nothing but trouble
must we go on like this?
Monday morning came as quickly as Friday night ended, which sucks. Of course I put a smile on my face, wouldn't want anyone seeing me without one. Tara pulled up in her shiny new convertible with Ricky in the back, who was perceptibly wasted. I smiled, taking the front passenger seat and flinching as she whizzed off almost instantly. Stealing a glance at her, she looked unhappy. Her dark hair wasn't as combed and kempt as usual, and the natural shade of red against her pale skin seemed to be from anger.
"I hate Ricky." She growled.
"Babe… You know you love meeeeee!" Ricky said, singing the last part as if it were a lyric in a song.
I bit my lip. Drunk Tara was emotional and brutally honest. Drunk Ricky was out of control, uncensored, and absolutely hilarious. I wonder what drunk Eric would be like.
"Maybe we should just drop him off at home and give him some water or something." I mused, feeling concerned as the poor guy started slumping off to the side of the vehicle, then jumping whenever Tara made a turn.
"Or we could just dump him on the street. I like that idea better." She sneered at me, her tone sharp. Her face immediately softened when she realized how cruel she sounded. "I'm sorry Is…"
I shook my head, "don't be. I've noticed you're a little irritated with him. I just don't get why."
"I'd rather not talk about it."
I sighed softly, crossing my arms but not questioning her. Never question Tara when she's angry. Just, don't.
We never took Ricky home, but we didn't dump him on the street either – which took much convincing for Tara – so he owed me one. We ended up dragging him to the sidewalk and entrance to the school then buying a water and pouring it all over his face after several failed attempts of giving it to him properly.
I laughed at him when he stood up suddenly, shaking his head around like he was a dog. Tara was still upset. She trudged off.
"I have to get to first period." She said, her heels clicking rapidly. I had to run to keep up with her long strides.
"Class doesn't start in seven minutes… and we have six minutes for passing period. What's wrong?"
"Like I said, I'd rather not talk about it."
"Come on Tara. Did you and Ricky fight? Why have you been upset for the past few days? You haven't returned my calls ever since Friday before my date with Eric."
She stopped walking, turning around slowly. Her expression suddenly brightened.
"How did that go by the way?"
"It was great. He's so sweet, caring, and cute." I bit my lip, deciding to leave out the part where I finally met his twin brother… Or at least got a glimpse of him before I shut the door and pretended the whole scene never happened.
"Did you two kiss?"
"It was our first date Tara! Plus I've never…"
She gave me a wicked smile.
I decided not to comment on that. We walked together for a few minutes, just the two of us, in companionable silence. It was nice, fun even, until we saw Ricky slurring and smashing into the lockers like a total idiot. Her expression darkened once more and she huffed towards her first period class. What was up with those two?
I shrugged, going up to Ricky and grabbing him firmly by the shoulders. He swayed in my arms, looking hypnotized.
"If I die today… I need you to… tell Tara that I…"
I arched an eyebrow, raising my hand and striking him so hard on the face it caused him to jump and squeal like a crazed six year old. He held onto his cheek, staring at me surprised.
"Snap out of it Ricky! Tara is angry with you and you're just… you're just being… Ugh! Now I'M angry with you!"
He pouted, "I'm sorry Izzyboo."
"Don't call me that! And stop being drunk!"
He laughed as if it were the funniest thing.
"I'm not being drunk, I'm being Ricky!"
I sighed, grabbing another dollar out of my wallet and pulling him towards the machine as I did so. I bought another water and sat him down purposefully, trying to shove the bottle into his mouth… which wasn't easy. He squirmed and writhed underneath my touch, but eventually let the water course through his body.
"Who the hell gets drunk on a Monday morning anyway?" I asked myself grumpily. I stared at Ricky apprehensively, he was holding onto the bottle of water and drinking it intensely. Once it was all gone he kicked the bottle to the side dejectedly.
"Can I have more? I loved it. Well, not that much, but my throat's been burning and that sure did help. I just imagined that it was vodka, except it didn't taste like anything. It was the good kind of nothingness though."
