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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5. Pushing The Limit

As Friday drew closer, the rumours about me and Cole slowly began to die down,  but talk about Samantha’s upcoming party continued to spread. Since that drunk evening with Cole had made things annoyingly awkward between the two of us, me and Sophie made plans of our own.

  “Hi girls!” Mum called when we arrived at mine, Friday after school. She gave Sophie a  forced polite smile.“You must be…?”

  “Sophie,” Sophie grinned.

  “We’re going into my room,” I told Mum as I began to head up the stairs. “…we’re going to the party later, remember?” I stopped, silently praying that Mum wouldn’t suddenly change her mind about letting us go.

Mum replied hesitantly, “Yeah… are you sure that you two wouldn’t like a lift there?”

  “No it’s fine.” I said hastily. The last thing I wanted was Mum drawing up at a house party, full of drunk teenagers and music thumping loudly from inside.

  “Okay then girls; make sure you don’t come back too late.”

I rolled my eyes and continued to walk upstairs with Sophie following behind. “Sorry about my mum,” I muttered to her, “she’s worries about everything."

  “She just cares about you,” she replied, “I wish my mum was the same.”

  “No you don’t, it’s just frustrating having parents that want to know where you are all the time.” I sighed, as we entered my room. I collapsed onto my bed. “I almost thought that she wasn’t going to let us go.”

  “Well you could always sneak out,” Sophie grinned mischievously. It was clear she had done that a fair few times before.

    “I think I’ll pass on that,” I said, laughing at her. “Anyway, what are you going to wear?”

Immediately Sophie’s eyes filled with excitement. “Well.” She started, “I couldn’t actually decide what to bring so…” She emptied her bag onto the floor and large bundle of clothes scattered across the carpet. “I thought you might be able to help me.”

*

Even once we had left, we spent a long time just looking for Samantha’s house.

  “I thought you knew where you were going!” I exclaimed in frustration, feeling extremely uncomfortable walking around the streets in my short skirt and strappy top. “It’s freezing; we might as well go back.”

  “No wait, look!” Sophie said, pointing to a sign. “That’s the street so her house should be nearby.”

    “If you’re looking for Samantha’s house it’s at the bottom of the road,” said a voice coming up from behind us…

  “We weren’t asking for any help Ellis, especially if it’s from you,” Sophie sneered. “Who’s this? Your hoe?” She asked nodding towards a blonde that was attached to his hip, wearing something that looked like a bra and a pair of short-shorts.

  He glared back at Sophie. “We all know who the slut really is.” He sneered and he shoved her out of the way.

The blonde girl snarled, “You watch what you say, bitch!”

  “Ugh! How dare he?!” Sophie shrieked as they walked into the house. Her hands had balled into fists. “I swear I’ll punch him!”

  “Sophie, don’t listen to him!” I insisted, “You’re not a slut.”

  “I know I’m not!” Sophie snapped hastily. “Look… just forget what he said. And don’t bother listening to the crap that comes out of his mouth. Whatever he says definitely isn’t true…okay?”

  “Uh-huh,” I replied as I watched them walk into the house.  Music blasted out from the door but was quickly quietened when it had shut again. “Well at least we know where the party is,” I joked.” Come on, let’s go.”

We approached the large, house which was vibrating from the sound inside. I wobbled slightly in my high heels as I tried to catch up with Sophie who began to walk faster in her excitement. “Look out for the fit guys,” Sophie giggled, “Which in your case… is Cole.”

  “Sophie!” I groaned.

  She smirked, “don’t bother doing any pretending in front of me Hayden. It’s obvious, you fancy him like mad!” She said before pulling back the door and joining the mob.

I walked in cautiously and was immediately surrounded. I squeezed through the crowd in search for Sophie who seemed to have completely vanished. My small smile contradicted my frustration and fear of tight spaces, and after a few minutes, it was an effort pretending to enjoy myself.

I was admist a crowd who were clearly loving every minute (excluding the two girls who were clawing at eachother with their razor sharp talons); suffocating rather than dancing in the ocean of people.

Minutes later, I shuffled towards the kitchen, grabbing a cup filled with either some sort of cocktail or soft drink. Either way, I was thirsty and gulped the liquid down fast. Refreshed, I continued my search for Sophie, or anyone that I could recognise.

