In Love and War

Truths were bitter. Truth. Sophie was dead. Truth. I was not going to be happy for a long time.
Truth. I was going to be sent far far away.

After losing her best friend, Charlotte moves away to forget her, to forget that the drama and the tension. Of course, she could never expect that the things waiting for her at the place she ran away to, would be far more painful.

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7. Faint

Chapter Seven

 

            Charlotte walked through the halls. It was Monday, after school, and the school was torturously empty. She had been sitting in the playground for forty-five minutes, waiting for Lucas’s basketball practice to be over. She hadn’t official met the guy yet. Mr. Unwin had told her to be in the library by four, and that was where she was headed.

            The library was like everything else that belonged to the school, large and impressive, covering two floors and having an antiquated look with several modern additions like beanbags awkwardly out of place. It was mostly empty, except for a few geeks like her that were already preparing for their SATs.

            She took a seat near the entrance and waited with her book in hand. She checked her watch. It was five minutes to four, and he wasn’t there. She wondered if he was actually serious about tutoring, or if he was agreeing just to humour Mr. Unwin. She took out her English homework, and started working on it, checking her watch every five minutes.

            It was four-thirty, and he still hadn’t shown. Her homework done. Charlie was annoyed. She packed her bag and got up. She had planned on leaving half way through anyway, and that’s what she would do.

            “Sorry!” someone yelled, causing the librarian to drop the book she was reading and give them a glare to freeze hell over.

            She looked up at the intruder. Lucas Shepherd. He stood there with what she assumed was the sheepish expression that got him forgiveness for a lot of things. Without another thought, she slung her bag over her shoulder and walked out of the library.

            Luke was busy shooting the librarian a smile, and the old lady was busy blushing, so he didn’t notice her leaving. When he did, he turned around and ran after her. Mr. Unwin had set him up with tutor after tutor, and if none of them worked out, it wasn’t completely his fault.

            This girl, she looked kind of familiar. He knew that she probably wouldn’t work out either. She would end up falling in love with him, and they would end up dating, and then the whole ‘they’ would end. And Mr. Unwin would end up looking for a new tutor again.

            It’s a vicious cycle, he thought. He didn’t always come on to the girls. Sometimes they came onto him. But of course, everybody loved to blame the guy who was captain of the basketball team. Everybody in the school knew what kind of a guy he was, yet the girls still hated him after he dumped them.

            He caught up to the girl and draped his arm around her shoulder. She pushed it off immediately and continued to walk.

            “So, aren’t you going to tutor me?” he asked with a lopsided smile.

            “I did. You just weren’t there to see it,” she replied.

            “Look, sorry, the guys wouldn’t let me go!”

            “It’s fine,” she said.

            “So, tutoring?” he asked. He didn’t know why he was asking so many times. He guessed the girl was interesting, with her disinterest in him.

            She stopped walking and turned to him. Her black glasses covered her eyes but he could see from her furrowed eyebrows that she was angry.

            “Look, I don’t need to tutor you. Even if I don’t tutor you, my life will go on. But you? If you don’t get your grades, you can kiss your basketball and your team goodbye.”

            He protested, “Wait a min-”

            “Oh please. You know I’m right. You need my help, not the other way around. But you’re the one that showed up late. I gave you your chance, just like I promised Mr. Unwin. It’s too bad you wasted it.”

             She walked off, leaving Luke shocked. As she rounded the hallway she turned around again.

            “Good luck finding another tutor.”

            Charlie turned back around, but this time walked right into a wall. A slightly soft, large, red wall. She looked up and saw it was a person. A very intimidating, tall, big, muscled and slightly angry person with a head of red hair.

            “Where are you headed, loser?” the red-headed boy asked. She tried to side-step him, but there were others behind him. There was even a girl there, the brunette from before.

            A whole team, she realized. She knew whatever was about to happen, it wouldn’t end well. They were looking at her in a menacing way that she immediately recognized. She backed away, but the brunette took her arm in a vice grip.

