Next chapter - let me know what you think! :)
Cat spun the padlock on her locker while humming to herself. She loved mornings; they were her favorite time of day. The way the sunlight poured into her room in the morning- it made her feel shimmery and new. Putting on clothes and styling her hair and applying her makeup, especially applying her makeup, always made her feel like a princess. A pixie-like princess. One who lorded over all the fairies and used her magic to keep the bad monsters away.
Cat pawed through her locker cheerfully in search of her jolly rancher stash. Her locker was a mess, but she found the candies wedged between her math textbook and a Seventeen magazine. Happily, she unwrapped and plopped a strawberry candy in her mouth. She giggled to herself as the sweetness swirled through her body.
Glancing at her watch, she realized she still had another fifteen minutes before first period started. She was early to school, as always. Pulling out a tube of lip gloss from her purse, she examined her face in her locker mirror.
"Hey." Suddenly Jade stood in front of her. Cat felt a knot in her stomach as the taller girl looked her square in the eye. Her eyes were lined heavily and her dark hair fell slightly over her face. Even so, Cat was taken aback by her intensity.
"Hey," Cat answered back, as cheerfully as she could muster. Her tongue played with the jolly rancher in her mouth, and a smile fell naturally onto her face. Jade wasn't scary, she reminded herself. This was the Jade who ate candy and watched movies last weekend. "Your hair is so pretty today," she said happily, reaching out for a lock on her shoulder.
"It's the same as it always is," Jade snapped, slapping Cat's hand away. "I mean, never mind. We need to talk."
Cat giggled to herself. Jade was silly when she acted all mean. It was just pretend. Just acting. "You're right!" she exclaimed. "Your hair is always so pretty. And your jacket! It's too dark for me with my bright hair, but on you-"
"Cat, I'm serious!" Jade growled. "Follow me."
She turned and walked down the hall, and Cat bounced behind her. "We should go shopping sometime. Cat and Jade, Jade and Cat. And then you can sleep over again! I love slumber parties!" Cat squealed. "Can I give you a makeover?! It would be so much fun!"
Jade spun around on her heels to face the shorter girl. Cat felt Jade's eyes prying at her own. She felt uneasy, like her stomach was made of slippery spaghetti. They stood in silence for a moment, and Cat couldn't take it. She could feel her brain reeling, searching frantically for something to latch onto. "Do you want to go get milkshakes after school?" The idea popped suddenly in her head, and relieved, she ran with it. "My favorite is strawberry. What's your -"
"Jesus," Jade interrupted, her cheeks tinting a flustered red. Jade grabbed her wrist, hard, and tugged her into the janitor's closet. "We're alone. You can act normal now."
Cat felt a trickle of uncertainty in the back of her throat, but she pushed it away. "What do you mean? Normal?" She gasped, happiness bubbling through her, competing with the fear in her throat. "Is this where we're going to plan our best friend sleepover parties?!"
Cat watched Jade, as she shook her head and paced the length of the closet.
"Cat," Jade said slowly. "I know. Ok? I know." Jade awkwardly reached forward and took one of Cat's hands in her own. Her hands were warm, and surprisingly soft. "I'm going to talk to Lane. Don't freak out on me. I just don't know what to do."
Cat pulled her hand away slowly and crossed her arms. "What are you going to talk to Lane about? Are you friends? I thought you didn't like him."
"No, Lane and I are not friends," Jade snapped. Cat jumped. The tension in the room was heavy, she needed to escape. "I'm sorry," Jade quickly apologized, taking a step towards Cat. "I'm not good at this."
Cat froze. Her eyes flew frantically around the room looking for something colorful, something sparkly, something distracting.
"I'm going to tell him about your bulimia, and he's going to get you help," Jade said carefully.
Cat felt like a balloon had popped inside of her chest. Suddenly she couldn't breathe. All the air had left her body. Panic swirled through her head as she lost track of her surroundings. She felt dizzy - gravity started pulling in all different directions. This wasn't happening. It was a dream, a weird dream. Any minute now she would wake up in her bed, curled up in her red sheets, sunlight streaming into her face. It would all be over soon.
"Cat, Cat." Cat felt Jade's hands on her shoulders, as her body was shaken. "Stay with me. Cat."
"You're lying." Cat heard her voice speaking, but she didn't feel in control. "You're a liar, and you're lying." She pushed past Jade and stormed out of the closet into the hall.
She was walking quickly. To where, she had no idea. She felt an impulse to run. If only she had worn sneakers instead of the purple heels she had put on that morning. She loved the feeling of running. The way the wind gusted into her face and her vision spiraled like an ice cream cone. Her mind would bounce happily again, if only she could move faster. Faster, faster.
Suddenly, her body stopped short as she collided with something. She dropped her bag, and her pens and notebooks spilled everywhere. "No!" she cried. It was a mess. Everything was falling apart, everything was out of control.
