I bit my lips and continued shoving my way through the throng of students in the hallway of the science department. I had enough of everybody telling me what to do and what's good for me. Even Sam, Sam, had tried to talk some reason in me. I kept pushing, in hopes of losing contact with everybody.
"Come on Cerice, don't act like this."
Act like what? I thought wildly, like I'm hurt? What did the world wanted me to do, to pretend I was strong when I'm not. I couldn't handle stress very well, and that was clear. Every night I wept for Sasha, sometimes wishing she was beside me and sometimes dead, mostly it was the former. Someone took hold of my wrist and whirled me around. "What's wrong with you!"
Oscar panted, catching his breath. "I would like to ask the same. Why are you avoiding me and acting so weird?"
"I avoid you because you're a pest, every time I'm with you all I hear is Sasha, Sasha, Sasha. I don't want to hear your reproaches or anyone elses!"
"Well, you'll have to," Oscar continued, "I understand how you're feeling, but step in Sasha's shoes for some minutes. She must be suffering too, you should go after her and beg her to hear you out. That will fix things."
I writhed away, "Maybe I don't want to fix anything." That was an outright lie, and I knew it, however it felt good to say it. "Maybe I should leave everything as it is and leave with my parents within two days, to France."
"Cerice, you're acting plain stupid." Oscar retorted. "Why don't you face the world like the grown up you are now. Have you ever thought about who might've taken the photographs? It was obvious somebody wanted you two to break up."
There was some truth in what he was saying. I had thought about it, but those thoughts always lead to Sasha's tear-stained face. I couldn't bear watching that face fulled of sadness. It wasn't Sam, he neither cunning enough, nor desperate enough to have me to resort to such vile methods. "I don't want to think about that anymore."
"You have to," repeated Oscar.
"No," I hissed, "now get out of my way or I'll hurt you."
"The Terry girl," Oscar said hurriedly. "Ever since you met her, your life came crashing down. I told you she was evil. I bet she was the one that took the photos and sent them to Sasha."
"Don't be stupid," I rolled my eyes, "she has been very supportive these days, unlike other friends I have."
"Letting a friend have cigarettes is what you call supportive?" Oscar scoffed. "Don't deny it, I know you're smoking. You should stop smoking, that shit is going to kill you."
I was aghast, "I didn't know you used that word."
Oscar blushed, "see what happens when I hang around too much with you? Anyway, I am sure it was Terry who set you up. Every time she looks at you, it is clear she is in love with you."
I thought for a moment. "But even so, if I try to talk to Sasha, she'll turn me down. She hates me now." Sam's words reverberated in her head. Sasha wouldn't believe a thing he was saying, but he said she was doubting her own affirmations. Perhaps I had a chance.
"Go to her after art class," Oscar suggested, "and tell her you're sorry for everything that happened."
"I didn't do anything," I complained.
"You didn't try hard enough to get her to hear you," Oscar said, matter-of-factly.
I didn't respond. What could I say to possibly go against the truth? I sighed, "I will try tonight. But if she turns me down, that's it. I cannot bear crying myself to sleep one more night." I was also tired to pretend I was okay when in reality I was all broken inside.
I stood in the hallway just outside Sasha's classroom. I had been three days absent, that surely gave my classmates much to gossip about. It was ten minutes until the class would be dismissed, I waited nervously. I hope I could choke out the monologue I had rehearsed telling her how much I loved her and that everything was a misunderstanding. That all along, Sam and I have been telling the truth and there was nothing between us. However, I didn't know how much of that she would want to believe.
There was movement in the classroom as everybody stood to leave. The door was suddenly opened, the sweet voice of Sasha coming out, bidding everybody a good night. The students filed out, some noticing me and whispering among themselves and others ignoring me completely. It was one old lady, who stopped in front of me and smiled.
"How lovely to see you around here again," she said loudly, "I thought we had lost you. You were such a brilliant art student."
"Please, be quiet," I begged.
"Ah, I understand," she nodded wisely and whispered in my ear, "don't let her go, young girl. Sasha is a great woman, it would be foolish of you if you let her walk out of your life for whatever reason you two are fighting for."
I gaped at her words. Had she known? Were they obvious? She winked knowingly and walked away, wishing me a good night. I took a deep breath before stepping inside the classroom, where Sasha was packing her stuff. Her back was facing me and I suddenly panicked. The words I rehearsed were leaving me and I froze. I wanted so bad to just run away, however, I knew it would only hurt more. Therefore, I said the words that came out of my mouth most naturally.
"Sasha, I love you."