            Some of them had smiles on their faces, and that scared her. It seemed that although she was immune to the empty threats of airheaded bimbos, but she was useless against real bullies. She hadn’t felt a need for Sophie until then, but she realized how much her friend had really protected her as the brunette’s nails dug into her arm.

            The pain made her wince, and they were hurling insults at her. Ugly words that weren’t true, but hurt the same. Then the pain started. She knew it was happening again, and this time Sophie wouldn’t save her. But she couldn’t stop it.

            Charlie felt her breathing stop. She no longer heard their insults, their faces blurred in her eyes, until everything started to go black. She knew what it was called. Tunnel vision. The brunette let go of her hand, but she didn’t sense the absence of the pain. The few faces that she saw changed from their malice to fear, as she fell to the ground.

***

            Lucas was walking back to the library when he heard the voices. He tried to ignore them, until there was suddenly a thud, and then silence. There was something off, and so he turned around to check it out.

            The girl was lying on the ground, her brown hair all over the place, her glasses askew. There was no one else in the hall. He sat down and got the hair out of her face. She was breathing, but very lightly. The school nurse wouldn’t be there.

            Shit, he thought, realizing that he had to call 911. He took his phone and dialled the number. An ambulance arrived in ten minutes, and the paramedics whisked her away on a stretcher. She was still unconscious. He followed them into the parking lot, where a woman stood nearby. She gasped seeing the girl and rushed over.

            “Charlotte,” she breathed out.

            She was the girl’s housekeeper. The two of them sat next to each other in the ambulance. The paramedic examined her and told them it was just an anxiety attack. The housekeeper dialled a number on her cell phone, he guessed she was calling the girl’s parents.

            After she was done with the call, her attention was solely focused on him. He squirmed under her angry gaze.

            “Yer the boy she was suppose’ to tutor, aren’t ya?” Margo asked. Her Irish accent was more prominent when she was angry, and Luke barely understood what she was asking. He nodded meekly.

            “Anna was right,” she muttered to herself. She stroked Charlotte’s forehead slowly. Her face was paler, and Margo carefully removed her glasses. She regretted not supporting Annabelle. And Charlotte’s father had sounded so dejected on the phone. She couldn’t put it into words.

            She glared down at the boy in front of her again. He looked good enough, but she knew looks were deceiving. And he looked remorseful. She stopped herself from taking pity on him. He should be remorseful, putting an innocent girl in the hospital.

            “How could you do this to her?” Margo asked Luke.

            “Me?” he asked.

            “No, the leprechauns!” she yelled sarcastically. The paramedic told her to keep her voice down, and she glared at him.

            “I didn’t do anything!” he protested. “I was the one that found her, okay? She’ll tell you that herself when she wakes up.”

            Margo calmed down after that, listening to him as he told her what happened. She still didn’t warm up to him; her gut told her he was involved in it somehow. They reached the hospital where Charlotte’s father was waiting for them.

            “What happened?” he asked.

            “It’s just a panic attack, sir,” the paramedic replied, pushing the stretcher into the hospital. “She’ll regain consciousness soon.”

            Before Margo or anyone could protest, the paramedic went through a set of double doors and Charlie was out of sight, leaving Luke with two irate adults.

            Thankfully they didn’t yell at him, so he called his mother. It didn’t go well, since he didn’t think and told her that he was in the hospital. After threatening to take him out of ‘that dangerous game’ basketball, she finally calmed down and listened.

            Half an hour he was out of the cursed hospital, away from the housekeeper that kept giving him death glares, and safely in his mom’s SUV. She kept asking him questions throughout the entire journey, and he had no answers to most of them.

            He didn’t know why he chose to fool around with his friends and be late to the tutoring session. He didn’t know what happened to the girl. He didn’t know whether he would be able to find another tutor. Actually, he knew. It wasn’t going to happen.

            Luke closed his eyes and leaned back on the seat, trying to get thoughts of the girl out of his mind. He was supposed to go to a party that night. Maybe alcohol was the solution to getting his mind off everything, especially that girl.

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