…What? I shook my head. Drunk or not, that would be something Ricky would say. I stood up and grabbed his hand.
"Oh Ricky, what am I going to do with you?"
He shrugged, resting his head on my shoulder all of a sudden.
"I'm tired…" he said. I was about to respond when the bell for first period finally rang. Sighing, I shoved Ricky off my shoulder and watched him fall to the ground clumsily.
"Ricky it's time to go to class." I said softly.
"I don't wanna…" he moaned sleepily.
"Then at least go hide in a bush or something! Or else the security will TOTALLY murder you for being out here. I'm going to English class now… Er, good luck with your life." I said awkwardly as he crawled off towards a bush.
"I'll come back for you during passing period!" I said hopelessly, sighing and walking to English. On my way I saw Eric. A smile quickly making its way to my lips I was about to go say hi when I noticed he was talking to someone.
It was Terrance.
He looked angry, like he did the night I walked in on him and Stacy, Eric didn't sound too happy either. But from what I could hear, their argument didn't have anything to do with Stacy.
"You're such an asshole Terrance! Damn it, one more year and we're out of this school. Or at least I am since I actually care about my future! You need to get your act together."
"Don't tell me what to do," he said, the words rolling off his tongue quickly. He was chewing on his lip ring when he averted his gaze and caught my eyes. I turned around instantly, my legs wobbling. He probably recognized me… Oh sweet heavens I hope he didn't. I was so close to English when a hand shot out of the janitor's closet and grabbed me, pulling me inside.
I didn't even have time to scream, the lights switched on and Stacy was standing in front of me, eyes bloodshot from crying obviously. She sniffled, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.
"Um, hi Stacy. Is there something wrong?" I tried to sound casual, which didn't work because she glared at me.
"Don't play innocent with me! I know you saw us…"
I sighed, stuffing my hands into my pockets. I was beyond scared. Stacy never had a problem with me, but then again I never had anything I could hold against her.
"Look, if this is about Friday night, it really isn't any of my business." I eyed her suspiciously, as she toyed around with her scarf.
She had a sad expression once more, frowning and feeling guilty. Yet I couldn't feel sympathy for her. She made her choice.
"I… please don't judge me, just hear me out okay?" She pleaded as the warning bell rang. I sighed impatiently.
"Okay… Okay, fine. But please make this quick."
"You're going to be late to class Isabel, don't try to be punctual." She closed her eyes for a moment, before opening them. "I had a feeling Brock was cheating on me."
I quirked an eyebrow.
"What makes you think that?"
Her shoulders drooped.
"We were on a date, a movie date at his house. He went to the bathroom, and his phone was just… there. On the couch. I ignored it for as long as I could, but then it went off. There was a text message."
"You're hooking up with your boyfriend's best friend's brother because of a text message?"
She smiled sadly, "I guess so. His phone doesn't have a passcode, which made it easy to go through his texts. They were intimate, personal. This girl that he was talking to, they told each other they loved each other. When I confronted him about it, he yelled at me for looking in his phone, he said he couldn't trust me. I called him a hypocrite. We nearly broke up because of it."
I could only watch as Stacy slowly broke down. The tardy bell rang. So much for that…
"I… I was angry, so I went to Eric." She said, clenching her fist. My heart was thudding, nearly bursting out of my chest.
"I knocked on his door, but the person who answered wasn't Eric. It was Terrance." Her hand was shaking as she reached the scarf and touched the hickey that was underneath. "I didn't know him, which made it easier. He listened to me with indifference, but when I kissed him…"
I turned around, not wanting to hear it. I couldn't handle details like this, it was one of the reasons I could never see myself with Eric. Because people like Stacy were packaged along with him. Turning around wouldn't close my ears to what she was saying though. When she put her hand on my shoulder, I knew she was vulnerable. I was her weakness.
