Pushing open the door, I step into the bathroom. It’s Thursday afternoon, halfway through the last class of the day. The sound of someone crying bounces off the walls in the bathroom as I enter.
“Get out!” I hear the girl shriek. Almost instantly, I recognize the voice.
“Ella?” I ask, walking over to the stall the voice had come from.
“Leave me alone, Jacey,” she whimpers. I frown.
“Ella, what’s wrong?”
“I just want to be alone!”
“I don’t care, Ella, you’re my friend and I want to know what’s wrong.”
“You still think of me as a friend? After what I did?” I furrow my eyebrows in confusion, not sure why she thinks I would be mad at her.
“As long as you still consider me a friend after what I did to you,” I say quietly. A moment of silence passes, the only sound is Ella’s constant sniffling, before I hear the lock on the stall door click out of place. The door swings inward to reveal Ella standing there, biting her bottom lip. I step out of her way as she walks out and goes towards the sinks.
“I look like sh*t,” she mumbles, turning on the sink and splashing her face.
“Ella, I’m sorry,” I say quietly, looking down at my hands. She sighs, then turns off the water.
“Then why-?” I start, feeling frustrated that she had already forgiven me but just hadn’t told me.
“Because I was just so mad. Not at you, but myself,” she says looking at me through the mirror. I frown, confused.
“I should’ve seen it coming,” she sighed.
“That you liked Colton!” she says like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. I snort, then burst out laughing. It takes me a minute to regain myself.
“You’re joking, right?” I say, a smile still lingering on my face. Ella raises an eyebrow.
“So if you didn’t kiss him because you had feelings for him, why did you kiss him?” Ella asks, frowning and crossing her arms across her chest. I sigh and run a hand through my hair.
“I- I don’t know. I was just… Jealous of the way Colton was just making out with you right in the middle of the carnival. You guys seemed like you were just so happy, like nothing else was happening in the world,” I mumble, feeling my cheeks heat up as I explain my reasoning which sounds so ridiculous now.
“Yeah, it probably did look like that,” Ella mumbles bitterly, roughly drying her hands with a paper towel and chucking it angrily in the trash bin. I raise an eyebrow, confused.
“Uh?” I ask. She turns and looks at me, then takes a deep breath.
“He only did that when you were around, Jacey. He rarely even talked me when you weren’t with us. He acted all sweet and funny and nice when you were within ear shot or he could tell you could see us, but once you walked away, the whole façade dropped. I tried to brush it off, coming up with different excuses, but I think, deep down, when he offered to go in that funhouse with you I kind of expected something to happen,” she says softly. I stare at her as she plays with the edges of her sleeves.
“He doesn’t like me like that, though, Ella,” I say. She shrugs.
“I wasn’t saying he does. I’m just saying it was all an act to get to you and I don’t blame you for falling for it. I fell for it, too.”
An uncomfortable silence falls as Ella stares fixedly at the tile floor.
“What happened today?” I ask. She bites her lip, then shakes her head.
“Nothing,” she whispers.
“Ella, come on, what’s wrong?”
“I-I just don’t understand,” she sobs, leaning against the wall and putting her head into her hands. I walk over and sit beside her.
“Understand what?” I ask softly.
“How he can do it so easily,” she whimpers, trying desperately to contain herself.
“Do what?” I ask, confused.
“Play his game! Break all these girls’ hearts! Does he even care about what he’s doing to them? Does he see how much it hurts?” Ella cries, dropping her head onto my shoulder. I wrap a comforting arm around her as her tears drip onto my sweatshirt.
“It’s okay,” I say softly.
“He’s a heartless, cold, gorgeous, uncaring, cruel player.”
“I know,” I say, rubbing her arm comfortingly. She’s sobbing too hard now to say anything else so we just sit there.