01 | unum

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You could call me depressed. You could call me suicidal. But you could never call me a bitch.

The school bell rings and I immediately jump out of my seat. Heading for the door, I pull my backpack over my shoulders and blink a few times. Just wait.

I rush through the doorway and sprint down the hallway in hopes to beat the crowd. I don't succeed. Throngs of students almost trample me as I make my way down the hallway to the bathroom. Just a few more steps.

Thrusting open the bathroom door, I scurry to my favorite stall, the one at the very end. I lock myself in at sit down on the toilet seat.

Then I let it all go.

The tears come quickly, starting as small droplets down my cheeks but soon turning to heart-wrenching sobs that could flood the whole school. Words pour into my head, filling every corner of my brain.

Slut. Whore. Bitch. I can still recall the look on Isla's face that had caused this whole mess. All the bullying. All the tormenting, teasing, name-calling, and threatening. Non-stop for three years.

"Wave?" calls a voice from outside the stall.

I sigh. "Yes, Angie?"

"You missed the bus. I'll walk home with you," she offers.

I wipe my eyes in an attempt to clear to get rid of the tears, then I unlock the door and stand up. Angie is waiting for me in the hallway, wearing her favorite yellow sundress. She smiles her brightest smile as soon as she sees me. Her dark curly hair is flowing over her shoulders and her coffee-colored skin is glowing. She's so beautiful.

"Thanks, Angie," I say, still sniffling.

"No problem!" she replies cheerily. "Let's take the shortcut home so Penny doesn't nag you for being late. Though she probably will anyway. "

I nod, and she grabs my hand and pulls me out of the bathroom and down the hallway. The school grounds have been almost abandoned though its only been a few minutes since the school day ended. Angie and I walk down the path and through the gate to the street outside.

As we begin our walk, Angie attempts to start a conversation.

"So what did you do today?"

"Oh, the usual," I reply. My eyes are still moist from my breakdown in the bathroom, but I try not to let it to me. You are strong, Waverly. Stronger than Isla. Stronger than anyone.

"Has she been at it again?" Angie questions, trying to be vague.

I look down at her, hoping that my facial expression will be a sufficient answer.

She sighs. "I'm really sorry...about all this," she says. "I wish I could do something about it."

I shake my head. "It's not your fault, Angie. It's mine." Everything is my fault.

Penny answers the door when I ring the bell, and I push past her, hoping to avoid nagging. I don't succeed.

"Where's your key?" she questions. "You're supposed to let yourself in."

"Forgot it," I mumble. Now that she has my attention she's going to shower me with complaints like a murder of crows gathering around a piece of dropped food.

"Where...were...you?" she asks, raising her eyebrows to complete her resting bitch face. "I have been texting you for the past three hours, Waverly. You can't just ignore me. I've been so worried!"

I almost groan in disgust at her fake worry. Oh, please. She wouldn't even blink an eye if I drove off a cliff to a fiery death. One, it's only been one hour since school got out. Two, I checked my phone and she hasn't sent one text in the past four days, and that was when she had sent me a request - no, demand - for me to buy her some grapefruit-scented body wash on the way home from school.

"I was at.....um, basketball practice?" I'm not a good liar, though you would think I would be after all this time. However, it usually doesn't take much to fool Penny. Her last name literally means 'dumb' in Dutch. No lie, I looked it up.

She places her hands on her curvy hips. "Oh really, because I was under the impression that basketball doesn't start until January."

"Um," I stammer.

"Waverly? Penny? Is there a problem?" my father's voice calls from the kitchen. Uh oh. If he gets into this he'll just side with Penny. He always does.

"I actually have a plan to meet up with Angie for ice cream at 4, so, yeah, gotta go," I say quickly, coming up with an excuse as fast as I can.

"Is that so?" Penny inquires. "Well then, we can just call up your friend right now to, you know, check our sources."

My blood runs cold. Please, Angie. Please come through for me.

I watch as Penny slowly types out Angie's phone number, glaring at me the entire time, hoping to get me to break. I don't budge. Finally, it starts dialing and she holds the phone up to her ear. It's the longest three seconds I've ever waited. Well, not ever.

"Yes? Yes, this is Penny," she says into the phone speaker. "I was calling to affirm that you and dear Waverly have planned an ice cream date at 4:00?"

I bite my lip. Please.

"Oh, really?" Penny asks, eyeing me. She's purposely not giving away Angie's answer. "Well, thank you, dear. Waverly will be most happy." She hangs up.

Turning to me, she says, "You're lucky, girl."

I sigh in relief, but not so obviously that she notices. "I guess I'll see you at 6 or so, Penny," I say, beaming at her. Now it's my turn to get on her nerves.

"I'm officially your step-mother now, Waverly. I would prefer if you call me mom."

I roll my eyes. It's really just another one of her demands. "See you later, Penny."

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