Three weeks later, it was time for Oakwood students to transfer to EastLand, and for EastLand students to transfer to Oakwood. For those three weeks, I made sure to stay away from Delcan, and not to look at any of his posts on social media. So far, I’d done a great job. But now, I was freaking out more than ever, and I hardly got any good sleep the day before.
On Monday, as I was pulling my shirt over my head, Eric and Evelyn came into my room. Sighing, I looked at both of them for a few seconds before finally just asking. Callie probably told them about what had happened (somehow, my sister has decided to become friends with her. I don’t know why, but I’ve just decided to let it go), I’m sure of it. Wherever Callie’s intentions were, they sure did spike some interest in my siblings.
“What up, bro?” Eric asked, sitting down on my bed.
“Hi,” I responded. My voice sounded odd, but mainly because outside of school and football practice, I’d been spending my time in my room, caring about nothing else other than that. “What do you want?” On the inside, I was trying to tell myself that this might not even be about the whole Callie/Delcan situation, but then my brain told me how stupid I was being.
“What happened last month? With Delcan and you?” Evelyn asked. When I glared at her, she raised up her hands. “I know it isn’t my business, but you’ve kind of been locked up in your room for the past month.”
I crossed my arms, feeling like my pouting younger brother. “I’m not depressed if that’s what you're asking.”
“What we’re asking is what happened, little bro,” Eric said. I didn’t want to answer him, so I just began walking out of my door. Though, before I could even get out, Evelyn grabbed my arm tightly.
Annoyed at this point, I turned around and looked at my sister.
“Come on, Ezra,” Evelyn said kindly. She had that desperate look in her eyes that she always did when she was upset about me, or worried. “Why can’t you tell us?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ67rvBQxQke
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I pushed her hand off my arm. “Because this is my life. And when I told you about that, I expected you to respect my privacy. Which means that if there is even close to being a problem with means that if I’m having an issue with the Heslops, I don’t have to tell you anything,” I said. My voice sounded cross, and I hadn’t meant for it to. Honestly, I just wanted it to sound like I was making a point. But instead, I came off as rude. “We have to go.”
This time, I left my room without either one of them stopping me and went downstairs. It aggravated me because as much as I do care about my brother and sister, they have no right questioning me about something I’m not even sure of yet. And I was sure that Callie could tell my sister whatever she wanted to over the phone tonight.
I walked past my parents and grabbed the keys to my mom’s car. She’d told me she wouldn’t be working today, so I didn’t need to drive in the car with the rest of my siblings. Though before I could take off, I received a text from Evvie.
Hey, Ez. Remember the transfer thing today, ok? Be ready for it. Also, I’ll be at school today, so I can have your back through all of it. Hope Delcan and you are alright.
I didn’t respond to the text, and simply just put my phone in my pocket. Just as I’d started the car, Eric, Evelyn, and Emmanuel walked out of the house. Emmanuel saw me, and his large grin formed on his face. I smiled back to him, then turned away. Eric had already gotten a car when he turned 17, though Dad said that we should get better at sharing, so I won’t be getting a car until my junior year.
“You’re taking Mom’s car?” Evelyn asked me.
I nodded to her in response, and then drove off, not wanting to spend another moment in the driveway next to them. 805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ3swG0EGHuA
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Once I’d stopped the car in the parking lot of our school, Eric had somehow made his way up to me, and went up the stairs with me as I bit the back of my mouth, doing my best not to say anything I’d soon regret.
“Why did you tell Evelyn in 7th grade and not me?” he asked.
Because all my life I saw you as the same homophobic jerk that our parents now are.
“I don’t know.” Lie. It was another lie.
Eric seemed silent for a fefeweconds as instead of going to his locker, he continued walking with me. Whatever he was doing, I felt completely on edge in the halls, knowing that somewhere, people could be listening in on our conversation.
That had always been my one fear in school. Talking to someone about my secret, then suddenly realizing that the entire football team is behind me. I’d be full of terror - because that simply would’ve been the end.
“I guess I would’ve been pretty surprised if I knew back then,” Eric said. Because that makes me feel better. “But you’re still my brother, no matter who you’re dating. It isn’t even that big of a deal, and you shouldn’t let it take over you.” I looked over to Eric just as we’d gotten to my locker.
“You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that,” I said to him.
Eric rested on the locker next to mine, which was owned by one of the guys who wasn’t on the football team, but played basketball. “You may just be overreacting, though. Because you know that Mom wouldn’t even seriously-”
“Enough, Eric,” I said. He shut up, making eye contact with me. “Just shut up about it, okay?”
Eric shrugged, and then held onto one of the straps of his backpacks. “Fine,” he said. “See you after school.” He walked off then, now making me look like I was one of the only people past 6’0 in the hallway. Once I’d opened up my locker, I turned to my side to be greeted by Evvie and Haven.
“Baby!” Haven said, dragging out the word. I had to keep from cringing, because I hate when she does that. “I was wondering where you were,” she finished, taking my left arm and hugging it. I tried to pull away so that I could grab the rest of my things, and I saw Evvie trying to hold back her laughter.
“Yeah, Ezra, where were you?” she asked, mimicking the annoyance that Haven’s voice has.
