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Now You Know
Beep! Beep! Beep!
Clare rolled over and reached over to stop the irritating noise coming from her alarm clock. It was six o’clock, time to wake up and get ready for school. She sat up, stretched, and then walked over to her window to allow the morning sunlight to enter her room. Waking up early was one of the things Clare absolutely hated. “Well, at least it’s Friday,” she thought. So, she got dressed. She threw on a pair of jeans and a plain t-shirt. She looked in the mirror and quickly combed her wavy blonde hair. She didn’t spend hours getting ready like some of the other girls at her school. Clare saw it that school was a place for learning, not a fashion contest. She continued her morning routine, just like she did every day.
At seven o’clock, she grabbed her bag and went out the door. She walked along the sidewalk two houses down to her best friend’s house. Her friend’s name was Jane and Clare always had to pick up Jane for school. Otherwise, Jane wouldn’t even get there. While Clare was kind, caring, shy and smart, Jane was the exact opposite. She was loud, crazy and rebellious. A person could just tell what kind of person she was from just looking at her. She always wore dark clothes. Half of her wardrobe had things like skulls and crossbones on them. She had pretty dark brown hair, but she decided to put bright red streaks in it. Also, she had a nose ring, which Clare hated.
She wasn’t a good student and hated going to school. She could probably be a decent student if she applied herself, but she decided not to and Clare tried her best to help her friend. If it wasn’t for Clare, Jane would probably not even be in school. She lived with her father, but he was always away on business. So, Jane was alone a lot, which is probably why she always found herself getting into trouble.
Jane wasn’t a mean person. She was just tough. She didn’t go around bullying people, but she always did what she wanted and never listened to anyone. She wasn’t scared of anything and if she was, she never showed it. But, just because Jane wasn’t mean, doesn’t mean she was exactly kind. The only person she actually cared about was her friend Clare. Jane had a lot of flaws, but she was still the best friend Clare ever had.
Clare sat on Jane’s front porch because Jane was never ready right away. She could hear her friend running down the stairs and rushing to get ready. “She probably just woke up five minutes ago,” Clare thought.
“I’ll be right there!” Jane yelled from her house.
Two minutes later, Clare heard the front door shut and Jane appeared on the porch. Just as Clare had expected, Jane was wearing ripped jeans, a black T-shirt, dark make-up, and heavy black boots. Clare stood up and turned around to look at her friend and laughed. Jane looked annoyed and was out of breath from rushing around. She hated getting up early even more than Clare did.
“Happy?” Jane asked with sarcasm.
Clare just nodded and forced herself to stop laughing.
“Well, let’s go waste another day of my life,” Jane said, annoyed.
They started walking to school. It was only a few blocks away and every morning was the same. Jane would be angry at first because her best friend was forcing her to go school. But, after ten minutes, she would get over it and be in a better mood.
Once they got to school, Clare felt like she was in Hollywood. Walking down the hallway with Jane was like being on the red carpet. So many people were waving and giving high-fives. Jane knew everyone and everyone knew her. “It’s ironic how the most popular girl in school is the person who hardly ever shows up,” Clare thought.
When the school day was over, Jane met Clare at her locker.
“Hey,” Jane said.
“Hey. What did you get on your math test?” Clare asked.
Jane rolled her eyes and replied, “I got like a forty something. Who cares?” Clare didn’t even say anything.
“Hey, there’s a basketball game tonight against West High,” Jane said excited. Clare looked at Jane, confused.
“So? We never go to those. I thought you hated them.” Jane was always too lazy to be involved in school events and Clare just never saw the point.
“Well, I heard there’s supposed to be a huge fight! You want to go?”
“No. I’m not going to a stupid basketball game to see some stupid kids kill each other.”
“Come on, Clare. What else are you going to do? Sit in your room and study?”
“Well, we do have finals coming up. I don’t know about you, but I want to get good grades.”
“Come on. Please, please, please,” Jane whined. “I can’t go by myself.”
Clare rolled her eyes and put on her jacket. She sighed, “I’ll only go if you promise not to go looking for trouble. You will have to sit down and actually watch the game.” A big smile grew across Jane’s face.
“Thanks! You’re the coolest friend ever!” Then she turned and started to walk away.
“Hey, where are you going?” Clare asked.
“Oh, I got detention. Mrs. Nolan caught me texting in class again.” She rolled her eyes like it was no big deal. “See you later!”
Clare wasn’t surprised. Jane got detention at least twice a week. She closed her locker and went home. She was already regretting going to this basketball game. Little did she know that this experience would change her life forever.
A couple hours later, Clare left her house to get Jane just like she did that morning. As she approached Jane’s house, a memory came to her mind. She felt weird about going to this game. She wasn’t scared, she was nervous. A couple of months ago, she heard that two kids from West High and East High got into a really bad fist fight. The boy from her school ended up with a broken arm and a black eye. “It’s stupid,” she thought. East High and West High have been enemies for years. Half of the reason kids attended the sporting events between the two schools was in hope to see a fight. They didn’t care about the sport at all.
Jane came running out of her house before Clare even reached the porch. She had never been so excited to go to the school.
As they walked, Jane kept going on about how excited she was. Clare didn’t really pay attention. She knew she would regret this night. She didn’t even want to go. She would much rather be home studying. But, for some reason, she went anyway.
