Missing Scene 86 - Solar Systems

I notice her walking from the kiosk to the student-lounge all the while fiddling with the package of a chocolate bar, her fingers pulling desperately at the plastic until she gives up, lifts it to her mouth and opens the wrapping with her amazingly straight, white teeth, which always compliment her smile beautifully.

It's cute, and kind of hot when she pulls at the plastic with her teeth before taking a bite in victory.

I lean against the waist-high balustrade wall of the stairs and pretend to scroll through my playlist on my iPod when she passes me without even seeing me there. Actually, she hasn't even really talked to me since the day I told her that I actually did watch their little singing group, but didn't want to disturb them.

I assume she hasn't talked to me since then because soon after that she surely heard that I'm now playing volleyball, and like my host-brother said, the STAG and the Volleyball Team hate each other. This, in my opinion, is just plain stupid. How can a team I join define me so much that I go blind about seeing the actual people that stand in front of me?

Perhaps I should have accepted the invitation to go with them to Chulos, even though it was only her nerdy friend who seemed to really want me to come. Then I could have shown her that there is more to me than what everyone thinks they see, more than this 'she must be superficial and arrogant, because she hangs out with Caro' opinion that has been forced upon me.

It's the little decisions like this that allows one to pave their way into or out of certain people's social solar systems. I should know that by now. I've been the new one often enough. Not going to this "Chulos" place, and also joining the volleyball team, has certainly caused me to drift out of her orbit - a completely unintentional side effect - and I am finding myself perplexed by this because she actually seemed quite nice and open.

As she reaches the sofa, she lets her blue bag drop to the floor and plops down next to her tall light brown-haired friend with the nerdy glasses. She says something that makes him laugh, which makes her (and me in return) frown.

After having watched them for a good week now, I find that they are still inexplicable to me. He sits up, excited by something, and starts to argue his case until she rolls her eyes and nods, agreeing to whatever, and I'm left wondering if she always just agrees with him, or if it's really only something stupid or unimportant that he's trying to convince her of.

I pull my earplugs from my ear, since I wasn't using them anyway, and start to stroll slowly along the hallway, intending to walk past the sofas to find out what they are talking about. But unfortunately, Caro steps into my line of sight, effectively cutting off my view.

"Jenny," she says matter of factly, making me halt and I respond slightly irritated, "Caro?"

"You said you ran away from home once, too," Caro states and pulls her white bag further up her shoulder. "How long did you stay away exactly?" When I look puzzled, she clarifies quickly. "I mean, I'm only asking, because I'm worrying about Sophie so much and..."

"Almost two months," I tell her willingly when I notice her frenzied, worried eyes, and try to calm her down by saying, "But that doesn't mean that Sophie will not show up again soon. I'm pretty sure she had entirely different reasons. I mean usually people show up again after a few days when they have calmed down and put everything into perspective again, right?"

"Right. Yeah," Caro nods and looks to the floor with a concerned expression before responding in a tone that seemed more questioning than anything else, "So two months? That's really long."

"Yeah," I laugh uncomfortably and grab the strap of my sling-bag with one hand. "Let's not talk about it." But Caro either did not hear me, or has chosen to simply ignore me, since she continues, wondering, "But how did you manage to survive? I mean, you had to have money from somewhere?"

"I uh, I had my parents credit cards," I tell her even though I feel uncomfortable sharing such information with her. But she is worried about her friend and I want her to understand that my having stayed away for that long doesn't mean anything since it was, most certainly, an entirely different situation. "I ran away with a friend, and we later said we were kidnapped. It was a really childish and stupid thing to do."

"Kidnapped, you say," she nods and her eyes seem to have caught a weird sparkle. "Yeah, that seems like...like a really stupid thing to do."

"Yes," I nod in return and wonder why her face has suddenly lost its look of worry and despair and instead looks kind of...enthralled? "Are you alright? You seem weird."

"Huh? Oh, no I'm just...it's...upside down...everything..." she says incoherently.

"Don't worry," I say once more and reach out to touch her arm. "I'm sure Sophie is fine. She'll be back soon."

"Yes," Caro nods and takes my hand in both of hers, her look entirely sad and desperate again. "Yes, hopefully."

I'm confused by the yo-yoing of her actions, but am distracted when I notice movement by the sofas. The two STAG friends are collecting their stuff and moving to stand up.

