Charlie, Jesse, and Me

Charlie and Demi go to school together. Demi admires from afar- what makes charlie so popular with the girls? No one knows. But in sheer desperation, Charlie and Demi make a choice to get Lucy of his back, but will this choice give rise to feelings they never knew existed?

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4. Kai, The Fantastic Five, and The Ball

The next day, I arrived late to school. My face was raw and red from crying. I walked into class, amidst whispers, points and stares. I sat down between Molly and Clare. I had already told them. About Kai. The two of them put their arms around me. The joy of the day was gone. Even the teachers knew, not asking me questions, not pushing me. They knew that this was big. I need to explain. Kai was my best and only friend in Athlone. She was a good person, but troubled. The others picked on her, bullied her. I never thought it was fair. Picking on me was one thing. On her was another. Now, she's got cancer. Survival chances are slim. Life expectancy is 18. She's already 14. Break came, break went. Classes came, classes went. Then lunch came.
"Hey babe, what's wrong?" Charlie ran up to me and asked. "I couldn't find you at break. Where were you?"
I broke into tears. "I was in the music room." I sobbed into his chest. "It's my friend. She's got cancer. She's gonna die."
He heard, and he realised that this wasn't just a friend. "Look at me. Baby, look at me. She is not gonna die. No matter how small the chance is, it's still a chance." He lifted my chin with his hand. He looked into my teary eyes. It was like time slowed down. I felt it. He felt it too. It shocked us both. We had an awkward second. Then we went our separate ways.

The next day, I was in better shape. I took what Charlie said to heart. I was keeping positive. When I arrived in school, late again, but not quiet as late, there were five people waiting for me outside lockers. The Fantastic Five. Molly, Clare, Amy, Kate and Aileen.
"I told them everything." Aileen spoke up. "The knives. Mr. Smith. Kai. Bullies. Everything."
"You should have told us." Amy piped in.
"Demi, we're here for you." Clare chimed.
"But we can only help you if you tell us." Molly said.
"And we want to help. Let us." Kate said finally.
"Guys, I don't want this to be a big deal. I'm still me. I don't want to be assaulted with 'How are you feeling?' and 'Are you ok?', I only want to talk about this if I bring it up. Ok?" I stated to them.
"Ok." they said in unison. The matter was closed as far as I was concerned.
Later that day, we were sitting in class. It was boring, and I was playing table drums. I had my feet on the bar of Molly's chair, and it was bothering her cos I was moving me feet and wobbling her chair. *Crackle
The intercom sprung to life.
"Attention all Fifth Years. There is to be a Ball on in the School Hall next Friday at 7 until 11. There will be pop music, but also slow dances for the couples."
Everyone looked at me and Charlie. The stares were piercing, the shock of it all still resting on some people.
"Tickets are 2 euro, 5 for 8."
I made gestures to the Molly, Clare and Amy. Then I thought, That's four. We gotta ask Charlie.
So I made my gestures to Charlie. It would be a good way to keep up appearances. So after class we went to the office to buy tickets. We paid the eight, and spilt the tickets and the cost. Still putting on the play with Charlie, both of us having forgotten about our moment yesterday, I slung my arms behind his neck, and we cuddled. I knew I was only fooling myself, but we gotta convince Lucy, who's been watching us like a hawk stalks her prey.
"So what are you gonna wear to the ball?" I ask my friends and Charlie. The three girls started babbling uncontrollably, while Charlie just whispered in my ear "You'll see."

Friday came. We were all excited, and the girls were all talking about clothes. Then the conversation turned to me.
"Demi, I hadn't noticed, but you seem a bit on edge. Are you ok?" my darling sister asked me.
"Yeah. Grand. Why?" I replied. Lying. So bad at that.
"You just look different, but I can't put my finger on it." Aileen said.
"Yeah." the rest of the Five nodded in agreement. This wasn't good. Aileen knew I was lying, but she wasn't going to pursue it right now. She knew the truth, I could see it, and it shocked her. The others knew too, but they weren't going to ask. The truth was, and I was disgusted with this, I had stopped eating. I said before that I'm not skinny. I was getting noticeably skinnier. The boys in my class had been bothering me, making fun of my weight. It really got to me, so much that I stopped eating. It was wrong, I knew it, and I knew were it could lead, but I couldn't make myself eat.
Me and Aileen walked home. It was nice outside, not raining. She said to me, when we were about halfway home, "Why? Why did you stop eating?"  I didn't know how to answer. We kept walking, our heads down, and after a few minutes, I replied.
"You know I'm fat. The guys in school were picking on my weight. It got to me."
"Ok. So when were you gonna tell someone about this?"
"I'm not."
"Demi, for christ's sake, this is a problem."
"No Aileen. To you, this is a problem, to me it's life."
"Demi. Please. Just tell on them. Please. If you don't, I will."
"Fine. Go ahead."
And I ran on home, while she kept walking. As if by magic, it started raining.

