Chapter 3- Odd Dynamics

My butt was cushioned in my lunch seat, but I was restless. I cross my legs and that still didn't allow me to get comfortable. It wasn't so much the seat but probably the fact that I was impatiently digging through my bag like a mad woman.

I really hated these big bags. They always had things in them that you never needed but hid all the things you did. Right now it wasn't being helpful on locating a little pink wallet I usually carry around. It was pretty small so I expected to have problems looking for it, but I didn't think it would take this long just to find it. It wasn't even a dull pink, it was relatively bright. Even in a dark bag, like mine, I should still be able to at least spot it.

Maybe I should just dump everything out.

"You know, Ari, I don't really need your ID. I can just borrow someone's," Dionne spoke softly from across the rounded lunch table.

I frown to myself for being unable to find it. Only my ID was in it so it wasn't that much of a loss. I really never use it like most students. It was just annoying not to have it. At our school the ID's are used as a prepaid card. It can be used to purchase food at the cafeteria, at the drink/snack machines, or even used to get school supplies. Of course, it being an ID card it was used to show that you were a student of the school, but really who ever needs to prove that one?

I wonder where I left it.

"I know I brought it. I must have left it somewhere," I say apologetically to Dionne. She shrugs her shoulders and sips on the straw of her soda.

"Again, I don't really need it. Harper…" Dionne begins to beg to the blonde sitting next to her. "Let me use your ID card so I can print something out in the library."

Harper is currently busy putting on some lipstick but shakes her head at the instant Dionne begins her begging. When she finishes applying the peach gloss she rolls her lips together.

"Nuh uh. Last time I lent you my card I got in trouble," Harper says. She rubs her lips together again parting them with a loud pop. She places her lipstick back in her own bag.

"Ugh, you have such a stank attitude. It's not becoming at all," Dionne complained with a tsk. She chews on the corner of her lip and looks around the cafeteria. She was probably looking for someone to con into letting them let her use their card for her own purposes. She was pretty good at doing that.

"And why can't you use your own card this time?" I ask while watching her scout.

She didn't stop looking around as she tells me, "Don't have my card and I don't want to use my money on printing 20 pages."

"It's only 25 cents per page…" I start to tell her. She scoffs, attention still looking around the cafeteria, and I roll my eyes. I look over at Harper who was mimicking my very actions.

"Puh-leeze chick, I don't need to be spending my money on things like this. Not when…"she purrs with her face lighting up. Harper and I both peer into the direction Dionne was focusing much of her attention. I can only assume that she had found her target.

It was just some random guy, I'm pretty sure that none of us knew. He looks just Dionne's type though. He was dressed head to toe in matching gear, baggy hang lo' pants, sleek looking cornrows, and well-coordinated matching shoes. I even had to admire the dude was dressed sharp. He was looking around as if in search mode. His head moved side to side, peeking around at different tables. It hints to me that he was looking for his friends, or at least some people he knew. When his eyes cast over towards us Dionne smiled and waved flirtatiously. One of his eyebrows rose at the advance and he sent her a grin. His lips stretched wide, his grin favoring more on the left side.

I stare at Dionne who was smiling. He then looks away when he hears something. I follow his stare to see a group of his friends calling his name and waving him over. He glances back at our table, smiling still, and strolls over to the table with his friends. I stare at Dionne for a minute, her eyes unable to detach themselves from watching him walk away, and she sniggers softly.

Dionne quickly primps herself and stands up.

"You'll be back right?" I ask teasingly as she begins walking away from the table.

"Yeah, yeah whatever," she spoke as an afterthought , walking off toward her new target.

"That girl got a gold digger compass I tell you," Harper laughs. I laugh too as we both watch her slip herself in a comfortable seat next to the guy. She purposely scoots her chair closer to his while touching his shoulder. I couldn't tell what she was saying but you could already tell he was caught in her manipulative black hole. He was unable to stop himself from checking her out when she laughed, covering her mouth with her hands, and closing her eyes.

In that dress his imagination probably was more than enough by now.

To the untrained eye you might not catch the action of him watching. It didn't last long; maybe a second or two, but most guys couldn't help but do a check when around Dionne. They just couldn't even help themselves from peeking when they knew they wouldn't get caught. The dumbasses had no idea that it was all part of her con.

