Love True

[ for the gaming competition ] LOVE TRUE ; the virtual game that's taken the world by storm, and all the hopeful romantics out there who've never found the one. After Juliet's humiliating break up with her boyfriend, all she wants is to find someone who truly loves her. Does it really matter if it's all a lie?

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2. Lines

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

When I was younger, I never really cared about much. 

And to define younger, I mean, like, a year ago, I never really cared about much. Boys were things that we walked alongside, but they seemed to be on the other side of a line that was invisible, but also incredibly visible to me. Some of the other girls would tiptoe across the line like a tightrope walker, and fall onto the other side so they could be caught by one of them. Some girls seemed to walk on both sides of the line because they couldn't even see it all. 

But me, I kept to my side of the line. Girls. Boys. Difference. More than that, we were separated. I didn't want to be part of that world, where there was lots of shouting and loud laughing, loose shirts and tattered jeans that were so unsophisticated that it hurt. 

I liked a lot of things, though. Don't get me wrong. I liked pink and I liked dolls, and I liked watching Disney movies (but only before 8:00), and I liked Mum and I liked Dad and I liked late nights pretending I couldn't sleep so I could sit downstairs with my parents. But I didn't like boys. And I didn't like doing my hair up pretty for boys, because I didn't care. Like I said, when I was younger, I didn't really care about much. 

Now I do. Now we aren't really supposed to think about the LINE that I drew - I always thought it was just there, but really, I just fabricated it as an excuse to why there were girls and why there were boys. I had to erase my line, though it still frightened me on occasion to think I might be crossing the secret boundary no-one ever really talked about anymore. 

And I found out some boys want to be girls and some girls want to be boys and girls can be just friends with boys and boys can be just friends with girls. I trampled over the line, and it finally dawned on me that the line - although painfully real as it was, was no longer necessary, and just caused harm to people who had the guts to move it. 

I forgot about the line. But now, I think, as I smear another layer of lipstick across my mouth, it has appeared again, and I never really noticed. I'm trying so hard to look so girlish, what with my little white dress and my hair straightened down my back, and my eyes smoky like I've just walked into a fireplace and spread charcoal over my face. It looks good. But it also looks stupid. 

Charlotte copies the flick of my eyeliner across her own waterline, and then examines it with medical like efficiency in the mirror, her face only centimeters from the glass. 

"If you get any closer, you'll be kissing it," I say softly, a laugh spreading my mouth wide. 

Charlotte abruptly stops, goes a slight pink, and moves away. "I don't think I'll be the one doing all the kissing tonight, Juliet."

"I'm not complaining," I say a little smugly, noticing out of the corner of my eye that Charlotte looks - not irritated, not disgusted, like I thought she might be - but jealous. Maybe she wants to kiss Ben for me. 

Charlotte rolls her glittering eyes. "Ben's a jock, you know. You only like him because he's fit."

"Isn't that a good enough reason?" I say, raising a pointed eyebrow. "You seem to think its enough." I lean forwards again to fix the tiny straps of my dress, and flicker my eyes over the low back. I made sure to get ready at Charlotte's house so Mum wouldn't see my inappropriate choice of clothing, but I feel a niggle of doubt worm its way into my system. However much I want to go to the party in this dress, it would almost be more satisfactory if Mum knew I was wearing it, and was prepared to ground me afterwards. This whole thing feels too much like deceit, but Juliet Crowe isn't supposed to mind. She isn't supposed to be like the other girls. 

Ever since I dropped my schoolbooks and childish ways into the trash can a year back, you could say I've almost adopted a new personality. Slicker, quicker, and a whole lot nastier, unfortunately. I didn't even see it coming - the whole popularity thing just rammed into me like a bright red bus I somehow managed to ignore. Now, I wear little white dresses and I tease the other girls, because none of them have Ben at their sides, tugging at their hands and planting sugar kisses on the top of their heads. That's me. That's only me. 

And with this whole thing, I've become a whole lot better at finding things out. I can see jealousy from a mile off: I can smell lust and desire like bad cheese. Charlotte reeks of all three, and I can see plainly from the way her eyes linger on my boyfriend, that the bitch wants nothing more than to take him away from me. Like I would ever let that happen, and like Ben would ever choose her over me. 

I close my make-up bag quickly, and drop it into my shoulder bag with precision, along with all the other things I used to make myself girlish tonight. Straightening my posture, and ironing out my features into an emotion that isn't really an emotion at all, I tell myself its enough. Enough worrying about Mum, enough worrying about Charlotte, and most certainly enough contemplating how much quicker my tongue has gotten recently. 

