The next day at school when I met with Mr. Richwood for lunch I told him everything that had happened to Lydia.
I knew that Lydia had trusted me not to tell anyone the truth, but this was one of those things that needed to be addressed. I was afraid for both her and for myself. I mean, if Heather was sadistic enough to push her down a flight of stairs and then cut her hair, then there was no telling what she would do to me. She had vowed to get even with me yesterday after I had told her about how Mr. Richwood was well informed about her little plot.
I hadn't expected her to get so offensive over the entire issue. I recall that after telling her what I had done there was a look of pure hatred forming in her eyes that she was just waiting to unleash onto me.
It was on the walk to school this morning that I decided I would go to Mr. Richwood for some advice on the situation. I didn't feel comfortable talking to Dan about it ever since our awkward encounter the day before when he revealed his feelings for me. I just didn't feel comfortable being in his presence anymore.
The school day leading up to my revelation to him during lunch consisted of nothing that I would deem as significant. Lydia was absent from school, probably so that her wounds would heal and she would avoid becoming a victim of the school body's endless gossip that would be rumored after taking one look at her face.
I didn't get a chance to talk to Dan and even if an opportunity had surfaced I wouldn't have acted on it because I didn't know what to say to him. I was relieved that in Biology he didn't attempt to talk to me. He sat in the back of the classroom and so my back was to him the entire class hour.
The one thing that happened that I thought was strange was the change that I saw in Heather. Earlier when we were in Art together she wasn't her usual flirtatious self and was actually kind of quiet. Yesterday when I had ditched Mr. Richwood class she had changed seats with another girl on the other side of the room.
I had been watching her the entire time, anxious over what she could be planning to do to me and she appeared to be focused on her work. It wasn't like her to be this quiet so I deemed that this new behavior from her was strange.
When I came to Mr. Richwood's class for lunch, I informed him of everything that Lydia had told me, hoping that he would give me some advice. While I told hi met story he was leaning on the surface of his desk while I was sitting in the desk that was in front of him waiting for an answer. He appeared startled by the whole story.
"What should I do?" I asked to fill the long silence that he had created.
"Amanda, I'm afraid that this is beyond your control…and mine too."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to report this to the school administrators."
I rose from my desk and stared at him while wearing an expression of betrayal and confusion. He already knew that I had told him that Lydia wanted me to keep what had happened to her a secret. Since he knew this aspect of the problem, I wasn't sure why he didn't comprehend that I would need him to keep it a secret for me too.
"No, you can't!" I said quickly. "Lydia told me not to tell anyone. If you report it then she'll know that I told on her."
"Amanda," he said while slightly tilting his head to reveal his sympathy. "I understand that, but the thing is I'm what they call a mandated reporter. It's against the law for teachers or anyone within the school administration not to report when students are being harmed by someone else, if they're harming themselves, or if they want to harm others. When you spoke to me yesterday I didn't act on when you told me about what Heather had been doing to you, but for this…I can't sweep this under the rug. Lydia could have gotten hurt much worst than she has now. I have to report this."
"Mr. Richwood," I said, approaching him with a look of pure fear in my eyes. "Lydia will never talk to me again. You can't tell anyone. You have to promise me that-"
"I don't want to ruin things between you and Lydia, but I have to report this problem. I could lose my job."
I stared at him feeling a little betrayed, but then quickly dismissed this as being my own fault for coming to him with this information. I had slightly forgotten the fact that he was a teacher first and my friend second. I wasn't angry with him for this and a small part of me wanted to do it myself.
Lydia had bound me into promising her that I wouldn't tell anyone. The problem was that I wanted to tell everyone what that horrible monster did to her. Heather didn't deserve to get away with things, especially not something like this. I couldn't help but feel relief when Mr. Richwood said that he was going to report it for me.
"How about this?" he said crossing his hands over his abdominal area. "I'm still going to report it, but maybe you can persuade Lydia to come forward with it herself. This way she won't be so upset about it."
"I already tried that. Lydia won't change her mind."
"Can you try again?" he asked in a soothing way that nearly made me blush.
I didn't feel awkward being in his presence, but instead I felt slightly awkward about the fact that he knew my feelings for him. I didn't regret telling him that I was in love with him, but I did wish that my feelings for him weren't so obvious.
