Chapter 34: Actuality Reality
It had been about a week since all of that drama happened. So far, Ian kept his distance and I kept mine. It hurt, of course, it did, but I just couldn't sit around and mope about it when there was a new year ahead of me that I had to start making memories for. It was almost the end of the school year, and Liam and Liz would be going off to college soon and I just don't think I'm as prepared for this as I should be. When they left, it'd just be me and most likely the baby that my mom has been carrying around for almost nine months.
School would start back up tomorrow, and I'm still not sure about that either. Ever since Web-lee's had started, I had gotten over 500 friend requests on Facebook, and most of them were from people from school who used to make fun of me about making web shows. It's crazy when you become kind of famous how many people wanna be in your life.
Pacing downstairs from my slumber, I entered the kitchen where my mother was sitting with my father. She, of course, was drinking Brisk Tea and he was drinking his coffee. "Morning dad." I bent down and kissed his cheek. "And sweet boy." I bent down to my mom's belly and kissed it all over.
"You take more charm in this baby then I do." I heard my dad chuckle and I smiled. "Oh..." I looked back at my mother and she had this pained expression pasted on her face.
"It's okay honey." Before I put my hands back on my mom's belly, she made another "Oh" noise, but this one was more of a grunt.
"Dad..." I stood up and watched my dad go to work. He bent over her and began soothing her.
"Sharon, do you want me to call the doctor?"
"No it's okay Ry." I loved the cute nickname that she had continued to call him, throughout high school and college until now. "He was just kicking more than I thought and more harder than I imagined."
"Oh goodness," he said kissing her right on her forehead. "You had us both worried. Look how pale Briana got 'cause she thought you were having contractions." He laughed as I smacked his arm.
"I just probably need to go lie down." Using my father as support, she stood up and made her way to the living room to lay where we could see her.
I looked back at my father. "What do you have planned grand chief?" I asked walking around the kitchen to find some breakfast.
"I could ask you the same." He took a seat back at his regular spot. "You haven't really been hanging around Ian or anyone for that matter." I opened the cabinet where the cereal was and pulled out the Fruity Pebbles. "Is everything okay between you two?"
"It will be." I turned to him and he was looking at me.
"Should I be worried?"
"We're just at that turning point in our friendship and no, you shouldn't be worried." I walked over to the fridge and got the milk. "We just need space. You can't be around someone for a long time and not need your space, am I wrong?"
"You're right." He sighed. "Do you know before you were born, your mother and I separated?"
I raised an eyebrow and looked at him. "Excuse me?"
"Yeah. We were. Liz and Kaleb were too young to understand, but Eric was about, hmm, roughly six or seven so he remembers why daddy wasn't around."
Once I got done fixing my cereal, I turned around, faced him, and raised an eyebrow. "So why wasn't daddy around?"
He sighed, set his paper down, and looked at me. "Your mother and I were high school sweethearts so I've been with the woman for probably most of my life. Just like you said, you can't be around someone for a long time and not need your space. We argued constantly. We had three kids and we didn't know what to do. Your mother was stressed and I was stressed, and we just took it out on each other so I left and I took Liz with me." He took a pause as he slipped his glasses off. "She was a daddy's girl at that time so she didn't really pitch a fit about not being around mommy."
"So what ended up happening seeing as you two are together, hence why I'm standing here."
He smiled. "We did the whole separation thing for like 5 months maybe and it was hard for her and even harder for me. We had done the whole dating thing again and for me, it didn't seem right. Your mother was mine and I was hers and there were no in-betweens or anything. She said she had tried to go and date someone else, but didn't like it. All she pictured was me." I smiled. "And I never went a day during that 5 months worrying about your mother or about what she was doing or thinking."
"So who appeared on whose doorsteps first?"
He smiled. "I did." I laughed. "As she was on her way out to come and meet me." We both laughed. Sitting my bowl down on the table, I walked over and wrapped my arms around my father's neck. "I love you sweetheart."
"I love you more daddy."
And the day went on just like that. We spent Sunday as family day and watched some football. Liz, my mother, and I cooked while Lucas, Liam, and my father set up the living room in orderly fashion to complete our family day. Sadly, Lucas is considered family.
At the end of the day, I did something with Liz that I hadn't done in a long time.
"So, Web-lee's was a success and I feel like total crap for not actually coming back afterwards and webshowing," I said into the camera.
"Well, you see," Liz said, "Briana had troubles and difficulties in the realm she thought she'd never have troubles in."
"Love," I muttered. Liz and I shared a look and made an ew! noise. "Before you all get your hopes up and whatever, it does have something to do with Ian and it does suck or whatever, but..." I trailed off and sighed.
