Dani

I'll never complain about another Monday as long as I live - this is as bad as they can get.

School seems irrelevant on a day like this, and so does putting on the same silly image to stay "in". My reflection is startling in the mirror, with my ashen face and sunken eyes staring glumly back at me from lack of sleep. I twist my hair into a half-hearted bun. I can't bring myself to reach for my ribbons or makeup despite my grim appearance.

Of course, school should be a priority for me as a senior student of St Kilda Academy of Excellence, and it usually is. However, since Lola drowned, my piano has remained untouched and I haven't bothered to catch up on classwork.

As I pass through the school gates for the first time since Lola left, I see a throng of students crowding around someone who I can only assume is Caitlyn. As I approach the back of the crowd, I am proven right.

Caitlyn is perched on a bench seat with one ankle tucked elegantly behind the other with a brittle smile and sadness in her eyes. Her perfect hair is pulled pack into a sleek ponytail tied with white ribbons, and her face is its usual precise work of art. A girl I recognise from the tennis team is sitting about a metre away from her - she knows to give Caitlyn space as a sign of respect. "Are you sure you're okay? Everyone would understand if you weren't ready to come back yet."

Caitlyn does something unusual - she slides across the seat towards the girl and touches her gently on the shoulder. "You're very sweet, but I want to be here for everyone else. I know Lola was a part of a lot of people's lives and the best thing I could do for Lola is to be here to support them."

The girl looks surprised, but smiles in return. "I see, um, thank you."

Caitlyn slides back away from her as if to signify that both the moment and the conversation are over. "If what people need is to move on and focus on their own happiness, then I will fully support that."

The students chatter amongst themselves, and I can't help but wonder if they're confused or impressed. Caitlyn isn't exactly known for being friendly or granting attention to anyone other than Lola and myself. We were a tight-knit trio, but we were admired from afar rather than being right in the mix. Caitlyn clearly has an agenda that I am not yet aware of.

Usually I'd spend the morning with Caitlyn and Lola before classes start, but sitting next to her smiling and posing and answering questions about Lola doesn't appeal to me. It may have been six days ago now, but the loss of Lola is still fresh, and I don't want to be seen brushing it off and moving on like Caitlyn as though Lola wasn't important to me. I am about to slip away when Caitlyn catches sight of me. "Dani!"

The crowd turns and I see shock in their eyes at my dishevelled appearance. Caitlyn beckons to me, "Come talk to us."

I manage a weak smile as though I am tempted by her little press interview. "Sorry, I have to catch up on work."

Fortunately my response is accepted, and I leave before Caitlyn can protest. Everyone at SKAE is an expert at something, so hard work is the norm. I was accepted on the grounds of my piano skills, but I still have to maintain high grades. Caitlyn is a champion swimmer. And Lola? Lola is just really goddamn smart.

I find a secluded spot and a book in the library, and settle in to wait for the first period bell. My fingers flip through the pages mechanically, but I fail to take in any of the words. It is only when I hear my name being called again that I am shocked out of my vegetative state. "Dani?"

I groan internally and turn. Cameron Keyes is standing over my seat. The last thing I want is another lecture from Mr High-and-Mighty. I shoot him a glare that I hope persuades him to leave me alone. "What?"

LolaRead this story for FREE!