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.


2. Forgetful's Gonna Forget

Cat’s POV

I ran out as soon as the bee-striped bus rattled towards the house door. My mother had caught a fever at around three o’clock and she was speaking in a mousy squeak. The drama ended at around four o’clock. Since she was implausibly hot, my father had to rush her to the hospital, leaving me alone at home to sleep.

I was so tired but I texted Dad to keep me updated about her condition which he said he would. You can imagine that I only got two and a half hours to sleep after that. It was not too exhausting but the mess that I had been through with Ms. Mallow, and then Mum, made me much tired than usual. In the morning, I made myself a cup of milk and cream and had a few cookies with it because I couldn’t be bothered to make waffles or pancakes – which was my usual breakfast. And then I grabbed the house keys and madly dashed to the bus, shocking the driver. He thought a dog was after me, no kidding.

Upon reaching school, I realized I had forgotten to bring my essay. My watch told me that only half an hour was left for the English class and that was all the time I had to get that darned thing to Ms. Mallow.

I face-palmed, not knowing what to do. ‘Life is a disaster,’ I grumbled to myself, leaning against the walls beside the school gates.


I spun my head to look at the face of the one and only Harold Connell and his daily smirk.

“Hey,” I mumbled, turning away again. He was the reason I got told off in English class and I was not forgiving.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, behind me.

I groaned. “You are the matter, Mister. I got told off because of you yesterday.”

“Me?” He sounded surprised but his voice became calmer. “Was that your English teacher?”


“She visited me after school hours. Kept asking me why you were late for class, that old clown.”

I half-turned to look at him. “What did you say?”

“I told her what happened,” he replied with a light shrug.

“What actually happened?”

“Yah. I said that we bumped into each other but then you forgave me… and we had a little fun. I mean, she got it out of me, Cat,” he explained.

“You told her everything?” I snapped, “What are you, a four-year-old?”

“She threatened to give me detention,” he clarified.

“Wouldn’t be your first,” I spat, still mad at him.

Harry raised his eyebrows. “And the principal told me at my last time that if I got detention once more, I would be officially suspended for one week. That would be my first.”

I sighed, throwing my head back in anxiety.

“Okay, I am not the matter anymore,” he laughed gently, “What is the real matter, Cat?”

I looked at him carefully. “I forgot my essay at home. As my punishment, my teacher had me do a seven-hundred-word essay to check after recess – which I have left at home!”

“You still have time to get it,” Harry helped.

“Like, twenty minutes? It takes twenty minutes for the bus to get to school. I don’t have enough time,” I exhaled, burying my head in my hands.

“You could say the dog chewed the essay…” he suggested uncertainly but my exasperated groan cut him off.

“That excuse is obsolete. And, if I don’t get this thing checked, my essay will be too. What work do you think I have with an essay that is four pages long and of little interest!?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” he nodded, rubbing his temple as he thought. Then he suddenly piped up again.

“I could say that I destroyed it. It would shift the blame,” he whispered.

I gasped, turning to look at him with wide eyes, surprised at his willingness to sacrifice his magnanimity for my sake.

“No, Harry, you can’t do that. That’s asking a lot, don’t do it!” I squeaked.

“What are friends for?” he chuckled.

“For not killing themselves for the other,” I retorted sarcastically but my face went soft almost instantly. “But, Harry- don’t tell her that, Harry! It will be bad for you!”

“Why not?” he smirked, “Won’t be the first time I got your back, eh, Cat?”

“I don’t care if you got my back or foot, Harry. You’ll probably have to suffer detention – and then suspension! It’d be awful!” I urged.

“Then I will finally be a skilled student,” he laughed it off but looked at my dejected face and continued, “Aw, Cat, it’s fine. You’ll not be punished, that’s the good thing. And one week is nothing. I will manage it.”

And he gave me a quick side hug but I wasn’t feeling any better. It might not even work and then we both would be in trouble.

“You gotta be kidding me,” I scoffed suddenly, “What if my teacher finds out you are lying?”

“She won’t, I promise.”

“She got it out of you yesterday. Why can’t she do it today?” I carried on.

