Chess Pieces, Ch.11 - Reality Check

September. Summer had come and gone with nohesitation or urgency, filtering away from sunshine to cloudy skies once more. From what I’d heard, the weather at home hadn’t particularly been desirable and for the majority of the summer it had been wet and miserable; pretty much like my life… no, this summer hadn’t been one of the better ones but it had soon picked itself up after the disturbance that had taken place.

     Marc had gone back to Glasgow after that day in the rain, the day that we shared our first truthful kiss, and I hadn’t seen him since. However, I wasn’t kept in the shadows and left to wilt, he spoke to me most nights over the phone; telling me that he loved me.

     Obviously he wasn’t the only one proclaiming their love for me. I hadn’t had a moment’s silence without the interruption of Ben pleading for my forgiveness. I couldn’t be rid of him no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so indifferent and not understand the concept of not being wanted; he was a flea that refused to be destroyed.

     Mum thought I was being harsh but I ignored her concerns. She wasn’t the one that had found out about his cheating – if you could call it cheating – so she had no right to tell me whether what I was doing was for the best or the worst.

     I stared at the reflection of myself in the mirror and sighed. I’d lost weight over the summer and it was visible in my face. My cheek bones were much more prominent and the area around my eyes was starting to look hollowed. I wasn’t too concerned about it though as the change wasn’t enough for others to stare and worry about. Mum certainly hadn’t mentioned it so it wasn’t too bad.

     Mum and I had returned to England a week before ready for the beginning of my second year of college. I’d contemplated transferring to another college but decided not to for proximity purposes. I could face up to him, I was a strong enough person, and I could handle him easily. After all, if it did get too much for me I could simply talk to the director at the college and have something sorted. Simple.

     I sighed to myself, preparing myself for the day to come. I knew that I couldn’t pretend everything would run smoothly and that a constant distance would be kept between Ben and me but I had to try and believe that it was a possibility. If, however, we did come in contact with each other I would be civil with him. I was tired of the silence, no matter how much he hurt me, and wanted to call a truce between the two of us; I’d much rather us return to the place we’d once stood before and remain just friends, than have him be treated like a complete stranger.

Time seemed to pass slowly as I walked down the corridors that day at college. Everyone I passed had their eyes fixed on me, snapping their heads in my direction as I turned a corner and not taking their attention off me until I turned the next corner.

     Of course, everybody knew. Everybody knew about how harsh mine and Ben’s break up had been and how much I’d crushed him. They didn’t want to know my side of the story, all they cared about was Ben; forever Mr. Popular and God to all watchful, hopeful, adoring eyes. They all loved him… and now they all hated me.

     The usual noise that filled the tiled corridors was suddenly silent when I entered the picture with the echo of my footsteps being the only audible sound. I hated all this attention on me. I hated how all the blame was thrown at me. I hated how they assumed it was my entire fault. Did they know that Ben had been cheating on me with his ex? Or was that part left out to spare him the shame? Maybe… maybe not.

     The grip on the ring binders in my arms tightened and my pace quickened as the silence began to bother me more and more. If I was going to be followed by a continuous muted mob of disgusted students wherever I went, I didn’t want to hang around long. I turned sharply in the direction of the girls’ toilets and threw the door open causing it to collide with the wall behind it with a thunderous bang.

     There were two girls at the sinks midway through reapplying their makeup as I stormed in. Their attention left their half made up faces and reverted to mine. Soon enough, they collected their belonging and left the bathroom, never taking their eyes off me, leaving me in my own personal solitude. I hovered on the spot for a few moments, breathing intensely with my head spinning around and around itself a hundred thousand times causing dizziness and a churning stomach on my part.

     I entered the middle stall and locked the thin door behind me, planting myself on the closed basin, placing my forehead in the palms of my hands with my elbows resting upon my knees. Without warning, fresh, warm tears fell to the tile floor below. There was nothing I could do to stop myself. I was embarrassed by my own vulnerability. I’d assured myself that no matter what happened I refused to cry. Yet, here I was sat in a toilet stall crying; a flashback from two years ago when I discovered I was pregnant with James at the age of fifteen. Although the circumstances were different, the emotions and thoughts flooding my mind were the same.

     I knew my first day back at college would be tough, but I never thought it would be this bad… and it hadn’t even properly begun yet.

     I was due in Art in five minutes but couldn’t pull myself to drag my feet there and be confronted with the source of all my heartbreak. Of course he would be there and of course I wouldn’t be able to avoid him.

     The silence of the girls’ toilets was broken by the entrance of giddy laughter from two girls. I remained seated, trying to make my presence unnoticeable. When the girls’ laughter subdued, one began to speak:

     “Can you believe she’s actually come in today? If I was her, I wouldn’t have come back and just moved colleges. After what she’s done, I don’t know how she can show her face.” in her trill, girly high pitched squeak of a voice I knew exactly who it was that was talking – Nadine Bramwell, a girl in my Art class, who believed herself to be the most perfect being to be created in the world… scratch that, world – and I knew exactly who she was gossiping about; me. But I wasn’t going to let on I was eavesdropping; besides, I kind of wanted to know what they had to say.

