Finding Faith

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Chapter 10

“Are you sure you’re gay?”

I rolled my eyes, looking up from my sketchbook. “Geez, Alex. Guess we know who the prize for best icebreaker goes to.”

My best friend walked over quickly, flopping down on the swing set beside me.

“I mean, if you’re sure, then it’s totally cool. But if you don’t really know, then, well…” She trailed off, as if she wasn’t entirely sure where she had been going with this. “I mean, if you were gay--”

I held up a hand to stop her. “OK, before you start singing Avenue Q songs to me, let me just assure you...I am gay.” The last part came out a little quiet and choked, but I still got it out.

So how had we even gotten to this conversation in the first place?

All I knew was that ten minutes ago, I had been looking at a familiar heart-shaped face with huge blue-gray eyes and a smile from ear to ear, and the next second I was tackled in a fierce hug by a very tall someone, long blonde hair covering my face.

“Faith! Dude, it’s so good to see you! It’s been way too long since the last time! I can’t tell you how much I missed you!”

I gasped, the air very much squeezed out of me. “Yeah--good to see you too,” I wheezed.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” She let go of me immediately, concern filling her face. “You OK?”

“Yeah, yeah. Fine.” I waved it off, catching my breath. “Synchro must be giving you more muscle.”

She groaned dramatically. “Don’t even joke about that, Fay. Last competitive season was at least 14 hours training a week, not including weekends.”

I shrugged, and grinned. “Yeah, but you love it.”

She nodded, looking pained. “OK, true.” She looked behind me. “Your parents around?”

I ducked my head and mumbled out, “No. But they’ve...they’ve been getting...worse.”

“Sorry, Faith,” She said quietly. “That sucks.”

Sucks wasn’t even close to covering it.

“So...what d’you want to do?” I asked, trying to clear up the unspoken tension.

She shrugged. “I’m cool with whatever. Any suggestions?”

I nodded slowly. “Let’s go out. I’m sick of staying in here.”

“Sounds good!” She chirped, and I couldn’t help cracking a smile at her enthusiastic support, even if it was just in favor of a small decision.

I grabbed my jacket and sketchbook, and we headed outside.

We had walked around the neighborhood for a while. I was only too happy to let Alex do most of the talking, chattering excitedly about how she was making her coaching debut for a novice synchronized swimming team, and even though they were all little monsters, they still were able to pull of some pretty solid routines. We exchanged a few words about school, the boredom faced in math classes, and how schoolwork had really piled up this year.

Even if we went to completely different schools (Alex went to Salisbury High, an exclusive arts school with entrance auditions, which she claimed was like the “gloriously musical rabbit hole of hell”), we could both wholeheartedly agree that Grade 11 sucked.

And it would still be an understatement.

Eventually, we made it to this little park close to Willow’s house, which was about 20 minutes from mine, and we just messed around on the playground, hanging upside down from monkey bars and standing up on swingsets like juvenile 5th graders.

Only Alex would be able to persuade me to do any of those goofball things, which was just to show how impactful our friendship was--if anyone else had tried to get me to play two-person Sandman with them, I would have punched them. That being said, the game was still completely unfair, since Alex was so tall she could often just reach up and touch my foot when she was on the sand, regardless of where I tried to climb.

When I got bored of all that, I sat down on the swing, and opened my sketchbook, pulling out my favorite pencil from my jacket.

Alex hummed to herself, staring up into the sky with a dreamy expression.

It was a nice day for February, I supposed, with the clouds scattered farther apart, and the blue sky showing in between. I never really liked the weather around this time of year, especially where we lived, but I thought Lucy would have liked it.

She had been quiet lately, and quite honestly, it was a little frustrating. Although I would never admit it out loud, I loved it whenever she called me or asked me to come hang out, or just plain texted me. She sometimes had ridiculous questions which never failed to make me crack up, even if they were completely out of context.

Did you know some fruit flies can’t get drunk?

Ugly or live forever, or beautiful and die in a year?

Did you know France was still executing people with guillotines when the first Star Wars came out? Not the prequels, the originals.

Other times, we would talk about more serious topics. She was always curious about what Greenwood had been like for me, that all-girls private school, but I never told her much more than what she already knew; it had been boring and the teachers inadequate, and Laken March was by far leagues better in terms of company.

For some reason, this seemed to please her.

I’m glad you like us more.

I went on to inform her it was mostly because at least here I didn’t get scolded for rolling my shirt sleeves up.

