Games People Play
Based off of a dream. Most of my dreams end up as stories. Haha
|I slowly sat up from where my head rested in a pillow on Josh's lap. His leather jacket slid off my shoulders. Had he used it to cover me?
"What's wrong?" I yawned.
"We need to head back to the gym. Patch said we could be anywhere on campus until three. It's 4:16." Josh pointed at a clock above the door.
"Oh. Let's go." I stretched. Josh stood up and offered his hand, helping me up from the couch.
"Sorry," I apologized, "this wasn't much of an all-nighter."
"It's okay." He replied. "I didn't expect it to go the way I had hoped."
I was too tired to hear the sadness in his voice.
We walked back into the gym, said a quick goodnight, and I crawled into my sleeping bag, crashing immediately.
The sound of basketballs woke me up the next morning. Basketballs, and loud chatter. I slowly opened my eyes to see that the gym floor was cleared, everyone's belongings pushed up against the walls. Someone had dragged my sleeping bag, with me in it, over to the side.
"She lives!" Santos laughed and shook my legs. He was living in his own little harem, consisting of Skyler, Julie, Annie, Jey, Lexi, and Jessica. The rest of the boys were playing basketball all the way on the other court of the gym. Only Santos was brave enough to cross the gender border. The girls were used to it.
"Be quiet." I muttered to him and wiggled so he couldn't touch me.
"I thought you were an early riser, Georgie?" Julie spoke up. Everyone stared at her.
"You remember?" They exclaimed.
"What? Oh, no. I wish! Since I woke up, I noticed that Georgie seems to get up early, with the sun if she can help it."
"That's right." My eyes widened. "Great job observing."
Julie blushed as if I'd given her a big award of some sort.
I scooted out of my sleeping bag and asked them what they were talking about.
"Didn't you wear that yesterday?" Santos pointed at my clothes. Only he would notice. Of course he would notice.
"Santos!" Skyler swatted him in the leg. "I'm sure she's got a good reason." Then she leaned forward with intrigued eyes.
"Josh and I tried to pull and all-nighter, but this turned out differently, and so we came back here and I went to bed right away." I shrugged and went into the girls' restroom to brush up and get ready for the day.
I thought back on the night before. I had a lot of fun with Josh, up until the point he practically quoted Nick. and my emotional explosion. Then we both knocked out together. It was...nice. Hardly ever, did I get to stay up late with Josh.
When I walked back out, everyone who was by me, was gone! I scanned the gym. I noticed some girls were trying to get in a game against the boys. That was cool to see.
I opened my bag to get my mirror, when I saw a note inside. I pulled it out. It read:
Your friend. She's lying to you. All of you. She's playing her cards right and you guys have bought into it.
And that was it. No name or anything. Just a note to tell me something that I couldn't figure out.
Pushing the note out of my mind, I pulled out the mirror from my bag and thought about Skyler's group. It swirled, unveiling the large field made up of four football fields. They were all playing infected-tag across the fields. It was really windy.
Micah ran up to Skyler. "You got my letter, right?"
Skyler stopped running and looked into Micah's eyes.
"Micah..." She took a deep breath. Skyler explained to him the things she discovered, telling him the answers to the questions she asked herself the night she read the letter. He just slowly nodded. "I know you're feeling left out of this whole relationship phase, and so am I. But honestly, this is just a chapter in our life that will pass. I, myself, don't think even I am old enough or mature enough to be in a relationship."
"But Chris..." Micah trailed off. Apparently, he had forgotten the conversation he and I had.
"He agrees with me. I told him exactly what I've just told you and he knows what I mean." Skyler said, smiling gently. "Besides, I know for a fact that there's a better girl than me for you out there."
"Yeah. Okay!" Micah bounded away happily. Looks like that turned out well.
"He took that surprisingly well." Skyler said. Chris came up and laughed.
"Skye, you just told him not to grow up yet. He's acting like you just gave back his childhood."
"He should enjoy it while he has it." Skyler said. "So should we."
Chris nodded and the two of them raced across the hill, away from James and Hadrian who were it. Hadrian dashed over to Skyler who was about to cross paths with Santos.
"Get your brother, not me!" Skyler yelled.
"No!! Get Skyler!" Santos shouted. "You're so slow that I can get away!" He told Skyler.
