A week into school and everything was great. Better than great, fantastic really. Grief counseling was going well, the group counseling was amazing. So far, I only listened to everyone else, I didn't talk much. They understood that eventually I'd be more willing to talk about it. We all learned coping skills. Ways to feel better, ways to stay happy.
Surrounding ourselves with good people was one of the major things. Being around people who love us and care for us is a big help. I was thinking less on the sadness of the past and trying to get on with my present and future. Nate was a huge help.
Even though he didn't know anything about me going to counseling and stuff, he was always there, a big smile on his face, with some witty thing to say to keep me upbeat and happy. I loved being around him. I hadn't cut my wrist once that whole week. The other cuts had healed, leaving small scars, and I made sure I always wore long-sleeved shirts. I wasn't sure what I was going to do when summer came around.
Being friends with Evelyn and Hannah, the twins from lunch, was always fun. Nellie was harder to get to know, she was quiet, but friendly. And Abbie, who just happened to be in every single class with me except for art, was definitely my best friend. We had clicked instantly, and she made sure I sat by her in every class that we had together.
Beth had bought me a cell phone and texted me at lunch one day. I pulled it out and Abbie grabbed it from me. "Oh my gosh! This is the same phone I have!" I wasn't sure which phone it actually was, one of the newer high-tech like ones... I had told Beth, I didn't mind having a cheap phone but she insisted on this one.
Abbie added her number to my few contacts and then passed it around the table, everyone added their numbers and made me promise to text them later. Abbie had come over multiple times, loving my 'family'. We found out we were the same size for clothes and instantly started sharing and trading.
She was like the sister I'd always wanted, and Beth started including her on our shopping trips. We spent countless hours window shopping, or just lounging around at home, flipping through magazines, painting each other's nails, doing each other's hair... everything I'd ever wanted but didn't have until now.
Beth was definitely the "cool Aunt" type, making us hot cocoa late at night when we should be sleeping, or experimenting with new make up with us. She was usually up for anything, whether it was trying to add highlights into my hair, or making crazy avocado face masks.
School was great too. Especially having Abbie around. There was never a dull moment with her, and every class was always fun. Even Algebra, which for me, is the most impossible subject ever. But with Abbie and Nate, I was getting good grades, and enjoying it too.
"Did you hear?" Abbie asked, bouncing up to me in the hallway. "There's a 50s' dance on Friday night!"
I nodded. I'd heard about it. To celebrate the 50th day of school there would be a 50s' sock hop. Meaning we all had to dress up like the 50s' people. This would be awesome. "Yeah!" I grinned. "I'm wicked excited. Aunt Beth offered to take us shopping to that vintage store tonight if you can!"
She squealed as we walked into the chorus room. "Your Aunt rocks!" Nate passed by and waved, heading to his class. It was second block, gold day, which meant chorus for me and Abbie, and study hall for Nate. Secretly, I was hoping he'd ask me to the dance. Either way I was going, but a lot of girls already had dates. Abbie was going with Nellie's older brother Carl. He'd asked her at lunch while they were dumping their trays.
"I know, I know," She'd said to me afterwards, "Not the most romantic way to ask a girl to a dance, but still!"
Evelyn and Hannah both had dates too, two sophomore boys that they'd met in their AP classes. Right now, I was the only one of the girls at our lunch table without a date, except for Nellie. Her mom refused to let her go to the school dances, until she turned 14, which wouldn't be until towards the end of sophomore year. "I don't mind." She told us. "Really, I don't. It's better anyway. I get made fun of enough here, sometimes by the older kids in my classes. Going to a dance is just like asking for serious embarrassment."
At this point though, with the dance only two days away I was inwardly freaking out. What if no one asked me? That'd be so weird, going alone... I sighed out loud, without realizing it, and Abbie elbowed me.
"What was that for?" I exclaimed, rubbing my probably bruised ribcage. "That hurt!"
"You just sighed. Loudly. I think everyone heard it! What were you thinking about? Or should I say who?"
