At lunchtime, I walked to the exit to eat outside the school grounds. It was just easier. As I was about to reach the front door, a manicured hand shot out. I flinched to an abrupt halt.
“Oakley,” Laura said with a fake smile, “I’m having a party on Saturday to celebrate the end of the year. You should come. What do you say?”
Laura and her friend Sally laughed under their breath.
How can they still find that funny? Do they not ever get bored of their own stupid, pathetic jokes?
I pushed past her, almost running toward the door. The laughing stopped as soon as I was outside. I’d already had enough of today, and I needed to leave. Blinking the tears back, I walked quickly through the car park. How can people hate me so much for doing absolutely nothing wrong?
I swallowed the watermelon-sized lump in my throat and willed myself not to cry. I’d survived much worse, and I was stronger than this, so it frustrated me when their jibes cut.
“Oakley?” Finn’s voice called out, bringing me instant relief.
I turned around to see him jogging toward me, his messy hair blowing across his forehead. I drew on the strength his friendship gave me.
I took a shaky breath and smiled. I was not going to let them make me cry again, and I really didn’t want Finn to see me upset either. He strode across the car park and stopped right in front of me.
“Hey. Are you okay?” Finn asked, scanning my face.
I nodded, and he arched an eyebrow.
“No, you’re not. Hold on a minute. I’ll come with you, and we can talk.”
As he went to turn away, I grabbed his arm and shook my head. I didn’t want him to come with me. He didn’t need to be the boy who hung out with the freak girl who didn’t talk. I nudged him in the direction of his waiting friends, telling him to go with them.
He looked to them for a second before returning to me. “It’s fine. I’d rather come with you,” he said.
Great I’m the loser charity case who needs babysitting.
I shook my head more fiercely and clenched my jaw, hurt and frustrated. Of all the people in the world, I did not want him feeling sorry for me.
I should’ve just stayed in bed today.