The morning came with bright, persistent rays of sunshine. As the light hit Alya, she moaned, and slowly opened her eyes. Her big brown orbs widened in horror, as she saw her arms wrapped around someone's body, and his around hers. Her head was on top of a chest that looked unmistakably like...
'What the hell?!" She pushed Sam off the couch, and he fell off with a sickening thud.
"OW! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!" Sam screamed, rubbing his eyes to get the sleep out of them.
'Why were you sleeping next to me? Asked Al, getting up from the couch.
'Because you asked me to." Sam answered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Alya stared, mouth agape at him, as if he was the stupidest person in the world.
'So you just lay down next to me?!" She demanded incredulously.
"Well, I wasn't going to, but then what you said changed my mind." He replied, quite flatly. Alya could feel the anger bubbling in her throat. How dare he? After all that had happened...How dare he?!
"And what exactly did I say?" She asked scathingly, fury simmering in her chocolatey eyes.
"You...you asked me not to leave...again..." He lowered his eyes, feeling his cheeks heat up as he repeated the words a delirious Alya had said in the dimly lit room. Her mouth quivered, and then she pursed her lips, as if biting back words.
"Hey, what do you guys want for breakfast?" Jay walked into the room, shattering the uncomfortable silence that had settled in it.
"Excuse me, I have to go make a call." Alya left the living room, avoiding eye contact with both boys.
'What just happened?" Asked Jay, totally lost.
"She's upset about yesterday night." Sam replied, sighing as he slumped on the couch. And just when he thought everything was slowly getting back together.
"Al, what's the matter?" Sandhya burst through the main door, and ran to the living room.
To say that she looked distraught was an understatement. Her hair was frizzy and static; she had huge bags under her eyes and was panting heavily as she entered the room.
'Di! Thank god you're here!" Alya exclaimed, jumping up from her seat and running to hug her sister, relieved.
"What's wrong sweety?" Asked her sister, stroking the back of her head gently.
'Nothing...I...I'm just glad you're here." Alya retrieved from the hug, holding her sister's hands in hers, and smiling.
"So, did you guys-" Alya turned around, glaring at the three boys assembled, staring absolutely befuddled, at her.
"Di opened the main door. You can go now." She said coldly.
"Didn't you understand? Get. Out." She said firmly, pointing to the exit door leading to the hallway from the living room. Then, without a word, she turned her back and disappeared out into the hallway.
"Alright...its hopeless!" Said Kabir, walking into the living room of his house.
"Why did she just throw us out? I thought everything was going fine..." Jay asked us, frowning.
"It was, until I made a stupid mistake, like an idiot." I said, shaking my head and mentally chastising myself for the mistake.
"Relax Sam...She just doesn't want to accept our apology...so its not entirely your fault." Kabir said, dropping his head on the in front of him, with a bang. Oh yeah, that was comforting
"No!" Jay and I both exclaimed and I looked at him, curious and slightly apprehensive. He shrugged under my suspicious gaze, as if didn't bother him at all.
"Look...I just like happy endings, okay?"
I smiled and opened my mouth to say thank-you, only to swallow air and promptly close it. I decided that I should save the thank-you for later, when the job was actually done.
"Yeah Kabir... I can't lose her again. Not after-" I stopped short, realizing a little too late that I had said too much. Cursing under my breath, I nervously tapped my fingers on the arm of my chair, hoping to god that it would prove to be a distraction.
"After what Sam?" Jay asked, the tone of his voice innocent, but the smile on his lips...yeah, not so much. I fought the blush that was starting to spread across my cheeks. Taking a deep breath, I adopted the most serious expression possible at that moment, and spoke.
"Can we just prioritize here? How are we going to get Al to believe that we're truly sorry?" I asked, testily.
"Well, I do have an idea'." Jay offered, and Kabir raised his head, snorting derisively.
"Right, because your last plan worked amazingly." Kabir retorted sarcastically.
"Well do you have any better ideas?" Jay snapped back, clearly his patience running thin.
There was a short silence, in which Kabir tried to think of a smart-@#$ comment to retort with. Unfortunately for him, he couldn't come up with anything.
"No..." Kabir replied stiffly.
"Then shut up and listen!"
"Hey Alya!" Jay, the effervescent ball of sunshine greeted me happily. Not that he wasn't always happy, but today he seemed a bit toohappy.
"What?" I snapped back at him, scowling. He held up his hands defensively and turned to face the teacher. I sighed in relief...good! I didn't want to talk to him as it was.
"Alright class, today-"
"Sorry to interrupt you, but we have a really important presentation to do." My head snapped in the direction of the door, and sure enough- there they were. Sam and Kabir, leaning casually against the frame of the door as if they were the coolest people alive.
"What are they doing here?" I hissed to Jay, and he shrugged his shoulders innocently. A little too innocently...
"Um, are you guys-"
"Sorry we're late sir, but we were actually preparing the presentation."
"Can we present?"
My drama teacher nodded slowly totally confused. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach as they walked to the front of the class, not failing to smile widely, creepily at me.
"So...hi guys. I'm Sam and this is Kabir and-"
"We know who you are!" A random girl squealed, batting her eyelashes violently.