"Shut up!" I said, glaring at her but she just laughed and we sat down with everyone else.
"Okay guys," Miss Mitchell said, practically dancing her way into the room.
"Thanksgiving break is almost here, but that does not mean you won't have homework. You each need to practice your parts for the Holiday concert that's coming up, and..." She paused, for dramatic effect, and then said, "During the Holiday break, not Thanksgiving break, but the next one, you will each choose a partner, to make a music video with. Over this break I'd like you to try to come up with a song you can sing. Now, just to repeat myself... After Thanksgiving break I need to know what song you and your partner will be doing. And during Holiday Break is when you'll be videotaping. Is that clear?"
There was clapping and cheering. This would be fun. "It doesn't have to be anything big or fancy, but it needs to be good. So choose a song, you both don't have to sing, one can just play an instrument of some sort, and the other can sing. BUT you both need to have participated in it to get a good grade. You can have other people in it if you'd like and they don't have to be in this class to be in the video."
"You're my partner." Abbie told me.
I grinned. "Duh." It was obvious. We worked amazingly together and our voices blended well together. We'd found that out when we'd both auditioned for the bigger parts in the concert and got put together singing a duet. We each had our own parts and stuff but for some of it we sang together, and as Miss Mitchell had said, we 'sounded like angels'. Not to brag or anything.
Okay fine, maybe we bragged a little bit. Nobody's perfect. "Now, on to what we're doing today. Sakari, Abbie, get up here. You two have the last song of the night on concert night and you need to be perfect. No pressure."
"Suuuure." Abbie muttered under her breath, earning a mock glare from Miss M.
"We've enlisted the help of the band for most of the night, and Mr. Gath and the band will be coming in to rehearse. We've only got the rest of this week, then about two weeks after break to rehearse."
"And, last announcement before we get practicing, I would like you all to know that there will be some people from District 5, which as you all know, happens to be the summer singing program for the county here, and they will be listening to you all. Only three students will be nominated for the program and those three will then have a chance to audition to get in. If you get in, the fee is only $50 bucks. You can get in without having to audition, but it's not really as amazing a chance. And it costs $500 dollars. Which is pretty pricy just for a summer camp for singing."
Abbie turned to me, her eyes wide. "We have to get nominated. We just have too!"
"I don't know... It's the entire summer... I kinda want to spend my summer doing other stuff."
Miss M started handing out papers. "During the months at camp they may have real singers come in to teach you things."
I turned to Abbie, my eyes as wide as hers had been. "We have to get nominated!" She gave me the 'I just told you that' look and then grinned.
Chorus went by quickly. It always did. We sang, danced and rehearsed until the bell rang and we'd rush off to lunch. I only had lunch with Nate on red days. Gold days I only had Abbie and Nellie at lunch. I couldn't wait for fourth block. Spanish, with Nate. Maybe, maybe, he'd ask me... and if he didn't... well, maybe I'd get brave enough to ask him. Maybe.
Lunch and English dragged by, and I could barely pay attention. My thoughts kept wandering to the dance, and to Nate.
When the end of third block bell rang, I rushed to Spanish, almost shutting my hand in my locker. Abbie could barely keep up and she kept grabbing my arm to slow me down. "Someone's over eager for Ms. Meres' class. Seriously, she's the worst teacher ever. Why are you so excited?"
We sat down, me somehow being able to avoid her questions and Nate at down beside us. The tables were able to seat four, but since our class was sort of small, not all the seats had to be filled. Nate, Abbie and me sat together, and we usually fought over who got to sit in the middle.
I got there, first today to my extreme delight, and when Nate sat down, Abbie gasped. "Oh. My. Gosh. No. Freaking. Way!" I elbowed her quickly, knowingly instantly that she'd put all the pieces together.
"What?" Nate leaned forward to see past me. "What's up?"
"Uh, uh.. nothing." She sputtered, pulling on my sleeve. "As soon as class starts we're going to the bathroom!"
