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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10. Friend

10- Friends

 

                It surprised Charlotte to see him the library in the afternoon. He was sitting in her favorite corner. Behind the books on architecture that no one ever went near there was a small study table with two chairs. She took the one opposite to him and took out her chemistry homework. He didn’t look up at the sound of her chair scraping across the tiles.

                Craning over the table she saw that he was working on the kinematics homework that Mr. Unwin had handed out. It was simple enough, but he was biting on the end of his pencil struggling for the answer.

                “It’s a different formula,” she told him.

                His head snapped up at her words. “When did you get here?”

                “Five minutes ago.”

                The librarian gave them a glare, and Charlotte looked back to her chemistry homework.

                “Can I ask you if I get stuck?” he whispered.

                “I think the librarian’s going to kill us if we talk anymore,” she replied.

                She took a seat far away from him at a different table and finished her homework. After she was done he was on the fifth problem. It was disappointing, considering that there were twenty five problems in the whole sheet.

                When she couldn’t look the tragedy of his efforts anymore she went over and helped him. After he was done with the homework she saw that it was time for Margo to pick her up. They walked outside together but in silence. Charlotte didn’t have much to say to him.

                The hallway was empty, and their footsteps intruded on the silence. Luke’s sneakers squeaked with his every step.

                “So, what’s up?” he asked. He didn’t like the quiet.

                “Nothing,” she answered. “Thanks to you, there is now a photography club at this school. We went to Vermont last weekend.”

                Looking at his confused expression, she explained, “I wasn’t interested in tutoring you. So Mr. Unwin bribed me by telling me that he would start a photography club here if I agreed to tutor you, even if I quit afterwards.”

                “Well, I guess something good came out of that,” he said.

                “Yeah, but I have to ask… You don’t seem that bad. Well, not as bad as the rumors and everything. Why won’t anyone tutor you?”

                “My first tutor was my girlfriend, Chelsea from the cheerleading squad. We were dating while she tutored me, and I broke up with her, so she stopped tutoring me. Then I got a bunch of girls who basically threw themselves at me, and I’m not gonna say no to that.”

                “Of course not,” Charlotte commented dryly.

                “But I couldn’t stay with those girls, you know? They were so needy. A bunch of nerds who acted all superior came next, so Brett beat them all up. After that, no one really wanted to be my tutor. All the girls that I dumped started spreading rumors, things got blown out of proportion. And next thing you know, I’m failing Physics and not on the basketball team.”

                “I feel your pain,” she said sarcastically.

                “Says the teacher’s pet,” he answered. “And is it true you skipped a grade?”

                “Who told you that?”

                “No one, I heard Mr. Unwin talking about it once, how you were so intelligent for your age and mature and all that crap.”

                “Do me a favor and keep that info to yourself,” Charlotte said. The last thing she needed was her classmates treating her like she was a child.

                “And if I don’t?” he asked mischievously.

                “Then nothing,” she said nonchalantly.

                “Look little girl,” Luke said playfully, “I think we can work out something here. I keep your secret, and you become my tutor.”

                “No thank you,” she replied. “Not interested. Tell the entire school if you want.”

                “Okay, okay, sorry for the blackmail, I’m asking nicely now. Please give me another chance and be my tutor. I think you’re good at it.”

                “I’ll think about it.”         

                Margo was waiting for her by the car and Charlotte ran over before the woman could notice Luke. In the car she thought over it. She knew that Luke wouldn’t tell the school about her skipping a grade. It was a tiny thing, unimportant. She pitied him for failing Physics, something he truly sucked at, and being ousted from the basketball team for it, the one thing he seemed to genuinely love.

                She decided that she would help him. It wouldn’t be like before. She couldn’t be ambushed by his lackeys another time. She would keep her conditions, and if he chose to follow them then she would help him. Helping him wasn’t worth another panic attack.

                The next day she saw him at the old basketball court and walked over to him.

                “I’ll tutor you,” she said.

                “Knew you would,” he answered. Seeing her serious face, “Sorry, I didn’t think you would actually.”

                “But I have some conditions,” she said.

                “Okay, shoot.”

                “Mr. Unwin, your friends, no one at school should know about this,” she said.

                “Um, why?”

                “Because I don’t need the drama. Mr. Unwin will basically kiss the ground I walk on, your friends might attack me again, and I’ll get a hundred lectures on my bad decision from my best friend.”

                “Alright, done. Next condition.”

                “We meet either at your place or mine.”

                “Sure.”

                “Finally, you do what I say without question. I don’t need your jock attitude.”

                “Agreed. So when do we start?”

                “Today, at my place after the photography club meeting. Be there at five.”

                He smiled and Charlotte finally understood why all those girls fell in love with him without question. When he smiled it was easy to forget his reputation, his arrogance, everything. She snapped herself out it and started to walk away to class.

                “Friends?” he asked, stretching out his hand.

                She placed her hand in his, “We’ll see.”

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