19. Idiot

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 Virginia hugged me tightly. "Oh Pit, I'm so glad you're okay. I couldn't close my eyes worrying about you. God, I'm so sorry. My parents took my phone and I couldn't – ''

''It's okay.''

I smiled. She was the only one who apologized in all this mess, and she was the only one who wasn't supposed to. Her parents must have given her hell for going to that party, I couldn't even imagine what she was going through.

''Are you okay?'' I asked.

''I've been better, but...''

I kept staring at her.

''I'm fine, Pit, really. You should worry more about yourself.''

She glanced at Dario and Gaia standing a few meters away. I sighed. What was I supposed to do now? I felt stupid for everything I said, but at the same time I still felt anger and disappointment in my throat. Who was supposed to apologize, me or them? Maybe it didn't matter, maybe it did. It mattered a lot to me. Everything always mattered to me. Maybe that's why I always felt like I was the one who had to apologize.

We walked up to them. Gaia was sitting on the low wall, with a cigarette in her mouth. She glanced at me and let out a puff, indifferent and cold. If I suddenly disappeared, she wouldn't even notice. But that was okay with me. Now it really was.

Dario studied his shoes and Virginia kept touching her hair. And I just stood there, waiting for something that could fix it all. In this empty school yard, we let the silence fill the gap between us.

I cleared my throat. ''You know – ''

''Yeah,'' Dario said. I think it was a nervous tick, since he himself was confused by the gesture. He tried to collect himself. ''I, uhm, I think the whole thing is pretty simple. It was a misunderstanding, you know? And now everything is cool. Isn't it?''

I shuffled my feet. ''Yeah, I guess so.''

''Great.'' He gave me a pat on the shoulder and smiled. ''So, uhm, we'll see ya at the break then, right? Guys, what's the first class we have? History? Shit, I think I forgot to do the...''

His voice blurred out of my mind. He kept talking and talking as we walked up the stairs. It was all irrelevant, unimportant. He didn't care about his homework and he didn't care what his first class was. But talking about it meant that everything was normal. That it could all go back to the way it was. But it couldn't. Because it wasn't great. And it wasn't cool. I wanted it to be, but it wasn't. Because we were drifting apart and fading from each other's lives and I hated it, but I didn't know if I wanted it to stop. I didn't know what I wanted at all.

After two long unbearable hours of maths, the bell finally rang. I grabbed 50 cents from my pocket, determined to go buy a pack of chips from the vending machines. As I walked towards the door, I felt someone's eyes staring at me. I turned around. Enrico and his friends were standing a few meters away, quickly interrupting their bitter whispering as they met my eyes. Of course. Who else if not Enrico could ever waste his precious time gossiping about other people?

Society refused him so he pretended like he was the one to refuse society. He was rotten, inside and out. His face was covered with acne and he had ugly puberty moustache and horrifying sideburns. He smelled like a mix of onions, sweat and rotten eggs. He was a great expert in porn, although he had never seen a pair of boobs in his entire life. He was surrounded by insecure girls who liked to hang out with him 'cause he was the only guy who actually noticed them. They would never date him though. They all had red polished broken nails, short eyelashes damaged from the huge amounts of cheap mascara, and unoriginal clothes they liked to wear in order to appear "cool". They were all bitter, envious and close minded. One might think they were nerds, but they were the most ignorant human beings I had ever met.

"What did you say?''

"I said you're a fuckboy."

Enrico had an annoying hoarse voice. With his arms crossed and eyes full of hate, he thought he was doing something courageous.

"A fuckboy?'' I said.

"Yeah, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about."

I shrugged. "Alright. Whatever you say, man."

I headed towards the door, but he didn't seem eager to give up on this.

"Oh, so now you're running away, huh? Well, guess what, people will know anyway. You made out with four girls the same night. Those poor girls need to know who you really are, you piece of shit."

I frowned. Four girls? What the hell was he talking about?

"Oh you're gonna pretend you don't know what I'm talking about? Or maybe you actually don't because you were so fucked up you don't remember any of it. Do you want me to remind you?"

He spit out words (and probably saliva too) with bitter and hostility. The whole class, and a few other people, were now watching us with curiosity. I knew why he was doing this and I understood. He thought that by confronting me, he would get noticed. He was wrong, of course. But I didn't care about my reputation anyway, so I let him do it.

''So, the first one was some random girl Matilde,'' he said. ''Then a kiss with Gaia Monforte, then an hour in the bathroom with Virginia, doing who knows what. And then finally, a night at Noemi's. I didn't expect that from her, but...''

It was almost funny how inaccurate it was, but also scary because it just screamed S-T-A-L-K-E-R. And I never even talked to the guy.

"How do you know this?'' I said. ''Did you follow me all night? That's creepy, man."

My indifference seemed to really piss him off. He probably expected me to defend myself, but why would I that? I'd let people believe whatever they wanted to believe. I was so tired of all of them.

"You're a scumbag!" Enrico suddenly yelled. "You and your friends. You're all just a bunch of whores and junkies."

I blinked. That's all I did. And then I saw Dario at the doorway, looking at me. He must have heard those words. Whores and junkies. And he expected me to do something about it. Or maybe not. He just looked. Everything became silent and it was just me and him. In those nanoseconds in which we exchanged our gaze, I realized I had to react. Not because those words angered me. They didn't matter because they weren't true. So it was something else. It was about me and my friends, it was about us. We were falling apart and in this moment all I could do was pretend that we weren't. Because sometimes when you pretend hard enough, it can become the truth. Maybe that's what I hoped. Maybe that's why I did what I did. Or maybe there was so much anger inside of me, Enrico was an accidental victim of it.

I walked up to him and looked right into his eyes. ''Don't you ever, ever, say anything about my friends. You and your pathetic attempt to look cool. What did you expect? That everyone would love you just because you tried to insult me? What was it? Fuckboy? That's what you called me, right? I bet you'd love to be called that. You'd love to be me, wouldn't you? To kiss more than one girl the same night, to go to parties and actually be noticed. Man, I'm tired of your moralist shit. Don't delude yourself that you're better than me simply because you go to sleep at 9pm and your mum thinks you're a good boy. And no, I didn't kiss four girls at that party, but even if I did, that's none of your business. I bet you've never kissed one in your entire life. You know what's worse than fuckboys? Bitter hypocrites like you."

He blankly stared at me, incapable of saying a word. The little crowd that gathered was silent too. Among them, I spotted Noemi. She was standing next to the door, with her untamed hair and old crappy boots. She looked at me with disappointment and rage, and I just stood there wondering which one was worse.

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