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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3. Harold, Cat and the Deathly Ms. Mallow

Harry’s POV

 

I sat in the Chemistry class, staring at the diagrams Mr. Plummer had laid out on the whiteboard. They were just a bunch of stupid diagrams, and I forced myself to study them lest a sudden question is asked. I didn’t want to look like the stupid one with a face that said ‘I can’t understand crap.’ I glanced over my shoulder to see that most of the class was working properly, scribbling in their notebooks as they tried to copy the images with accuracy.

I groaned, slouching my head on the table with an I-give-up face. My mind could only wander to Cat and her essay. I wondered if she could live up to what I had told her and what she was doing right now. I chewed on my lip.

What if she had messed something up?

All that hard work and instructions… I would have to get really stubborn to help her out then and probably get a two-week suspension if I had to get rude.

My mind suddenly perked as I heard screaming down the corridor.

I could bet it was Cat’s English teacher, and I knew I had to get in act quickly. I jolted up and pretended to write stuff in my notebook, watching the door through the corner of my eye… waiting for the right moment. Almost instantly, a tall enraged woman appeared in the door, her curly sandstone hair tied back in a high ponytail.

I knew it was Ms. Mallow, because she had met me yesterday. Still, I pretended not to notice and went on scribbling uselessly. The funny thing was that the whole class failed to acknowledge that the English teacher was standing there and we all just kept looking at our books. Mr. Plummer was the first to notice her.

“Ah, Ms. Mallow? Is that you?” he asked, peering through his eyeglasses.

“Mr. Plummer! I need to talk to one of your students right now,” she demanded.

Time to get in position, I thought, mentally preparing myself for the next bombshell to be dropped. It wasn’t hard for me to get really witty, and I knew that my stubbornness would surely win from hers.

“What’s the matter?” Mr. Plummer asked anxiously.

“It is important. One of your students has severely assaulted one of mine, and I intend to settle this business right now,” she screamed in a really mad temper.

I rolled my eyes. I never said anything about assaulting. Maybe Cat said it to cover up things going the wrong way. Oh, well, now I was going to just deal with it.

“Oh dear!” whispered my teacher, “That is horrible! Who did it?”

“Harold Connell,” she announced loudly.

All eyes turned to me as I presumed a smug smirk. Some of the more sensitive students gasped while others whispered excitedly among themselves.

“Mr. Connell?” Mr. Plummer called.

I looked up, still playing a smirk. “Yes, sir?”

“Is it true – …?”

He was sharply cut off by Ms. Mallow.

“Mr. Plummer, I kindly ask you to let me deal with this” – pointing her bony finger at me – “fellow myself.”

Shocked, Mr. Plummer nodded. Immediately, she strutted to my desk and demanded a chair from a small, thin girl who shakily stood as ordered and walked to my teacher’s desk quickly. Ms. Mallow grabbed the chair and sat in it, her brown eyes narrowed at me.

“Did you steal Catalina’s essay?” she barked at once.

Puzzled whispers passed around in the class since Cat and I were officially best friends. I mentally grinned to myself at the smooth flow of my plan and managed to appear self-righteously surprised.

“No, not really,” I answered, putting on a very cool face.

“Don’t lie to me!” she screamed, thrusting her hand towards my hair as if she was about to pull it, but I just backed my face a little further.

“What did she tell you?” I continued with a knowing smirk.

“GAH!! CONNELL, JUST GIVE ME THAT ESSAY RIGHT NOW!” she fumed, her face redder than a tomato.

“I don’t have it,” I played, a side grin gently playing on my lips.

Ms. Mallow struck her palm on the table, looking at me with, I must admit, the deathliest glare I had received. I swallowed, trying to appear haughty still – and, by the look on her face, I guess I succeeded.

“You little cockroach…” she hissed, teeth gritted in a furious fashion.

I pursued my lips together in a thin line and just shrugged.

“Give it to me or you are in for detention. Mister,” she threatened.

I smirked broadly. “Oh, really?”

“Yes!!” she yelled, losing her temper again.

