“Isobel?! Did you hear me?”
The sound of Alice’s voice was really starting to get on my nerves. It was Monday, and we were sitting in our usual corner of the loud and crowded lunchroom at Brooks County High. No, I hadn’t heard her, but it wasn’t hard to guess what she had been saying. Ever since the moment that she had picked me up for school this morning she had been nagging me incessantly about my missing classes on Friday.
“Look I told you I was sick.” I was unable to keep the impatient tone from my voice when I spoke to her before looking back down at my hands. I really hadn’t wanted to come to school today, but since I had in fact been absent from class on Friday, I knew that it would be stupid to miss Monday as well if I didn’t want anyone asking questions. All of my instructors had easily accepted the excuse that I was sick on Friday and that was the reason that I had not attended. Since I have never missed a day of school ever before, they all seemed to believe me without a doctor’s note. Plus, I guess it only helped my claim of being sick that my eyes were bloodshot and sunken in with a grey/purple hue to them that no amount of Cover Girl could cover up.
“No Isobel,” Alice said, sounding a little wounded that I had snapped at her. “I--that’s not what I was asking about…”
I looked up and sighed, feeling guilty for putting that offended look in her eyes. “I’m sorry Al. I’m just distracted today. I really have been sick all weekend, and I was just thinking about the Anatomy test that I missed.” I lied, which made me feel even guiltier.
“Oh yea, about that--there he goes again!!” she said, sounding exasperated. “See that’s what I was asking earlier!” she gestured with her head.
I could feel my face scrunch up as I looked at her with a bewildered expression. What was she talking about? “What?” I asked.
“Why does Bobby Slade keep staring at you?” she asked in a confused tone, yet somehow sounding accusatory at the same time. She gestured with her head again, and my head snapped up.
I searched for a second before my eyes locked with his ice blue gaze. He looked confused…conflicted; like he was battling with himself on what to do.
As I stared back at him, my mind jumped back to the last time I had gazed into that hard glare. He had been so torn on whether to ignore me and take me to the hospital against my will or to just do as I asked. I had never seen Bobby unsure before that night. I don’t think he meant to or even noticed it, but Bobby had been glaring at me that night too. I don’t think he liked being unsure. It must have been as new to him as it was to me. I knew why he was glaring now though.
Bobby had come back to my house on Friday morning to check on me just like he had promised, and I had ignored him. I remember lying in bed and listening to him bang on the door after my dad had left for work. I had wanted so badly to let him in, but I couldn’t move. My mind was trapped in the past, on that night, reliving those events over and over. It had been an hour before he finally gave up and left, and I had stayed in that same spot, sobbing into my pillow.
I could feel my eyes glaze over with fresh tears now as I stared at Bobby and remembered.
It was at that moment that Bobby jumped up from his seat and started across the lunchroom toward me with a determined look on his face. My heart stopped beating for what seemed like forever before it resumed at an impossibly fast pace. Tears were pouring now, and I was relieved that Alice hadn’t taken her eyes off of Bobby to see me break down.
“He’s coming over!” she screeched, still not tearing her gaze away.
I ignored her, again becoming slightly irritated with the sound of her voice. To my impatient mind it took Bobby an eternity to make it over to me, but when he was there, he didn’t even break his stride; just grabbed my hand and pulled me away, and I was grateful to him for getting me out of there before someone witnessed my breakdown.
I had been, for lack of a better word, shocked to see Isobel at school today. I’d seen her as soon as I walked into the lunchroom; sitting at her normal table with her friend Alice yapping nonstop beside her as usual. But Isobel wasn’t listening I could tell. She had a far away look in her eyes, and even with an entire room between us I could see the pain that lived there.
I made my way to my seat without going through the lunch line. I had lost my appetite the minute I had set eyes on her. Why would she be back at school so soon? Is she trying to torture herself?
At that moment I watched her head jerk up at something Alice had said and her eyes scanned the room until they locked with mine. Her hazel eyes seemed to be more of a dull gray today, or maybe it was just my imagination playing tricks on me from across the room. She looked almost lifeless; like she was barely holding on. As her gaze held mine prisoner, I watched the pain flash in an out of her eyes and it took everything in me not to get up and go to her. She held me trapped for what seemed like forever in her stare. My boys had already joined me at the table and were having some kind of debate on what it would take to get Amber Moore into bed. I only half heard them as I watched Isobel’s eyes glaze over with tears. She looked panicked, but her eyes still didn’t leave mine. She was going to break down!
I knew this girl better than I should have. Certainly better than I would admit to anyone being that to the public eye, even to her, we were sworn enemies since the fifth grade. Before then we had been friends. Before my father…