Nate just stared at me with his mouth open in awe. “What?” I had completely blindsided him with an outright lie.
“What the hell man?” Brad stepped out of the crowd of boys, stumbling over a tree root. The faint smell of alcohol trailed behind him, making me almost gag as he charged at Nate. I feared what Brad might do to him in his current state. I stood the best I could and stepped between them. I had already done enough damage to Nate. I didn’t need him to be physically injured too.
“Stop, Brad. It’s okay. Let’s just get out of here.”
He pressed his lips tight, and a vein began to pop on his neck. The muscles in his chest tightened under my hands when he clenched his fists, “You’re lucky, man!” He pointed a stubby finger at Nate’s face before stumbling towards the cars. Nate continued to glare at me, and I couldn’t blame him. I could hardly look him in the eyes when he mouthed why?
Damion picked the straw for the designated driver, so he offered to drive everyone home or back to Vanessa’s. Except for Nate.
The cold window felt good on my aching head. As we passed the house, Morea stood in the window. It didn’t work, she was still there, scowling down at us. I didn’t understand what happened up there and I honestly didn’t care. What mattered was I was out of that house, and I wouldn’t have to think about it again. Besides, next week was homecoming week, and that meant on Monday, they would announce the court. I knew that everything had to go as planned if I wanted people to forget about tonight.
I didn’t know how it would feel when I walked into school on Monday morning. By then, everyone heard the story I told Vanessa. Nate tried to kiss me. I pushed back and fell, hitting my head on a table. I made it up. And for what? To save my own skin? To keep my secret hidden? I was no better than the kids that left the scars on my face from my old school. I knew the day would be shit. I knew I wouldn’t be able to look Nate in the face. Instead, that day was worse.
Nate was a creep in everyone’s eyes, and that was my fault. The worst part was he didn’t even try to dispel it. He took the slams into the lockers. He took the name calling without a peep. While I just stood back and watched, the only one who could stop it.
I avoided him until he was unavoidable. A fresh cut glistened on his cheek when he entered math class. I stared at my textbook until he took his seat diagonally in front of me. He dropped his pencil on the ground accidentally I thought at first. But when he picked it up we locked eyes for the first time that day. He used his pencil to point at the young boy that stood in the middle aisle. He wanted me to know he could see him; as if I didn’t already know.
I hadn’t taken much notice of the boy before then. Now I could do nothing but stare at his nearly transparent body. He wasn’t new, by any means. I had seen him every day for the past two years. Pretty much anywhere Keith Wallis went. There’s a rumor that he had a brother that drowned on a family vacation. What a great getaway that was. Keith never spoke about it, and the boy didn’t bother me, so I didn’t ask. He seemed perfectly content just following Keith around. Now he just seemed to be a symbol of my world crashing down.
The announcement of homecoming court finally came in sixth period. I chewed my yellow number two pencil, “The class of 2018 homecoming nominees are…” Principal Wagner’s voice echoed over the intercom “…Vanessa Miller, Carmel Smith, Amber Watson, Kaitlyn Shoemaker and…” The seconds seemed to creep by in years, “Emma Briggs.” My heart almost stopped. This could be it; everything would go back to before. I just wouldn’t give it attention and everything would go back to normal. Everyone would forget. I couldn’t think or hear any of the names of the nominees for king, except for one: Brad Newman.
The excitement continued throughout volleyball practice that night since all the nominees were on the team. That was until Nate stood waiting for me as I left the locker room. “Can we talk?”
He wouldn’t do this here. I didn’t think. I sighed and crossed my arms. Vanessa and the other girls on the team gathered around me. They all believed my story. My lie. He could out me right now, and I wouldn’t blame him.
“Alone.” he said, nodding at the girls.
“Fine.” I waved them away, “I can handle this.”
“You better not try anything, freak.” Vanessa’s lips curled as she took one last look at Nate and exited the gym.
Nate and I walked into the hall, careful not to touch. “I don’t know how you stand her.”
I ignored him, “What do you want Nate?”
“I would think you would be a little nicer to me since I know something you don’t want out.”
I clenched my teeth and swallowed hard. My eyes blazed through him.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to say anything.”
Why not? Was this some a trick? I made up a rumor about him, and he’s not even trying to dispel it.
“I get why you did it. It’s not exactly something I want to get out about me either.”
I softened my gaze. Of course, he didn’t. I would have heard about it by now. He would have been more than the boy from my math class. Who knows, maybe we would have been friends. “So, what do you want?”
“I think we did something bad. Like really bad.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think we released something,” he fiddled with the bronze latch on his backpack and pulled out a newspaper. “This was in today’s news.”
My heart began to pound as I eyed the headline, “Family of Four Found Dead in a Suspected Murder-Suicide.”
“What does this have to do with us?”
“This house was right outside the cemetery. And look closely at the window.”
I snatched the paper from his hand and inspected the house, “It’s a curtain!” I shoved the paper into his chest.
“It’s not a curtain. It’s her dress, and you know it.”
He wasn’t lying. I did.
Thanks for stopping in. I hope you are enjoying Emilia’s Awakening. Leave me a comment below with your thoughts and predictions!