'You can't go home now.' Charlie voice cracks with fear. It's the day after I found out they're still after me. Charlie doesn't like the idea of me going to live alone after hospital. 'Why haven't they found the guy yet though? Ugh, this is maddening!'
'The police could find them before I go.' I remind her.
'They haven't found them in a month, what's the chance finding them now, Vanessa?' She throws the pillow from visitors' seat to the floor, walks away, her back to me. I climb out of bed and walk up to her. I reach out and touch her shoulder.
'Calm down.' I say, quietly, hoping it'll be contagious. 'My apartment has a good security system. And it's not like they can crawl through the window when I'm two stories up. It'll work out.'
'How are you so calm?' She asks me, frustrated, turning around to face me. She grabs my cheeks, cupping my face with her hands. 'There is someone out there trying to kill you.' She finishes, her eyes darting back and forth from mine.
'I've thought it through. It's not like I'm going to leave the door unlocked and invite strangers into my house.' I point out. 'I'll be careful. Don't worry so much.' It was kind of cute that she was so worried about me. She stares into my face, frowning. But there's a definite look of worry in her eyes. Her hands haven't moved from my cheeks. She looks like she thinks about something before dropping her hands and moving away. She still looks so angry... 'Look if it makes you feel better, I'll move in with you.'
'Vanessa, no!' She shouts. 'No...' He says, quietly. He looks like he's restraining himself.
'"No" what, Charlie?' I raise my voice, too. 'What is so wrong about us living together? It won't be that different from how we're living now!'
'No, Charlie. I really don't care what excuse you have, you-' Suddenly, she pushes me against the wall, her hand either side of my head. My breathing speeds up, my chest heaving up and down at a fast pace. I try to conceal it, though.
'Don't...' She mutters, scarily. It's so much more frightening than her yelling before. 'I don't want to... I don't want you to live with me... And then have you...' she pauses, licking her lips and frowning. Again, it's like she's thinking of doing something. 'Look, just leave it alright?' She removes her hands and my breathing goes back to being relatively normal. Why is she so mad? What about this situation makes her so angry? I so want to know, but she doesn't want to talk about it, and I don't want her to get any more angry than he has.
'Okay...' She says, after a couple of minutes, but the anger is still in her eyes, boiling. 'Visit me every day. So, that I know you're okay.'
'Fine.' I nod.
'Deal?' She holds out her hand for me to shake it.
'Deal.' I reply, shaking her hand. I've never seen her like this. It's kind of terrifying.
I really miss my friends. I've told them not to visit, because of Ivy and now I don't have the energy to deal with them so I haven't told them to visit again. That's how they work, anyway. Give you space, come when you ask. But it would be nice if they just came out randomly and gave me cookies or something. It'd be nice. Just a random party to make feel a little better. I have Charlie, but now she's just going to be worried and telling me things I can do to help my situation.
'When are your friends going to come and visit you?' She says, as if she's reading my mind. 'They haven't been for a week. You'd think they'd be here for moral support.'
'No, my friends don't work like that.' I explain, 'If someone's going through something, we give them space. They'll come to us for help if they need it.'
'Well, you can't exactly go to them when you're stuck in hospital, can you?'
'I can still call them and message them for support.' I tell her.
'But it's always better to have people actually there for you.' She points out. I stay silent, knowing that she's right. I walk back to my bed and climb in again. I go to open my laptop, but I'm stopped by Charlie.
'If you're going to look for more evidence about who they are, don't.'
'It'll just make me more nervous.'
'Okay, then Miss Worry Warts, what do you suggest we do?'
'Well, can you think of any reasons why they'd want to kill you?' She says, leaning on the end of my bed.
'You honestly think I haven't thought about it?' I ask her. 'Please, I've been trying to think about that since I've been here.'
'Well?' She says, 'Any thoughts?'
'No. Unless I've done something terrible without my knowledge?'
'Ok, so you've never done anything bad. What about boyfriends, girlfriends? Could they be some creep that you dumped ages ago?' I start laughing really hard. So hard, in fact, that I start crying.
