A Best Betrayal

Catalina Stefson and Harold Connell were inseparable best friends, but this is not your usual cup of a cliché story idea. Catalina's, a.k.a Cat, mother is struck by sudden liver cancer and she is distraught. She tells Harold about the condition because she trusts him. Unfortunately, just two weeks after her mother's condition, she catches him making fun of her mother in front of his friends. And Cat doesn't like that.

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1. The Horrible Essay

Cat’s POV

 

I scribbled the last lines of the essay down and sighed in relief. It was a lengthy essay, making me rant all about why feminism is still something the world needs. It was not that I didn’t like it but the essay had to be over 700 words – the reason of my annoyance. Our English teacher, Ms. Mallow, was a very inexperienced woman who liked nothing more than her makeup. She would make us do lengthy writing work while she sat with her little mirror and makeup kit. We hardly discussed anything in class in those two months she had been there.

I hated it.

I closed my journal and put in on my desk, leaning back in my chair. My head went back to the earlier morning when I had accidentally arrived late at my English class…

 

I looked a quick look at my notes and started walking to class that was due in ten minutes. Today was a verbal test, an actual test where Ms. Mallow would ask us actual questions like a real teacher. Such days were so exciting- even though we all knew that the test would be over in fifteen minutes or less. But doing something that wasn’t writing long, boring essays was bound to be promising enough.

Daydreaming, I suddenly hit someone and all my notes scattered on the floor. I yelped and tried to get them but they were so many and so messed up. Head boiling, I snapped up to see the person who I had hit.

My teeth gritted and my tongue hot, I lashed at him. “You little jerky cockroach, do you see what you have done!?” I screamed, oblivious that it was my fault too.

The boy looked up. And, I realized it was not just a boy. It was Harold Connell. My best friend.

“H-harry? What the… What the hell??” I said, partly sorry for lashing at him earlier.

He smirked at my face. “Hello to you too, Cat,” he chuckled.

I sighed, helplessly slumping down and looking at my notes. I never studied properly – it was a big issue with me. I needed notes for every test and Mister Harold here had just demolished my chances of passing.

“What’s the matter?” he frowned, looking down and then he said, “Oh!”

“Look what you have done, Harry,” I shook my head, anxiously trying to put the papers in order.

He knelt down, still slightly amused.

“What’s that?”

“My notes.”

“Your notes. Wow, were they important, Cat?”

I groaned, looking up at him with one eye. “They were my ‘notes’, halfwit. What do you expect?”

He shrugged.

“I can see you’re in a bad mood,” he noted.

“Is it obvious?”

“Yup. You obviously care for your notes more than me,” he said, pretending to be sad.

I held back a giggle, my mood over. “What’s that? What did you say?” I played.

“You care for your notes more than me,” he repeated, still in his fake emotions.

I laughed. “What the hell, Harry? You are eighteen years old, dammit.”

“That doesn’t mean you won’t be my friend anymore.” He suddenly started pretending to cry hysterically, making eyes turn. I put my hand to my mouth, trying not to laugh.

“Harry, stop it. Dude, just quit. It’s not even funny!” I giggled, shaking his arm.

He stopped, and peeked at me with half-closed eyes. I could see he was holding back a laugh – but he was better than me at hiding it.

“It’s… not?” he asked slowly.

I shook my head.

“Well, this is!” he cried suddenly, tackling me to the ground and tickling me continuously. My sharp peals of laughter burst through the air as I toppled to the ground. People were giving us hilariously confused looks as they quickly went past, but it was a well-known fact among students that Harry and I were inseparable best friends.

“St-stop! Stop! H-harry!!” I choked, laughing insanely.

He was laughing too but he gradually slowed and stopped. I was breathlessly laughing and holding my stomach and he was no better off. We stopped, just to look at each other and burst out again. Saliva was dribbling on my chin and Harry almost choked at his own merriness. It took us over ten minutes to properly shut up.

“Aww, look who is drooling,” Harry poked, smirking widely at my chin.

“Oh, shut up, you started it. Donkey,” I giggled, wiping my saliva with my sleeve.

He looked at me with wide eyes. “What did you… call me?”

“Donkey,” I laughed, repeating it while making a face at him.

He rolled his eyes, clearly amused. “Well, you know what is a female donkey,” he said, suddenly laughing.

I elbowed him with a grin. “Shut it, smarty-pants.”

“No?” he played, standing up.

“No,” I stated, standing up as well and trying to keep a straight face - but failed. Obviously.

“Well, then, you are a…” he scratched his chin and then stuck his tongue at me as if he were smarter than me. “Monkey,” he finished, pleased with his answer.

I shook my head, laughing uncontrollably and bent to gather all my papers.

“A monkey? Wow, close.”

“You do look like a monkey,” he joked.

I cocked an eyebrow.

“I am joking,” he confessed quickly.

I giggled. “Good. But I wasn’t.”

“You weren’t what?”

“I wasn’t joking when I said you are a donkey,” I chuckled, hugging the notes close to my chest.

“Ow, that hurt,” he fake-whimpered, putting his hand to his heart.

“Why are we so random?” I laughed, rubbing my eyes.

“We? You mean you, monkey,” he winked playfully.

I made a snort at him. “Donkey. Harry the Donkey.”

He just rolled his eyes at that – in a bouncy manner. “Well, I gotta get to class...”

“Does that mean I win?” A grin played on my lips.

Harry snickered, “Bah, no! It just means that I have work to do, Cat.”

“Whatever,” I shrugged, turning my head in amusement.

“See ya!” he waved, turning on his heel to class.

“Bye, donkey!” I cried, attracting attention from schoolmates but I just laughed it off.