"Hadrian! Tag me!" She decided. "There's a certain someone who's begging to get hurt."
Hadrian tore after Skyler.
Santos ran next to Skyler, Hadrian falling behind.
"AAAAH!" Hadrian got blown over by the wind. "It's too strong!!"
Skyler and Santos spread their arms and started getting lifted off the ground. For a couple of seconds, they were suspended in the air.
"SO FUN!!" They yelled together and smiled at each other. They were flying!
"I am Tinker Bell!!" Santos hollered.
"END BONDING MOMENT!!" Skyler shoved a hand in Santos's direction as if she were shunning him.
The mirror solidified and I got up to go find them. Josh came up next to me.
"Good morning." He said.
"Morning." I smiled at him. "How did you sleep?"
"I slept okay. The gym floor is much different from the hotel." He opened the door for me. "How about you?"
"I slept like a rock. I didn't even know I got moved." We made our way through the halls to behind the school.
"You would." He laughed.
"Well, thanks!" I stuck my tongue out at him. We made our way to the group, but Annie was storming over. She was shouting.
"That's it! I'm done! I'm done!" She was throwing her hands around, trying to shake off the anger. "I even gave him a second chance! And how does he repay me?!"
"Um. How did he repay you?" I asked.
"I HATE YOU JAMES!!" She stormed past Josh and me and into the school.
"What happened?" I asked no one in particular.
Skyler came running up next to me. "Look." She pointed to the field. The first thing I noticed was Santos approaching us. The second thing was Julie and James walking around the field holding hands.
For the first time ever, I saw Santos crying. It was weird, because you never ever heard about him crying so the thought of Santos having tears on his cheeks never crossed anyone's mind. But here he was, with those forbidden tears streaming down his cheeks. He didn't say anything, but shoved the door open and stomped through the halls, disappearing as Annie had.
"What happened?!" My question was still unanswered.
"I heard her!" Hadrian appeared from nowhere. I jumped with shock. "She told Santos she liked James better and didn't know why she was with him! She said that she thought that she and James were a more appropriate couple than her and Santos!" He opened the door. "How dare she break my brother's heart! I gotta go find him!"
"Wait, Hadrian." Skyler pursed her lips. "Santos needs a little time alone. He might hit you. You know how he is when he's angry..."
Hadrian frowned. "Yeah...but I can't stand seeing him like this!"
"Annie needs support too." Skyler said. "But I think they need to calm down just a little bit before we find them.
"I agree." I added. "We might wind them up a little more if we go find them right now."
"Oh, that's really true." Hadrian nodded.
"We need to make sure no gossip gets around. This should stay secret." Josh spoke up.
Skyler's eyes widened. "Then I need to find Annie now! She'll be ranting the whole time! Someone's bound to hear her and spread the news!" She dashed into the school.
"Let's find Santos now then." Josh said. He and Hadrian ran into the school as well.
"I'm going to talk to the 'couple' over there." I told them and walked across the field. "Hey guys."
They quickly dropped hands.
"Hey, Georgie." Julie said simply. "What's up?"
"You tell me." I raised my eyebrows. I turned to James. "Mind if I steal her for a little bit?"
"Sure." He shrugged, his face red.
"Stick around." I told him. He nodded.
"What's going on?" I asked her.
"What do you mean?" She acted totally confused.
"Julie, you broke Santos's heart by walking off with James and holding his hand."
"I know. Every relationship hurts." She said. I stared at her.
"Julie. Santos is your boyfriend. You can't just go back to your old boyfriend and ditch the guy who loves you so much."
"Well maybe I think James treated me better." She protested.
"That doesn't mean anything! You're with Santos! And James is with Annie! You can't just go steal a taken man!"
"Well, I don't care what you think! James still showed interest!" She turned around and ran to James and they disappeared around the school.
I ran into the school and found Skyler. She was with Santos in the teacher's lounge. He had his head in his lap, his hands over his face. Skyler was rubbing his back.
"Where's Annie?" I mouthed.
"With Hadrian. We switched." She mouthed back.
"Who's. There?" Santos asked between sobs.
"I-It's Georgie." I replied stiffly. I didn't know he knew I was here. "How are you doing?"
"I feel betrayed." His voice was muffled. "Skyler said you were talking to her. What did she say?"
