Eliza tries to make freinds with the right people and comes face to face with someone very familiar.
The chapter title is Automatic Loveletter.
Story Of My Life
My heart was thudding against my ribcage so hard it hurt. I stared at Emma, my eyes transfixed with her lips which had just spoken the name of the person who had sent so many contrasting thoughts around my mind for months. There was no answer.
Emma asked again. She looked up from the register and peered around the room.
“Oh, he’s still absent, miss.”
My head spun round to where the voice had come from, and sitting across from the table I saw a boy. He must have been a good few inches taller than me, with a round, pale face and a large afro which fell onto his face. I recognized the boy from my time at high school, his name was Ray Toro. Ray was never one of the ‘popular’ kids, but never so unpopular as to be an outcast with Gerard and I. He was one of the kids who kind of hovered in between the popularity levels; one of those who had a lot of friends within his own clique but someone who the jocks and preps tended to leave alone.
“Ah, thanks Ray.” Emma put a dash next to Gerard’s name which I figured meant he was absent. “Do you actually know when Gerard’s coming back?” I looked over to Ray again, still in awe with the fact that Gerard was in my art class. Ray shrugged and ran a hand through his hair. “He should be back in a few weeks I guess.” Emma sighed and returned to marking the register. “He’s going to have a lot to catch up on, he’s already missed a week.” I bit my lip, realising that I had also missed a week of senior school and would have a lot of work to do.
The two hours of art went surprisingly quickly.
Emma had given me a list of work I needed to catch up with, which wasn’t actually that bad. I sat in the corner of the art room alone, whilst everyone else chattered and worked. I watched Ray from the end of the table talk with two girls and a boy. One of the girls was a porcelain-coloured blonde. Her hair was short, almost like a boy’s and had a long fringe compared to the length of the rest of her hair which fell across the right side of her face. The other girl however had hair which travelled down just above her waste. It was a rich brunette colour and it matched her dark eyes and tanned skin. Then there was the boy. He was as pale as the blonde girl, but with the same coloured hair as the brunette. It was short and messy with a fringe that fell onto his face in the same way as the blonde’s did. I wished that I had the courage to go and talk to Ray, to ask him about Gerard, but instead I just sat by myself and carried on with my art work until the end of the lesson.
The class finished at around quarter to eleven which was when break began. All of the students piled out of the room and took their bags and coats from the line of hooks that lay across the wall just before the exit of the room. They talked and giggled among them as I trailed behind them with my new art book clasped to my chest. I picked up my bag from the floor beneath the hooks and walked out of the class room behind everyone else and into a large hall way which led to an exit for the whole art department. I stayed in the hall until everyone had left the building, everyone apart from Ray and the girl with long brown hair.
I looked over to them. They were standing by a large blue door which led to another class room and I guessed that they were waiting for someone.
Finally plucking up the courage, I quickly made my way over to the two and spoke to Ray. “Hey.” I said, surprised at how high pitched and quiet my voice sounded. I cleared my throat, feeling my cheeks turning a shallow colour of red. Ray and the brunette turned to look at me as I shyly stood in front of them and stared at my feet as if I found them fascinating. “Hey, you’re that girl who used to hang out with Gee!” My head shot up abruptly. No one had ever called Gerard ‘Gee’, unless they were close to him, like I had been. “Yea.” I said slowly. “You know Gerard?”
“Sure, he’s cool.” Ray stated.
“He began to hang out with us after you left.” He carried on, referring to himself and the girl next to him. I presumed that by ‘us’ he also meant the blonde girl and the other boy from art.
I wasn’t sure whether I should be happy that Gerard managed to make friends so easily and move on after I had gone, or whether to be jealous that he was able to fit in without me. “So, when will he be back?” I asked simply. “And where has he gone?”
“Well, Gerard and his family are visiting relatives near Newark, he and Mikey will be back in about two weeks I think.” I nodded and gave a faint smile. “Cool, it’ll be great to see them again.” Mikey was Gerard’s younger brother by three years, and he was in grade seven when me and Gerard were in grade ten, the year that I left. I remembered being fairly close with Mikey, I used to play endless video games of Mortal Combat and Final Fantasy with the two brothers in a time which could be described as non-other than perfect to me. I kept the small smile on my face as began to turn away from Ray and his friend.
