May's Cherry Tree

There was a girl once. She had loose ringlets and dark, brown eyes. She wanted to be noticed, but no one ever let her. And when she tried to change and be noticed, she disappeared.

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4. Chapter Four

Monday comes. I’m not a person who dislikes Mondays, like many people do. Mondays are the first day of the school week, the first day of five days to take me away from my home. I don’t like to be home. It makes me…

            You know what? Let’s stop talking about it. I don’t like thinking about it. Mum always said that life’s too long to be sad.

            I live a while away from school; I have to take the bus. I remember when I was younger, a few years ago, Mia would walk with me, check I had my bus pass, and make sure I wasn’t a ‘loner’ on the bus. She’d look at for me at school, too, especially when Mum turned. She can’t anymore, though: she goes to college rather than secondary school.

            The bus is not usually late. In fact, most days it is early; many times I’ve had to run because the bus is at the bus stop and I’m not.

            Today, though, I wait at the bus stop, holding a heavy instrument in one hand and my bag slung over the opposite shoulder. The bus doesn’t take long to arrive.

            My bus stop is before Jenna’s, so I always have to save her a seat. I don’t have to wait long before the atmosphere of my peaceful bus ride is bombarded my Jenna sitting down next to me and telling me her mayhems.

            Jenna places herself down next to me with a deep sigh, exhaling as she sits down. She slides her bag of her shoulders, and tugs at her zip of her hoodie.

            “God, Ella-May, you wouldn’t believe it.”

            I give her the attention she is desperate for, “What?” I ask. I watch Jenna’s face lighten up, knowing that someone’s interested.

            “Right,” she starts her sentence with, “So, I was on Facebook yesterday, yeah?”

            “Yeah.”

            “And you know I had sent that friend request to Austin?” She smiles, her eyes enlarging. She waits for my reply.

            I nod, “Yeah.”

            “Guess what?”

            I sigh inside. You could easily have a conversation with Jenna just by laughing every so often, nodding and saying yeah when she stops talking. I have had a conversation with her where I mirror her face expressions, and repeating the word ‘yeah’ when she pauses, and I did not take anything in. “What?” I say.

            “He accepted it!” She squealed excitedly, finishing with a minute clap of her hands. “Can you believe it?”

            “Yeah, of course he’d accept it. Why wouldn’t he?” I decide to say the exact things Jenna would want me to.

            Jenna shrugs coyly, “Oh, I don’t know,” she acts modest, “He doesn’t notice me.”

            Now, I can tell you now, that is an entire lie. It would be impossible not to notice her. After her talking to him every single living second she possibly could, and laughing at the slightest joke he may have. She, for sure, is chasing him, whether she denies it or not.

            “I’m sure he does,” I tell her, but Jenna just shrugs again.

            Allow me to explain who Austin is: as you can probably tell, Jenna has a crush on him. He has plain, brown hair with similar colour eyes. The thing that seems to get the girls hooked is that he’s grown his hair, so it goes past his ears and he constantly flicks his head to get his hear out of his eyes. I wouldn’t say he’s the most popular boy in the school, but he’s not unpopular. Austin has a few girls chasing after him, but I suppose most of them have given up on hope seeing as Jenna’s at the front of the line.

             Particularly, I don’t like Austin. He teases with all the girls that like him, but never goes out with any of them. It seems to make the girls get their hearts up, and then their hope is crushed. It’s happened to Jenna a few times, although seeing as Jenna overreacts it probably isn’t all that bad.

            What do I know? I’ve never been in love. I’ve never had that one boy who makes my heart skip, and make me feel like I’m a special human being, and I’m not just Jenna’s Second Life.

            I have been asked out before, but I never accepted. At that moment in time, I didn’t want nor need a boyfriend: my Mum was the one that made sure I knew I was beautiful and unique. Although now I’m not so sure. Now that Mum’s changed, it seems that even she doesn’t think I’ve got something amazing about me, a special spark. It seems that she has seen the real side of me, seen how boring I really am, and decided to allow me to live as Jenna’s shadow.

            So, I don’t know what having a boy to be the person that tells you you’re important to him feels like. Maybe it feels different, or maybe better.

            Or worse.

            “Oh, Ella-May, Ella-May, Ella-May, Ella, Ella, Ella, May, May, May,” Jenna starts saying, poking me in my right arm to gain my attention.

            “Mmm?”

            She says, “What do we have first?”

            “Is that all you had to say?” I comment, as the bus stops to allow more students on. One of them are known by the name of Yasmin.

