Chapter 30 The revenge plan

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Compared to the alternative, this was actually not that bad. I was greatly relieved. "At least now you know you can stop wasting time on him," I said. I was all prepared to launch into how she was better off without him when Linda began to cry.

"Now he's telling everyone we broke up because we did it and I was really bad at it," she sobbed. "I'm not even sure how a girl can be bad at sex!"

Dylan would beg to differ, I thought, but this was no time to crack stupid jokes. Her tears panicked me and I hurriedly handed over tissues. I knew rumors were awful no matter who you were, especially since Linda was a freshman whose only friend just turned into her enemy. "I'm so sorry to hear that, sis. That really sucks."

"I know." Linda sniffled. "Especially when we had so many things planned already, like my up-coming birthday. He won't be there to celebrate it with me now. I feel so betrayed."

"Have you tried talking to him?"

"Yes, but he denied it, and now there's nothing I can do. You know how rumors are. It's really hard to trace the origin and I can't prove he started it, although he most certainly did."

"Are you sure you don't want mom and dad to know?" I'd better hand this over to the professionals. They created her, after all, and they shouldn't be allowed to sit out on a crisis.

"No!" Her eyes widened in horror. "I don't want to hear any lecture from them! I already know what they'll say. They'll ask me to concentrate more on homework. Like you." She found time in her sorrow to roll her eyes at me.

"How about talking to the guidance counselor?"

"It won't help, and I'm just really mortified. I don't think I want to talk about it," Linda said. Her eyes were dry finally and she was calming down as we spoke.

"I think it'll all blow over soon."

"I guess." She shrugged. There were a few minutes of silence because I had no idea what to say. I wished I could turn into Flora for five minutes. She'd have some magical way of cheering her up. 

Linda sighed and started talking again. "Actually I blame myself. If I hadn't been so eager to fall in love, this might never happen. I should've taken my time, get to know some people, enjoy high school...before I foolishly decide to just marry somebody."

"Maybe you should've taken it slower, but you can't blame yourself. It's not your fault this happened," I said. "Relationships are hard."

She nodded, then she pulled her lips into a small smile, which looked more like the Linda I recognized. "You know I'm only telling you this so you can totally beat him up, right?"

We looked at each other and chuckled. "Tell me where you want me to punch him."

"Where else?" She rolled her eyes and smiled. "Kidding. I just want to move on and forget about it."

Linda was actually acting pretty mature about the whole thing, which strangely made me even sorrier for her. The only thing more unbearable than a bratty Linda was a non-bratty version. "I'm here if you need me," I said.

"Thanks."

"Do you need a hug?" I offered. I wasn't used to us being civilized to each other and it was all kinds of awkward.

She opened her arms, and I leaned in to hug her. She pulled away less than three seconds later. "Ewww. Bad idea."

"I agree. Let's never do that again." 

She laughed, and I smiled at her before turning the ignition. That was some heart-warming sibling love right there.

***

"Sean! Join us for our little revenge convention," Flora called out to me in the cafeteria the next day, and I turned to see Linda sitting with the girls. The incident had come to their attention.

"We heard about what happened and it's so gross," Janet said. "We're now thinking of ways to get even."

"No, they are," Carmen corrected. "I'm against the whole thing."

"I am, too, actually," Linda said timidly. "I really don't want to talk about this anymore."

"Linda! Grow a pair!" Sandra said. "How's a girl supposed to move on unless she has the perfect revenge underway?"

"How about just leave it to Karma?" Carmen said.

"Carmen, you can leave early if you don't want to take part," Sandra said in her signature bossy tone. "Karma is what weak people say to each other because they're helpless. Strong people take matters into their own hands. Now, Linda, what do you say we make up a rumor too and hurl it back at him?"

"Yes!" Flora nodded. "For example, we can say you never did it because he can't get it up."

Linda looked at me with her eyes silently pleading for help.

"Come on, seriously?" I said. "You don't really believe you have to stoop to his level. I thought the best revenge is getting on with your life and living well."

Flora scoffed. "Sean, you sound seventy instead of seventeen. I'd toss whatever self-help book you're reading right now."

"Maybe we can call his parents under a fake name and said he got you pregnant. That'll cause trouble at home," Sandra said.

Flora's eyes sparkled with impish delight. "I got an even better one. We can post a personal ad for him along with the line Horny girl looking for fun, then we leave his phone number and address underneath."

"No, no, no." Linda shook her head frantically. "Please, can we just drop the whole thing?"

"I agree these are not good ideas and they sound like they can backfire," Janet said. "Sean, I say you just do it the old-fashioned way and punch him in the face. Being a model student for all these years should earn you the right to throw an occasional punch without getting into trouble."

"Violence works like a charm every time," Sandra agreed.

"You guys are unbelievable," I said. "Violence and playing pranks aren't the answer."

Flora shook her head. "Chivalry is so dead," she said with plain disapproval. "She's your sister and you can't even defend her."

I knew that was what they all thought and it irritated me. It wasn't that I didn't want to help Linda or I didn't care, but these just weren't the right way. When lunch hour was over, our little party dissolved without reaching a unanimous agreement.

Linda moped around the house all week. When I accidentally caught her crying she wiped her tears away and said she was fine. She acted cheerful and told me she felt much better already, which made me sick to my stomach. I missed the Linda who was a major pain and got on my nerves all the time. Now she was just brave and fake and very lonely.

I wanted to do something for her to brighten her spirits, to show her that high school really can be a fun place, where she makes friends of a lifetime and build foundation for her dreams. I wanted her to know that one failed relationship doesn't define her and there's a lot more to look forward to out there. If only she could just snap out of it.

Then I did something that I'd probably regret profoundly. I asked Flora to help me throw a surprise birthday party for Linda.

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