Someone shaking my shoulder brought me back to the table, and my eyes reluctantly drifted away from Anna.
“What?” I asked, a little annoyed.
“So are you coming or not?” Jack asked, his sharp features intent as he watched me suspiciously. I felt my face flush embarrassedly, realising I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
“To where?” I asked casually.
“The Purple Turtle you mug.” Lizzie teased, and Jack rolled his eyes at my obvious disinterest. I thought about it for a moment, fingers playing absentmindedly with the lid of my water bottle, until eventually I shrugged.
“Is that a no?” Lizzie pushed.
“It’s an ‘I don’t know.’” I explained, and an exasperated sigh rippled through the table. I knew it annoyed them when I was indecisive, especially if I kept putting decisions off until the night before. But it annoyed me too, how they waited on my word. If I decided not to go, they probably wouldn’t go either. So it wasn’t a case of just opting out if I wanted a quiet Friday night, because it was very likely I was subjecting everyone to one too. And even if this wasn’t my fault, it made me feel guilty. And I hate feeling guilty.
“We kind of need to know.” Nadia pressed a little more gently than Lizzie had. Nadia was always organising us, we let her take charge of everything. She was the most level headed of all of us, the most logical. Jack was good at Drama and Art & Dylan was good at sports, but both of my best boy mates lacked the will to succeed academically. Not that anyone minded of course.
Lizzie and Nadia were inseparable for the most of the time, bonded long ago by their love of makeup, clothes and boys. Nadia tried hard and everything, and got the results to prove it, whereas Lizzie barely picked up a book, and aced absolutely everything. I guess both Lizzie and Nadia were good looking, but in a very primped way. It had been years since I’d seen them with natural hair, or without makeup. In fact, I couldn’t really remember what they looked like. Lizzie at the moment had shoulder length bright blonde hair and blue eyes, but she dyed it fairly often. Nadia on the other hand, had perfectly contrasting dark auburn hair and soft brown eyes. I’d known them for so long that they never had and never could be anything more than best friends to me, so it was quite hard to say how attractive they are. It would be weird to judge like that, they were almost like sisters to me.
Dylan was also quite the looker – with his startling green eyes and messy hair he was the schools biggest heart throb. It was only Jack out of my friends that wasn’t really good looking. His hair stuck out at funny angles, as did his large ears. But the cheeky grin and the sparkle in his eyes mirrored his ability to make anyone at anytime feel good about themselves and laugh. And it was this, and not his looks that earned him his place among the popular crowd.
“Look, I’ll phone you later.” I promised half heartedly, eyes starting to drift around the room again, of their own accord.
It would be cliché to say that our school canteen was split into different clichés, and it would be lying too. Most of the groups of people were elsewhere, doing god knows what – the emos in a dark classroom somewhere, sharing blood. The chavs at the top of the field, smoking. The geeks in the library. You know the sort of thing, where you’d expect them to be. The people left in the canteen where just the normal people. The ones who didn’t stereotype themselves. Them, and us.
We didn’t refer to ourselves as the popular group, but the rest of the school did, so I guess that’s what we are. They practically worship the very ground we walk on. They’d kill to be part of our crowd. Girls and boys alike would kill to have me too. They flirt with me, flatter me, follow me. I think that’s what attracted my attention to Anna. She didn’t. She’d never tried to, or wanted to talk to me, and for some reason, that made me feel better. I don’t like how people change when I walk in the room, how people become someone they’re not to impress me. Because I’m not worth that, I’m nothing special. None of us are. I can’t imagine why so many people like me. I mean, I’m nice to everyone as much as I can be, but I still say things and do things wrong, just like anyone else.
So that was why I had a huge amount of respect for Anna. For deciding decisions for herself and not being like the rest of the school. Even if she hadn’t exactly spoken to me, which made her complete disinterest in me seem a little harsh. This was probably where my interest started from. I wanted to find out why she didn’t like me like everyone else did. But then I started watching her, how she shut everyone else out from her world, how she never let anyone in. How she sat all alone, always distracted, but never looking happy.
I could hear my friends still talking about the night club, but their words just passed me by. I looked over at her again. What was it about her that was so alluring? What was it that made me want to run over and just talk to her? But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. But I needed to. It was eating me up. Each time I saw her I yearned to know more. What was she hiding from everyone?
She ran a website didn’t she? I thought I’d heard Lizzie saying that a while ago. A help website. Maybe I could talk to her on that? Maybe I could. Maybe I needed help with something. Well, I didn’t personally of course. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t pretend. Everyone likes pretending, right? That’s all it is. A little bit of acting. That’s all lying is really, acting. All an actor does is lie. I could do that, I’m sure.