Thank you so much, Skye for being a part of this collab and this story. I loved writing this with you and I think this was one of the reasons I went over my partial writer's block. Thanks again and I am waiting for us to complete Part 2!!!
Everyone else, do check out Skye(they're awesome!):
She was shouting down the phone again. Endlessly screaming at dad for “abandoning this family” when all he was doing was working. Mum said she needed more money for the support, yet she screamed at dad for trying to get exactly that.
“No! Just no! Cameron, you left us at a time where I CAN’T support this family!” Mum roared. She kicked the leg of the table, and didn’t even notice that I flinched. “You’re NOT HELPING!” She bellowed into the phone. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. I was paralysed with the fear she would get angrier if I tried. So I stood there, in the kitchen, shaking furiously. Then mum chucked her phone onto the couch in rage and sent a glare in my direction. “Your father is as useless as your brother was.” She barked.
Tears started to form in my eyes. I was already upset; bringing up Connor wasn’t going to help. He was my brother....Before he.....Before he ran away. Mother wasn’t the fondest of him, though he was my bestest friend in the whole world. Connor’s three years older than me, and always sort of shielded me from mum when she got angry. He was my protector. My older other half.
I had to stop thinking about him. Mum would see I was crying eventually, ask me why, I would break down....And she would just go off at me. I hated it when that happened.
“Get in the car, Braylee.” Mum barked. I looked down at myself and opened my mouth timidly, my peachy coloured lips wet from tears that dripped onto them. “What now?” She sighed angrily.
“I-I need to get changed.” I mumbled.
“What?! Speak up!” She scolded.
“I need to get changed!” My voice cracked and I ran upstairs and slammed my door shut, and started to sob. Why did I have to falter only in front of her?! Anyone else who insults me, I can easily ignore them. Ignore, or snap back. But not in front of mum. I was so used to having Connor back me up. But he wasn’t here anymore. He would never be here.
I got out of the car and shut the door behind me without another word. Mum and I never said “I love you” to each other. Because we both knew it wasn’t true. It never had been. Not since I was three years old and started to make memories of her.
I took a breath and put myself into character. The Lee who never went through stuff at home. The comedic Lee. I forced a smile. And it looked real, because I’d been doing it for so many years.
“Lee!” A cheerful voice called. I looked in the direction of the voice, and there, her choppy blue hair flying in the wind, was Sara, my best friend. “You’re here! I’ve been here for so dang long. Dad had to work early.” She pulled a face, but her brown eyes sparkled happily. Sara was the only person that could cheer me up, and put a real smile on my face.
I hugged her tight and she smiled. “Sorry, Sara. I was fighting with mum again...She was going off at dad.”
“She’s mean. Come move in with me.” Sara pouted in an angry kind of way. “Oh, shoot. I have to go now, sorry. You took so long that it’s time for me to check in with Miss. Prasad.” She cringed.
“Alright, that’s all good.” I stole one last hug from her then she walked off. I twisted a blue streak in my hair thoughtfully. I only got partial streaks, since mother would never allow a full head of blue hair, yet Sara went all out. We matched....People loved our friendship. It was cool.
My phone pinand I looked at it, not expecting anyone to message. I froze at the message, my face paper white.
Hey, Lily. I’ve missed talking to you. Found you on social media....It’s Connor.
I started walking, shocked at the message. After five years....Connor decided to message me out of the blue. My stomach felt like a smoothie of emotions, I was angry, surprised, happy....
That's when I collided with someone. Someone popular.
I just couldn’t decide what to wear. Mom says to wear whatever is at the top of my cupboard. She just doesn’t understand. At my school, I am the fashionista . I just can’t repeat an outfit.
Finally, I decided on a polka dotted pink and white skirt with a blue t-shirt. At least I could decide upon something, unlike my sister who just wasn’t into fashion. She wore the same ol’ t-shirt with shorts, switching up the colours, sometimes.
I rushed out the door, bolting into my car. I was getting super late. Today were the auditions for the cheerleading squad and I couldn’t, wouldn’t be late.
Just when I was a few blocks away from school, Natalie called, “Hey sis! Can you drop me to school today? I am running late and the bus has already left.” This is not happening to me, I thought, turning the car a total 180 before turning up the stereo and accelerating way above the limit. I didn’t care about the limit, not today.
Reaching home, “Get in, NOW!” I ordered Nat. She was going to pay if I would be late, “You better not make me late today of all days.”
“What is so special about today?” she said with a smile that she knew would melt my heart.
Taking a deep breath and letting that cute smile in, I said, “Nat, today is the audition day for the cheerleading squad, and I’m going to try out.”
“Oh, you’ll surely be the cheerleading leader.”
I parked the car in my parking space and waited for a second to let Nat’s words sink in. The way she said them, with such confidence and that smile, I forgot all about our three year age difference and our rule of ‘no hugs in public places’ and embraced her.
Getting away, I took my stuff and went out towards my class. Nat could find her own way, after all, she was a sophomore, and I couldn’t be seen with her any longer. I don’t know if anyone took our photo, but if they did, it would be bad, very bad.
I was walking through the Great Hall, the only hall in our school decent enough for our trophies and medals. This hall was the definition of greatness. Every great student and ex-student of our school had their locker in this hall and the person who named this hall was none other than my father, James White.
Suddenly, I was engulfed by a storm, or so it seemed. I fell flat on the ground and saw that peasant, Braylee standing there, looking horrified. She should be. She messed with the wrong girl on the wrong day.