“Thanks” I said sheepishly before Ray called me back.
“Well, maybe you could hang with me and the others and lunch or something? I mean, it’d be pretty cool-“ I cut him off before he could finish. “That’d be sweet” I was relieved at the invitation of spending my lunches with people who actually seemed interesting than my previous offer of mingling with the whore crew. I grinned at the two before exiting the art block, feeling a little more hopeful than I had done before I entered it.
To my relief, when I entered the canteen at lunch break there was no sign of Kathleen and her followers.
I anxiously darted my eyes from table to table in search of Ray and his friends and thankfully I found them quickly as Ray was waving at me rather violently. Soon after sitting down with the small group of people I was introduced by Ray to the long brunette haired girl who I learned was called Alice Hill, the boy with short brown hair whose name was Charlie Fuller, the blonde haired girl who was named Lou Swann and lastly another boy with a round face and strawberry blonde hair. This boy’s name was Bob Bryar. I was slightly glad that no one on the table apart from Ray remembered me from the years I spent in Belleville, because to be quite frank, apart from Bob who I vaguely recognized, I didn’t have a clue who any of them were. I politely sat at the table with a packed lunch my mother had given me that morning, feeling a little awkward as everyone else talked.
They would occasionally give me entries to their convocation and I would try to join in, but my shyness got the better of me and disallowed me to contribute anything interesting. I had hoped that after a while I would feel more comfortable with the people around me, maybe when Gerard came home I would find my confidence. Unfortunately Kathleen Abbot had other ideas in mind for me.
As the day slowly began to end the late September air became more chilling and sharp, the light wind slowly pushing against my skin sending shivers down my spine as I tried to make my way to the exit of New Jersey High. The rest of my first day at senior school had been fairly relaxing. The last class I had to endure was Literature.
The subject of learning about the techniques of poetry and play writes interested me, but it wasn’t something I really wanted to study, if it wasn’t for my parents I’d probably have chosen to learn about something more compelling. However, I was happy that senior students often had shortened days, and my first day being a Tuesday, meant that my timetable finished at quarter past twelve. I across the car park as I felt my face begin to redden under the cold temperature it was put under. I carried my sketch book close to my chest with my arms wrapped around my body, pulling my jersey tighter against myself as I briskly walked toward the drive way of the school. I had almost made it to the main road which ended after the long drive way until I caught a glimpse of long, white hair. I was soon aware of the fact that Kathleen was perched on the wall which ran along the road with two of her little friends.
I groaned in the back of my throat as I tried to think of an escape so I could make my home without having another confrontation with Kathleen. I couldn’t think of anything, so I carried on walking in hope that she might have just ignored me, but I should have guessed by the way she whispered to the two other girls she was with when she saw me that she had no intention of leaving me alone.
I hurriedly scurried across the road and down the path where Kathleen was sitting, and I almost thought I was going to avoid her before she suddenly sprung from the wall she was sitting on and stood herself in front of me, causing me strop still in my tracks. I sighed, preparing myself for another episode of what had happened that morning.
“What do want Kathleen?” I sighed bitterly, staring directly into her acute eyes. By now Kathleen’s friends were now surrounding her and I watched her bright pink lips curve into a smirk.
“Well, to talk to you, silly.” Kathleen’s voice sounded almost too happy, a sickly tone rung through her words as she smiled at me, the other two girls stood behind her and stared at me with the same grotesque expression as Kathleen held. “We wanted to hang out with you.” Kathleen continued to smile at me when all I could do was stare at her in shock. She was actually being serious.
“Why?” I knew that my question sounded demanding, I hated Kathleen, and I was pretty sure that the feeling was mutual until now. “Well, we just think that you deserve another chance.” Kathleen continued. “I dunno’, you seem kinda’ different now.” My lip curled up with disgust. Another chance. Who the fuck did she think she was. I took a deep breath to try and flatten my temper.