"Oh. Um." I told them everything. How it was wrong for her to be acting this way. How she wanted James because he was still interested. Santos looked up and exchanged a look with Skyler. They turned to stare at me. "What?"
"What did you just say she said?" He asked.
"James still showed interest?" I repeated. "Oh...I'm such an idiot!" The note replayed in my mind. "She's playing her cards right. The 'helpless' card." I muttered.
"She still has her memory." Santos murmured.
"It was all an act." Skyler's eyes widened. "We have to find Annie and Hadrian!"
"But James is wrong here too!" I said. "We need to find out his story."
"James's story is pretty obvious to me." Santos stood up and wiped his face. His eyes were red and puffy. Actually, his whole face was red. He looked horrible, it was heart-breaking. "The way he keeps a girl wanting him, is getting them jealous of each other. Unfortunately, Annie's the type who will just end things if she gets jealous. So now, he's kinda stuck." He shook his head angrily. "I can see him right now, holding my Julie's hand, but the wheels in his head are turning, trying to find a way to mess with Annie again." Skyler was silent.
"Skye, are you okay?" I asked. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes.
"This is all my fault!" She exclaimed. Santos looked surprised. "I told her to give him a second chance, and now he's hurt her even more! I knew what he was like! I knew what he did! But I still encouraged her to try again! I practically helped James with his twisted purpose."
"Oh, Skyler..." Santos wrapped an arm around her. "No. Don't do this to yourself. Annie didn't have to listen to you. It was her choice."
"But I gave her the option!" She buried her face in her hands.
"But she chose to take it." Skye gasped for air. He looked at me and mouthed, "I'm not helping am I?" I shook my head.
"Skyler, you have a choice right now. To help Annie, or sit here wallowing in self pity." I put in.
Skyler looked up. "You're right. Let's go." She stood up and walked out the door. Santos stared at me like, "How did you do that?"
"I'm her sister." I replied simply. He smiled a little bit and we followed out after Skyler.
Meanwhile, Hadrian and Annie were on the rooftop. He wasn't helping much.
"How could he?!" She exclaimed.
"I know!" He added. "What a jerk! What kind of guy does that to such a great girl?! It's just horrifying!"
"Exactly!" Annie looked at him. "He's so insensitive! What does he think he's accomplishing?!"
"I'll tell you what he's accomplishing! A reputation of a bad guy. Josh said that gossip shouldn't spread about the situation, but I think everyone needs to know what kind of guy James is!"
"Yeah! And that way he can't play any other girls!" Annie agreed.
"But, I'd feel bad for taking revenge. It's almost like stooping down to his level. And you're much too good for that, Annie." Hadrian sighed.
"Oh, Hadrian! You're so cute! Can you be my little brother?" She hugged him.
"Thank...you?" He asked, his cheek squished against her shoulder.
Josh had left Hadrian to find James. When he located the boy, he noticed that Julie had found him again and they were walking together.
"What did Georgie want?"
"She was trying to be that good voice of reason." Julie shrugged.
"Oh. Hey, Juliet--"
"Julie." She interrupted. "You don't have to be awkward about it."
"Julie." James said. "Wow it feel so weird. I haven't called you that since--"
"Since we were together." Julie finished.
She remembers? Josh thought.
"Skyler told me." Julie added.
"Lies." A new voice said. Julie and James looked ahead.
"Who are you?" A lanky boy stepped forward with long, dark bangs and a purple beanie.
"It doesn't matter. I know exactly what you're doing, Julie." He said.
"Georgie knows now, too." He added. "Stop playing the 'helpless' card. You remember everything."
"What's going on?" James asked.
"You wouldn't dare gossip about me, would you?" Julie stared hard into the boy's eyes.
"I don't even hardly talk. Why would I waste my words on you?" He replied. "Santos deserves better."
"Hey!" James jumped to Julie's rescue. "Julie's a great girl! Who are you to judge her?"
"I've watched everyone here throughout the course of our stay at the ROCK and afterwards. You probably didn't even notice me. I've seen how you are when people aren't around. When you're just sitting by yourself, acting out different emotions to fake out everyone."
Julie's eyes widened.
"So what?! Are you claiming Julie faked her concussion?!" James exclaimed.
"No. Of course not. It was real. That's too risky to fake." The boy didn't take his eyes off of Julie. Even though she couldn't see them through his bangs, she felt the intensity. She shifted her weight. "Tell me, Julie, when did it occur to you to 'lose your memory'?"