"She's been through quite a rough ordeal guys," Liz said taking control, "and most of it is my fault. I've never told Briana how jealous I was that she had two guys after her." I raised an eyebrow and looked at her. "And we got into a fight Christmas day, so I thought I'd spoil it for her because I'm a bad sister. She came into my room crying that day and I knew that she was so soft-hearted and what I did was wrong."
"Jealousy won't do us well because all my hopes for ruining my sister's life flushed the second I saw one tear spill from her eyes." She looked at me. "I'm really sorry Bri. I just..."
"You're jealous of me? Are you kidding? You've been the star cheerleader and the perfect daughter, and I was always the jealous one. Like, if I were as athletic as you or more superior, it would have been a perfect life."
"Perfect daughter? Mom told me that I was inconsiderate one day and that might have been, I don't know the cramps and hormones, or whatever, but she kept saying that she wished I was more like you." She was on the verge of tears.
"There's nothing more in the world that I could say to you right now other than I love you and you are an amazing daughter. Mom has called me inconsiderate as well, but that doesn't mean she doesn't think you're perfect in her eyes."
Liz leaned over and placed her head on my shoulder and I figured that... that was a perfect time to end the web show. With a wave goodbye, I flicked the camera off.
School. The six letter word that I believe can ruin anybody's day. As I laid in bed, I contemplated on faking sick or just hiding under my bed. I don't think I'm ready to participate in the school's activities. I don't think I'd ever be able to.
Just when I was pondering on skipping school, I heard two taps on my window. I sat up slowly and looked at my window. Really? There was more tapping as I got out of bed and made my way to the window. As I approached, I saw a shirtless Kaleb standing there, greeting me with the biggest smile ever. Rolling my eyes and smiling I bent down to open the window.
"Don't you think that is a bit too much nudity for a girl like me?" I asked, my natural sarcasm towards him coming back.
"Well, you know," he said flexing his muscle, "a girl could only dream to see these guns."
I couldn't help but laugh. "Why are you up at like 6 am? Isn't that against your Kaleb rules?"
"It is, of course, against my rules, but coach called for a mandatory meeting. I can't say no to coach. I love him wayyyy too much." I shook my head at him. "What about you. Why are you up?"
"Well, you know, I was just contemplating on the facts of life." He rolled his eyes at me. "Why does coach want a meeting? Football season ended like a month ago or something."
"Yeah. He's trying to get us to be interested in other sports." He feigned exasperation. "Can you believe him? I can't."
"Yeah sure. Why don't you try out for like, I don't know baseball? It hasn't started and by the way that is one of my favorite sports. Liam plays it."
"I might have to take up that idea. Liam is such a great character." I laughed at him. "Well, Liz said she'll drive you to school. I have to go get dressed for this particularly amazing day."
"How can this be an amazing day? It's Monday." And then I thought about what he said. "How do you know that Liz is going to take me to school?"
His face went red as he covered his mouth like he just let some big secret escape. "I'll see you at school Briana!" And he shut his window as fast as he could and disappeared. Raising an eyebrow, I stood and walked to the bathroom. What could any of that mean?
I dressed, on this cold winter day, in leggings, boots, a white t-shirt with a jean jacket over, and my favorite orange scarf. I walked downstairs, unusually, where Liz was sitting at the table talking to my mother's belly. My father, unusually, was making breakfast. I raised an eyebrow.
"Are we in some parallel universe or something because I'm so confused."
"Well, good morning to you too Briana," Liz said. Standing up, she walked over to me and smiled. "Come, feel mom's belly. The baby is surprisingly up really early this morning." Without a real answer, she pulled me towards mom and I kneeled. "It's mostly in this area." She guided my hands to the right spot, but nothing. "Hmm, he was moving earlier."
"He literally hates me so much," I said.
"Oh c'mon Briana..."
"Oh," came from my mother's mouth. I moved my hands and looked at her. "Those tough kicks from yesterday are coming back." She relaxed some and then sighed. "Okay, they're gone."
"Isn't this some kind of coincidence or something?" I asked. "This happened the last time I touched the baby. I swear he has some kind of pawn over me or something."
"Or is it you that has something over him?" Liz asked.
"I haven't even met this baby. What kind of pawn would I have?" I asked.
"The sort of pawn," Liz said standing, "of like being the youngest of the family."
I looked over at her. "Really? I could never hate my baby brother."
"Hate is too strong of a word," she said with a smile on her face. I rolled my eyes as I checked the time. "Oh goodness, we're going to be late."
Raising an eyebrow, I looked down at my phone. "Liz, it's 7:30. We have like an hour."
"Love you mom. Dad." Kissing them both, she pulled my arm and we ran out of the door. What the crap was going on with people today?
