Decree of Hope

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It was almost six before we got home. School started in two hours, and I wouldn’t be there. But I had to get there sometime before lunch. I had a test in the afternoon, and Mrs. Winters was adamant about no make-ups without a doctor’s note. I was pretty sure there was no doctor’s note for car-jackings by your older brother.

I fell into a deep sleep the moment my body hit the mattress. When I woke up again, it was ten-thirty. Not a whole lot of sleep considering how eventful yesterday was, but I slept hard enough that I was rejuvenated. I hopped up and hit the closet. I went for the cutest skirt I owned, which also happened to be the shortest. I remembered what that guy said last night about Mirriam being at the hospital with her friend. I knew it was Caleb, so he probably wouldn’t be at school today. There was no real reason to make an effort to be the hottest girl at school, but Farrah had gained enough ground over me. I couldn’t afford to be less than perfect unless I wanted to forfeit the spot at the top of the food chain I’d worked so hard for.

At eleven-thirty, I walked through the hallway of Killeen High. I’d barely made it to my locker when the bell rang for the class change. Farrah’s locker was right beside mine, so she and Lacey were beside me in a minute’s time.

“Oh, good! You’re here,” Lacey said.

“Yeah,” I answered, shuffling books in my locker.

“We were so worried,” Lacey said. “Caleb and Mirriam aren’t here either. We thought something bad happened after we took off last night.”

I leaned out of my locker, pulling the door back a bit so I could see her face. “After you bailed?” My eyes narrowed, and my lips pulled tight across my face.

Farrah stared straight into my eyes without so much as flinching. Instead, she flashed a smile. But Lacey hung her head. “We’re sorry. We got scared when we saw the headlights.”

“Of course, you did.”

I turned from them and went back to searching for my book in my mess of a locker.

“Kailee, don’t make a big deal out of this. Obviously, nothing happened. No harm, no foul.”

“Right.” And a month ago, I would have had her head for that statement. Because a month ago I was queen. Now I had to put my A game on just to be Farrah’s equal. Lacey moved to the other side of me as I snapped my locker shut. Moving to the left of my locker from her place beside Farrah meant she was taking my side, and Farrah knew it. I clasped my book to my chest and turned my face to give Farrah a victory grin. She shot me a glare but stretched a smile across her face as Mirriam marched up to us. She crossed right in front of my locker. She glared at me, and ignoring her wasn’t getting her out of my face. “Uh, you’re in my space.” I snapped my fingers. “Back up.”

Mirriam stepped closer to me. She was so close I felt her breath on me now. “Stay the hell away from me. Got it, bitch? Stay away from my family, and stay away from my house.”

I couldn’t afford to back down, even though she was right to be angry. I was hanging on to my reputation by a thread. “Except you are in my space. Don’t tell me to stay away from you. You stay away from me. And stay away from Caleb while you’re at it. Don’t act like you run things around here. This is my school. Got it, bitch?”

Mirriam leaned in and whispered, “Mess with me, and you can be the first headless cheerleader on YouTube.”

My mouth dropped. It took everything I had not to lock my arms around her neck and strangle her. “Oh, yeah right.”

“Try me.” She laughed.

“What’s funny?”

“Your heels aren’t tall enough today.”

A crowd had formed around us. The whole school had witnessed me letting the reject new girl trash me like that. Tears stung at the back of my eyes, but I wouldn’t let anyone see me weak.

“Don’t repeat what I told you,” Mirriam said.

Who did she think she was to give me an order? “If I do?”

She drew a finger around the edge of her neck.

I crossed my arms and glared. “Oh, yeah right. You’re full of crap.”

She clapped her hands in front of her chest then shot them up over her head mocking a cheerleader. Mocking me. “Am I?”

“I’m calling the police. That kind of thing isn’t funny ’round here.”

“Do what you have to.”

The crowd scooted around to make room for Mirriam’s dramatic exit. Yeah, I just lost my spot at the top of the food chain. Farrah took advantage of the moment. “Come on,” she said. She spun around on one foot and started for the cafeteria leaving Lacey and me no choice but to follow her. She made me a follower.

All eyes were on me when we walked through the double doors. I attracted side cast glances and whispers, and not in a good way. I stayed quiet and picked at my salad as Farrah held the A-list members of the football team, Lacey, and the other varsity cheerleaders captive. Finally, the bell rang. Even a chemistry test was more welcomed than this. At least, until Mrs. Winters handed out the exam forms and I realized I knew nothing on it. Failing this test would end my world. I’d opted for the minimum number of math and science classes required to get into college. My grades had to be stellar. I should have spent less time cheering, but there was no real cheering left at this point. There was no point in worrying about it now.

First Mirriam then chem. I hoped nothing else monumental happened today, because I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle. When it was finally over, I stopped at EZ Mart for sour straws and the biggest Coke I could find. (Not diet Coke. I needed the real thing today). But fate had to be out to get me today, because wow did the boy—guy—behind the counter look familiar. I casted my eyes to the side and tried not to notice, but it was too late. Eyes so dark they were almost black connected with mine, and he smiled.

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