That Summer.

Iris Goldmen didn't do what the town accused her of, but who will believe her so close to the court date?
When Dexter comes into her life with his excited friends and band, she can't help but begin to let them in after a summer of shutting people out.
With a little bit of help, she can, hopefully, clear her name and help rebuild what was broken in her small town.

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3. Chapter 3

                Chapter three

 

The moon was just poking through the clouds by the time I got into bed that evening. Rain had just started to fall from the few dark clouds that were dotted around the sky, and I was glad that I was snuggled under my duvet to witness it. I loved falling asleep to the sound of the rain.

When I finally tore my eyes away from the rain and the slow trail it was leaving down my window, and onto my clock, the little red numbers flashed gone eleven thirty, two hours pass the time I had started to try and get to sleep.

All I could think about was going back to school and the people that would be there to witness my misery. It wasn’t an appealing thought to fall asleep to.

A thumping noise made me sit up and look out the window at the foot of my bed. It was a familiar noise; it made a smile curve my lips just at the sound of it, thinking of the person it linked to.

Through the rain I could just make out my neighbor’s son playing his bass guitar. I frowned after a moment, he wasn’t normally playing at this time – he played around the time I got into bed and I could fall asleep to the steady thumping. It was a comfort to me.

Crawling to the end of my bed I knocked on the window then wondered briefly whether he could even hear it over the noise from outside and his own guitar. Before I had a chance to find an eraser to throw through our windows and get his attention, Zach Walker lifted his head and looked at me.

A slow smile spread across his face as he shifted from his chair to his bed. “Hey.”

“Hey, Zachy.” I felt a smile curve my lips before I could even stop it.

“Always with the nickname, Iris,” he said, sighing but then he smiled again. “Haven’t spoken for a while, how are you?”

“I’m good. Your mom hasn’t had me babysit you for a while.”

“She finally thinks I’m old enough to be left alone in the house,” he said, laughing.

I nodded and moved to sit on my window sill. The wind picked up for a moment and the rain sprinkled over my bare legs but I ignored it and focused on my younger friend. “Looking forward to school?”

By the look on his face, he wasn’t. “Are you?”

“Of course not,” I mumbled but he obvious heard since the night became silent, the rain suddenly stopping mid-down pour. “You obviously know what happened.”

“I do,” he agreed, nodding. “It kinda sucked that I heard it from others and not you, Iris.”

As I looked at Zach I realised he was probably the only person I could consider a friend right now. How could I push him away? He was my best friend.

“Sorry,” I said, biting my lip. “I know I should have told you but I was worried even you would hate me as well.”

He shook his head then pushed his adorable nerd-like glasses back up. “I could never hate you, Iris.”

For a moment I just looked at him then smiled. “Thanks. You’d be the first then.”

He frowned and opened his mouth but a voice cut him off so he turned around then sighed – his shoulders visibly moving up then down – before looking back at me. “See you later?”

“Course. See you.”

 

As I laid back down I thought of how someone not even two years younger than me could still stand me after what happened while more matured adults couldn’t.

With almost bitter sweet thoughts on my mind, I fell asleep.

 

                                                                                ***

 

Monday morning rolled around faster than I would have liked.

Like any typical teenager I wanted to stay in bed and not go into school, especially after having all that time off for the summer break. Though with those teenagers once they got to school they ended up enjoying it, though half would never admit it. It was a place they could see everyone they knew and loved for a whole day; they could all gossip, talk about the latest fashion, who was dating who, and so on. Those were the lucky people.

Unlike those teenagers, I had a more obvious reason than lack of sleep why I didn’t want to go in. Everyone knew what happened and they all avoided me, or if they knew I didn’t fight back, they would jump down my throat with comments I just couldn’t defend myself from. I was only one person; sometimes the fear got the better of me.

As I was getting ready I spotted Zach slinging his guitar case over his shoulder and leaving his room. He seemed eager to get to school despite his expression last night. At least one of us was looking forward to the first day back to school.

After rechecking my hair and make up for the third time I finally went downstairs and found my mom at the fridge, her hair in its usual neat bun and smart outfit without a crease. The perfect picture of a worker.

“Good morning, sweetie,” she said, her eyes landing on me.

“Morning,” I said, my eyes darting everywhere else. What’s so good about it? almost tumbled from my lips but I was glad it didn’t, otherwise it would start another round of awkward responses from my mother. I had gotten a lot of those recently from her.

That was pretty much it for our morning conversation. I slid into the bar stool and watched her as she made her coffee in her normal to-go cup. As I opened my mouth to say something – anything – to her, she had already finished filling her cup and was already turning to leave the kitchen. I had the strong feeling that she had sped up her morning routine to avoid any awkward silences with me.

“See you later,” she said before leaving the kitchen briskly.

“See you,” I said quietly, my eyes on the table.

Even my own mother found it hard to talk to me, how could others possibly find it easy?

 

The school corridors were almost full to the brim as I fought my way through. My bag was digging into my shoulders since it kept getting tugged behind by bodies that refused to move out of my way. It didn’t help when most of the people were taller and acted like you were just a bug getting in their way.

So far no one had noticed me, and I was beyond grateful, until I felt one pair of eyes turn towards me, which was followed by another, and so forth until almost the whole corridor was looking at me. Their mouths moved as they whispered who I was.

My heart thudded in my chest as I refused to lift my eyes off the ground. My palms started to sweat and the familiar stinging sensation was pricking at my eyes. I wouldn’t, not here.

They all hated me.

By the time I reached the assembly hall I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. And this wasn’t even the first lesson. Another few hours of this and I would end up curling into a corner somewhere in the building and bawling my eyes out, students present or not.

When I took my seat there was two left empty either side of me, and I felt my cheeks burned. They wouldn’t surely leave those spaces so obviously open, would they?

“Seat taken?”

At the sound of Zach’s voice I peeked through my lashes. “You know it isn’t, blondey.”

He pulled a face before sitting next to me. “This assembly always sucks.”

“Luckily this is my fourth.”

“And last,” he added, smiling.

“Thank God.”

“Psst.”

Zach lifted his head – though mine remained down, I knew what was coming – and blinked at the girl. “Yeah, can I help you?”

“Why are you talking to her?” the girl asked, and I could see her twisting a pink strand of hair around her perfectly manicured finger. A perfect girl, I thought instantly.

I sighed, almost silently, and waited for Zach to leave as well. Why would he stay with me? He needed to maintain a good relationship with these people once I was gone.

“Because she’s my friend,” he replied simply. “Problem?”

She looked stumped for a moment before scowling. “Watch your house, something might happen to it.”

Zach frowned, obviously trying to work out if the pink and blonde haired girl was threatening him or not before his eyes widened in understanding. “I’d rather be friends with her than a bitch like you.”

Without replying she quickly turned around in her seat, her hair whipping over her shoulder and almost hitting Zach in the face before he leaned back. He pulled a face and wiped his mouth, checking to make sure no strands of her hair got caught to his lips.

At least this year might be bearable with a bit of help from Zach.

“Some people are so childish,” he said, rolling his eyes before looking at me and grinning.

That was all the reassurance I needed, just that one smile.

 

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