Chapter 5: Taking a Mental Note

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September 20th 2015

I walk towards homeroom, making it just in time as the late bell rang. My thoughts are clouded by the blonde boy with icy grey eyes. There was something about those eyes that just made me feel calm. But why had he been staring at me for so long? He didn't look at me maliciously, just out of fascination. Is there something so wrong about me that makes him find me so interesting? Not that I particularly mind - I kind of was staring at him too.

I enter the room and take my seat next to Kate. "Hey, how you've been?" She asks me with her always present smile. I just shrug. "OK...something's clearly happened. Tell me!" There was an authoritative but soft tone to her voice that made you have to spill your guts to her.

"Who's Damian Silva?" I ask. She rolls her eyes at my ignorance.

"Only the school's golden boy. He had few fluke shots last year that won him the game last year. Now he's the youngest ever captain of the basketball team. I think he is sleeping with Lexi Reede. But neither are ever going to make it official." She says thoughtfully but with a slight edge of bitterness- you could almost feel her distaste for them.

"Why-Why would they never come out as official?" She rolls her eyes again. "That would mean he's sleeping with his best friend, Jaxon's twin sister, and considering how much each of them sleeps around- they would be the biggest cheaters at this school. That would taint their perfect reputations... Now you have to tell me why you asked me about him- any of them. Cause if he laid a hand on you I will kill him!" I witnessed, for the first time, Kate get angry. A weird feeling swelled in my stomach, as I realised how much she cared about me. So to return the favour I explained the weird encounter this morning.

"You don't think he'll hurt me- do you?" She formed a small smile and I could feel the happiness I built in this place fall. This is it, I'm no longer invisible. Her words of not existing in their eyes being best rang in my ears. I was doomed.

"No, I don't think so. He's not the type to release his problems on someone else. He just bottles it up."

"Wait. I'm fine?"

"Yeah, I know I rag on the lot of them, but he's not that bad. If anything taking notice of someone is strange for him. He probably looked at you longer than he has ever looked at any of the girls he's banged. He just doesn't care about people- he's closed himself off. Can't blame the dude though, has had a rough life. He was twelve when his dad was diagnosed with stage three Leukemia. By that point there wasn't much they could do, so he watched him die a little more each day. Then one day he was gone. His mom remarried six months later, to he richest guy she could find. Then took his money and has been treating herself with anything and everything since. Then his older sister bought a plane ticket to LA, to never be seen again. He's been living on his own, in a mansion his so called step- dad bought for him."

"Wow that must get lonely"

"He throws a party there every weekend, so there is always people over-"

"What, is he like the most messed up kid at this school?" I attempt to feebly joke, trying to shamelessly change the subject. This all just seems too close to home.

"No." Kate responds simply letting her already bleak face just grow dimmer.

"No?" I almost scream, scared she knows about me.

"No. That would be Ash"

"Ash?" Now I'm intrigued.

"Yeah, Ash Ryder. Some people call him Ryder. He is what everyone will tell you is the worst bad boy at this school. The drugs, drink, girls, theft, vandalism. but really he does what he can. He is the perfect illusionist, no one can see into him but when you do it is the most breathtaking masterpiece you'll ever see."

"Then how do you know so much about him?"

"Me? Simple. I fell hard for him. I found out one of his truths and after that they all just rolled out- I can't tell you them. But I'll tell you this, he has been dealt one of the shittiest hands he could possibly have had. But he keeps going. I may not support some of his choices, but I understand his reasonings for all of them.  I wanted to be his hero and his hope. He didn't want or need any of that. I should have known." It was weird hearing her talk so compassionately about someone she obviously loves. I wasn't jealous, I just never pictured her heart away to anyone.

"That jerk broke your heart?"

Her eyes flared at me and she snarled, "Never call him a jerk. He warned me from the start he couldn't love me in return. He doesn't need the love I could offer, he needs a different sort of love. One where he is comfortable and can do the rescuing- but also can have help when he asks. He needs someone to be his rock, just always there. He doesn't need someone to put his life together, he just needs someone to make it stable. Remember this, people will always say crap about him. He doesn't deserve the half of it. If you or I or anyone in the school had to be him we would kill ourselves by the end of this week." she said this In the most deadliest of quiet voices. She was still so protective of him. I was about to respond but then the bell rang, ending homeroom and everyone left the classroom.

As I walked to English I thought over Kate's words. How this Ash guy needs someone to be there-just there-always. And I realised that's all any of us need, really.

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