When in his presence, he didn't make any reference about my feelings for him, he was far to mature for that, but I could see in his eyes that he was trying harder not to appear so charming to me maybe as an attempt to repress my feelings for him. It didn't work. Everything about him made me blush and long for him even more. I was always going to love him.
"Sure," I said while trying not to get lost in his twinkling blue eyes. "I'll try again."
I spent the entire school day trying to think of ways that I could persuade Lydia to change her mind. I was addressing the various aspects of the situation along with all the pros that would benefit her if she told someone what Heather had done to her. By the time I had formed my argument in my mind I had enough logic on my side to write a speech using all the reasons why Heather deserved to be punished.
It was at the end of the school day that I had made my way to my locker when I was approached by Heather. I had been on guard for her revenge all day. As I began to notice that she had become more quiet and withdrawn today I allowed my guard to slowly lower. I was caught off guard when I walked to my locker and found her leaning against it waiting for me.
I was preparing to run because I was certain that her presence meant that the revenge she had vowed to get on me was going to take place right now. I turned around and began to walk away, trying to lose myself in the crowd of students who were rushing to get home for the day. I was hoping that maybe she hadn't seen me and that maybe I would survive until I heard her voice, that sounded like a demonic entity, when she called my name.
I froze. I wanted to run and my mind was mentally preparing for the steps that were involved in sprinting, but my body was somehow drawn to her voice causing me to remain frozen.
I heard the footsteps of the hundreds of students crowding the hallways and was certain that Heather's approaching footsteps were concealed somewhere in them. It was heartbreaking that none of these students were aware of what I was going on inside or me or to the fact that Heather was going to attack me. They selfishly moved right by me, not stopping to see if I was okay, but instead to pursue whatever plan they had made up in their mind on how to spend their time after school.
"Amanda," I heard her voice, much closer to me than it had been earlier. "Look, I just wanted to say that…I'm sorry."
I was so caught off guard by what I had heard that instead of seizing the opportunity to flee I turned around to face her. Heather had a solemn look on her face that depicted an overwhelming amount of guilt and sorrow in her eyes.
"What?" I asked sounding astonished.
"I said," she lifted her eyes from her shoes and placed them onto me. The skin around her eyes were a bright red and her eyelids appeared moist as if she had been crying. "That I'm sorry. I thought about everything that you said to me and everything that had happened and I realized that I was wrong."
I didn't believe a word that was coming out of her mouth. The day before, she had just verbally threatened me and now here she was with this depressed look on her face appearing to be apologetic and I was just suppose to believe her. I was suspicious of her motivations and was certain that she had devised this apology and that it was part of her plan to get even with me.
"I don't believe you," I said flatly.
Heather had a hurt look cross her face as if she was thinking that I was some kind of monster because here she was apologizing to me and I didn't even have the decency to accept it as a legit attempt to amend our conflict.
"Amanda, I'm saying that I'm sorry to you and you won't even accept it." she shook her head as if she couldn't believe me. "I thought about it all day and I realized that I was wrong. I mean, you an d I were once best friends and I just threw it all away over teacher. I don't care anymore about Mr. Richwood and I'm glad you helped me realized what is more important. I'm not asking you to be my friend again and I don't expect you to accept my apology, but I do want you to know that I'm sorry for everything."
I'll admit that I had never heard Heather apologize to anyone, maybe because she had far too more pride to ever consider herself being wrong. Another thing was that I had never seen her crying. This could indicate that maybe her apology was legit.
There was something in my mind that didn't want to believe her. I just didn't trust Heather. I knew how manipulative she was and this could be just another one of her tactics. I was aware that it was a paranoid way to think, but at the same time it was a safe way to think especially when it involved Heather Drysdale.
The other part of me wanted so badly to believe that her apology was the real. I wanted my problems to fade and I wanted to end this long feud we had been having. I felt that if I simply accepted her apology, then our entire dispute would be wiped clean and I could start to enjoy my life without an anxiety lingering over me.
"It's okay," she said after my long moment of silence. "I didn't expect you to forgive me."
Heather slowly turned around and made her way down the almost empty hallway. I kept telling myself that the only thing I had to do was accept her apology and all my problems would be erased. I wanted to believe that so badly.
"Wait Heather," I heard myself call out. "I accept your apology." She turned around and faced me with a relieved look in her eyes. "I want to pretend that none of this ever happened."
"It never did," she said flashing me a weak smile.
