When I made my way outside to the parking lot I wasn't sure where Heather was waiting for me. Most of the cars had already cleared out of the parking lot. It took me a few minutes, but I spotted her sitting against a tan colored vehicle at the end of the parking lot.
As I made my way over toward her I began to realize that she wasn't alone. Ann was sitting in the car in the driver's seat while Ashley was sitting on the hood of the car next to Heather. I wasn't sure why I hadn't put two and two together. Heather didn't own a car so of course when she told me to meet her in the parking lot it was to meet her with Ann and Ashley. Also, we were using Ann's money which was going to require her presence.
I walked over toward them feeling slightly uncomfortable. Heather had trained these two girls to hate me. I doubted that they could so permissively dismiss such feelings harbored toward me and embrace my presence with open arms the way Heather had.
"What took you so long?" Heather asked when I reached her. "You said it would only take a minute."
"Sorry, I got distracted by an old friend."
I stared at Ann and Ashley who were wearing fake smiles on their face, but in their eyes I could see that they disapproved of my presence. I didn't want to go shopping with those two. I wouldn't feel at ease knowing that they both despised me.
"Alright, let's go shopping," said Heather enthusiastically.
As if it was a cue, Ann started up the car and Ashley walked around to the other side to get in the seat behind the passenger's seat. Heather was about to walk around the vehicle, probably to take the passenger's seat, but I grabbed her arm, halting her to express my discontentment.
"What?" she asked curiously.
"I didn't know that Ann and Ashley were coming too. They don't like me Heather. I don't want to go shopping with them."
"Amanda," she said while forming a grin across her lips. "Ann and Ash aren't as bad as they look. Trust me, I told them about how you and I are friends now. They'll accept you sooner or later, now come on, let's go shopping."
I reluctantly climbed into the seat behind the driver's seat. Once we were in the car, Ann drove out of the school parking lot. The first few minutes of the car ride were filled with a lingering silence. It was if everyone was preoccupied with their own thoughts. I on the other hand was just waiting for someone to say something to fill the silence that was lingering around us. I felt that it wasn't in my place to speak first since I was more of a guest than I was an actual member of this cliché. It was Heather who broke the silence.
"Turn the radio on," she said in a cold way. "I don't like silence."
I half expected Ann to insult her or say something about how rude Heather had been to boss her around like that, but it appeared that Ann was accustomed to this type of behavior as she reached over and began to fiddle with the dial to switch through the radio stations.
She turned it to a rock station that helped fill the silence, but it didn't ease the tension that was in the car. I wasn't even sure why I had felt so uncomfortable. I should have felt excited and thrilled that we were going shopping together, but something inside of me just didn't feel right about this. I think it had to do with the fact that Heather and I were always at each other's throats and now to be sitting here in a car with her so that we could spend the day together doing something fun just didn't feel right to me.
I studied each of the people in the car, first starting with Ashley who stared out the glass window as if she was looking at her future outside somewhere in the distance. There was something about her that generated this anxious feeling as if she was nervous about something.
I watched Ann through the rear view mirror, focusing on the road, but occasionally glancing over at Heather, then over her shoulder at Ashley, and before she had a chance to look at me I glanced out the window so that she wouldn't know that I had been watching her.
Heather appeared to be studying the road with acute concentration. It was almost as if she was searching for something on the road. She studied the road we were on with such intensity you would think that she was studying for the ACT exam that the juniors stressed out about each year.
I leaned back in my seat and recalled the conversation I had with Dan in the hallway. Why did he keep making me hurt him? Dan knew that I wasn't in love with him and yet he kept trying to make me convert my feelings for Mr. Richwood over to him. I was still angry with him for declaring his hatred for Mr. Richwood.
Dan probably thought that I was in love with Mr. Richwood because of his looks which is the reason most of the girls in out school liked him, but the truth was that I loved him for much more than that.
He was someone that I was able to talk to about my problems. He had introduced me to the world of art and had helped me find my voice when I was unable to speak. I couldn't just turn my back on him for Dan who was nothing more than a friend to me.
I didn't understand why I had wanted him to kiss me again. It was something that had just surfaced in my mind before I had a chance to understand why I would think something like that. I didn't understand what was wrong with me.