The look on Jess’ face was pure fury. You couldn’t get a look harder than that….Though mother’s ones could easily rival Jess’.
“I’m sorry….” I mumbled.
“You should be, Braylee! I had cheer tryouts today!” Jess shouted, turning heads in the hallway. I pulled my hood tighter around my face - attention wasn’t my thing at all. Especially this type of attention.
“Had? You can still do them. You just fell down, it's not like you broke anything!” I retorted. What am I doing? I thought desperately. But the anger was taking over.
“I broke a nail!” Jess cried out in despair, and I noticed her gaggle of girls walking up to me, whispering between themselves.
“Like that’s the worst thing in the world!” I yelled. I didn’t care that I saw someone filming, the person filming always gets in trouble. A girl I recognised as Jess’ best friend helped her up and gave me a cold look. “‘I broke a nail!’” I mocked her. “Suck it up, princess.” I glared, my eyes flashing; a danger sign.
“You did not just say that to me!” Jess shrieked and her best friend patted her back, then handed her a Starbucks she was holding. Jess took a sip and then looked up at me, a sly smile on her face. She unscrewed the lid and walked close to me. I knew what she was going to do, and I wasn’t going to stop her. I could easily kick that frappucino back into her face, but I didn’t feel like starting a fight.
So, I let Jess walk up to me and tip the scorching hot drink on my head.
“Still hot, darling?” She smirked. I bit my tongue, knowing what I would say would surely get me expelled. Yet Jess can walk around tipping drinks on people’s heads without getting kicked out all because her daddy funds the school.
“Mmhm.” I gritted my teeth angrily as coffee dripped down my favourite hoodie, the one Connor gave to me. So, on my way out, I dripped some of the drink onto Jess’ outfit. It gave me satisfaction to watch her fret over a small drop of coffee on her skirt.
I tapped my foot outside the door, waiting for Sara to finish with our teacher. Then finally, she came out of the class. I shoved my phone in her face.
“Geez, girl! At least say hi!” Sara grabbed my phone and read the message. Her eyes widened and she read it again. “Woah. Lee, this is huge! Text him back!” She encouraged me. I frowned and shook my head.
“What would I say?” I noticed Sara finally looking at the drink stains on me. “Also, yes, coffee is on my clothes, I’ll explain later.” I said.
“Say what you feel, I guess! I don’t know, honestly.” Sara shot a glance at the phone again. “I mean, I’m sure you're feeling a lot. Maybe just say hi.”
“Connor hasn’t seen me for five years. He hasn’t seen me since I was that scared little ten year old he looked after. I can’t just say hi…” I sighed. “I’m just going to write something.” I looked at my phone.
After a while, I finally typed:
Hi, Connor. I can’t believe you just reached out after five years. How are you? How’s life?
Better than mine, I’d assume. Mother is worse than ever. She yells at me every day and I wish she didn’t. She screams down the phone, gets angry, then takes it out on me. Why did you leave me? A scared ten year old who couldn’t fend for herself. I tried calling you, but you didn’t answer. You didn’t care about me, I finally decided. I tried taking over the house but mother wouldn’t let me. I’m still crying every day, and I’m trying to shove it down, but the only person that I can let everything out to is Sara. I can’t go to a counsellor, I must admit, mother is a smooth liar. Got out of it like a snake. But I try to deal with it. I really do. And even though you abandoned me, I still love you.
I am nervous now. I am never nervous, I thought. What did Braylee do to me? This has never happened before and it should never happen again.
I go into one of the stalls in the washroom and try to calm myself down. This always works, and it has to work today.
From my stall, I can hear the other girls coming in and going out. After five minutes, I just zoned out. In the ‘zone’, I feel like a five year old again, playing with my pony, Royal.
Oh, Royal! How much I miss you!
Then I hear a familiar voice, Natalie’s. She was screaming, still a baby. I hear my parents, and all the family members. I hear commotion coming my way.
Oh no! I think it is that day. Natalie’s first birthday. I can’t believe it. Why’d my brain make me remember this day, and that too, today!
Nat’s first birthday was a nightmare. I had to adjust to being a big sister and then not getting any gifts. I had to adjust to not being the centre of attention and that just made me mad!
Every day after that one had been the same. Nat always got the attention when I had to be in the limelight. Even on my birthdays.
After getting out of the pity party that I was throwing myself, I just stood up, and walked out of the stall. People were staring at me. I didn’t care.
I reached the gym, where the tryout had already started. I saw Nat, sitting in the audience. Soon after, it was my turn. I lept, twirled, jumped and basically did everything I could, but the coach didn’t look impressed. She was giving me a look and was tsking at me.
I kept quiet, I don’t know why, and sat down on my seat. Finally, coach Ella said, “Anybody else wants to try out?”Someone held up their hand. Everyone gasped. I turned around to see who it was. Natalie! My jaw reached the ground. Nat was never interested in cheerleading, What is happening today?
Nat did the routine as perfect as my outfit this morning and she was splendid. I was proud of her. But cheerleading? That was my thing! Why was she trying to steal that from me?
Coach Ella said, after what seemed like forever, “I have decided on the squad. The girls who got in are…” One by one, all my friends’ names were called. Coach continued, “Now we’ve just one position left - for the captain. And that goes to… Natalie White! Congratulations everyone!”
I couldn’t believe it. It was like everyone was against me. Why?! I ran out of the gym and into the far end of the football field. I just wanted a moment to myself, but I was interrupted by someone.