‘You did what?’ I said after a momentary lapse of silence, which Ryan had spent studying my reaction very apprehensively.
‘I’m really sorry.’ He said, and he sounded sincere at least.
I unfroze and suddenly grabbed fistfuls of the quilt I sat upon in my hands ‘Why?’ I wailed ‘Why did you do that? You promised me, and I trusted you! I mean, you had absolutely no right to tell her!’
Of course it all made sense now. If I could only move my foot, I would have kicked myself with it. Ryan said he wanted to give me a ‘heads-up’ about something...something he didn’t want to tell me about whilst we were on vacation- something he had to tell me alone. Like I had acknowledged earlier, Ryan knew secrets of mine that no-one else did, and one secret in particular I knew he wasn’t exactly happy about me keeping. Yet I never felt that I had reason not to trust he wouldn’t feel it his liberty to go behind my back to do something about it.
I felt so betrayed.
‘Steph’ He said calmly ‘I swear I never intended to.’
‘Oh what, it was an accident?’ I said sardonically ‘A slip of the tongue?’
‘Sort of- well no, not really...’
He watched on as I buried my face in my hands and groaned. I stayed in that position for a while, rocking side to side. Couldn’t anything go right for me for once?
‘Err, Steph?’ He asked cautiously as I continued on in my demented manner ‘Please...just give me time to explain my motives.’
‘You mean they weren’t spiteful?’ I shot at him quite harshly, snapping my head up from my hands. I didn’t really substantially believe what I’d said, but however irrational I knew it was, I couldn’t deny that the inhibition was there.
‘You don’t really believe that do you?’ He asked, his eyebrows creasing together. ‘I know we’ve only known each other for like a couple of months, but I would have thought you have realised I wasn’t a total jerk by now.’
I sighed and relaxed my shoulders ‘No, I guess not. Sorry. Go on then- explain. And I want to know absolutely everything you said.’
He took a deep intake of breath before starting. ‘You remember on the last day of school, and I went back to get my English project?’
I nodded, remembering how long we’d waited and the confusion when he returned empty handed- and him giving the explanation that he went to the toilet and ‘forgot’, when we questioned him.
‘When I went back to the English room, Mrs Fitzergeld was in there returning Mr Tetris’ books’ He continued ‘And she started talking to him about you, so I kind of dawdled for a bit to listen. She was saying how like, ever since you came along you’d been nothing but disruptive, or something, and that she’d made up her mind that she was going to send you to summer school, and if that failed to do any good, then she’d talk to the principal about getting you relocated, because she didn’t think this was the school for you.’
He paused, and I gaped ‘She was going to get me expelled?! I wasn’t that bad surely- I actually kind of tried this time...I barely skipped any classes!’
‘I told you it’s a pretty strict school.’
‘And there was my mom hoping they wouldn’t give up on me so easily this time, when they’re actually giving up on me easier.’ I mumbled incredulously. ‘So what, you told her she couldn’t because I was dyslexic?’
‘Not exactly, see before that, she said you must have cheated on your essay- the bad habits one, which kind of annoyed me a bit, because I knew you’d worked hard on it. Steph, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t just walk out of there knowing you had a good chance of being expelled. Or even having to go to summer school – I mean, you were so excited about summer... So I caught her up in the hallway when she left and asked her if she would reconsider, and that I knew you hadn’t cheated in that essay, because I checked it, and when she asked why, I told her that you had difficulty with reading and writing and then she just kind of...got it. She admitted that summer school probably wasn’t the best option for you right now and she’d talk to you about it at the start of the new semester.’
I sighed and nodded. ‘Looks like I’m back to being the class retard again.’
‘It can’t be that bad, surely?’
‘You don’t get it.’ I sighed ‘last time, it was, well, the most miserable time of my life. I just...I don’t like having to carry a laptop everywhere, and staying behind an extra 20 minutes after every exam, and, ugh, they made me do this thing where I got up in front of the class every few weeks and read something so I could share my ‘improvements’, it was...humiliating to say the least. And the worst part was missing half my drama classes to do stupid exercises with tape recorders.’