But I froze when a hand rested on my shoulder.

  “Hayden,” Cole murmured. His lips were only millimetres away from my ear. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

My stomach tensed at the sound of his voice. “You alright?” I asked nervously.

  “Yeah, I am…” he muttered. He edged closer to me until our lips were nearly touching and I could smell the booze in his breath.

  I grinned uneasily. “Um… so are you having a good time?” I said, asking the first question that had popped into my head.

He raised an eyebrow. “Um... yeah," he replied, as I mentally kicked myself.

“I’m guessing you’ve just got here?” he asked.

  “Yeah, Sophie couldn’t decide what to wear and then we couldn’t find the house so we were walking around in the streets for ages until we found the sign, then Ellis showed us where to go-” I trailed off, realising my fatal mistake.

Cole’s eyebrows narrowed, “Wait, Ellis told you where to go?”

 “Y-yeah it was nothing really, we didn’t really speak to him. Anyway, I’m thirsty do you want a drink? ” I asked hastily.

“Hayden.” Cole grabbed my wrist before I could turn away. “It's probably best if you don't speak to him, he hates me and from what I gathered he clearly doesn't like you either."

“For goodness sake, we barely even spoke to him," I sighed, rolling my eyes. “And whatever happened between you two needs to be sorted out. It’s getting ridiculous.”

“I’m just saying that I know Ellis and what he’s like.”

I shook off his grip. “Well I know him differently,” I snapped. “Believe it or not, me and Ellis were friends once. I knew him before I even moved here!”

  “Oh yeah? Well if you guys were really friends before, how come he never bothered talking to you when you moved, let alone acknowledge your existence?”

I hesitated. “I don’t really know,” I replied, “I’m still trying to work that out myself.”

“This is what I mean Hayden; any normal person would have been thrilled to see you. But not Ellis and do you know why? Because he cares of nobody but himself.

I shook my head, “Look, can we just stop talking about this?”

  He sighed. “Ah well, should we get another drink?” He asked as he took my hand. He guided me through the crowd and back to the table, and as if by coincidence, Ellis was stood nearby, pouring himself a drink. Cole cursed under his breath and kept his head down.

  “So, you’re already getting with the new girl?” Ellis remarked. “A bit early seeing as you only just split up with Mellissa the other week.”

Cole continued to tighten his grip on mine. “You’ve been paying a lot of attention to me recently, haven’t you?” He asked coolly.

  “Just stating the obvious.” Ellis shrugged. They stared at each other for a few moments, giving looks of pure hatred.

“It’s good to see how much you’ve changed Cole.” Ellis remarked coldly. He shoved Cole out of the way and turned to me, “If I were you, I wouldn’t hang out these guys." Then he vanished into the crowd.

  “What was that all about?” I frowned.

  “Just forget about it Hayden,” Cole sighed, much to my irritation. “Do you want a drink?” He asked, handing me a solitary cup filled with the same red liquid.

I nodded, taking the cup and drinking it thirstily. But I grimaced at the much stronger taste.

  “You alright?” Cole asked in concern.

  I nodded determinedly as I tried to force myself not to cough from swallowing such a foul liquid. I chucked the cup back towards the table and joined Cole who was trying his best to dance in the small space he was restricted in. “Not exactly the best dance floor,” I laughed.

  The floor shook from the deafening music that rattled my ear drums; it wouldn’t have surprised me if the neighbours had phoned the police by now.

After a while, I began to lean against him. He supported me in his arms to prevent both of us falling over. “Wow, you okay?” he asked, giving me a small smile. I grinned back, staring at his full lips longingly until finally, he got the message.

Slowly, he leaned in and our lips met, and all my doubts about Cole (in which Ellis had aroused earlier) had faded until I could think of nothing but why on earth I had tried avoiding him the whole week before.

“Hayden, what you doing?” He asked in surprise. But my sense of awareness had already started to deteriorate. I leant against him drowsily, comforted by his warm chest and citrusy smell.

 “Hayden?

 I shut my eyes, wondering why on earth he sounded so worried. I walked alongside him, clinging on to his broad shoulder as he guided me through the crowd.

 “Hi Cole, hi Hayden!” a familiar voice called cheerfully.

