Skin Deep

Chapter 1

It happened on the first day of year eleven; the world, as I knew it, had started to change.


I didn't know at the time what was happening. I thought she was just a little scared of me judging her. I thought if I called her name loud enough she would turn around. I thought she'd brighten up and stop looking so serious. That her twinkly gray eyes would sparkle, and her lips twist into that sassy smile I know so well.

Little did I know, those twinkly grey eyes would never sparkle the same way again. Not at me. Not at anyone.

Staring down at the piece of metallic black, smiley face stickered technology that is my phone – I wonder why she hasn't picked up. I've called her insurmountable times over the past couple of weeks and I haven't seen her since before Christmas.

It's now the first day of school and I don't know where I'm going to meet her when I get there.

Knowing her she just might be still asleep in her bed, but I'm not sure how to explain all the other missed calls. I mean, I guess she could have broken it. It's not exactly unlikely. She breaks things all of the time, most notably bones. It would not surprise me at all if I found her phone in a million different pieces on the grass outside her balcony.

But what about her house phone? What's her excuse for that?

"Bee," My mum pokes her head through the door, tapping her fingers on it impatiently, "you're not going to stare at that phone all day, are you? Because you're running late already."

"Mum," I sigh, shoving my phone in my school shorts pocket after checking the time, "I am not going to be late. It's only forty past. It takes five minutes to get to school and school starts at nine."

"Yes, but I know how you and Corbin get when you start talking," Mum says, fingers still tapping, "I have to allow a little extra time for you to get to your locker," she pauses, fingers freezing midair, "oh, and for Corbin to come begging to use it because she's forgotten her key again."

"Mum, that won't happen," I roll my eyes at her, picking my bag up and slinging it over my shoulder, "I texted her a reminder just before, she'll definitely remember this time."

That is if she hasn't broken her phone.

"That's what you said the last time," My mum shakes her head and sighs, ushering for me to hurry up, "just get in the car. I don't want to be writing any notes for you this year."

I roll my eyes again and follow her down the hallway, almost looking forward to school, looking forward to seeing my best friend again.

"Are you smiling?" My mum wants to know, looking over her shoulder as she opens the front door.

"You know what," I say, "I think I am."

I walk down the hall, bemused, having not seen her anywhere. Corbin usually waits for me somewhere outside but I've looked all over the yard and she's not there. I've looked near the trees, the far side of school where we sit, the quadrangle a couple of times and I even went so far as to ask her brothers whether she was sick or something.

All to no avail. All they had to say is that where she is I don't want to be anywhere near, and I don't know what that's supposed to mean.

"Corbin, where are you?" I mutter before my eyes catch onto an apparent new girl who is pushing her bag into her locker with her tiny little arms, blonde hair sprawling into perfect waves down her back – she is, of course, talking to Bonnie Bryant, another stick figure of a girl with perfect hair.

"I'm so glad we're friends now," Bonnie gushes, sounding excited, "I didn't know how cool you were before, you know, because you didn't exactly look like it…"

"Yeah," the blonde girl nods her head, her voice sounding strangely familiar, "I know what you mean."

I blink at the blonde girl, more bemused than ever. No. No.

She wouldn't be caught dead hanging out with Bonnie Bryant and Angelica Monroe. She abhors them; she thinks they're completely boring. I would know. I've had to listen to her complain about them enough, after they've been over at her house for one of her mum's dinners.

She, quite literally, fell asleep listening to them go on, arguing about which one was prettier than the other. I mean, like it mattered. No matter how gorgeous they were, it still wouldn't change the fact that they seemed like complete bitches.

Clutching the straps of my bag, I watch the waif-like girl in front of me snap her locker shut and turn around, saying coolly, "Let's go."

Only she stops, and then her grey eyes meet my blue ones: Corbin.

Standing right in front of me, and looking like a deer caught in the headlights. She's looking even skinnier than her mother; her black and white school skirt cut way up her thighs and white button-down shirt exposing at least a centimetre of stomach.

Her bright orange stomach at that.

My eyes swivel over her from head to toe, and then back into her eyes in horror, "Corbin?"

But she doesn't answer, she doesn't even spare me a second glance; just tightens her grip on the set of books she has in her hands and walks right past me, Bonnie in toe. Bonnie who whispers scathingly, "Who do you think you're talking to, loser?" and then proceeds to knock past me, jabbing me in the ribs with one of her bony elbows.