Harry shrugged, slightly thoughtful. “Yesterday, I was in a rush and she was focusing on my weak points very harshly. Today, I’ll be prepared. You don’t have to worry, Cat.”

“What if you get detention?” I asked again.

“We are already over that. I will be an experienced student after that,” he chuckled again.

“You don’t know Ms. Mallow, Harry. She will get everything out of you in a minute.”

“What are you saying, Cat? Has anyone ever gotten across me when I am prepared?” he cocked his eyebrows knowingly at me. He might not have been the most intelligent person ever, but he was definitely stubborn and witty when he wanted to be.

I sighed in enraged defeat. Harry grinned.

“I will be in even more trouble if you fail. Don’t be too happy about it,” I grumbled.

“Whoa, stop screaming at me. I am trying to help you, y’know,” he frowned, clearly upset.

I exhaled.

“Sorry, Harry. I am sorry for yelling, I know you’re just trying to help,” I sighed, “I’m just so distressed at the moment.”

A big smile lit Harry’s face. It is always a good thing when someone is sorry for their mistakes, right?

“Aww, Cat, you know, I’m glad you apologized. I was going to cry if you screamed at me again,” he laughed.

I smiled softly without saying anything.

“And what is there to be so distressed about?” he asked, “Getting scolded by your teacher is a part of every student. And there is no need to slump all over it like you are never told off in your life. You are not exactly a good girl.”

“It is not just that,” I muttered, “My mom just got badly sick. Dad said it was unexpected and serious… they rushed to the hospital at, like, three at night. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t even eat my breakfast properly because I was honestly too tired. And then I forget my journal. What can go worse?”

“What happened to Leslie?” Harry blurted.

“I don’t know. She just got hot in the middle of night and, when ice and medications had no effect, Dad only had to take her to hospital. He said he would message me and tell what her condition is.”

“I hope she is fine. She is a very considerate mom,” Harry whispered.

I smiled at him. “Don’t worry, she will be fine, mate.”

“I hope,” he smiled back and then continued, “What time is it?”

I looked at my watch and gasped.

“Ten minutes for me to go to class! Darn it!” I screeched, rushing immediately, but Harry grabbed my arm and jolted me back.

“What’s the hurry?” he mused, a smirk forming lightly on his lips, “We still haven’t thought our plan over.”

“Plan? What plan?”

“The whole blame-shifting thing,” he groaned, “Why are you so forgetful?”

“I am not,” I snapped, “Okay, what’s the plan? Just spit it out, man.”

Harry tapped his temple in deep, but short-lived, thought. “Aha!” he exclaimed brightly, “I got the perfect idea!”

“Will you say it? I am getting sick of being unable to go to class!!” I forced.

“Sure will. Okay, listen, you go to class, acting all shaky and afraid. Will you manage that?”

“It won’t be a problem. I am already yellow with fear.”

“Ew!” Harry scrunched up his face, “Whatever. That’s your business… Your teacher will probably ask you for the essay. You can say you don’t have it. Tell her you put it somewhere but now you couldn’t find it. Also, tell her you think someone stole it to get you in trouble. Just spit it all out before she can think of something evil.”

“Whaddya mean?” I raised one brow, “What evil?”

“Before she says you are lying or stuff. She might call your parents… but they are in the hospital, right? Wait, did they know you had to write an essay?”

“Yes, I told them. Mum even came over to see how it was going.”

“She might phone them then. Tell her your dad’s number – everything will go smoothly. Your teacher will ask about your essay and, if you’re lucky – which you are going to be – then your dad will probably stick to your side. Your teacher will know you are telling the truth and she will probably keep asking you different questions. Just stick to your belief that you know someone stole it. Keep blocking out different options. Stick to the point.”

I acted surprised. “Wow, how do you know so much about making lies truthful, Harry?”

“A lot of practice, which, trust me, is not something you want as well.”

I snorted. “Whatever.”

“Anyway, back to the point, bring her to the level that she has to ask you who you think stole your essay. Say it must have been me… and I’ll take care of the rest.”

“That’s very… detailed,” I coughed.