It was like my heart was attached to Dan, but my mind wouldn't let go of Mr. Richwood. I froze the second that thought flashed through my mind.
Wait, did I secretly like Dan?
As quickly as this thought surfaced in my mind I tried to repress it. I couldn't like Dan, I just couldn't. I loved Mr. Richwood. I repeated this over and over in my mind to prove to myself that it was true, but the more I told this to myself it sounded more like a lie you repeated over and over in hope that in would conceal the truth.
I couldn't love Dan. I just couldn't. I had been so cruel to him and had told him that I was never going to like him. I was going to hate myself if I secretly was in love with him and made him feel as though he would forever be unloved.
I'm in love with Mr. Richwood, NOT Dan. I'm in love with Mr. Richwood, NOT Dan.
I repeated this over and over in my mind. I had been so focused on my thoughts that when I allowed myself to take in my surroundings I noticed for the first time that we were no longer on a local road.
Ann was driving us down a dirt path that was leading into the woods. We were surrounding by skyscraper tall trees and she was driving deeper and deeper into the woods. I wasn't sure how I could be so invested in my thoughts and not notice this.
"This isn't the way to the mall," I said out loud.
"Oh yeah," Heather said as if she had just forgotten to mention this part of the schdule. "We wanted to show Ashley something we found out here. Don't worry it will only take a minute."
I was unconvinced. I was beginning to think that this was more than just a shopping trip. I had a feeling that this wasn't going to turn out good. I knew that I shouldn't have trusted Heather. I needed to get out of this car and away from them. We were in the middle of the woods and I had never heard about anything good happening in the woods.
I told myself to calm down because I was jumping to conclusions. Heather had wanted to make a fool of in front of the whole school and I doubted the woods would be a good place to do this since she would need an audience. I tried to convince myself that their intentions were pure and that they were telling the truth when they said that they wanted to look at something.
I was caught off guard when Ann pulled the car off the road to a halt. Without using any words, Ann, Heather, and Ashley opened their car door and climbed out together. I wanted to stay in the car, but the look Heather gave me indicated that she wanted me to get out of the car.
I climbed out of the vehicle, but I stood close to the door not wanting to leave the automobile's presence. The area we were in had grass that was ankle high, with several twigs and tree branches covering most of the surface area.
The trees covered the sky causing the woods to appear dark, despite the fact that the sun was sitting in the sky above the trees. Ann and Ashley began to walk down a path that they appeared to have been down before because they walked as if they knew the way.
"Come with us," Heather said encouragingly.
"No," I said feeling uncomfortable. "You said that we were going shopping. Why are we here?"
"We just want to show you something." Heather said as she took steps toward me to fill the gap that was between us. "It'll only take a minute, come and look."
"No," I said shaking my head repeatedly. I knew I shouldn't have trusted her. "I want to go home. Tell Ann to take me home, now!"
Ann and Ashley were standing about fifteen feet away from us and had pausing, glancing over in our direction. They were watching the scene from afar waiting for Heather to signal whether they were continue along the path or to wait for her.
Heather looked over her shoulder at them and then directed her attention back to me. She threw on that fake grin she used when trying to manipulate people and it was at that moment that I knew her intentions to bring me here were anything, but pure. This was her way of getting revenge on me.
"We have to show you something first and then we'll take you home."
"You're a liar Heather Drysdale," I said flatly. "I shouldn't have trusted you. Of course you wouldn't want to do what is right by apologizing. You're nothing, but a liar and I'm never going to believe anything you ever say again."
I turned and walked in the opposite direction of them. I had made up in my mind that if Ann wasn't going to take me home then I was going to walk through the woods until I found my way back to main road to walk myself home. I wasn't going to follow them into woods when they were plotting against me.
"Where are you going Amanda?!" Heather yelled raising her voice and now revealing hostility that she had somehow kept hidden.
"I walking back home." I said without look back at them.
"You're going to get lost!" she yelled. "You have to come back here right now Amanda! Amanda! Amanda! Amanda!"
I ignored Heather. I should have never trusted her. I heard quick footsteps running and before I had a chance to turn around I felt something hard hit me in the back of the head and everything went black.