I swear to God, when I went to Greenwood, it was as though part of the school had been stuck in the 1800’s. Take for instance when my shoulders were briefly revealed in a tank top when it got stiflingly too hot inside. “Young lady, that is scandalous! Think of the dress code!”

Yeah, it was a place I would certainly not miss. Even if I was thought of as a failure.

Well, at least that was a fact I knew already.

You can’t even make it through the school we worked for to get you enrolled there.

You can’t even handle that pressure, how could you handle the real world?

I bowed my head down closer to my drawing, my hand scraping over paper as I forced myself to drown out the memories.

And that was about the time when Alex, out of the blue, asked me: “So, Faith…”

“Yeah?” I drew out a faint line across the page.

“Are you sure you’re gay?”

After patiently explaining to her that yes, I was sure I was gay, she peered curiously at my bag. “Did Lucy give that to you?” “Yeah,” I said somewhat indifferently, focusing on my drawing. I was pleased she noticed, as the bag had been by far my favourite out of all my Christmas presents. It was one of the most creative things anyone had ever thought to give me, if not the most creative thing, and I hadn’t stopped using it once since I had received it.

“Cool,” She said. Wait. On second thought, she sounded a bit more...mischievous.

I looked up to see her eyes twinkling brightly, and groaned. “Ugh. What are you planning, ’Lex?”

“Nothing!” She held up her hands in surrender, but the smirk on her face remained.

“Alexandra Catherine Elizabeth Gildner.” I stated coldly. “What. Are. You. Plotting?”

She chuckled at my use of her full name. “Nothing, I swear, dude.”

“Cross your heart?” I stared her down.

“And hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” She recited solemnly, drawing a line across her chest.

Satisfied, I turned back to my work, while Alex resumed humming and started slowly swinging back and forth on her swing.

“Why so interested in my sexuality anyways?” I couldn’t resist asking. Then, teasingly, “What, have you decided to swear off guys or something?”

She threw up her hands up. “OK, first of all, I am a very happy pansexual, and you know this. Second, I was curious. It’s not every day your bestie comes out to you, and I just wanted to make sure.”

I rolled my eyes. “I told you like, a year ago, Alex. It’s not exactly news.”

“Well, maybe I just wanted assurance, in case you changed your mind and decided you just like Lucy as a friend.”

“You’re worse than my aunt,” I moaned.

Excuse me! I’m Alex Gildner, I’m worse than everybody’s aunt!”

The Doctor Who reference made us both laugh, and for a minute, everything was relaxed once again, not awkward at all.

There was another lapse in conversation after we eventually stopped chortling. Alex was the one to break it again. “So you really do like her, don’t you?”

I sighed, pushing my hands through my hair, something I did sometimes whenever I got anxious.

“Yeah.” I said quietly. “I really think I do.”

“’Think’?” Alex raised her eyebrows.

“OK, I do. No, yeah, I just--” I groaned in frustration. “It’s stupid. She’s a favourite for most of the guys at our school, even the ones with actual girlfriends, and...I have no idea whether or not she’s straight, or bi, or whatever.”

“Maybe it doesn’t matter,” Alex suggested, looking thoughtful.

I looked at her incredulously. “’Doesn’t matter’? I’m pretty sure it matters in this case, ’Lex!”

“You don’t have to have a label to be attracted to someone,” Alex explained. “Even if you don’t know for sure ‘what’ she identifies as, it doesn’t mean she isn’t into you.”

I thought this over.

OK, maybe she had a point. But as a certified pessimist, I still had my doubts.

“So you really think she might be into me?”

“Dude,” Alex put her hand on my shoulder solemnly, like I was a little kid she was trying to teach about the birds and the bees. “She’s the one who approached you first. She has called you cute on no less than six separate occasions--”

“Seven separate occasions,” I corrected without thinking.

Alex lifted her hands with a smile, like ’You see what I mean?

“I mean, c’mon. She went all out with your Christmas present, I haven’t seen you put down that bag since I got to your house.”

I patted the side of the bag fondly. It was true, I hadn’t been able to put it down since the day I got it. OK, she did have a definite point there. The thoughtful present was doing nothing but making me fall harder for a certain blonde.

“So what’s your point?”

“To be honest, dude…” Alex said slowly. “I can tell she has a positive effect on you.”

I couldn’t help being difficult. “Where did you get that idea?”

Her answer was short, simple, and more honest than I thought possible.

“...You seem happier.”

I should have known Alexandra would see right through me. It was almost uncanny.

I tilted my head to one side. “Maybe.”

