancing together, even if it was just to one song but now all those thoughts are dashed and I’m disappointed.

Sam parked in the school car park and we crossed the road to the cafe to get coffees before school. Kristen was standing at the counter when we entered the cafe, her school skirt an inch from revealing to the customers what colour panties she was wearing that day. She smiled brightly at us, her attention focusing on Sam as she received her coffee.

“Morning sexy” She said to him, dragging her hand along his forearm as she breezed past us.

“Kristen” He simply said in reply, looking uncomfortable. In the whole time I’ve known Sam he’s never once had the time for Kristen, labelling her social climber. I never asked why he didn’t like her, Sam was the type of person who got along with everyone though. Kate and I exchanged looks, she was clearly thinking what I was, had the odd interaction had some deeper meaning behind it?

By the time we arrived at school we had 10 minutes to spare before the bell for roll call. Both our picnic tables were filled with people from our group of friends and I knew my marking wouldn’t go unnoticed. I’d worn my hair down to try and cover the mass extent but there was no way I could hide the whole thing.

Petra made a beacon for me once she saw us strolling across the quad, her minions by her side.

“Oh Veronica, Lucas told me everything, are you alright?” She asked me, if I didn’t know she was scamming me for information I may have believed her concern was real but I knew Petra better than that.

“What exactly did Lucas tell you?” This should be interesting, Lucas always had a way of distorting the truth.

“Oh, you know, that your brother beat up Bridget and he had to come and rescue you both” She says with a smile on her face as if she talking about some entertaining show I’d watched over the weekend, not being abused at the hands of my brother. Sam scoffs beside me before walking off to where Lucas and Alex are sitting. “You should cover up that mark on your neck though, people will see it and talk” She advises me in her fake, sweet tone.

“Let them talk, I’m done covering for my brother” I tell her and I mean it, for years I’ve hidden the marks he would leave on me or lie about where they came from but not anymore.

“What did Harry say about all of this?” She questions me further, for a moment I forget who Harry even is. It feels like so long ago that I made up Harry to hide the fact that I was secretly dating Sam and then with discovering my own feelings for Sam, plus all the shit that went down over the weekend, I’d pushed my fake boyfriend from my mind.

“I’m not seeing Harry anymore” I tell her, faking a pout to go along with losing my fake boyfriend.

“Some guys just don’t like girls who are drama but I guess this now leaves things open for you and Lucas to get back together” She says things in such a sweet, cheerful tone even though she’s actually taking a dig at me, “although, as your friend I have to be honest and tell you that Lucas and I slept together.” As your friend, ha, is she joking?

“Well, as your friend I have to be honest with you too and tell you that Lucas said you were shit in bed” I return her sweet, sappy smile as I watch hers fall, “Petra, you really should make the most of high school because this is going to be the peak for you, after this year you’ll realise that these girls who follow you around aren’t really your friends, they don’t even like you because you’re not likeable, you’re mean and they’re afraid of you but after high school is over they will realise what I figured out, that you have no real power here, you’re just a girl who spreads bullshit lies for fun and for the record, Sam was the one who came to our rescue, not Lucas”

The bell rings and Sam and I walk together to roll call.

~~~

I had double Geography with Kate first period, our teacher, Mrs Hickson, was a very stern woman, she didn’t allow talking in her classroom unless it was about the subject we were studying. I don’t know why I even decided to study Geography, I now found the subject boring but having Kate sitting next to me made it a lot more interesting.

Kate and I had devised a system to get around the ‘no talking’ rule by keeping a small notebook handy that we passed back and forward all class. In the book we would write each other questions, that only our eyes would ever see and then at the end of class one of us would take the book home with them and write a message to the other person. No one knew about our notebook, not even Bridget or Lucas.

Kate pulled the notebook from her school bag once she knew Mrs Hickson was busy writing the days lesson plan on the blackboard, opening the book and scribbling her question to me before passing it over.

Sam and Kristen? She had written in red pen up the top of a fresh page. I took a break from writing my notes to reply to her.

Sex I replied to her

You think?

She called him sexy and touched his arm. Ive never even seen them have a conversation before.

“So our focus this lesson is on the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef and what we can do to preserve and protect it, not just now but also in the future” Mrs Hickson says, facing the classroom. Kate slides out notebook under her binder, out of sight from Mrs Hickson. My hand shoots up and Mrs Hickson calls upon me.

“I think the more important question you should be asking is what is our Government doing to protect and preserve the reef. We can do what we can but at the end of the day they have final say and it seems that they favour money from mining over preservation” I say confidently, knowing it was a hot topic leading into the 2019 election. Mrs Hickson looks at me impressed, its rare for any student to offer feedback or opinions in her class.

“There is still plenty that you, as an individual can do Veronica” She says, wheeling the TV and VCR over to the centre of the room. She turns the TV on and inserts a video into the VCR. “I want you all to pay attention to this video because I’ll be setting todays homework task based on it”

She hits play on the remote and shuts off the lights, the video is a bit shaky at first but once it starts it runs fine, even if it is already well outdated, I suspect it was made in the early 90′s and that Mrs Hickson has been using it as a teaching tool ever since, in fact she probably still used it up until she retired in 2007.

“Yawn” Kate whispers to me, passing me back the notebook where she had written her reply. I look down at the book but find it too hard to read in the dark cast room so I place it inside my binder with a promise to Kate that I would write her a letter tonight.

The video ends just as the bell rings and Mrs Hickson hand us our printed questions before we leave.

~~~

I had Maths last period, taking my seat next to Sam I could sense that he was in a good mood after having training all lunch break.

“I have an away game tonight” Sam said as he took his blue pencil case and Maths workbook from his bag, he placed the workbook between us, saving me the trouble of pulling out mine.

“Was that your way of inviting me to come watch?” I laugh.

“Actually it was my way of telling you where I’ll be tonight because I don’t like the idea of you being home alone but if you wanna come watch I’d be more than happy. I usually take the team bus that they charter for us but if you come I’ll drive” There’s a hint of something in his voice, happiness, excitement, nervousness.

“I’d love to come. I have homework to do for Geography but I can do it when we get home” I tell him, I’m really excited just to be going to see him play again tonight.

“Really? I know you like to watch that Dawson’s River shit on Tuesdays” He asks me, making me laugh at him getting the name of the show wrong.

"Dawson’s Creek and I’ve seen every episode already so I’m not really missing out.” I tell him, “Where’s the game at anyway?”

“Woodrising High School, we’re playing the Woodchucks” He explains, trying hard to keep a straight face before caving in and laughing hard at their team name, “They’re actually really good, despite the name, they won the regional cup last year and came third in the state”

“We should invite Kate and Alex” I suggest.

“Yeah, I’d feel better knowing you’re sitting with someone” He says, he takes my hand and squeezes it momentarily, a brief reminder of how we were before I destroyed everything.

I made a resolution in my mind that if Sam wins tonight that I would tell him how I feel and if he loses then I’d wait for a better moment. It was a gamble, I know. I guess inside I was still afraid to open up to him, he’d seen me at my worst, what if he realised I was too much trouble to take on?

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