            “Oh my gawd, Yasmin, listen, it’s the funniest thing ever,” Jenna says, turning around to talk to her. Yasmin looks a little like Jenna, with long blond hair and all, but her facial appearance is a lot difference. Yasmin wears more foundation that Jenna does, and even with her foundation you can see her skin isn’t smooth as she’d like it to be. Her face is pointier than Jenna’s, and her eyes are smaller and blue rather than green. Yasmin tends to bundle her hair into a ‘messy bun’, a hairstyle I wish I could do well. Jenna always has her hair down, poker straight, divided in half and each half laying on each shoulder. Her hair never flows down her back. Jenna continuously rakes her fingers through the hem of her hair.

            “What?” Yasmin asks, sitting down on the seat adjacent to us.

            “Well, I was like this to Ella-May, I was like ‘Ella-May, Ella-May, Ella-May, Ella-May, Ella, Ella, Ella, Ella, Ella, Ella, May, May, May, May, May,” Jenna extends, exaggerates on what had really happened, “And then, guess what? Guess what I asked her?”

            “What?”

            “I just asked ‘What lesson do I have first?’!” Jenna laughs, slapping her thighs.

            It’s obvious Yasmin doesn’t find it very funny. Her face drops, but she puts on a fake laugh for Jenna’s pleasure anyway. Did Jenna believe the fake laugh? I don’t know.

            “What do you have first?” Yasmin asks.

            Jenna shrugs, “I don’t know.”

            “PE,” I tell her. Jenna turns to me, her eyebrows furrowed.

            “I’m sorry, Ella-May, did I ask you to talk?” she asks sarcastically, placing her hands on her hips, juts her head to one side.

            “No, but –”

            “Well then,” Jenna butts in, raising her eyebrows at me as if to say I win. I bite my tongue. I wish I could say to her what I really think: how she’s a controlling obnoxious brat. Jenna’s like a rose; her pouty, pearly lips, her waterfall, blonde hair, and her emerald eyes would make you want to accost her, and her first impression makes her appear like a fantastic friend. Like a rose, with the delicate, red petals, in a slight cupped shape, overlapping to make a beautiful rose. Then, the rose would make you want to pick it, but once you try doing so, the spiny thorns prick your finger, much like Jenna.

            Jenna turns back to Yasmin and repeats the story she’d told me previously, whilst I gaze out of the window and wonder what name the boy I danced with had. And I wonder if he goes to the school I do.

 

“Ella, Ella, Ella, May, May, May,” Jenna chants at me, fully dressed in her PE kit. She holds her hand out, ready to use a hairband she’s expecting me to lend her.

            “Stop calling me that,” I tell her.

            “It’s your name, isn’t it?” Jenna says, placing her hands on her thin waist. I turn away from her, chewing my lip, holding back the words No, my name’s Ella-May, not Ella, Ella, Ella, May, May, May.

            I slide a hairband off my wrist and hand it to Jenna. She takes it mutely and tips her head upside-down to style it into a high ponytail.

            “Uh, Ella-May?”

            I turn around. A girl with ginger, straight hair looks at me expediently with long eyelashes. Her skin seems to be flawless on her face, with a few freckles dotted across her nose. She flattens her side fringe nervously.

            I furrow my eyebrows. I’m not sure if I’ve ever met this girl before. “Yes?”

            “I’m Robyn,” she tells me, “Do you have a spare hairband?”

            I nod, lifting a hairband to slide of my wrist.

            “Ella-May, I thought you only brought in hairbands for me,” Jenna says, standing deliberately in front of me. Robyn side-steps so she’s in my view.  Her eyes latch onto mine, and she gnaws on her lip. She must be new if I’ve never seen her around school before. How fair would it be to get her into trouble on her first day just because she didn’t have a hairband?

            Before I think it through, words tumble out of my mouth, “I don’t bring three hairbands for nothing, Jenna,” I hand Robyn a hairband.

            It sounds stupid, I know, but it’s the first time that I’ve ever stood up to Jenna. As soon as the words have left my mouth, it leaves a bitter, sour taste, wanting to suck the words back into my mouth and fearing what Jenna might say in return.

            She doesn’t say anything. She simply turns on her heel and leaves the room. I follow after her, calling her name.

            “What do you want?” she asks, turning to face me, “You just humiliated me in front of the new girl! Who do you think you are, Ella?”

            “Ella-May,” I correct under my breath.

            Jenna’s mouth opens wider, “Do you only care about yourself, Ella-May? Or do you just not want me to call you Ella because that’s what Mummy called you?” Her eyes shine, looking sharp, like a dagger ready to stab. She knows she still has that as a threat, and she’s going to use it.

            “I’m sorry, Jenna, I didn’t mean to sound mean. But I wanted to give the new girl a hairband.” I tell her, desperate for her not to start making up rumours about my Mum again.

            “That’s not an apology if you say ‘but’.”