She groaned theatrically, putting a hand to her head as if my stubborn insensitivity was physically ailing her. “You see!” She pointed a finger accusingly at me. “So what’s the problem, then?”

Of course it would come back to this. I should have known, especially since Alex may appear like a regular teenager, but in reality was really an old matchmaker lady squawking about how I needed to meet a nice girl who would cuddle with me and provide her with twenty grandchildren.

“We’ve discussed this before,” I said, more solemnly this time around.

She sighed. “Yes, we have. And I thought I would have gotten through to you by now.”

“What are you, my freaking psychologist?” I snarked.

“Not unless I wanted to risk accidentally convincing you to pursue world domination,” She said, straight-faced, and I couldn’t help cracking up just a little. “I thought you would have told her how you feel at least.”

I sighed, staring down at the ground. Alex waited while I came up with a half-decent answer.

“I...was going to.” I admitted at last. At Alex’s silent skepticism of this statement, I said firmly, “I was. It just never seemed like the right time.”

“And now?” Alex pushed.

I swiped hair out of my eyes in frustration. “I don’t know!”

“Chill, dude.” She said calmly, just the slightest hint of worry betrayed in her voice. “What’s wrong now?”

“She…” I took a deep breath, looking stubbornly up at the sky, just to avoid Alex’s gaze. “I didn’t want to believe it at first, but I’m not stupid. For some unknown reason, she’s been avoiding me lately.”

I dared to look to see Alex’s reaction. She looked startled by the accusation, but her voice remained neutral. “From what you’ve told me, that doesn’t sound like something she’d do.”

“I’m telling the truth,” I said impatiently, taking out my irritation by smacking my hand against the swingset pole. “And I believe you,” She replied patiently. “But why would she do that?”

“I don’t know,” I said miserably. “I didn’t think I did anything wrong. Liz texted me once to tell me they had a disagreement last week...but I don’t know anything else. Other than the fact that she won’t answer any of my texts, or my calls or--”

“You texting and calling someone of your own free will?” Alex interrupted, looking incredulous. “Who are you small teenager, and what did you do with my best friend?”

“Shut up.” I scowled at her before continuing. “I even asked Liz or Crystal if they’d seen her, and they both said no. Not even Layla apparently has seen much of her over the past week and a half, except at school. And she won’t talk to me at all in class.” I ground my fist into my palm in frustration. It aggravated me how she could go from not being able to leave me alone to acting more reclusive and guarded than even I did on my bad days. And, worst of all--was how much this radio silence bothered me.

“I’m sorry, Fay.” Alex said quietly. “That really sucks.”

Sucks’ felt like just shy of an understatement, but I didn’t say that out loud.

“I just...thought we were getting along,” I continued, my right leg bouncing anxiously as I spoke.

Alex nodded for me to keep going.

“I just…I don’t know what I did wrong.” I finished lamely.

Alex looked silently into the distance. While most people would have mistaken her staring off into nothing as daydreaming, there was an intensity in her eyes that I recognized only too well--when she was analyzing a problem.

I waited, my leg bouncing up and down even more frantically than ever as we sat on the swings.

Was Alex going to somehow come up with the conclusion that it really was my fault?

Maybe it was. Maybe Lucy had figured I wasn’t worth her while and had given up.

No...I couldn’t easily accept that to be true. After all this time? She hated to leave things unfinished. She would be the least likely person to give up on a friendship first.

But would she really?

Finally, Alex asked, “How long ago?”

I was slightly thrown off. I was half-expecting her to either shrug and say she had no idea what was going on but offer solace, or her to reassure me that everything was fine and I was just overreacting.


“How long ago did you notice her avoiding you?”

I thought for a minute or so. Lucy had been talking and hanging out with me less and less ever since...near the middle of the Christmas holidays.

I told Alex, and she frowned. I waited for another explanation, but all I got was a slight “Hmm.”

“What are you thinking?” I asked, maybe sounding a little too frantic, but I was starting to become paranoid.

Why would Lucy suddenly drop her over-enthusiastic manner around me so suddenly?

And an even more puzzling question, why did I care so much about it?

“I’m thinking something must have happened between that time and now,” Alex said, tapping her chin with her fingers.

“You think it was something I did?”

She shook her head slowly. “No, I don’t think so. You’ve pretty much kept me filled in on the stuff that you two did together over the break, and I’m sure you didn’t do anything upsetting--intentionally.” She added as an afterthought.

I wasn’t very reassured, but I accepted it.