I looked over to her. “I woke up late. Sorry,” I muttered. It was kind of truthful, though all at the same time, huge details were left out.
“Well, at least you showed up,” Haven said. “Did your brother already tell you about the transferring rule today? The five kids from Oakwood are coming this morning, and we have to have an assembly because of it,” Haven said, rolling her eyes. “Pretty dumb to me.”
I nodded, because it was the normal thing that I always did. But then I remembered something. Delcan. Oakwood. Transferring. It wasn’t that it hadn’t clicked in my brain before, it was just that now, I knew how awkward I’d suddenly become. “What time?” I asked.
“Less than thirty minutes, I think,” Haven responded. “Oh! And guess what?” She dragged out those last two words, too. It’s kind of like a favorite for her.
“What, Haven?” Evvie asked, putting her hands on her hips. I could tell she was already starting to get annoyed by Haven, who seemed to be dragging her around like she’s a Barbie doll. But I couldn’t blame her, because sometimes I get annoyed as well. Haven turned and gave Evvie an evil glare, then looked back to me.
“I signed us up to be their guides for the semester,” she said.
I almost dropped my English binder when she said that to me. First off, it’s rude for her to even sign me up for something that I didn’t want to do. And second, now I had to either spend time with people who knew Delcan, or him himself.
No. He won’t even talk to me. The likeliness of that happening is pretty small, I’m guessing.
“That’s great,” I said, hoping that my fake smile seemed real enough. “But who else is doing it?”
“Well,” Haven began, dragging out the word. “Evvie forced me to sign her up. And Fawn, along with Troy from the football team.” I nodded, because both of those people I knew, and both of them basically see me as this popular god or something.
“Great,” I said. The sarcasm almost came across as clear, but I got away with it - somehow. Just as Haven was about to go off with the rest of her friends, she turned back around and wrapped me in a hug. I was taller than her (clearly) so I had to make sure my hands actually did move.
“You’ll be fine, Ez,” she said. For her to be able to kiss me on the cheek, she had to basically do everything she could to get taller. But, I still leaned down. After that, she left, and began talking to some of the cheerleaders. It might have been wrong, but I felt better the second she left.
After a moment of silence, Evvie began talking. “Thank God she’s gone,” she said, rolling her eyes. “How could you even stand her?”
I smiled to her innocently. “What do you mean?”
“She dragged me out of my bed at my house and forced me to drive here with he parents. Sure, they’re really nice, but she hardly even gave me time to get ready,” Evvie said, pointing out that she was wearing a “lazy day” T-shirt and skinny jeans.
“She does that,” I responded, still trying to find my red pen. I remember when Haven and I had first started dating, and how she somehow found out where I lived. She used to go over to my house every day without even asking, talking to my parents when she pleased, and avoiding all of my siblings but Emmanuel. It got pretty annoying after awhile, especially when she began not letting me sleep in on Saturdays, since she needed a ride to cheer practice. After some time, she began coming over when I wasn’t even there, or when I’d be in the middle of homework (well, lying and saying I did my homework. In reality, I’d be texting Delcan). She even began coming by some of the days before holidays. Finally, I instructed her to stop, and she cried (fake crying, I could tell. My sister does it all the time), saying she felt horrible about what she’d done, but then she continued it.
But, about a week after her constantly coming over, my sister marched her out of the door and began locking the gate into the backyard, plus the front door, just so she couldn’t come in.
“Of the hundred girls that you could date,” Evvie said. “Why her?”
I shrugged. Honestly, the truthful answer to that just makes me feel bad about what I’m doing. “She was an easy target,” I said. “Plus, Haven’s self-involved, so I only have to pay attention and response when I’m around her parents.”
Evvie rolled her eyes. “I understand how hard it is, but that’s just wrong.”
“We aren’t having this conversation.”
A few minutes later, Evvie and I had moved outside to some of the seats there. I sat across from Evvie as I tried picturing all of this. Delcan would be his normal, chilled-out self, while I’m standing there, trying my best not to say the dumbest thing I could possibly say. But, knowing me and my stupid mouth, I’ll probably do the dumbest thing possible.
Evvie had been texting someone for the past five minutes, and finally, she put up her phone, and I looked up to her. “So,” I said. “You nervous?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡKxzC11mPbw
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“Delcan’s coming, by the way,” Evvie said. “And not exactly. I mean, they’re just students from another school. I wouldn’t say that I’m that terrified of it or anything.”
I would’ve answered to the second one, but she already caught my attention with her first two words. “How do you know that?” I asked.
“I DM’d him. And he told me that he wouldn’t have come today, though 1, he wants to say something snarky to your girlfriend, and 2, his parents forced him out of his room,” Evvie said. “But he’s still a bit upset about ‘the situation,’ but wanted to tell you that he’s cooled down a bit.”
Still, I looked at her. “You texted my-why did you text him?”
“I’m looking out for you,” she said. Not exactly, I thought to myself. “Plus, you two need to stay on good terms. I promise, Ez. You need people who make you feel good in your life.”
