I threw the selection of cards in my hand onto the table with a flourish. They fanned out, skimming the table top, stopping almost in a perfect curve; I’d done this many times before.
“I win again!” I exclaimed, flinging my hands in the air. The girl sat across from me, my best friend, Ellie, sighed.
“You always win, Jayne. It’s nothing new.” Her jaded tone made me look at her seriously for a second, but her mischievous smile returned a second later. She was wearing her favourite pair of dark skinny jeans, that she insisted were comfy but looked like they’d been sprayed on, and a blue jumper that was probably two sizes too big with the words, ‘fun lover’ written across it. Her bright red lips stood out from her relatively pale face and her fair hair fell straight down over her shoulders. She smelt like a perfumery.
“Well, I’m just that little bit better than you, sorry!” I laughed, scooping the cards back up into my hands. She raised her sharp eyebrows at me, exaggerating her features.
“Oh are you Miss Ellen? Rematch?” She said playfully, also throwing her cards down on the table. I scooped them up quickly,
“Of course, nothing better than beating you for the third time today.” I shuffled the cards, keeping eye contact with Ellie, narrowing my eyes at her in a mock suspicious fashion.
This was how a normal Sunday afternoon went. Ellie would come round mine when my parents went out for their weekly cinema trip or dinner out, or whatever they decided to do that week. See according to them, now I’m older and can look after myself they want to start going back out together, spending more time with each other. So they decided to make it a weekly thing, and that’s fine, because that’s when me and Ellie decided to start up our weekly ‘meeting’. Recently we had even started to refer to it as ‘EJ’s plan’. Me and Ellie had been friends since we first started secondary school. She was the first person I met, and we’ve been best friends ever since. I still remember bumping into her in the corridor; my bag flew open spewing paper everywhere. She helped me pick it all up and walked with me to my next class, reassuring me not that many people had seen. I don’t think I would have been able to get through school without her. She made the monochrome days burst into vivid colour. People even used to think we were sisters, and through thick and thin our bond hasn’t shaken. We had never been overly popular, but we had each other and that’s the way we liked it. Or so I’d thought.
“So next week, we do something different yeah?” Ellie said as I walked to my front door with her. “Yeah okay, got any ideas?” I asked, as I opened the door. The brisk, new winter air blew in, chilling the hall.
“Well I don’t know, the week after there’s that fair, carnival thing in town though. The one at Wickely hill? But it’s in the evening, like eight. What you think?” I considered, my parents were pretty tight about curfew, but I’d be with Ellie, and I’m sure we wouldn’t be back too late.
“Yeah okay, that sounds good, I’ll have to check with my parents but we can walk from here so that’s easier. But next week? Do you just want to come over for a bit again, we can always do something different once you’re here?”
“Yeah okay, talk about it at school?” She smiled across at me, then moved in for a hug.
“I guess I’ll see you at school tomorrow then,” She said into my hair, her slim arms squeezing me.
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.” I closed the door shutting off the biting wind, letting warmth fill the hall once more. I sauntered back into the kitchen, I wasn’t in any rush. It always seemed so soundless after Ellie had left, for a moment I couldn’t hear anything. I glanced at the clock, it was only three. Ellie had had to get back home because she was visiting her Nan at her care home. So that left me with a pretty quiet afternoon. My parents had gone to an antiques fair, and didn’t think they’d be back till at least six. They’d even asked if I’d wanted to go with them, but of course I couldn’t ditch Ellie, however short amount of time I had with her. I stood in the middle of the kitchen for a minute, the sun was beaming through the French window, and even though from in here it looked like a warm, almost summery day, I knew the ice wind made it positively freezing. I thought if I had any homework to do, I’d done most of it last night, but I think I had one piece of English that was bugging me. I decided to knock it on its head and went to dig it out from my heap of school work cluttering my room. As I got back down stairs, juggling my books and the pesky essay I had to write, I realised it still felt too quiet. I had never minded being on my own, in fact I quite liked my own company, when I wasn’t with Ellie, but I didn’t particularly like silence. It made me think and I had a tendency to over think. I flicked the TV on and, wanting to concentrate on my essay, just put the music channel on to fill in the emptiness. Lying down on the floor, I spread out my work. I didn’t like the essay question, it felt too much like R.E, and I really didn’t like R.E. ‘‘In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on’-Robert Frost. Write your opinion on this quote. What do you think about it?’ I stared at my paper for a long time, tapping my pen on the floor. I didn’t understand it, yeah life goes on, I know that but I have no idea what to write about it. And it got better; we’d been given another quote to think about. ‘Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.’ This one totally had me muddled. I didn’t think death was all that peaceful. An hour and a half later I’d nearly finished, I’m not saying it was any good, but I didn’t want to dwell on it. It was finished, that was all that mattered. I piled them up and pushed them to the side of the room, then reached for the remote. Almost typically there was nothing on. I sighed; I wasn’t used to having all this free time. I wouldn’t say I was a ‘boffin’ or a ‘teacher’s pet’ but I worked hard, I wanted to get good grades in my exams, and with knowing Sunday afternoons were mine and Ellie’s, not to be overshadowed with disturbing thoughts of homework, I’d got into a routine of doing most of it in the week, or on Saturday. This Sunday afternoon, I’d only really had an hour with Ellie and then when I was on my own, I felt lost. I was scared to think I might have forgotten how to have fun on my own, to just chill out. Well, that can change right now. I grabbed a movie, slotted it into our DVD player and as the credits rolled I went to raid the fridge. Satisfied with my raiding, I sat down on the sofa with a pot of Ben and Jerry’s, a spoon and the remote. I smiled to myself as the movie started; I hadn’t done this in a while.