“OK. So what do you think happened?”

“You tell me. Think. Did anything else happen during the holidays? Not just with the two of you, but with her? Did she, I don’t know, have a fight with a relative or something? I mean, I swear to God, my cousins get into a brawl every time they come within five feet of each other--”

“Wait!” I tapped my foot on the ground in realization. “Hang on. I think...Lucy said her mom came home around Christmas. From working overseas.”

I remembered her now. Lucy’s mother, Kara Whitley, was a tall, imposing, impeccably-dressed woman with a near identical appearance to her. The most notable differences were her platinum blonde hair, and politely detached expression that her daughter lacked in favour of a breezy smile.

Yes...that could be it. Lucy always seemed a whenever she mentioned her mom. Not estranged in any case, but more nervous and quiet than most people would be around their parents. Like I was one to talk at all.

Alex twisted in her seat, making her swing twist with her until she spun around in a semi-circle.

“I think you’re onto something, Sherlock.” She stopped spinning to look up at me. “So...I don’t know this lady. At all. Do you think she could really be part of the reason for the radio silence thing?”

“I’m not sure…” I muttered, looking down. “She does appear to be quite overbearing. And Lucy has always made it unbearably clear how much she wants to impress her.”

I looked sideways at her, possible conclusions spiraling in my head. “So you think maybe…”

“Yeah, possibly.” Alex answered my unspoken question. “Not saying anything is for sure yet, but maybe she saw you two getting maybe just a little too close, and--”

“Oh, frick.” I said, heart pounding all of a sudden with the weight of the realization. “That actually makes a lot of sense. I could have sworn she was almost full-on glaring at me when I kind of fell asleep on Lucy…” I had been extremely groggy, but I did faintly recall someone staring intently at me from across the room. A cold stare, chilling me to the bone.

“Wait, you did? That’s so cute and fluffy!”

“Shut up, ’Lex.” My thoughts raced through my head. It all made sense now.

Lucy’s mom must have made some sort of comment or enquiry about me, or maybe even about us, and Lucy, not wanting to disappoint her in any possible way, had decided to take a more or less direct route and was now shutting me out for the time being.

It all seemed heartless in a way, but I didn’t blame Lucy for any of it. If this was all true, then she was just trying to act the part of the perfect daughter.

I only wished I could have had the same success with that facade.

“So what should I do?” I asked Alex solemnly, who was now swinging lightly off the ground and back again. She dragged her feet on the sand to slow herself down. “You’re not gonna like it.”

“Considering how well you know me, that’s probably true.”

“Then I think you should just tell her how you feel now. Same answer as before.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Are you kidding me, Alex? If anything, now is the worst possible time to drop something like that on her!”

“Dude, chill. I’m just telling you what I think. After all, you did ask.”

That was true enough.

I shook my head. “I’m sorry, Alex. I just don’t think I could do that to her right now.”

She gave me a steely look which looked as alien as it was unfamiliar.

“Can’t do that to her...or yourself?”

I scowled and looked away.

After a minute, Alex spoke again, but her voice was calmer. “OK, so maybe not a confession immediately. But you have been holding this back for months. Do you have a suggestion then?” “Yeah,” I said. “I’m going to crawl into a hole and pretend I don’t have feelings for this girl.”

She groaned loudly. “Why are you like this?”

I smirked, but the matter at hand was quick to take it away. “Tell me, should I talk to her about her mom?”

“I’m not telling you to do anything you’re not 110% OK with doing,” Alex said gently. “But avoiding the problem isn’t gonna make it go away. And neither is repressing your feelings. That’s not fair to you--or to Lucy.” She added.

I thought that over, before shaking my head. “You should really go into psychology, you know that?”

She smirked. “Is that a compliment, Fay?”

“Of course not. Whatever gave you that idea?”

I stood up, tucking my sketchbook into my bag. I checked my phone and grimaced at it. “Ugh. It’s getting late.”

“Aw, no.” Alex pouted, before perking up. “Hey, you wanna sleep over?”

At my silence, she quickly added, “It’s just one night, dude. You’ll be back before you know it. What do you say?”

We want to know where you are at all times.

Trust is something that must be earned several times over and more.

Do not go anywhere without permission.

You know what? Screw this. I was done listening to their voices, for at least one night.

I shrugged. “OK.”

“Wait, really?” Alex bounced up, towering over me. “You’ll really stay over?”

I frowned. “What part of ‘OK’ do you have trouble understanding?”