"I need you to hear this Isabel. Terrance isn't a sentimental person, he doesn't fall in love easily. I found that out when we started talking. I could talk with him, and he would listen. Or at least he wouldn't get up and leave. He's ill tempered, he likes random hook-ups, and he's unlike any other guy I've ever been with. I could sleep with him and leave as soon as he falls asleep and he could wake up not caring. I wanted that. I needed that. I craved that. I craved him."
I shook my head, "Are you trying to justify cheating on Brock?"
"I still don't understand. You love Brock, but you do this to him. You lie to him, and you hook up with Terrance. If he's cheating on you, dump him. Don't cheat on him, it will just hurt the both of you." I turned around to face her.
"Like I said, it isn't any of my business. So don't force me to be a part of this, because I don't want to be part of this. I just want to get to class, and reunite my best friends… and be Eric's girlfriend. Without any drama."
"Sweetheart, you can't date a popular and not have drama. It's like taking a shower and hoping you won't get wet." She clicked her tongue at her clever analogy.
"I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time! Are you seriously going to make me suffer because you can't stay faithful to your own boyfriend?"
She stared at me, shocked. Clearly no one has ever stood up to her the way I just did.
I held my shoulders up with confidence.
"Stacy, you're a beautiful girl with a… 'beautiful' personality. Your reputation is obviously pristine or you wouldn't be so emotionally distraught over this. So just stop. Make things easier for Terrance, yourself, and Brock… don't ruin your relationship by cheating on him. You can fix this. You can make things better. I know you can."
She bit her lip, "Promise you won't tell?" She had that pleading look in her eyes. It waned down to a look of fury when I didn't say anything.
"I can't promise anything Stacy."
"You… you little…"
"Go ahead. As if I haven't been called names before. As if I haven't been stepped on by people like you."
"People like me?" She put a hand to her heart, truly offended by my words. "You think you're so much better than me, yet you label others like that. I guess Brock isn't the only one who's a hypocrite."
"Maybe I worded that badly, look…" I just wanted to go to class.
"You know damn well what you were saying. Don't act so coy, Isabel. And don't label me. You don't know me. You don't what I've been through."
I let out an angry scream, startling Stacy and making her look around frantically, as if someone else were in the closet with us.
"Is that what you want? Sympathy? Because right now I don't feel anything for you. You made your choices! No one should feel sorry for you. You're not homeless, you're not starving, and you're not dead so nobody needs to feel sorry."
"If I were, would that be reason enough to need sympathy? I can have everything I need to survive and still feel unhappy. You seem so emotionless." She sighed, "You and Terrance would be good together."
My stomach lurched.
"Don't say that."
"Don't tell me what to do." Her eyes narrowed. "I call the shots around here, and no one is going to find out about Terrance and I."
"How can you be so sure?" I challenged.
"Because if anyone does, I'll make sure they pay."
I bit my lip.
"That's right, be scared. If you tell anyone about this, I will make sure your social life gets ruined. I won't hold back."
I tried to hold back tears. This wasn't fair. I'm innocent, why must I suffer…?
"It doesn't end there though. Making you keep your mouth shut is too basic and easy. I need you to do me a favor."
"W-What?" I stuttered, causing her to grin.
"It involves Brock. That girl he's been talking to, her contact name is 'Babe.'"
"I need you to find out who she is. He won't talk to me about it, but I'm sure he'll talk to you."
I asked her the question of all questions ever since Eric asked me out.
"Remember what I said about Terrance and I? It's easier when you don't know them. Brock hardly knows you. You can find out more than I can."
"How am I going to find out anything? I can't bring it up casually. 'Oh, hi Brock, I know we've never talked before but I was just wondering, um… you know that girl you've been talking to behind Stacy's back? Yeah, don't ask how I know about her, just answer me straight up. Who is she?'"
To my surprise, Stacy laughed, as if she never threatened me to keep her secret.
"Oh Is, you're so funny."
"Only my friends call me Is." I told her, crossing my arms.