“Urm, well I think I’ll just go home today thanks, maybe another time.” I tried to push my way past the girl, but as I moved so did she and her two followers moved closer, trapping me. I was outnumbered. “Look, just come for coffee in town with me, Ashley and Kim.” She said. I could hear the sound of her voice growing sterner.
“You might enjoy it.” I could tell that Kathleen wasn’t going to let me go, and as much as I hated the idea of spending time with her I didn’t want to end up getting pushed into the road, which is probably what would’ve happened if I didn’t agree to go with them.
“Fine.” I said coldly, never breaking the gaze we both held. “Sweet, let’s go!” She chirped and linked arms with me and dragged me down the path toward the town as the two girls who were apparently called Ashley and Kim tottered along behind us.
Sitting in Baristo’s coffee shop in the town of Belleville saddened me. It bought back memories of catching a latte and a black coffee with Gerard after school, usually around this time of year when the weather became cooler. It also saddened me that I was catching coffee with Kathleen, one of the people who I had grown to detest over the years. I sat at a high table with Kathleen, Ashley and Kim by the large window that opened out onto a small street which over looked busy people going about their business. I however did not look out onto the street, nor did I enjoy the facile convocation the girls around me were having. I stared into my steaming latte wishing I could just be at home, or anywhere apart from Baristo’s with these three bitches.
“How’s your latte Eliza?” Kathleen chanted.
“It’s great thanks, how’s your hot chocolate?” Kathleen smiled and looked down at me.
“Lovely.” I sighed and hung my head again to stare back into my coffee as she began to talk again. “
So, we were wondering if you’re gonna’ start to hang round with us at breaks now, like we discussed earlier.” I choked back mock laughter as she used the word ‘discussed’ seeing as I didn’t remember having any type of convocation about hanging out with Kathleen and her group before. She frowned, and continued to speak.
“Well, I hope that you’re not gonna’ go back to that Way kid when he comes home.” At this my head immediately shot up. I watched as the three girls glanced at each other, small grins twisting onto their faces.
“You know, he’s a freak.” Kathleen put on a sincere voice as she spoke, like she was trying to tell me something important.
“You’re not like him anymore Eliza, you’re better than that.” I furrowed my brow and glared at her, my stare turning to the black haired girl called Kim as she began to speak.
“Yea, he’ll only get you bullied, just like he used to.” By now, my mouth was slightly agape. I couldn’t believe the words I was hearing.
“Gerard didn’t get me bullied.” I snapped, pulling my belongings together.
“I was picked on because I was different, I am different. That wasn’t his fault.” I slid down from the table leaving my still steaming latte behind and pulled my bag over my shoulder. “Seriously, what do you want with me?”
“Please Eliza.” Kathleen blabbed, making herself sound as if I’d offended her. “We just really think that you’ll do well with us. You’re pretty.” I glared at her with utter disbelief. “Whatever.” I muttered, then stormed over to the door, flung it open and fled onto the street, leaving the girls and their pathetic games behind.
The next day was better, and worse. It was better because I awoke in the morning with the thought of seeing my new friends again; Ray and the group of people I had met yesterday. It was worse because at break they were nowhere to be seen. On the plus side, Kathleen and her crew seemed to be distant as well. I sat by myself on a table in the canteen and pretended to study, hoping that I would be able to find Ray during the next break. That was when the day became even worse. It was lunch time. I made my way from my Literature class to the canteen where I searched around the hall for Ray cautiously. I saw him, Alice and Bob sitting at the same table as yesterday. Ray beckoned for me to join them and I beamed happily as I began to walk across the hall, when suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed a fistful of clothing to stop me. I looked down to see no other than Kim baring a toothy smile up at me.
“Hey Eliza!” She squealed and yanked at my shirt so I was forced to sit down beside her. I turned to look in in front of me to find the girl with curly blonde hair named Ashley staring at me with big brown eyes filled with what seemed like concern. “Are you okay?” She questioned. I said nothing and finally looked round to see Kathleen, the same pink lips plastered to her face with a pout. “Yea, we were really worried about you yesterday after you ran out of Baristo’s so upset like that … so, you okay?” She repeated Ashley. “Yea, I’m fine, thanks.”
