Chapter 16: The Lock-In
The Lock-In party is basically a chaperoned co-ed slumber party for the entire freshman class. Every class has one each year - the seniors have theirs right after Prom usually at the Pit. But the rest of us have them at the school. Any other time, I may have been excited about this but the idea of being locked in the school with Timothy and Veronica made me cringe. For two weeks I'd been talked at by both of them, endlessly complaining about the other one. I tried to listen to both of them, I tried to encourage them to talk to each other instead of me but they didn't listen.
The moment I walked in the door I was ready to turn tail and run. Veronica looked like she'd swallowed something sour. She was glaring at anyone who came with in ten feet of her. Then her eyes locked onto me. "This is stupid!" she exclaimed making her way toward me. Erik grimaced and made a hasty retreat. He'd grown weary of Veronica - we all were truth be told. 'Coward' I thought in his direction as I faced Veronica.
"Then why are you here?" I asked dropping my bag and pillow on the floor next to hers. They'd cleared the cafeteria for anyone who wanted to sleep and various classrooms had been transformed into movie rooms, game rooms, etc.
"Something about being cheerleader - even just an alternate - means I have to attend so many school functions." Veronica replied as she looked around the room with an annoyed expression.
"Full of school spirit I see." I muttered to myself. To her I merely nodded and said "Ah." while resisting the urge to roll my eyes.
"He's with her." she said changing the subject and looking toward the double doors that lead toward the classrooms.
"Who's with who?" I asked feigning ignorance.
"Timothy of course!" she snapped. "With that girl...what's here name? Oh whatever, the one he went to homecoming with."
"Ranna" I said simply. "And what's the problem there? You broke up with him or told him you didn't want to be a couple or whatever..."
"Yeah but I didn't expect him to move on so quickly..." she said.
"You'd rather he be pining for you then?" I asked. "So you can kick him again the next time the mood suits you?"
She whipped around to face me. "I did not kick him - figuratively or literally!"
"Oh come off it V! You've been kicking him for years. You like the fact that you had this faithful follower no matter what you did to him." I snapped back.
"What the hell is your problem Gin?" she shouted getting the attention from everyone around us, including Todd, Mei-Ling and Erik.
"My problem? My problem is you Veronica - you're everyone's problem lately! Why do you have to be such a bitch exactly?" I asked glaring at her.
"Excuse me? What did you just call me?" she asked startled and growing angrier.
"You heard me. I know you life isn't perfect but that doesn't give you a free pass to be cruel to everyone you meet V!" I paused considering my next words and taking a second to calm down. In a lower voice, "I have forgiven you for years as you pushed everyone around you down - me included. I've forgiven you for everything - and you've done a lot to me and people who have tried to be friends to you but I'm done. I'm not your punching bag, your friends are not your punching bags and you don't get to take your bad attitude out on us. You're so absorbed in other people think of you that you're blind to the things and people you already have, people willing to be your friend. What can't you see those people, why can't you appreciate them?" I felt Erik's hand on my shoulder and looked at him. Veronica was shaking with either anger or sadness - I'm not sure which. The angry part of me would like to say I didn't care but I did. I knew now wasn't the time to talk more though so I let Erik lead me away before I said anything else.
He didn't say anything as he lead me to an empty classroom set up for movies later. "Well?" he asked leaning back on the desk.
"What?" I asked defensively. "Well what?" I asked crossing my arms across my chest.
"You have always been her biggest supporter Gin. You've always reminded the rest of us that in spite of appearances she had good qualities. What was that about down there?" he asked.
"I'm just...." I trailed off trying to figure out the answer. "It's just..."
"Just what Gin?" Erik prompted.
"Gah!" I said looking at him annoyed. "What? I can't be bothered by something without giving you answers? Or is that something only you're allowed to do?" I snapped.
Erik was startled by my outburst. "What are you talking about Gin?" he asked.
"You! You have been bothered by something for weeks - since you got back from Virginia. I can see it in your eyes, your stance, your attitude....you don't think I've noticed?"
"I'm not bothered by anything." he protested but his voice lacked sincerity. His eyes shifted to look to the side as he said it.
"There! Right there! You wouldn't look me in the eye when you just said that! Don't lie to me Erik! Withholding is one thing - frustrating but I can tolerate it but don't lie!" I said feeling angry and sad simultaneously. "I know you well enough to see it, to hear it. Something is going on that bothers you! And it's just not the whole China trip or the club keeping you busy. So don't lie to me, tell me you can't talk about it if you have to but don't lie to me." I sat down in a chair feeling emotionally spent already.
"Ginny..." he said trailing off. He walked across the room, looking away from me.
"Erik" I said getting up and following him. "Please talk to me - what happened?" I asked placing a hand on his shoulder.
He shook his head but, without looking at me, started talking. "My mom is marrying that guy she was seeing."
"And? Is he a bad guy for her?" I asked confused.
"No he seems fine." he said still looking away from me. "She wants me to move back. She already had me registered in school even. I don't think she expected any resistance from me. I managed to push it off until the summer but she was pretty firm that after the summer, she expects me back in Virginia."
"Oh." I said shell shocked. "Move back...."
"My dad stopped paying child support when I moved here and is now threatening to take HER to court to change the ruling so SHE would have to pay him. They hate each other, they've been using me to get back at each other for years and my dad seems to think.....oh it's not important." He finally turned and looked at me. "Is that better? Unless I can convince my mom or the courts - I'll be moving back this summer." he said sadly.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" I asked leaning closer to him.
"And make you sad too? I was hoping to figure out a way to fix it first. Then you wouldn't have to go through this as well." he said
"Nice theory" I said feeling an ache inside already.
"Bad execution?" he asked with a sad little laugh. I smirked but nodded.
"We just have to convince your mom to let you stay." I said. "Right?"
"And convince my dad not to go to the courts - he's not the sort of person courts give custody too." he said.
"Oh Erik!" I exclaimed going into his arms and hugging him tightly. "This sucks." I said bluntly.
"Yeah, yeah it does." he said holding me tightly. We were interrupted by a small group of students coming in to watch a movie. "Come on, let's go back to the cafeteria." he said taking my hand. It felt like a month had passed in the time since we'd left the cafeteria. When we walked in to the cafeteria I tried to avoid looking for Veronica but my eyes immediately sought her out. I was shocked to see what looked like a civil conversation between her and Timothy - maybe even an apology....
"Maybe she's not so bad after all." Erik whispered to me.
"I know she's not." I said quietly. "I know..."