"Whoa, Little Red, I'm sorry!" The object she had bumped into was Andre.
"No, I did it. I messed it up." She leaned against the lockers and slid down to the floor, knees pressed against her chest. She must have swallowed her strawberry jolly rancher back in the janitor's closet. All she could taste in her mouth was stale air.
Andre squatted onto the floor collecting her belongings, and handed them to Cat. "Cat, are you okay? Are you hurt?" Cat shook her head. "What happened?"
Cat looked into Andre's eyes. His soft, gentle eyes. He wasn't like Jade. "Do you want to go get milkshakes after school," she asked quietly, her voice melting desperation. "My favorite is strawberry. What's yours?"
"Yea, definitely." She felt Andre's hand squeeze her own. "But tell me what's wrong, Little Red."
Cat smiled. She liked Andre's nickname for her. The second she smiled, she felt the wheels in her mind starting up again. She could be happy again after all. In fact, she was already starting to forget what it felt like to be sad. Her smile broke out into an even bigger grin, and the familiar warmth spread through her arms. "Nothing is wrong," she sang as she bounced up from the floor. Her body was light, she thought she might fly. "I love school, do you like school?" She offered a hand to Andre, and helped pull him up from the floor. "Thanks for picking up my stuff. You're so nice!"
Andre looked at her quizzically. "You can tell me - why were you upset before?"
What had happened before she bumped into Andre - Cat had already shut that out of her mind. "Umm.. I don't know," she shrugged. "Oh! I remember! I told Jade her hair looked nice. Because it totally does, I don't know how she gets it to curl so perfectly. Jade's so pretty" She saw Andre looking at her, still confused. "Oh! And then Jade got mean. She said some lies about me." Cat nodded for emphasis. "Mean ones. Jade's a liar."
Andre held her hand in his own. "Hey, I'll talk to her, ok? You don't deserve to be treated like that. Come on, I'll walk you to your class." He pulled on her hand gently, and led her down the hall.
Cat was so happy, she nearly skipped down the hall with him. Everything was wonderful. Giggles spilled out of her mouth. "You never told me your favorite milkshake!," she squealed as she leaned her head into his shoulder. While she walked to class with Andre, she saw Jade watching. But she didn't care. Jade may be a lying monster, but Andre was her prince.
Tori slumped down in her seat fifteen seconds before the first bell rang. She hated mornings. She sipped on her iced coffee and waited for the caffeine to make its way into her bloodstream.
"Morning class!" Tori's eyes snapped up. Their normal English teacher wasn't in the room, and instead the voice belonged to Lane, their guidance counselor. "Your teacher called in sick late today, so until they find someone else, I'm going to be watching her classes." Relief washed through Tori. She hadn't done any of the reading for today's class, as she'd been up all night arguing with Trina. Lane caught her eye and smirked at her. "Don't be too upset for your teacher, I'm sure she'll recover." Tori blushed and looked at her feet. Now the guidance counselor thought she was heartless, great. "She didn't leave any plans," Lane continued, "so I guess just get in groups of 2 or 3 and discuss the reading... or whatever."
Tori turned to the desk on her right. "Thank god," she whispered to Andre. "Between you and me, I didn't read anything. I don't even know what chapters we were supposed to read."
"Wow." Jade sat behind Tori. When Tori turned to look at her she was smirking. "Miss little goody two shoes is losing her touch. Alert the media."
Tori rolled her eyes. She'd known Jade just long enough that her insults were already rolling right off of her, to the point where she barely noticed it anymore. When she first came to Hollywood Arts, they were bitter enemies. But by now she almost considered them friends. "That's me - full of surprises." Jade slunk back in her seat, in her Jade-like way, and Tori redirected her attention at Andre.
"So... Andre. Excited for your date with Cat Friday?" She punched his arm playfully. Tori loved Andre as a friend. In contrast to Jade, he was a consistently calm presence in her life. He'd been so awkward and nervous about his upcoming date, which was unusual behavior for him, and Tori found it completely adorable. "Have you decided where you're taking her?"
"You guys are going out Friday?" Jade's voice was sharp, and staccato-like. She picked chips in her black nail polish intently.
Andre's face was tense. Tori couldn't decipher the emotion; she'd never seen him like this. "Andre, are you mad? Did something happen? Did she cancel?"
Andre sighed. "No, nothing happened. We're still going out." He paused, clearly mulling over what he was going to say next. "Jade, Cat told me what happened. Leave her alone, ok? Mess with somebody else."
Tori watched as Jade scrunched her eyes and studied Andre. "What exactly did she tell you?" Jade asked carefully.
"Please," Andre scoffed. "Don't play dumb. She told me how you yelled at her and how you tell lies about her. If you can't be nice, maybe you should just not talk to her."
Tori glanced back and forth uncomfortably between the two of them. She was used to people arguing with Jade, but usually Jade was the aggressor. Right now, Andre looked positively pissed off while Jade wore a stunned expression.