I rolled my eyes, insulting the girl under my breath. Jay chuckled, amused, and I threw a threatening look at him. Unfortunately, Jay was not threatened by me.
"Thanks...anyway. We're here to do a presentation about our partner, Alya..." Sam said, flashing his 'charming' smile at the girl with the flapping lashes. The one that made girls go weak in the knees, not that it made me go weak in the knees or anything. Someone's arm shot up in the air, presumably to ask a question.
"Please hold your questions till the end." Said Kabir.
"Okay...so...lets start with the basics. Alya's last name is Bose." And then it hit me. They were presenting about me! I was too busy cursing that girl...I mean, ignoring them to notice before. I turned my head sideways, glaring at Jay.
"Hey! Don't look at me! I had nothing to do with it!" He said, holding his hands up defensively, yet again. Yeah right. But I let it go, because really, I was too tired to argue.
'She's seventeen, like pretty much everyone here.'
"She lives in defense colony."
'Her favorite colour is red because..."
I rolled my eyes, and avoided looking at the front of the classroom. For some stupid reason, the very two boys who I was trying to avoid were looking right at me. I could feel their gazes on me, and their stupid smirks.
"Some of the things she loves are..." Kabir paused, and curious, I looked up to finally see the smirks that I had predicted to be on their faces.
"Chocolate covered strawberries." He paused, gesturing to Sam, who to my complete surprise, produced a carton of chocolate covered strawberries.
My mouth dropped open, as Sam walked up to me, and opening the carton, placed it right under my nose. Jerk. He knew I couldn't resist the temptation to take one when the delicious smell was wafting up to my nose. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and pushed the carton away from my nose. I really wanted to eat one though...
"She loves Oscar Wilde, and her favorite work of his is The Picture Of Dorian Grey. "
Sam walked up to my desk, and with a fleeting glance at the untouched strawberries, placed a copy of the book on the table...My copy. The copy I thought I thrown out. Once again, my mouth fell open, and judging from Sam's grin, I imagined that I looked rather...inelegant. With great effort, I resisted the urge to ask him where he got my copy of The Picture of Dorian Grey. I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of garnering a response from me... a verbal at the very least.
"Her favorite celebrity is Gordon Ramsay."
This time, Sam didn't immediately produce something from his magical source of all things I love. There was an awkward pause, as all eyes were on his bent back, as he fished through whatever container held my favorites. I threw a smirk at Jay, who looked deeply worried at Kabir and Sam's stalled performance. He rolled his eyes and focused his attention on Sam and Kabir.
I looked around the classroom, and saw that everyone had their eyes glued to the front of the classroom. This was my chance. In one swift motion, I snatched a chocolate covered strawberry and popped it in my mouth. Chewing slowly, I looked around the classroom, making sure that no one saw me take the strawberry. I sighed, relieved, and swallowed the strawberry.
'I saw that..." Jay breathed into my hair, and I froze, my eyes widening. Licking my lips of any residual chocolate, I turned sideways to whisper a threat to Jay.
"If you tell anyone, I swear to-"
"Found it!" Sam exclaimed, holding up a picture of Gordon Ramsay triumphantly in the air.
'That's him." He said, waving the picture in the air, causing the class to burst into laughter.
"Okay...so...let's move one."
'Alya, or more popularly know as Al, has a lot of talents."
"Oh no'." I groaned, putting my head in my hands. I prayed, begged to god that they would stop. God didn't listen.
"She's an incredibly talented writer. She writes the most amazing stories and poems." I shook my head, squeezing my eyes shut, hoping that if I closed my eyes tight enough, I could disappear.
"In our opinion, 'the silver lining' is the best poem she has written to date. We'll keep it right here if you're interested in reading it, please take it." I bit my tongue to keep from shouting a furious no. I was still not going to give them the satisfaction of a verbal response.
"She's an incredible dancer, but she would run after us with chainsaw if she showed you a video of her dancing.' Once again, the room burst into laughter. Obviously they didn't know that Sam was 100% right.
'We're not joking. We're being 100% serious, because the thing about Al is that she's extremely passionate about everything and everyone she loves, so she'll go to extremes. Trust us on this, we know, we have experience."
The room erupted in laughter again at Kabir's comment. I felt a sudden surge of anger as I realized what they were trying to do. Their statements about me were an attempt to make me a laughing stock. Sam frowned as his eyes glanced in my direction. What? Was he not happy seeing his plan come into place?
"I really don't think that it's funny. Her passion makes her incredible at everything. And she's an amazing friend, sister...girlfriend." Sam's eyes softened as he uttered the word'girlfriend', and my heart couldn't help but swell a little. Damn it! He still had that 'be-still-my-beating-heart' effect on me.
"That is true, but apart from her amazing qualities...there are a few...interesting characteristics she possesses..." Great...just when I thought they weren't actually trying to hurt me, they go and start to hurt me again.
"Yeah... Al is really particular about certain things. For one, she absolutely hates it when people she doesn't like call her Al.. Sorry Alya." I rolled my eyes, as yet again, the classroom burst into laughter. But inside, I was smiling, very slightly. Their insults weren't as harmful as I had imagined.
