All The Words For Red

Red Laurens is used to being the new kid. Used to making friends and losing them just as fast, used to having her heart broken and trampled on, used to having a plan for making friends in the vain hopes that one day it might make it easier.

She thinks Greenwood High will be the same. She is wrong.

With a notorious school wide gossip blog, a whole school full of theatre kids, and friends who attract drama like mrtal attracts, well, magnets, Red has a feeling that her senior year won't stick to the plan either. She is right.

(Cover by Lily Anna)

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2. Cherry

Monday morning was always a rather dull affair. Red woke up to the darkness of her bedroom, hidden away from the sun's rays at the back of the house. "Breakfast's in ten minutes!" Kayleigh shouted at her, voice piercing through the air like a gunshot. 

With a groan, Red rolled out of bed and took a quick shower, before getting dressed into a simple red hoodie and black jeans. Strolling downstairs, she ran a hand over the pictures hanging on the wall near the stairs. There was only the one of her whole family together. She and Kayleigh were just young in this one, and it was Red's first day of kindergarten. The pair were clad in the same white t-shirt and faded dungarees, their tiny feet stuck into boots as Red's unruly curls fell about her pale face. They looked so different then, standing so tiny in front of their mother and father, who looked like they were in love for once. 

The smell of frying bacon tempted Red's nostrils and she ran into the kitchen, hopping up onto a stool in front of the counter. "Morning," she greeted Kayleigh, reaching for the orange juice. "Mom not up yet?"

Kayleigh shook her head. "She's ill apparently. Got a headache. Dad's already left for the day."

"Oh." Typical Monday morning, then. "That bacon almost done?"

With a roll of her eyes, Kayleigh turned the pan around so Red was facing it. "What do you think?"

"Uh, yeah?" Red laughed, giggling a bit at the crispy bits that fell from the meat's edges. She got a plate from the cupboard and held it out for Kayleigh to slide the bacon onto with what she hoped was her winning grin. 

"What you got today at school?" Kayleigh asked, biting into a slice of toast. 

"Can't really remember," Red laughed, but that was a lie. Trig, English, double Theatre, Euro, Social Studies and a double of Art. Ugh. Red groaned just at the thought of art, two hours in a stuffy, dusty classroom watching on in jealousy as everyone else transformed black canvas into expressive works of art, while she sat back and struggled over getting all the right lines in all the right places, until the end of the lesson came and she realised in devastation that she had failed, miserably so.

"Is that right?" Red nodded, cheeks full of bacon. "Well, just remember and text me if you need picked up or anything." Kayleigh smirked like she knew something Red did not, and there was an unsettled feeling in her stomach. 

"I know," she sighed. Glancing over at the clock, Red noticed that it was almost eight o'clock, and with a a groan left eh rest of her bacon sitting. "I gotta get to school in a minute, Kayleigh. I'll see you later, alright?"

Now it was Kayleigh's turn to sigh. "Sure. Don't forget your phone's charging in the lounge, Red."

It took about a minute for Red to race out of her house, grabbing her car keys and phone as she went, racing down the path. 

---

The car ride was quick, much to Red's relief, and the rush of the LA roads blew her hair around her face, falling over her eyes like an oversized crown. Just as she stood in front of her locker, taking out her folders for Trig and English, she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning around with a racing heart, she came face to face with Autumn James. 

"Hey, Red," Autumn chirped, leaning on the locker next to hers with a wide grin. "Whatcha got first period?"

Red struggled to smile, tensing as the girl leaned closer. Crap. She didn't expect Autumn to actually come and speak to her today, never mind if she wanted her to or not. "Uh, Trig, I think."

"Neat, have you got Mrs Monighan?" Red nodded. "I've got Mr Alberts for Algebra II next door to her. I'll meet you afterwards, if you want - the girls and I want to talk to you about something, 'cause there's this project Sakura's working on for her media class and it'd be really cool if you could be in it with us!" Red struggled to take this in as Autumn rattled off information about Sakura's film project at the speed of knots, and Red frowned. 

"Uh, sure," she said at last, once Autumn had stopped talking.

"Awesome!" Autumn squealed, hugging Red in a sudden gesture of affection, which caught Red annoyingly off guard. "I'll meet you after Trig, alright?"