"I don't know if it's just gold digger, "I say sarcastically with my mind completely in the gutter. Harper gasps looking over her shoulder at me with a grin.

"Isn't she dating that guy Cordario?" Harper asks. I tear my eyes away from Dionne, and her target, to think about the question.

"Umm, not very sure about that. I think they officially called it quits for quite some time now. They might see each other every now and again to hang out."

"Really? I didn't hear…about that," Harper says bit by bit. She looks away from me and then taps her nails on the top of the table in thought. She smiles a little, but it disappears as quickly as it came, when she notices me watching her.

I didn't say anything as I glance back at Dionne. I said nothing to Harper because I already knew what her intentions were with the news I just gave her. She'd been waiting for a very long time for Dionne and Cordario to break up. It would probably be a matter of time before Harper decides to make her move. It was quite possible she would want to get him while he is on the rebound. I never confronted her about the matter, because honestly she should go for it. Dionne was only dating Cordario just so he could buy her things.

Harper was the one who fell for him first anyway.

I am pretty sure that Dionne even knew, before dating Cordario, how Harper felt. She just didn't really care. That's why Dionne is Dionne. She wasn't the type to really care about the after effects or consequences for any and all her actions. Dionne's own wants and needs are always of the highest priority, higher than those stupid things called feelings.

So when Dionne started to like Cordario I knew Harper was in a bind. Harper wasn't much of a cut throat like Dionne. Harper would spare her friends feelings. They would always outweigh her own.

Such the loyal type.

Once it was well known what Dionne's intentions were, I could do nothing but watch. I was on Harper's side, of who would win Cordario's heart, but deep down I knew Dionne would be the victor. And I was right. Dionne got what she wanted. Her and Cordario got together and were together for about a good year, until she got bored with him. Then for another couple of months, Dionne just kept being with Cordario because he lavished her with gifts. They only broke up because Dionne was tired of him always being around. It was one thing to buy her things, but to want to spend 24/7 together, when she wasn't feeling you anyways, was just too much.

Dionne never told Harper about her break up with Cordario.

Hope she doesn't mind me being a spoiler.

I had to say something about it. I don't like meddling in Dionne and Harper's affairs. I only do it when I think it's necessary. And this was pretty necessary. It had been all summer and Dionne was still bragging slyly to Harper about all the gifts Cordario was showering her.

All of it a lie, of course.

"So, he's nice and single…now" I casually hint. Harper just looks at me with her pale blue eyes through her lashes. "If you want to reel him in now it would be more than the time to."

Harper stays silent while fidgeting in her chair. I can tell the thought is going around in her head with a bit of hesitance. I'm sure she was thinking about many things in that pretty head of hers. On one hand, she was probably excited about this new challenge; but, on the other I'm sure she doesn't know if she should pursue the challenge. I don't blame her really. If she decided to go after Cordario she knew Dionne was definitely going to have her say of the matter.

And trust me, Dionne would definitely have something to say.

Only part I'm not looking forward to.

Other than that, I think Harper should go for gold.

"It's just that…" Harper looks over her shoulder to check on the status of Dionne before continuing, "…I'm not like her."

"What are you talking about? You sure as hell do not need to be like Dionne to get anyone. Plenty of guys fall all over you with no questions asked already."

Harper shrugs, continuing to stare at the person of conversation.

"That's not it Ari. I just…don't go after friends' exes or boyfriends…like that."

"Are you talking about that again?" I ask while leaning back into my chair comfortably.

I thought she was over this already.

"Dionne didn't mess around with your ex. She might be the way she is but deep down she can tell what is right and wrong."

Harper laughs a little before turning her gaze from Dionne back to me. As she turns around in her seat she folds her arms across her chest. Her blonde hair is to one side of her face as she tilts her head gently to the side. She blinks, opening her eyes only to completely stare at me leniently. And it surprises me.

"That's what I like about you at times Ari. You sometimes have things right there in your face but still like to pretend it really isn't going on."

"What are you saying?"

"Just that...you don't really know Dionne as well as you think you do. She doesn't have such conviction of "hands off" that's mine."

I frown and only stare at Harper. It was like she was trying to tell me something, but I really wasn't really understanding the hint.

