five

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F I V E

I didn't believe him. Probably because I was trying not to fall apart at the moment and the reassurance that she was completely oblivious to Dylan and I's meetings and the It-Crowd's ploy to make her unpopular was one of the few things that was holding me together.

So the fact that she was coming in today reeked of suspicion - her suspicion in what was happening between us. I could only guess that the assumption that we were lovers was ludicrous, even to her. It further reaffirmed what she thought of me, that I was beneath her, even after three years of friendship and sticking with her through thick and thin. It was quite threatening, really, to be standing at the edge of the treacherous waters that were Issa McKenzie. Who knew how easily she could sweep Dylan and I up?

"You have to talk to her," I said with newfound assertion. "I'm not her friend anymore, she literally hates me. Do you know how awkward that would be for us to even be in the same room? Oh yeah, you were there that one time at lunch."

His mouth hung open ajar, as if the foundation of our relationship involved me being ex-friends with Issa was a surprise to him. Or he was surprised that I had anticipated his next move.

"You know what, V," he said with frustration in his voice. "I thought you were a good friend."

"I am," I countered coldly. "I'm just not a pushover."

My response had upset him if his parted lips found themselves in a tight-lipped frown before he spun on his heel to go out of the door, leaving me all alone in the back were any indication. But now of all times was delicate and I needed some time to be alone to myself.

I was a pushover, alright. And one of these days, I was going to be pushed over the edge.

It wasn't hard to be pathetic in my case, when perceptions of being pathetic were ever-changing. But in today's current society, I'm sure that standing and staring out from the crack of a door at Dylan and Issa made the list by a longshot.

Another reason why I felt pathetic was because of how comfortable they both seemed with the same Issa McKenzie he was hiding from only minutes ago. There was some friendly fire tossed around between them, but it dulled down into a normal conversation, something about homework. It was nothing too fancy and yet I was terribly enthralled by how they acted around each other, numbers four and five on the It-List. By mouth - or many mouths - I had heard about how the It-Crowd didn't necessarily like Issa, but were all somehow scared to death by her. Even the three people above her had a suspicious reluctance to confront her even when her presence made things awkward. It made me wonder who was running the List in the first place.

They chatted for a while, Issa pulling out a school book and asking him to help her with some homework. This lasted for about twenty minutes, until she had finally got up to leave, sweeping Dylan into a big hug.

Only when she finally left and I finally stood up straight did I realize how much my legs hurt from crouching down like that. But I couldn't help it, that girl was terrifying.

Issa McKenzie was someone that you thought you knew until someone asked you to say three things about her. She was so exceptional at being elusive, balancing being an enigma as well as one of the junior classes' most popular girls. She was rude to people sometimes and often came off as demanding, but she was somehow easy to adore and idolize. My fondest memories of her were of how unnaturally kind she was.

And yet here I was, in the back of a cupcake shop, spying on her and cowering out of fear.

It took only a few minutes later until Dylan came in, a woeful smile on his face. "So that just happened," he said vaguely. Before I could ask what 'that' was, he said, "meeting with Issa, that is. She needed help with Mr. Osgood's homework and everyone knows that I'm his favorite student."

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