14: Ghosts

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Games We Play

"He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever."

― E. Lockhart, We Were Liars

14: Ghosts

It was an over night change – from silence to complete chaos. From not a single soul on campus to so many constant voices and loud conversations in every hallway and room.

I already began to miss the peaceful and cold winter break – somehow, it had turned into something much more than I'd expected. Being my last year of high school, I was determined to soak up the remainder of youthful and innocent days – I knew far too well from every book and movie I saw that regret was something too heavy to live with.

Making friends and having company around me that didn't consist of Ales, Damien and Caius was already something I didn't imagine doing but somehow doing so well – it made me wonder that if I hadn't had any interaction with Armin or Eduardo and Michelle at this point – would I regret it later?

Of course I would. No one should live their life as dependent on their single best friend like I did for the past years; change sucked but sometimes change was necessary to prevent those pathetic if only I had's later on.

"Any minute now," Michelle said to me. "Someone is going to come out those doors with the list and then this hallway is going to explode."

I chuckled in disbelief without raising my eyes from my book. "With all the fun and adventure of living at school over the break, I almost forgot about this."

"Forgot about the Victor's Tournament? You're joking, right," Michelle laughed. "It feels like the games are like our school's Olympics... or the World Cup, you know? And we actually get to be part of them. If that doesn't seem like a memorable event in your life, I don't know what it'll take to win you, Dixie," she laughed.

"I don't know... don't you think it seems a little extreme that our school prioritizes popularity and fitness games over our school work?" I said quietly.

She blinked at me blankly, taken aback by my thought. "I don't see it like that," she shrugged, pushing her jet dark hair behind her shoulder. "I see it as a way for people who work hard to be recognized. People work hard for this and they should if they want it – it's a big deal," she said. "Dixie, I of course know you think this tournament isn't a good idea and that creates competition and insecurity and it's a malicious way to peg people against each other. But it's not like we don't compare ourselves to others anyway – in our head, we always do. The Tournament is like a way to compete and see where we stand among others – whether we should work harder or if we're already doing well in what we want to do well in, you know?"

I was a little loss for words. Michelle startled me with everything she'd said, debunking every theory and belief I had about the tournament and I felt like I wanted to almost agree completely with her. But it would take much more than that to completely flip me over onto the side of pro-games.

Ales had always used to rant to me about how immature she felt Michelle was and there was nothing to her but her party animal instinct and "slutty dancing". But Michelle was incredibly mature and realistic – once again, I had proved only to myself why I should've never depended or listened so heavily to what someone else thought.

"Yeah, I guess I get it," I said. "Look, there's Clara with the papers."

Michelle looked up and quickly jumped up. A big smile spread across her face and I knew she was excited to see this. "Finally, the mystery ends."

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