“Hey, have you heard from Emi yet?” I asked Amaya as we sat outside the old school building, waiting for school to start.
She furrowed her brows, cocking her head. “Actually, no. About going to the Ellipse this weekend?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Hey, there she is,” Amaya said, pointing through the crowd of people.
“Over there by the wall.”
I squinted to see through the sun’s glare as I made out the shape of Emily, leaning against the wall alone. “What’s she doing?”
Amaya shrugged. “Don’t ask me.”
We got up and walked over to her with the cool wind blowing in our faces. It had warmed up a lot this past week and it started to really feel more like spring. Sera had said something about it being the official spring solstice a few days ago, so maybe that’s part of it.
“Hey, Emi, you coming to the Ellipse this weekend?”
Emily looked up, shifting around. “Uh, I can’t talk right now, I’m busy. I just remembered I have to talk to a teacher before the bell rings,” she said quickly, rushing off.
I blinked in confusion, looking back over to Amaya.
“What the fuck was that?”
Amaya stared after Emily, sighing. “I don’t know. She’s been acting weird this week.”
Now that I think about it… she has. She’s been kinda avoiding us since we got back to school this week. She didn’t talk much at lunch or hang out with me and Amaya before school started on Monday or Tuesday either. I thought it was weird, but I was too busy to think much of it.
“Has she texted you at all?” I asked, running my hand through my ponytail.
Amaya leaned against the wall, thinking. “Not since Friday.”
I sighed. “She didn’t text me either. Do you think something’s wrong?”
She shook her head. “Probably nothing crazy. If she wants to talk, she knows we’re there for her. Things can get pretty intense at the end of the year, it’s probably that she has a lot of homework or something.”
“Yeah, I guess.” I ran my hand down the rough brick wall and closed my eyes, thinking. It was still weird, though. She knows we’re going to be worried about her if she starts ignoring us, so why didn’t she just send a text or explain whatever’s going on when we asked her about the Ellipse instead of being weird about it and running off? That’s really kinda shady, you know? I took out my phone, pressing on her name in my messages.
Nothing since Friday, just like Amaya said. We usually text a ton over the weekend, but I didn’t really notice because my moms pulled us out to Granite Falls over the weekend for Sera and Grayson’s scout thing. I still don’t know why we all had to go, but they said it would be good ‘bonding time’ which is total B.S. Just because you’re outside in ‘the elements’ without practically any modern day thing – besides our phones, since they’re smart enough to know we would cause a riot if they made up go totally tech-free. It’s probably just something like that with Emily, too. I didn’t text all that much over the weekend either. But the way she totally brushed us off was suspicious. The bell rang and everyone made their way to their first class. It was boring – as usual – but I tried to pay some attention since my moms are still on my ass about grades. The quicker I get everything up to the C – B area, the quicker I could focus on theatre again. It’s pretty annoying having to go to tutoring every other day for an hour and a half. My tutor’s pretty decent, though. She just does shows me how to do the work and all, because… she’s a tutor. That’s all she really is and that’s cool with me. I’ve gotten things up to only two D’s so far, too. I speed-walked into the lunchroom right after history class, looking around for Emily. I didn’t want to miss her – I wanted to talk about whatever went on earlier. I sat down at our normal table as I saw her walk in. Our eyes met and she glanced back at the door before finally coming over.
“Emi, I wanna talk,” I started, only for her to immediately begin talking herself.
“I’ve gotta go to the library and return a book,” Emily replied, already turning to leave.
“What’s going on, Emi? You’re avoiding us.”
She looked down, more interested at looking at the ground than at me. “No, I’m not… I just have a lot going on, that’s all.”
“Emily…” I started, trailing off as she walked away.
I sighed, texting Amaya.
‘Emi’s definitely being weird.’ – Vali, 12:21 pm
I laid down my phone, looking around the cafeteria. Usually I’m exactly like every single one of them – talking with one of my friends. It feels pretty shitty to be snubbed like that. It’s not like Amaya or I even did anything wrong that I could think of! Other people probably have plenty of reasons to hate me, but not my friends. We’re there for each other, no matter what. And Emi knows that! There’s obviously something on her mind; she never avoids talking with us like that. Ugh. I picked up my phone again, just scrolling through a bunch of random peoples’ Simchat stories that I really could care less about, but it’s not like I really have anything better to do.
“Valentina?” I looked up to see… Charlotte and her cronie Katie looking down at me.
Charlotte has never stopped being a total bitch since elementary school. Sure, there’s other shitty girls too, but Charlotte’s always hated me since second grade for whatever reason. She had a different best friend back then, Deanna, I think, but that girl has a new group now.
“Yeah, what?” I did my best to sound totally disinterested and I was mentally high-fiving myself for how on point it was. I really was interested in what the hell they wanted with me, though.
“Nothing, I just guess your ‘bestie’ Emily finally realized what a bitch you are,” Charlotte smirked, and I could feel everyone’s heads turning.
I stood up, eying her. “You wanna fight or what? Everyone knows you’re the real bitch.”
I heard a bunch of peoples’ ooohs in the background while Charlotte’s eyes were trying their best to kill me on the spot.
Charlotte looked around before turning her death-stare back to me. I could see a few phones up from the corner of my eyes, presumably recording everything l. “Maybe it’s not even about you, maybe it’s about your mother.”
I blinked. “Excuse me? Don’t bring my fucking mom into this.”
Charlotte flipped her hair with that condescending smirk of hers. “Okay, sure. But… I bet a bunch of people hate your mom right now and it looks like your friend is one of them.”
I narrowed my eyes. My mom was probably the most perfect and good person I’d ever met. “What are you talking about?”
