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Chapter Thirty-Three

Brooke was sitting on a stack of mats, talking to Chloe in the dancers den. Nick and Kristen were chatting, and Maddie was learning her solo. Mackenzie was taking a technique class with Jen, and Paige was finishing up some homework in the observatory with Audra, the girls’ tutor.

“So, what’s going on with you and Nick?” Chloe asked.

Brooke looked down and blushed, embarrassed that she asked that. She moved her hair out of her slightly broken out face. She took a deep breath in and then blew at a baby hair that had fallen in front of her face. She let out a nervous giggle and tried to avoid answering the question.

“Um,” She started and let out another laugh. “Uh, well…we aren’t together but we aren’t split up.”

“That makes no sense.” Chloe shook her head, and looked at Brooke.

Brooke shrugged and jumped down to the bench, where Chloe was. She cuffed her hand around Chloe’s ear and whispered, “We might be going to prom together but he hasn’t broken up with Kristen yet.”

“He told me he was going with Auriel!” Chloe said softly.

Brooke nodded and then whispered, “He’s gonna tell her that it won’t feel right even if they are just friends!” Brooke leaned back up to her normal sitting position and then said, “I think Kristen should go with Brandon, to be honest.”

Chloe nodded and agreed. “Where’s mom?”

“I think she went with my mom to dinner. Melissa is still here though, I think.” Brooke said, looking around.

Up in the viewing room, it was just Paige and Audra. The only problem was, Paige couldn’t focus on doing homework. Her mind would venture off to Brooke and Nick. Brooke had been scaring Paige that past month or so. With everything that happened on the night that Brooke thought someone was breaking in and the night that Brooke kept claiming that somebody was going to shoot her. There was an entire week that Brooke wouldn’t leave the house because she was scared that the white van and the men were going to show up again.

“Audra.” Paige said abruptly. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, Paigey. Anything,” Audra said with a smile.

Paige took a breath in and then said, “What is going on with Brooke?” Paige paused for a moment. And then clarified, “I mean, she’s been acting really weird lately…I’m just - I’m just worried about her.”

Audra leaned back and said, “She’s just growing up. She’s fifteen now, and I’m pretty sure she would rather be with her friends at the mall or at a party than here with you and all of your friends.”

Paige blinked and looked down. “I don’t like the new Brooke.”

“You might not like it now, but when you get older you’ll understand.” Audra said. “I promise.”

“I hope…” Paige said. It was silent for a few moments. Audra felt closer to Paige, she felt like part of the family after that talk. She’d been around the girls for two year, but had never felt so close to any of them. “How do you do number seven?” Paige asked, pointing at an algebra problem with her pink eraser of her number two, yellow, wooden pencil.

“Oh…” Audra said. She picked up her pink mechanical pencil and started to explain.

Back down in the dancers den, Kristen and Nick were talking. Nick was trying to avoid Brooke as a topic of discussion, but Kristen kept bringing the conversation back to her. Nick rolled his glossy green eyes and rested his arms on his knees. He was slumped over and looking down at the nasty, grey carpet that desperately needed to be cleaned or replaced. Nick started to think about the time Brandon had given him a black eye and a bloody nose on that carpet.

“Nick, are you listening to me?” Kristen asked.

“What?” Nick said, looking up with a stupid grin on his face.

 Kristen rolled her eyes and walked out.

“Kristen!” He called. Kristen passed Auriel, Payton, and Katherine on her way back into the bathroom. Payton gave a little laugh and pointed to Nick as she walked into studio B. Brooke looked over her shoulder and grunted at the sight of Payton.

“Aur!” Nick called.

“He’s gonna do it,” Chloe laughed. Brooke smiled, standing up. “What are you doing?”

“Just watch,” Brooke laughed.

She walked across the carpet, dragging her heels. She sat down next to Nick and gave a little smile. Brooke took a small breath in before she spoke. She spoke loud enough so Auriel and the other girls could hear her say, “So, our colors for prom are red and gold, right?”

It was a subtle question, but Auriel definitely got the point. Her face went from a slight grin to complete shock. She whipped her head around and glared at Brooke with heavy, deep, dark eyes. Auriel bent forward and over Brooke, making Brooke super self-conscious.