"Let's go, Charlotte darling," I say, wrapping my arms around her long, pale neck. "I'm sorry for what I said, so won't you forgive me? I want this night to be so, so much fun. Hear me?"

Charlotte nods, dropping her gaze, "Yeah, me too. I want to have fun tonight," she laughs, and stands up to face me. Her fingers brush the stray hair from my eyes, and flatten it over my shoulders. "Maybe I'll fall in love tonight. You never know."

"Maybe," I say, a dangerous smile on my face. "But if he's too perfect, I might take him off you."

Before I can register her response, I'm out of the room, laughing joyfully just before her footsteps pound after me. Shame she can't catch me, since I'm a lot faster. We sometimes raced in primary school, when it was cool to bolt across the yard like a buffoon, and I always won. We would tie halfway through the race, but at the end, I always managed to pump my legs a little faster and slip by her. 

We never talked about it, but I'm sure, knowing the things that I do now, that it must've bugged her like hell. 

Charlotte's older brother is in the kitchen just facing the doorway, washing up dishes from when Charlotte brought dinner up for both of us. It dawns on me he probably made it too, and we just ate it and dropped the dishes in the sink for him to finish up with. Like before, a twinge of guilt makes me shuffle my feet against the doormat. I should say thank you, and apologize for my rudeness, but- But, what? Just do it. I swallow. A thank you. Say it. It doesn't hurt you to go around snapping at girls, so why does it take so much to grovel a little for a boy you hardly know? He's Charlotte's brother, for Christ's sake. 

I twiddle my hair absently, and realise he's coming towards the door to see his sister and me off. 

Charlotte rolls her eyes when she sees him. "Why on earth are you wearing an apron, Hugo?" she says plaintively, looking at him as though he's some little boy who just peed himself, or something terribly humiliating like that. 

He ignores her, and just looks at me instead, his eyes roaming quickly down my scandalous outfit. He has the decency to keep his eyes averted after that, and I have the modesty to blush as well. 

"Thank you for making dinner," I say quietly, hoping Charlotte won't tease me for it later. I pass a bright smile around the room, and pass a vague comment about the particular deliciousness of the macaroni cheese.

Hugo shrugs vaguely, but I can see a hint of pride in his nonchalance. "You sure you don't want me to drive you?" His eyes flicker to the open door, and how the darkness soaks up everything else, even the pinpricks of light from windows and lamps. 

I consider making Charlotte accept his offer, but my friend has other ideas. She shakes her head. "Juliet's boyfriend is picking us up. Isn't that right?"

I nod. "Thanks anyway," I say, quickly adjusting my hair and rubbing my lips together to even out my lipstick. The temptation to pull out my compact mirror is crazy, but I suppress it, because I know we both look like stuck-up brats enough already. 

Hugo looks at Charlotte's mini skirt, and raises his dark eyebrows. "That skirt is short," he says, and Charlotte's mouth widens at his blunt comment. 

"You would know, wouldn't you?" she snaps, pulling it down an inch anyway. "Because you've been to so many parties, haven't you?"

He shrugs again, probably for the millionth time this evening. "I don't know. I'm just commenting from my point of view."

"Then don't," she says back, as quick as I was up in her bedroom. She speaks in the same, ice cold voice as I did only minutes ago, except this time, she holds the power of her brother, and I don't hold the power over her. Strange, how we know so much about the hierarchy of our friends, when really we should be desperate to even out the scales and keep equality. 

But really, I don't know what I'd do without injustice. It keeps people like me breathing.

"Have a nice time," he says, chewing on his lip, and quite obviously refraining from another dubious comment about our safety. Lights flicker outside the door, sending the glass panels on the walls dancing with a gold glow. It promises a party to remember. 

Charlotte mutters that we will, and grabs my arm to steer me out of the door. Before I close the door in my own face, I peek around to give Hugo a quick, apologetic smile. "Sorry," I mouth, even though I'm not quite sure he's going to be able to lip read at this awkward and inconvenient angle. 

But, apparently he does, and almost laughs aloud at my funny appearance - my head sticking through the door frame comically. It feels almost good, to be laughed out, to be stupid, instead of pristine perfect. Only, when lights flash and I feel Ben's warm, enveloping presence beside me, all I want to be is the image of perfection to please him and everyone else. 

Perfect seems necessary, with perfect people like Ben. 

 

 

 

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