I wanted to respond, but I suddenly knew that she was right. As much as I sometimes never understood what I was doing, it was probably better for me to be around others than to be alone. I’ve been isolating myself for more than three years, and maybe I should start letting people into my life.
But it wasn’t like Delcan was doing any better.
When I hadn’t responded, I realized that Annalise Laurens was sitting next to us. Annalise was one of our school’s news reporters, and Adam’s ex-girlfriend. In 9th grade, Annalise basically dropped out of school for no reason (and she still won’t give it, either) and then she suddenly came back this school year. I sort of did miss her, though she made quite the name for herself while she was back. Ann had started dating other people, though Adam and her were still friends, so I sometimes saw her.
Though Annalise was one of those girls that was so beautiful, everyone hated her. I sometimes wish that she would try out for the cheer leading team or something, because she would completely dominate Haven.
“Hey, guys,” Ann said. Her fair skin was lighter than mine naturally warm so I had to move my hand away from her a bit.
“Hi,” Evvie said.
Ann looked over to me, probably to see if I’d answer her or something, but instead, I kept my mouth closed. When she noticed I wasn’t exactly talking at the moment, she just continued. “So...about the transfer thing going on, it’ll be on our news. Just wanted to warn the two of you.”
Annalise was always kind about those things. If there was something big going on, and she’d be recording. It was probably because she knew my name and how important it was for me to hold that popularity I have now. If I lost that by saying something stupid, my parents would be the first to know.
“Cool,” I said. “Thanks for the heads up.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡeDuvcOvFVD
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Ann smiled kindly to me. “No problem.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡMSkZfMcZFb
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Evvie and Annalise began talking about some things for a bit, while I kept my eyes on the road, worried that any second, his car would pull up. And at exactly ten seconds, there he was. Delcan’s mom pulled up in the drop off lane, and he walked out of the car. Of course, today he had to be wearing that blue sweatshirt and he simply had to wear the jeans that looked perfect on him.
After not seeing the person you like for a month, you suddenly realize how much of them you miss. And it was now, when I realized that I truly did miss seeing him.
Out of nowhere, Haven popped up at my side, along with her friend, and I knew that it was time. As if on cue, the principal had began walking over to us, along with Delcan, and four other kids. I tried taking my eyes off of him, but it wasn’t working. Our principal waved over to us as stood up and made sure I had some type of friendly presence to me.
Knowing my girlfriend, she took Fawn’s hand as the two of them greeted him with a large smile. Principal Greene waved over Troy, and he excused himself from a group of ladies before walking over to us.
“Now that all of you are here,” Principal Greene said. His voice was formal like it always is, and Ann, along with some of the other newspaper members, had began writing things down - while one guy recorded. “Grace, Jonah, Yaya, Tom, and Delcan, I would like you to meet some students from EastLand. These ladies are Evvie Hamill, Haven Bronx, and Fawn Smith. While the two young men are Troy Smith and Ezra Gatley.” Both Haven and Fawn waved to everyone else, while Troy winked at one of the girls. I still did my best to keep my eyes off Delcan, and had to look at the principal to do so.
“Since some of you may not know each other, I’ll give all of you some time to assign who you’d like to tour around,” Principal Greene turned away from the Oakwood students and looked at all of us. “Auditorium at 9:30, sharp.” - then he moved back to the students - “And enjoy your time here!” Finally, he walked away.
For a few seconds, no one really said anything. I mean, our schools have been rivals since the 1900’s, I don’t think that’ll change now. But then, Haven had to begin the conversation.
“So who’s who?” she asked. Her eyes seemed to have continued going back to Delcan, along with Fawn’s eyes, and Ann’s. Evvie had already met him, and she didn’t seem to care at all what he looked like. It was clear, even wearing a sweatshirt, that he had abs. So I had to do my best from rolling my eyes at everyone else.
A girl with white-blonde hair and pale eyes spoke up. “My name is Grace,” she sad. Her voice was sweet, and it sounded kind of like a lullaby voice.
“I’m Tom,” the guy next to Delcan said. He had dark brown hair, and a tan that looked faker than Haven’s first spray tan. He was wearing more Nike stuff than I thought was possible, and had his eyes on Annalise.
The other guy with red hair and freckles scattered all around his face must’ve been Jonah, and the girl with black hair and interesting green eyes must’ve been Yaya.
“Jonah,” the redheaded boy said, holding up one his hands.
“I’m Yaya,” the other girls said. Her eyes were brighter than the other girls, and had an interesting showing on her skin color.
“And I’m Delcan,” he said, giving less of any effort to seem nice like the other ones had. This time, I looked over at him, because it was the typical thing to do. His eyes were green, though: calm. He was handling the situation a lot better than I was.
“Well, nice to meet all of you,” Haven said, using her kind voice. “I’m Haven, and the girl to my right is Fawn. Both of us are on the cheer team, which I’m sure you know from the football game” - Haven flipped her hair behind her shoulder, and Delcan rolled his eyes, along with the rest of the four students - “The other girl doesn’t exactly go here, but her name is Evvie.” She glared at Evvie then, but I kept a straight profile. Cameras were rolling, and I couldn’t look like an idiot.
Evvie smiled back at her. “I’m enrolled, now. And I was already in the district in the first place, Haven. You should know that.” Yaya smiled to Evvie as Haven simply ignored her.
