Chapter 20

It wasn't until I was heading to school the next day that I realized how antisocial I have been throughout my high school years.

With Kimmy gone, I literally had no one else to spend my day with.

I mean I wasn't a complete loner that didn't interact with anyone at school but the only friend that I would actively look for throughout the day and the only friend that I would think of running to when I have news to tell was Kimmy, and Kimmy only.

It made me realize how sad my high school life has been. I've been so comfortable with just having Kimmy by my side that I didn't feel the need to branch out and make other friends.

Now I'm feeling the consequences of only having one friend.

When you only have one friend that you talk to, once you fall out, you're basically left alone to fend for yourself.

Being a lone ranger in high school wasn't something you want to try out. With so many predators around, a.k.a the jocks, bullies, whatever you want to call them, if you're not part of a pack, you're vulnerable and an easier target, a more likely target.

Knowing all this and realizing that I just "lost my pack", I'm less than keen to step foot in school.

I stopped short before the school gates and looked at the building staring right back at me and inhaled slowly and deeply before exhaling all the nerves and worries that are keeping me from taking another step into the school.

"It's alright, Em. You can do this. Just put on the resting bitch face and no one will dare touch you or mess with you. You'll be okay. You're a bad bitch today. Be a bad bitch." I pep talked myself, nodding with every word and forcing myself to believe all of it.

I clenched my hands into fists, squared my shoulders and raised my head, steeling myself mentally to face anything that might happen today.

I didn't know what I was expecting.

Maybe Lily and Kimmy were right and I was just a very dramatic person. I mean it wasn't like I was expecting someone to dump a bag of condoms on me or spray paint the words "SLUT" on my locker. Or maybe I was. I think I've been watching way too much movies.

Nothing of the sort happened, if any of you were wondering that is.

I walked to my locker and it was clean, untouched. Still, my distrusting self wasn't willing to let my guard down just yet.

I warily touched my locker's lock, as if it might explode any second then. Only after I made sure that nothing was going to explode or no one was going to jump me from somewhere behind me, did I put my locker combinations in and opened it.

Again, I didn't know why I was expecting something horrible to have had happened to my locker but I felt myself letting go of the breath I was unconsciously holding onto when I saw that the inside of my locker was clean too.

There was no blood red paint covering my books or the walls of my locker.

Nobody had done anything to it.


"Maybe today might not go as bad as I thought it would." I thought to myself as I looked around and tried to listen to what the people around me are talking about, checking if they were still talking about me.

Alas, my hearing range wasn't as good as I needed it to be.

I guess I'll find out soon.

I took out my books from my locker for first period and slipped them into my bag before closing my locker and walking down the hallway to go to my first class of the day.

Having established early on that I was just being dramatic and excessively paranoid, I tried my best to disregard the looks I felt like I was getting from others and tried my best to not let their whispering bother me.

It wasn't easy to do but I knew that it was better for my mental health.

I couldn't keep myself on my toes for the entire time I'm going to be in school, I'll just end up driving myself crazy.

Once I stepped into the classroom and heads turned to see who just came in, I felt my anxiety spike again and I had to remind myself to breathe once again.

Come on, Em. You didn't pay your therapist a fortune only to fall back into that rabbit hole. Rise above the anxiety.

I recalled all the breathing exercises, the counting backwards, forward, upward, downwards, literally everything I could remember from my session with Sarah, while walking to my seat at the center of the room.

I had the urge to curse my past self for having chosen this spot out of every other spot in the room.

Couldn't I have been cleverer in choosing seats?

I guess not.

I set my bag down on my lap as I took my seat and emptied it, placing my books on the desks and letting the then empty bag slide down my lap, onto the floor under my desk.

I took my phone out and decided to scroll through it aimlessly just to distract myself. I avoided raising my head, scared of what I'll see if I decided to look around. I feared the eyes that might or might not be on me, I didn't want to have an episode in public, especially not in school.

My leg wouldn't stop bouncing and I had to wipe my clammy hands against my jean cladded thighs as I waited for the teacher to arrive and start the class. At least once the class starts, I know that most of the attention will be diverted to the lesson being taught rather than the girl that was rumored to have hooked up with Alexander West.

I honestly didn't know why they would make it into such a big deal. I mean I knew that Alex was popular but did they really have to act with such hostility to the girl that was rumored to be with him? It isn't even confirmed, sheesh.

"Where was the freaking teacher anyways?" I grumbled internally, swiping my phone screen to check what time it was.

Just when I saw the time, the door swung open and Mrs. Greene walked into the room with her books and filed under one arm and her stick with the other.