“Good!” Kathleen sqeeked, flinging her long hair behind her shoulders.
“I guess you want to meet the rest of the girls then.” I was still stunned at how this situation had arisen, so I simply listened as Kathleen listed the remaining two girls I still hadn’t properly met. “This is Lisa.” Said Kathleen pointing to a girl with an auburn bob which perfectly framed her make-up plastered little face. “And this is Meghan.” Kathleen then referred to a girl with shoulder length brown hair and red lips. The two girls looked me up and down before grinning at each other. “Um, hey.” I said quietly before peering out across the canteen to where Ray, Alice and Bob were staring at me. From the looks on their faces they were almost as confused as I was. I merely shrugged at them. I hoped that my expression of desperation might have encouraged Ray or Bob or Alice to come and rescue me, but it didn’t. They just turned away from me, and it seemed like they didn’t give me a second thought. I bit my lip. Surely they didn’t think that I wanted to sit with these people.
“Eliza? Eliza!” Kathleen’s harsh voice quickly pulled me back into the real world, and I swung my head round to look at her.
“There’s someone I want you to meet.” She let out a sickening giggle as she tugged at the sleeve of a boy who was now standing by the table. “This is Alex!” I looked up at the boy. He was tall, with pale blonde hair which was pushed away from his face. He had deep green eyes and thin lips. His skin was pale, but not white or ghostly looking and his body seemed well built. To anyone else, I’m sure this boy would have come across very attractive, but to me his dark eyes did not seem alluring and I did not wish to see the toned body which lay hidden behind the sweater and jeans he was wearing. The boy was now smiling down at me, showing a dazzling set of white teeth.
“Hey.” He said simply, still smiling. I offered a small curve of my lips, before hanging my head to stare into my lap, letting my long hair fall across my face. “I know you two are gonna’ get along great!” I heard Kathleen say. I knew that that was never going to happen.
At the end of lunch I quickly escaped from the canteen as fast as possible, only to come face to face with Lou.
“Oh, Eliza.” She said, unable to meet my eyes. Something seemed different about her as to when I met her yesterday, but I ignored this and attempted to speak to her.
“Shit Lou, please don’t let me sit with them tomorrow. They’re terrible-“
“Yea, I know.” Lou cut me off quickly. “That’s why we can’t help you.” I stared at Lou with confusion.
“What do y-“ She interrupted again as she began to explain. “Well, it’s not that we don’t like you Eliza, we really do. It’s just that, I’m sure you know what Kathleen and that lot are like. She obviously wants you to be her friend for some reason, and we’re not gonna’ get in the way of that. You know she’ll do anything to get what she wants.”
Now it was making sense. Lou and the others were wary about being my friend now because they were worried about the effect it would have on Kathleen, and they were scared of what she would do to them and me if they tried to stop her from getting what she wanted. “So, just stay with Kathleen.” Lou continued. “For our sake and for yours.” With that, Alice gave me an apologetic look and left me standing in the middle of the now empty Piazza as I fought to hold back tears. Somehow everything would always find a way of going wrong for me.
The first weeks of senior school went quickly, pulling the world into October which meant it would soon be the autumn break. I had nothing to complain about that, I was fed up with the awkward looks I would receive from Ray and the others in every lesson I shared with them. I was fed up of spending every break having to listen to meaningless interactions about boys, diets and beauty products. I was fed up of sitting in the front of Alex Newmann’s car and eating my lunch as he endlessly rabbited on about himself. It didn’t help that I was also fed up of being at home already. Mother had managed to find herself a new boyfriend who I was introduced to a few days after moving back in. His name was Gregg Munday. He was a tall, muscular man and he worked as an average business man for some toothpaste company. From the small amount of time I had been given to get to know him I had already worked out that he loved to big up his job, and himself. Mother would swoon and slap his arm playfully and I would roll my eyes, feeling sick to my stomach the she could be with Gregg after being with my father, who was at least a respectful business man. Still, at home I would have my room to myself, somewhere that I could be alone with my thoughts.