"Exactly what are you getting at Harper?"

Harper stares at me blankly before sighing. When she finishes she completely changes her body language. Her face lights up half-heartedly and she shakes her head side-to-side to end the conversation. Even the corners of her lips turn upwards. I really want to question, but I notice Dionne on her way back to our table. When she looks at me, with a wide ass smile on her face, I smile back.

"Seriously men are easy, but boys are so simple," Dionne laughs while rejoining the table. She sits and shows off an ID card in her hand. "You just flaunt what you got and they're absolute putty."

I softly laugh at Dionne's remark, as does Harper, but I'm unable to fully pay attention. I quickly glance at Harper. My mind can't help but wonder back to our conversation. I'm sure that Harper does know more about Dionne than I do, but I can't think that Dionne would do something so low. There are a lot of things that girl can do on a hustle, but just not that. No way.

"I don't know how you do it Dionne," Harper sighs through her laughter. "How can you even have such balls to do shit like that?"

"It's what happens with pretty bitches. Look at the three of us." Dionne points around the table at all of us. "Ari, you're a pretty bitch. Harper, you're a pretty bitch. And I know for damn sure I'm a pretty bitch. Us pretty bitches just get whatever we want from the men with no problems. We just bat our eyes and show a little skin, it doesn't even have to be that much, and they'll fall all over their faces. You use what you got to get what you want in this life. I'm just using mine to the fullest. It's just the law for pretty bitches."

"You know the only thing bad about that is?" Harper asks. Dionne and I focus our attention on her while she makes little circles on the table with her fingers. "Pretty can only get you but so far. It's personality that will get you further in the future than pretty."

"That's why you have to have them both. A smart pretty bitch with a wonderful personality can really rule the world. The thing is most pretty bitches have ugly personalities. You don't have to be pretty and have a complex of superiority that lets you believe you can be bitchy. It always catches up with you in the end," I add. I am a bit shocked at my little small adage. I hesitate to meet the eyes of my friends because it really was out of character to add such a comment. I might think that way, but usually I'm able to keep those thoughts to myself and say something different aloud. Lately, it's been hard for me to keep that side of myself under control. It's been quite worrying.

"That's such a load," Dionne laughs. "I can see Harper saying shit like that, but not you, Ari. That's some hypocritical mess. You might not be as high as me, but still up there on the scale of using what you got to get what you want. Bitch please with that personality rules the world bullshit."

I actually sneer at the remark.

The only reason I have to act that way is for appearance sake. Half the time I don't' even want to act the way I do. It might seem very fake to many people, but I've found that it's the only way for me to survive in high school. Long story short, I was very much picked on from elementary school to middle. I was black, spoke great English, had a high gpa, and on the obese side of life. That might not seem like much, but apparently people from my own race didn't like that much. Actually, I don't even remember having any same race friends because I was always by myself. And when your school is particularly made up 85% of your own race, it's rough being an outcast and alone all those years. I've heard "she thinks she's so white" too many times in my lifetime. There were many crying nights and days.

Then after one long summer, of my 13th year, I lost a huge amount of weight and the next school term was uprooted and moved to here. After that, I swore that I would never be that girl I was before. I wanted to have friends. I wanted to not be alone anymore.

I wanted to be popular.

I actually really craved it then. I'm different than I was four or so years ago. It was fun, at first, the life of popularity. Now, I just find myself being angry. Not at anyone in particular, but myself. It is a harsh reality when you've become everything that made you hate yourself to begin with. It's my role though. It's the pretty bitch law. It may make me dislike who I've become, but I can't go back now. It's nice to have friends and not be isolated. How the hell was I suppose to just start over again?

I squirm, looking down and say softly, "I'm just sayin'."

"I agree with Ari," Harper states.

"Is this an attack against me?" Dionne asks defensively. I immediately shake my head side-to-side and mumble a no. Harper on the other hand just sits there with no response. I don't think Dionne notices it and it's actually a relief.

"Well you started the entire conversation. I just can't do what you do was what I was saying to begin with. I just don't have that type of confidence," says Harper casually.

The table suddenly just goes silent.