"Corbin," I turn around, letting go of my shoulder straps and beginning to walk after her, still blinking in disbelief, "Corbin, what – what's going on?"

She walks faster, her legs so tiny they look about to snap under the pressure. How did they get so tiny? What has she been eating this past holidays? Has she been eating anything at all? It doesn't look like it. How could her mum let her get so thin? I mean she's mean, for sure, but I'm pretty sure she can cook. How could she let this happen?

How could Corbin let this happen?

"Corbin, stop," I walk faster too, my voice starting to catch, "where have you been all holidays? Why didn't you answer my calls? Why are you walking away?"

Corbin's hands clench at her sides, and her shoulders start to shake. But she doesn't turn around; she doesn't even turn her head.

I feel hurt starting to well up in my chest as Bonnie reaches up, squeezing her shoulder with a hand and whispering something to her. What is she whispering? Why is Corbin talking to her and not me? Corbin's never voluntarily talked to her in her life.

"Corbin," I call out, starting to get annoyed, "don't ignore me, just please, please turn around."

Bonnie, beside her, starts to laugh. I glare at her, what does she think she's laughing at? Does she think this is funny?

What is going on? I don't understand.

"Corbin, for crying out loud," I walk after her even faster, catching her up and tapping her on the shoulder, "Corbin, turn around and talk to me, tell me what's going on."

Bonnie Bryant's back arches like an angry cat's and she turns around, hands balled into fists and eyes burning.

One moment I'm facing Corbin's perfect blonde waves and the next Bonnie's shoving me away, standing in front of me with a look of disparagement, "Look, chick, I don't know who you are but –"

"Get out of my way," I glare at her, trying to dodge around her but failing, her tall lanky frame matching my every move, "No offence meant by that, Bryant, but get out of my way."

"No, don't you get it, chick?" Bonnie shoves me back as I try to walk around her, with surprising strength for someone so tiny. "She doesn't want to talk, and I don't even know who you are, so…if you'll excuse my, like, rudeness saying this: leave my friend alone."

I stare at her, incredulous, what does she mean 'my friend'?

"Corbin's not your friend," I snort, raising my eyebrows right back at her, "she has never been your friend, she's always been mine – she is mine."

Bonnie sighs, leaning down to look me in the eyes patronisingly, "No, she's not, she used to be, hon. And that's a term you're gonna have to get used to – used to be. Say it with me."

I stare at her, annoyance with her attitude, "Look, Bryant –"

"Used. To. Be," she says slowly, holding up a finger for each word before tossing her dark brown hair over her shoulder, and walking off in the other direction.

What. A. Bitch.

I stand in the hallway, blinking at her retreating back, her skirt just as short if not shorter than my best friend's.

The bell starts to resound throughout the school, signalling class is about to start. I can't help but stare after her, though. I can't help but wonder why she's now friends with Corbin and I'm apparently exiled. I can't help but wonder why Corbin is wearing clothes that would sooner fit an eight year old than any normal teenage girl.

I can't help but wonder why – why had this happened? Is this new Corbin happy being friends with Angelica, Bonnie and probably Carin, instead of me?

All I know is that she can't be, she absolutely can't be happy. Because happy people don't look like that.

Happy people's cheek bones aren't starting to jut out of their face; happy people's eyes have a certain sort of light, one that Corbin used to have. One that Corbin used to have all of the time; one that there isn't a hint of in her pretty grey eyes anymore.

Because in her eyes there is no happiness, there is no light. When our eyes met mine sunk into a dark, depressing nothingness, and it scared me. No one so young should have that kind of look in their eyes. No one should have that look at all.

Especially not Corbin.

"Bumblebee Barton," I hear a surprised voice splutter, "What on earth are you still doing, standing in the middle of the corridor, and with no books??"

I snap back to reality and blink, looking around the hall, wondering where everyone went. Only I guess I spaced out so long that they'd all left without me, leaving me standing by myself. Not that, you know, they'd wait ordinarily; but someone did.

I turn my head, embarrassed, and find Mrs Bloomingdale - my old art teacher – staring right at me, "Um."

"You weren't skipping class were you?" She stammers, sounding bewildered.

I give off the impression of being a goodie-goodie, as some people like to put it, and that's probably because I am. I don't like causing trouble. I don't like breaking rules. That was Corbin's thing: was.

