The first day of school was pretty exciting. I had a good feeling about most of my classes, although I didn’t have any with Gill and I only had gym with Lucy.
When lunch rolled around, Gill, Lucy, and I, along with the others, claimed are usual table near the stage. If you wanted to be anyone in this school, you sat there. However, the seats were by invitation only, and there was only so much room. I sat at the corner, so I could see everyone and get out easily if I needed to.
“Hey, Nikki, when’s the next meet?” Lucy asked, referring to the cheer leading squad. I was Team Captain.
“I’m not sure. I’ll have to meet with Coach after school and ask her. I’ll text you as soon as I know.” She nodded and returned to eating her pizza. Gill was sitting on the other side of Lucy, and I was a little disappointed at first, but that gave me room to catch up with some of the other girls.
As we left the cafeteria at the end of lunch, the boy from the party, Jake, caught up to me. Looking at him close up and sober, he really was sort of cute. But I still wasn’t interested.
“So you and Gill are back together, huh?”
“Yes, we are.” He shook his head.
“That’s too bad.”
“Excuse me? Do yourself a favor and mind your own business. Okay?” I snapped at him.
“Everything okay over here?” Gill came up behind me, wrapping his arm protectively around my shoulder.
“I’m not sure,” I replied, staring hard at Jake.
“Is there a problem?” Gill asked the kid. He glared at me and shook his head, stalking off angrily.
“Are you okay?” Gill kissed the top of my head, and I nodded. I looked around at the group of people that had gathered around us, hoping for a show. As I met their eyes, they all dispersed and acted as though nothing had happened.
School continued to go well for the next couple of weeks. Homework became more regular, teachers were starting to remember names better, and seating charts had loosened up. Not that there were many people I liked in most of my classes, anyway. But it was after everything had settled into a comfortable routine that things really started to suck.
The last bell of the day had rung, and kids were filing out into the halls, ready to leave. I was just closing my locker when I saw Gill. I was ready to go and greet him, until I saw what he was doing.
I blinked hard to make sure I wasn’t just seeing things. While my eyes were closed, a seed of hope planted itself deep inside me, it’s feeble roots taking their hold. It died instantly the moment I opened my eyes. A wave of sickness crashed over me, and my heart rocketed into my throat.
I wasn’t sure what to feel first, anger, hurt, disgust, betrayal… The list goes on.
I stood there as tears blurred my vision, trying hard to blink them back. Gill looked up and noticed me. At first, he seemed confused. And then it dawned on him that I’d seen what he had stupidly thought was private. He pushed Lucy away from him, her lips still puckered. She clearly didn't realize what had just happened.
I turned on my heel and made my way for the front lobby. The first tear fell then, and I wiped it angrily away. I was oblivious to the people crowding around like they were at a circus.
“Nikki!” Gill called, but I ignored him. I could hear the pound of his footsteps as he ran to catch up with me. I quickened my pace, but I wasn’t fast enough. I didn’t want a scene; I just wanted to go home and dwell on how much I hated him.
Gill cut around me and blocked my path, so I turned around and began retracing my steps. Gill wouldn’t put up with that though, and somehow he cornered me against a wall.
“No,you listen. There’s no excuse for that. Nothing you say is going to make me forget what I just saw.”
“Nikki,” he pleaded. He had enough nerve to try to kiss me, and I pushed him away as my lunch threatened to resurface.
“Don’t ‘Nikki’ me! You’ve lied to me before, and I’m done with it! I’m done with you! I hate you!” I tried pushing past him, but his arms were like steel bars, and I couldn’t move him.
Gill looked around at all the people staring at us, and said nervously, “Come on, Nikki, you’re embarrassing yourself here. Why don’t I walk you home and we can sort all this out there.”
“Why don’t you go to hell!” I shouted. He struck my face so hard I heard his fingers crack. I was stunned, and scared; by the looks of it, everyone else was too.
Gill realized what he’d done and tried apologizing, but I was just furious now.
“Gilligan Borrows, if you don’t move out of my way now, I promise you, you will—“
“I’ll what?” He was toying with me now, acting like this was somehow my fault. Like I was the bad guy. It pissed me off.
I brought my knee up as hard as I could into his groin, the last hope he ever had of getting further with me. He made a high-pitch squeak as tears pooled out of the corner of his eyes.
I left him there, breathless and doubled over in the hallway. Some kids laughed, others pulled out their phones and took pictures; most just watched me walk away, frozen with awe and shock.
Inspite of the circumstances, I had to admit that that felt good.