The bell rang, I raised my hand and was allowed to go to the bathroom. I knew that Abbie would start bouncing her legs and complaining until Ms. Meres would finally let her go. Usually it was a rule for only one student to be out at a time, but no teacher could put up with Abbie when she had to pee. She'd beg and complain, and fidget until it was impossible to teach.
So within three minutes she was bounding into the bathroom, almost knocking me over. "NO WAY!" She squealed.
"Shut up Abbie!" I said clamping my hand over her mouth before she could shout it out. I glanced at the stalls just as one opened. It was Jaz and she looked over at us, raising an eyebrow. I dropped my hand away from Abbie's mouth.
"Hey." She turned to wash her hands and after, looked back at me. "You know, CJ wants to meet you. He heard me talking to Trina about you and he really, really wants to take you to the 50s' dance."
Abbie seriously stiffened. Not noticeably, but I could tell because I was standing right beside her.
"So, would you want to go with him?"
"Say yes." Abbie whispered, almost inaudibly.
"Uh..." I stammered. Abbie nudged me. "I don't know him enough for that..."
"Have lunch with us tomorrow." Jaz offered, but it definitely sounded more like an order. "You can get to know him then."
"Sure. Sounds great." I said, after Abbie nudged me again.
"Kay, cool. I'll let CJ know. See you then." She dried her hands and left.
I turned to Abbie, almost angrily. "What was that Abbie? You know I really want to go with Nate!"
"You don't want to say no to CJ!"
I sighed and rolled my eyes. "He can't be that awful. Jaz isn't."
"He does drugs. I'm not talking about just pot. Rumor has it that he does cocaine sometimes. Seriously, he's sketchy. He and his friends, including Jaz, all drink and smoke. And I know for a fact that Jaz and Trina smoke pot. It's not healthy. But you don't want to say no, because he can make your life suck. Just last year he planted drugs in a foreign exchange student's locker. Got the poor boy expelled. Just because the boy accidentally got in his way."
"And you want me to go to a dance with him?" I sighed. "You're crazy. Come on, let's get back to class." I left first, and she followed, waltzing into class a few minutes later. And I seriously mean waltzing. Ms. Meres rolled her eyes and threatened to give her a detention.
The class passed slowly and Nate didn't ask me.
The final bell rang and Abbie forged herself a bus pass note, so she could get on my bus and go to my house. Her mom wouldn't care, and I knew Aunt Beth was already to take us shopping, so it'd be okay with her.
We piled in the car after a snack. Caleb was coming too, and then when Beth found out that Nate and Flynn would need clothes too, she picked them up on the way. The shop was small, but it had what we needed.
Me and Abbie found the perfect outfits. They were matching. There was a white skirt with black polka dots. It came with a black shirt, with buttons coming from the shoulder to the neck, and a scarf to match the skirt. The other one was a black skirt with white polka dots. This one came with the same style shirt in white, and a skirt matching scarf.
All the boys needed were leather or denim jackets, which we were able to find pretty quickly. They were doing the 1950s' 'greaser' style. You know, the raggedy jeans, white t-shirts and either denim or leather jackets, with their hair slicked back and the old but still completely amazing, converse shoes. Surprisingly enough, everything was pretty decently priced and we left happily. Abbie was going on and on about perfect makeup when Beth dragged us all over to a shoe store. "Abbie and Sakari need those cute little, oh what were they called.... Oh saddle! Saddle shoes. You know the ones, those black and white shoes..." She looked through every aisle before "oohing" loudly and calling us over.
We left the shop about a half an hour later, with shoes in boxes, ready to go. We stopped at WalMart to get the boys some good hair gel. They all had to slick their hair back. It was going to be hilarious, seeing them all like that. Especially Flynn with his longish hair.
Abbie was going to spend the night, and Nate and Flynn stayed for supper. Beth made home-made chicken fingers, which was a big favorite for Caleb. And for a good reason. One bite made me sure I was in heaven. We all ate so much that when the food was gone, we just sat there, too stuffed to move. Eventually though Beth insisted that we get our lazy butts up, and Abbie found the game, Twister, in the back hallway.