"I must have come back when you bitches were talking about something to get you all in such a funk. What were you girls talking about? You weren't getting in on the gossip of Ari's weekend fun while I was gone were you?"

Damn.

I squeeze my eyes together. This time I was really fully prepared for these questions, but I still didn't want to talk about it. After my little meltdown, in the forest, earlier I had came up with the conclusion that would best fit the situation. So, I was now prepared.

As I opened my brown small orbs I let the lids cast around them softly. I scoot up on my chair, back straight, sitting my arms on the cafeteria table. As I stare at Dionne I had to make sure I made every inch of my body, my posture, a dominate one. I had to do what I usually had to do. And that was to put on the show that she wanted. In these instances you just have to give what is expected from you while swallowing all other emotion.

"Why would I talk about it while you weren't here?" I ask Dionne while blinking. "You know how much I don't like repeating myself."

Dionne rolls her eyes and leans over onto the table.

"Well…"

I almost want to let out a rip roaring laugh, at this point. Instead I shrug my shoulders gathering my things together. I actually love the fact I am keeping Dionne in suspense as I push my chair back, a sly plastered smile on my face as I stand.

"I don't kiss and tell like you do Dio," I let out almost nonchalantly. I can almost see the irritation on Dionne's face. Harper, on the other hand, smiles at me brightly while showing her pearly whites. "Let's go to the library so you can print your shit."

Dionne grumbles and Harper just goes along. I fix myself up and wait for the two to attend to my sides.

Before they eagerly join me, a loud noise erupts in the cafeteria. I eye the opening of the cafeteria where a purplish-red headed boy was yelling and throwing paper around. I watch him interestingly as he sings and ran around the room. I smile to myself as he rounds to where my friends and I were. He throws the papers in the air above my head and continues to finish his lap around the cafeteria.

"What the fuck was that mess?" Dionne asks from my left side.

Curiously I stare down at the floor at the sheets of paper. They were brightly colored with very eye-catching lettering. There was even a picture of some kind at the bottom. Harper joins my right side with one of the sheets of paper in her hand.

"It's a flyer for a band or something. They must be playing somewhere and want people from school to come see them," Harper replies passing the thing to me. I graciously take the flyer and eye over the exciting flyer.

I absolutely love bands!

It is a best kept secret, however. Dionne and Harper don't know that little tidbit. Many people have no idea. So, I try to keep my interest down to a minimum. I had to look like it was interesting, but not interesting enough to care one way or another.

"The Juggars?" I say very low, and to myself, reading the band name displayed across the top. That's an underground band I wasn't familiar with. But, a band at this school? I had no idea.

I drop the flyer, idly walking around it and the rest of the papers strewn on the floor.

"Alright pretty bitches let's go," I say with my friends following me. I can't help but glance once again at the flyers on the floor with a pout. I really want to grab one and stuff it in my bag.

I really did.


Should I go in or not?

I stare at the door to my apartment and contemplate if I really want to open the door or not. I can hear soft clattering inside, so I know my mother is home. And I really did not want to deal with her. It had been a very long day. Between the start of the day, with weekend baggage, to boring classes I'd rather not get into more drama.

"Just got back from school did we?" a neighbor and her husband ask me as they pass behind me. I fake a smile and nod. "Tell your mother I said hello."

I watch them walk down the corridor and turn the corner and I roll my eyes.

This is what truly sucked about living in this apartment building.

It was a nice building. Don't misunderstand. I live in a relatively nice and expensive place. You had about three to four apartments on the same floor, depending on which floor. On our floor there were only three. We had great security and a door man. It was cozy and people knew each other. It was close knit, to say the least.

I don't like it.

And the reason for this is…my mother. My mom was a very talented cosmetic surgeon. She was known mostly for her work in Rhinoplasty, nose jobs, and Butt Augmentations, butt implants. She often gets invited as a guest speaker to universities and colleges for her knowledge on the subjects. She's a very minor celebrity, but still a celebrity either way in the medical world. From the magazines and the TV shows she was painted as a godsend with a heart of gold. To society she was just the perfect person.

I, on the other hand, would have to disagree all around.

