"Leon," Faith said, staring up at him with her red-rimmed eyes. "It's my fault."
"It's my fault that Rylee's dead."
"What are you talking about? Of course it's not!"
"It is! If I didn't want to leave so early, maybe we would have slept over at hers and I would have reminded her to turn her straighteners off - or - or I would have used the straighteners after her and I could have turned them off and.. It's my fault!" She began to sob again.
"Faith, listen, you can't think like that, you're thinking about things you didn't do. You can't. Nobody can see the future. Don't blame it on yourself, please.." He pulled her close to his chest and wrapped his arms tight around her.
Faith wasn't sure whether she gasped internally or out loud, but she definitely did yank herself away from him.
Leon, Faith and Rylee had been best friends since they were born. They had mucked around with eachother and had playfights, but never had Leon hugged her like that before. Her heart was hammering in her chest. She couldn't do it. Rylee and Leon had been together before, when they were all about 12. Two years ago. Faith remembered how empty and alone it had made her feel. Like an outcast. She could never do that to Rylee, even if she was dead. Just because she was dead, it didn't mean she was forgotten.
Plus, Faith remembered one lunch at school a few days before Rylee died. Leon had just gone to buy a sandwich from the canteen.
Rylee's eyes lit up as he turned to walk away.
"He's so cute," she said, sighing.
"Aww, I know," I said, thinking she was talking about an adorable kind of cute.
"What?" She said, her face dropping. "But.."
"You like him? I didn't mean cute in that sense, Rylee! Oh my god, you like Leon?!?!"
"Oh shut up, shut up, he'll hear you!" She bowed her head as her red hair brushed the shiny black table.
I couldn't believe it. Again? I felt my heart sink, just thinking about what would happen if they did get together again. I felt sick. Not sick with disgust at them, but sick with anger, sick with worry, and more sick with disgust at myself because I was angry that she liked him.
"But, he obviously likes you." She kept her head bowed. She was angry.
"Likes me? Oh, Rylee, shut up, as if. Since when did you become all sensitive?" Tears started to well in my eyes.
"Don't cry, you big baby! God's sake, can't you take a joke?!"
"So you liking him is a joke?" I said, sniffing. Ugh, why did I have to cry?
"Yes," she said, grinding her teeth. "All. A. Joke." She laughed to herself, but it wasn't a happy laugh, it was more of an angry laugh. I half expected her to get off of her seat and start clawing at my face. I could almost see the anger bubbling up inside of her, it was reaching an exploding point.
Leon came and sat back with us, and Rylee's anger shrunk back down, invisible. She smiled.
"Chicken and stuffing? Ew." She picked a carrot stick up from her plate and lobbed it at him. He sniggered and began to open the wrapper covering his sandwich.
There was something about the way she looked at him that made me fidget uncomfortably.
She really, really liked him.
Faith was staring into space, she blinked and her eyes became more moist than she was expecting. Rylee had really, really liked Leon, and she didn't do anything about it. A pang of guilt struck her heavily.
"Faith?" Leon asked, she turned her head to face him, but she didn't look into his eyes. She seemed to stare blankly straight through his face, through the window, and out onto the empty street which, to be truthful, felt like Faith's heart.