For weeks, I'd been avoiding Neo and Adam. No matter where I went, one of their faces would appear and I'd run back into the bathroom. Sure, I was tardy to most of my classes, but I was just glad to not have to deal with them. Though I had a couple classes with Neo, and some with Adam, I'm pretty sure they understood what I was doing. I didn't want to face the onslaught of pain that was racing towards me like a bullet-train, so I continued to run down the tracks for as long as I possibly could.
I glance up at myself in my bedroom mirror. The ceiling fan whirred above my head at a constant speed, giving me a steady rhythm to sway to. I wasn't even going to bother putting on the minute amount of makeup that I applied to my face every morning. The deep purple bags were so dark at this point that the makeup wouldn't do anything for me anyway.
"Clover!" Mother called from down the stairs. "Breakfast is ready!''
"Coming!" I respond louder than necessary. I can hear Mom's retreating footsteps as she walks back towards the kitchen. I take one last look at myself in the mirror before I grab my socks and head downstairs. I would continue to avoid the boys for as long as I could, but for some reason, I felt like today would be the day everything fell apart.
I hike my backpack over my shoulder as I enter high school. Immediately, I'm hit with the smell of perfume and sweat, pizza from the cafeteria, and popcorn from Mrs. Vick's - the eleventh grade history teacher's - classroom. Pink and red banners hung all down the hallway of the school, words in bold white decorating them. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! Some read. DESTINY DANCE! HAVE YOU ASKED YOUR MATE YET? Others boldly questioned.
Truth be told, I'd always wanted to go to the Destiny Dance. It was a huge event in celebration of finding your soulmate. Anyone who'd found theirs could go. I'd found mine, but I didn't quite know who it really was yet... I feel a tap on my shoulder, and I whip around to face the brute standing behind me. Except... it isn't really a brute. Just someone I'd rather not have prying into my brain at the moment.
Adam stood there, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. "Hey, Clover."
"Clove," I say, folding my arms across my chest.
Adam blinks at me, his hands fidgeting with the straps of his bookbag. "Clove..." He stops and looks over my head, seemingly anxious. It takes all I have to not glance behind me. Instead, I glare into his grey-silver eyes. He slowly looks back at me, running a hand along his jawline. "Can we talk?"
"About what?" I questioned, even though I already knew what he was going to say next.
"I just don't think it's fair that you're ignoring us," he explains quietly. "I want to help you, Clove. I want to make sure no one gets hurt." Adam brushes his dark brown hair out of his eyes as he leans down to my level. "I can't do that when you won't even step within a ten foot radius of me."
I stiffen my spine, gaining and inch in height as Adam stands back up. His 6'7 frame towers over my 5'6, making me feel insecure. "I am trying not to get hurt, Adam," I grumble. "I'm trying not to make anyone suffer from their wrong-doings."
Adam sighs, closing his eyes momentarily. "You are making your "boyfriend" and I suffer, Clove!" Adam hisses at me. "We hate this just as much as you! Heck! Especially me!" Adam casts me a long look, pain deep in his eyes. "I've waited to find you for so long, but then I find out that there's another guy?"
"Hey dumby! How do you think I feel?" cries a deep voice from behind me.
Neo appears next to me in a flash, dark circles underneath his eyes. "I haven't slept in the past month because of this situation!"
Adam murmurs under his breath, turning his head away from me. "What was that Champ?" Neo snaps. "Do you want to say it again?"
Adam's mouth moves, but I can't hear what he's saying. Everything becomes a blur and Neo launches himself at Adam, knocking both of them to the ground. The boys began to tussle, and students gathered around to watch. I could barely hear myself as I started screaming. Was I going deaf? "Stop it!" I finally hear myself screech. Adam looks at me. It was only a moment of eye contact before Neo's fist lands another blow. Adam goes limp within Neo's grasp, keeping his eyes on me the best he could. I run into the circle the students have formed and try to rip Neo off Adam, but it's no use. It feels like I'm trying to stop a car that was already in motion.
The school administration appears only seconds later, breaking the boys out of their brawl. Neo has tears falling from his cheeks, and Adam's face is bruised and his nose is broken. I'm just holding my head, curled up on the floor. Neo was right from day one. The marks ruin lives. A ton of girls pat me on the back in sympathy, and a couple guys sit down with me feeling spite against Neo and Adam. I'm completely and utterly broken. I knew I couldn't handle this moment. I shouldn't have stopped to talk. I should have kept walking. I'd walk over oceans just to be done with this. Maybe I could catch a flight to China, or to Russia. Somewhere no one would find me.
It's not long before I find myself sitting before the principal. Principal Norman sits behind his massive desk, holding a folder that supposedly kept my records. "Looks like you've never had problems before," he remarks, leaning back in his chair. "I don't actually think you've been here before."
I nod. It was the only thing that seemed appropriate for the situation I was stuck in. "What's going on, Clover?" Principal Norman asks me nonchalantly.
There were many things I could have said. I could have told him that I was sitting on nothing but a pile of ashes. I could have said that I was done with the world; that I was sick of it's cruel games. I might have been able to tell him that I wanted to be a single Pringle for forever.
None of those ideas slipped out. Instead, I said, "All three of us have the same mark." The shock registered and it showed on his face. Principal Norman sits up in his chair, resting his elbows on his desk.
"So you're the three my daughter won't shut up about."
"I guess," I reply, shrugging at him. Principal Norman is silent for a long moment, his stark blue eyes fixed on the ceiling. Chills shoot up my spine the more the suspense builds.
Suddenly, he picks up his phone and dials a number. I can hear it ringing for a minute before someone picks up on the other end. "Yes, this is Joshua," Principal Norman says, "Bring in the boys."
I scrunch up my face in annoyance. I was not ready to lay my eyes upon Neo or Adam. Quite frankly, I never wanted to ever again. The yellow door behind me opens as the boys enter the room. They are dragging their feet, dreading seeing me and Principal Norman. Adam takes a seat to my right, and Neo takes a seat to my left. I sunk farther into my seat, not enjoying being flanked by two guys I didn't exactly like at the moment.
"I have a solution for you," Principal Norman says to us, forming a triangle with his fingers. I already didn't like where it was going, but I let him continue. It wasn't like a had a choice, but I liked to think I did. "You, Neo, and Adam go to the Destiny Dance together, and not get booted out of school for two weeks... Or you get booted out of school for two weeks and get zeros on your final exams.
My jaw drops. The principal was willing to give us zeros on our exams if we didn't go to the dance together? Adam's leg starts bouncing nervously. "I'll only do what Clove is comfortable with," he says softly, but without doubt. I look at him, but he doesn't look at me. Adam continues to stare straight ahead at Principal Norman. Neo nods in agreement with Adam on my other side.
"Interesting," the principal comments. "Willing to put their careers in a girls hands with little selfishness."
"We'll go," I tell him. Principal Norman nods, a smirk overtaking his face.
"Good. I'll see you there then."
As the boys and I are excused from the room, I want to scream. I couldn't stop getting stuck in these kinds of horrible, horrible predicaments, now could I.
I couldn't possibly wait see what else could go completely wrong...
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