Later that afternoon, Zee was still felt slightly shaken up and sickly inside, but she was also much less likely to spontaneously burst into tears, so she judged herself stable enough to call Zoya and Alice and recount to them what had happened and ask their advice on what to do about it.
So, Zee then dialed Zoya’s number, then added Alice to the call as well, and told her story. “...So then, she put her hand on my shoulder to pull me back again, so I hit her hand away and left.”
There was a shocked silence at the other end of the line.
“Wow,” Alice finally said. “So she actually physically pulled on you?”
“Yeah,” Zee said, insides twisting at the memory. “It hurt too.”
“Mm,” Alice said sympathetically. “Do you know what she wanted?”
Zee thought back. “No, I guess not. She seemed pretty threatening, though. And she brought all her friends to watch, so she must have been planning some kind of event.”
“It can’t have been that bad,” Zoya spoke up. “I mean, yeah, she might have said some stuff, but it’s not like she would actually hurt you or anything.”
“Uh, Zoya? I have a bruise on my shoulder,” Zee said slowly. “She did actually hurt me.”
“I’m sure you’re overreacting and reading into it way too much,” Zoya said.
Something in Zee’s gut dropped. “Why are you defending her? You’ve heard the things she says about me, and you know they aren’t true.” Tears started coming up again and Zee struggled to hold them inside. Thoughts raced through her mind, lightning in a bottle. Zoya had always been her friend. Ever since Kindergarten, she’d been there. She was in Tara’s classes, though, she warned Zee of new rumors, but, oh no, she was friends with some of Tara’s friends, what if..? No. She wouldn’t.
“Well, sure, she exaggerates a little, but the basics do sound kind of like you. And you admitted that you hit her earlier today.” Apparently, she would.
“Yeah, I slapped her hand away when she tried to pull me back and torment me more. She’s the antagonist here!”
Zoya sighed. “Whatever, Zee. I gotta go, dinner.” She hung up.
“Did you hear that?” Zee asked Alice, who had been silent. “Did that actually just happen?”
“Yeah,” Alice said. “It happened.”
“Holy crap,” Zee said, a few tears escaping her eyes.
“She’ll come around eventually,” Alice said. “But, uh, I have to go too, so...see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” Zee said. Alice hung up.
Zee dropped her phone.