After finding out about Veronica, she acted as if it never happened. The only way I could assure that it had happened, was seeing the dark spots on her shirt where water soaked in. Lucky for her, class was over before we knew it and we both had nice warm bowls of soup to have at lunch. I gave her a tentative smile as I walked out of the classroom and to my locker, occasionally looking back to see if I was being followed. So I put my stuff away, I got out my lunch money and went to get food in the cafeteria. I grabbed a slice of pizza and some fries, and went to sit in my usual seat, when I noticed something odd. There were three people already sitting at my table, having a conversation. I couldn't see their faces, but I could tell there were two boys and one girl. I had this feeling that they were all familiar. Just as I was about to turn away and look for another table to sit at, all three turned to look at me.
This is a strange sight to see, I thought as I headed over to those three people. There sat Trip, Rosemary, and Patch. All sitting at one table. They all looked happy, well, at least Rosemary was. Patch was trying to look cheerful, but I think he wanted to be alone with me, and Trip was his usual nonchalant self, aside from the glares he gave Patch from across the table. I sat next to Patch as I looked around the table, everybody was silent.
"Okay, what's going on?" I break the silence cautiously.
My three friends stir uneasily and then Rosemary speaks up, saying, "I just wanted to sit with you at lunch, but I guess these boys wanted to as well."
Okay that makes sense, I think to myself, I guess I should introduce them to each other.
"Okay," I start off, "This is Rosemary, Patch, and Trip." I gesture to each one as I mention them.
"Umm… Taylor? Can I talk to you for just a sec, alone?" Rosemary asks into the awkward silence. I nod as she slides over to the other end of the table, and then I follow her.
"Something's wrong," she whispers, occasionally looking back at the boys, "I don't think they like each other." It was my turn to peek at Patch and Trip and saw that they were having an intense stare down. What was up with them?
"I noticed, what should we do?" I replied.
Rose sighs and then jokingly says, "Well, you're 'Ask Penny,' so you should tell me." I roll my eyes and smile, Rose and I have grown close over the past few days on the phone. She's almost the complete opposite of me with blonde hair and blue eyes… I'll be honest, she's far prettier than I could ever be, and I think she might know that. She's happy and loud, while I'm moody and quiet. Rose is basically the old version of me, aside from the physical features. Although we're almost completely different from each other, we've grown really close over the small time given.
I respond to Rose by saying, "Maybe we should let them cool off for a while and if it continues tomorrow, then we confront them?"
Rose considers my advice and nods in approval. "I've actually never spoken to either of these guys," Rose whispers to me. I'm not too surprised that she hasn't ever spoken to them until now, since Trip is reserved and Patch, well I don't know what Patch does when he's not around me. Now that I think about that, I find it weird and unusual.
Before I can say anything, Rose adds, "Don't forget the meeting is today. Now let's get back over there before the guys kill each other."
As Rosemary and I returned to our original seats, I swear I heard a deep voice harshly whisper, "She is not yours!" I try to connect the dots and find out who said it, but I don't have much luck. I know it can only be Trip or Patch, since they're the only guys nearby. I'm puzzled because I want to know who said it and also what they meant by it. Also, who is "she"? I am forced to let go of that because my pizza is now communicating with my stomach. I greedily grab at it and I eat it within a minute. I know I'm going to regret eating so much later, because the bully in me will do what it does best. I try to get away from that thought as I attack my fries.
"Someone's hungry today," Patch says. Trip makes a quiet noise of disgust at Patch, but doesn't say anything. The whole lunch period went on like that, with Rose and Patch occasionally starting up conversations with me while Trip just sat there.
After lunch, the day went on as usual. The only thing that was different, was that Perrie has turned her rudeness – or should I say bullying now – up a notch. Now, her comments are actually starting to engrave in my mind. Can you guess how many times she's called me a "fat whore" today? Apparently not enough for Perrie. She's even got one of her minions, Nicole Franklin – or Nikki for short – to bully me when Perrie's not in my class, meaning she bullies me in my Art and Reading/English classes. If it's not Nikki, it'll probably be Veronica.
When I think about her, I start to feel anxious of what she'd do the next time I'm with her, which is luckily tomorrow. I try to push all the negative comments away, but it's just like swatting at bees or wasps. The more you acknowledge them and try to push them away, the more likely they are to sting you. I just hope that no one else catches on to this bullying thing. However, it would be nice if someone could stand up for me, but they're all scared of Perrie. Believe it or not, this girl has been rude to everyone at least once. It's hard to think that when you first meet her, because you'd think she's popular because she's nice and friendly, and of course, she's gorgeous. Even though she and I aren't the friendliest of people, I have to admit, her body is basically flawless. As I sit there in gym, contemplating all of this, I thought, Perrie's just another stereotypical popular girl like I used to be.
After school let out, I grabbed my stuff and went to my Reading/English classroom where the school newspaper staff held their meetings every Tuesday after school. By the time I reach the door, I hear a bunch of unrecognizable voices and laughter. As I walk in, everybody stops and just stares at me. I hope they don't make fun of me or anything worse.
"Sorry I'm late you guys," I hear Rose come into the room. Before she can say anything else, she scans the room, noticing that everyone's eyes are on me.
"Oh you guys, this is Taylor! She's our new 'Ask Penny.' Don't worry, she's super cool and friendly." I managed a tiny smile and a short wave. I hear Rosemary take a deep breath, and I prepare myself for her soon-to-come long speech.