Heather approached me and gave me a warm embrace. It felt weird to see her acting this way, but I guess that the epiphany she had converted her into this new person. When she released me from her arms she had a warm look on her face that said that she was looking forward to starting our friendship over again.
"Listen Amanda," she said. "I still feel really bad about the way that I treated you."
"Just forget it. It's all in the past."
"We can't just forget it," she placed the palm of her hand on her heart. "I just feel so guilty and the only way this guilt will ever go away is if I do something nice for you."
"Heather you really don't have to-,"
"No Amanda," she said staring me in the eyes. "I have to do something nice for you. My conscience won't let it go until I prove to you how sorry I am…so I was thinking that maybe we could go shopping."
"Yeah, I noticed that you wear the same old things all the time. I thought maybe you'd like to buy something new."
"My mom doesn't have a lot of money to take me shopping." I said reminding her of my family's financial situation. "And I thought your dad worked like two jobs. How can you afford to take me shopping when you don't have any money yourself?"
I wasn't sure why, but when I said that it sounded like an insult which wasn't what my intention had been. I simply wanted to clarify a fact to her. Heather didn't appear to be the least bit offended or appalled by what I had said to her.
"Yeah, I don't have any money, but Ann's dad gave her like ten credit cards. We could buy the whole mall if we wanted to."
"I don't feel comfortable spending Ann's money."
"Amanda she doesn't mind. She practically gives her money away." Heather saw me hesitating and allowed her tone to take on a hurt approach. "Look, if you don't want to go shopping then, I understand, but I'm always going to feel guilty about the past unless I do this."
I really didn't want to go shopping with Heather, especially if the money we were going to be using was Ann's. I wasn't really close with Ann and I certainly didn't feel right spending her money. I would always feel as if I owed her something and every time I wore the clothes we bought I would be reminded of some unpaid debt I felt that I owed to her.
At the same time I couldn't possibly dismiss Heather's attempt to reconcile our deteriorated friendship. I decided that I would agree to go shopping with her and then once we were at the mall I would pretend that there was nothing that caught my interest and this would release me of any obligations that require me to buy anything.
"Fine, I'll go with you."
Heather cheered and reached over embracing me again. I told her that I had to grab my book bag from my locker first and she agreed to wait for me outside in the parking lot. She vanished down the nearly empty hallway.
I still couldn't process the fact that we had amended our conflict. I couldn't help but feel an enormous amount relief being lifted off of my heart. I had to admit that things were much more easier when Heather was actually on my side.
I made my way to locker to grab my book bag and other possessions. Once my back pack was filled I made my way down the hallway. I just couldn't get over the notion that we were friends again. I was hoping that Lydia would forgive her too and that we all could become friends.
I froze for a moment as a sudden realization flashed through my mind. I had forgotten that Mr. Richwood was going to report what Heather did which would cause her to be in a great deal of trouble. I wasn't sure if this trouble was going to ruin our friendship or what it would cause to happen to Heather.
I turned around and made my way down the opposite side of the hallway. I had to hurry and find Mr. Richwood and try to persuade him not to report Heather. I was hoping that maybe if he knew that Heather had changed then he wouldn't report her.
When I reached his classroom I opened the door and found him sitting at his desk typing quickly on his computer. He didn't notice my presence until I walked in and I was standing in front of his desk. Mr. Richwood caught a glimpse of me and then spun around in his chair to face me.
"I'm surprised to see you." he folded his hands on his desk and appeared to harboring the most upright interest in what I had to say in his eyes. "What's up?"
"Mr. Richwood, it's about Heather."
"Oh, yes about her. I wanted to tell you what I found out about her. I went to the office to file a report on Heather,"
My heart sank when he said this. I was too late. I had just fixed my relationship with Heather and now it was going to be ruined because I had gotten her in trouble.
"What happened?" I asked.
"Well I was told that her father is going to pull her out of school in a few weeks."
"What?" I asked astonished.
"He filed paper work last week to pull her out of school. Mr. Drysdale has gotten a new job offer and he has to move to a new state. He's going to take Heather with him. The people in the office told me that he moves around a lot with her so this is pretty common."
"Does Heather know about this?" I asked with great concern.
Heather had always complained about her father changing jobs a lot and her having to start a new life every time they moved. Heather was destined to be upset about her father pulling her in and out of school all the time to move her somewhere else.
