I should've stayed at home.
Lily smiles sheepishly, leaning her back against the headboard of the bed. "I'm sorry, I didn't know he'd do this."
Vellary sighs, taking a seat on a seat nearby. Lucian stands in the doorway of the infirmary, eyes glued to the ground.
When he told her Lily got beaten up, she quickly left with him to school, not asking how, when or who questions, which now she wishes did because--
She glances at Lily, her face free of bruises and cuts, and other than her reddening knuckles, she's not injured. Seems like she did the beating.
"Why'd you lie?" she asks Lucian.
She glares at him. "You knew I didn't want to be here, so why'd you lie?"
He lifts his head, blonde hair ruffled. "I didn't. She got into a fight with--"
Vellary turns to Lily, surprised at her outburst.
Lily leans across her bed and grasps Vellary's hand. "I'm okay now, really."
Vellary frowns. "Obviously. That's why I wanna know why he," she points at Lucian, "lied."
Lily lets go of her hand, staring disapprovingly at Lucian.
"What?" he says. "You literally warned me not to pick a fight with him, but ended up doing it yourself, so why're you looking at me like that?"
Lily lowers her gaze, lips pursed.
"'Him?'" Vellary asks, but deep down, she knows who they're referring to. Gabriel.
"Yeah, she went and picked a fight with Hugo during lunch."
Vellary snaps her attention to Lily. "What?" Hugo? Not Gabriel, but Hugo?Not that he doesn't deserve it...
Lily shrugs. "I couldn't help it. When I saw him there, I got so angry--"
"And what? You punched him? Pulled his hair out?"
She shakes her head, and finally looks up to meet Vellary's eyes. "I kicked him in the balls."
"You mean, you tried to," says Lucian. He flops into the seat next to Vellary's. "He dodged her."
"I still got him in the face though!"
"At least I actually hit him. What'd you do, huh?"
"Wha--hey, I almost got my ass handed to me trying to protect you."
Vellary stares blankly at the wall in front of her. I really should've stayed at home.
"Don't use me as an excuse! You just don't know how to fight!"
If I did, Iwouldn't have had to walk the hallways full of students, feel their stares and whispers...
"You told me to not fight him!"
I wouldn't have had to worry about seeing Gabriel and Hugo...
"If I told you to jump off a bridge, would you? Huh?"
And Iwould've had a long weekend free of last night'smemory.
"Yeah, I would! And I'd drag you with me, you bi--
"I'm so sick and tired of this." Why does it seem like no one understands me?
"What's wrong, Vel?" Lucian asks.
She whirls to face him with a seathing glare. You always do this, she wants to say, you always make everyone drop everythingthey'redoing to make Lily feel better. But instead, she mutters, "I'm going home."
"Hey, wait." Lucian stands, trying to grab her arm, but Vellary takes a step back.
"You guys are too much." She points at Lucian, "You, knowing what happened yesterday and knowing I didn't wanna come to school, said some bullshit about 'education' and, oh, 'who cares what people think', and how I mean a lot to you and--did you even mean that?"
Lucian's eyes widen. "Of course--"
"Don't answer, it was rhetorical." She exhales, her face warm. She needs to cool down, seperate herself from the situation before she says anything she'll regret, but at that moment, she notices a movement so subtle she'd miss it on her usual days.
Lucian shifts himself in front of Lily casually, subconsciously, as if he suspects Vellary may do something to harm her.
And the heartbreaking reality that she'll always come last in this friendship crashes down on her unbearably hard.
"You're too cruel," she says, her voice low, meek. "Sitting here arguing about something stupid as if you didn't lie to get me here. I was so worried when you told me someone hurt her. Why would I hurt her now? Lucian, do you understand the pressure you're putting on me by doing all this? I--" She pauses, looking away.
Am I a joke to you? Why do you always forget me and my feelings whenever it involves Lily?
Lily reaches out to Vellary. "Vel, please..."
"Please what, Lily," Vellary snaps, "I wouldn't be here if you didn't go around causing scenes. You weren't even awake when it all happened, so why were you mad!"
The three stare at each other, too shocked to comprehend the words Vellery uttered.
"Oh..." Vellary covers her mouth. Oh no.
She glances at Lily, eyes widening at the wounded expression on her face, but before she can allow them to speak, she races out the infirmary.
Vellary speed-walks down the empty hallway, past the classrooms, lockers and the lingering students by them. She notices their curious stares, but doesn't care, not when she potentially just stuffed up her friendship with the people most precious to her.
