My mum knocked on my door in the morning to wake me up. I buried my head into my pillow and murmured various thing about it being too early and how dumb school was. After showering and dressing I shoved everything I needed into my bag and headed downstairs.
“Hey, eat quickly. Dad had to go in early so I'll give you a lift in,” mum said. I nodded with half closed eyes, I was not a morning person. I ate my cereal and watched the TV rant on about bad news elsewhere. I wondered if dad would sent to any of the conflict areas again. He'd gone away for six months last year. I once tried to ask him about some of the things he'd seen but he'd never give details.
“Ready?” mum asked, the chink of keys coming from her direction. I had the last of my breakfast and I was back to school. I hated Thursday mornings. Who expects someone who's just woken up to have the hand-eye co-ordination to play tennis? It was insane. When I walked into the changing rooms I headed to my usual spot by Kim and hoped I could get changed fast enough that I didn't have to face Amber.
“Hey, how was last night's rehearsal?” Kim asked. I'm pretty sure my expression made the answer obvious.
“Darren is still giving me crap about that one song...” I trailed off. We both knew why the song was never going to work.
“Look, I get that having to do a musical number that involves getting close is hard. But can't you just pretend she's someone else or something? I mean you're in character roles, not being each other,” Kim suggested. It was one I'd heard from Zack, but it was difficult. Because even if I don't want to give her a second chance, my damn hormonal body does.
“How was the meet-up?” I asked, I was so annoyed when I realised rehearsals were Wednesdays and Monday evenings.
“It was good, me and Anisha are still spending a lot of time together. She wants us to meet up over the weekend and do bowling or something. I was thinking of making it a group thing. But then I remember Michael couldn't come. Be pretty sucky without him,” Kim said with a frown.
“It would be, but going bowling sounds better than wasting my weekend moping,” I replied. Kim studied me for a few moments and then pulled me into a hug.
“Don't worry, you'll move on,” she murmured in my ear. I gave her a grateful smile and finished getting dressed. If anyone was judging it they didn't show it, ever since Michael was outed we'd stopped trying to hide it ourselves. No one had bothered Kim or me, which could just mean that Lewis is on a tight rope at the moment. I gripped the handle of the tennis racket harder thinking about him, how the hell they thought it was okay to let him stay at this school I'm never going to get. Whenever I see him in the corridor I just want to shove him hard against a locker. Especially now that he's falling back into his old routines, picking on the first-years and quieter kids. You'd think he'd learn from the whole experience.
“Need a partner?” Amber asked right behind me, I jumped a little and backed away.
“Kim's already agreed,” I replied, looking hopefully at the locker room doors.
“So how about we play until she finishes getting sorted?” Amber said.
“I'd rather pass,” I said, sitting on one of the gym benches to the side of the room. Amber smiled at me, as if what I was doing was just some amusing game. I expected her to sit right next to me but instead she stood in front of where I sat.
“Can I help you?” I asked, keeping my eye line on her shoes, feeling a little jealous of the nice trainers. Everything my parents ever bought was affordable and long-lasting. Part of the mentality I figured.
“Yes, you can let me make this whole mess up to you,” Amber said. I raised an eyebrow and looked at her face, which from this angle was hard to do without ignoring her boobs.
“That's a new tactic,” I said dryly, glancing at the locker doors, Kim still wasn't ready. Had Amber planned something to keep her stuck in there? Somehow it wouldn't surprise me.
“Yeah, well nothing I've tried so far is working and I really want you back,” Amber replied. I glared at her then with enough force that she faltered a half step back. The extra personal space made breathing a little easier.
“Why? So you can keep me a big secret and treat me like crap in front of your friend so they don't suspect a thing?” I asked, not even hiding the disgust in my voice. At least she had the decency to flinch at the words.
“And that's what I want to make up for,” she finally said.
“What did you have in mind?” I asked, even though we both knew I would say no. Amber hesitated before sitting down next to me.
“Well, the exams are done and we break off in a few weeks. My parents are letting me spend a week in Europe. Usually I'd opt for just staying in Paris. But you said you wanted to do that backpacking thing right? I looked into it and my parents don't mind,” Amber said. I blinked at her in shock. Amber and backpacking are two words that never went together.
“You realise that will be horrible and sweaty and you can't really bother with make-up or high heels. Not to mention the camping side of things,” I said. I could see all of those bothered her as I reeled them off, but she just shrugged.
“So? I've spent enough time getting what I want. And I really want to make it up to you,” she said, adding emphasis to the really.
“And spending time stuck in hot buses. Humid air so you're hair will be impossible. Crowded streets with tourists-” I continued.
“Okay, stop it. Yes, there are a lot of things I won't like. But I don't care. You think I'm just playing some game, but I'm not,” Amber said, her voice growing louder and more hysterical as she spoke. Then she stormed into the locker room. She didn't come back, ditching the lesson.
Kim came out soon afterwards, her hair now wet.
“Somebody spilt a load of hair crap onto me, had to grab a quick shower,” Kim explained, sitting down next to me. So Amber had done something, I knew it.
“Are you okay?” Kim asked, concern etching her voice as she looked at me.
“I'm fine,” I answered, probably with a little too much hostility. Kim held up her hands and we left the subject alone. At least I played tennis okay, imagining I was trying to hit Amber.