"I'm not sure," Mr. Richwood said. "But I still filed a report. I really think that there's something wrong with Heather under the surface."
"Wait, you think she's crazy?"
"No," Mr. Richwood said firmly. "I didn't say that. I think that there's something bothering her that can't be seen by the human eye. I mean, I've looked over her file that had been sent with her from school to school and I just keep seeing these patterns that just say that there's something wrong. I want her father to at least look into finding a psychiatrist to talk to her."
I was preparing to ask Mr. Richwood was it was that he had read in Heather's file, but his cell phone rang before I had a chance to ask this question. He picked up his phone and devoted his attention to whoever the caller was on the other side of the phone.
I wanted to tell him about Heather's new found kindness, but he appeared preoccupied with his conversation. I had already kept Heather waiting long enough. I decided to tell him about it another time.
"Goodbye Mr. Richwood," I said as I closed the door behind me.
As I closed the classroom door I turned and spotted Dan walking down the hallway. He was barely ten feet away and paused when he saw me. I stared at him feeling uneasy. Out of all the times I could have run into him, why did it have to be right now?
Neither of us moved. We simply stared at each other as if we were long lost friends who didn't have the courage to approach each other because we felt as though there was something bounding us to other.
I watched Dan's eyes. They darted from my face to Mr. Richwood's classroom door. I knew in his mind he had just realized that I had just been talking to Mr. Richwood. I already knew his hostile feelings toward Mr. Richwood and the way he felt about me so encountering me just as I walked out of my teacher's presence must have been hurting him deep inside since he knew that I was in love with my Art teacher.
We had been standing like statues, staring at each other without words for a long time. I couldn't wait for him and I had to find Heather before I ruined our friendship. I could feel my heart inside of me shaking as I took a deep breathe and started walking down the hallway toward Dan. I looked straight over him as if he wasn't even there.
When I walked by him he reached his hand out and grabbed my arm halting me in my place. I turned to face him and he had a hurt look in his eyes.
"Are you really going to walk pass me without saying anything?" he asked.
"What is there to say?" I asked him. "You already know how I feel. What can I possibly say to you?"
Dan placed his hands on my shoulders, leaning forward with an intense look in his eyes. I was half afraid that he was going to kiss me again and at the same time, for some odd reason, I secretly wanted him to do it. I thought it was strange to have such a desire from him when I knew that I didn't love him.
"Amanda," he said seriously. "I just want you to tell me that you love me. That's all I want to hear."
"No, don't interrupt me." he said sternly. "I can't think and you're the only thing that is ever on my mind. I know what you said yesterday, but I don't care. I don't even smoke and yet my insides are burning like fire. You have to tell me that you love me, even if you don't really feel that way, just lie to me, at least do that for me."
It was painful to see Dan this way. I could sense the desperation inside of him and here he was once again throwing all his cards on the table. I knew that I was going to hurt again by rejecting him a second, but I had no choice. It would hurt him even more if I lied to him about loving.
"Dan," I said slowly. "…I can't do that. I can't lie to you."
"I just hate him," Dan said dropping his hands from my shoulders so that he could clench his fist. "Why are half the girls in this school in love with him? He's just some freak art teacher."
"Don't say that about him," I said angrily and starting to raise my voice as I was eager to defend Mr. Richwood. "You don't know anything about him. You don't know how much he's been there for me or how much he means to me. You're being selfish Dan. You're only thinking about your own feelings and not even considering mine."
I turned to walk away, now becoming angered by the path that conversation had taken, but Dan grabbed a hold of my arm again and turned me around to face him. He placed his hands on my shoulders and I suddenly feared his touch.
"Don't touch me!" I yelled and stepped a few feet away from him.
"No, you're just jealous!" I said in disgust. "Can't you just accept the way that I feel?"
Mr. Richwood's classroom door opened sending a wave of fear through my body. He peered out the door staring at first me and then Dan. He raised an eyebrow toward me.
"Is everything alright out here?" he asked.
I stared over at Dan and could see a look of angry flashing through his eyes as he directed his attention onto Mr. Richwood, the man who in his eyes was keeping us from being together.
"It's fine," I said flatly.
I turned my back on Dan and headed down the empty hallway. I had to find Heather so that we could go shopping.
Hi loyal readers!! I just wanted to tell you that the climax is coming up so that means there's about three or four more chapters left of this novel. Please enjoy and as always I'd love your opinions :):)