"Sure," Red said, bewildered as Autumn sashayed away again, and image of pink and black. What exactly had just happened?

"You alright?" asked a voice behind her. It was one of the girls Celine had introduced her to - Nicole Bobbington. Red wrinkled her nose at the awful second name that girl had had bestowed upon her. "You look kinda dazed."

"Yeah," Red said, turning to face Nicole. For the first time, she realised that Nicole was in quite a few of her classes; Homeroom and Trig and Euro and Italian. "I'm just... Tired, I guess." She faked a yawn for good measure, but Nicole still didn't look all that convinced.

The girl laughed. "D'you mind walking to Homeroom with me anyway? I haven't seen Kate or Ariel anywhere today."

"Sure," Red said in slight bewilderment. People were talking to her, acting like friends to her, and she hadn't even done anything yet. Hadn't formed any plan for this, hadn't carried out anything that might make people pay attention to her. "I just gotta get my English folder."

Nicole grinned as Red took her folders out, before locking the combo on her locker and turning to Nicole. "Let's go," Nicole said with a smile, and Red followed her down the corridors of Greenwood High, plastering on her own smile. 

"You know, there's a big party happening this weekend over at Rosa Harkness' house," Nicole told Red, while waving to a guy who passed them. "You should come, if you want to." She smirked. "There are gonna be loads of hot guys there." Red tried not to roll her eyes. Sure, hot guys were great, but no one ever bothered to inform her about the girls who'd be at all these kinds of parties, did they?

"I'm in," Red said with a forced smile, and Nicole squealed. 

"Awesome! I'll text Rosa and let her know you're coming. You got my number?" Red shook her head. "That's fine. Gimme your phone." After a moment confusion, Red handed over her phone open at the contacts page, and watched as Nicole punched in her own number. "Perfect," she said, handing the phone back. "Just text me later today and I'll save your contact, 'kay?"

Red nodded as the two entered their Homeroom, sliding into their seats at opposite ends of the classroom. Maybe she could come up with a plan for this now.

By the time her theatre class rolled around, Red had already had a pretty decent day. She and Nicole had laughed themselves silly the whole way through Trig - earning a couple glares from their teacher - and she'd had a pretty intelligent conversation with Autumn in English. Along with Sakura, Autumn had explained the details of the film and media project they wanted to get her involved in. It was, according to Autumn, a short film about migration in the 80s in Britain, since that was Sakura's allocated time period. 

They'd decided that, seeing as Red was in the elective theatre class at school, that she would be perfect for one of the main roles as a wannabe rockstar moving from the Isle of Man to London. Although Red had questioned the idea of her having to singing in this production, Sakura had been quick to assure her that she didn't have to do anything she didn't want to, which didn't do much to reassure Red, though she didn't voice this thought. 

---

Standing outside her theatre class, Red remembered about Nicole asking her to text her, and she was about to type in a quick message when Cyrus Lyon leant on the wall beside her. "Hey, Red," Cyrus said in a low voice, startling Red a little. "You been roped into Sakura Ito's project too, or are you safe for a little while longer?"

"You make it sound like something terrible," Red laughed. "I'm quite looking forward to it." She wondered absently how involved Autumn was going to be in this project, besides the casting. Maybe they'd have a few scenes together, maybe she'd be directing and-

No. Autumn had Maya. This wasn't going to happen. Sure, Autumn was beautiful, but she had Maya and Red was not going to come between that. Never. Thy were her friends, after all.

Friends? That's what they were. It still seemed foreign to Red, the notion that someone sought her out to be friends, rather than the other way about. "Earth to Red?" Cyrus said, waving a hand in front of her face. "Did you even hear what I just said?" 

"Huh?"

Cyrus chuckled, running a tan hand through his gold curls. "I said, d'you know what part you're playing yet? For Sakura's project?" 

"No, not yet," Red said. "They said one of the main roles, though."

"Neat. Celine told me that Sakura wants me for the male lead, Daniel. I think he's like, in the same band as the main girl, so by the sounds of it I'll have some singing to do, which is pretty cool." He smiled then, placing one hand on the wall. "Do you like singing much?"