"Why would I tell you?!" She yelled at him. "I don't even know you!"
"Oh, you don't need to tell me." He replied. "You need to tell him." He pointed at James. "And your friends."
"You can't make me!" She argued.
"Then I'll tell them." He shrugged.
"How could you possibly know what I was thinking?" She clenched her jaw.
"I can read people, in their body language, they way the talk, the tone of their voice, how they interact with others." He leaned forward and whispered in Julie's ear for a few seconds, then stepped back. "Am I right?"
Julie's face was pale, her eyes wide, and her body frozen.
"I've discovered your true self. For lack of a better word, you've been labeled. You're tagged." The boy stared at her.
"Be honest to your friends." He said as he turned to walk away. "You need to let them see you for who you really are before you can truly be friends."
"Shut up! You have no right to say these thin--" James shouted after him.
"He's right." Julie interrupted.
"What?" James asked.
"He's right." Julie repeated.
"What do you mean?"
"I wanted to start over with you." She told him. "Our friendship had suffered from our breakup and I wanted to be friends again. You stopped calling me 'Julie'! So when I woke up in the infirmary in the middle of the night, I spent most of my thoughts thinking of how perfect it was that we could start over now." She sighed. "Besides, I was hoping we could fix things between us so it could work this time. Santos is a great boyfriend. But you get me." James stared at her. "I knew how you worked and you knew how I worked. I thought that because we knew so much about each other, it could work this time."
James was silent.
"Thanks for defending me, even though you knew I was lying to everyone about who I am." Julie said.
"James, say something!" She begged.
"You're right." He finally found his voice again. "I knew you had a--what's the word he used?-- a card that you played. I knew you weren't really that dependent on people. It was your way of getting loved. And Santos, with such a big heart, wanted to surround you with his love. And I did want to start over with you too. I was hoping this memory loss of yours would help. But what I couldn't believe was that you lied to me too."
"I had to in order to keep it convincing! It was a total immersion in fixing things with you!"
"You know something, Julie?" James stepped away. "I really did know you. But this isn't the Julie I knew. Something changed after you hit your head on the ROCK. This isn't how I want to fix things." He walked away. "Maybe you should start calling me by my full name. Because only good friends can use 'James'."
Santos, Skyler, and I found Annie and Hadrian and we told them about Julie lying about her memory. Josh arrived shortly after and told us what he'd found out.
"I have no idea who that guy was, but he was gooooood. He had her pinned." Josh said.
"You said he doesn't talk hardly at all?" I asked.
"Yeah, he had a purple beanie on."
"Mel!" I exclaimed. "I know that guy! I danced with him!"
They all stared at me.
"Uhhhhh..." I reddened. "He was learning the Essances on the roof one night, where I hung out. And you know how it's easy to learn it with a partner, right?" They nodded slowly. "Well I offered to help. So yeah. He's cool when he's not all dark and gloomy, sitting in the corner by himself eating on the floor."
"O-kay." Skyler turned to everyone. "So what are we going to do?"
"We have one more night to approach Julie and James. Let's plan something." Santos said.
The school bell rang and we went back to the gym.
"Everyone, pack up! We're going home!" Patch announced.
"I thought we had a couple nights here?" A bunch of people asked.
"You guys have been dismissed from the guardianship of the government. You will return to your homes by tonight and in a couple of weeks, we will have the funeral for the teens we lost and also a ceremony for all of you, giving you awards, scholarships, community hours, yadda yadda." He clapped his hands. "Get your stuff ready! Your parents will be picking you up throughout the day! If you're not picked up by 10 tonight, you're paying me to babysit." He stepped down from the table he was standing on and walked away.
"Well, looks like our time is short." Annie said.
"Or, we could, you know, wait until the ceremony to talk to her." Hadrian said quietly.
"Are you nervous?" Skyler asked him. He nodded. "Don't be. You don't have to approach her if you don't want to."
"Good." He looked up at us. "Can I go now?"
"Sure." We all said, smiling. He walked away to find some other people to hang out with. People with much less drama.
"He's so cute!" Annie squealed. "I want him for my little brother!"
"Too late, he's mine." Santos laughed.
We discussed the approach, and as it turned out. We decided to talk to her after the ceremony.