“The boy to the farthest left is Troy, and the one next to him is my boyfriend, Ezra,” Haven said. The second she said those words, I instantly wanted to run and hide. Yeah, the entire school knew that Haven and I were together, and Delcan knew too, but I still felt a wave of guilt hitting me right in the face.
Though my mind was telling me to look at Delcan, just to see his reaction (because humans are horrible people. And for some reason, seeing somebody else hurt amuses people) but I knew how wrong that would’ve been. Instead, I looked to Haven for a split second before moving my eyes back to one of the trees, right above the tallest person, Jonah’s head. Even if he had shown emotion on his face, I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want him to have any reaction to that stupid label, because it still makes me feel wrong.
Clearly not realizing the damage she’d done, Haven kept on going. “Both of them are on the football team. So, basically, all of us are a pretty big deal except for Evvie.” Tom, Jonah, and Yaya laughed at her little remark, but I looked at her. I knew she wouldn’t turn my direction, because she knew my connection with Evvie, and how upset I got when people made her seem like she was less than she actually was, but Haven only cared about herself. And there was nothing I could do to fix that.
“Now that you know something about us, why don’t we learn some things about all of you?” Fawn asked, locking her arm in Haven’s. The two of them have done cheer together since the first grade, and though I could swear last month they were in an argument, they were best friends, now. All of the students seemed to have looked at each other before Jonah spoke up.
“I’m in the mathletes at our school, and I have a 4.0 G.P.A,” he bragged, holding himself up like that made him any better. I’ve had straight A’s since 3rd grade, but it isn’t like I brag about it every two seconds. But something in my head told me he was one of those smart people that the football jocks wouldn’t bully, considering how he dressed.
Haven smiled kindly to him. “That’s awesome, Jonah,” she said. “Now what about the other two guys? Are either of you interested in sports?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡAvsQb4y2YQ
Tom shook his head as Delcan moved back on his heels. Seeming to care less about anyone else. “I’m not really into much,” Tom said, pushing his red hair back. “More into video games.” Delcan rolled his eyes, and that gave me the instant assumption that Tom was annoyed. But then again, Delcan did that to everyone.
Except for me.
I need to stop looking in his direction. Everything will be posted on Instagram after a bit of editing, and I can’t risk comments asking why the quarterback is oddly eyeing one of the new kids.
“I box,” Delcan said. Haven and Ann’s eyes went to him immediately, like that was the best thing to ever do. Fawn did the same thing, batting her eyelashes as Delcan ignored them and continued talking. “But other sports aren’t exactly my favorite.”
Maybe I was a bit annoyed by how every single girl was looking at Delcan. And maybe I wish that I could just grab his hand, hold it up to everyone and say he’s mine, but no one would take that well. It’d be a happy three minutes, but then my parents would find out - and nothing in my life would ever be the same.
“Pretty cool,” Evvie said, her eyes watching Fawn as she whispered something into Haven’s ear, who laughed in return. “Do you girls do any sports?”
Neither one of the girls even said a word, but then the two of them both started to engage themselves. “I dance at Oakwood,” Grace said, seeming pretty perky about it. And then she gestured towards Yaya. “And Yaya is on track.” I nodded to both of them, since I hoped it seemed like the normal thing to do. Both of the girls seemed to look just like what they’d described themselves as, so I believed it.
“Pretty cool. Anything else that needs to be established before we begin the tour?” Fawn asked, wanting to get some type of information out of someone. I didn’t understand what she was expecting, because when she came to EastLand, she was just as fragile as anyone else was that year.
Grace cleared her throat, and hit Delcan’s arm. Immediately, he looked at her for a quick second before moving his eyes to the side of me, looking at Troy, who surprised me by how quiet he was being. After a few seconds of no one else talking, and the awkward silence that always followed between that, it was time for Annalise to ask some of her questions.
“So how do you think things here will be different from what it’s like at Oakwood?” Ann asked, turning to the new students.
“You act like we came for a foreign country,” Delcan muttered, crossing his arms over his chest. Evvie looked over to him before her eyes went to the direction of the other students, who all seemed to ignore Delcan.
Yaya cut in the silence and began talking. “I’m sure that all of us will learn that our schools truly aren’t that different from each other, and that there probably a lot of kind people that we’ll be able to meet,” she said, eyeing Delcan a bit.
“Sounds nice,” Ann said, keeping her eyes off of something. “And do you believe that being around people with such higher status will help you recieve more friends?”
This time, it was Grace who talked. “Absolutely!” she said. “Also, about that. Do we get to chose, or do they?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbis5C2e1OZ
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“Doesn’t matter,” Evvie said, shrugging.
It was probably stupid for me not to be talking right now, but I was fearful of something dumb coming out of my mouth. Somehow, I seemed to be the only person in my family who can’t handle being around the person I like, and all my words get mixed up. I’d already made that mistake in 8th grade, and wasn’t looking to make it again. Plus, Haven loved taking attention, and so did Fawn, so I just let them do their thing.
“So have we made decisions yet, or you think all of you should get to know each other more?” Ann asked, still sounding a bit pushy. I couldn't get mad at her, though, because it was her job to do that.