This so called person who brought me into this world, my mother, wasn't any of these things. Far from it. What people didn't know was how emotionally/psychologically abusive she was. The woman was absolutely terrifying at home. Everything had to be perfect within the home and outside of the home. That's why I must do well at school. It's for appearances. And to mother that was important. She was the one that put me under the knife after my weight-loss just because everything wasn't "tight and right". You couldn't be a Ranes with saggy skin. It wouldn't look good on camera. It was fine when I was bigger, but not fine when the weight was gone. So, it had to be done.

Now that was the person I knew. The mother I knew. Not this woman I read about in fairy tales of news and reports.

So, when my neighbors always brag to me about my "awesome" mother I have to bite my tongue. I've been doing it for so long that it's second nature. What could I do? I doubt anyone would believe me. I'm a teenager. Apparently teenagers are so less likely to believe because of our age. For now, I am able to bear it because I rarely attempt to meet up with the woman. Luckily she's usually so busy with a surgery, or socializing, I never have to meet her. I can put up with it, for now, but it's still hard on days like this. Days when she's home and I'm too scared to even open my own door.

"Booga booga!" someone behind me exclaims as they tickle my sides. I almost literally jump ten feet in the air with fright. My heart beats like a race car and I have to remember to breathe. I turn around, eyes wide, and immediately push the person in the shoulder.

"What the fuck is wrong with you!?"I yell and begin to catch my breath. I lean against my door as the person before me laughs. "Maxxi you are such a bitch."

"Jeez, calm down bratty," Maxxi chuckles. I crack a smile and push her again, groaning when she returns it. "Ow, you push too hard, ya know."

"So do you."

"I know," Maxxi giggles. "Since you're ducking from your moms why don't you come on over," she says without waiting for an answer and walking off. The thought of not following her didn't even enter my mind as I immediately trail behind her.

Maxxi is my best friend.

We're around the same age and in the same grade. We don't go to the same school, however. Maxxi is short, average in weight, and pale as hell. She also has fire-red curly hair, which she dyes, and tattoos. She has a very sweet personality, but loves expressing herself through her appearance. She has no piercings, but terribly wants some, and has a total love for the cute small things. I always thought she was a fucking rock star. Her confidence level is on high and even though she's nice she has a "take me as I am" personality. I was always envious of her and her friends because I could never just be that way. To just be you without giving a fuck what other people thought, I just couldn't do that.

When I first moved here I met Maxxi when I began going to my new middle school. I didn't realize that we lived right next door to one another for a little while. Maxxi was probably the only person I could ever be myself with. When we were together, in school, our friendship went through a lot of things. I was struggling with being new and wanting to be popular. It was nice to make friends with Maxxi. I thought she was the coolest girl I could ever meet. We liked all the same things and it was the perfect combination.

That was until I found out the ugly truth about her and her group of friends.

They weren't really the type on the scale everyone would consider "cool". At the time, the word "freaks" and "weirdo's" were terms used often by other students. That wasn't what bothered me. It was the weird stares and whispers from other students…about me. I was black and hanging out with the scene girls. I was being ousted again by people. This time I wasn't alone, but I felt like I was when the words from my previous school floated around about me. Our school was pretty diverse though. But, I really couldn't handle the rejection when I had classes with people that weren't with Maxxi or her friends. There were many classes like that. No one would talk to me and I wouldn't talk to them because I was too afraid of being rejected. I didn't like it. My original plan was to be popular and not be ostracized like I was before.

I made a choice then.

I slowly began to ignore Maxxi. I hung out with her less and snubbed her when she tried to speak to me. I always felt awful about that period between us because I started hanging out with Dionne and Harper then. I became different towards Maxxi. I would be such an ugly person to her at school and apologize when we got home. She was the one to suggest us being secret friends and that surprised me. She just understood me. She never blamed me for anything, nor did she ever treat me badly for my actions. I thought she had to be a saint for what I put her through. One thing about Maxxi is she always forgives and forgets. I'm extremely grateful to her for that.

Then we split up and began to start different high schools. Maxxi's parents decided to place her in a private school, while I stayed behind. With both of us in different high schools our bond just got closer. It was a surprising turn of events, but I was happy that we are still best friends. I'm happy that I can just be myself with someone when I have to pretend everywhere else. Maxxi does speak out about my two-facedness…but she still takes me as I am.