Red wrinkled her nose. "Not really. Never been much good at it."

"I'm sure you're great, Red," Cyrus chuckled, as the teacher began ushering students in to the auditorium. 

She took her seat just in front of the stage, a couple down from the theatre teacher. Winding a strand of her hair around her finger, she leant back in the chair and craned her neck to look up at the stage where Miss Jameson stood in front of a microphone. "Are you recording?" Miss Jameson asked the student in the back, who was holding up a camera. "Good, good." The students all watched as Miss Jameson fiddled with the turquoise bangles on her wrists. "As I'm sure many of you know, rehearsals for the annual school pantomime are due to start in two weeks' time. As the seniors' theatre class, it is a requirement of the course that you all participate in the production. In order to pass this class, you will all have to take up either an acting, directing, or designing role, working with students from this class and across the wider school population. As you are the senior class, you shall all have priority in casting, and so I expect only your best efforts in auditions, rehearsals, and of course, the final production." Miss Jameson smiled, and it seemed to Red that she may be smiling right at her. "And so, without further ado, I am proud to announce that this year's pantomime is... Sleeping Beauty."

There was a loud cheer from the back, which soon began to resound around the auditorium until it was practically a standing ovation. With a grin, Red joined in as well, until Miss Jameson tapped on the microphone, silencing them all. "You will have this period to choose a role, an excerpt for your audition, and to rehearse your excerpt. There are copies of the script at the front of the stage, please pick one up once I am finished speaking." She flashed a grin. "Break a leg, you guys."

Miss Jameson hopped off the stage without even stumbling in her heels, a feat Red could only dream of completing. There was a sudden surge towards the stage as Red herself snatched a copy of the script.

There, the cast list read:

Sleeping Beauty/Aurora
The Evil Fairy
Prince Henry
The Pink Fairy/Blossom
The Blue Fairy/Skye
The Yellow Fairy/Flora
King Andrew
Queen Daphne
Raven

The Red Fairy
The Purple Fairy
The Black Fairy
The Green Fairy
The Orange Fairy
The Grey Fairy
The Brown Fairy
The White Fairy
The Rainbow Fairy
Aurora's Nurse
Chorus Members


From the looks of the script, the evil fairy was by far the most interesting character. For much of the pantomime, Aurora simply flounced about on stage, while the evil fairy plotted and planned, and sang far less songs than Aurora did. It was an easy decision to make, as Red wrote her name down on the sign up sheet for the evil fairy.

Not to her surprise, she wasn't the first to sign up for that role. Amy Parks and Rosa Harkness had both already put their names down, and Red was sure that she wouldn't be the last to sign up. 

After she'd scribbled her name, Red found a quiet corner of the auditorium, just beside the piano, for her to read over the evil fairy's lines. It was funny, she thought, how everyone else in the class had congregated in the one area over by the right wall, while she sat on her own by the piano. How on earth did so many people get in the one place without arguing? 

"Hey, Red," said Cyrus Lyon, sliding over the top of the grand piano. 

Red glared at him. "You don't slide on a piano, Lyon," she scolded, rolling her eyes. "It looks dumb."

With a smirk, Cyrus leaned down towards her, the ends of his hair tickling her cheek. "Does it really? You know, I've never gotten the chance to observe it."

"Uh huh?" 

His smirk faded a little, smile becoming just the slightest bit more genuine. "What part are you auditioning for?" Cyrus asked, crossing his ankle onto his knee. Thank God the lid was on the piano and he hadn't stepped on any keys. 

"Evil fairy," she told him, a little bored and somewhat irritated by his presence. "I'm trying the excerpt from the christening."

"Same!" Cyrus exclaimed. "Well, I'm not going out for the evil fairy, obviously, but I'm auditioning to be the king, doing the same excerpt as you."

A thought struck Red, and she tilted her head. "Wanna work on it together? We've got a lot of dialogue in this scene, anyway."

"Sure!" Cyrus grinned as he jumped off the piano, stumbling a little as he landed. Red stifled a laugh. "Where d'you wanna go from?" 

"How about your line 'And, Fairy Blossom?' Would that work?"

"Course!"