Haven shook her head. “We should probably learn more about them,” she said, not making eye contact with Annalise.
“And what would you need to know?” Jonah asked, his voice sounding flirtatious. I probably should have some jealous look on my face right now, but I’d already established that I don’t exactly get jealous - which is an easy lie to pull off, since Haven believes almost each and every thing I say.
Fawn shrugged. “Maybe..who’s single,” she said, her eyes quickly going to Delcan.
Now, that time, I had to avoid facial expressions.
“Don’t bother,” Grace said, smiling to her. Her smiled looked suspicious, like she was going to say something snarky. “Delcan’s brain isn’t wired to like girls.”
Fawn blinked a few times, along with Haven, and Annalise. Delcan rolled his eyes, and looked at Grace. “And Grace’s brain isn’t wired to shut up.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡIrpyJ4mBQy
“He’s lying,” Grace argued.
Delcan shook his head. “I don’t lie,” he said. “I give the brutal, and honest truth.”
“And that’s why nobody likes you,” Grace snapped back, crossing her arms over her chest.
But clearly, Delcan wasn’t done. “And that’s why you’ve been single since you were seven years old.” Then, almost everyone laughed, except for myself (because I knew better, event thought it was good) and Ann as well, who bit back a smile.
“We’re getting off topic,” Haven said, holding her hands up. I never thought that Haven was homophobic, and I don’t think it now, either. She’s been friends with Annalise since 8th grade, even when she came out as bisexual, Haven seemed to never express anything about it. But something about talking about it just sets off some odd trigger in her.
But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the same for me.
“Let’s just move on to the partnering,” Haven muttered, crossing her arms over her chest, looking at Annalise. I’d wanted to say something, I don’t exactly know what, but I probably should be saying something kinder.
Or anything at all, for that matter.
“Hang on,” Ann said, moving past Haven. She moved her pale eyes to me then, and I felt the immediate feeling of regret going through me. “I think that maybe we should have other opinions on the whole situation.”
I looked at her, and shook my head, quickly. It didn’t matter that the camera was on me. I wasn’t allowing myself to say anything, because I know it’d be stupid. She raised one of her eyebrows, but I simply looked at her, trying to make sure my face strayed straight. But it didn’t witch really does suck sometimes, especially when I’m trying to act cool.
“I think that having the new kids here are pretty cool,” Troy said, clearly not giving any care in the world that it wasn’t his turn. “Plus, the ladies aren’t too bad to look at.”
Grace smiled, and hit Delcan’s shoulder.
But Delcan hit back harder, causing her to wince a bit.
“And what about you, Ezra?” Ann asked, giving Troy a small glare before she went back to being kinder. “Anything you’d like to add?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡEIt3Nb7dOZ
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I shook my head again, and seriously wanted nothing more than for this to be over. Haven sighed, and looked at me.
“Baby, come on,” she said, giving me one of those forceful smiles that my mom does when I’m going into my bubble. “Being nice never hurts.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡeCq8TZPkQp
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Except for when it does, I heard Delcan say in my head. When he told me the reason why he never apologized anymore, I said that being kind could never hurt, and he told me that. It was the first time I saw a sad look on her face, and I’d wanted to do something to help. But sometimes, there really is nothing you can do to change someone.
Especially their past.
“Haven’s right,” Annalise said, smiling to her kindly. “You should probably say something, especially since you’ll be seeing them around a lot.”
“Ezra usually is quiet, though,” Fawn says, adding herself to the conversation. This time, without me being able to stop myself, I glared to her. “He’s pretty quiet about things, unless we start mentioning something he actually is into.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡNKl3arVWKC
It’s like it never ends.
Haven looked over to her, but didn’t stand up for me. “He’s just shy,” she said. Then she looked over to me, and smiled flirtatiously. “His awkwardness is actually pretty adorable.”
And then it was time for Delcan to begin coughing.
I shook my head to Haven, and silently uttered the words “stop” in my head, but it wasn’t like she could read what I was thinking.
If she could, our relationship would be a lot different.
“Seriously, Ezra?” Fawn asked, her voice sounding annoyed. “You are probably kind to everyone else at this school, and you cannot just say one nice word to somebody else? You just met these people, and you have no kind welcoming smile, plus you didn’t even get jealous when Haven looked at that super hot-”
“It’s nice to meet all of you,” I interrupted, keeping my eyes away from Fawn. I wasn’t dealing with her, because I was aware of what Delcan looked like, and I didn’t care how ridiculous it was that I was being a calm boyfriend. “My name is Ezra, if that isn’t clear yet. And...welcome to EastLand, I guess.”
Evvie stayed by my side, not saying a word, and I wished more than anything that sometimes my body would listen to me - because I was probably starting to go red. Haven gave me another smile - except it was one of those smiles that meant she was proud of me in some way. And it was hard to decide whether I liked the smile, or not.
When I turned my head back to everyone else, Delcan looked as if he was about to pull his phone out of his pocket, and Yaya gave me a flirtatious smile - which I hated myself for not being attracted to.
First words out, I thought to myself, smiling back to Yaya. No worries.
