Love...Hate...What's the difference, really?

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

by: Zoebird
It's been, what, six years now? Seven? Something like that. As his face formed in my mind, I found myself circling back, retracing my memory, to that fateful day we first met...
~Six years ago~
''I was in the third grade, and it was the first day of school. Dad had just dropped me off and given me a hug. I stood on the sidewalk, waving at his car until I could no longer see it. Then I picked up my pink hello kitty backpack, shouldered it, and turned around to begin school again.''
''When I turned around, I walked straight into a guy my age, making him spill his juice all down his front. I felt my face flush, and I stammered an apology, fluttering my hands around but knowing there was nothing I can do but apologize.''
''"Watch it you-" He said a stream of words that Mommy told me I should never say, and I felt tears pool in my eyes-he was so mean! It wasn't fair, it was an accident! He saw me start to cry and sneered cruelly, saying, "Aw, is Daddy's giwl gonna cwy?" in a sarcastic, mocking baby voice. Now I was ''mad-''nobody talks to me like that! Without thinking about it, my hand whips out to smack him.''
''He spins and falls to the ground. A teacher rushes over, asking what was going on in a way that means you're supposed to answer immediately and honestly. I duck my head and fidget guiltily while the teacher skewers me with his eyes, staying silent.''
He ''wasn't, though.''
''"Sh-she h-hit me! I d-didn't-t even d-do anything!" he pretended to sob, grinning evilly at me when the teacher turned to glare at me. I shot daggers at him with my eyes, furious with this lying little...I couldn't think of a bad enough word then, although plenty come to mind now.''
''The teacher demanded if it was true, and when I still didn't say anything, for I couldn't think how to possibly explain myself, he hauled me to the principal's office. I tossed one final, scorching look at his smug little face.''
''I swore right then that he and I would always be enemies-what else could we ever be? He was stupid, mean, and rude. I hated him. Funny how things change, and don't seem to work out the way you planned, isn't it?''
~Today~
Of course, that was back then. Compared to now, it was so different. Very different. To think I had gone from hating him with every fiber of my being to l-
I squashed that thought before it could finish, panicking. ''Stop thinking about it,'' I told myself firmly. ''It does you no good to dwell on it, so'' don't.
I heaved a huge sigh, internally cursing him to the deepest, darkest abyss of Hades for the confusion he was causing me. I glanced around the class again-I was in the middle of third period, my geometry class (ugh) with Mrs. Horn (seriously, that's her ''real'' name!)-when the devil himself walked in.
I suppose, in his own way, Jason Maloy was kinda handsome. He had a wicked, sneaky face that instantly got him labeled by everyone as trouble-and they were right, weren't they? He ditched all the time. He had horrible grades. He was a jerk. He was universally hated...by anyone who has a drop of common sense in their veins, that is (yes, I know what that says about me, and I would appreciate it if you kept any comments to yourself). He had a bad-boy air about him, from his evilly gleaming dark blue eyes, his shaggy dark brown hair, to the leather jacket he wore and motorcycle helmet tucked under his arm.
He was late, of course, but he had a stroke of luck because so was Mrs. Horn. He looked around the classroom, sneering when his eyes came to me, winking at the girls who giggled at him. Then he swaggered to his seat-right next to mine, unfortunately. Most days I wanted to gouge my eyes out when he sat next to me. Today I just glared and then lowered my eyes, pretending my face wasn't hot.
''It's...the heater, it's busted. Not...emotion, a busted heater,'' I told myself. Welcome to Denial City. Population: me. I sighed again and slammed my notebook shut.
I got that prickly feeling you get when you know someone's watching you. I glanced around casually...and felt my pulse speed up when I found myself meeting blue eyes deep as the ocean, curious with one perfect eyebrow raised. I glared at him again and shrugged. I didn't have to explain myself or my aggravations to him, and I wasn't about to.
So I just brushed my dark hair back and looked away with my chin held high, trying to ignore his sniggering as Mrs. Horn finally breezed in.
"Sorry I'm late, class," she said in a weary voice, "my daughter had to go to the hospital-she has apendicitis." I immediately felt sympathy for Mrs. Horn and her family. I opened my notebook and started sketching a get-well card for...what was her name? Stacy? Tracy? I racked my brains desperately, to no avail. Crap!
I made a mental note to ask Mrs. Horn after class, and finish the card later. I couldn't make my brain focus, though, as Mrs. Horn started droning about the Transitive Property of Equality, or whatever. I zoned out and started absently doodling in my notebook.
"Jessica, what do you think?" Mrs. Horn said, her eyes skewering me. I jumped guiltily, my face reddening as I squinted at the board, trying to figure out the answer. I bit my lip, starting to panic. Mrs. Horn glared at me, then turned to the rest of the class. "Would anyone care to help Mrs. Collin out?" she snapped, and the class shrank back, none daring to face her wrath.