"Also, when she's sleepy and tired, she behaves slightly...like an intoxicated person." The stupid people in the class started laughing again. It was like a laugh track from a lame sitcom.
"What we mean to say is that she speaks what she feels...the truth, when she's half asleep and dog tired.' I clenched my teeth and could feel my nostrils flaring, as I glowered at Sam, who avoided my gaze with dedication. I knew exactly what he was talking about...last night...
"She also has a tendency to blush at the tiniest embarrassing situation. Just watch." I buried my face in my hands, because I could feelmy cheeks heating up, and knew the whole class was looking at me.
"But let's face it, we all have peculiarities, flaws and strengths."
"And Alya is the strongest person we know. She's been through a lot in life, but stood tall and fought every problem, every hurdle and every horrible experience."
"We'll give you one example...Al knew two guys who she considered her best-friends. Counting this year, they've known each other for fifteen years. She dated one of her best-friends for three years, but they broke up because they fought too much. The boys stopped talking to her after the break-up...they left her, breaking the promise they'd made to never leave her, no matter what. Jerks, right?"
There was a unanimous yes that rang around the classroom. Even my drama teacher was silently nodding his head in agreement. I wanted to scream...to run away...but I stayed put, clenching my teeth and the edge of my seat. I could get through this. I. Could. Do. This.
"Now that's the side that Alya knows. I guess we should tell you guys that those two guys were Kabir and I. We're the horrible jerks, and there's no point in defending us and calling us anything but jerks. But we have our own side of the story as well, and we'd just like to tell you that." Oh this should be good. How exactly could they turn the story around in favor of them?
"Al was, is and will be the strongest person I came across. When Sam and her broke up, I was sure that she was going to be fine. But Sam was devastated, so I spent more time with him, and gave him all my support. I didn't realize that even though she was strong as iron, she still needed and deserved my support and attention. And she got upset that I was spending more time with him. She didn't tell me, but I could see it. We drifted apart... I made one big mistake, and lost the most valuable friendship in my life. No offence Sam."
There were a few chuckles in the classroom, but everyone, for the most part, was too shocked to say or do anything. I was one of those people. I couldn't believe that Kabir said all of that in front of everyone, risking his squeaky clean reputation as the nicest guy in our school...What was happening?
"None taken man, I get it. Okay, my turn. Let me make this clear, our breakup was mutual. What I recently found out was that Alya only broke up with me because she thought it would make me happy. I guess since she told me that, it would only be fair to tell her the only reason I broke up with her was also because I thought it would make her happy."
It would what?! What did he just say?! Was he making fun of me? Mocking me for being so stupid and weak that I agreed to break up with him because that's what he wanted'.I suddenly felt suffocated, like no air was passing to my lungs, no oxygenated blood passing through my brain...Dear god please don't make me faint...
"I was in love with you too Al.."
Loud, very audible whispers broke all around the classroom, as I stared, dumbstruck, at my ex-boyfriend. Did he just say that...I blinked, pinched myself, bit my tongue...Yup, I wasn't dreaming...Sam had told me that he had loved me, in front of the whole drama class. Now, I really wanted to run, but I wasn't going to, because I'm not a coward.
"And it was this misunderstanding of mutual love that drove us apart. The only difference was that I couldn't bear to be away from you, and you couldn't bear to be near me. I thought you had started hating me, and I got all bitter and heartbroken. I got all angry and became this complete jack@#$."
He finally looked at me, pulling his ears, his head bowed. I went completely blank...I didn't know what to do. So I just sat, frozen, and stared, mouth agape.
"Al...you're the heart of our trio. Quite frankly, the past year has been miserable without you. We know sorry doesn't cut it, but we really truly are sorry. Please try to forgive us. We made mistakes, but we realize them now, and we promise we'll never hurt you like we did, ever again. We just...wanted you to see this...and think things over." They both carried a worn out leather-bound book and placed it on my table. I knew exactly what it was, and there was no way in hell I was going to open that.
"That's it for our presentation. Thank you for sticking with us."
"Well boys, thank you for that...illuminating presentation, but this assignment is due next week, and I'm pretty sure that you guys are not in this class!" Before the two could reply, the bell rang.
Relieved, I grabbed my bag and ran out of the classroom, before anyone could say anything else. Boom, boom, boom... My head was pounding with an overflow of confusing thoughts, memories and recently spoken words. Need to get out of here. I ran, my flats clacking loudly against the marble floor...Then they scratched against the granite of the street outside. Air. Sickeningly thick, hot, polluted air. But it felt so good to be out...
"Al!" I moaned... I didn't want to talk to anyone. But if I didn't answer, that pesky ball of sunshine would not leave. Better get it over with.
'What do you want now?" I asked, as he ran up to me, panting.
'You forgot this..." he said, holding up that ruddy leather bound book. The one with all the haunting memories...
"I didn't forget it." I replied.
'Please, just take it." He said, pressing it in the palm of my hand. I sighed and enclosed my finger around the spine. Whatever. Not like I was going to look at it.
'Clear your mind and look at it. You'll be surprised." He smiled, a very small smile, at me, and walked away, leaving me to wonder...