'What's so funny?' She asks, confused.
'I've never been in a relationship! Unless you count fake weddings in primary school!' I splutter through the laughter. 'I've never even kissed anyone!'
'Really?' She says, genuinely interested, coming over and sitting next to me on the bed. 'I would have thought all the guys at school would be interested in you. I don't know if there are any girls who are interested in girls there, but I'm sure they would be interested in you.'
This cracks me up even more. 'That's sweet, that you think that but it's definitely not true!' I manage to choke out when I've got the breath for it.
'What's not true?' A voice says from the door. I look behind Charlie to find Sophie, Kristen, Jess and Grace at the door.
'Who's this guy?' Grace says, looking at Charlie from head to toe. Though I've talked about my friends to Charlie, I still haven't introduced them.
'I'm Charlie. I'm guessing that you're Grace.'
'You've told her about me?' She asks, looking behind Charlie at me.
'I've told her about all of you.' I explain.
'What is he doing in your room?' Sophie asks, her eyes flicking from me to Charlie. She's obviously suspicious and by the looks of it, wondering why I haven't told them about her.
'She's my friend. It is expected of friend's to visit friends.' I say, strongly. Charlie raises her eyebrows at me, as if she's insinuating that this is news to her. I punch her arm softly in response and then look toward Sophie, secretly telling her with my eyes that she should drop it. She looks back at me suspiciously, but drops it.
'Hey, Jess. Haven't seen you in a while.' I can see, in her eyes, that she wants to leave. She was probably forced to come by Grace.
'Hi, Vanessa.' She says. She's eyeing off Charlie. She's obviously jealous. I mean... Charlotte is beautiful. I feel slightly angered that she's thinking about looks when she's supposed be visiting me.
'Right. Well, I'll be leaving.' Charlie says pointing carelessly towards to the door.
'Oh, don't leave because of us.' Jess says sarcastically. I'm completely angry now. First, she doesn't visit me because her boyfriend broke up with her, and now she's being rude to my friend! But I know she won't take offence. But still.
'No, no, you guys need your "girl time"' She uses her fingers to emphasise the quotations on "girl time".
'Just stay.' Grace says, clearly annoyed. She has also seen Jess' jealousy.
'Ok.' Charlie says, stepping back and holding up her hands like the police have shouted, 'Freeze!' at her.
'So Vanessa, how are you feeling?' Sophie asks, trying to turn the subject around from Charlie to me. I am the reason they visit.
'Not too crash-hot.' I answer, fury starting to bubble inside as I look at Jess stare at Charlie. Why am I so angry? She's allowed to not like her. It's not like Charlie is some perfect being. Even if I think so... It's at this moment that I realise - I have a crush on Charlotte Trickerr. I feel my face burn hot and I don't dare look in her direction.
'Your stitches are coming out soon, aren't they?' Kristen asks, meekly. She obviously sees the anger in my eyes as I furtively look at Jess over and over again.
'Yes. In a week.' I don't want to make conversation because I want them to go. Especially Jess. I can't believe her! She is supposed to be visiting me but instead she's just being a jealous bitch.
'Well that's good, I suppose.' Jess says, not even looking at me.
'So you're leaving here on the tenth right?' Sophie confirms. 'And you're staying at my place while they move your stuff into your apartment for two nights, correct?'
I nod. Silence swallows the room for a few awkward minutes until Charlie speaks.
'I don't see why I can't just go.' Charlie says. 'It's not like I'm any use in this conversation.'
'Just go, Charlie.' I sigh, looking at her, but avoiding her eyes. She raises her eyebrow once more, as if asking if I'm sure. I know she doesn't want to be here with my friends. From what she's heard about them, she certainly doesn't like them much. 'It's fine. Just go back to your room and play with your dick or something.'
My friend's gasp in shock, Grace raising her eyebrows and chuckling under her breath.
'Ok. Will do.' She says, trying so hard not to laugh. She gets up and starts to walk over to the door. Jess glares at her when she walks past and she looks surprised and taken aback. She shakes her head before leaving, still laughing under her breath. As soon as she's gone, Jess immediately comes out and says,
'Is there something going on between you two?'
