Chapter 6

When I made my way to the courtyard for lunch, I was a little shocked to see only half of my friends. Sophie had a furious visage, Lisa was patting her on the back, and Alyssa was huddled in a corner, not making a peep.

I sat down with them, "Hey, guys…" I nervously grinned, "what's up?"

"Nothing new, Ash," Lisa blankly stated, "nothing new at all."

"I see." I didn't know what else to add without devolving it to what happened. So, I attempted to change the subject. "So… I heard that there's some more information about the new Radiohead album."

"Wha-" Sophie glimpsed at me, "What is it?"

"They're recording some of the songs right now."

"Oh, wow." Sophie slightly squealed, "That's great."

Lisa cracked up and rolled her eyes, "You kids and your Radiohead."

"Don't pretend you're not excited, too." I tugged her orange cardigan.

We continued to talk about Radiohead until Sophie ran to the restroom. Once she was gone, Lisa sighed as loudly as she could and proclaimed. "Isn't it strange that Ginger always accused Sophie of cheating?"

I choked a bit on my pita chips, "Um, I guess…"

"I mean, Sophie likes to playfully flirt with us; it's as simple as that."

"I know, I know."

"And Sophie's flirted with Ginger even more. Remember when we all saw that movie the other weekend? She was flirting with Ginger. The gala back in July? They were flirting all night."

"Yeah…" I attempted to change the subject again, "Hey, Lisa, what did you decide to do for the concert next month?"

" The Années de Pèlerinage. I couldn't think of anything else," She smiled, "Anyway, Ginger's accusations make her seem childish. And if she's acting like a child all the time, why did she enter a relationship in the first place?"

"Right, right," I sighed, then noticed Alyssa again, "Umm, is Alyssa okay?"

"She's fine." She dismissively claimed. "She's just in shock too."

"What were you glamorous girls talking about while I was gone?" Sophie suddenly returned.

"Nothing, nothing…" I fibbed.

"We talked some about Ginger's lies." Lisa explained.

"Oh, Ginger," Sophie groaned, "that lying bitch. You know, Ginger never thought about how I felt about her childish endeavors. She has only thought about herself."

She complained that Ginger was possessive and other terrible things. Once the bell rang, her words left me rushing to English while plagued with one side of the story.

Sure, I thought, Ginger can be possessive, but she's not immature. She just doesn't know what makes up serious flirting. Naive is probably a better word to describe her.

Once I got to class, I plopped down next to Piper. She was quietly twiddling her thumbs and hopelessly glancing at the ceiling. I leaned over to her the second I finished with the substitute's busywork.

"Did you just get that shirt?" I asked, "I haven't watched that anime, but I've heard it's cool."

"Yeah," Piper nodded, "Ginger thought it seemed cool. Y'know, it sucks that she has to deal with Sophie cheating on her."

I tightly gripped my hands under my desk, "Yeah…"

"And she was totally justified in breaking up with her. Sophie can't be playfully flirting if she's asking for a girl's number."

"Yeah, it seems serious. Is that anime any good?"

She either didn't hear or ignored me. She simply continued her rant, "In fact, Ginger has been saying that wasn't the first time Sophie cheated on her."

I cocked my head to the side, confused, "What does she mean?"

"Remember Ginger's cousin from College Station, Robert?"

My dark eyes lit up, "Oh, yeah; oh, yeah. Robert Van Dalen. I remember when we first met; he was trying to claim that Ginger was picked up from the streets."

"Anyway, Ginger is saying that he and Sophie had an affair over the summer. They were too close to not be having one."

"Well, they bonded over several interests…"

"They were still too close to just be friends. Remember how they were hanging out almost every day this summer?"

"Yeah…" I couldn't make eye contact with Piper. I remembered every petite detail of Robert, from his wavy blonde hair to our mutual love of Radiohead. Yes, he was especially close with Sophie. Yes, they shared a likeness of Monty Python and the Junie Chronicles. Yes, they spent an excessive amount of time together. But were they fucking or having any other sort of romantic commitment? I didn't think so. Hell, I thought Robert mentioned that he didn't want a girlfriend at the moment.

Piper continued, "Come sit with us tomorrow, Ash. We missed you."

"Well…" I lied, "I couldn't find y'all, so I ate in the Japanese teacher's room."

"Felix, Ginger, and I found a great new spot in the cafeteria. Come to the party; we do party things."

"Okay, okay," I anxiously laughed, "I'll come tomorrow."

Once school got out, I solemnly put on my jet-black helmet, hopped onto my bike, and rode to Oliver's. As usual, Isabel was eagerly waiting for me while carefully sorting through some records. "Ashie Ash," She beamed, "how are your little friends?"

I gulped, "Um… alright."

"You sure, kiddo? It sounds like the opposite."

"Well, well…" I impulsively started, walking to the back and grabbing my practice guitar. "Sophie and Ginger started fighting again, but I'm sure that everything will be okay. I'm just a little shaken up."

"Well, you know what they say." Isabel grinned, taking a seat in the back room. "Love bites, love bleeds."

"It's bringing me to my knees." I continued, laughing and strumming a G major chord.

"If you're so shaken up about it, though, why not write a song? You always find a way to express yourself through your words."

"You're right, you're right." I kept strumming the chord, "That'll cheer me up."

"I have faith in you, kiddo. Now, let's practice some of that piece you wanted to do for UIL…"

—-

On my way home, I passed by my usual sites. I remembered all the amusing times I had with all of my friends there. There was the time Felix bought a drink with every available syrup at Starbucks. There was the time we had a "scent battle" at the Bath and Body Works to see who could develop the strongest aroma.

Oh, those were splendid times, I reminisced as I pulled into the driveway, too bad that most of us are fighting now.

I pulled out "Sweet Kathleen" once I got to my room and continued:

But yet, you still have placed

Rose-colored glasses on your face

And saw the man who made me suffer as a kind soul

And now my misery is taking its toll

Even as my marks will go away

The scars inside still will not fade

I can't forget, I can't forget

Every memory of him makes me fret

Can't you see, sweet Kathleen

All the things he has done to me?

He's left me lost and confused

And I'm surprised that you aren't too