I chuckled. “Well, there is no escaping detention,” I winked in my ever-so-stubborn manner, “but I’ll tell you.”

She angrily drummed the table, waiting for my big mouth to start talking.

“I did steal it,” I sighed, letting a half-smirk be the period of my sentence.

I could see Mr. Plummer frowning at me hardly from his desk as he rubbed his forehead and the petite girl trembled in disbelief. Most of the class, however, just used my remark to make fresh gossip. I suppose they didn’t expect less from me.

“I knew it,” the angry woman spat.

“And, yes, I stole it to get her trouble – before you ask me my motive and other rubbish,” I went on, giving her the arrogant boredom students show to teachers.

She exhaled indignantly, but held out her palm. “Give it to me, Connell. Just hand it to me this instant.-”

“Why should I?” I smirked.

“Give it to me,” she seethed, “or I will take you to the principal this instant.”

“Oh, will you?” I looked at her as if she were a laughing stock.

Her face was red and she had been pulling at her own hair like there was no tomorrow. She looked sweaty and disheveled and indeed a laughing stock. She looked at me in a moment of embarrassment but her temper took over again.

“Yes, I will,” she spat, standing up and slamming her fists on the table, “Actually, you know what? You come with me right now. Just come right now.”

“To the Principal?” I asked with a swaggering grin.

Ms. Mallow just pointed her finger in my face. “Move,” she demanded.

“Chillax,” I muttered, putting my hands up in surrender and standing up.

“After me,” she huffed, strutting out on her heels.

I followed, hands in pocket and occasionally running a hand in my hair to give off the ‘cool’ look. She didn’t even look at me all the way to the office. On the way, though, we passed the English class. Some students looked up, yet I noticed Cat didn’t pay attention. She had dried tears on her cheek but she seemed fine now.

Surprised, I wondered what Ms. Mallow had done to make her cry but I didn’t speak up. The moment we stepped inside the office, Ms. Mallow started screaming again.

“HE STOLE- YOU HAVE TO – SIR, THIS IS FELONY!”

 

“Jessica, please keep quiet,” the principal, a man in his late fifties, ordered and she eventually shut up. When things had calmed down, he looked at us and spoke.

“Now, what has happened? Jessica, please keep your voice down.”

“Sir, this boy stole an essay of one of my students and won’t return it.”

“Alright,” the Principal turned to peer at me, “Huh, aren’t you Harold Connell? You are due in for suspension if you get detention again.”

I nodded. “Yes, sir, I am the guy in due for ‘suspension’.”

“Well, Harold, what’s the matter? Did you steal an essay?”

Before I could speak, Ms. Mallow put her nose into it. “Yes, he did, sir. We have been over it. He confessed.”

The principal shrugged with a sigh. “Disappointing. Why did he do that?”

“To get her in trouble,” I answered, “To get Catalina Stefson in trouble. It was her essay, sir.”

“Troublemaker, I see. And why won’t you return it, Harold?”

“I destroyed it,” I replied, vaguely shooting Ms. Mallow a smirk which she returned with a killing glare.

“E-excuse me?” she choked, and the Principal frowned as well.

“Demolished it. Destroyed it, ma’am. I burnt it.”

“What?” she burst, “That was Catalina’s essay! She spent a whole night on it! You just finished it??”

“Since when did you give a damn about Catalina?” I glowered, taking her by surprise.

To save her further blushes, the principal slammed his hands together to get our attention. “That is a most disrespectful way to talk to a teacher. And what you did to Ms. Stefson’s essay is totally unacceptable. Harold, I will have to contact your parents about this. Also, I’m sorry to say but you are in for detention – and suspension for eight days.”

“It was supposed to be a week,” I frowned.

“Ten!” the principal suddenly decided, obviously angry at my arrogance.

I just groaned.

“Now, pardon me, Jessica, Harold. I have work,” he instructed, pointing to the door.