I opened my eyes and saw that everything around me was blurry. I didn't know where I was at, but this didn't feel like my bedroom. My head felt really dizzy like it was spinning in circles. It was as if my brain had taken a dozen rides on a rollercoaster and was having a difficult time returning to a placid state after getting off the ride.
I tried to stand up, but I couldn't move my hands or my legs. I couldn't see properly. Whenever I looked at something my eyes created a replica of whatever it was that I was looking at and made the image blurry.
Where was I at?
I tried to remember where I had been before I had come to this setting and the last thing I could recall was talking to Dan. I didn't understand why I couldn't move or why my hands were…bound? I looked down at my hands and saw that they were tied together with duct tape. Had I been kidnapped?!
In the distance I heard a voice that was vaguely familiar. It was…Heather? In a matter of seconds I was reminded of everything that had happened. I was suppose to have been going shopping with Heather and for some odd reason they led me to the woods. I then recalled how I had felt something hit me in the back of the head and everything had gone black.
I tried to scream for help, but my voice was muffled by duct tape that was sticking to my lips.
My vision returned to normal and I quickly took in my surroundings. I was in some kind of a shed that had dirty floor panels. The shed was filled with various gardening tools and that were hanging from hooks that were beyond my grasp. I could spot a small window on one of the walls that was covered with layers of dirt and dust that caused a tint color to form on the window.
I sat up straight, pressing my back against the wall of the shed and looked down at my arms and legs that were bound tightly with duct tape. I recall hearing somewhere that duct tape was the strongest tape in the world. As I began to tug at the tape bounding my arms together I began to realize that this was true.
The door opened and I recognized a familiar face that belonged to Ashley. She had a look of relief on her face when she saw me. She turned her head and yelled outside the door.
"Heather, Ann, come quick!!" Ashley then walked in and her eyes possessed the most upright compassion and a mixture of fear. "Thank goodness you're okay." I could hear relief in her voice. "We we're so worried."
Ann walked in appearing pleased by my presence and I was on the verge of screaming when Heather walked in wearing a cold look in her eyes.
"Guys," Ashley said. "She's okay, she's okay."
"Oh thank goodness," Ann said placing both her hands on her heart. "I was so worried." She studied the way I was bound and an appalled look crossed over her face. She directed her sharp gaze over toward Heather. "Heather, why is she tied up?!"
"We can't let her get away." Heather said flatly. "She going to tell on us and we're all going to get in trouble and you both will be removed from the cheerleading squad. We have to keep her tied up."
"No way," Ann said firmly allowing her gaze to shift from me to Heather. "You sound crazy Heather. You said that we were going to lure her into the woods, cut her hair off, and then push her in the stream. You didn't say anything about tying her up."
"She was out cold for a long time," Ashley said not hiding the fear in her voice. "I've never been so scared before. We have to stop this Heather."
"No," Heather said staring at me with a firm look in her eyes. "We can't let her leave. We're all going to get in trouble."
"What are we going to do then?" Ashley asked sounding like she was on the verge of crying. I had never seen the confident girl reduced to such as state. "Are we just going to leave her here?"
"No, her mother is going to notice." said Ann. "We can't just leave her here."
"Her mother," said Heather coldly. "Is always working. She won't notice a thing. Listen, if we keep her here then we don't get in trouble. You all were apart of this and if I get in trouble you can guarantee that I will tell them you two helped. I'll tell them everything that you've ever told me. I tell them all your dark secrets."
"But we trusted you," Ashley said weakly.
"Well maybe you shouldn't tell people that you throw up after you eat food Ashley." Heather said coldly and then turned to Ann. "And maybe you should keep quiet about the fact that your two months pregnant Ann." Heather smirked. "You two are going to do what I say or you can just get ready for me to tell the whole world your secrets."
The two of them looked at her possessing a form of hatred that was clearly present in their eyes. For first time I began to realize that maybe they never really liked her as a friend and that they were being blackmailed to stay by her side the same way she had black mailed me with the note.
It was strange to see Heather have such control over these two young girls. It was obvious that they had never really wanted to be her friend and instead they were being forced to stay loyal to her. She had used her manipulation tactics to keep them subdued to her control.
"We trusted you," Ann said flatly.