  “Somebody spiked her drink; we need to get her somewhere quiet.”

  "Oh my God... you-"

  "-Just shut up and help me get her out of here.”

The music quietened and the temperature seemed to drop dramatically. My eyes flickered open slowly and I glanced around the dark deserted street.

 “I’m so pissed! I can't believe he would do that!"

“I'm pissed!" I giggled, "I only had two cups!"

“Isn’t it obvious? He put something in her drink."

"Who?"

"You know who."

“He wouldn’t do that,” 

“Yes he would. He was stood by the drinks for ages, you must have noticed!”

"Why don't you just get over him?! YOU handed her the drink in the first place."

“Are you kidding me?!”

“Hayden was pretty much all over you afterwards, seems like a good explanation to me.”

“You’re having a laugh!”

"We both know she wouldn't have done anything with you sober-"

My throat burned as acidic, foul vomit escaped my lips, bringing the argument to a sudden end.

 

 

***

This time I had really pushed the limit.

Clinging onto onto a boy for an entire evening was nothing. Confessing my feelings to him was nothing. Throwing up on him was an entirely different story.

I had blown it, destroyed my chances of ever being considered normal. I had lost. Game over.

I squeezed my eyes shut and sighed miserably. At first I had looked forward to the party, just like everybody else. But when I had got there, I shamefully imagined myself being snuggled up in my Hello Kitty PJs, watching Disney Films.

I hated myself for it. I was supposed to be outgoing and popular; I was supposed to love parties. I wasn't supposed to cover my friends in vomit.

Why was I so drunk in the first place?

 

 I ignored Sophie’s calls and texts that seemed to come flooding in every time I switched on my phone. I was too humiliated to even bring myself to speak to her, so I distracted myself with Declan's new email.

Hello :)

It’s great that you remember me so well, and that you remembered how much I loved music. I'm really glad that you recollect me playing the guitar.  I made a break from it, for a couple of years. My teenage dreams about becoming famous slowly faded away... At that time I felt that something important was missing from my life, but it was not that dream, but the guitar itself. Now, when I've realized that music plays major part in my life, regardless of it being my main occupation, I've gathered a group of friends and we've formed a band (I’m the lead guitarist and singer!). We play live gigs every couple of months and I try not to push it beyond the boundaries of a hobby.

 

It’s great that you have a passion for music as well. Can you sing?

 

I’ll talk to you again soon,

 

Declan.

 

P.S. I miss you too.

 

“So he was in a band?” I thought, and I pictured him enviously on the stage, performing to hundreds, possibly thousands.  I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more myself. I had always longed to be in the spotlight and it had been a childhood dream to perform on stage. Although I knew I couldn’t sing, (I had sadly come to terms that even Dad could sing more in tune than me).

  “Hayden,” Dad said, emerging into the room and interrupting my thoughts. I jumped and slammed shut the lid of the laptop. He sighed, “we need to talk.”

 

I rolled my eyes for what seemed like the billionth time today. “About what?”

 

“Your Mum and I are getting quite worried. You’ve been acting very strangely – you barely even speak to us anymore.” Dad hesitated, “are you having any problems at your new school? I know it’s difficult to move on your very last year - we wouldn’t have done it if you weren’t such a smart girl… Is everyone at your school being friendly?”

“Why wouldn’t they be friendly?” I frowned.

“Well… you obviously had a hard time at your last school. We’re just concerned…”

I sighed, “Look, just don’t bother about it. I’m having a great time at Bradley Stoke, clearly you find that hard to believe.”

Dad frowned,"Believe it or not we were also teens once."

I snorted.

“Anyway, I need the laptop for my work. You finished?”

I glanced towards the laptop, remembering that Declan’s message was still on the screen and no way was I letting him see that. “Hang on a minute Dad,” I said, grabbing the laptop and frantically closing the message before he could see. “Here.”

“I hope you’re thinking of going to bed soon,” Dad added before he left, “I don’t want a repeat of last night… I have no idea why teenagers go to bed so late.”

“I was going to bed anyway,” I mumbled, grabbing my pyjamas from my bed because I was starting to feel quite tired. The late evenings out with Sophie, Cole Aaron and Morgan were starting to take its toll, and what I really needed was a good night’s sleep.

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