‘It’ll be different this time.’ He tried to assure me ‘you know, you shouldn’t feel ashamed...people are good at different things. Everyone has their weaknesses.’
‘You’re good at everything.’ I pouted.
He laughed softly ‘What makes you think that?’
‘Please. I’ve heard you play your guitar; you’re obviously naturally gifted when it comes to music. I’ve heard your lyrics, so I know how good you are with words. I’ve seen the size of the stack of books in your room, and your amazing art work on ‘’the wall’’. And what have I got? It’s not fair.’
‘I’ve heard people say you’re a pretty good actress. See, I couldn’t act to save my life.’
‘Not that great.’ I sighed ‘and what use is it really anyway? I mean, is it really realistic to claim a future as an actress? Especially when I struggle with scripts. I’m just glad we’re still on improvisation at the moment.’
‘Is it really realistic to claim a future as a musician?’ He replied.
‘But even if that fails, you’ve got loads of other options. What are mine? Waitress? A shelf-stacker at Wal-Mart?’
‘Steph, you could be whatever you wanted to be.’ He said ‘Not being able to read as well as other people doesn’t make you stupid. You could really improve with help. Then hey, you’ll start find reading scripts easier, and then you could get into a drama school, and next thing you know you’re off to Hollywood.’
I laughed. ‘I wish.’
All of a sudden an earth-shattering bellow of thunder seem to launch itself at the house, so hard I could have sworn I felt the bed tremble beneath me. ‘Holy shit!’ I exclaimed in surprise. Ryan had automatically reached out to hold onto my wrist, and our eyes both warily looked out the window where the lightening was flashing insanely bright. A few frantic blares of a car horn sounded outside straight after. Ryan released my arm. ‘I think Kate’s in a hurry to get home.’ He said. I nodded, my heart still hammering from the shock of the sudden commotion.
‘I’ve never experienced thunder like that.’ I said, calming down slightly ‘That was scary.’
‘Are you sure you’re going to be OK here?’ He asked standing up ‘You know, maybe you should come back with us after all.’
‘Oh yeah - what’s the deal there?’ I asked ‘I mean, what’s going on at home? Is it your-'
‘Dad? Yes. Well, me too I guess.’ He looked to down to study his thumb nail ‘He’s been on my case ever since we got back because he got a call about ‘concern’ over my grades dropping in a couple of subjects. My dad’s convinced that it’s because I spend too much time with the band – he’s saying I should forget about it. He just doesn’t get it though, he thinks it’s just something we do for fun, but he doesn’t understand how serious we actually are about it. He’s never even heard us play before.’ He paused and looked down at me. ‘I mean, have you ever felt like something’s, I don’t know...meant to be?’
I shrugged, gulping under his stare, and nodded ‘sure.’
‘Well... that’s kind of how I feel about Panic.' He sighed 'Anyway, we keep getting into arguments about it – they’re pretty repetitive. I feel really bad for Kate, it mustn’t be that great an atmosphere for her at the moment.’
I smiled at him sympathetically.
‘But, who knows? Maybe he’ll be more considerate if you’re over. I doubt it, but he might.’
I shook my head ‘No it’s fine, I don’t want to intrude.’
‘Are you sure? Because I really would feel horrendously guilty leaving you here by yourself.’
I smiled and nodded ‘I’ll be fine, I’m pretty sure my mom will be home soon anyway.’ I lied.
He bit his lip, but nodded ‘OK. Is there anything I can get you before I go?’
‘No I’m fine, I think.’
‘How’s your foot?’
I pulled a face ‘Throbbing a little.’
He bent to look at it ‘Ouch...it’s turning purple. You know what? I’ll get you some ice... that might help.’
He disappeared, and I spent the time he was gone pondering over how oddly dream like it felt being alone with him. Then again, nothing felt quite real today. Commencing with being woken up by mother, the day had continued to quite literally shower me with surprises.
He returned with a towel he’d filled with ice-cubes and had tied the edges of into a knot, and handed it to me. ‘Thank you.’ I said.
‘Promise me you’ll get that looked at first thing tomorrow?’ He said, indicating to the foot I was tending to with the ice.