Eagerly and over-excitedly, she dragged it out. Caleb insisted on being the person to spin the little wheel and tell us where to go. The rest of us stood around the mat, waiting for him to spin it. "Left hand on green." We all dove for the closest green circle, and the game went on. "Head on yellow." Caleb said suddenly and I paused.
"Wait a second, there's no heads! It's only hands and feet! You're cheating."
"Nuh uhh! I'm the caller person. I can say what I want."
After a lot of arguing, I finally gave in. So we all stuck our heads on yellow dots and then waited as he picked his next one. "Right elbow on green."
"You suck!" We all shouted as we stretched impossibly to reach his orders. Abbie was the first one to topple over, then Flynn, until it was just me and Nate. Flynn and Abbie were cheering on the sides, and as Caleb called out, "Left hand on red." I took the closest one, leaving Nate to have to stretch over me and reach for a red. But he lost his balance and fell on me, squishing me against the mat. His face was just inches from mine and I could barely breathe... and not just because my lungs were being squished.
His brown eyes were staring into mine, and I could have sworn he leaned in closer....
But Abbie, being... well, Abbie, ruined it. "You squished her!" Abbie squealed, pulling us both up, breaking the moment we were having.
We joked and laughed and put the mat away, then sat around telling random stories and just bonding as friends. Eventually though Nate and Flynn decided they needed to go home. I walked with Nate to the front door slowly and his hand brushed against mine as we reached to open the door.
Of course, we both withdrew our hands, then reached back out, seeing that the other had moved back. That happened a few times, until, laughing, Nate grabbed the handle. He nervously ran a hand through his hair. "You wouldn't want to go to the dance with me would you?"
Wow, way to blurt it out. "I'd love too." I said, without even thinking about CJ and the stupid lunch date thing.
"Really?" His eyes lit up and I smiled, nodding.
"Great... awesome!" He grinned and surprised me with a huge hug. "Okay, well I'll see you tomorrow at school."
"Technically at the bus stop, but whatever." I corrected him with a blush and a smile and he just widened his grin.
Flynn interrupted us. "Let's go!" And that was it. They left and I stood at the door like an idiot. Wow... this was perfect.
And then Abbie, as I said, being Abbie, ruined it for me by, after asking why I looked so happy, saying, "But you've got that lunch date with CJ. And he wants to take you to the dance."
"Well too bad." I said determinedly. "He can suck it up. I'm going with Nate."
She pulled me into my bedroom before, in her words, 'trying to shake some sense into me'. "Did you hear what I said in the bathroom at school? You can't honestly think you can say no to CJ!"
I sighed and flopped onto my bed. "Well I'm going to. And he can plant drugs in my locker if he wants too. I'm going with Nate. I'll still have the lunch date with them and explain that Nate asked me and I said yes. If he's a decent person, I'm sure he'll understand."
Abbie snorted. Literally snorted and then burst out laughing. "You're funny."
I half-heartedly laughed with her... was it really that bad? Would CJ do something to Nate if he found out I was choosing Nate over him? I sighed, I seemed to be doing lot of that lately. With a loud groan, I dug through my drawers to find some pajamas for me and Abbie. I tossed her a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt before finding my own pajamas. Tonight would be long, even if we didn't stay up late talking, which, of course we did. I mean, what kind of teenage girls would we be if we didn't?
We finally came to the decision that I'd tell CJ that Jaz didn't really give me a chance to explain that I already had a date. None of them needed to know that Nate hadn't asked me until tonight, right?
So the next day at lunch, Nate looked at me in surprise when Jaz motioned for me to go sit next to her. "Why does she want you over there?" He asked as I started towards her.
"Um, long story, I'll tell you later."
