The New Me

After a bad experience at her old school, Hayden Flack moves to Bradley Stoke determined to change everything about herself.
She knows how act, what to wear and from past experience, what to expect.
But on her very first day, seeing a long-lost childhood friend was something she definitely didn't see coming. Hayden quickly recognises Ellis but he can't even remember her... or does he? Why is Ellis acting so strangely, and why is he so different from what he used to be?
After a few months at her new school, Hayden seems to have settled in quite well and is living what appears to be a stereotypical popular girl's life. But not everything is going as 'well' as she thinks it is. Her 'friends' are acting weirdly suspicious, and when her long-lost brother suddenly comes in contact with her, she can't help but feel like there is something going on that she doesn't know about. How long will it take before she realizes what is going on beneath the surface? (PG-13)

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17. Mock Grades and Feeling Afraid

"Unbelievable.”
Sophie threw up her arms in exclamation and increased her pace so much that it was a struggle for me to keep up with her.
I wasn’t really one to gossip but I knew that Sophie would find out sooner or later and I assumed that there were worse ways of her finding out. I was almost certain that if she at first, saw Ellis and Morgan together then it was extremely probable that she would have ended up attacking the two of them. Sophie practically hated Morgan when they were friends, so now that they were actually enemies, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sophie leapt out at attacked Morgan just for the sake of it.
My attention was diverted towards Sophie, who was now on the other side of the street, yelling at the top of her voice. A mother passing nearby, glared at her, and led her child to the other side of the road.
“Sophie, calm down,” I yelled, running after her. “Why are you walking so fast anyway? …Hang on where are you walking to?”
“Where?” Sophie laughed, cruelly. “I’m going to that asshole’s house, that’s where I’m going.”
“Wait, who’s?” I exclaimed. “Ellis or Morgan’s?”
“The freaking Hedgehog’s. Then I’m beating the crap out of him and making him cry like a little baby.”
I grabbed her arm. “Just calm down, okay?”
“Don’t tell me to calm down! How dare he?!”
“Look, just stop. He obviously wanted us to get annoyed with him otherwise he wouldn’t have chosen Ellis to hang out with. Like, I mean, Ellis probably doesn’t even like him. Along with about 99.9% of people.”
Sophie paused. “I guess you’re right. I mean, I guess I’d look pretty dumb if I went up at him and started having a go at him.” She shrugged. “I’ll get him back some way though. Just look out for it.” She changed direction. “See you later, Hayden. I’ll see you later. By then I’ll teach that asshole a lesson.”
I smirked, wondering what sort of evil plan Sophie was going to come up with – she was surprisingly cunning when she wanted to be and I couldn’t help but like it. I fumbled for my keys and opened the door to see a large, brown envelope lying on the floor.
Was it something from Declan? No chance – I picked it up, glanced at the writing and my throat began to rise.
Mock results. Addressed to the parents.
“Mum?” I called.
She wasn’t back yet – thank God – now I could just throw it away without her seeing it. Yet I still couldn’t fight the urge to see the results for myself first, because although I had the instinct that I had done terribly (the fact that I couldn’t answer half the questions didn’t help) a tiny part of me hoped that maybe I hadn’t done as bad as I expected.
I couldn’t stand not knowing any longer and ripped the envelope apart. I flicked through all the sheets; most of them just stated that they were my mock results – as if it wasn’t already obvious – and saying about a billion times how important are mocks were; until I finally found the sheet with our grades.
My hands shook as I stared at the letters that seemed to burn through page. Nausea.
I ripped the sheet, frantically until there were only tiny scraps of paper later. Then I grabbed all the other sheets that droned on about how important GCSE’s were. “Alright, I get it!” I yelled.
I went upstairs and chucked the scraps towards my bin. But in the corner of my eyes I spotted “It’s not too late” on one of the scraps.
The door knocking downstairs caused me to jump. I was suddenly aware of how quickly my breathing had become and forced myself to calm myself for a moment, before going downstairs and answering the door.
It was Cole.
“Sophie told me Morgan’s friends with Ellis now.” Cole said, expressionlessly.
I hesitated, uncertain of what to say in response.
“…I just want a confirmation from you.” He added.
I shrugged, “well I dunno if I’d say they were friends, like I only saw them together. He probably just wants to get back at you that’s all.”
Cole’s eyebrows narrowed. “You think?”
“Yeah.”
“Well he’s more stupid than I thought.” He turned to walk off.
I grabbed his shoulder. “Hey, wait. Is anyone coming out today?”
“No.”
“It’s a Friday.”
“Yeah?” He tested. “That doesn’t mean anything… I’ll text you later.”  He walked off without another word; excluding the several curses he was muttering under his breath.
“Rude…” I muttered. He did realise I was his girlfriend, right? But I wasn’t in the mood to go out anyway; I couldn’t get rid of the nausea and the underlying worry I had in the back of my mind. Even so, having a few drinks would be a good way to get my mind off things…
Cole still hadn’t texted me when Mum arrived home a few hours later. She called from downstairs, asking whether or not I was doing my work.
“Yeah,” I called back, although I had only written one sentence in my English essay. I seemed to think that Facebook was more interesting. That’s the thing with procrastination and exam worry: I spend more time worrying about doing really bad and failing my exams than actually doing any work towards it. Besides, Facebook and making cups of tea, for some reason had more of a priority. A part of me couldn’t help but hope that I’d get a new Facebook message from Declan soon. He hadn’t contacted me in a while now. He said he would.