Jade folded her arms across her chest. "That's her version?"
Andre shook his head disgustedly. "Just stop, okay? First you keep secrets from Beck, then you make up lies about Cat. Can you just leave us alone?"
The skin on Jade's face turned ghost white. Tori reached out to grab her arm. The girl looked as if she could pass out at any moment. It unnerved Tori that Jade didn't even try to pull away, her brown eyes were fixated on Andre's. "Jade, are you ok?"
"Um, yeah." Jade jumped out of her trance. She stood up jerkily, and knocked the desk with her knee. "I um... I'm going to go to the bathroom." Before Lane could say anything, Tori watched Jade storm out of the room.
Jade leaned against the bathroom sink, her fingers flying over her phone. "What the hell did you tell Andre?" No, too stupid - delete. "I'm breaking up with you." She couldn't follow through with that - delete. "I can't believe you told." Delete, delete, delete.
The bathroom door creaked open and Tori poked her head through the crack. "Can I come in?"
Jade shrugged. "Free country."
Tori walked across the bathroom tiles, her boots clicking. The sound made Jade want to rip Tori's preppy brown hair out.
Except then she'd be alone. As much as she hated to admit it, the idea of being alone right now made her skin crawl.
"So what's going on?" Tori gazed expectantly up at Jade, with that stupid face of hers. "You're a lot of things, Jade," Tori continued. "But you're not a liar. Is something going on with Cat?"
Jade's gut reaction was to tell Tori to fuck off. Tori didn't know Cat, or even want to know Cat. Like everyone else, she just accepted the vapid, hollow girl Cat had become. All this time, it was so obvious, so fucking obvious.
But then again, Tori hadn't believed Andre's accusations. That was something. She chewed on the inside of her cheek subconsciously, until a sharp pain brought her back to the present.
Tori nodded. "So, it's serious." Jade scrunched her eyebrows, annoyed at Tori's apparent Jedi mind tricks. She hadn't said anything, yet Tori was still able to get information out of her. "Jade, please tell me. After what happened in gym the other day, I've been worried..."
"Wait," Jade held her hand up to Tori's face, interrupting. A flicker of annoyance passed over Tori's face, and Jade drew her hand back quickly. "Sorry, reflex," she said awkwardly. "What happened in gym class?"
Tori's shrugged her shoulders. "It's ok. Um... I don't know exactly, she just seemed weak. Like just dizzy and sick. She was always such a good runner, but now she can barely keep up."
Jade nodded, processing the new information. It didn't surprise her. But should she tell Tori? Her plan was to go to Lane directly, and try to protect Cat's privacy. But would Lane even believe her, hostile Jade, over sweet Cat and rational Andre?
Tori was everything Jade hated about teenage girls. She was trendy and preppy, always trying to appease and be everyone's friend. And it worked - teachers and students alike seemed to adore her. But there, in that moment in the bathroom, Jade started to question herself. Yeah, Tori, was irritating. But she was slow to judge, and had better people skills than Jade. Maybe she could help Cat.
She didn't even realize she had made a decision by the time the words came flying out of her mouth. "Cat used to be different. She's all over the place now, and it's only getting worse." Jade stopped for a breath, assessing Tori's reaction. "I didn't think it was that big a deal - so she got a little flakey, people change, right? But a week ago ... I found out she's bulimic."
Tori's eyes widened. "Oh my god."
Jade nodded her head, relieved that Tori believed her. "That day we went to your house - I tried to talk to her about why she changed, about how we used to be friends. And she lost it. Completely freaked out at me. And then today I told her I knew about the bulimia and that I was going to tell Lane, and she denied it. Apparently she covered her tracks by telling Andre I make up lies about her. I just... I just don't know what to do with her anymore. We used to be such good friends, but now she's so far gone... We can't even have a normal conversation." Jade felt her eyes watering, so she blinked hard, trying to keep the tears away. She wanted more than anything to help Cat, but she felt so powerless.
Before she knew what was happening, she felt Tori's thin arms wrap around her neck. Jade wasn't used to hugs, especially from girls. She stood as still as she could, and debated what to do with her own arms - is this where she should hug Tori back? It was awkward. But she had to admit, it kind of felt nice.
After a few long seconds, Tori broke the hug. "I knew it! I just knew something was wrong." She crossed her arms over her chest and chewed on her lip, deep in thought. "I think we should go tell Lane together. Even if she denies it. He'll have to believe us - there's no reason we'd both lie." She nodded to herself. "Yes, that's what we should do. And he'll make sure she gets help. It's going to be ok." She reached out and squeezed Jade's arm.
Jade sighed. She still wanted to hate Tori, but she also really needed Tori to be right.
Reviews make me happy! Even (especially) the constructive ones. If you have ideas to where you'd like the story to go - let me know. At the moment I'm figuring it out one chapter at a time. :)