While she glared at them, a piece of paper flopped onto my desk. I unfolded it, and found a hastily scribbled explanation in untidy handwriting. I read through it, then raised my hand, petrified. Mrs. Horn looked at me, nodded sharply, and I stammered the answer. Mrs Horn eyed me, then the paper in my hands.
Moving surprisingly agilely for a woman of her age (mid-forties, maybe fifties, about), she stalked forward and snatched the note from me. She scanned it over quickly, her eyes narrowing as she looked back at me. I cringed. Then-to my shock-she glared at Jason. I raised my brows at him, shocked he would help me, and he shrugged, looking uncomfortable.
"I am a reasonable person, Ms. Collin and Mr. Maloy," she said in a venemous snarl, "but I will ''not'' tolerate cheating in my classroom. Both of you are to leave. I will notify your parents, and you will both recieve an F for the day. Now get out!" she said, jabbing a finger at the door. All earlier sympathy dissolved. Stiffly I gathered my things, stuffed them in my backpack, slung it over my shoulder, and exited gracefully.
That was the plan, anyway. In actuality, my boot tip caught on the lip of the door and I tripped and went sprawling. ''This day just gets better and better,'' I thought acidly as the class erupted in laughter. I sat up and pushed my hair back, beginning to gather my things. I found half of them already gathered by Jason, under his arm, his free hand being offered to me.
I glanced at his face, confused-what up with the sudden chivalry?-but his expression was blank, as readable as a stone mask. I shrugged and, after grabbing the remainder of my things, grasped his hand-which was very warm and callused, I noticed-and used it to haul myself up.
Together, we walked out of the class. Not so close that we were touching, but close enough that I could smell the cologne he was wearing. Intoxicating. I inhaled...and then shook my head, trying to clear it.
"Thanks," I muttered to Jason as we walked out. "I mean, I know we're enemies and everything, but I appreciate you trying to help. Sorry I got you in trouble." I couldn't meet his eyes. What I couldn't quite believe was that I was willingly apologizing to him. Him! He still owed me an apology for getting me in trouble all those years ago. Unbelievable!
As though he was reading my mind, he shrugged. "Hey, I guess we're even, then," he said in his usual sarcastic but somehow smooth voice. I glanced at him questioningly. He raised an eyebrow and continued, "I got you in trouble in third grade. You got me in trouble. I figure we're even now." He shrugged again, which made me notice his wide, strong looking shoulders. I looked away again, trying to clear my head.
"Oh," I murmured, surprised he saw it that way. "Yeah, I guess we are." Even... maybe I didn't have to be mad about that first incidence anymore. ''After all, forgiveness is divine,'' I thought sarcastically to myself.
We'd come to the school entrance. I had no clue what to do. I had roughly an hour and a half to kill, and no idea how to kill it.
"What are you gonna do now?" I asked him casually, out of sheer curiosity, I admit. Plus, maybe his response would give me an idea.
He cocked his head to the side, like he was thinking about it. "I dunno... maybe go for a ride, maybe just go home...what about you?" he asked me, glancing sidelong at me.
It was my turn to shrug. I brushed my black hair back from my face again as I thought."I honestly have no clue. Maybe I'll study or do homework or something," I murmured.
He snorted. I glanced at him, one eyebrow raised, and he erupted into raucous laughter. "I should have expected as much," he snickered.
"What?" I demanded, wondering why the hell he was laughing at me.
"Oh, nothing," he replied sarcastically, smirking. "It's just...you're so... predictable. Goody-goody. I should have figured you'd say that." He chuckled again and started walking away, hands in his pockets.
For some reason, I found myself chasing after him, shouting "Hey!" I waited, and when he turned around, I snapped, "I am ''not'' a goody-goody! Just because I actually want to ''do'' something with myself besides get in trouble doesn't mean I don't have fun!" I knew my hazel eyes were probably flashing, and I was shouting unneccessarily, but I couldn't help it. I'm known for losing my temper. ''Especially'' when it comes to Jason Maloy.
He smirked, so infuriatingly superior. "Oh really? Is that true, Jess?" he taunted.
"Absolutely," I responded icily.
He grinned jeerily. "Yeah? Then I dare you to ride on my bike with me," he challenged. My eyes widened, shocked he would demand something so ridiculous. I glanced at his shiny black Harley motorcycle and gulped. My heart started pounding, and sweat beaded on my temples. I felt my teeth sink into my lower lip. "What's the matter, Daddy's Girl? Scared of a little bike? I knew it-you're too goody-goody to take a risk," he mocked.
That little jab was what did it. Later, I would kick myself over and over again for even considering it.
But at that moment, I set my teeth, said, "You're on, Juice Boy," grabbed the spare helmet he dangled in front of him, and marched towrd the bike.

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