"Don't be afraid of these people Tay, they aren't going to be mean or judge you," Rose says as I look around to find the people surrounding me nodding their heads in agreement. "So let me introduce these lovelies to you: The girl with the flaming red dye in her hair is Charlotte, our music review chick; the girl with the blonde curls is Penelope, but she goes by Pen, she's our music reviewer, and the boy over there trying to flirt with one of our reporters named Sarah, is Michael, but I think you know him from our class already, he's our book review guy – and he does a lazy job at it! Our other reporter is Simon, the quiet guy in the corner over there, and I'm the editor," Rose finally finishes by repeating, "Everyone, this is Taylor, our new 'Ask Penny' in replacement of Shelby."
I see everyone shudder at the mention of Shelby – whoever she is – and I secretly hope that everyone will like me. Rose tells me to sit next to Simon so she can begin speaking.
Begin speaking? I thought, isn't that what she was just doing? She goes around asking the others for their assignments. Most of them handed them over gladly, but Michael had put up a fight.
"Michael, give me the paper," Rosemary said as she lunged at the paper.
"When you say you think I'm sexy," Michael retorted. I couldn't help but giggle at his comeback.
"You think that's a joke, new girl?" Michael says with a mock sad face. At that exact moment, Rose snatches the paper out of his hand, and everyone laughs at Michael's momentarily confusion. After collecting all the written articles, Rosemary turned to Sarah, asking her if any letters were dropped off. Rose shrieked in glee as Sarah handed her a piece of paper.
"Okay Tay," Rose begins, as she turns to look at me, clutching the piece of paper to her chest, "This here is your first letter, you ready for it?"
I widen my eyes at the sight of the piece of the paper, who knew it could make me so nervous? I nod slowly as Rose brings it to me. After reading the letter, I was even more scared than before. The letter had read:
So I know this girl and a secret she's trying to hide from everyone, even herself. The thing is, I am too. My friends have been very mean to her lately, and I've been sabotaging her with her own secret. I'm basically dangling it over her head. She now knows my secret though, and I'm afraid she's going to do the same thing I did to her. Maybe even worse. I never wanted to tell her – or anyone, in that case – it was just a big accident. Can you please give me advice? I really need it because I am freaking out.
Thanks for listening,
A Girl With A Dangerous Secret
Is it weird how I knew exactly who wrote this? I guess not. It was Veronica Landon.
I looked around nervously, noticing that most of the kids were waiting for me to say something. Should I tell them that this letter is about me? I think it's weird that my very first one is about me.
Anyways, I look up and I say, "Does anybody have a piece of paper?" Everybody looks kind of disappointed when I say that, like they were expecting me to say something really wise. Sorry, I'm not that kind of person. Michael hands me a piece of paper and winks at me. I roll my eyes with a smile plastered to my face, trying to seem playful, but really, I thought Michael was slightly annoying. I wonder if any of these girls feel the same way. I grab a purple mechanical pencil, and begin to write my response.
Dear A Girl With A Dangerous Secret,
First off, I'm going to warn you that I might sound a little rude. Bullying is never okay. I know I should be giving you advice and not criticizing you, but it's the truth. It really does kill people inside. Anyways, this girl is probably so scared that you'll reveal her secret that she won't tell yours to another living soul. Maybe if you befriend her, she will be so relieved that of course she won't tell.
Play fair and thanks for writing,
I knew it was a bad idea to write what I wrote, but as I handed Rosemary the letter I wrote back, I couldn't help but think that maybe there's a chance that Veronica might just follow my advice. Wouldn't that be cool?
Rosemary abruptly halts my thoughts by saying, "This is excellent! Especially on your first try." She smiles as big as her braces allow her to, and then adds, "We're publishing this tomorrow morning with the newspaper, is there anything you'd like to change?" I shake my head no, but inside, my mind is screaming for me to rip up that paper.
I sigh and leave with everyone else after Rose says, "Dismissed!"
I was absentmindedly walking behind the others out of the school. Michael strolled over to me, but after he realized I just wanted to be a friend, not a girlfriend, he lost interest and ran to catch up with Sarah, who seemed at least slightly interested in him. Don't get me wrong, he was good looking, but I didn't want to go out with a guy who has probably flirted with every girl in the school. I wanted a guy who wasn't too confident and was my friend before anything.
Sounds like someone you know? My mind asks me, anyone at the moment? I think about it for a moment, stopping under a tree just a block away from my house. There are a few boys who can fit that description. Before I can think anymore about those specific boys, I hear a sound in the bushes, coming from behind me, so I get out of there as soon as possible. As soon as I reach my house, I check the mail, nothing there. Walking into the house, I'm shocked to find my family all sitting in the living room. My dad and brother are asleep, but my mom sees me come in. She beckons me closer with a wave of her hand.
"Where have you been, young lady?" My mother whispers, trying not to wake up the guys, "And why didn't you tell me?" I mentally face palmed myself. I had completely forgotten to tell my mom that I was staying after school.
"I was at school, Mom."
"Taylor. Eylon. Bretton. Don't you dare lie to me," my mother said with a sudden stern voice.
Oh no, that's not good, the full name is never good.
"I was though! Did I not tell you that I'm a member of the school newspaper now?" I say, knowing full well that she'd take my bait to change the subject. Her eyes light up as those words come out of my mouth.
"Really? My girl, a writer, just like her mother?" My mom inquired, "What part of the newspaper?"
I rolled my eyes at her first comment and then answered, "The advice column." I laughed as I saw my mother shape her mouth into an "O" in surprise.
"That's the best section! I always wanted that spot! Oh Hun, I'm very jealous of you right now," my mom said. I blushed a little because my mom never gives me compliments. Instead, she compares me to her when she was my age. Sometimes I don't really mind, but other times, it hurts because I feel like I'm a failure.
"So I'm going to let you off the hook, just don't mention it to your father, okay?" My mom said, grinning at me as I agreed and went to bed.