Caro follows my eyes and lets my hand go when she sees where I am looking. "Ugh, them again. Really, you should count yourself lucky to not be with them. They're stupid, and what's worse, really hypocritical and two-faced."

"They seem pretty harmless to me," I shrug and cross my arms, while we both observe them for a moment. "Yes, well, looks deceive," Caro finally states, and turns back to me, upset. "They're the ones who caused this whole thing to spin out of control in the first place."

"You mean they made Sophie run away?" I ask doubtful with one raised eyebrow, but Caro avoids the subject and instead says, "Look, I have to go. Sorry. But thank you for...- for, um..." Her brow furrows in attempt to find the right words, but she struggles to name what exactly I had done for her.

"It's okay," I say, making it easy for her. After all, I know by now that she doesn't like to let others in to help her. She has a pretty good wall built around her real self, which I'm not entirely sure that I have even met it yet, so I smile and respond, "Anytime."

Caro nods, gives me a brief smile in return, and leaves quickly.

I watch her walk away before my eyes turn back to the two good friends who have now risen from the sofas and are walking in my direction. Casually I turn around and reach inside my bag, pretending to search for something inside, while in reality my ears are perked, waiting to catch any part of their conversation, and as I strain to hear their words, I start to wonder exactly what it is that I'm doing here. Afterall, I don't even really know them.

"There's Caro," I hear her say when she's close to me and, like her, I can see Caro hurry down the stairs to the foyer, her long dirty blonde locks bouncing against her shoulders and turquoise jacket.

"Don't worry, we're going to help bring Sophie back - wherever she is," her friend responds to her in an even, soft voice when they are behind me and I fight the urge to turn around to actually see what kind of emotions are playing out on her face.

"No, that's not it," she says, irritated, and I slowly turn to observe them after they have walked past me, but I am only able to catch a brief glimpse of another frown on her face before her blonde hair and her dark green jacket are all I can see of her. "I mean she is kind of right about it also being our fault, but it irks me that she's pretending to be Mother Theresa now, talking down to and accusing us, when she is the one who's always backstabbing people and telling lies."

"You really shouldn't get that upset," her friend tries to calm her down by placing his arm around her shoulders. "After all, we're going to make this right with the personal item you're going to get us," continuing on with a smile audible in his voice, "I'm actually looking forward to seeing your shady lock-picking skills."

I look after them with renewed interest as they vanish down a corridor that ends at our lockers and the back entrance of the school, wondering exactly what it is they have planned.

In the end, I think, they all want the same thing - at least in this case.

Both Caro and the guys from the STAG only want to find Sophie. Why must they work against each other, instead of with each other then? I bite my lip and ponder this for a moment before quickly shouldering my bag and following them.

All this hate and prejudice, it's like we're still in kindergarten.

I turn into the corridor they have just vanished into.

I'm too good to let them stuff me into this drawer and play by their rules. Why should I not be allowed to talk to the STAG, too? Why should I not try to form a connection between both? After all the members of the STAG seemed quite alright.

Especially that blonde.

I walk down the corridor in thought, my eyes staying on the look out for the two singing club members.

I must definitely remember her name for the next time we speak, I think and make the resolution a little bit proudly in my head, filled with good intentions before I suddenly come to a halt, realizing that this conversation might actually happen in the next few minutes.

I stand still and rub my hand against my temple.

God, Jenny, why must you be so ignorant and forgetful when it comes to names!

I tap my foot and look up to the ceiling while standing in the middle of the corridor, people passing me by.

Something with E.

Eva, Ella, Emilia?

I bite my lip and shake my head.

Damn it.

Okay, I will ask Ben, avoid saying her name if I speak to her before that, and then have it ready for the next time.

Proud of this new resolution, I set my body in motion again, continuing to curiously search for my targets, quietly hoping for a chance to run into them, and sure enough, when I reach the stairs that lead to the lockers I can make out their voices hissing at one another.

As I am about to walk down the first flight of stairs leading to the voices, I spot the graffiti covering the wall ahead of me and pause.

Outer space.

Dark sky, big blue planets and shining stars are looking back at me.

GALAXY, it reads.

Smiling, I slowly descend the stairs, to make one of those little path altering decisions.

Entering another solar system in 3...2...1...