“And don’t mess up anything,” he warned, “or you will be in trouble.”

I shook myself. “Okay, I will remember. Now, can we go to class?”

He shrugged, “Go on. I think you have five minutes to not be late.”

I rolled my eyes with a quiet scoff, “Meh, your fault.” And I walked away into school away from him.

“Remember!” he yelled in warning as I walked off with a rushed steadiness.

I reached the door of the English class just two minutes before time. My stomach was uneven and I felt like my intestines were tangled in messy knots. My bones were feeling even squashier than Jell-O and my lungs were restraining me from breathing properly. So much for pretending to ‘act’ frightened. I would be lying if I wasn’t shit-scared right now.

“Keep pretending, keep pretending,” I fooled myself, slowly entering the classroom.

Ms. Mallow was sitting there, peering in her little mirror as she delicately applied dusty blue eyeshadow above her brown eyes. I mentally gagged, finding the fashion both distasteful and boring. With this particular disgust fresh in my mind, I thought I felt a little more confident to talk to her if things took a bad turn. Just as my thought finished, her snarky voice took me by surprise.

“Hello, Catalina. I see you are early by two minutes,” she said.

I spun on my heel, trying to smile. “T-thank you, Ms. Mallow,” I nodded slowly.

“Did you do the essay?” was her first question.

I swallowed, trying to retain a degree of confidence. “Yes, yes, I did.”

“Did you bring it?” she asked in a leering manner.

“Uh, no,” I said, putting on an honest face.

“WHAT!?” she screamed, immediately putting her mirror and makeup brushes away, and glared at me as I quivered like a leaf. She stood up from her chair and marched to me furiously.

“I did it, I swear!” I squeaked, trying to remember Harry’s instructions.

“Then why did you not bring it!?” Ms. Mallow seethed, thrusting her face towards mine.

“I did it!!” I repeated in alarm, but quickly spoke again, “I- I put it on my table before going to bed… but, in the morning, it was n-not there! Oh, Miss, I swear to God, I did it!”

“Where is it, Catalina!?” she screamed, probably an inch from pulling my hair, “Don’t you dare play games with me, tell me where it is! Right. Now.”

I stuttered, quite lost for words. I could feel the stares of the whole class on me and I bit my lip uncertainly.

“I think someone stole it!” I whispered, completely shaking.

Ms. Mallow gave an unimpressed, hollow chuckle but I quickly cut her in the middle. 

“Oh, Ms. Mallow, you know the students at this school,” I pleaded, “Someone probably is trying to get me in trouble! I swear to God, I did the essay, seven hundred words and all!”

Her hard face had never looked so strong and I felt my eyes beginning to water. I wasn’t pretending to cry – her face looked so infuriated that I, already scared to death, had to cry a little – but I could see that it did help soften her face.

I thought she would ask her my father’s number but she just pointed her finger in my face and, through gritted teeth, asked:

“Who did it then? Who stole it?”

I felt my lips going numb. My part was probably almost over in this act, but I was still frightened. I just had to go a bit further.

“H-harry… Uh, Harold Connell,” I gulped.

This was the second time I had mentioned his name in the class in a row, and I felt some slight giggles from the back of class.

Ms. Mallow looked a bit taken aback.

“Harold? I thought you were best friends, Catalina.”

Since the blame was not on me anymore, I felt a bit better and had the confidence to be able to properly answer her.

“Y-yes. He is the only one who I told about the essay and the only one who knows my house well enough. Only he could do it,” I peeped.

She frowned, creases building deep in her fair forehead.

“Are you sure, Catalina?” she spat.

I nodded softly. “Yes… I know my essay is stolen and only Harry could do it!” I blurted.

She cracked her knuckles in one go.

“Well, then. You go to your desk, Catalina,” she demanded – which I quickly obeyed, “and I will go have a word with Mr. Connell.”

I unsteadily walked to my desk, avoiding eye contact with anyone, and slumped on my chair, trying to lower my loud breathing. I watched as Ms. Mallow ordered us to memorize some poetry and then as she stormed out of the room to see Harry. I could only imagine what he would go through – and how he would manage it.

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