'Yeah! She's cute!' Sophie says. 'Why didn't you tell us about him?'
'There's nothing much to tell.' I ponder whether or not to say there was something between us, but decide against it. 'No, there's nothing between us. We're just friends.' Jess' eyes twinkle with a hint of evil.
'Come on! She's cute! You have to have a crush on her!' Sophie says, nudging me.
'Seriously?' Grace scoffs. 'She makes an awesome dick joke and you ignore it to ask about her relationship with a girl? I'm disappointed in all of you.'
'Grace, thank you. It's hard to be this hilarious. But look,' I start, 'I may or may not have a crush on Charlie. But it's not like I have a chance with her!'
'So you do have a crush on her!' Sophie cries out. 'I knew it!'
'Why don't you have a chance with her?' Grace asks, looking confused, 'She seems pretty interested in you!'
'I don't know if she's gay!' I say, throwing my hands in the air.
'Grace, what do you think?' Jess asks. At least she's gotten over the jealousy.
'Eh, not my type.' She says. We all know that she's a lesbian. 'But for Vanessa, perfect. Though, I would be better...' She adds, shrugging, obviously joking.
'Guys, stop trying to convince me that she's interested in me.' I say, shaking my head.
'But, why don't you have a chance with her? Besides the gay thing?' Kristen asks.
'Because...I don't have the confidence to say anything about it... And she just wants to be friends!'
'Did she say that?' Grace asks. Everyone turns to look directly at me.
'No. But she certainly hasn't said or done anything to indicate that she's into me.'
'Maybe because she's not.' Jess says. 'Maybe she's not interested in you. I mean, let's face it; with your brown hair, dull green eyes and olive skin, you're not the prettiest flower in the bunch-'
'Jeez, someone's being a bit of a sour grape!' Grace spits, in my defence. 'Just because you're on the rebound, doesn't give you permission to be a bitch to Vanessa, who got stabbed 2 months ago and lost her mother, just to remind you. I mean, you don't visit Vanessa until 2 month laters, then you go and act like a rude little shit to her. Just tell me, what is your deal?'
'Lately it's just been, "Vanessa, Vanessa, Vanessa!" I got dumped and you guys ignored me because this bitch,' she points at me, 'Needed a visit from her little friends.' She brushes her fingers through her hair, angrily. 'Is it because she's Latina and I'm just some dumb white girl?'
'This has nothing to do with the colour of your skin! Again, she was stabbed and so was her mother! Why does it always have to be about you?' Grace is furious now. Jess shouldn't have brought up skin colour. Grace knows more than anyone here about how racist people can be. Well, most of us have to deal with it. I'm Latina, Grace is black, Sophie's Japanese and Irish. We three have to deal with some sort of shit. But Grace has it worse than us.
'Leave.' I say, strongly.
'What?' Jess says, looking back at me.
'Leave. You obviously don't want to be here. You obviously don't like not having the attention on you. Leave.'
'Fine. I will then.' She says, sweeping towards the door. Before leaving she turns around and says, 'Don't expect daisies in a field when you get back to school. There are a lot of rumours going around. Some of them will get worse once I'm done with them.' She leaves the room.
'Don't worry, Vanessa.' Grace says, 'We'll sort her out. She's just jealous that the attention's not on her. You know how she is.' I let it go, but I'm still not sure about her. I don't know what her problem is. I did always suspect that she didn't like me... I let it go and try to make normal conversation.
I'm in my bed, typing up a poem. I started writing poems after Ivy died because of all the breakdowns I had in the past week. Nurse Roberts suggested it. I glance at the time. It's almost sunset.
'Your friends seem... Charming.' I look up from my laptop to find Charlie strolling towards my bed. I look back to my screen saying,
'You don't have to lie to me, you know.'
'Ok. Your friends seem like absolute twats.' she says.
'You're quick to judge!' I say, looking at her with false shock on my face.
'You told me to be brutally honest...' she points out.
'I did not! I just said you didn't have to lie to me!'