"Uh, no, miss," I hold up my hands, feeling sort of mortified as she is, after all, one of my very favourite teachers (one that I definitely wouldn't like thinking bad of me), "not at all. I'm just, kind of…spacey…today."

She looks relieved, and tries to say sternly, "Okay, now, get to class. I don't approve of tardiness, Bee," before walking off, looking disconcerted.

I know just how she feels.

Walking down the locker aisle, I try to think of what I'm going to do. Only I have no clue, my mind is blank. Every idea that pops into my head sounds stupid, because what, honestly, can I do?

I don't know what to do. It's not like I've ever been in this sort of situation before. I just don't understand. I can't understand. I feel like I'm arrogant trying to think that I do, that I do know what is going on. Because this honestly just came out of nowhere, one moment we were phoning each other, laughing and hanging out at each other's houses –

The next it's like we're strangers.

I mean I normally always know what's going on in Corbin Cox's head, but that's not because I'm a mind reader. She used to tell me everything. She used to tell me every single detail even if I told her I just didn't want to know, she'd just giggle and plough right ahead.

This summer that stopped, though, and I don't know why, and I don't know how long ago it stopped. I don't know when she decided Bonnie would make a better friend than I had. I don't know anything.

I don't know why she stopped calling me. I don't know why when I check my email it's only a notification from my YouTube. I don't know why I never have any texts, I don't know why don't have any letters, any silly drawings, any –

Any anything from her.

If something was going on, why didn't she come to me? Why didn't she try and talk it out? Why didn't I notice?

Reaching my locker, I slump against it, nails digging into the metal as I groan in frustration, sliding down onto my knees with a dull thud. I'm holding it back, trying not to scream, trying not to let the entire school know that my world has changed – and that I want the old world back.

Because this new one sucks.

The moment I walk over to the lunch area in front of the canteen I know I've made a mistake in going there. Everyone has their backs to me, chatting and laughing about their summer holidays.

Everyone excluding the person I used to talk about my summer holidays with – well, except we never really talked about our summer holidays.

We always spent the summer together; we knew exactly what went on. Not this time though, oh no, she'd spent that with Angelica and Bonnie who are sitting there next to her, eating half a salad sandwich each in silence.

In silence. It makes me wonder how Corbin can even stand it; she usually talks a mile a minute.

I watch her, sitting there and looking awkward, hugging her knees to her chest and not eating a single bite. Not even a half sandwich.

For a moment, she looks up, as if feeling my gaze on her, and her eyes catch mine.

That moment, her lips tremble, and it looks like she's about to get up and come over. I can't help but perk up at the thought of it…

But the moment passes, and she looks away. Fine.

Fine, there's plenty of other places I can eat. I don't have to eat in the canteen with her. I can tell when I'm not wanted.

Swallowing my feelings and shaking my head, I refuse to let it affect me and turn in the other direction, walking towards the library in the hopes that it's open…

Only then I guess I'll have to save my sandwich for later because you're not allowed to eat in the library. I shove my sandwich in my shorts pocket and make my way back across the little way I'd wandered onto the lunch ground, before I realised there was no one waiting for me anymore. I sigh.

It'll get better, it has to get better.

My feet crunch against the grass and I look down bemusedly; how can it stay so bright when I'm feeling so horrible? It should be the colour of straw – dead – considering my mood, but I guess plants consider much.

I wish I didn't consider, but it's all I do. It doesn't seem to be helping me this time.

Looking up from the grass and feeling depressed my eyes latch onto a bright pink poster plastered down on the front of the glass library door: computer art lessons. I've seen it before, but this time it interests me: this time I have nowhere else to go.

With a somewhat forced smile on my face, I pick up the pace and walk fast towards the front door, heading down through the lino covered entrance hall and into the main section with all the books, and the two big computer rooms. I spot another pink poster on the far one and an awkward but happy looking kid pushing his way through the door.

I wonder whether it'll make me happy going in there.

Sighing, I shrug my shoulders and pad down the carpet slowly, hesitant to let myself in and be disappointed. I look down at the soft coral coloured carpet underneath my feet and trail it over to the bottom of the door. I can hear lots of noise, lots of talking and laughing going on in there. I feel like an outsider.

But I feel like an outsider everywhere in the school now, so what's the difference?

Holding my head up high, I put my hand onto the doorknob and then push the door open before me, and without a moment of deliberation –

I step inside.


This is one of my new stories :3 as per usual I'm up way too late. Too tired to talk, hope this sounds okay.