She clapped her hands in excitement, rocking up on the balls of her feet. “That’s awesome! God bless! We’re gonna have so much fun tonight, we can watch all the shows I need to catch up on, not think about homework or school at all, oh, and I had this thing you need to read, or so help me you have not lived…”

I just smiled and followed her back to where the bus stop was, listening to her cheerful chatter the entire way there.

I had a feeling I needed at least one night to figure out what to do about Lucy, just get away from home for a while.

It sounded whiny and melodramatic, but...I was really sick of that place.

On Monday morning, I made up my mind. No more hanging around, no more pining away. I was going to get straight down to the bottom of this, and if Lucy didn’t like it, tough.

I hated confrontation, but I needed to know what was going on. If anything, I deserved that much.

In Biology class, I whispered Lucy’s name while our teacher was writing down the homework on the board. She didn’t answer, and I couldn’t tell whether or not she hadn’t heard, or was ignoring me deliberately. Well, at least I knew the latter couldn’t be far off from the truth.

I tried again, louder. I could tell by the subtle movement of her head that she had heard me, but just wasn’t listening. The thought made me more angry than I initially realized, and I dug my nails into the back of her hand, not hard enough to do any damage, but just enough to get definite attention. “Lucy!”

She hissed at the hostile contact, then turned, scowling. “What?”

It was like karma was taking over. I had an immediate recall to the first time she had tried to get my attention in Bio class at the beginning of the year, where I snapped at her. I refused to let her glare intimidate me though, and stared her down until she looked off sullenly, giving in. “What do you want, Faith?”

“We need to talk,” I said bluntly. “After school. I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

“I thought you were the introvert?” She muttered, and the joke made me falter, if for a brief moment. For a second, I could see the real Lucy underneath whatever polite facade she had constructed this past month.

“Shut up,” I said, and I thought the corner of her mouth twitched. “Serious. We need to talk.”

“I’m busy,” She murmured, and I could see a hint of pain in her eyes as she said so. I wondered if this radio silence thing was bothering her as much as it was killing me inside, as much as I hated to admit it.

“This can’t wait.” I said. “I have to talk to you. It won’t take long, I promise.”

She looked forwards, refusing to meet my eyes, and I thought she was going to refuse, but then she heaved a reluctant sigh. “Alright. Five minutes, and that’s it. I have to be home early.”

“Done.” I leaned back in my seat, yanking my hood over my hair.

The minute the final bell had rung, Lucy picked up her binder and headed for the door. I grabbed my own things and followed. Lucy said a short “Goodbye” to the others at the lockers while putting away her school supplies. I stuffed my binder and textbooks into my bag, zipped it up, and waited for her to finish. When she did, she came over to look at me expectantly, although she dropped her gaze quickly.

I gestured for her to follow me down the hall, past the upper foyer, and to one of the most secluded hallways, where we wouldn’t be easily disturbed. It was close to the upper entrance to the auditorium, and it was always kept under dim lighting. At this time, there would be very little to no chance of students or teachers passing through.

Good. Whatever we ended up saying, I didn’t want to be interrupted.

“OK.” Lucy folded her arms. “I’m here. What do you want to talk about?”

I took a deep breath, and settled on the truth. “You’ve been avoiding me. I want to know why.”

Lucy looked taken aback by the bluntness of the statement, and said nothing. But the loneliness and guilt I saw in her eyes only confirmed what I said was true.

I swiped my bangs back, and shook my head. “Jeez, Luce. If you didn’t want to hang out anymore, you could have just said so.”

“It’s not that.” Lucy mumbled, her green eyes clouded.

“Then what?” I pressed.

When she didn’t answer, I kept at it. I knew it was cruel, but I didn’t care. I had to know if I was right or not.

“OK, so it’s not that you don’t want to hang out. So you just don’t want to hang out outside of school? Or just not in general?”

Lucy shook her head, almost like she wanted me to stop, but I kept going. “So, what, then? What’s wrong? Did I miss some kind of memo? Because I thought we were friends. And friends would tell each other what’s going on.”

“Like you’re one to talk.” Lucy snapped, then recoiled as though she didn’t mean to say that out loud. But it was a little too late.

I stopped. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You heard me.” Lucy’s voice shook a little, but it was clear and loud. “I want to know why you think you can accuse me of not telling you things, when you won’t even tell me about yourself.”

What?” I was genuinely confused, which was not helping the situation. “I do tell you things about myself.”

“Yeah?” Lucy challenged. “Then why do you always look so tired?”

That was unexpected, though in hindsight I probably should have seen it coming.

