Redemptive: Ch. 5

Chelsea wasn’t going to leave me alone.

We’d known each other our whole lives. She knew when something was bothering me, and she wasn’t going to stop pestering me until I told her what was wrong. 

“Hey, where do you think you’re going?” Chelsea said, rushing up to me and linking her arm through mine. “You think you can just leave without me? How dare you!”

“Sorry. I just don’t want to be late today.”

“Since when do you want to be early to Mr. Get-off-on-me’s class?”

I cringed at her nickname for our social studies teacher, Mr. Geoffrey.  He was known to assign all the prettiest girls front row seats so he could look down their shirts, while all the guys were suspiciously stuck in the very back. He claimed it was to keep the class focused, but as a girl assigned to the front row, I could attest to the creepy feeling of his eyes somewhere they shouldn’t be during test time.

As we entered the classroom, I spotted Zeke immediately at a desk in the back. I felt a pang of guilt shoot through my chest as I realized I’d never noticed he was in this class before. I balled my hands into fists, digging my nails into my palms as I plopped into my front-row seat next to Chelsea with a dramatic exhale.

Chelsea poked her pencil into my shoulder, and raised her eyebrows at me. “Seriously, who pissed in your cheerios this morning? Are you like mad at me for something?”

“What? No. I’m not mad at you, Chelsea.”

“Then what gives? What’s with the cloud of rage hovering over you today?”

I shrugged. "Just in a bad mood today."

A few years ago, I could have told Chelsea about the Zeke situation, and she would have been on my side. She would have rallied with me against Ike and his cruelty, and done everything she could to take Zeke under our wing while casting Ike into social obscurity. She probably would have even started an entire anti-bullying campaign that would spread across the entire town and possibly even make national news.

Our mothers had been best friends since college, and had planned their pregnancies together so our birthdays were only a few days apart. People often thought we were twins because we always celebrated our birthdays together, and for Halloween every year, we wore identical costumes. We didn’t look alike, but we shared everything.

Until our freshman year of high school.

Though we were still best friends, our preferences began to change. Chelsea would say it started with Ty, accusing him of turning me “soft” with his tendency toward introversion and rational thinking over impulsivity. 

But if you asked me, I’d say it was Ike who drove a wedge into our friendship.

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