            I sigh, “I’m sorry, Jenna. I won’t do it again.”

            Jenna smiles, “That’s better,” she says, before carrying walking the way she was going. I have no other option but to follow her, to where the rest of our class are. Robyn slips into the hall behind us, sitting next to me on the cold, wooden laminated floor. The PE teacher tells us how to play badminton for the fortieth time this year, in his low, monotone voice.

            When we’re at last to split into pairs, Jenna immediately hoops her arm through mine.

            “I’m going with you,” Jenna says quickly, before anyone else can ask. Although, no one else asks me anyway.

            I turn and look briefly at Robyn, who’s sucked in her lips and looking around the hall for someone who’s possibly not got a partner, either. I look back at Jenna. Despite the fact that it’s __ to be able to tell Jenna she’s wrong, or stand up to her, I can’t bear to desert a chance to be able to gain an new friend, possibly to show Jenna that she can’t control me anymore.

            I shuffle a little closer to Jenna, “What about Austin? You need to do a little move to…you know, let him know you’re interested,” I whisper to her. It’s a weak attempt to get her to be with another person, but it could work.

            “I don’t want to chase him though,” she says, sighing. I have to __ a laugh: Jenna is forever flirting with Austin, and yet she fears to ‘chase’ him.

            “Pretend you don’t have a partner.”

            Jenna scrunches up her mouth, “Who would you go with?” she asks.

            I shrug, “I’ll find someone.”

            She smiles, and unloops her arm from mine, before skittering off to ask Austin, whilst I go the other direction to Robyn.

 

PE lessons are normally long and dreary, but with Robyn it’s not as bad as it normally is. Both of us are hopeless, and forever having to pick up the shuttlecock. I tried asking Robyn a few questions to make conversation, but she answered very little, almost as if she didn’t want me to know.

            I wasn’t with Jenna in my second lesson. At break time, I waited for Jenna in the canteen. She came in, her bag swinging on one shoulder. Her tie is loose, short, with her top button deliberately undone (which is against the school rules, but teachers seem to give up on lecturing students with loose ties). Her cheeks are flustered, her hair slightly frizzier from its normal state. She chews the corner of her lip, pulling a weird, quizzical look.

            When she’s reached me, she allows her bag to slip of her shoulder and land on the floor roughly. “Thanks,” she sneers, lifting her upper lip slightly.

            I assume she meant it sarcastically, “What did I do?” I attempt the innocent look, one that Jenna always does and nearly always gets away with it.

            “Don’t give me that innocent look; you know exactly what I mean,” she raises her vigorously-plucked eyebrows.

            I shake my head. I feel my loosely-coiled ringlets bounce against my face, “I don’t know. If you tell me, then I’ll be able to act on it,” I tell her.

            I can tell Jenna doesn’t like my reply. “Well, in PE, I asked to go with you.”

            “I know, and then you went with Austin,” I point out.

            “No, let me finish,” Jenna snaps, flicking a strand of hair out of her face, “I went with you. You persuaded me to go with Austin, and I did. And do you know what happened? Do you know what you made happen? Actually, I bet you purposely did it so it would happen.”

            “What?”

            Jenna opens her mouth, “Uh!” she says, dissatisfied, “You don’t know what happened?”

            I shake my head, “No.”

            She inhales deeply, placing her hands firmly on her hips, “You humiliated me again, Ella-May. He already had a partner, and I had to look stupid and persuade him to go with me. Do you know how idiotic I looked, Ella-May?”

            “At least he knows that you’re interested,” I say, looking down and toeing the floor.

            “Is that all you care about, Ella-May? You seem to think you always have an excuse to everything just by saying something about Austin.”

            I don’t reply. Instead, I zip open my bag and search for my money to buy lunch. Jenna keeps her position: standing straight with both hands boldly on her waist.

            “I know why,” she says, stopping me in my tracks. “You don’t really care who I went with. You just don’t like me, do you?”

            I shake my head, and tell her that it’s not true. I start leaving the canteen, before Jenna stops be again.

            “Who did you go with in the end?” she asks me, cocking her head to one side as if she really is interested.

            “Robyn.”

            I leave her before she can stop me again, and buy myself half a baguette. I arrive back to Jenna. She still in a similar pose: one hand on her hip, the other hanging loosely by her side. Her lips are pulled slightly into a pout.

            “You just want to make me look like an idiot, don’t you? You keep going with Robyn so Robyn will like you, and then you’ll turn her against me, and make me friendless! I know what you’re like,” Jenna declares.

            I bite my lip, “I wouldn’t do that.”

            “Oh yeah?”

            I hesitate, “Yeah.” And as break continues to tease out, I realise my real answer. No.

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