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Chapter Three

『 AUDREY 

Lunch was the most awkward today.

Justin, who will usually throw grapes at people's faces, was quiet.

Haylee was talking, as usual. That girl never shuts up.

Cayden seemed oblivious as to what was going on. I'm happy that he is, because at least he's having a good time chatting away with Eric.

"So... where did you go on your..." Haylee looked at me and frowned. "Date?"

Eric rests his head on his palms and looked at Cayden.

"Bowling." Cayden coughed, placing the mac and cheese in his mouth. I think that's one of the little things I like about Patriot High School. We have specials every day. Today's is mac and cheese. And though I hate to admit it, it actually tastes great.

"Bowling?" Haylee repeated.

Yes, bitch. Bowling.

I would call her deaf, but that would be an insult to deaf people.

And no deaf person has ever done anything bad to me.

I opened my mouth to say something, but Justin beat me to it.

"Look at that nerd." He snickered. Everyone in the 'popular' table, including Cayden and I, turned and looked.

Janet Barton, known for her high title of topping the level. She's in my English and Math class.

I have to admit, she speaks such impeccable English that sometimes, I don't understand what she's saying. I have to look up a few words from the dictionary. Her math is also on another level, too. Sometimes, I don't even think she needs a calculator to do certain exams.

I would ask her to tutor me, but Haylee and the other cheerleaders would give me a look whenever I try to approach her.

"Hey, fishnet!" Haylee called out.

'Fishnet' was Janet's nickname given by one of the cheerleaders. It was given to her when the Football boys played a prank on her by dropping a fish net and then pouring water (or maybe it was syrup? I can't recall) on her.

It was cruel, I'll admit that.

Janet didn't bother looking. I guess she's gotten used to us name-calling her.

Haylee made a frustrated 'tch'.

So she did the most reasonable thing anyone can think of.

Leave Janet alone and mind her own business?

Nope.

She picked up the bowl of mac and cheese, walked up to Janet and dump it on her head.

Of course, everyone else did the most logical thing.

Tell Haylee off and help Janet?

Nah.

Most of them laughed.

Those who didn't, kept quiet, probably in fear that they'll be next.

Of course, that includes both Cayden and me.

I looked at Cayden. He had the same look on his face as I do.

A mixture of disgust, guilt, anger, and sadness.

Did I just list out the characters from inside out?

Cayden stood up and walked out of the cafeteria.

"Cayden?" Eric called out. I placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Let me go after him," I said.

"Um..."

I didn't have time to hear what Eric had to say. I rushed out of the cafeteria as soon as possible.

"Cayden?" I called out. "Where are you?"

He appeared out of the corner, rubbing his face.

"What's up?" I asked him.

He frowned at me. "What's up?" He asked. "Janet. That's what's up, Audrey. What if— what if Janet becomes like me? Like us? What if she tries to..."

He let out a big sigh.

"I know," I replied. "But, Cayden..."

"Audrey... I want to just... start over." He says. "I want to push a restart button. Start high school all over. For so many years, I've been like some blind sheep, just following Justin and Eric and the rest. Well... at least Eric's not so bad. But he's just..."

"The same as them, but a little different." I nodded. "And you're scared that you're backstabbing him cause you feel like he's your only true friend."

Cayden looks like he's about to cry. "Yeah."

The bell then rang, signalling the end of lunch.

"Cayden." One of the footballers placed his hand on Cayden's shoulder. "Practice after school. We've got a match against Radwell, remember?"

Cayden nodded.

Then he whispered something in Cayden's ear.

Cayden stiffened before looking at me and walking away.

What the heck did Cayden hear?

▲▽▲▽▲▽▲

"I want you back."

I would throw away my phone just so that I can never see that text.

Zoe saw that text and frowned. "Are you going to take Justin back?"

She said that out loud.

In front of Haylee.

Haylee frowned. "What? Why would he want you back?"

I want to pummel her to the ground.

"Um, no. I'm not taking him back."