When she makes it outside, she hops down the steps, splashing puddle water on the edges of her pants in process, and rushes to the gates.
She exits the school and heads down the sidewalk.
I'm so stupid. Why couldn't I just keep quiet and let them do what they want?
Lily's hurt expression and teary blue eyes pop into Vellary's mind.
"Oh, my God!" Should I go back and apologise?
Yes, I should go do that.
But her feet take her farther and farther away from the school, as if they knew Vellary would never gain the courage to face them.
When she's a good distance away, she halts in her tracks, breathing heavily. She looks up.
The grey clouds roll across the darkening sky, allowing little room for the remaining sunlight to pass through. It seems mother nature too is in a shitty mood.
She wanders down the wet sidewalk for a long time, the houses changing from modern two-storey ones to traditional white cottage ones.
There's not a soul in sight other than hers. Her shoulders relax, and, to lessen the pain, she covers her mouth with her hands and sucks in a deep breath. But her throat still burns, the cold air that lightly plays in between the trees not so gentle to her.
Vellary glances down at her clothes, the hoodie and tracksuit pants too thin for such freezing weather.
I should head home. Maybe grandma's back now.
She stops, her hands dropping to her sides. Did grandma even tell Lucian to pick me up?
If he lied using my grandma as an excuse...
She shakes her head. No, he wouldn't do that.
She resumes walking, taking a right before freezing at the sight in front of her.
From the baby pink flowers latched onto their thick branches, their petals, like confetti, twirling gracefully with the wind before landing on their beds underneath their trees, to the ground, seats and playground hidden by the layers of petals resting on top of them.
To Vellary, the scene reminds her of...
"Cotton candy land," she says.
She whirls, heart pounding at the sudden sound behind her, and there, standing a few feet away, is Hugo.
She stares at him, astounded. He, who planned to humiliate her with his best friend; he, who knowingly invited her to the party without an ounce of shame and regret; and, he, who pretended to like her all so he could take her to his friend's room and...
"You." She swallows the lump forming in her throat, but the tears in her eyes are evident for anyone to see.
...and he, who may be the reason her friends leave her.
He gazes back at her, dark eyes narrowing.
Vellary turns away from him. No, Iwon't cry.She blinks her tears away. I won't!
She stomps into the park, her shoes sinking into the never-ending layers of petals as she attempts to find an exit--an exit that doesn't involve her having to pass by him.
She glances behind her, the wind blowing her loose hair into her face. She whacks it away and, to her horror, Hugo is right behind her.
Vellary jumps back. "What the hell!"
He too, jumps back, doe eyes wide.
"Why're you following me?"
Hugo tugs at his scarf, his eyes roaming her face. "Are you okay?" he finally asks.
She blinks once, twice. "What?"
He tilts his head at her, brows furrowing. "You were crying."
Vellary scoffs. "You've got to be kidding me. You have no right to ask that after what you did."
A terrifyingly blank expression, one that has her freezing in place, crosses his face for a split second before he looks away.
I didn'timagine that...right?
Hugo glances back at her. "I'm sorry you had to go through that."
His words are a punch in the gut for Vellary. For those words to come from the guy who humiliated her...
"Are you making fun of me?" She says, temper rising.
"Bullshit." She turns on her heels and walks away from him. "Leave me alone."
But he doesn't. He follows her quietly as they make their way through the empty park, the only noise between them is the howling of the wind.
"Go back home!" he calls out from behind her. "It's going to rain soon."
"What do you think I'm doing?"
"You're going the wrong way."
"I know where I'm going!"
Vellary pulls her hood up over her head, her cold fingers brushing against her frozen ears. I wish I bought a jacket with me, at least.
A drop of rain lands on the tip of her nose, startling her.
A second drop falls, then another, and another, until hundred of thousands of them are pouring down from the sky.
She sighs, closing her eyes, and lets the rain engulf her in one suffocating hug.
God, I asked you to make it stop, but you gave me a bunch of challenging situations instead.
Why? What did I do so wrong?
If you can give me one hint, please, just one, and I'll take it.
No, the rain didn't stop.
Hugo stands beside her, the umbrella in his hand protecting the both of them from the rain pattering against it.
They stare at each other, the droplets on Vellary's face rolling down the sides of her cheeks. Hugo's eyes follow them, gaze softening when he raises them back up to meet Vellery's.