Arriving at school, Liz sprinted into the building before I could even get my door shut. I walked slowly into the school. Empty. Well, I wasn't surprised. People didn't appear at school until five minutes before the first bell rang. It was pretty weird though, being back at school since everything happened. This place was like a foreign place to me and it's sad that I actually missed it. No one ever misses school.
I approached my locker, twisted in the combination and opened it. A pile of letters fell down at me and onto the floor. They were all written on different colored papers and there were dozens of them. I looked around, but there was no one in sight. I slowly picked up the letters and tried to place them back into my locker, but that was a mistake because none of them fit anymore. So I threw my books out of my bag, stuffed the notes into my bag, took the books out of my locker and stuffed my book bag into the locker. Great, no book bag today.
Hoisting my books into my arms, I walked upstairs and towards the journalism room. Opening the door, I was surrounded by rounds and rounds of applause. I looked up and noticed all of my journalism peers giving me a round of applause. I stopped, stunned, and then I began smiling.
"Introducing The Briana McArthur," Jimmy Ryans, the head of the Journalism department said. I set my books down on the nearest table and he engulfed me into a hug.
"Oh c'mon," I said as he separated from me. "I still wanna be Briana McArthur to you guys."
"Oh you are, but that doesn't mean we can't congratulate you on your win. Web-lee's is a big deal in our life, I must say so." I laughed at him.
"I didn't win."
"We still think that you did," Erin, a news editor said, "and apparently those guys thought you did too, since they gave you their award."
"And the whole school voted for you," Stacy, another news editor said.
"Yeah," she went on. "Liam and Lucas asked the principal to put it on the school website. Everyone checked it out and everyone voted. Did he never tell you that?"
I smiled some. "No, he never did." I sat down at the table and smiled. "He's one for secrets."
"Especially the one today," someone from the back whispered. Jimmy slapped him on the back of the head.
"Wait ... what?" I asked with an eyebrow raised.
"Nothing," Erin and Stacey said completely in sync.
"Everyone back to work," Jimmy said quickly. Everyone swiveled to their place and started to do their work. I raised an eyebrow, but no one said anymore on the subject.
The day went on just like that, people were congratulating me on my win and telling me how they watched it and how they were so glad that I had succeeded at something like that. I got many hugs from people I didn't even know knew me and they were telling me how much my web show had influenced them. All I could do was say thank you because I was so stunned. You never know how much of an impact you have on someone's life.
I ate lunch with Alexander. He talked to me about some new movie that was gonna come out. Throughout all of lunch, he would give me this weird smile, but never told me what it was about.
I braced myself as I entered fifth period. Opening the door, I peered in. Ian nor Kaleb were in there. That was perfectly odd seeing as they were both on the football team and they had to be here at six am. Mr. Martin saw me and smiled. The rest of the class looked in his direction and started clapping for me. I literally got this too much in one day, but I couldn't help but smile at their sweet gesture.
"Ahh Ms. McArthur." I looked at Mr. Martin and he had the warmest smile on his face. "Welcome back." And I couldn't help but smile even brighter.
As we did our sketches, I kept hearing people whisper about something. Towards the end of class, I couldn't help but look over my shoulder at some redheaded girl who was sitting by this blonde bimbo that I knew was a cheerleader.
"What could get you all in a fit of giggles and whispers?" I whispered, slightly peeved.
"Oh," the blonde said. "You'll see."
Before I could ask her what she meant by that, the announcements came on and Mr. Martin hushed us all. "It's time teachers. Would you please escort your classes down to the auditorium."
Odd, we never had big meetings in the auditorium.
We all filed in and sat with our class. Our class, seeing as how Mr. Martin loves being on time, sat in the second row right behind the class that Alexander was in. He turned around and looked at me with bewilderment.
"Aren't you excited?"
"About a meeting in the auditorium?" I asked, eyebrows raised.
"Yeah. It's a way to get out of class and maybe some of 6th period as well."
"I love the class I'm in. You know how I feel about Art."
"Didn't you do a lot of art over the course of our Christmas holiday?"
"Well yeah, but this is hand art, not web show art."
"I see no difference. Art is Art dude."
Before I could respond, our principal, well-respected by the student body, approached the stage and looked before us all. "Good afternoon students." In unison, we all responded good afternoon. "Today we have a special presentation." A smile lingered on his face. "Most of you know what it is that I'm about to say, or do. Some of you-" His eyes gradually found mine and then he flickered them back to the crowd. "-wish you knew." I heard some laughter. "But before I give you my speech and yada yada, I have an important video to show you all that will help establish what I'm about to say." As he went off stage, the lights slowly dimmed and a projection screen rolled down.