     “I know, right,” the second girl – Emelia Buxton, the girl whose ‘memorable’ party I’d been invited to two years ago – replied, “just because they had a kid together, it doesn’t mean that she has the right to snatch him away from Amanda like that. I mean, they’d been going out for ages, right? They were practically in love.”

     “Yeah, and then she suddenly jumps up one day and announces that she’s moving countries, totally out of the blue, and then, all of a sudden, he breaks up with Amanda for no apparent reason. You saw how heartbroken she was. She did not deserve that.”

     “But, did you know that she and Ben had been talking last Summer about getting back together again?”

     “Yeah, and just as they were about to make it official, she comes back and he suddenly has no interest in Amanda whatsoever anymore. It’s bizarre! I mean, c’mon! What does she have, that Amanda doesn’t?

     “His son?” a new third voice spoke. Nadine and Emelia fell silent leaving the sound of heels against the tiled floor the only sound echoing around the room. I hadn’t even heard the toilets door open and felt ambushed. I remained silent, but listened tentatively.

     “Oh, hi, we thought you weren’t coming in today.” Nadine announced, in her happy, giddy, fake best friend voice.

     “As if I’d miss the first day back at college, I’m not that stupid… unlike some people. Can you believe she turned up today? I was fuming when I found out this morning. Jade texted me when I was on my way and I almost lost in the back of my mum’s car; she seriously thought I was having a mental breakdown… if only she knew.” I could tell in an instant that the new voice added to the rant was Amanda, Ben’s ex-girlfriend… current girlfriend… one of the two, and she did not sound amused; not that I’d blame her.

     “We’re as shocked as you are, Amanda,” Nadine continued, “we couldn’t believe that she would be able to show her face after what she did to Ben.”

     “From what I’ve heard, she was such a witch and treated him like a dog.” Emelia added. I clenched my fists tight in a ball and bite my tongue so not to give away my hiding position and listened on.

     “Oh, I know why she broke up with him and I know the exact circumstances and, though I’m not proud of myself, I know that it had a lot to do with me.” Amanda threw in quickly, no doubt with a sly grin on her smug face.

     “Was she jealous of you?” Nadine asked.

     “Quite so, Ben told me how she’d been spying through his text messages – most likely paranoid that he was seeing someone else at the same time – and found a string of text messages from yours truly; quite recent ones at that.

     “They generally all pointed to him devoting his love to me and that he loved no one more than he could love me, not even her. To be perfectly honest with you, the only reason he stayed with her was because of their kid. Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if she turned around and told him that the kid wasn’t even his! I mean, she kept it a secret for more than a year that she even had a kid and only let on about it when she needed it the most.” I was near to boiling point at that moment. How dare she accuse me of lying to Ben and telling him that he was James’ son just so it suited me!

     “So, you think she only told Ben that he was her kid’s dad just so she could get together with him? And that he’s not even it’s really dad? Even for her, that’s kind of mean, don’t you think?” Emelia questioned. At least someone was sticking up for me; though partial it may be and perhaps not intentionally.

     “Emelia, she’s a psycho boyfriend stealer who find pleasure in leading guys on and then throwing them to the curb. I can assure you, she’s capable of much worse. But, if she messes with my man again she’ll be sorry.”

     The three of them all laughed smugly before continuing onto a typical girly conversation about boys, I was trying my utmost not to react to the accusations they had accused me of and sat sit in the toilet stall, waiting for them to leave before I could emerge from the shadows.

     “So, how are things moving along with you and Ben? Weren’t they a little bit shaky when he came back from Scotland?” Nadine asked, in her rumour creating, enticing voice.

     “They’re gradually growing. When he came back from Scotland it was obvious he was hurting and it was weeks before he would even let see him, let alone talk to him. He told me that it was my fault she’d broken up with him and that he felt depressed about the whole situation…”

     “…about the fact she’s found his text messages to you saying that he loved you? Why would he feel depressed about that?” Emelia interrupted.

     “I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either. I mean, why would he be depressed that she’d broken up with him because he loved me more than her? Then it clicked, he’s never been dumped before, it’s always been him doing the dumping and not the other way round. He only felt depressed because he was in that transition period.

     “Of course, I comforted him and told him that if she couldn’t see how special he was then she was a waste of time and that he would be much happier with someone who understands him and would never do anything to harm him. I mean, that’s what I had to. I couldn’t exactly tell him that it was his own fault for going out with her in the first place, could I? That would just crush him even further about the fact who could have avoided the primary ending of being dumped in the first place.

     “But as it stands, no we’re not together yet. We’re nearly there but I think he still needs time to adjust. He’s let me kiss him on the cheek, but that’s it. I’m kind of worried, really. I think she’d broken him completely in confidence. He may never be the same man again. And that’s why I hate her. The next time she has anything to do with Ben is the day that the name Casey Stewart gets removed from this college.” All three of them squealed with laughter and their heels clomped toward the toilets door announcing their exit with the bang of the door against the doorframe as they left. I remained still.

     Could I really take what Amanda had said seriously? Surely she wasn’t capable to rise to the occasion and actually try to get me kicked out of college, right? I knew she could be a handful and sometimes a little… a lot on the devious side when it came to guys, but her reaction seemed a little too farfetched. Should I be worried?

     But I knew one thing, she was one hell of a liar and I would not stand for that. If you bring James into something… that’s the last straw.

The End

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