“I don’t sleep.” I answered shortly, hating myself for my vagueness. “I just don’t need a lot of it.”

Her next question was even worse.

“Why don’t I know anything about your old school?”

“I just...don’t like to think about it.”

“And why’s that?” Her voice was grating, cold. It was scary how cynical she sounded, so different from her usual self.

I shook my head, unable to find the right words. “It...wasn’t a good fit.”

“Sure,” Lucy nodded sarcastically, and I resisted the sudden urge to punch her.

Her last query was the worst out of them by far.

“Why have I never been to your house?”

I opened my mouth, then closed it. I was so stunned, I couldn’t even come up with a half-baked response. It seemed like a simple question, but the answer was something I had forced myself to bury, something I never talked about with anyone, not even Alex, although she was the closest thing to a confidant with this that I had.

It was a paralyzing fear that I couldn’t escape, a problem no one could solve for as long as I could remember.

My reply was the most lame, stupid excuse that had ever come out of my mouth, but I was so terrified of the actual truth, I was trembling. “It’s...messy. It wouldn’t be very comfortable for you to come over.”

Lucy threw up her hands and actually had the nerve to laugh, the sound hollow, mocking.

“My point exactly! You can’t expect me to tell you every single little issue of mine when you can’t be bothered to return the favour!”

“Some problems aren’t meant to be shared!” I shouted back without meaning to. She was pushing me to the breaking point, when I was supposed to be the one asking her for the truth.

“Why not?” She continued to pry. “What are you so scared of? Why won’t you just tell me?”

I was having trouble breathing, my hands curled into fists. “I’m not scared!”

“Then why are you shaking? What’s so horrible you can’t even tell me?” She paused and threw my argument viciously right back in my face. “Real friends would tell each other!”

That was it. My temper finally snapped.

Real friends wouldn’t let their mothers control their relationships!” I yelled, furious.

Lucy froze, her eyes wide. I panted, still upset, but satisfied.

“I know about your mom,” I continued breathlessly. “I figured it out. You don’t want to disappoint her, so you’ve been pulling away from me--and not just me, but everyone: Liz, Crystal, Willow. Even Layla.”

Each word I spoke, I could sense Lucy’s anger rising again, but at this point I just didn’t care. “You’re letting your mom control you. But newsflash: she doesn’t own your life. That’s yours to do with as you please--”

“Shut up.” Lucy said quietly but fiercely, her own fists clenched. “Shut up, Faith. You don’t know anything about that, or my mom.”

I should have kept my mouth shut, but my own temper was flaring. Lucy thought she had it bad, huh? She had no idea. She wanted me to spill, tell the truth? Then I was going to.

“I know what’s been going on now. And you know what? I think it’s pretty pathetic.” I sneered. Lucy looked as though she had just been slapped. I wanted to stop, but it was as though I no longer had any filter over what I was saying anymore. I let my anger and pain take over.

“Your mom wants you to do what she wants? Fine. Just don’t drag all of us into it. You could have just said you didn’t think your mom wanted to see any of us, and we would have been fine with it. Hell, we would’ve understood. But hiding from that, when you know it’s hurting others? That’s cowardly.”

I was such a hypocrite.

“Shut up,” Lucy found her voice again, her tone dangerous. “I’m warning you, Faith. You shut the hell up, or--”

“‘Or’ what, exactly?” I taunted. “Maybe I don’t fit into you and your mom’s perfect little world of proper personalities, but at least I think I can say whatever the hell I damn want--”

Lucy slammed into me like a brick wall, knocking me to the ground. I got the wind knocked out of when I fell, and Lucy loomed over me, her knees on my stomach and fist raised, ready to strike. Her face was so full of rage and pain, I could barely recognize her.

“Go ahead,” I coughed out. “Knock me out. I don’t care. But--” I continued as her fist began to come down. “--it’s your choice. It’s your life.”

About a millimetre away from my face, she stopped. I could see her hand shaking. Finally, she dropped her hand down, and got off of me, standing up.

“Don’t talk to me.” She said, her voice cold and more terrible than I thought possible. I felt like my heart was breaking apart slowly, even though I knew I was to blame. “I mean it, Faith. Whatever I thought we had--is done.”

And with that, she snatched up her bag and stalked off, leaving me lying stunned on the floor, slowly realizing that this may have been one of the biggest mistakes in my life.

Her strawberry-blonde hair flew back as she kicked open the door to the end of the hall, and exited.

She never even once looked back.

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