'And I told the truth.' She shrugs. 'And that was a nice, solid joke you told back there. Wow. You had me in stitches. But it seems like your friend's aren't used to that kind of comedy.'
'Yes, well. That's the kind of joke I share with you and not them.' I explain.
'I feel so special!' She says in a flamboyant voice, coming over and sitting on the edge of my bed and I close my laptop to see her again. She goes quiet for a minute. 'And that Jess girl...' she trailed off. Suddenly my heart starts beating really fast and my breathing becomes intense. I swallow.
'What about Jess?' I say, trying to sound as casual as possible.
'She just seemed really annoyed at me.' She scrunches his face up. 'And like... Girl, you need to chill. We just met and you death staring me.' My body washes over with relief; my breathing and heart beat go back to a normal pace.
'She was.' I tell him. 'She's jealous of you. And her boyfriend split it with her a couple of weeks back.'
'Jealous of me?' He says laughing and laying back onto the bed. Her teeth are perfect and white, the kind of teeth you find on celebrities. I've never noticed her laugh. It's really cute. I shake my head. I hate having crushes. It makes me seem like a stupid little girl.
'I saw her storm off. What happened?' she says, bringing me back to the real world.
'She didn't like the fact that I was getting attention. She didn't get enough after she was dumped.'
'Wait, let's analyse this.' She says, splaying out her hands in front of her. 'You get stabbed, lose your mother and have now lost another friend, and she's jealous? Is she freaking crazy?'
'She's just spoilt.' I explain. 'She's always used to getting her way and having the attention because she's the prettiest out of all of us.'
'She's a twat. And she is not the prettiest.' She says. I swallow.
'Than who is?' I ask, genuinely confused.
'Please, you are much prettier than her.' she says. But she says it in the way that friends do. You know, when you tell your girl friends that they're pretty.
'Sure!' I say, raising my eyebrow.
'I'm being serious!' She says, raising her hands innocently. She leans forward on her elbows for a second, opening her mouth slightly and looking like she was thinking of doing something. But then she lays back down. 'The rest of them were ok, though. The little one with the short hair, she's cute.'
'I remember you telling me about her. She's the one who does calisthenics, right?' She says, turning her head toward me.
'Yeah.' I say, blinking. I didn't think she would remember.
'So, what do they think of me?' She asks, looking back to the ceiling.
'What do you care?' I raise my eyebrows. She's not one to care about what people think.
'I'm just curious as to what they think of me! Sue me.' She sighs, rolling her eyes at me. I sigh louder than her before saying,
'They think you're a prick.'
'Do they really?' She says, biting her lip. 'Huh!'
'I was kidding.' I blurt out quickly. I didn't expect her to get offended.
'Oh, really?' She scoffs, raising her eyebrows. 'They're not wrong.'
I give her a look. Sort of like pity, but more like doubt. 'Please.'
'Hey, you probably think so, too.'
'You have your moments, yes. But most of the time you're not that bad.'
'So, you like me?'
'See, now you're being a twat.' I point out, sitting up straighter. 'That's not what I said.'
'Well, you do.' She says, like she's teasing me. 'At least a little bit.' I look around for a bit, evading my eyes from her. I nod my head consistently, biting my lip.
'Fine.' I admit. 'I like you. A little.' She smiles to herself, like a fool. She stays quiet for a bit, thinking while looking at the ceiling, but her eyes are clearly unfocused.
'Grace is very bold. Very confident.' She says suddenly, getting back on the subject of my friends. She fiddles with the tie on hoodie. 'It'll get the better of her one day though.'
'What makes you say that?' I ask.
'Experience.' She says, winking before leaving the room.
I look out at the night sky, dotted with the lights of stars. I've got two nights before I leave. I missed the sunset. I miss her... She should be here with me. Gazing at the stars with a look of such wonder in her eyes, twinkling with as much light as the stars above.
'So, this is where you disappeared to...' Charlie's voice says from behind me. I turn my head to look at her. She starts to walk towards me. 'It's understandable... With most of the lights off in the building, the stars and the moon seem to be the only thing that is shedding light. It's rather eerie and beautiful.' She finishes, leaning on the railing next to me.