I couldn't help but beam to myself as I followed her down the hall to her place.

"What'd you say to Paul today?" Maxxi asks and I frown. I had told Maxxi about the weekend and the night with Paul. Then, I had come up with the conclusion to tell him off today.

Yeah, that went exactly as planned.

"I was going to do that, but he went and told everyone about the weekend," I say. Maxxi sighs. We get to her front door and she begins to open her door, but not before giving me a look.

"And I bet what he told everyone else wasn't exactly what happened."

"Well…I'm not sure what it was he told everyone else," I say honestly. I really had no idea what it was everyone else had heard. I just know I didn't want anyone to know anything about that night.

Maxxi goes inside her apartment with a shake of her head. I trudge behind her, sitting my things on the table in the foyer.

"He's a total arse, ya know?" Maxxi says when we make it to her living room. I flop on the couch and stretch. Maxxi heads to the kitchen area. "You shouldn't even be dating him."
"Well he's not all bad…"

Maxxi peeks out from the kitchen giving me the stink eye. I huddle into the couch and stop from finishing my sentence.

"You liked him at first, but now I'm pretty sure you've realized he's a total arsehole. Right?"

Right.

I don't say anything as I hear the clanging coming from the kitchen. I lie down on my left side and grab the TV remote, turning the TV on. I groan, stretching my legs across the length of the couch, as I flip through the stations.

Maxxi was really hitting the nail on the head. I really did fall in love with Paul, at first, but now I've realized he's just really a jerk. We've been dating for about two years now and the last half year I've wanted to break it off. Really this weekend was just supposed to help me figure out if I want to be in the relationship. And after what happened…I know I don't want to be with him. There's no question about that. But, I have no idea how to end it. Paul has no affiliation with my current status at school. We might seem rather equal, but I have more over him. It would hurt him more, than me, if we broke it off.

No, it wasn't because of the status.

I actually still hold a little something for the douche bag. If we broke up we'd really be broken up. It really saddens me to think about it.

"Move," Maxxi says as she lifts and drops my legs from off the couch and she sits. I grumble sitting up against the arm of the couch, bringing my knees up to my chest. The waft of popcorn hits my nose and I notice a big bowl in Maxxi's lap. I reach for a handful and stuff my mouth.

"I just need to figure out how the hell to break up with him," I mumble through the popcorn in my mouth.

"Don't worry about it you will somehow. He's just lucky I don't know where he lives. I'd go to his house and…" Maxxi lifts her arms up, bending her arms at the elbow and making fists. "Beat him in the goolies with my fists of fucking fury."

To make her point, Maxxi, begins to jab the air muttering, "One, two, one, two, one, two."

I chuckle and get some more popcorn.

"Well I'm not going out this week with anyone from school. I guess you're stuck with me for my night time fun."

Maxxi looks at me with her pretty eyes. She takes a kernel in her hand and rolls it between her fingers.

"Good." she says. She pops the kernel into her mouth and chews on it slowly. "Because I meant to tell you that…Upper Chunks…is playing at Shush on Wednesday!"

I smile and laugh loudly. I can't help but thump my feet on the couch as I do.

"Oh my god! You know that's like one of my top fave underground bands!" I scream at the top of my lungs. Maxxi nods with a grin and throws popcorn at me. I pick up one of the thrown ones and throw it back. It begins to go back and forth and turns into a full out popcorn war on the couch.

As soon as the arsenal is gone from my side I get bombarded with popcorn. I roll down to the floor and duck for cover, letting my hands pick up as much ammo I can from off the floor. Once I have enough in my arms I try to find another hiding place under one of the tables. My butt bounces off the corner of one and a piece of paper flutters to the floor. I disregard it as I take cover. Maxxi is still on the couch and currently searching for me.

I snort and cover my mouth. I wait in anticipation for Maxxi to find me and start her assault of popcorn wrath. I contemplate the idea of springing from the table and just firing. As I get ready to stand I catch a look at the sheet of paper.

"Found yeah!" Maxxi says loudly as she peeks under the table and throws popcorn at me. I can only shield myself, eyes firmly planted on the white paper.

It looks so familiar.

I sound out the big letters strewn on top. It didn't register, but when it did I couldn't help but gasp.

"The Juggars?"