"Good." Haylee nodded. "Cause we kinda have a thing going on, Justin and I."

I want her to suffer as much as possible. Drag her down to the pits of hell, if I could.

"Alright, class, settle down." Mr. Browne shushed.

I sat in front of Haylee. Moments later, Janet arrived.

Her hair and top were wet.

The class, without a mind of their own, started laughing.

"Shut up." Mr. Browne bellowed. "Janet, why are you late?"

"Oh..." she stammered. "I had a mess to clean."

He stared at her through his thick glasses. "Sit down." He instructed.

Janet had nowhere else to sit except beside me.

"I'm sorry." She whispered to me.

Why is she apologizing?

I opened my mouth to tell her it's okay, but Haylee beat me to it.

"You should be sorry. About everything. Your existence, especially."

I want to stand up to Haylee so badly.

Janet ignored Haylee, fortunately.

A few moments passed by. Mr. Browne's monotone voice almost made me sleep, but I managed to get through.

"Pair work." Mr. Browne announced. "Find a partner. You're going to do a project together with them."

In pair works, I always go with Zoe. So of course, I naturally turn to her.

Zoe sent me a wink.

"Now go," Mr. Browne says. "Find a partner."

I stood up to walk to Zoe, but Haylee slammed Zoe's table.

"Zoe, be my partner." She cuts in.

"Oh, but—"

"She's. My. Partner." Haylee hissed.

I looked at Zoe. She's not even trying to fight back.

"Well, yeah, okay." I gave in.

Usually, Zoe would be partnered up with a girl called Kathryn. But Kathryn was expelled for something stupid that she did.

I think she slept with the principal's son or something. When the principal found out, it wasn't a good day for him because he and his wife just got a divorce. So because of that, Kathryn got expelled and the principal's son was sent to some boarding school in England.

I walked back to my seat and plopped down.

I turned my head towards Janet.

She's quietly sitting down, reading a book. During pair works, Janet is usually alone. And most teachers are okay with that because they know Janet can handle herself.

"Janet... do you want to be partners?" I asked her. Quite nervously, actually.

She looked up at me. Janet's actually really pretty. Why haven't I notice that?

She has this beautiful wavy auburn hair and pale blue eyes. She also has freckles on both sides of her cheeks. It really suits her, actually.

"Why?" She asks harshly. "What are you up to?"

"N-nothing." Why was I stuttering? I have no reason at all to stutter.

"So just because your 'friend' is not with you, you run to me?" Janet raised an eyebrow. I kept quiet. Then she laughed sarcastically. "Pathetic, really."

I sighed. "Look— I can't—"

"It's not my problem, now, is it?" Janet cuts me off. "Now, scram. I have better things to do than to entertain you."

I give up. She hates me. I don't blame her, though. She thinks that I was involved in Haylee's doings at lunch.

"Alright, time's up. Who doesn't have a partner?"

I slowly raised my hand up.

Mr. Browne frowned. "Audrey? Really? Thought you had lots of friends."

He mumbled the last part, but I bet the whole class could still hear it.

"Janet, do you have a partner?"

Janet shook her head. "I'll do the project solo, just like always."

"Unfortunately, my dear, that's not possible." Mr. Browne says. "Audrey obviously need a partner for this project. She's not like you. There's no way she can do solo."

Gee, thanks.

"But Mr. Browne—" she protested. "I want to do this project alone."

"Just do this one project with a partner?" He asks her.

Janet looked like she wanted to protest even more, but sighed in frustration instead. "Fine. Fine. Only this one time."

I smiled at Janet, but I only received a scowl back from her.

"This project would take about two months. Maybe more. It depends."

"Oh my gosh." Haylee's annoying voice says. "I can't believe you're stuck with that nerd for two months. Man, I'm so sorry for you."

Janet looked at Haylee, rolled her eyes and continued to look straight ahead.

I looked at Zoe. She sat there, twirling her hair, not even saying anything. There's not even a hint of guilt on her face.

I may consider Zoe my best friend, but does she?

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