'You get deep at night.' I say, looking back at the stars.
'That could be turned into a sexual innuendo, but for your plea, I shalt not say it.'
'You are so kind. But simply saying that, makes me think of many innuendos myself, so you're plea is deemed pointless.'
'Damn... You got me.' She chuckles. There's a few seconds of silence as we both look out at the sky.
'She brought me out here,' I say, looking down to the ground many metre's below. 'On her last night...' I see Charlie turn her head toward me and it's obvious that she's looking at me, trying to figure out if I'm okay. 'She said she wanted to see the sunset one last time... Like she knew she was going to go.' He looks back at the sky, looking like he is thinking over his words.
'She did mention something to me that day...' she mutters.
'What?' I ask.
'Something along the lines of "You'll protect Vanessa, won't you?"' She says, ruffling his hair. 'And- other things...'
'What other things?' I ask him, genuinely interested in her answer.
'I can't really say... I promised I would keep some of it secret.' She explains. There's another period of silence, during which I look back up to the sky. Out of the corner of my eye, it looks like she's staring at me. But that could just be my imagination.
'She really loved you, you know...' She whispers. 'She wants you to stay strong, like her.'
'I'm trying.' I snap, looking back at her with malice. She doesn't look offended though. She looks like she's really worried.
'I know.' Charlie whispers, after a while, looking her hands. Now I feel terrible for snapping at him. But the question is; can I swallow my pride and say sorry? Yes, I can. It's Charlie. She's only trying to help me.
'I'm sorry.' I mutter, also staring at my hands instead of her.
'You should be.' She says. I snap my head towards her, mouth open in surprise. 'Hey, just kidding, alright?'
'Yeah, right.' I sigh. 'Idiot.'
'Well, you're stuck with me, love. As unfortunate as it is...'
'Since when are you calling me "love"?' I raise my eyebrows at her.
'Since now. What's wrong with it?' She asks, puppy-dog eyes abloom.
'It sounds kinda shady.' I say, pompously, my nose up in the air.
'Would you rather bitch-ass skank-ass hoe?' She asks, sarcastically.
'If you can handle saying that every time, yes actually.' I say, genuinely.
'Alright then!' she laughs. She chuckles for a bit, before looking back to the stars. I do the same, feeling awkward and shady myself for just staring at her.
'You're not by the way.' she says.
'Not what, you twat?' I ask, giggling slightly.
'A bitch-ass skank-ass hoe.' She says.
'You're an idiot.' is my reply.
'But I'm an attractive, fabulous idiot. So, it's alright.'
'How the hell does that make it alright- you know what? Nevermind. I'm going to bed now.' I sigh, giving her a look of utter detestment.
'Can I join?' She says, suggestively, wiggling her eyebrows at me.
'Only if you want a punch in the face.' I say, walking towards the door.
'I'll take anything to be with you, love.' I can hear her half-running to try and catch up with me
'Still creepy.' I note, pointing my finger back at her, while heading down the stairs.
'Then, I'm going to keep calling you it.' she puffs as she catches up with me.
'Ugh, must you?' I mutter.
'Of course!' She says in a ridiculous tone, I hit her feebly in the shoulder.
As we arrive at my room, I open up the door but stop before going in.
'Have you changed your mind?' I ask, making it seem sincere.
'Wait, what?' she says, taken aback.
'Don't you wanna go to bed with me anymore? I am offended, truly...' I sigh.
'Woah, woah, I don't actually want to- I mean... I was joking.' She says, clearly panicking.
'Relax, dude. I'm kidding.' I laugh. Oh, how I wish I was kidding. I swallow the truth and add, 'As if I'd want to go to bed with you.' She sighs with relief, but she looks kind of hurt. So, I push her shoulder lightly. 'Goodnight, then.' I say and with a twinkle of my fingers, I shut the door.
'Goodnight, love.' I hear her say quietly. I feel bad now. I probably hurt her feelings somehow. God, I'm an idiot.
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