"I hate the world. I hate it. I want to disappear. I want to run far far away and never come back."
I gently swung back and forth on the swings, my best friend doing the same on the swings next to me. We stared out into the night as crickets chirped in the background. I clenched my toes and held onto the chains on the sides of my swing just a bit tighter.
"Would anyone even notice?" I asked softly. I looked at the ground.
"Hmm, I don't know. Your dad sucks and you don't really have any friends besides me. So no, I don't think so. Your presence wouldn't be missed at all, really."
"Thanks for the encouraging words," I replied back flatly, pausing for a bit before asking, "even you wouldn't notice?" I looked up as a car with loud music blasting out of its open windows screeched around a corner.
"Well, since I'd be running away with you, I didn't really count myself."
I finally looked up at her, letting a hint of a smile cross my face for the first time that night.
I made my way through the crowded lunchroom, quickly heading over to my table.
"I want to die."
I sank into the seat across from Audrey, who just took a huge bite out of her hamburger. I glared at her coldly and she chewed slowly. She stared back, her face completely devoid of any expression, but I swear I caught a glimmer of amusement in her eye. Fifteen seconds of silence passed by and we continued to stare at each other.
Five more seconds passed.
Okay, she was definitely chewing slower than usual, purposely leaving me hanging.
"I'm going to kill myself."
She continued chewing solemnly.
"I'm going to kill myself," I repeated louder, raising my tone just a bit higher.
Her lip twitched, but she said nothing, just chewed.
"I'm going to-" I began to shout, attracting the attention of tables closest to us.
"Okay, okay! Hold your horses," she exclaimed, laughing, "don't get too ahead of yourself and embarrass me. People are going to think we're freaks."
"They already think that," I pointed out.
"Correction!" she interrupted, holding up a hand, "they think you're a freak. I'm not part of this freak show you seem to have let your life degrade into."
"You are just full of compliments today, aren't you?" I asked incredulously.
"I don't even know why I continue to associate with you," she continued, unfazed, "association with freaks is highly looked down upon."
She took another bite of her hamburger, "You really should appreciate the fact that I love you more than I love my reputation."
"Well, I can't same I'm very grateful. I always figured I was the one sacrificing the reputation."
She gave me an incredulous look.
"You?" she asked in astonishment, "sacrificing?"
I gave her an angelic smile, "Yeah, me. You're ruining my image of loner emo girl. Loner emo girls don't associate with preppy cheerleading types as a rule."
She laughed, eyes twinkling in merriment. She pinched my cheeks lovingly.
"Oh this is why I keep you around. I like people who can hold their own ground with me."
She sighed deeply, "Though we could be running this school if you would only get rid of that so-called image of yours. We could be adored as goddesses in this school. I've seen the beauty you've hidden underneath all that make-up." She gestured at the students around us. "These mere humans would be falling at our feet."
She leaned across the table on her elbows, waggling her eyebrows at me.
"Huh? Whaddya say, baby? Let's take over the world."
I laughed, shaking my head. She pouted briefly, but went back to eating. I had given her the answer she had expected. In all honesty, even though we spoke in a joking manner, she had spoken truth. She really could be at the top of the social ladder. She had the looks and brains to go along with it. Unfortunately, she had refused to relinquish her friendship with me. Loner emo girl me.
"Look at her," she said disgustedly.
I followed her gaze to look over at Crystal Anders latching herself onto some guy. Some hot guy.
"Can you believe that she's the it girl? I mean, sure. She's obviously got the looks, but if you bother to take a look inside her head?"
She looked over at me expectantly.
"I wouldn't though, because I already know what's inside," I said.
"Absolutely nothing!" Audrey cried out.
Audrey looked over at me, a dangerous look gleaming in her eye.
"Let's take her out and kick her to the curb!" she whispered to me conspiratorially.
I rolled my eyes.
"Come on!" Audrey whined, "I promise I will share the position of head honcho with you."
I shook my head.
She gave me a disappointed look, but relented.
"Shopping, then?" she asked brightly.
She sobered up, suddenly growing serious.
"Look, I totally get if you turn down the take-down-Crystal plan, but you can't continue to live in a little bubble that you only me to infiltrate."
I didn't speak.
"Your life can't just consist of me. It's not healthy. You need to move on."
She placed her hand on mine. I refused to look at her, shirking my hand back.
She withdrew, picking up her tray.
"It's been over a year," she said. "It's time to move on. I'm sure even he would've wanted you to."
And with that statement, she exited the cafeteria.
I took a deep breath, forcing myself not to break down. Not here. I got up to leave.
"Hey, hold on a minute."
Two guys approached. I recognized the one who spoke up as Crystal's boytoy. He gave a friendly smile.
I didn't smile back.
The other guy looked a bit nervous, but Boytoy seemed perfectly at ease.
"Hey, I'm Jordan," he gestured at the other guy, "and this here's Nick."
He stopped, looking at me hesitantly, but I didn't offer my name in return.
"Well," he continued awkwardly, "we were wondering-"
"I'm not going to tell you if she's single. I'm not going to tell you her number. You're not gonna get any information out of me about her."
Boytoy raised her eyebrows at me and Sidekick looked confused.
"The girl who was with me, right? You interested, yeah?" I probed.
"Yeah," Boytoy admitted, rubbing the back of his neck in a sheepish gesture.
I stood up and got uncomfortably close to them, feeling smug when Sidekick took a nervous step back, though I was annoyed that Boytoy didn't budge an inch.
"Well, grow some balls and ask her out yourself," I whispered into Boytoy's ear, giving him a malicious smile.
I then promptly turned around and pushed myself past the doors and headed straight for my car. I had to get out of here.