"We're friends now. It's part of the deal. Everything said in this closet, is not to be said to anyone else. Capisci?"
I nodded, the Italian word rolling off my tongue fluently. "Capisci."
"Now go to English." She said, moving past me.
Getting through Chemistry was difficult with Stacy glaring daggers at me. One wrong move and bam, you're the target of the most popular girl at school. How did I go from being her 'friend' to worst enemy in one weekend? The universe is just a big fat bitch.
Lunch was extremely awkward and uncomfortable that day. I was torn between sitting with Tara and now sober Ricky, or sitting with Eric. I could do without the judgmental stares from everyone else. I hate this planet.
I opted for Tara and Ricky, not just because of Stacy, but because they were my best friends. I owed them that much.
"I'm sorry, how many times do you want me to say it?"
"Stop apologizing, why do you need to apologize?"
"You're angry at me and I don't know what to do!"
"Well you SHOULDN'T be saying sorry."
"Hi guys." I said with a frown, placing my lunch bag on the table.
"Is, thank goodness you're here! Tell Tara to stop being angry with me."
I said nothing, simply burying my head in my hands.
They both stared at me confused.
"What's wrong? Did you and Eric break up already?" Tara said.
"That didn't last long." Ricky mused, "but then again, you two were never really dating." He chuckled, taking a bite out of his apple.
"Gee. Thanks. No, that's not it."
"If you feel like you have to sit with us because we're your friends, don't. You can go sit with Eric. We don't mind."
"I mind!" Ricky sputtered, immediately clasping onto my arm for his life. "Please don't leave me with Tara! She'll eat me alive!"
I glanced at Tara, who was busy chomping on a pork chop.
"I don't think you need to worry about her. But if you want to come sit there, I'd love to go with you."
Before either of us could get up and move however, a shadow loomed over us. I looked up into Eric's bright orbs.
"Hi Isabel." He smiled gently, taking his lunch and setting it down.
"…Or he could just sit here, that works too," Ricky said quietly, unlatching himself from my arm and scooting back next to Tara, who was staring at Eric with wide eyes.
"Why are you sitting here?" I asked, surprised. Eric didn't seem like the type of guy to sit at a table filled with nobodies. Then again, he didn't seem like the type of guy to talk to nobodies. Quick! Where's the high school caste system rulebook?
"Can I not sit here?" He asked teasingly, before leaning over and whispering into my ear. "I want to take you out again."
I smiled, my heart soaring.
"Wherever you'd like. My mom adores you. And Marshmallow likes you too."
Yes, everyone in his house loves me. Except for his dad… and Terrance. I felt bittersweet, glancing at the table Eric usually sits at. Everyone there was chatting wildly as if Eric had never left.
"Would you guys like to sit over there with me?" Eric said, catching my stare.
"I don't know…" Tara said, squinting at Stacy. I had a strange feeling Tara had known about her insincerity long before I did.
"Come on Tara don't be a party pooper!" Ricky said, "hell yeah we wanna sit over there!" He grabbed Tara's arm and pulled her over without hesitation. Eric and I giggled at the sight, and I took my cheap lunch and headed over too. Stacy couldn't say anything without witnesses.
The others didn't pay us much attention as we sat down, which wasn't a problem with me. I didn't want to draw attention. I ended up sitting next to Brock, which was the only thing that made me feel uncomfortable. He and Stacy had been canoodling when he turned to face me.
"So you're the famous Isabel. I haven't gotten a chance to talk to you since Eric has been hogging you all to himself." Eric reached over and nudged Brock, which only made him laugh.
"I'm Brock," he said, grabbing my hand and shaking it coarsely.
I smiled lightly, pulling my hand back, which was terribly sore. I looked up at him. He was so tall. He only flashed me a smile that would make a girl melt on the spot before turning back to Stacy. Did everyone at this table have to be so attractive? I was starting to drool – and not from the food surrounded by me.
"So Is, who are your friends?" Stacy, leaned over to look me directly in the eyes.
Ricky practically teleported towards the temptress.