“Okay,” Haven said. She looked over to Annalise, and broke into a kind smile. “Are we done with everything?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡlp4NNQ5gjj
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Ann looked away from her instead of answering, meaning that was a no. It was like those moments in football practice right now, where if a play wasn’t done correctly, we’d have to run across the entire football field twice. And in my head, it was as if the more I’d tried to be patient with people when they took forever with things, I always felt super annoyed, as well, wishing all of it would just end soon. And right now, I seriously felt like this.
“I need to ask one more thing, now that everyone’s speaking,” Ann said. Of course, everyone’s eyes went to me, but I just looked down at the ground. “I’d like to know one last thing. What is something you could say is a large expectation you are wanting to see while at EastLand?” she asked the Oakwood students.
If any of them were going to respond, they all stayed silent for a few seconds. After a few seconds, Grace began to respond. “I just kind of want to see how these things are different from others, and maybe how different the people are.”
Ann nodded. “And why is that?”
“I’m not sure,” Grace said, shrugging. “I just kind of expect for the two schools to be different.”
Annalise didn’t ask why for that question, and the reason behind it wasn’t even that big of a secret. Since the schools had been built, it cost a lot more for students to enroll into EastLand than it did Oakwood. After news like that was figured out, it was mainly because the people who built the school had decided that it seemed like they were trying to “segregate” school.
Then, there was this entire rant over most African American people going to Oakwood, while all the rich kids went to EastLand. Though it’s true, even though I hate that it is, the rumor isn’t completely accurate. Delcan’s Cuban, for starters - and his family has just the same amount of money that mine does. Grace is fair-skinned, lighter than Annalise is, and though both Yaya and Jonah are a darker tone, they don’t seem like they even act out - or like the stereotypes I grew up hearing about black people. Though Tom was also white - a little bit tan, but still white - and I thought it was dumb how long that rumor continues to be.
Plus, the other rumor going around that Oakwood chose all the good students is wrong, too...because Delcan is nothing close to a good student.
Yaya cleared her throat, just to end the awkward silence that fell between everyone. “I think that they’ll be a lot more things provided at this school, sine budget isn’t exactly in their category.”
It was hard to tell if the comment was meant to have been rude or not, but I kept my mouth shut.
“I see…” Ann said, biting her lip as she turned herself back to them. “Is there anything - in a non-offensive way, that you find interesting about the new students?” This question was directed towards us, and I looked over to Troy almost instantly, knowing he would probably say something else about the girls. Troy was never an issue for me - but he was that annoying jock that loved to talk about women as if they’re some type of object (and he uses them like that, too).
Though, I have more things to deal with in my life, so I stop caring.
But what came out of my mouth next, it made me want to bury myself in a whole. “Cuban abs,” I said. Everyone looked at me when the words left my mouth, and I felt my face redden more than I thought it would. And the worst part of all of that? I said it with such confidence, it sounded like I was talking about my test scores.
Evvie had turned her head back, and was trying to hold back laughter. The worst part, though, was the look Haven gave me when I said the words. She didn’t seem shocked, just confused as ⟴. I bit my lip so hard, it felt as if it was already beginning to bleed - and all the blood from my body is clearly on my face, and my face only.
Everybody stayed silent, and I twisted my hands behind my back. Cuss words flew through my head, but I tried playing it cool, as if I’d never said the words - though it wasn’t working. Not only was Haven looking at me confused, Delcan had his head tilted to the side, and he was just looking down. I knew he wouldn’t rat me out - because he wasn’t like that (with me, at least) but I still felt my face just go red the more and more I realized what words came out of my mouth.
Then, it was as if my angel from Heaven just saved me.
“What Ezra means to say is that EastLand accept people of all races, and of all different types of physical forms. Also, our school has its own personal gym, which stays open until 11:30 each night, and it’s always open to use throughout class,” Evelyn said, putting her arm on my shoulder as she talked with confidence. I still kept my head down to the floor - but was thankful that my sister was saving me.
Then again, my sister was saving me. My younger sister is saving me from an issue that I caused.
“Oh,” Grace said, looking me up and down. “That’s an...interesting way of saying that.”
“Who are you?” Jonah asked, his voice sounding full of hunger. Evelyn’s eyes met him as he winked to her, and I felt the need to practically tackle him against the ground.
Yes, I’m protective over my sister. Don’t judge.
“I’m Evelyn,” she said, looking away from Jonah. She took her arm off of my shoulder, and I crossed my arms over my chest, hoping that my face wasn’t still as red as it felt. Though, judging from how hard Evvie was biting back a smile, I guessed not. “Ezra is my brother, and I’m not interested.”
I was thankful that she wasn’t, but Jonah was still looking at her, and it bothered me. My sister was a beautiful young woman, and lots of guys hit on her - but because of what Dad is like, she never really dates too much. And when she is dating someone, her dating life is more secretive than mine is, especially with me.
Which in the end is fine - because I never want to see a guy breaking my sister’s heart.
“You sure about that, princess?” Jonah asked my sister again, biting his lip as he talked. Sure, when Delcan did it, he could somehow pull it off, but watching Jonah do it made me slightly want to cringe.