Humming, I continued walking casually, glancing here and there and catching up with a few friends. That was till I remembered my test.

BAM!

I looked at my wristwatch fearfully. It was five minutes past the scheduled test time – and I was still lingering around with my friends. I gasped.

Immediately, running faster than I had ever, I made a beeline for the English class, pushing through students and teachers alike. You see, Ms. Mallow was many things that would make any student snore. She was blunt, boring, orange-faced, curly haired and obsessed with every fashion style that made her look like a clown. But she was one with a short temper. She didn’t like latecomers and she had a great way of screaming at students. She would demotivate troublemakers without actually screaming – but she would embarrass them so badly that they would be unable to recover all their school lives.

I had once seen her whispering to a boy when he came late by two minutes. She whispered for a long while and when she was done, his face was flushed with shame and he sat at the back of the class. He hardly spoke uselessly after that and he shivered every time he saw Ms. Mallow.

I was not going to whispered at by Ms. Mallow. I didn’t want to be humiliated and embarrassed with whispers from a fashion junk.

Breathlessly, I entered the classroom where I saw all eyes on me. Ms. Mallow was looking at her table clock with narrowed eyes. I swallowed and weakly entered, trying to put on a brave show. My earlier confidence was nowhere to be found and I shakily walked to my table. Ms. Mallow’s voice sharply stopped me, making me silently wince.

“Miss Catalina Stefson?” she asked.

I turned, swallowing and trying to appear oblivious to my mistakes. “Yes, Ms. Mallow?”

“What time is it, may I ask?” she continued, her voice getting sharper still.

I glanced at my wristwatch. “It is 8.32,” I replied slowly.

“And what was the test time?”

Now I could clearly see what was next. “8.25,” I bit my lip.

She gave me a short but intense stare, and then she shook her head with a sigh.

“What does that indicate, Catalina?” she questioned.

I wanted to shrug, but one knew better than to play games with Ms. Mallow. Play games and be humiliated even more. That was her strategy.

“I am late…?” I whispered, clasping my sweaty hands together behind my back where she couldn’t see.

She nodded. “You sure are, Catalina. By how many minutes?”

“Uh… uh… s-seven,” I gulped.

“Seven what?”

“Seven minutes,” I croaked, unsure of what was going to happen to me.

“And what were you doing in those six minutes? Why were you late, Catalina?” Her long curls loosely hung over her eyes as she gave a death-taking glare.

‘I was playing with Harold Connell. He is my best friend,’ I thought, but I knew the truth would probably get me a really horrid punishment. Oh, how I hated Harry for coming in my way before the test! He could have bumped into me later, but no, this had to happen!

“What are you thinking about, Catalina?” she hissed. “Tell me the truth. What were you doing?”

“I was… I was, uh…” I had no idea what to say and I cursed myself for not thinking up a believable excuse.

“If you are not going to tell me, I will ask someone else. Someone must have known where you were this morning,” her crude words made me flinch and I remembered the hordes of students that had seen me and Harry laughing. Anyone could tell her.

“I was with a friend,” I said quickly, trying to keep the truth and lie mingled.

“A friend?”

“Yes.”

“What’s that friend’s name, Catalina?” she asked, still glaring at me knowingly.

I gave a defeated sigh. “Connell. Harold Connell,” I replied.

The mention of his name caused quiet snickers and giggles to spread in the classroom. I bet lots of English students saw us too. No doubt. What if one of them stood up to tell Ms. Mallow how irrelevant and crazy we had been acting?

Ms. Mallow banged a ruler on her desk, making all the silly noises disperse. Then, she looked at me again.

“You were with Mr. Connell? What were you doing?”

‘Lashing at him, and he tickled me and then we called each other donkey and monkey for a long while,’ I thought again but quickly thought better.

“Uh, I met him on my way to class. We are… We are best friends.”

“What were you doing?” she repeated, eyeing the fact that I had tried to slide past her question earlier.

Now, for this, I really had no answer and I knew I couldn’t tell her the truth. I knew if I lied to her, she would find out and then she would ask someone else who would tell her what actually happened. I had to find a way out of this mess and not anger her in the process. As blunt as Ms. Mallow was, she sure was the sharpest when it came to telling off.

“Hanging out,” I answered, almost immediately. That wasn’t a complete lie. If she found out, I could tell her what I was doing was called ‘hanging out’ in teenage slang. She might not mind so much then.

Ms. Mallow contracted her brown eyebrows heavily.

“Hanging out? During class hours?” she probed.

“Um… I am sorry, Ms. Mallow, I lost track of t-time,” I whispered.

She straightened back in her chair, somewhat calmer than before.

“I will talk to Mr. Connell about this later. Oh, and as a punishment, you will get a seven-hundred-word essay to complete as homework. I will be checking it tomorrow after recess. Are we clear, Catalina?”

I avoided creasing my brows at the shockingly disgusting task and nodded slowly. “Yes, Ms. Mallow.”

“Go to your desk,” she demanded, taking her eyes off mine and peering into her makeup as usual.

And, so I walked away with a disheartened pace.

 

I groaned in disgust at the flashback and passed an equally disgusted glance at the journal where I tediously written the forsaken essay. I was pretty sure I had made lots of mistakes in it, even though I had taken over two hours to complete it. It was exactly 701 words because I simply didn’t have any more useless information left to put in anymore.

I looked at the clock.

It was past ten thirty at night and I suddenly realized how tired I was after the day.

Putting my journal and pens away, I dragged myself to the warmth of my bed and hummed in relief once my exhausted body hit it.

“Good night to me…” I murmured as my eyelids got heavy and I fell in a most pleasing state of sleep.

 

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