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It was almost like an illusion. And I would have believed so too, but that smirk never left his face. Not even in the days to come.
He was giving off such a creepy vibe off his chest that it made me immensely nervous and awkward around him. All I could think of was what kind of a counter attack was he planning on me.
But amidst all that tension and hyperventilation, one thing changed again. Julia was back to being the happy and jolly Julia I wasn’t very fond of either.
I wasn’t sure though if it was because of what I did to Travis or her new found closeness to Lee.
It made me so jealous. I heard Julia and Lee knew each other from long ago, but that didn’t make me totally invisible to Lee, did it? But actually, it did.
I stopped receiving kind smiles from him and it got replaced by Travis’ cunning stares instead. Things were changing pretty fast, and I was always on my toes, waiting for Travis to make a move against me, waiting for Julia to finally reveal her true, wicked self, and lastly, waiting for Lee to finally acknowledge my pathetic presence.
And then one day this happened.
I was having lunch at one isolated corner of the cafeteria when Lena Marshall showed up.
“Hi pretty! Your name’s June right? “, she smiled like we had always been friends. Her insanely blue pupils made me wonder if they were real or contact lenses.
I stared at her face with complete astonishment.
“Why are you alone today? Miss over-the-top is absent? Why don’t you join us then? “, she made a face I failed to recognise.
“Who do you mean?”, I asked even though it was pretty obvious who she was talking about.
“Julia Martin, of course”, she rolled her eyes and disgust was pretty well embedded on her face.
“She isn’t really my friend”, I heard myself say and regretted immediately. Lena wasn’t really the kind of person I wanted to share my honest thoughts with.
“Is that so? But you two are like always together. Anyway, that’s good then. And tell you what, we don’t like that slimy chick either. I mean do you notice how shamelessly she throws herself at Lee? Gosh, so pathetic!”
Her voice acted like torrential rain over the endless fire raging in my mind. Only for a second though.
“Lena, I can understand that you don’t like Julia, but badmouthing about her to me won’t really help you”, I shot her a stern look, making her fumble for words.
“I’m here with an offer. We girls run a club and you are cordially invited to join. It’s kind of a secret, but it’s a lot of fun”, she raised an eyebrow and winked. That wink might have won over many boys’ hearts, but it just made me cringe.
“Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m officially done with secrets. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish my food”, I said before pretending to concentrate back on my food again.
Wow! Was that really me? I guess there are side effects of being around Julia Martin.
Even a month earlier, I couldn’t have imagined being rude to anyone, let alone Lena Marshall, who for the record, was the designated Barbie of our class.
And Lena seemed to agree.
“Are you serious? You’re rejecting an offer from Lena Marshall? Do you love being with that slut so much? Huh!”, she scoffed and placed a fist on the table, grabbing attention of the ones within an earshot.
And then again, something possessed me. The word ‘slut’ rang in my ears, making it unbearable.
“Who the hell do you think you are to call her a slut?”, I didn’t look up at her but the silence spoke a thousand words.
“Wha…what?”, she was evidently taken aback. Well, tell you what, even I was.
I didn’t recognise my own voice, but it was definitely me.
“Call her a slut one more time and see what happens to you”, I heard myself threaten her.
What the hell are you talking about? June! Come back to your senses! I heard a faint voice prick at my mind feebly.
“What did you say? You bitch! Do you know who you’re talking to? Girls! “, Lena blurted out and summoned her clique.
I had this sudden strange sick feeling in my stomach.
“So now you gang up against me? As expected of you”, a sneer escaped my mouth. I swear I don’t know where it came from.
“I guess you’re not a bitch then. You are a weirdo! Oh God, and I wasted five precious minutes of my life on you! “, she said and took a step back.
“Lena, let’s teach this ugly whore a lesson “, a short girl hiding behind Lena suggested. Her desperate attempt to impress Lena was evident enough by her stress on the word ‘whore’.
The moment our eyes met, she flinched.
“That’s right. We will”, a smile finally appeared on Lena’s face again.
“Try me”, I grumbled, much to my own surprise too.
And then, almost out of the blue, two hands appeared and grabbed my ponytail. The pull was so hard that I fell on my back with a crash.
I heard gasps from all around but nobody came to my help. I didn’t expect any either.
Another pair of hands grabbed my shoulders and pulled me back up on my feet.
Friendly hands? But I didn’t look back to check, for I still had unfinished business.
Lena’s smile disappeared. And as I slowly walked towards her and her wicked little minions, their faces turned white, except one’s. A tall, bulky girl standing beside Lena.
So YOU pulled my hair!
Her brawny built did evoke a little doubt in me, but that didn’t last long.
And the next few moments are still a blur. Rains of fists and pulls on clothes and hair and all I know is that we both ended up bruised on the floor, she first and me on top of her.
Crowd had gathered all around us and it didn’t look good. Anytime a teacher could pop up. That girl seemed to realise the same, as she got up painfully and glanced back at me with disbelief for a brief moment before leaving the scene. Miss Barbie and her minions quietly followed.
As the dust slowly settled, I realised everybody was looking at me. Some with clear admiration and some stared like I was a lunatic on the run.
“You never cease to amaze me”, a low chuckle reached my ears from behind me.
I turned around to face Mr. Intimidating, which made me jump on my feet. All that accumulated courage and anger dissipated away in a thin layer of smoke.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that? “, he asked.
I realised I was gawking at him. I quickly closed my mouth and looked away.
“I thought you’d need help, but I guess I was wrong”, he said.
Oh, friendly hands!
“Now, find your way to the infirmary. You are a total mess”, he studied my shaggy countenance and shook his head in dismay.
I nodded lightly and turned around to leave.
“See you around, miss grizzly”, another chuckle and he disappeared into the crowd.
Eh? Since when did I get a nickname?
Ah wait, did he just call me grizzly?
》》TO BE CONTINUED