My sister nodded, moving herself a bit closer to me. It wasn’t until this moment when I’d realized she was actually a bit bothered by Jonah hitting on her. The only reason why I never hung around my sister was (because her friends are annoying), and because of how many guys hit on her. I guess my sister is pretty, though it’s more than annoying how much guys would hit on her, especially talking about her walk and stuff.
“Our school is extremely friendly, and it one of the most interesting things about our school probably is that almost all of the football players are nice, including my brother - who isn’t rude to anybody,” Evelyn said.
Haven looked over to her, but I kept my mouth shut - unsure if I should be saying anything else, considering what happened last time. She wasn’t wrong, though. I was nice to about every single person at school (and if you’ve ever been in school before, you should know how hard that is). “When did you get here?”
Smiling to her, Evelyn turned away from me, and flipped her off. I grabbed her arm with a swift movement and pulled it down, just when Evvie smiled to her. Not even meaning to, I’d looked over to Delcan, who was putting his head down, biting his lip. If he was trying to keep from laughing as well, I couldn’t afford to even break out a small smile.
“Would you stop?” I whispered to my sister.
She looked away from me instead of making eye contact, and her light brown hair hit my shoulder with an aggressive whip. “As I was saying, I really hope all of you enjoy your time here, and...choose smartly.” she said, putting a kind smile back on her face.
With her eyes still full of anger, Haven turned back around and looked at Ann, giving her one of those end this looks.
It surprised me that Ann actually listened. “Anyways,” Annalise cut in, using a weird hand gesture. Evelyn turned to her, hitting me again with her hair. Annoyed, I turned my head to Ann, deciding to deal with my sister later. She can be a jerk when she wants to be, something I seriously hate about her on some days. “Maybe we should continue before the principal begins to wonder why none of us are in class.”
Though, Evelyn flipping off my girlfriend really did seem to distract everyone else from what slipped out of my mouth.
My sister nodded, and made eye contact with me for a split second before I moved my eyes back down to the ground, where a leaf was just blown by the wind next to my right foot. “And I should probably go find my friends,” Evelyn said. She waved to all of the Oakwood students (except for Jonah) and then left, probably looking for Nataliya.
“Dang…” Tom said. It was at this moment when I realized that he hadn’t said anything before then. He moved his hands through his hair, watching as my sister walked away. I never understood the obsession some people had with others, but I guess I had no reason to judge, either. “She’s-wow.”
“She’s fifteen,” Evvie said, glaring to him. I looked over to him, too, but decided that I should probably keep my thoughts to myself right now.
Haven seemed more done with the conversation than I did. “Okay,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “Who wants to partner with me?” Grace raised her hand, and Haven locked arms with her, acting like the two of them had been best friends for a long time.
The second they’d walked away, Evvie leaned into me a bit, having to get up on her toes to even come close to my shoulder. “I can take Delcan. If I do, the only thing you need to worry about is being kind to him around school,” she said. I seriously didn’t want to be around Delcan as much, considering that I’m not sure where we stand, and also, rumors at EastLand fly around quick. And as selfish as it sounds - I can’t let anyone assume.
So, I nodded.
But the minute I did, and she nodded back, I could tell she was plotting something. I didn’t know what, exactly, but her eyes, her body language, the way she was looking Delcan up and down like that, it made me feel..worried. What is she up to? I asked myself.
And that’s when my stupid mouth decided to talk without permission, again.
“I’ll take Delcan,” I said. A flash of shame burned inside of me, but I pushed it off by shoving my hands into my pockets. At least my face maybe wasn’t red.
Delcan’s eyes moved to me, their color brown. He was confused, and I could hardly even blame him for that. But I needed to remind myself that the two of us don’t really know each other, and that I have to be as kind as possible. “Are you cool with that?” I asked.
“I guess so,” Delcan said, his voice sounding cautious, like he was unaware of the words he was saying. Grace tried to trip him as he began walking, but Delcan seemed to have notice it beforehand - and stomped right onto her foot. She didn’t cry in pain, but she did bite her lip. Hard.
“You’re pretty rude, you know that right?” Fawn asked, watching as Yaya and Grace glared to him.
Once Delcan had reached me, he turned back around and looked over to me. “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” he responded. That was one of the other weird things Delcan always seemed to say around people. When I first had to go over (and I was doing my best to keep from losing it, because he told his parents and sister about us - which was a first) and his parents went upstairs for something, Callie looked over to me, watching as I helped Delcan with the dishes.
“I cannot believe you find an interest in him,” she said to me. I knew what the words meant at that time, because I knew about his past, and I knew what he’d done - but I was trying not to remember any of that now.
But, like the person I soon found out he was, Delcan turned to his sister and said: “You say that like its a bad thing.” His sister rolled her eyes in response, and it was then when I decided that trying to become friends with Callie would be a pretty large pain.
And I was right.
I did my best to keep my face and body natural, and waited until Delcan had turned back to me before I decided to walk off. Once the two of us were far enough away from everyone else, Delcan gave me one of his sly smiles.
“What?” I asked him.
“Cuban abs?” he asked me. When I didn’t respond (and was praying my face wasn’t red) he laughed silently to himself. “Your sister was pretty good out there.”