Charlotte smiled, and I internally groaned, realizing I’d walked into her trap. Her ‘friend’ Katie just stood there awkwardly, looking like she wanted to be anywhere but here. Charlotte took a deep breath, and looked me straight in the eyes. “Those new policies your mom is advocating? Some people hate them. They’re socialist.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Okay… and? You probably don’t even know what socialist means.”
She blinked, not expecting that answer. What, did she think I was going to fucking cry or something? I’m not a damn baby, I can stand up for my own self. “Well, uh, we’re learning about socialism and the Industrial Revolution in history right now…”
“No, we’re not,” I shot back, annoyed. So what? Even if we were – and we aren’t – that doesn’t mean shit!
Charlotte smirked, looking over at Katie, who hasn’t said one thing this whole time. “Actually, we are, aren’t we, Katie?”
Katie bit her lip, shifting from one foot to the other. Her answer came back in a whisper. “Yes…”
“Uh huh,” Charlotte nodded, “because we’re in Honors. And you’re in, what, standard?” She said that last word in the same disgusted tone she’d said socialist in.
“Whatever, that still doesn’t mean you know what socialist means,” I replied smoothly. That was a whole flaming bit of B.S. right there.
“Well, I bet you don’t either,” Charlotte retorted, still smiling.
“You’re right, Charlotte. I don’t know what the hell socialist means – but if my mom wants it, it must be good, because she’s the best person I know. She wants the best for everyone. And if you’re against that, then you must be a real bitch, huh?”
She just stood there silently as the bell rang. I stood to get up and she held up the middle finger in my face. “Fuck you, Valentina Clemonte.”
I smiled a huge fake smile back at her. “Fuck you, too.”
She glared at me, but I didn’t care. I definitely won that argument. Damn it; though, I’ve got to keep up more on whatever my mom is doing if people are going to shit on me with it. Like, the fuck? Emily wouldn’t ignore me for something like that, would she? It’s not like those are my fucking policies, anyway! I looked up my mom’s new proposed policies in-between classes – and the more I read, the more I was ready to beat Charlotte’s ass. I swear to the Watcher that Charlotte had no fucking idea what my mother’s actual ideas were, because there’s no way on Earth she’d dare oppose them if she knew what they were. Housing for all, college for all, ect. Basically, my mom is just doing what she’s always done, but taking it to the next level. If she can make it happen, what’s the big deal? Charlotte is going to sound like such an asshole if someone hears her arguing against the end of homelessness. I love when things work out my way. I am going to find that blonde bitch the second I can and make sure she gets what she deserves.
Sure, my mom and I have our disagreements and all, but I know that she’s a really good person, even though I hate her sometimes for being so good and reasonable… which probably doesn’t even make sense. My last class always goes nuts around 6 minutes before the bell even rings, and my teacher lets us. I bet she’s done by the end of the day, anyway. I read through another article about my mom and what she wants to do. Charlotte’s right, though… people are calling it socialist. But there’s a lot of people saying it’s high time we finally let everyone have a chance to live – no matter what. It’s surprising the amount of articles about my mom out there. There’s ones from all the way back near when Sera was born, when my mom first became mayor. It’s so weird to think about my mom doing all this stuff since before I was even alive. Someone in our class let out a scream as they probably lost whatever game they were playing and the teacher sighed.
“You know what, class? Just get out of here,” she said loudly, laying back in her chair. The bell didn’t ring too long after that – and I was just waiting at the front of the school for Charlotte to show up.
She whipped around, looking at me. “What?”
“Do you really think my mom’s policies are shitty?”
She blinked in surprise. “Uh, yeah. You know – ”
I smiled, cutting her off. “Okay, well, let’s hear those policies.” I pulled out my phone and looked her dead in the eyes. “My mom wants the end of homelessness and starvation as well as being able to pursue college without having to worry about the cost. And you just said they were shitty.”
Her eyes widened and she looked around for someone else to help her, but nobody did. “I – um – might not have actually read them…”
“Yeah, well that backfired, didn’t it?”
She looked down before hightailing it out of there and as she left, people started to give out a few cheers. A lot of people hate her, but don’t dare to say anything. I smiled and gave a little bow as Amaya walked up next to me.
“Hey, Vali. What just happened?”
“I just told Charlotte off,” I replied, grinning.
She laughed. “It doesn’t surprise me.”
We sat down on the edge of the fountain, waiting for the buses to come. Amaya swirled her hand around the water, closing her eyes. “What happened with Emily?”
I sighed, thinking back to then. “She totally blew me off, just like she did to us earlier.”
Amaya shook her head, flipping around her phone in her lap with the hand that wasn’t wet. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
“Do you think it does have something to do with my mom?”
Amaya turned her head in confusion. “What? Why would it?”
“I forgot – you don’t really keep up with politics. I normally don’t either, but…”
Her eyes widened. “Politics?”
I pressed my lips together, nodding.
“What did your mom do?”
I shrugged. “Nothing bad, I looked it up. Apparently there’s some thing about her new ideas for the province being socialist, but I don’t pay attention in history – so why is that bad?”
“We learned about all that last year somewhat, I think. The main thing is that it’s never worked.”
I let out my breath slowly, watching as the first few buses pulled up. “Oh.”
“Hey, I don’t pay too much attention to politics, but I know your mom is a pretty big deal. If anyone can do it, it’s her.”
I nodded, sighing. “But do you think that’s why Emi’s – ”
“No. She’s not like that, come on,” Amaya nudged me with a small smile.
“I know… but there isn’t really anything else that makes sense.”
“We’ll figure it out,” Amaya replied as she flipped a coin into the water. She stayed silent for a few seconds and I could barely hear her voice when she finished her sentence. “Eventually.”
But I just wanted to know now.