I was actually grateful for the next day because at least the restless sleep and the confusing dreams would be over with. I got dressed quickly and headed out. Noting that the sun was shining and the clouds were gone. Summer was nearing at last. No more rain and being stuck inside. Once summers here I would be able to escape the others more easily. We'd be allowed to go around the city during lunchtimes. Harder for Amber to track me down out there.
I gave Kim a sleepy wave as I walked into my first class.
“Wow, never drink, because if tired looks hungover. God forbid what hungover looks like,” She said with a laugh.
“Bitch,” I muttered, not meaning it. I slumped forward on the table. Hoping maybe our food technology teacher would be late for once. No such luck. I looked up to find it was-
“Miss Dale?” I blurted it out loud without thinking.
“Oh, hi Michael,” she said as she put stuff down. Luckily it wasn't too embarrassing, the majority of people in this class were in my German class as well.
“Mrs Green is in hospital for a few weeks. She had a nasty fall down the stairs apparently. Now I'll be honest and say I don't know much about cooking, but the school needed a sub and evidently students like me. Thanks for that,” She said with a genuine smile. She pulled out a piece of paper, reading the lesson plan I guessed. She handed out the sheets with the instructions on and told us to go about getting what we needed from the pantry and fridges. We got into our usual pairs, Me and Kim. But it was figured out pretty early on that we couldn't make this thing without our real cooking teacher. Miss Dale called a standstill to the action. Making us tidy up and write out coursework instead. Promising that next lesson she'd be more organised.
Once that was over I spent the break talking to Kim and Lily about yesterday. Kim was so enthusiastic about the whole thing. She even shyly admitted that she kinda liked one of the girls she'd met. But when Lily pushed for a name she refused to give it. I was tempted to mention Zack but shook the thought aside. I needed to at least give Derek a chance, somehow. The bell went pulling me into another double class, only this time it was maths. Two hours of maths is a cruel thing to inflict on anyone and after last night's few hours of sleep I really couldn't be asked. Just looking at the textbook page gave me a killer headache. In the end I gave in and raised my hand, asking if I could hide in the nurses office until it passed. I was allowed to go and picked up my stuff and left the room quietly. Not wanting to disturb the rest of the class.
The nurse gave me two aspirin and a glass of water and left me to sit in silence. The sun had gotten shoved aside by the rain now. It wasn't quite heavy yet, but getting close to it. I listened to the sound and felt my headache begin to ebb away. I hadn't even meant to fall asleep but then a set of fingers snaps right by my ears and my eyes shot open.
“Hey there, gay boy,” I repressed the urge to respond to that as Amber took the seat directly opposite me.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, openly glaring at her.
“Teacher overheard me throwing up,” she said with non-committal shrug.
“How nice of you to sit in the same room as me and pass the bug on,” I replied icily. I'd be cursing her if I ended up throwing up in the middle of the night. I had a lack of sleep as it was.
“Calm down, you can't catch it” she said with a bored expression.
“Why that's?” I asked, because last I checked most stomach things you could catch. Considering how loaded her parents were I doubted it was food poisoning.
“I did it on purpose, duh! Guys are so stupid,” she muttered, avoiding my face. Now I'd be the last person to care about Amber, but last I checked making yourself throw up was a bad thing. I mean I'd heard stories about girls who did it. But they always had low self-esteem and were quiet people. I wouldn't put Amber in either of those categories.
“Will you quit staring at me? It's creeping me out,” She said, her lip curled in distaste. But she wasn't mad at me. I think she was mad at the way I was looking at her. I figured there must be a universal expression for “oh god, she's doing something seriously wrong, what am I meant to do?!”.
“What reason do you have to do something like that, it's not like you don't already look fine,” I said and she let out small laugh through her nose.
“This from the guy who called me “slutty”. Just leave it Michael. You don't know a thing” She said, resting her head in one hand. The lines on her forehead showed she was thinking about something a lot. I hadn't seen her much today but I realised her attempts at insults and comments had actually been pretty bad today. Probably why I don't remember them.
“You know I'm only annoyed because you have Derek...that and your treat me like shit,” I said.
“Because your life is so hard, your mother cares about you and goes out her way to help you,” she said. I opened my mouth to point out a dozen reasons why it also sucked but she interrupted me.
“Don't say its not that good. I grew up in that park too Michael. Your mums amazing. Maybe you didn't or don't have much money. But at least she cares. I'd rather shop in a nasty second-hand shop with my mum than go out with friends to every up-market place out there.” Amber let out a sigh as she finished talking.
“Sorry, am I meant to feel sorry for you?” I said and she gave me wide-eyed stare.
“Well, duh!” she said. Letting her arms flop to her sides in a helpless gesture, “Guys,” she muttered.
“Well newsflash. I don't. You treat everyone round here like dirt. Maybe your parents think its okay to do that, but trust me. You don't have to be anything like them,” I said. I could feel the headache throbbing back to life and wanted to ask the nurse to make Amber go to the other room.
“Well, won't matter soon. Looks like their about to get a divorce. Then I have to pick. Mum who's a control freak and who never thinks I look pretty enough. Or a dad who's never around,” she sighed.
“I thought when I started dating Derek he'd be a good enough distraction from all this, you know?”
“No, I don't know. Derek has been the cause of most of my stresses,” I mumbled and she laughed.
“Love is a bitch like that. That's how strong it is, isn't it?” Amber's expression had changed, she wasn't a confused girl anymore. The calculating spark in her blue eyes was back.
“Know what, I feel much better. Bye Amber. And stop making yourself throw up. It might make you skinny but it makes your teeth rot and fall out and damages your throat. Also you really don't have to.” As I left the room I wondered why I even bothered. Why should I care about her of all people? Was I that fundamentally weak and nice now? I shook my head and gazed at the clock. No point heading to my fifth class, it was almost over.
When I entered the history class and sat behind Derek he turned to face me straight away.
“Hey, have you seen Amber?” he asked, his face a mask of worry.
“She in the nurses office. She doesn't feel good...I think she might need some help. Based on what she's told me.” I had no clue why I was sending Derek to her. But She'd probably listen to him more than me. Maybe the two of them were supposed to be together. Her the rich, spoilt brat. Him, the clueless boy trailing after her. I'd tried to warm him and he refused to listen. More and more thoughts of Zack entered my mind. So much so I texted Lily, suggesting we invite him to paint balling on Saturday. She texted back that it was a great plan - Maybe we could show him our group wasn't that bad.