When we got home, I changed for the Ball. Short shorts, over black tights, nice top and a waistcoat. It stopped raining, so I walked to the ball, on the way gradually joined by Molly, Clare, Amy and finally Charlie. He came up behind me, wrapped his arms round my waist. He scared me, but when I saw it was him I laughed.
"Hey babe!" he laughed and said.
"Hey! Get off me!" I said jokingly.
"Ready to dance?" Charlie asked. He was in a nice pair of jeans, and a check shirt.
"Yeah. Slow dance?"  I asked him.
"Defo. Anything to be close to my babe."
We were getting good at fake dating. But it was underlying that there was something else, that we were falling for each other. We tried to ignore it. When we got to the hall, the five of us filed in. The hall had strobe lighting, and right now it was multiple neon shades. There was some pop music blasting, "Dark Side", so me and Charlie started dancing. The night went on, and the time for slow dancing came. Me and Charlie took to the floor like ducks to water.
"So." Charlie said.
"So."
We leaned in closer to each other. We looked into each other's eyes. And we kissed. And we suddenly realised what we had done. We stood back from each other, shocked. Molly, Clare and Amy stared. Gobsmacked.
"So was that real, fake, or are we hallucinating?" Molly asked.
"I have no idea." Clare said.
The rest of the night passed in a blur. It was about eleven o'clock when I started to feel unwell.
"You ok, Demi?" Charlie asked me. I felt dizzy, and it obviously showed.
"Demi, you need to sit down." is the last thing I remember before I blacked out.

I woke up in Sick Bay, surrounded by Molly, Clare, Amy and Charlie.
"Demi, are you ok?" Charlie asked me. Aileen burst into the room.
"If you do not tell them the truth, I will Demi. You have to talk to us about these things." Aileen demanded.
"NO! Aileen, this is none of their business, ok? I'm sick of you constantly leaving my secrets open to the world. So give it a rest, ok." I shouted at Aileen. I stormed out of the room, out of the building, out of the school, and home. It was lashing rain. I cried. I cried in the rain. I heard splashing footprints behind me.
"Demi! Wait up!" Charlie called behind me." Just tell me the truth. Please." Charlie pleaded. So I told him. I explained, through my tears and sobs, that I wasn't the happy person I wanted to be, that I claimed to be. That when I was younger, the other kids would pick on me. That even when I moved to Athlone, the bullying didn't stop. And now, it's still there. That I turned to cutting. That I tried to empty myself, to feel nothing, because nothing was better than this. And it all poured out. Every feeling of dread and fear towards my bullies, every ounce of doubt in myself. How it feels to be on the outside. When I finally stopped, he looked at me. There was something in his expression, in his eyes, in his face, that I couldn't place. Something just beyond my reach. A buried feeling, a distant past the he was remembering. He pulled me close, into his chest, into his soaking leather jacket. I heard him start to cry. And we stood for a few minutes, and just cried. When we both stopped, and gathered ourselves, Charlie spoke first.
"Demi, meet me at the park gates tomorrow at noon. Ok?" Charlie said, bending over slightly to get at eye level with me.
"Yeah. Ok." I whispered, my voice sounding very delicate.
"I gotta go. It's almost one." Charlie said, making his way to leave me.
"Bye." I said weakly. Suddenly the Fantastic Five appeared.
"Demi, I-I-I'm sorry, I-" Aileen stuttered out.
"Ailz, it's ok. Forget it ever happened." I said, cutting her off. She ran over to me, and embraced me in the cold, wet arms of her hoodie.
"You didn't tell them?" I whispered the question in her ear.
"No. Not a word." Aileen whispered in reply.
"Swear?"
"Swear."
We all walked home together. When we arrived home, drenched and two hours late, mam was livid. I mean LIVID. She had a freak, but we managed to calm her down. I had had enough excitement for one day. I was going to bed.

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