Brooke and Auriel had been friends for a while. They would talk about boys and things like that. Brooke had told Auriel all of her secrets, and at that minute, Brooke knew she shouldn’t have done it. All of Brooke’s secrets and insecurities were about to spill out.

“What the hell, Brooke?” Auriel screamed. “You know I’m going to prom with Nick!”

Right then Kristen walked out of the bathroom again. She ran up to Auriel, Brooke, Nick, Payton, and Katherine in the small group. Chloe turned around to see what all the hubbub was about. Her eyes got wide and she thought, No, no, no, get yourself out of there, Brooke. You’re better than them!

“No!” Kristen shouted, “I’m going to prom with Nick! He’s my boyfriend…”

“Really?” Brooke nodded in a snobby fashion. She wasn’t usually snobby at dance, but here came her inner public school attitude. Someone call Laquifa because it was about to get real sassy out here. “Really…because last night Nick came to my house and gave me flowers and a card. We were sitting up in my room talking, and he said that things didn’t work out between you two, Kristen.” Brooke turned to Auriel and said, “And he said he never really wanted to go with you anyways.”

Nick looked between the three girls. And right when it couldn’t get awkward enough, Payton heard her cue and jumped on in. “Oh, Nicky, you don’t have to go with any of them. Remember back in September when we agreed on prom together?”

Katherine stepped in between Kristen and Auriel and softly said, “Nick, we’ve been planning prom since we were ten…”

The five girls turned and looked at Nick. Nick gulped and blinked, trying to find the words. He took a deep breath in and said, “This wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

“Nick, come help me teach this hot shot class!” James shouted across the den.

Nick jumped up and ran out as fast as he could, saying hello to Chloe on his way out. Payton and Katherine rolled their eyes and went back into studio B to a technique class, the same one Mackenzie was in. Without support, Brooke was left defenseless. She felt helpless and weak. Nick, why did you have to go when I needed you here? Brooke thought and raised an eyebrow at Auriel.

“You’re such a little bitch!” Auriel said.

Brooke had been called worse; she didn’t let it get to her, but Chloe, on the other hand, went crazy on the inside. Her soft, brown eyes grew big. Her thin, pink lips slowly spread apart and her jaw dropped low. Kristen looked at Chloe and rolled her eyes like the brat she was. Auriel caught on to what Kristen was looking at and saw Chloe sitting, staring.

“What do you want, blondie?” Auriel asked.

Chloe shook her head slightly, “Noth…”

Auriel cut her off and hissed, “Chloe you’re such a little brat. You always get what you want and it’s ridiculous.”

Brooke turned and saw Chloe, bawling.

“Hey!” Brooke hollered. “That was rude and uncalled for.”

“What are you gonna do about it, little precious, perfect Brookie?” Auriel batted her eyes and mocked Brooke. “You are nothing but a short, flat chested bitch who hooks up with any guy around to make you feel better about yourself. News flash honey, David had a girlfriend back in California and EVERYONE knew it, except for you. You’re a short, flat chested, self-centered, oblivious little bitch.”

Brooke hopped off of the bench and ran up the stairs to the observatory, following Chloe.

“Yeah, that’s right!” Kristen called. “Run to Mommy. We all know what you’ve done!”

Audra sat, going over Paige’s completed math homework when Chloe and Brooke got up the stairs. Paige hugged Chloe and Audra had Brooke. Chloe cried so hard she started hyperventilating. Brooke made herself sick. She had to run to the bathroom every few minutes. The last time on her way out, she wasn’t watching where she was going and ran right into Brandon.

“Brooke.” He said. Brandon genuinely cared why she was crying so hard. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing…” Brooke coughed out.

Brandon shook his head, “You’re not okay, Brooke.”

“Yes I am!” She screamed.

She turned around and walked out of the dancers den, through the lobby, and out to the nearly empty, gravel parking lot. She took in deep, heavy, unsteady breaths of the January air. In only a red leotard, she froze through quickly, but refused to go inside. She felt a fuzzy, warm piece of fabric fall around her shoulders. She turned around and saw Brandon drape his hoodie over her.

“Come on,” He said, pulling her towards his car. 

Submitted: October 21, 2012

© Copyright 2022 laciandlaura. All rights reserved.


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