Chapter 16: Bystander

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Something about the air this morning sent shivers down his spine. Nothing was visibly wrong, until he made his way down the main hallway, where everyone's lockers resided. Being a private school, Summerfield was home to only about 500 or so students. Which was why it was easier for people like Ravenna or Griffin or himself to be memorable amongst the crowd. Not that it was a good thing. Well, for Griffin, it might be fun to be popular, and while Ravenna may enjoy the amount of fear and influence she had over the student body, Winston never liked being one of the "Top 3 Most Feared Students" in the school. Not to mention the "Top 3 Most Hated Students" list, both of which he was absolutely certain Ravenna topped the charts in, despite how she was way more respected than he was.

As he walked down the hallway with his backpack swung over his shoulders, a few students, and by a few, he meant at least ten, shot him either a dirty look or one filled with terror, as they scooted out of his pathway. Even though they weren't in his line of direction in the first place.

Sometimes, he wondered what was in those frightened glances that Ravenna loved so much. He hated them to the point that he wanted to scream at everyone and punch a fucking locker. Maybe that's why they were afraid of him. Sometimes, he just couldn't control his impulses, unlike Ravenna, who was so fucking cool and chill in all her mannerisms, smiling, even as people screamed in her face. Maybe it was because she knew that they would eventually pay for their actions. Maybe that was why she was so calm as Blake had a meltdown a few days ago in the storage room.

As he made his way over to his locker and twisted the combination, he couldn't help but overhear a distracting conversation that made it increasingly difficult to remember his password. He wanted to punch his locker to make them shut the hell up, but as his counselor advised a million times, he took in a deep breath and continued listening.

"Dude, you can't even believe...."

"He looked like a fucking mess, like what the h--"

".... Do you think it was because..."

"Probably. Shut the hell up before they hear you..."

Winston peeked a glance towards the direction the voices were coming from and just when he saw them glance back at him in his peripheral vision, he snapped open the lock and swung the locker door. The two voices went silent.

After he'd taken out two textbooks for the first two periods, he closed his locker and found a familiar face on the other side, steam fuming out of the boy's nostrils. Declan, Blake's best friend.

Oh, crap. This wasn't going to be good.

"You little piece of shit, do you feel good about yourself?!" Declan's hand curled so tightly into a fist that Winston could see his nails digging into his palm.

The first remark stung more than it should've, "Sorry, Dec. I don't know what you're talking about."

"You do so! Don't you fucking lie to my face, I'm his best fucking friend!"

Winston took in the slow breath his counselor had advised, "Dude. I seriously don't know what you're talking about. Care to give me some context if you're gonna yell in my face?"

Just when Winston expected Declan to punch him, the angry boy only pulled out his phone, pressed something, then shoved it in his face. As he allowed his vision to focus on the screen, his breath was punch out of him, "Oh, man..."

The picture was a grotesque image of Blake in a hospital bed, gauze bandage soaked in red as it wrapped around his temple. His eyes were closed, cuts and bruises decorating his pale face, but the one thing that stood out the most wasn't his bleeding temple.

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