"I'm Ricky." He held out his hand towards her, which she shook reluctantly.
"I'm also single," he added, earning a growl from Tara and a frown from Brock. Only Ricky would openly flirt with a girl in front of her boyfriend. He really was a dork.
"…Hi Stacy." Tara said.
"Oh, hey Tara." Stacy said with obvious distaste, before going back to her meal.
Eric slung an arm around me as he ate.
"Are you okay?" He prodded.
"…Why wouldn't I be?"
"You're shaking." He said.
I looked at him, my eyes making their way to his arm, which was around mine. He wasn't lying. My shoulders were literally shaking.
"I-I'm fine. I just feel like I don't belong here. I mean, you're so… So popular, and I –"
"Are you worrying over something so stupid?" He smiled, "Were we surrounded by all these people on our date? Was popularity a concern over there? Yes, a couple of people here know my name. Okay, a lot. But it doesn't change the fact that I think you're amazing."
Is it wrong to be in love?
I let my head fall on his shoulder while I munched on my PBJ sandwich.
"You always know what to say." I told him.
"I have a feeling that's not why you're worried though."
"What makes you say that?"
"You're still shaking it."
Damn it! I tried to relax, but I couldn't. It felt like there was a ton of heavy bricks weighing me down.
"Is it Stacy?"
My heart nearly dropped.
"Why would you say that?"
"Have you talked to anyone else at this table? There's Karen, Saylin, Matthew, and Theo." He gestured across. "I sent Stacy to talk to you so it seems like she's the only one who could make you nervous. Is it because Ricky is making googly eyes at her?"
No, just the fact that she's cheating on your best friend with your evil twin.
"Erm, no… just, no."
"I guess that was a stupid question." He said, grinning as I laughed.
"Trust me, it wasn't."
"Hey Eric!" A lanky yet cute black guy called from across the table.
"Hi Theo, what's up?" He said, and the two engaged in conversation.
I ate my lunch when Brock bent down and looked at his phone. I glanced downwards casually, remembering the deal I made with Stacy before first period.
He noticed almost immediately, shielding his phone and looking at me.
"…Hi." He said awkwardly.
I smiled lightly.
"Can I help you with something?"
Geez, this guy was a ball of awkwardness.
"Uh, no. You've been texting all lunch, what, are you and Stacy sending each other naughty messages?" I winked at him.
He was speechless. His brown orbs peering into mine with a mixture of shock and confusion until he realized it was a joke. He started laughing, a bit too enthusiastically, then slapped his knee.
"You're funny. I like you."
"Thanks. You too."
"Um, actually no. I'm texting someone else." He said, jumping back to the previous topic dumbly.
"Oh, okay. Does she go to this school?"
"…How do you know it's a 'she'?" He asked suspiciously.
I turned red.
"Oh, um, I don't? Just guessing?" It was my turn to laugh, nervously.
He relaxed a little.
"So, who is she? …Or he?"
"It's a she," he said coolly, "and you don't know her."
"I might know her," I said defensively. "Is she in our grade?"
His phone vibrated again, and I decided it would be smarter for me to remain silent instead of asking him more questions.
I turned around to see Tara get up and leave the table, obviously tired of Ricky, who was oblivious to her anger.
I stood up too, beyond curious about what happened.
"Tara wait up!" I called desperately. I ran to her.
"Tara, why are you so angry with Ricky?" I asked.
She looked at me innocently.
"Don't act like I haven't noticed how you seem to always want to murder him whenever he's around! What the hell is going on?"
"I'm not hungry anymore. That's all. It has nothing to do with him."
"I'm your best friend, why won't you just tell me what's wrong. And why do you dislike Stacy so much?" Okay, that question was a dumb one. But I had my reason for disliking Stacy, what was Tara's?
"Ugh, Isabel fine! Since you need to know everything!" She looked at me straight in the eyes.
I stared back expectantly.
"I'm in love with him. Was it not obvious to you?" She stormed off again.