I would lie in bed for hours just thinking.
I thought about Gerard.
I thought about what he would say about Kathleen befriending me. I thought if he would still want anything to do with me after seeing what had become of me, even though I knew it wasn’t my fault that Kathleen had dragged me into her clique. As Lou had said, I had to stay with Kathleen for my own sake.
Soon enough, October led me to my seventeenth year of being alive. I celebrated my birthday on October 5th with people who only made me want to be alone. Kathleen had insisted that we had a sleepover, which ended in everyone getting drunk and having a good time, apart from me who drank too much alcohol and spent the next day hugging the bathroom toilet.
To my greatest surprise, I had grown close to Ashley over the past weeks. After spending unwanted time with the group of girls I soon learned that Ashley wasn’t as bitchy as the rest of them, in fact she was quite sweet in a weird kind of way. I guess it was because she appeared kind of dumb compared the rest of the girls. After talking with Ashley I soon saw that she found some of the things Kathleen, Kim, Meghan and Lisa did to people cruel. She explained to me that she had been friends with Kathleen since play school, so it was only right that they were to stay friends even if she didn’t agree with the things Kathleen did. She was a naive girl, but I understood her point.
Kathleen made Ashley feel secure, they were best friends and Ashley would have probably been lost without her.
It was the 15th October, 2007.
I sat, like most lunch breaks, in the front of Alex’s car eating potato crisps. Again, I was listening to Alex talk about himself. Today it was about how many girls he had managed to pull in the last two months.
I rolled my eyes at his arrogance. Alex had just finished telling me about a girl called, Ellie, or something, before he moved onto me.
“…but you know, you’re one of the hottest girls I’ve hit on.” He said slighly as he moved his hand onto my knee.
“Wow, thanks.” Unfortunately he didn’t understand my sarcasm. “Yea you’re pretty cool now, I mean, I heard from Kathleen about what you used to be like, I can’t believe you used to be such a massive dork.” He laughed.
I stopped eating my crisps and glared at him. Alex gave a look as if to tell me he had no clue about he had done wronge. I wrinkled my nose and shook my head before dropping the empty packet crisps to his car floor.
“Brilliant.” I scoffed getting out of the car and slamming the door. I could hear Alex calling out of his window for me to come back but I didn’t turn around. I didn’t care, I was too mad to deal with him. Anyway, if I was really ‘the hottest girl he’d hit on’ he could apologize to me later. I walked across the student car park towards the back of the school with my arms pulled tightly across my chest, the end of my duffel coat blowing in the wind. My anger was now threatening to show it’s self by spilling from my eyes, so I concentrated on the floor, not caring where I was going. The small area behind the school was usually deserted and I just needed to get away from everyone, so I kept on walking until I began to run and I kept running, quickly turning a corner when I was bought to a sudden stop. I screamed in shock as I collided with someone and I quickly pulled my hands up to push them away but they had a firm grip on my upper arms.
“Get the fuck off-" I shot my head up to see who had grabbed me, but when I did I only came face to face with… him.
Black hair, shorter than I remembered it to be, but would still be classed as long. It fell around his stunning face with flesh so pale it could only be described as white and deep, soulful eyes. It was him. He’d come back for me.
He was still gripping me tightly by my arms, it almost hurt, but all I could do was to stare into his dark orbs. He looked so different. Jagged cheekbones had made their way to the surface of his skin and he was taller, about six inches taller than me to be precise. He kept staring at me, his perfect pair of lips quivered slightly as his hold on me never loosened.
I expected him to at least hug me. To hold me, to tell me how sorry he was for everything, tell me that he would fix everything, but he didn’t.
“Gee?” I murmured, feeling yet more tears start to well up behind my eyes. He bit his lip and finally pulled me closer to him, wrapping his arms around my small frame and I buried my face into his chest.
"I've missed you so much." Hearing the words that I had been so desperate to hear for so long made me whimper and I let the hot, sticky tears part from my eyes and soak my face as I inhaled his scent.
For that one moment, everything felt perfect again.