"I don't know." A girl's voice said on the screen. My mouth dropped. "Sometimes students and teachers understand each other, and sometimes they don't." That was me. "Teachers don't understand that we have their class and six others. Students don't understand how to do time management." This was the first ever web show I made in high school. "But some students are so disrespectful to the teachers, and teachers don't have enough respect in themselves to freaking stand up to their bullies, i.e., students." I shifted in my seat and sunk lower. "But I mean, c'mon. Teachers could make school more fun instead of having all these rules. We hardly want to come to school in the first place, so why not just make it rule-free." There were some snickers in the audience. "Okay no, scratch that." I smiled. "What I'm trying to say is ... is that we don't make it any easier on the teachers either. They have to sit and relentlessly grade our papers while we do theirs. There's no win-win and I don't think that there will ever be." I rolled my eyes.
"I don't know. I feel like my school could change a bit. Not just with the teacher-student ratio, but also student to student. We're mean to one another and you can't deny it. We've all made someone's life a living hell and we never even think once about their situation at home. I remember in like 8th grade, there was this guy named Jimmy and he bullied the crap out of this girl Melinda. He did it non-stop for about two weeks. One day, her mother went into her room and found her lying in bed, with a brand new, empty bottle of Tylenol lying right next to her." I heard gasps in the audience. "She didn't die, no, because her mother found her at just the right time. They pumped her stomach and she survived, but I never saw her at school again. Jimmy moved schools and we never heard of him again." I shook my head. "I know this video won't help anything because we've all seen the cliche video, but can we not work on it? I mean, you never know someone's situation at home. Freaking, don't come to school just to make fun of someone because you end up looking like the douchebag." I shook my head. "Well that's my rant."
The video went black and the auditorium lights went up. I was still sunk in my chair, but there were a lot of people looking at me. Everyone sat still, I guess my words rang in their ears because they still rang in mine.
Saving us all, the principal came back onto the stage. "She had no idea that we were honoring her today, but I feel like we should. She's been on the Journalism staff all her life, she's been in AP classes ever since she came here, and her sophomore year she did a lot of anonymous counseling for many of you in here. She never knew it was you, but you all knew it was her." I gulped. Many of the football guys, I noticed, were aligning the back of the stage in their cool Letterman jackets. A girl came and brought a plaque onstage for our principal to hold. "We're honoring Briana McArthur with the first ever National Student Award." I was still stunned, the whole time. "Briana would you please get up here?"
I don't know how I moved, but my legs got me out of my row, up the aisle and towards the stage. No one clapped, and it made me nervous. Once I got onto stage, I looked among my peers. The claps started, slow and monotone at first, but in a matter of seconds, people were standing on their feet cheering like crazy. I smiled. I smiled hard, and then there were tears as I took the plaque and stood in front of the podium to speak.
They clapped, and hooted, and cheered for like five minutes before some of the teachers shushed them. "Wow," I said. "I feel like I'm at like another awards show or something." I looked among all of my peers. "If I haven't said this before, I feel like we're all a family. I would have never expected this." I looked at my plaque and smiled. "I feel so honored and I'm grateful." I looked around. "I don't know man, I'm just really happy." And I laughed and they clapped. "I love you guys. Thanks so much."
Our principal made his way back to me and smiled. "Could you guys give the football team, the cheerleaders, and the head football coach, Brock Stimbleton a hand clap for getting all of this together." The students raided in hand claps.
I turned, looked at Liam, Lucas, Kaleb, and Ian as they stood beside each other. They each gave me a thumbs up and I smiled. I had the best groupees ever.
Fun Fact Time!
Well, it's not really a fun fact, it's just a fact. My full name is Briana Nicole BBusby. I used to get made fun of a lot because of my last name, and it was ridiculous tbh. I'm 17 and I'm a senior at my school. I do a lot of AP classes and I want to major in Journalism, and I really wanna go to TCU.
Ginger: I know what you mean, but at the same time, I also have a plan for my story. Like not being rude or anything, and I love that you read and notice this kind of stuff, but can you just wait for it? There's a reason I wait for things in my story. Still love ya!
Ridz Arsh: That's legit what I was going for. Like I wasn't going for that like cliche kind of story where boy likes girl and girl plays hard to get, but then they get together. Like I was trying to make it realistic, and I know there's some stuff in this story that isn't realistic or whatever, haha, but that's just my touch. I just, thank you for noticing. I really appreciate the depth you put into your comment. I love long comments so much because I go back and read them a thousand times. I love it. I love you. Thank you!
Kayla: Thank you so much! This actually meant the world to me to see you put that! I'm glad I could make your day better. Reading everyone's comments makes my day better, to be honest!
Kudu: Thanks so much dude! You make me so happy.