It says violence, but it's only very slight. Honest.
“You didn’t eat at lunch,” the boy commented, as she walked towards him, carrying her cheerleader uniform.
“No,” she agreed, punching in the combination for her locker, and yanking the door open. “I didn’t.”
“Are you okay?” he asked quietly, moving closer to her.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied, pulling books out of her locker at a furious pace.
“Anna. Anna.” He tried to get her to look at him ineffectively. She knelt down to pack the books into her bag. He knelt down next to her. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” she insisted, and briefly made contact with him. The anger in her eyes startled him.
“Come on Anna I’m not thick,” he protested as she stood, slamming her locker door, her eyes glittering with emotion.
“Well you do a good impression,” she snapped, shouldering her bag.
“What have I done?” he asked, his voice breaking. He coughed hurriedly to hide his embarrassment.
“Nothing,” she said venomously. “Absolutely nothing.”
“So what’s this about?” he demanded, running a hand through his dark hair.“
“You’re just so…And she’s always like- and argh!” She screamed in frustration, turning away.
“Wait,” he began the light dawning. “Is this about Scarlet? ‘Cause she’s just-“
“Your best friend I know!” Joanna yelled, turning back to face him once more. “I know that Rick! But she’s also all over you!” Her bag flew to the ground as she advanced upon him, her arms waving belligerently. “She’s always touching you, and looking at you. And it’s only been two days! Two days Rick! And now? Now she’s like what? Juliet to your Romeo? Which would make me Rosalind. You need to wake up and smell the coffee boy, or man, do you need glasses or what? Because for two days! Two days Rick! It’s just been this non stop Scarlet fest and she’s always touching you, or smiling at you, and…and…and she’s just waltzed back here like everything’s hunky-dory, and hey, Joanna, you don’t mind if I move in on your boyfriend and best friend do you? Well, even if you do, he doesn’t seem to care.” That was when he put a finger to her lips in an attempt to stop her flow of talk. She raised her hands to push him away, but he grabbed her wrists in one large hand.
“Anna. Anna. Chill. She’s just Scarlet.” Rick’s voice was low as he tried to placate her. “I know Lara messing around with everyone’s messed you up a little, but-“
And then she stepped away from him, yanking her hands from his grasp. She shook her head. “You really don’t get it do you?” she asked softly. She turned, picked her bag, and said, “Just…leave me alone Rick.”
And I left. I know we needed to talk, and it would have been the adult thing to do. But in my frustration I was going to cry, and he really did not need to see that. I vowed I’d call him later, but first? First I had to go home.
“Where were you last night?” Mrs Wilkinson snapped as soon as Joanna stepped through the door.
“Huh?” Joanna looked up the stairs to see her mother walking towards her. “How come you’re home?”
“I live here,” was the icy reply. “Why shouldn’t I be here?”
“Well, you’ve been going out recently,” Joanna shrugged. “I just assumed that-“
“Don’t change the subject Joanna!” Her mother’s voice was shrill as she descended to face Joanna. Mrs Wilkinson wasn’t that tall, but she was taller than Joanna, giving her an advantage in intimidation. “Where were you?”
”I was at Maria’s. I slept over. I phoned Dad. He said it was fine,” Joanna explained hurriedly, the knuckles clutching her bag strap turning white. “Honest Mom. I swear.”
For a second Mrs Wilkinson scrutinized Joanna’s face, and then nodded severely. “Fine.”
“Mom?” Joanna began nervously. “Where were you? ‘Cause Dad said you were out, but-“
Mrs Wilkinson slapped Joanna on her arm, right on top of the bruise from cheerleading, cutting her off. “Don’t be intrusive Joanna,” she snapped, and then she turned on her heel and stalked into the kitchen.
It was only then that I allowed myself to react. After years of playing sports I’d grown used to carrying on through pain, which is how I’d managed to remain passive, even though the tope of arm felt like it was on fire. I hurtled up the stairs, dropped my bag on my bed, and then went straight to the bathroom and got in the shower.
She was standing in front of the mirror, examining the bruise on her arm. Already it was dark blue, with a purplish tinge. She winced as she lowered her sleeve on top of it. She grabbed a towel and briskly rubbed her hair with it. One benefit of having short hair was that it dried quickly. She sat down on her bed, and looked out of her window. It was dark now, and a street lamp was flickering.
It was then that the door opened and her mother threw the phone at her. “Michael," was all that she said.
“Hi. You free on Saturday?”
“”Yeah. Wait…no, maybe. Possibly.”
“Is that a yes or a no?” he asked, and she could hear him grinning.
“It’s a maybe, I’ll call you back. Okay?”
“Yeah, bye!” he singsonged, as she hung up.
Taking a deep breath she dialled Rick’s number and bit her lip as she listened to the phone ringing.
“Hey, Diane Clinton speaking.”
“Hi, Mrs Clinton. It’s Anna. Could I speak to Rick please?”
“Hi Anna. Sorry, he’s at Scarlet’s house. He’ll be back later, I’ll tell him you called.”
Joanna froze, before saying, “Thanks. Bye.”
I phoned Maria to tell her that me and Rick wouldn’t be going to the cinema with her and Chuck. She said fine. I called back Mikey, said I was free on Saturday and we made plans to go to New York. His parents were going to see Gerard and offered to take me. And then Rick phoned back.
“Hey Rick. You okay?”
”Yeah. You?” His voice sounded guarded.
“Yeah. I just wanted- I wanted to- I mean I-“ She sighed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you earlier, I was just stressed and it’d been-“
”It’s okay,” he said cutting her off.
“I do mean it,” she said quietly.
“I know, “ he assured. “But Anna? Scarlet’s a friend. That’s all.”
“I know,” she said. “I guess Lara’s messed with my head more than I realized.”
“Ok. I’d better go,” he smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah.” She blew a kiss down the line. “See you tomorrow.”