The next day, as I was walking to school, I heard Terra's voice:
...I'm sorry, Izzy.
It's a bit late for that, I thought back.
I... I don't know what came over me. I'm truly sorry... I won't do it again.
Even before Rosa, I would've been mad if you had ever affected me like that. We were already on bad terms, didn't you realize that? Just what is the goal you have in mind for all of this?
I was exasperated. I was no longer feeling angry. Right now, I just wanted to know why.
Terra was silent for a while. I gave her some time to think about what she was going to say.
I... I don't know... But I just don't like seeing you getting so friendly with another girl!
Yeah, I get that you're jealous of her. And I really don't care.
Terra stopped talking to me for a while. I made it to school before she said anything else, and that meant that she must have been finished speaking. School is what I called the "Ghost-Free Safe Zone of Purity", sometimes with "and Enlightenment" tacked onto the end. She had always been good about keeping out of my life while I was at school, ever since she distracted me during a test and I ended up failing it, despite the fact I had actually studied for once. She used to talk to me during lunch, but once I met James, Cody, and Fern, she started to respect my privacy on her own and kept quiet. I don't know what ghosts do all day in their free time, but Terra sure has a lot of it, so I hope for her sake it's a ton of fun. Not.
I learned today that Rosa was in my English class this whole time. I hadn't seen her there yesterday because she was on a "rotating schedule". Apparently, she took English on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and took History on Tuesdays and Thursdays during this period. On top of that, she had two other periods where she did this, too. According to her, this was just something she was doing so that she wouldn't have to take as many classes next year, therefore she could take some kind of college prep class. What an overachiever. That's what I thought at first, anyway. Turns out she isn't some straight-A student at all. In fact, her parents are forcing her into taking all of these extra classes because they're worried she won't be able to handle college. I really thought that was going too far, but she assured me, "That's just how they are. I've gotten used to it."
At lunch time, Rosa inexplicably didn't show, so I met with my guy buddies at their table. They gave me a ton of crap about, "Where's the chick, man!?", and, "Did you get dumped already? Laaame", among other things. They pretended I was just covering for myself when I told them she just didn't show up, but I knew they didn't mean it.
I ended up retelling the story thus far of me and Rosa, of course leaving out the ghost-related bits. How I expertly managed to pay for her lunch and got her phone number on day one.
"Hold on... So, she just... gave it to you?" James asked incredulously.
"Well, yeah," I replied, wondering what he meant by that. "Something strange about that?"
"I dunno, man," Cody said. "It sounds kinda desperate to me."
"Hey, maybe she just likes the guy?" Fern said in my defense. "Ain't so strange for a girl to ask the guy she likes for his number, is it?"
"Yeah, but after they've only talked for, like, a half an hour?" James replied. "I mean, she's... um... well, I don't think she's a new student. She's got friends of her own, hasn't she, Izzy?"
I hadn't thought about that before. Come to think of it, she hadn't mentioned anything about having friends other than me... I'd have to bring it up next time I saw her.
Suddenly, my mind flashed to Terra. I did it on my own this time, though. Women are a complex thing to figure out... Who knows, maybe I could find it in my heart to forgive Terra if she could just accept me and Rosa and give me some advice. I mean, I had to admit, it was a little strange that Rosa was the one who offered to exchange numbers, not to mention meeting at the the fast food place yesterday. I hadn't done anything besides talk to her a little, and she had practically done the rest.
After school, on the empty forested back road that lead to my neighborhood, I called upon Terra.
"Need something?" she replied in her echoing voice that only I could hear. Her face seemed devoid of emotion. Not as if she was annoyed, but not as if she was happy that I had actually called to her this time, either.
"Were you listening at lunch today?" I asked.
She hesitated a moment. "...Yes. So if I give you love advice you'll forgive me, right?"
"Maybe... it depends on whether or not you can tell me anything useful," I claimed.
She seemed hesitant to say anything at first. Eventually, she began talking. "Well... For starters, I agree with James and Cody. She seems unusually clingy."
"How so? What do you think it means?"
"Well, like they said, she doesn't seem to have many friends. It might have to do with all the extra schoolwork she has to do."
"But in that case, wouldn't it be because of having a ton of homework or something? Yet she waited for me for a half hour yesterday, and we talked for an entire hour after."
"That's not what I meant. I mean, remember how she switches classes every other day? She likely hasn't had much of a chance to talk to any other girls her age because of that."
"Oh, I see. So, you think it's possible I'm her only friend right now...?"
"Could be. Perhaps she's lonely and is jumping at the chance to make a friend."
"Of course, you'd love to believe she just wants to be 'friends', wouldn't you? But I concede that it makes sense-"
"Izzy, who are you talking to?"
The unfamiliar voice shocked me. I glanced quickly towards where the voice had come from, and noticed that a car had been following me from the street. In it, my mother was giving me a quizzical look from the driver's seat. "Why are you walking? You know I always pick you up from school on Friday."
"Uh... Oh, yeah! It's Friday!" I repeated dumbly as I got into the passenger seat of the small SUV.
My mom laughed. "Yeah, that's what I just said. You're so forgetful sometimes." She patted my head roughly.
My mom and dad both work late, but on Fridays my mother gets off early, so she usually picks me up from school. I must've been so intent on talking to Terra that I had forgotten.
Sorry, I said to her in my thoughts, we'll continue this later.
No problem, she replied.
"Hey Izzy, guess what I heard? There's going to be a big fair on the 31st of the month. There's going to be rides and carnival games!"
"Oh, yeah, I know. Me and my friends are already saving up so we can go see the concert!"
"Oh, so you're going with your friends, huh?" she said. "That's disappointing. I was hoping we could all go as a family."
My mom has always been good at putting me on the guilt trip. I felt bad knowing that Mom wanted us to go together, but I honestly doubted my parents would even go on a roller coaster with me, let alone stay for a three-and-a-half-hour-long rock concert.
"Oh," I replied, trying to sound as if I didn't hear the disappointment in her voice. "Sorry. We already made plans and all, so..."
"Well, okay, I understand. You can't let your friends down. I hope you have fun."
"What, you mean you're not going if I don't?"
"Hah, me?" Mom asked incredulously. "I haven't got any business at a fair, I'm nearly forty years old! Just what do you think me and your father would do there by ourselves?"
"I dunno, kiss? Have a date night? Besides, you'll probably see me there anyway. I'll be there with my friends."
"Well, I doubt they would want to hang out with me, and I sure don't want to hang around with a bunch of high-school boys! The innuendo would never end!"
She was right about that last part. Nonetheless, I felt as if I should possibly reconsider and go with my family. It's not often I got to see them, and I hadn't promised my friends anything just yet.
"Just one question," I said.
"If I did go with you guys, would you let me stay for the concert? I could have one of my friends drive me home."
"Of course! The concert is the whole reason I wanted to go!"
My opinion of my mother rose dramatically that day.
Something might be up with Rosa, but it looks like Izzy'll have to hear it from her if he ever wants to know what. Meanwhile, the fair keeps on getting closer, yay! Seems like he'll probably be going one way or another at this point.
Again it may not seem like much, but this chapter is also setting up for things to come. Look out for things to heat up next chapter, though.