My scrolling froze at the sight of the photo had put up of me: I guessed that it was either at my party or somebody else’s. I clearly wasn’t that fussed about it though as I hadn’t bothered to put my makeup properly and my spots were glaringly obvious. It was a mug shot as it was – Sophie had managed to take it just as I was turning around so I had the most unflattering facial expression possible.  Clearly Sophie hadn’t taken into consideration that no possible human would like to be tagged in a picture so horrible. I cringed at the idea of other people seeing it, and untagged quickly.
Coincidently, I received a call from Sophie; she was probably going to spend an hour ranting over the phone or something.
“Come out?” She asked as soon as I picked up.
“Wait, what?”
“Literally everyone’s coming out today, surely you know that?” She asked cheerfully.
“Wait… Cole said-“
“Hayden, meet up at the park at around six okay? You’re missing out otherwise. I think loads of people are going to head up to the top field afterwards and are going to burn their mock results. Sounds like a laugh – mine were shocking so I don’t mind joining them. How did you do by the way?”
“I’ve already ripped up mine.”
“Pretty shocking then as well,” she laughed. “Ah well, no point crying over our pathetic results. May as well burn them. See you later Hayden.”
She hung up.
    I nibbled my lip as I puzzled about Cole’s strange attitude earlier. It wasn’t like him to be so rude and abrupt with me and especially to lie to me about everyone’s plans. It was all very odd.  He was still my boyfriend, right? – surely he’d be as keen as he used to be about me seeing me, or was he getting bored of me already? Did he really dislike me that much to lie about everyone going out? Or was I just being silly again and overthinking as usual? I mean, there are pretty reasonable excuses to Cole’s attitude earlier: he was still annoyed with Morgan and just didn’t expect anyone would come out earlier.
   Either way, something as petty as this wasn’t worth worrying about; in fact, the not so “new” Hayden in which I decided to become when I had first moved wouldn’t have worried about something so silly.
   The anxiety that lingered at the back of my mind which seemed to intensify over the last few weeks had reached its peak: I felt pretty much like the girl that I despised to be and tried so hard to hide.
    My thoughts were interrupted by Mum yelling from downstairs. Recently, her voice seemed to have a weird sort of anxious edge to it whenever she spoke to me – the sort of tone of voice that could easily turn into yelling due to the slightest trigger.
   “Yes?” I called, yet my nervousness was disguised as usual, with my confident tone.
   “I just received a text message from the school informing me that you should have received your mock grades in the post.” She called, “Do you have it?”
   The stairway seemed to blur and spin in front of me, and I held on to the railing for support. How was I supposed to hide my grades from Mum now…?
   I forced a chuckle. “Probably because of all the retards who hide it so their parents can’t see there shocking grades!” I hesitated. “…No, I haven’t seen it anywhere.”
    Mum shrugged, “ah well, I’m assuming it’ll arrive in the next few days.”
    The spinning increased, until I had no choice but to sit down at the top of the stairs. I fought back the nausea and dizziness by resting my head in my hands, blocking out the world with darkness. I breathed steadily for a few minutes which helped to calm me down a bit, before checking my phone again for the time, reminding myself that I should really be aiming to be out the house in about twenty minutes.
    I glanced at myself in the mirror again and frowned: my spots were the worst that they had even been and it was impossible to make them look discreet now. Most of them were on my cheeks though, so I pulled my frizzy hair down to hide the sides of my face. I straightened my hair again, regardless of how dead the ends already were, before reapplying another coat of mascara and more kohl eyeliner that only seemed to emphasize even more how bloodshot my eyes were. Overcome with my nausea, I had succumbed to my desire to lie on my bed for ten minutes.
    I decided that going out would be a good distraction from my mock grades and the underlying worry about my actual exams that were only a few months away. Besides, I’m pretty sure everyone else did pathetically in their exams, and their similar shocking grades would be comforting to hear.
   Yet, when I reappeared downstairs, Mum frowned when I informed her of my plans this evening. “Are you sure you want to go out again?” Mum sighed, “you were out all evening and it’s a school night remember, not to forget you have your exams-”
  I cut her off. “Yeah, well I won’t be out long, I just want to see if everyone got their results and stuff.”
    Mum sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time this week. “Fine then Hayden, but I’m warning you. You don’t need to go out every time there’s something planned, even though you’re a smart girl it’s easy to slip behind-”
    “Bye Mum!” I yelled before slamming the door. I’ll get told of later for that, but at the moment, it was the least of my worries.
   I just needed to get out the house, have a bit of fresh air, see some friends and potentially have a few drinks for me to feel better. Drinking on a school time wasn’t the wisest of choices but that didn’t stop me from bringing a bottle of Sourz that I had stashed in my room for an appropriate occasion. I wasn’t too keen of the flavor though, and as I sipped from the bottle I couldn’t get rid of the thought that the drink tasted like mouthwash.
   My dizziness only seemed to intensify when I reached the park, and my anxiety seemed almost impossible to ignore – except, what was I so worried about?
 

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