"Okay that girl just downright gave me the creeps!" Nick shuddered, "I mean her friend was hot, like unbelievably hot, but seriously! Why does she hang out with such a loser?"
I shook my head slowly, still thinking about the incident. That girl really had gotten uncomfortably close, but I had refused to give her the satisfaction of knowing that she made me uncomfortable. I reflected back on the moment.
Her eyes, though outlined heavily in dark mascara, had been a sea-green. It really was such a beautiful color… unfortunately she had also painted her eyes and lips black, her face unnaturally white, and her hair was ugly, coarse and jet black. I curled my lip in disgust.
No matter how beautiful her eyes were, it didn't take away her hideousness.
I looked at Nick.
"Why don't you just ask the hot girl out, straight up?"
Nick looked worried, "I don't know, she's always hanging around that freak."
I shook my head, "I can't believe you're intimidated by some girl."
He snapped his head up, offended, "I'm not intimidated, man. I'm just trying to piece together the puzzle pieces. It just doesn't make sense."
"Whatever," I said dismissively. "Do you even know anything about her?"
He shook his head, "It's only been the first week of school. I think they're new, haven't seen them around before."
"So you're going after a girl you don't even know the name of?"
Nick shrugged, "She's hot, enough said."
I smirked. "True that. All right, I'll go with you. Play wingman."
"Thanks man!" he grinned, slapping me on the back. Then his expression turned worried.
"Wait, why do you want to help me out so bad? You also interested in this girl?"
"Nah man!" I said, "I already got Crystal."
Nick frowned, "But you guys aren't really dating, right? You could break it off anytime."
I gave him a look, "Break it off with Crystal? Have you seen her?"
He laughed, "I don't know. I think the hot girl I picked out can beat her in the looks department."
I grinned, "Maybe so, but I'm not interested in your girl."
He looked relieved, "Good, cause I don't think I can compete with you, Jordan."
I discreetly withheld from him the fact that I was interested in the other girl. The freak. Ugly she may be, but she was interesting, and I had always been a curious boy.
My eyes scanned the entrance to our school every few seconds. I was leaning against the wall with Crystal pressed against me. It had become part of our routine to engage in a quick make-out session right before school, but today, I had something much more pressing.
"Not now, Crystal," I said distractedly, pushing her aside.
Her eyes narrowed. "You're rejecting a free make-out session with me? There are guys in this school willing to pay hundreds to get what you're getting from me."
My gaze flickered to hers and I drawled out, "Honey, I don't know if you realize this," I leaned closer to her, "but accepting money for your, um, services, would make you a prostitute."
Crystal gasped indignantly and stabbed my foot with her heel. Her five-inch heels that ended in dagger-like points.
I winced as I watched her leave, her hips sashaying back and forth. I groaned and leaned my head back against the brick wall.
Nick came up to me, looking amused.
"So Crystal just walked by, radiating fury. What happened, bro?"
I forced a smile, "Well, I just basically called her a prostitute."
Nick whistled a low note. "I don't know, dude. You might want to stay away from her for a while. When she gets mad, she gets real mad."
I nodded. "Yeah, but she'll come around." I grinned, "No one can resist all this." I gestured at myself.
Nick chuckled, "Boy, you got the ego of a-"
I slapped him on the shoulder, interrupting him. "Get ready, lover boy. Your girl has just arrived."
We watched as the girls made their way up the front steps, observing them.
As they walked, the crowds of students milling around seemed to part, making a path for them. It was almost as if, they were respected, feared. I observed the way they walked, with confidence oozing out of every step. As if they knew every eye was on them and was proud of it. Even Freakazoid, in all her ugliness, had mastered perfectly how to walk the walk. How had she? Losers like her were usually afraid of being noticed, they walked like ghosts, trying to blend into their surroundings. But here she was in all her hideous glory, strutting her stuff out for the world to see. I don't even think they noticed the attention they commanded. People had been talking about them since day one.
Beauty and the Beast.
The Hottie and the Nottie.
Goddess and Freakazoid.
The names were endless. I approached them, dimly aware that Nick was right beside me. I never paid much attention to the gossip mill, but now was different. I had asked around and gotten their names: Audrey Livingston and Kelsie Pulmero.
I had planned out a perfect confrontation with Nick. They had been ignoring everybody around, but now we were going to make sure they finally started noticing some things. Things like me.
They looked up as we approached. Audrey regarded me with some interest while Kelsie just gave me an icy look.
I nudged Nick subtly. He stepped forward, completely ignoring Kelsie, directing all his attention to Audrey.
"I'm here to ask if you're single. I'm here to ask for your number. I'm here to find out all the information I can about you," Nick said, reflecting the words Kelsie had said to us the day earlier.
Kelsie gave me a sharp look and I grinned back, shrugging my shoulders.
"You told us to grow a pair, we did. You told us to ask her out, we did. Anything else you want?"
She narrowed her eyes to slits, "What," she scoffed, "do you do everything together? What are you, attached at the hip?"
I smirked, "I could ask you girls the same thing."
Audrey gave me an amused look and looked back at her friend.
"Did I miss something along the way?" she questioned.
"Nothing," Kelsie remarked, the iciness still palpable in her tone, "Nothing of much interest." She grabbed Audrey's wrist. "
"Let's get going. We don't want to miss our next class."
"You sure don't," I agreed.
Kelsie sent me one last glare before dragging her friend down the hall.
Nick looked at me, "Well, that was fun. I especially liked the part where I got completely ignored."
I clapped him on the back, "Well, we'll wait around for lunch and get our answer, shall we?"
He gave me a weird look, "Just what are you up to, Jordan?"
I looked at their disappearing figures before answering Nick.
"Let's find out the mystery behind these girls. They make quite the interesting pair."