I rolled my eyes, and opened up the door to EastLand, which was always seeming to get more and more of a pain, especially with Delcan following right behind me. Since his voice didn’t seem to have any rudeness added into it, I was wanting to know if he was still mad at me for something, though it wasn’t a complete truth, because he didn’t really seem to like Haven too much, either.
“I thought we weren’t going to communicate or some ⟴ like that when I got here,” Delcan said jokingly, watching my face. I turned down the hallway where most of the students weren’t, though I had no clue what number they’d given Delcan for his locker.
“It just came out, okay?” I said, crossing my arms over my chest as I continued walking.
Delcan sighed, exaggerating it a bit too much. “You do know that since you decided to be my ‘tour guide’, it’ll be your job to walk me around everywhere, and to spend every single moment around me, right?” he asked. When I looked over to him, I realized that his eyes weren’t icy blue like I’d thought they’d be. Instead, they were green - though it was clear they were starting to turn to amber.
“That’s not true,” I argued. But I knew he was right, anyways. “Plus, I’m guessing you’ll find your ways around this school, so there honestly is no point showing you around.” He looked at me, and then put one of his hands in his pockets.
There was an odd silence for a few seconds before Delcan began talking again. “But as someone who I totally don’t know, you should probably pretend, then.”
I looked at him, and was bothered by something he was saying. I didn’t know what, but he was being...weird. “Stop it,” I said to him, shaking my head.
Delcan laughed. “As if you don’t like it,” he responded. And he wasn’t wrong, because I had to turn my face away from Delcan to hide the smile on my face.
Since I was right when I said he knew his way around the school, we had stopped at where his locker was supposed to be. It was in the sophomore science bay, which is the same place where Adam’s locker was. Once he’d looked down at a sheet of paper to find what the code was, he began unlocking it. And I guess this was the time that I was supposed to ask him if he had everything he needed, and then leave, but I stayed put. I guess that Delcan noticed it, too, because he stopped what he was doing and looked at me.
“May I help you?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡyAasp5glB9
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“I’m sorry,” I said, meaning it. Those were probably the first words I should’ve said when we had gotten alone (well, as alone as you can get in a high school) but, I wasn’t sure how mad he still was - so I decided to test some things first.
Delcan’s eyes were brown, meaning he was more than confused. “What’d you do?” he asked me.
“What happened after the game and everything,” I added. He still wasn’t completely getting it, so I had to add in something else. “With your sister.”
Then he got it.
Delcan rolled his eyes, and turned back to his locker. “Do we seriously need to talk about this right now?” he asked. I had to study his voice before I could even respond with a yes or no, but the tone in his voice changed again. “It seriously isn’t-”
“I should’ve told you about Callie, and the whole gang thing,” I interrupted. My parents had always told me it was rude to interrupt people, though sometimes it was seriously necessary. The last time I’d interrupted my Dad while he was trying to give me a lecture, his look almost made me cower down in shame. But Delcan was nothing like my dad. Plus, the only thing he would do is just snap back in Spanish. “I should’ve mentioned that she was the one who called, and I especially should’ve told you about the whole-”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡCpeSahuoiy
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Delcan had put his hand up in some way to stop me, and it worked. When he noticed that I was done talking, he shook his head. “Deja de mencionar el pasado, Ezra. Perdona y olvida,” he said. I raised my eyebrows.
“Translation?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbHkqgPbDss
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“Stop bringing up the past, Ezra,” he said. “Forgive and forget.”
I paused for a minute before responding. “Wait-” I said, holding out one of my hands. “Was that what you said, or not?”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡuSfoJt9FRL
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Delcan smiled to me, and his smile was kind. “No need to apologize, alright?” he said. “I forgive you, but it doesn’t mean I’m apologizing for what I did at all.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ5kMZ74k689
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“I kind of deserved it,” I said.
He smiled again, and something on the inside made me feel better that I hadn’t ruined whatever we had yet. “Yeah, you did,” he said. Alright, I deserved that one. “But the whole point of a...relationship is for us to trust each other with things. Even secrets.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡaUpNgkVutb
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I nodded, smiling to him. Then I remembered the deal with Grace. “How do you and Grace know each other?”
Delcan rolled his eyes again, and they were back to amber. “She’s on the dance team with Callie,” he explained. “In 7th grade, she had a crush on me, and I turned her down. Plus, she’s always just been mad that I’m hotter than her.”
“God,” I said. “That has to suck.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbBGfhU9fig
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Delcan had finally gotten his locker open, and he shrugged. “I love attention,” he said. “And if she gives me more attention than I need to survive, I’m perfectly okay with that. Plus, it’s fun to see her angry.”805Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡN7kzjyy2ht
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Before I could respond to him with something else, I heard a voice behind me. “So you’re gay?”
I had turned around quicker than how I’d wanted to, and looked down at Haven and Fawn. Like always, Fawn was copying whatever Haven did, so both of them had their hands on their hips, and they were waiting (impatiently) for an answer.
Please tell me they’re talking about Delcan. Please tell me they’re talking about Delcan. Please, please, please. ns 126.96.36.199da2