As the period dragged on, the pair practiced their excerpt and had just about memorised the whole thing by the time the bell rang for the start of fourth period. Double Euro. 

Red groaned as she and Cyrus parted ways and she clambered up the three flights of stairs to her AP Euro classroom. Entering the classroom, she was greeted by Tony Medici, who waved to her in an almost embarrassed way, before looking away and hiding his face behind a mop of hair. Red caught Sakura Ito staring at her as she crossed the classroom, and suddenly felt self conscious, scurrying to her seat.

The class passed without event, but Red was somewhat surprised when Sakura waited up for her afterwards, joined by Jiu Wu. "Red!" Sakura shouted as she brushed by, making her stop in her tracks. "Come walk with us. You got lunch with you?"

Red nodded, thinking of the meagre salad she'd bought from the store round the corner before school that morning. "Perfect." Jiu smiled warmly. "We'll show to our usual spot. Usually Celine and her girls join us, but they're helping Yasmine with Jackson issues again, so it'll just be us and Hana, maybe Zoya or Lucas."

"Cool." Lucas was Jiu's best friend, wasn't he? From their brief introduction at the dance, Red remembered that he was the tall one, with the windswept brown hair and the brown honeyed tan. 

Farther along the corridor, Red followed Jiu and Sakura down a couple flights of stairs, before they led her to a larger alcove in the school's walls, where there were a few benches and tables. "We like this spot, when it's just the four of us," Sakura explained. "It's quiet, a bit apart from everyone else. Plus, you get surprisingly good phone reception."

With a giggle, Red sat down in the corner, dumping her bag on the floor beneath the bench. Sakura took her place opposite her, beside Jiu. It didn't take long for Hana and Lucas to come strolling down the corridor and find them, slumping onto the benches. "I am so fucking exhausted," Hana huffed, tossing her bag onto the floor where it landed with a bang. "You know, Mrs Jefferson made us do a test today, hadn't even told us about it before we walked in. I swear, the woman's crazy. Absolute batshit crazy." She cast her eyes over to where Red sat and her eyes widened. "Hi, Red," she said, cheeks flushing a bright scarlet. Jia snorted with laughter, and she fixed him with a scowl. "Oh, do shut up, Ji."

He held his hands up with a laugh. "I said nothing, my dear."

"Like I said, shut up." The two smirked at each other, before bursting into peals of laughter, Hana pretty much collapsing onto the table between them. 

"Can you two please stop bein' so bleedin' lovey dovey over there?" Lucas drawled, lounging against the wall as he took out his lunch roll. "It's gettin' kinda depressin' for those of us who're single o'er here." 

"So sorry, Luc," Jiu laughed. "Are you feeling sad about your unrequited love? Which girl is it this time?"

"Alas," Lucas said, exaggerating a sigh. "It is one Ariel Hart who has captured my heart. But, to my utmost devastation... She's actually a massive snakey bitch." 

At that, Jiu and Hana both burst into laughter, Hana once again collapsing onto the table in a fit of hysteria and giggles. "I would've been better off with Yasmine's girls today," Sakura muttered under her breath, and only Red appeared to have heard it. It took a fair bit willpower not to laugh. 

"What actually happened with Yasmine, though?" Lucas asked, leaning forward towards Sakura. "I mean, has she finally worked out that he's been cheating on her, or was it to do with the pro- that other thing?" Red frowned. Of course, she knew that Jason had been quite on again off again with Yasmine, and that he had often had ... Mix ups with other girls. But she didn't think it was quite so openly gossiped about, especially amongst these friends. 

"I think he was cheating again," Sakura told him, biting into her sandwich. "According to Celine, he tried to make out with her again at the party after the dance, but she obviously pushed him away - he really should know better by this point, but anyway - and then he tried his luck with Rosa and she responded and Yasmine saw and... She's quite upset about it, I think."

"I can't even imagine that," Hana said, eyes wide. "It's one thing to hear rumours, but seeing them confirmed... Poor Yasmine."

"Yeah." Sakura took a slurp of her soda, looking at some spot on the wall like she was thinking very hard about something. "Still, just so you know, Jiu, if you hurt my sister I will murder you in your sleep."