I made my way over and sat down, freaking out on the inside. "Guys, this is Sakari." Jaz said. Motioning to a girl with light brown hair. "That's Trina, that's Donovan," He had pale skin and light blonde hair that hung almost to his nose, covering his eyes, until he tossed his head and the hair brushed to the side. He nodded in that boy way of saying 'hi'. "And that's CJ." He was tallish, with short spiky dark hair and an almost scary look on his emotionless face.
"Hi." I said, trying not to sound scared. This was definitely going to be a strange lunch. "You know what, I just came to say hi... I think I'm gonna sit with my friends. Nice meeting you guys." I started to stand up but Jaz pulled me back down. "No seriously Jaz, I have some stuff to talk to them about. And about the dance, you didn't give me a chance to tell you that I already have a date... so ...." I trailed off and stood up. "I'll see you around."
As I walked away I heard her say, "You guys scared her off."
I sat down by Nate with a relieved sigh. "That was weird." Abbie reached over the table and grabbed my cookie.
"What happened?" She questioned, biting into it happily. Everyone at our table was staring at me, waiting to hear what happened.
"Well, I met Jaz in the bathroom on my first day of school and then yesterday she told me she wanted to introduce me to her other friends." I shot a look at Abbie, hoping no one else would see it. "So she told me to sit with them at lunch, so I let her introduce her friends and then told them I had stuff to talk to you guys about. Seriously though, it was like creepy over there." And it had been. A weird unsettling feeling had seemed to flow over me when I'd sat down.
I shuddered and then focused on my lunch. The usual lunch time chatter took over the conversations and I felt Nate staring at me. When I looked up he smiled slightly. "You okay?" I hadn't noticed it before but there was a tiny bit of concern in his eyes and I nodded.
"Yeah, just still a little creeped out.. don't worry I'm fine."
He just nodded slowly looking unconvinced. "Okay."
I dragged Abbie to the bathroom five minutes before the end of lunch bell. "You don't think anything will happen to Nate right? CJ wouldn't hurt him right?"
"I hope not. But CJ gets what he wants and I think he wants you."
I groaned and rubbed my forehead. "Why? Gosh! I almost wish everything here was like my old school where everyone but Damien ignored me and barely knew that I existed."
Abbie laughed and pulled me off the wall that I was leaning on. "Come on. The bell's gonna ring soon. Don't wanna be late for gym." I groaned. Why on earth had they thought it was perfectly okay to have a gym class directly after lunch? I always felt like puking during the warm up laps.
She grabbed my wrist and pulled me from the bathroom, getting us back into the cafeteria a minute before the bell would ring. I noticed Nate's face light up when I sat down and I couldn't stop the flush of happiness that coursed through me. I smiled and turned to him. "You excited for the dance?"
He nodded, excitedly. "Oh yeah. It's gonna be awesome. I can't wait to see Flynn with his hair all slicked back. He never wears it any other way than the way it is now." He grinned, and I couldn't help but grin back. Life was seriously starting to look better.
Aylin - Thanks for commenting. I'm sorry, it took so long, but with all the holidays, I didn't have much time for writing.
Milena - I love Nate haha, he's my favorite. I tried to make Aunt Beth the nicest/coolest Aunt possible and yeah... quite a few people I know have done it and I know a few who do just for attention - I totally hate it when people do it just because. But I understand when people do it to try to feel better, even though it's not a good way to get rid of those feelings... I'm sorry it took so long, but like I told Aylin, with the holidays I was really busy. I had the best Christmas ever with my family this year. It was so amazing. Anyway, I hope you like the chapter.
Ria - Thanks, so much. I really hope you like the chapter. And thanks so much for commenting. I am so sorry about taking so long, but I spent a lot of time with friends and family during the holidays. So I didn't have much time to write.
Shruti - Thanks so much. I really hope you like the chapter.
So I'm sorry for taking so long, but as I've said - The holidays took a lot of my time, not that I minded it. I really enjoyed having time with my family and some well needed reconnecting time with my best friend. Thanks so much for reading.
Oh and a late Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!