As soon as she got out, Ms. Mallow gave a satisfied smile at which I went on to smirk. After that, she just huffed and made a beeline for her class while I went to attend my detention. My spirits fell once I saw the detention hall. Sure, I had said I would face the punishments but I would lie if I said that it was rather fun.

The entire place was empty as I sat down. I thought about my promise to Cat. Hopefully, she had managed her part. She had no idea just what I had done to save her. Boy, she really didn’t have any idea.

 

Cat’s POV

 

I waited for two hours after all the students had left. Word had gotten around that Harry had got detention for stealing my essay, so I wanted to wait till he was out. It was easy enough to wait without much trouble. I got coffee and called Dad to ask how Mom was doing. He told me her condition was ‘scary’ and that the doctors had found that there was something horrible with her liver. He said they were afraid it could be liver cancer.

I told him I wanted to talk to Mom, but she was under operation so I couldn’t. He said he might not be able to make it home tonight, because she needed a family member with her just in case, but I said it was alright. I said I would manage and I would probably visit her in the hospital on Saturday.

That was about it. I finished the call and my coffee, and kept waiting. When I realized that Harry would be out anytime now, I decided to get him a treat. I bought him two hotdogs and coffee with cream, just as he always liked it.

At the awaited minute, he came out, clumsy but still smirking. He looked up and waved.

I waved back.

He jogged up to me and we bumped fists in greeting.

“Hey,” I grinned, “Detention went well?”

“It went fine,” he shrugged, “The usual.”

“Suspension?”

“Ten days.”

“Agh, that’s a lot. I thought it was gonna be one week, what happened?”

“I got a bit out of my grace is all. That moron of a principal decided I needed extra days to maintain,” he huffed.

“Ouch, never seen you cursing. Must have been bad,” I joked.

He just looked at me with a smile. I cleared my throat.

“Uh…I just wanted to… um, I got you a treat for, you know, helping me…” I held up the tray of food and handed it to him.

“Thank you,” I smiled.

“Wow, this is a lot,” he grinned, staring at the food with big eyes, “Did you have any?”

“Coffee,” I nodded.

“Well, here you go,” he passed me an entire hotdog. I smirked at him.

“Wow, thanks, man. But this is all for your help, you know.”

“Whatever, mate. You went through enough yourself,” he shrugged.

“I went through my respective part, that’s what it was.”

“You were crying there, weren’t you?”

I acted surprised. How on Earth did he know??

“Where? I wasn’t crying, I am right here!”

“At the English class. I saw you were crying back there after Ms. Mallow came for me,” he mused, finishing his hotdog.

“It went a little too angry for me,” I sighed, “I didn’t think I could take her screams anymore.”

“Meh, me neither. But I suppose I kept acting smug to make her tear her hair out,” he grinned, gulping down half his coffee in one go.

“Oh, boy, you don’t say! She was in a totally unkempt condition when she came back to class,” I laughed.

“What about your parents?” he asked quietly.

“What?”

“Your Mom? How’s she?”

“In a scary condition,” I sighed sadly, “Could be liver cancer.”

“Shit, that’s bad,” Harold gasped.

“I wish she could manage. Dad said her circulatory system is not operating properly”

“Scary as hell. Did you talk to her?”

“No,” I shook my head, “But I promised to visit on Saturday.”

“What do you mean? Your parents won’t be home till then?”

“For one week, I don’t think they are coming, no.”

I threw away our empty cups in a bin along with the small tray. When I looked up, Harry was trying not to grin.

“What’s funny?” I frowned.

“Well, you see, the Principal must have called ‘my’ parents. I can’t go home,” he mused.

“Crash at my place?”

“That’s what I was thinking!” Harry burst, clapping his hands in delight.

“You get the couch,” I said immediately with a smirk, walking off to my house. Harry caught up with me, grinning like an idiot.

“You know, I just helped you. I can, at least, get the guest bedroom,” he grinned.

“And I gave you a treat. We are quits, mate,” I retorted.

“Harsh,” he whispered, shaking his head with an uncontrollable smile.

“Couch,” I replied, smirking at him before whisking my head away.

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