I nodded. ‘Hey, could you do me a favour and ask Kate if she wants to sleep round sometime? Like tomorrow maybe? I meant to ask her earlier, but I forgot.’
It was true that had been my intention; after all it hadn’t been just me and her in a long time, and I felt a girly night together, with no males nearby, was much needed.
Ryan seemed very enthusiastic about the idea ‘Will do.’ He was probably glad to get her out of the house for a night during the current situation with him and their dad.
Another crash of thunder erupted, loud but certainly less dramatic than the previous one, and another car horn followed after. Kate was desperate to leave.
‘I’ll see you later.’ Ryan said, nearing the door way, hesitating slightly before turning and saying ‘I am really sorry about going behind your back. It- it’ll be alright, you know?’
I shrugged and nodded ‘yeah’ I said quietly, still bent over and holding the soothing towel of ice to my foot. ‘I know.’ I paused and looked up at him, tucking the hair that swung over my eye behind my ear ‘I just can’t help but wonder whether I’d prefer to leave Bishop’s anyway, Mrs Fitzergelds right, I don’t exactly fit in there. Maybe it would be easier if I just transferred to Brendon and Brent’s school instead...’
Ryan shook his head ‘No, Kate would be distraught if you left’ he said. Of course – thinking of Kate first as usual ‘She was never really that happy there either before you came.’
I gave a half-smile. Happy that my presence made Kate happy, but slightly deflated that he hadn’t mentioned how he’d feel. Maybe he really wouldn’t care?
He eyed my mixed expression ‘And Spencer too of course; I’m sure he’d be gutted he couldn’t show you off as his girlfriend.’
I smiled a little at the line ‘Show you off.’
‘What about you?’ I asked, before I could stop myself. I turned my attention back to my ankle ‘would you miss me at all?’
I looked back up at him, not bothering to tuck my hair back this time, so my right eye watched him from behind the strands. He raised his eyebrows in surprise at first but then smiled, leaning coolly against the door way with his feet crossed and his arms folded ‘Well gee; I guess I will miss the recent requirement to speed to school every morning, and then there’s the thrilling suspense after school of ‘is she in detention today or not?’ ... and being constantly badgered by guys asking me if I can get your number for them...’
I crossed my arms and pouted, unhappy with his sarcastic reply.
‘Sure I’ll miss you.’ He said, this time his voice completely sincere. I transformed my pout into a smile. ‘It wouldn’t be the same without you kid’.
Another honk of the car horn. Ryan stood upright ‘I’ll get Kate to call you later. Take care of yourself won’t you?’
‘Cool- uh, I guess I’ll see you later then.’
I nodded and smiled; he left. I waited until he was out the front door before flopping backwards on my bed. I spent the rest of the night, up until Kate called me, just led there thinking.
I thought about him. I thought about Kate. I thought about Spencer, and Brendon too – even momentarily about Brent. But mainly about him.
I fretted over my junior year in Bishops, now that my status as a complete shit-for-brains had been realised.
I frowned over his use of the word ‘kid’ , but smiled at how he’d said ‘it wouldn’t be the same without you’ and pondered over what exactly he'd meant by that.
I mulled over the fact that I was certain I hadn’t ever felt this way because of someone before, and scolded myself for being so pathetic that I missed him already.
I ached over the knowledge that he’d left me to rejoin his girlfriend -his smart, sensible, pretty girlfriend.
I bewildered myself over how much it hurt.
And then finally, I mused over why It was that the none guys who supposedly badgered Ryan for my number, hadn’t gotten round to contacting me yet.
Half of you saw that coming; the other half thought Ryan wanted to tell Steph he liked her; sorry, that's just not how this story's gonna rolllllllllllll.
Hehe. omg, your last reviews scared me a little. I'm not sure if i'll be giving you another cliff hanger to soon:\ ... or will I??
It is quite fun.People offered cookies.
I'll try to get the next chapter out soon.Depends on how much lurrrrrrrrrve you give me. It's uh, gonna be possibly one of the hardest to write so far, maybe. ;))))