It was yet another chilly morning. Sunlight seeped through the thick clouds, coating everything with a thin layer of gold. The air was fresh with the smell of rain everywhere, just the way she liked it. Scarlet walked slowly as she held onto Nick’s arms, dragging her foot desperately. Her ankles, had been better, but it still hurt whenever she tried to walk.
It had been a while since their last walk to school; Nick smiled as he thought about the old times. Racing to school on bikes, laughing and cursing each other while they did so. He missed those old times. Suddenly he was grateful of having Scarlet around; it calmed him to know that she was still here.
He patted his hair gently, combing her thick waves with the slightest weight. She looked up at him adoringly, her brown eyes smiling. Nick returned the smile with a slight curl on his lips. He thought of yesterday, wondering what would happen if he actually…… goes out with Scarlet. If that ever happens.
He tried to picture them holding hands going to movie together and felt his stomach dropped. Something didn’t make sense about that. What if all of the tiny feelings vanished when they actually go out together? The feelings were so… thin and fragile as if they could disappear anytime soon --- the way he loved her smiling eyes, the smell of her hair, the occasional urge to kiss her…
The way he loved her.
They finally stopped in front of the school when Scarlet pushed him away gently. He didn’t have to ask why; they both knew the answer --- Noelle. Scarlet smiled weakly and looked away before starting to walk into the school building. Nick followed her slowly, but there was something strange about everyone else today. People were staring at them with suspicious looks, some looked offended, some looked…
They approached the hallway --- heads turned, jaw dropped and people stared. The crowd was clouded with whispers and the air was thick with such tenseness. A group of girls walked up to Scarlet, their faces stern as they casted death stares on her. She backed away a little, knocking into one of the lockers.
They smirked and threw a couple of flyers at her feet. Scarlet crouched down to pick them up, her eyes widened as she recognized the picture. It was a picture of Nick carrying her in the rain, the night where he had found her sitting under the streetlights. There were doodles around the picture, in a handwriting that was awfully familiar to her, but she couldn’t recall where she had seen them before.
She flipped to another picture of Nick leaving her house in the morning --- the morning when she was sick after wandering in the rain. Under the picture there was a caption written in angry red fonts that said:
S|ut whose bed sheets were rumpled by someone else’s boyfriend, innocence? Not much.
She felt her heart pounded faster and faster as her gaze fell on a picture of her talking to James, which red fonts that said “Cheater” in angry capitals written all over it. She felt tears pricking her eyes as she stood up with her feet wobbling, avoiding glances from everyone else.
But they weren’t letting her go easily. A girl grabbed her on the shoulders, smirking, “Ashamed of yourself yet?” It was Tara, one of Noelle’s friends. The other girls were standing around her, staring her down.
“Slut.” Someone slurred.
“Poor James. I wondered what he would say when he sees this.” Tara sneered, her eyes widened in fake sympathy. “I am so sorry, James.” She pouted and mimicked a tone that was similar to Scarlet’s, and everyone laughed. Scarlet shook her head, a tear slid down her cheek. “We didn’t… we didn’t do anything…” She mumbled, backing away, her eyes searching for Nick franticly in the crowd, who was being pulled away by Noelle.
“Nick… ” Scarlet cried desperately. He whirled around; his eyes were blazing with intensity as he looked at her. They were whispering apology as Scarlet watched him being dragged away. She felt her face crumbled into tears and looked down at her feet. She needed to escape. From all of this.
She turned to run to the bathroom, stumbling in pain that was caused by her ankle and almost run into a group of guys. They hollered and whistled when they saw her --- one of them even put his hand on her hips. Scarlet scowled and stumbled a few steps back. “Don’t touch me.” She growled at him before making her way to the bathroom, ignoring the sting of pain on her ankles. “What’s the matter?” She heard the guy cried, “If that Anderson guy could do it, why not me?” With those words, she felt her face turning hot, her chest tightened in pain.
“Do you do $100 for a night?” Someone called out behind her and the crowd burst out laughing. Scarlet slammed the door behind her, tears rolled down her cheeks as she heard their laughter echoed in her head.
She looked at the mirror that was covered with pictures of them and felt a flame of anger ignited within her. She started tearing down the flyers desperately, but they were stuck on there. Like how they were burned deeply in the back of her mind.
She sat down on the corner and wept all she could, praying silently in heart for everything to go away. She could hear the sound of heels clicking on the floor and whispers behind her door. “Go away!” She shouted, knowing that someone was eavesdropping.
Snickers and laughs came from the other side of the door, vanishing into nothing as the bell rang.
She reached out to touch the necklace again, holding it tentatively in her palms. She shut her eyes and thought of Nick, pretending he was sitting right next to her, his arms wrapped around her tightly. Her chest was tight as if all the oxygen had drained away from her lungs, and she couldn’t breathe. She opened her eyes, hoping to see those eyes looking down at her, the way they were few nights ago.
But there was nothing.
“Nick…” She croaked through tears, his name echoing between the walls, in her head, in her heart.
Then everything faded into blank darkness. There was nothing, nothing at all.