"Well maybe you shouldn't trust everyone that you meet. Now you two go get the car and bring it around here. Now!"
"Heather…"Ashley said in a monotone voice. "We really can't just leave her here in the middle of the woods. It's really not safe."
"Do what I said!" Heather ordered.
The two of them exchanged hesitant looks and then made their way out of the shed leaving Heather and me alone. I felt a shiver run through my spine. I never knew that Heather was crazy like this. It would explain why Mr. Richwood said that he thought she might need a psychiatrist. There really was something wrong with her.
Heather walked over toward me causing fear to race through my body. She approached me and I was half expecting her to kick me, but she reached forward and removed the tape from my mouth.
"Why are you doing this?" were the first words that I could get out of mouth.
"I have to protect my own interest first, Amanda ." she said walking to the opposite side of the shed and resting her back against the wall. "You made me do this."
"How did I make you do this?"
"You shouldn't have told Mr. Richwood my plot. You made him hate me."
"Made him hate you?" I repeated as if it was the most foreign thing I had ever heard in my life. "What are you talking about? He doesn't hate you Heather."
"I know he does! When I first saw him…I'll admit that it was all a game to me. I thought it would be fun to sweep him off his feet, but the thing is that he never returned my affection. He sort of ignored me and it just made me try harder and before I knew it, it wasn't a game to me anymore and I really did love him…but you told him about my idea and now you made him hate me."
"Heather," I said slowly not realizing the damage I had caused. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."
"Yeah," Heather laughed to herself. "Of course you didn't know. All my life…men are always leaving me or just using me to get what they want. I don't know why I'm so repulsive."
I didn't understand what Heather was talking about. She was anything, but repulsive. In fact, half the guys in our school were willing to date her and those who had girlfriends would give them up for her. I didn't understand why she thought that she was repulsive.
"What are you talking about?" I asked. "You're really pretty and guys just love you."
"No they don't," she said grabbed her hair with both of her hands. "They just love my face. They never love me. I try so hard to talk to them…I try so hard to make them like me and not my stupid face, but they all only want one thing and once they get it they leave. They're always leaving! My dad is never around and the guys that I talk to never listen. We're always moving and I always have to start over. I thought Mr. Richwood would be different, but he just ignored me too." she stared over at me with a look of hatred in her eyes. She began to raise her voice. "He only liked you! I would try so hard and I could never surpass his feeling s for you, Amanda."
There were tears forming behind her eyelids. It was strange to see her crying real tears, ones that were a true reflection of her feelings and not ones produced as an attempt to manipulate people.
"Do you know how much that hurt me?!" she screamed. "He was all I had and I was never good enough for him. I thought about killing myself so many times…but I didn't go through with it because I thought that maybe if I kept trying then maybe I could make him like me…but you ruined it and I can never forgive you for that!"
"Heather," I said alarmed by this new side I was seeing to her. "I'm so sorry. I really am. I wish you would have talked to me about this sooner. I would have listened…I would have-,"
"Oh shut up Amanda!" she raged. "You're the reason all of this is happening in the first place. I hate men! I hate them! They're all monsters!! I'm tired of trusting them and being betrayed by them. Why can't a guy just love me?!" she was beginning to cry. "Why does everyone in the male race hate me so much?!"
It was scary to see Heather like this. Mr. Richwood was right. She did need a psyhctrist because she obviously had psychological problems. I was under the impression that her father's lack of devotion in her life had caused her to experience inner turmoil on the way she should view the men in her life.
Despite being bound by her in a shed, I couldn't help but feel the compassion for her. I just wanted to embrace her and heal her confusion toward the men in this world. She was a little girl who simply needed a father to guide her. Now that I understood her a little better I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.
The honking of Ann's car was carried through the window. Heather glanced outside and wiped the tears from her face. She picked up the tape she had pulled off my face and walked over toward me with it.
"Heather, I won't tell anyone. I understand why you did what you did, but you can't leave me here."
She pressed the tape down on my mouth and shook her head while trying the water from her face.
"I'm sorry Amanda, but maybe I'll have a better chance with Mr. Richwood while your here."
She made her way out of the shed, turning the light switch off behind her, and closing the door behind her.