Home > Trust(7)

Trust(7)
Author: Kylie Scott

All of the pictures of Georgia had been taken down and thrown away. Years of friendship, gone. I felt angry and bereft, completely and utterly alone. Loving someone sucked.

Interestingly enough, it turned out that I now mostly used my phone to hang up on anyone who called. Easily done, since there was no one I actually wanted to talk to. If someone stopped by to visit, I feigned sleep or didn’t answer the door. Mom found some therapist for me to talk to, and I found excuses not to go. With me barely managing to keep my shit together as is, a therapist might drag up all sorts of horrible truths.

Gradually, my bruises faded to yellow and green. Man, did my ribs take their sweet time healing; in the meantime, any kind of movement hurt. Turned out little could be done for cracked ribs; you just had to wait while they healed. An ugly pink line dissected my right eyebrow, reaching another couple of inches up toward my hairline. Courtesy of Chris pistol-whipping me.

Despite doing my best to ignore the world, time passed. School was looming, God help me. The new school year would start again in a couple of weeks. In life, unless you’re willing to run away and live in the woods and risk being eaten by bears, some things just were unavoidable.

“Edie, hurry up,” called Mom.

“Just a minute,” I yelled back, doing up the zip on my gray school skirt. Yay for uniforms. Not.

Toothpaste on and I cleaned my teeth, working the brush back and forth with great zeal. A little concealer and a lot of foundation hid the remaining bruises along with the shadows under my eyes. I’d tied my hair back in a low ponytail, leaving a bit at the front to sort of sweep over my forehead and tuck behind my ear. If this style didn’t cover the scar, I’d cut myself some bangs. Lack of sunlight during the last while had left me sickly pale, but whatever. I’d done my best to look presentable.

“Edie, you’re going to be late!”

I paused in the process of giving my molars a scrub to bellow my reply. Froth from the toothpaste slid into the back of my throat and my gag reflex kicked in. Just that easy, my heartbeat hammered, sweat breaking out all over my body. God, it was just like that night, having the gun in my mouth.

I coughed into the sink, spitting out the toothpaste. My breakfast of coffee and Pop-Tart followed straight after, stomach heaving. Going, going, gone.

Dammit, my ribs hurt. Not good.

I turned on the cold tap, washing out the sink, sipping a little water to wash the taste of acid from my mouth. So gross. The bathroom stank of sick. A slow breath in, then out. Everything was okay. I wasn’t at the Drop Stop gagging on the barrel of a gun. No one stood behind me; no one was even in sight. It was just a random accident involving too much toothpaste, for heaven’s sake.

“Calm down, you idiot,” I told myself. “You’re fine.”

“Edie—” Mom appeared in the doorway, then stopped cold. “What’s wrong?”

I swallowed hard. “Nothing.”

Worry lined her face. I hated that.

“Seriously,” I said. Mouth rinse was what I needed; I’d give the toothbrush a pass for now. I swished the minty goodness around with my tongue, then spat it out. “All ready.”

“Are you sure? You look a little pale.”

“I’m fine.”

“Do you want me to drive you?”

“No. I’m fine.” I squeezed past her, a fake smile on my face. “See you this afternoon.”

She followed me out, eyes boring holes into my back.

“Your hair looks lovely,” she said.

“Thanks, Mom.” I gave my ponytail a nervous tug. Ouch. My scalp still hadn’t fully healed from Chris taking a chunk out of it. At least it wasn’t anything visible, like the scar above my eye. “’Bye.”

We lived in a one-story wooden bungalow on a quiet street. Lots of trees. It was nice. I gave Mom a wave as I climbed into my sensible eight-year-old white hatchback, inherited from my grandma. Edith, my namesake, lived in Arizona and was apparently going through a late-life crisis. There could be no other reason for her suddenly requiring a sexy sports car. It worked out well for me, though, so whatever made her happy.

Grandma also footed the bill for me to attend private school. I think the “My granddaughter is on the Honor Roll at Green” bumper sticker probably cost her almost as much as the sports car she stuck it on. Once upon a time, she’d been a teacher. She strongly disapproved of girls and boys being in the same classroom. Apparently our raging hormones wouldn’t allow for learning and all would be perversion and anarchy. From what I saw, the gay students at same-gender schools were doing fine. They weren’t having sex on the cafeteria tables, at any rate.

Eyes on the road, my focus straight ahead. I couldn’t afford any distractions. Ridiculous, how a random person on the sidewalk could spook my stupid nerves. Any cop with a gun could be Chris; my overactive imagination swapped them out with scary efficiency.

I drove extra slow, but it did no good. The bell hadn’t rung, I wasn’t late, and swarms of girls in gray uniforms filled the hallways. Never mind. Crowds were good for hiding in. This might work out even better.

Head down and bag on my back, I made for my locker. So much noise and people pushing. But I could handle it. Deep breaths, calm thoughts, and all that crap.

My hands were wet with sweat as I entered my locker combination and opened the door. The material under my arms was damp. Eventually I’d have to deal with Georgia, and frankly, she could kiss my ass. Her betrayal stung as fresh today as it had when it happened.

“Hey, Willy,” came a noxious voice from behind me. I didn’t turn around, didn’t need to. Kara Lamont. “I hear somebody tried to take your freedom.”

Free Willy, as per the movie, was apparently the only whale Kara knew about. Original and well educated didn’t describe the girl. I finished grabbing my English notebook, taking my time. A crowd had gathered, more than her usual posse. I could hear them all whispering and giggling, feet impatiently shifting, eager for action. There were always a few ready to see an uncool student get served her daily recommended dose of humiliation.

But this level of curiosity went well beyond that. Awesome. The Drop Stop had made me famous, unfortunately.

“Is your face really all fucked up?” she inquired, voice full of glee. “Poor you, Willy. Though I guess it’s not like anyone wanted to look at you anyway.”

A wave of laughter swept through the crowd. People just loved a good spectacle. Kara sucked up the attention, standing taller, smiling wider. I knew her opinion shouldn’t matter, and yet it always had. Despite my best efforts, the bitch featured heavily on the recording in my head of every rotten thing ever said to me. Every insult, every put-down—it had all been saved up there for posterity.

But this time felt different, somehow. Kara’s voice sounded far off, as if she were struggling just to be heard.

“You must have made a great human shield,” she continued. “You’re as wide as the ass end on a truck and I bet with the amount of fat you’re packing, you could probably even stop a bullet.”

More laughter and even a few gasps of outrage and surprise. Amazing really. Anyone who’d been in school for more than an hour should have realized Kara was nothing but a bully. Still, the whole robbery thing had given her some new material. After several years of hearing the same insults day in and day out, it was actually kind of refreshing. Sometimes I wondered if this was the pinnacle of her existence. If in twenty years she’d look back on these days and think they were the best of her life. When she’d been able to torment people without any real repercussions because we were just kids. No consequences, not really. Like what happened in these halls didn’t matter at all.

I wish I were a killer whale. I’d bite Kara’s head off and use it for a beach ball. God knows, it was already full of air.

Instead, I said nothing. It only excited her to see the little people fighting back against her reign of terror. Ignoring her and heading straight to class was what I needed to do. But when I turned around, there were more people watching than I’d imagined. Fifty, sixty maybe, jamming up the hallway. Hell, even Georgia was hiding back there, waiting to see what happened.

Kara stood front and center, her smile huge, delighted by the attention. What the hell was her problem? She was rich, thin, and popular, everything I wasn’t, and still she had to pull this shit.

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