My happiness surrounded me for the day. I was no longer down in the dumps, or swinging back and forth like a pendulum on fire. I just wanted to smile. So smile I did, giving Sophie a cheesy grin as she stepped onto the bus. She made no remark, but smiled back; it suddenly hit me that I didn’t mind calling her my friend now, despite how I had tried to look away from her before we had started these interschool clubs.
As I returned home, I whistled some tune that had been playing on the bus on the way back to school. I hadn’t noticed, too wrapped up in my thoughts of Drew. Sharp-tongued like me, he’d also shown his softer side. It seemed fair, and not too needy, that the first thing I did once I had changed into more comfortable clothes was to send him a text with my number.
This is my number. Don't forget to add me!
Then I parked myself next to the computer, hoping to get on with some of the Computer-Studies presentation just in case we didn’t have enough time to complete it in the hour next week. Automatically, I maximised my Messenger. To my surprise, Cayden was online. He normally came on later, but today he had been prompt. I had always supposed that his school-day ran longer than mine, but this threw my point out entirely. In the time it had taken me to be surprised, Cayden had done his speciality and typed me a greeting.
Cayden Rachet: Hi, Poppy! How have you been?
Poppy Brant: I’ve been good thanks. Cheerful.
Cayden Rachet: That’s nice to hear. So, we can continue our philosophy again! By the way, wasn’t interschool clubs such a bore today?
Poppy Brant: :P Way!
Though I had laughed at the question when he had posed it, remembering it weird that he also had had to endure the interschool clubs idea at the same time as me, my laughter caught in my throat now. I was sick of pretending to be some personality I wasn’t, and now that my lies didn’t fit with my outfit, I didn’t see the point in playing out the charade.
Poppy Brant: Actually, no. I had a fun time at the session today, actually. I think I’m applying a great deal to my Studies.
Before I could see his reply, however, my phone buzzed beside me. I unlocked it and scanned over the text reply Drew had sent me.
Hey, Annabelle, I was just wondering if we could meet. Sometime soon.
I text back quickly, trying to juggle conversations with both boys at the same time. Cayden seemed to have moved on from asking about my day.
Cayden Rachet: Poppy, I sent you a text. Did you get it?
Poppy Brant: I’m not sure. Sorry, give me a second; I’ve got homework that I’m rushing to complete. I think my phone might be playing up anyway.
Sure, Drew, not tonight since my mother would probably think it a bad idea, but maybe tomorrow. I can get from my school to the Raven Café quickly. Can you?
Then I flicked through my contacts to confirm the irregularity I was seeing- and disbelieving. There was Drew’s number he had given me that afternoon, but my phone was intent on telling me it was a secondary mobile number. I clicked through to find the primary number for the user…and suddenly found myself looking at the contact profile I had created for Cayden. And, in fact, all the most recent messages- both sent and received- were entitled ‘Cayden’.
I frowned, looking between the computer screen and my mobile interface. Shaking my head, I stayed on the primary contact, clicking the ‘send message’ button, and typing as fast as I could into the box that my phone presented me with.
Hey, Cayden, thanks for the text. My phone is still being strange so I couldn’t read most of it. Could you send it again please? Sorry for the problems.
The messenger bleeped beside me, making me jump, but jolting me back into action. There, Cayden, had ‘nudged’ me, and, as I sat watching, he also sent me another Instant Message.
Cayden Rachet: It was nothing important, just a check-up text. I only sent it recently, so it might not have come through the network yet.
Poppy Brant: Right…
His response was terribly fishy, to say the least.
I merely had to do one more thing to be sure of my dreadful theory. I went on the network site, my fingers trembling as if the house had suddenly got a lot colder, linking through to Cayden’s profile through my own. Here, I by-passed his ‘feed’, going straight to the profile pictures. There were three of them, all of Cayden…or I had supposed that at first. Now, as I looked closer at them all, especially the one that I had not seen before (its upload date was, I calculated, before I had created Poppy’s profile), I could see why, when I had first met Drew, I had made comparisons between him and Cayden. Though the light was dim in most shots, and the boy had face turned away, and, in one of the pictures, his hair was visibly blue, there was no denying the same pointed chin and the same curves of his slouched body. It had become all too familiar to me.
Suddenly, the month’s past events slotted into clear, chilling focus. My shaking was becoming ridiculous and I pushed myself out of my computer chair, barely making it to the bathroom before I threw up.