"I second that notion," Lucas laughed. "Sorry, mate."

"Totally understandable," Jiu laughed, shaking his head. "Good thing I have no intentions of doing so." 

Sakura nodded, pleased, and refocused her attention on her sandwich. 

"So, Red," Lucas began, a sparkle in his eyes. "How're you finding Greenwood?"

"It's alright," she said, being honest. "Better than my old school. Everyone's a lot... Nicer. Calmer. Back in New York, everyone seemed to be at each other's throats constantly. There was a lot of... Incidents."

A dimly lit room, two bodies on a bed illuminated by the moon through the window. A door opened, a jolt of pain through a chest, a knife in the back, a scream of 'It was a mistake!' 

Then running, grabbing the jacket and the keys and just running.

"Yeah?" Red could tell Lucas was probing for more, but she couldn't bring herself to give him the satisfaction. 

"Yeah. Let's just say, moving around like this isn't always the worst thing in the world."  

Crying in a bathroom stall, the pounding on the door and the pleading call of an alleged friend. 

Stop. She could feel the tears threatening to spill over. She couldn't cry in front of her new friends. She just couldn't.

"I feel you," Jiu said, with a warm smile. "When my parents moved us from Shanghai to here, I thought it'd all be terrible, that I'd be begging to go back home. Turns out, it's so much more relaxed here, not as much pressure with school." He smirked. "Plus, way better social scene. Back home, we could hardly do anything. Course, I couldn't do much anyway, since I was only thirteen, but it was... Different, you know?"

"Yeah." Though Red doubted that Jiu had gone through the same as she had, it was comforting to know that she wasn't the only person who hadn't grown up in this place. "I get you."

Just then, a text notification pinged in on Red's cellphone. Frowning a little, she opened it. Unknown number.

Salut! XD it read. This is Cyrus Lyon. Just wanted you to have this number in your phone in case you need it for theatre stuff. :)

Red frowned. Why would she need it 'for theatre stuff'? All they'd done together in that class was read through an excerpt, and even then it was hardly a partnered project. "Cyrus Lyon's texted me," she said aloud, then regretted it as four heads whipped around to face her.

"Really?" Sakura asked, brown eyes wide. "What's he said?"

"Just that he wants me to have this number in his phone for 'theatre stuff'." She made quotation marks in the air around the words 'theatre stuff'. "Don't know what that entails, though." She frowned again. "How'd he even get my number?"

"Probably got it from Celine," Lucas said simply. 

"How'd Celine get my number?"

"Probably from Autumn," Sakura laughed.

"I never gave Autumn my number." 

Hana raised a perfectly pencilled in eyebrow. "And? Autumn has everyone's number, Red."

"You should probably just get used to it." Jiu winked. "Welcome to Greenwood."

Hana giggled. "Land of the cell phones."

"Don't worry about it though," Sakura laughed with a wink. "We got your back."

---

Yasmine Latey sat on the floor of a bathroom stall, tears streaming down her face, smudging her makeup. Thank God she'd at least put on waterproof mascara. 

"Yas, come out," said Zoya's kind voice. "You can talk to us, you know. We're all here for you."

"Are you though?" she sobbed, reaching for another bit of toilet paper to wipe away her tears. One of them was the reason for this. One of them had betrayed her.

One of them had made out with her boyfriend. 

"Yes," Zoya said, voice so soft Yasmine thought she just might tell her everything. "Whatever's happened, we're all listening."

She could practically hear the smirk in Celine's voice as she said, "We're all ready to beat someone up for you."

To her grievance, that made Yasmine smile. "Now," Autumn said, voice like honey. "Tell us what's up."

"It's... It's Jason," she cried at last. "He... He cheated on me. He... made out with someone at the party after the dance."

"Who?" Zoya demanded, voice harsh. 

"I - I don't know."

"We'll find out who, Yasmine," Maya assured her, voice assertive. "I promise."

But would they even care? It all came down to loyalty, something Yasmine was never certain she'd earned. Any one of these girls could have betrayed her. Celine, or Autumn, or Maya, or Hana or Sakura, maybe even Zoya. She felt another sob wrenched from her lips. 

"I'm so sorry."

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