3. Here To Stay
Over the rest of the week K continued to doggedly haunt us, like our own personal ghost. When we left maths he was there, when we tried to hide in the lunch room he managed to find us and even after English he found a way to creep up on us. It’s unnerving, like he knows exactly where we’ll be all day, I said as much to Lola.
“You don’t think someone gave him your timetable do you?” she asked.
“No, I still have it here.” I explained.
“Ok, I don’t know then.” Lola sighed; she seemed distracted today and kept glancing around as if she hoped to see someone. As far as I could see the only person missing is Felix.
“I’ll see you on Sunday Lola.” I said later that day after we’d left the school and reached the crossroads, Lola lives on one side of town to me so we don’t get to walk home together very often.
“Yeah, see you soon Tabitha.” She answered already walking away.
I remember thinking as I walked home that maybe I’d been too wrapped up in worrying about K to notice if something had upset Lola. She’s always been quiet nervous about things, especially big decisions.
As I walked past the spot where the old lady with the stick dawdles I became aware of someone walking in step with me along the pavement. I had a feeling I knew whose face I would find when I looked up and sure enough there he stood.
“Tabitha?” he said, his voice didn’t have the usual sharpness I’ve come to associate with him. “Please can I talk to you?” he added when I met his eyes, I gave a nod and wondered what new trick he wanted to try on me.
He heaved a long painful sigh before continuing. “I can understand why you aren’t happy to see me Tabitha, I wouldn’t be happy to see me and before I dyed my hair I didn’t look in the mirror because I didn’t like who I saw there. Would you believe me if I said I’d like to be friends?”
I paused in the street; if I had expected anything from K it certainly wasn’t this. “Look, K, ever since you started attending my school I’ve been waiting for you to trip another teacher in the corridor and blame it on me. Or launch a tray at a dinner lady and blame it on Lola.” I answered. “I find it hard to believe you have anything but malicious intentions towards the two of us.”
A dull hurt look flared in his eyes then, a look I hadn’t thought possible. “Don’t you believe people can change Tabitha?”
“Some people, yes but maybe not you.”
“For a long time I believed that too Tabitha.”
“And do you believe it now?”
“Yes, without wanting to sound conceited, I have changed and I’d like to make amends for the things I put you through in middle school.”
Despite how honest he sounded something in me couldn’t accept what I’d heard. “K I don’t know how you possibly could.” I told him not out of spite but simple truth. The fact is K did a lot of truly awful things to me in middle school; he’d constantly be playing mind games and trying to prove he could beat anyone at anything, almost like he had an inferiority complex.
“One chance is all I ask Tabitha, I promise I’m not trying to hurt you or Lola; it was never about Lola anyway.” He sounded exasperated and tiered now.
“What do you mean about Lola? She didn’t do anything to you anymore than I did.” I said possibly snapping too much, letting how angry I felt colour my voice an ugly shade. “If anything Lola deserves more of an apology than me, even when you tipped a bin on our desk one lesson she still helped you with that question you where stuck on.”
“You don’t have to remind me of the monster I was.” He replied sadly. “I’m here to stay Tabitha, think about what I said, please.” Then in true K style he turned and walked off in the other direction leaving me churned up inside again. I hate how well he gets under my skin.