I've been in her classes since freshman year and I still couldn't be sure of what the stick's main use was. Was it a pointer? Was it a tool to whack misbehaved students? It'll forever remain a mystery to all of us.

Fortunately, my anxiety started to dissipate as class started and as the day went by and nothing in particular happened, I got less sensitive of my surroundings, my walls slowly lowering as morning turned into noon.

When lunch time came, I went with the crowd to the cafeteria to buy myself some lunch. I couldn't help but take a look around the hall as I waited in line to get my lunch. There was a few students running around in between the rows of benches and the noise in the hall echoed and bounced off its four walls, making it even louder than it really was.

I wasn't consciously doing it but my eyes roamed the sea of faces to look for a certain young West. Old habits die hard. That was the only excuse I had for myself at this point.

I finally caught sight of him laughing with his friends near the center of the hall, sitting at a bench with the rest of the "popular". They looked like they were having fun. He looked so unbothered, as if the rumors that have been going around about us haven't gotten to him at all.

But thinking about it, there's no reason for it to. The rumors going around, just like every other rumors going around that's about two people sleeping together, has only been detrimental to the girl's reputation. The guy just gets patted on the back and receive fist bumps for having "scored".

Besides, he was one of the populars, he'll always have people surrounding him, supporting him, keeping him entertained.

I looked around again, this time trying to see if I can find the people that I thought would surround and support me throughout good and hard times.

I spotted Lily first, sitting with her friends. I knew that they weren't the best group of people to hang out with but I never really had a say in who Lily became friends with, I didn't want to meddle in her life like that. I just always thought and hoped that she was wise enough to decide what's wrong and what's right.

Thinking back, I should've known better. I blame myself for not being smart enough to know that a person's environment can make or break them. It was basically her versus a bunch of people, she was bound to get dragged by the current, especially knowing how her personality is. She was very social and she really cared about what others think of her, to the extent that it would sometimes dictate her decisions.

I only felt sadness when I see her now. She left the house earlier than I did this morning. I think I heard her friends pick her up. It wasn't odd, they did like to ride to school together but she had avoided me the entire time we were at home. Things remained awkward and tense. No matter how bad she's fucked up in the past, this is the longest that we've gone without talking to one another.

Sitting on another bench a few rows away from Lily was Kimmy and a few other girls that I knew were her close friends. She was smiling at something one of the girls said but stopped short when she saw me watching from across the hall.

I quickly averted my eyes the second our eyes met. I turned around so that my back would face her and hide my expression from her.

I didn't want her to see the hurt I felt, seeing her so unaffected by our fight yesterday. She didn't deserve to see that part of me after lying to me this entire time. I trusted her the most out of everyone I knew. I once dared to say that I trusted her with my life.

If the person that I dare said I trusted with my life would betray me like that, then who the hell do I trust?

As the line crept up, it finally got to my turn to choose. I bought another sandwich, similar to what I had yesterday and quickly left the hall. I probably looked like a small mouse just scurrying out of the cafeteria halls through the swinging double doors quietly, unnoticed.

I made my way to the quieter wing of the building. After thinking about it thoroughly, I finally came to the conclusion that the restroom on this side of the building will be able to give me some more peace and quiet than the other restroom I chose to have my lunch in.

During times like this, when I'm highly paranoid about what people are talking about, I thought that it was probably best for my mental health that I avoided people in general.

I would be lying if I said that the curiosity wasn't killing me. I definitely wanted to know what they were saying about me, if there was anyone saying things about me. But I was also scared that if there was anyone who was saying things about me, and if I heard those things that were being said about me, I wouldn't be able to take it. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to handle hearing whatever they're saying about me behind my back.

I knew that I couldn't control what others think of me or what they say about me but I knew that if I caught anything negative among the things that they're saying - which, to be fair, probably makes up everything that they're saying about me - my mental health would just spiral out of control again. I didn't want to make myself feel like I've just wasted years of working on myself and my mental health because of a few words that someone who doesn't even know me said about me.

I've worked too hard and too long on myself, my mental health, how I viewed myself, only to have it ruined in a split second by the words of some ignorant teenager who doesn't understand that the words you say to and/or about other people affect them.

So here I was, making my way to the other side of the building, the quieter side, for the sole purpose of just avoiding people.

When I got to the corner where the restrooms were, I was about to step forward and push the door open when a hand encircled my wrist and stopped me. I have been on edge for the entire day that the simple contact was enough to make me jump out of my skin in fright.

I opened my mouth to scream rape as I turned around to take a good look at my assailant so that I could point him out from the line later.

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