Silence, page 2part #1 of Silence Series
“Oakley,” Laura said with a fake smile. “I’m having a party on Saturday to celebrate the end of the year. You should come. Whatta ya say?” Laura and her friend, Sally, laughed under their breath. How could they still find that funny? Did they ever get bored of their own stupid, pathetic jokes?
I pushed past her, almost running towards the door. The laughing stopped as soon I was outside. I’d had enough of today already and needed to leave. Blinking the tears back, I walked quickly through the car park. How could people hate me so much for doing absolutely nothing wrong?
I swallowed the watermelon-sized lump in my throat and willed myself to not cry. I’d survived much worse, I was stronger than this, and so it frustrated me when their jibes cut.
“Oakley?” Cole’s voice called out, brining an instant relief. I turned around to see him jogging towards me, his messy hair blowing across his forehead. I drew on the strength his friendship gave me.
I took a shaky breath and smiled. I was not going to let them make me cry again, and I really didn’t want Cole to see me upset either. He strode across the car park and stopped right in front of me.
“Hey. Are you okay?” Cole asked, scanning my face. I nodded, and he arched an eyebrow. “No, you’re not. Hold on a minute, I’ll come with you and we can talk.”
I grabbed his arm as he went to turn away and shook my head. I didn’t want him to come with me. He didn’t need to be the boy that hung out with the freak girl who didn’t talk. I nudged him in the direction of his waiting friends, telling him to go with them. He looked to them for a second before returning to me.
“It’s fine. I’d rather come with you,” he said.
Great, I’m the loser charity case who needs babysitting.
I shook my head more fiercely and clenched my jaw, hurt and frustrated. Of all the people in the world, I did not want him feeling sorry for me.
I should’ve just stayed in bed today.
Cole gave a mock-exasperated sigh, his eyes tightening a little. “Either I’m coming with you, or you’re sitting with us. It’s up to you.” He folded his arms over his chest, challenging me.
“Cole, you coming or not?” His friend, Ben, shouted. I’d met Ben a few times before but only in passing when Cole was walking to his car with him.
“Come on, babe. I’m hungry,” some girl called.
Cole mumbled something under his breath, but I couldn’t make out what he’d said. Who was she? Was she his girlfriend? She couldn’t be. He would have definitely told me something like that. But why was some skank calling him babe?
I felt like my heart was being squished. I didn’t want them to be together.
Perfect, now I’m jealous. All I need now is for a dog to come pee up me leg and make this the best day ever.
The thought of him being with someone made me feel sick. And, uncharacteristically, want to gouge the girl’s eyes out.
“I’m going with Oakley,” he shouted back. I slapped his chest and pushed him again, which only made him laugh. Why won’t you leave! “Eating with us it is.” He smirked, grabbing my hand and pulled me along with him.
I tugged my arm, trying to get my wrist out of his iron grip, but he was too strong. Time to start lifting. Gymnastics kept me fit and toned, but I couldn’t match Cole’s strength.
“Oakley’s sitting with us,” he explained to his group of friends.
My face flamed in embarrassment. He made me feel like a three-year-old. I was so angry I refused to look at him. How could he do that? He knew I didn’t like being in a group of people, especially one full of strangers. I felt so out of place.
They accepted it with a nod, and we all walked around the building to the field at the back. The girl who’d called Cole ‘babe’ didn’t look happy at all that I was there. She shot me the occasional discreet glare as we walked. I didn’t even want to bloody sit with them in the first place! I certainly didn’t want to sit with them if he was with her.
Eventually, we sat under some trees and Ben immediately started stuffing sandwiches in his mouth. The nameless girl, who looked a little like a Meg from Family Guy without glasses, made a huge effort to talk to Cole as much as she could. I couldn’t blame her. Cole was incredible.
I frowned at the floor and picked at the grass. I was angrier with myself than I was with Cole because I shouldn’t like him. I wasn’t nearly good enough for him, never would be.
“Oakley, you want?” Cole asked, holding his Pepsi out to me. A shake of my head answered his question and he frowned, putting the can down on the floor. “You’re annoyed with me.”
I lowered my eyes and wished I could disappear. He was actually going to have this out in front of everyone. If I could have a do-over, that’d be great.
He sighed, exasperated. “How long are you going to ignore me for?”
The length of time was directly linked to how long he kept airing our bloody business in public for. I shrugged my shoulders, still refusing to look at him. I burned with embarrassment.
“What did you do to piss her off so much?” Ben asked, not even bothering to lower his voice so I wouldn’t hear.
Cole snorted. “Nothin’. She’s just being impossible.”
How was I the one being impossible? He didn’t have to make me come over here. If he’d let me go off on my own for a bit I could’ve calmed down and sorted myself out.
Someone stepped in my light, casting a dark shadow over my lap. Looking up, I shrank back. Was I actually on some sort of sick TV show?
“Oakley?” Julian sneered. Sod off. “Come out with me tomorrow night? Say yes.”
He and his friends chuckled – too hard for the rubbish and hugely overdone joke. His friends were sheep. They did what he said, followed where he went and laughed when they were supposed to. They didn’t bother me, they spent their whole lives desperately trying to fit in with someone who didn’t even genuinely like them. They had their own problems.
I pressed my fists into my lap and looked away. Just as they went to leave, Cole jumped up and grabbed fistfuls of Julian’s shirt. I froze in shock. What’s he doing?
“What did you say to her?” Cole growled. His knuckles turned white around Julian’s top.
“Chill, man. I was only joking,” Julian mumbled, stiffening his back and pulling at his shirt in an effort to try and release it from Cole’s grip. It didn’t work.
I couldn’t watch, and I certainly couldn’t let a teacher witness what was looking like turning into a fight. Cole would get into trouble. Jumping to my feet, I pulled at Cole’s arm, but he didn’t move an inch. It was as if he was too angry to see me.
“Cole, let it go,” Ben demanded.
Please, let it go, I begged with my eyes.
“A joke, was it? Well, I didn’t find it very fucking funny. If you so much as look at her again, I’ll kill you.”
Cole shoved Julian away from us and gently pried my hand from his arm. Whoa. As soon as I was no longer touching him, he launched forward and punched Julian in the jaw.
I flinched in shock. Cole just punched someone. I’d not witnessed that before. He could hold his own. I knew that, but he didn’t go looking for fights.
Julian stumbled backwards, almost falling over his own legs, but unfortunately managed to correct himself. One of his friend’s hands shot out and grabbed the top of his arm to steady him. For a second, Julian glared back at Cole. He looked like he was weighing up his options.
Grabbing my bag, I sprinted towards the school gates.
I couldn’t do this.
“Oakley?” Cole shouted after me.
If I turned around I would probably cry, so I kept running. I ran out of the gates and towards the park. The muscles in my legs started to burn as I pushed myself faster and faste