Monday mornings are notoriously horrendous. Start of a new school week, but I tried to remind myself I didn’t have that long left at school, just take one step at a time, one day at a time. The day went pretty normally. I struggled through my lessons, and lived for break and lunch when I could relax and see Ellie and just have a laugh. We huddled together in the canteen in the winter months, along with half the school but we didn’t care, we were together and the whole world could have melted away around us for all we noticed.
“Are you okay?” I asked Ellie one lunch as she pushed her Caesar salad around her plate. She was holding her head with her free hand, staring intently down at the table. She glanced up, she looked hot, like she had a fever, but they still hadn’t got the heating fixed.
“Yeah I’m fine, just got a bit of a headache, I keep getting them. I never used to get headaches, but I’ve been getting a lot recently.”
“You should go to the doctor, just to be sure.” She smiled at me,
“I have, I’m fine. I think it’s just stress, you know it’s a crazy time, countdown to leaving school!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to worry you ‘cos I knew it’d be nothing, and I was right so drop it!” I saw her gaze shift to my right.
“What do you think of Ben?” she said staring subconsciously across the room at a spikey haired boy. I raised an eyebrow at her,
“Ben Paley? From maths? Him?” I darted a finger in his direction before replacing my hand on the table.
“Yes, Ben Paley, yes him and actually I didn’t know you had maths with him.” I rolled my eyes, I didn’t particularly think all that much of him, I don’t know what it was. Maybe his perfectly spiked hair or his trousers that always seemed that little bit too tight or maybe even his cocky attitude that seemed to make Ellie go all gooey. All I know is that Ellie had had a crush on him since year seven.
“Same as every time you ask me this question, I think he’s a bit of a show off know it all that you obviously have a crush on.” She scoffed,
“Whatever!” She pushed me teasingly, putting her fork down. “And it’s not a crush, I think I really like him, I mean he’s…beautiful.” She sighed, looking back at me, “Don’t you think?” I laughed,
“Beautiful?” She shook her head, trying to hide her giggling. I glanced over at him, joking around with his friends; he didn’t seem that bad I guess.
“Why don’t you just talk to him then?” I asked her, she instantly turned away from him.
“Why though?” She carried on pushing her salad round,
“Because I can’t. He’s one of the popular people, Jayne, he doesn’t want to talk to me, he doesn’t want to get involved with someone who might…” She suddenly stopped, as if she realised what she was saying.
“Someone who might...what?” She stared into the distance before she seemed to snap back to reality.
“Nothing…nothing. He just wouldn’t be interested okay?” I sighed,
“Well how will you know if you never ask?”
“Well maybe I will talk to him…soon.” I nodded slowly,
“Okay. Are you going to eat that salad?” She smiled, handing me a spare fork.
At the end of lunch I got up to walk to my lessons, but as the room emptied I noticed Ellie wasn’t by my side.
“Ellie?” I turned back to see Ellie still sat at the table; her eyes had glazed over like she was somewhere far away.
“Hey, Ellie, we’re going to be late, what are you doing?” She didn’t respond, she was breathing rapidly. I took placed my hand on her shoulder but before I could say anything else she suddenly fell to the floor. “Ellie!” I screeched as she went down, grabbing hold of her, trying desperately to wake her from whatever was happening to her. I fell to my knees beside her, as she starting shaking uncontrollably, her arms and legs, flailing about at awkward angles.
“Help, oh god, please help! Someone help her!” I screamed, I quickly noticed the rest of the canteen had turned and were watching, horrified looks on their faces. It was a second before anyone moved, and then it was havoc. Students surged forward, trying to see, a dinner lady appeared at my side and somewhere in the noise I heard ‘seizure’ and ‘ambulance’. I took hold of Ellie’s hand, stroking her gently, as if I could calm her tense body. She slowly stopped moving which was almost worse; I could hardly see her through my tears by the time the ambulance arrived. I realised the rest of the canteen had been taken away and only me, Ellie and now the headmaster Mr Larrington remained as the paramedic’s rushed towards her. I sobbed as they prised my hand away from her.
“We’ll take good care of her I promise, but we need you to let us help her.” I stepped back; stumbling, almost falling but a hand stopped me. I spun round, it was Ben.
“Ben?” His face was white, his eyes raked over Ellie as they got her onto the stretcher.
“Jayne…wh…what happened?” I looked back at her as they strapped her down; her body seemed so…lifeless.
“They…I think…she had some…some sort of seizure.” I heard him exhale, and when I turned back he was biting his lip, hard.
“I’m sure she’ll be okay, she’s in the best hands now.” I looked up at him; his eyes were full of concern and fear. I don’t think he believed what he was saying, but I could see how much he cared about her. I caught sight of them taking Ellie out the doors,
“Ellie!” I shouted, running after them, fresh tears running down my cheeks. I heard someone run after me, grabbing my arm; I tried to pull free as they disappeared out of sight. “I have to go with her! I have to know she’s okay!” I screamed, I spun round ready to fight off whoever was stopping me from getting to my best friend. But it was Mr Larrington and his own eyes looked strained and worried and I just couldn’t be angry at him.
“As soon as they get there, they won’t let you near her anyway, it’ll be family only. The best thing you can do is go home and wait for news.” He spoke softly, keeping his composure, but only just. I shook my head, unable to accept I had to just…wait.
“I can’t just wait, what if something happens…and…I’m not there…I have to been there!”
“Mr Larringtons right, Jayne, we have to just wait, go to the hospital later, they’ll have more information then.” I sobbed, shocked and overcome with fear for my friend. Mr Larrington put his arm around me and started to lead me away.
“Come on you two, come to my office. Your parents are on their way.”