When Clare and Jane entered the gymnasium, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They had never attended one of these sporting events, so they didn’t know what to expect. The bleachers were completely full. Kids from their school were on one side and kids from the other school were on the other side. Clare could actually feel the tension in the room. Kids on the bleachers stared back and forth at each other. They weren’t even watching the game. Even the cheerleaders weren’t watching. The cheerleaders from East High were cheering for the Hornets and the cheerleaders from West High were cheering for the bulldogs. But, they weren’t cheering to support the teams. They were competing with each other. They were screaming more than cheering.
After a lot of searching, Jane and Clare finally managed to find seats. Since they were now in the bleachers, they had kids from the other school staring at them as well. This made Clare feel uncomfortable.
“This is kind of intense. Everyone looks like they want to kill each other,” Clare said. Jane was so into the game that she didn’t even hear Clare.
The game went on and Clare kept glancing anxiously at her watch.
The game lasted for what seemed like forever. When East High was declared the winner, Clare immediately stood up to leave. It took forever for all of the kids to squeeze through the exit door, but eventually, Clare and Jane were outside. The parking lot was flooded with people looking for their cars.
As Jane and Clare made their way through the parking lot, Clare could feel a thousand eyes on her. She started walking faster and faster.
They were almost out of the parking lot when they heard a voice behind them shout out, “Hey, where are you going?” The voice was cold and hard.
Clare’s whole body tensed up and she didn’t want to turn around. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Jane, who also looked scared. Without turning around or saying anything, they continued walking, almost running. Five seconds later, the voice called out to them once again.
“Hey. Come back here!”
The voice was unfamiliar to Clare. She could tell it was a male’s voice. She automatically assumed it was a guy from West High. As they increased their walking speed, they heard footsteps following them.
Before Clare could even think of what to do, she stopped walking and the guy was standing in front of her. As she assumed, the guy was from West High. He wore a West High sweatshirt. He was staring at Clare and he knew he was scaring her. As Clare stared back at him, three other guys came and stood around her and her friend. They were also from West High and they stared at the girls just like their friend was doing.
Clare was thinking about what would happen. She definitely couldn’t get around the four boys, so she just stood there and waited for something to happen.
The first guy finally broke the silence. “So, you ladies are from East High? You must be happy your team won,” he said in a rude way.
Clare didn’t know how to respond, but she was too scared to talk even if she did know what to say. The guy just stared and waited for an answer.
“Well, are you surprised? Your team is horrible,” Jane said casually.
Clare couldn’t believe what her friend just did. These guys obviously wanted trouble and she wasn’t helping by responding to them. Clare knew something was going to happen. She didn’t know what, but she knew it would be bad.
“Oh really?” the guy asked as he took a step closer. Jane stood her ground as if she wasn’t afraid at all. Just then, one of the other guys on the side stepped in.
“Come on, man,” the guy said. “Leave them alone.”
Clare was surprised. The last thing she expected was for one of the guys to stick up for them. She just stared at the second guy. “Did he really just do that?” Clare thought.
“Dude, they didn’t do anything to you,” he said.
After a small conversation between the two guys, they left. Clare and Jane immediately went straight home. All night, Clare kept thinking about the one guy. Why did he stick up for her?
About a week later, Clare had almost completely forgotten about the basketball game. She was at her part-time job at the town’s bookstore on a Saturday afternoon. It was never crowded, so she would usually just read her own book or do her homework and sit behind the register counter.
So, she was reading her book behind the register when she heard the front door open. She looked up and she noticed it was the guy from the basketball game, the guy that stood up for her and her friend. She was confused. From the things she’s heard about the kids from West High, she didn’t expect to see one of them in a bookstore.
The guy didn’t even see her and he went straight to the back corner of the store. Clare went back to reading her book.
Ten minutes later, she looked up and the guy was standing on the other side of the counter, ready to purchase a book. Clear hadn’t gotten a great view of him the other night, but here in the bookstore, she noticed that he had light brown hair and soft blue eyes. He also had a kind smile which also made her smile. She put her book aside and took his book as she punched the price into the register.
“Hey,” the guy said. “You look familiar. You’re that girl from the basketball game last week.” He handed Clare the money.
“Yeah, I never got to thank you for what you did,” Clare said smiling as she gave him his change.
“Oh, it was no problem. My friends can be kind of stupid sometimes.” Clare put his book into a plastic bag and handed it to him.
“Well, to be honest, I was surprised. I didn’t expect you to do that.”
“Oh, I know. I bet you’ve heard that kids from West High are big, mean, and scary, right?” Clare didn’t respond. She was too embarrassed. The guy continued talking.
“Well, we’re not all like that. Some of us are actually decent human beings,” he continued.
“I’m sorry. You probably think I’m a big jerk,” Clare said.
“Well, now you know,” he said. “I’m John, by the way.” He put out his hand.
“I’m Clare,” she said, shaking his hand.
“Well, I’ll see you around,” John said as he turned to leave.
“See ya,” Clare said. John gave Clare one last smile as he exited the store.
Clare felt like an idiot. She had been all wrong about John. He was actually a pretty nice guy. Her classmates, especially Jane, had always told her how bad West High kids were. So, she had judged him before she even got to know him. She learned a valuable lesson that day in the bookstore. Clare decided she wanted to be more like John. He stood up for Clare, even though she was from the rival school and he was supposed to hate her. He didn’t judge her like she had judged him.
On Monday morning, Clare once again went through her morning routine and went to Jane’s house. When Jane came outside, she looked angry and just stared at Clare.
“What’s the matter?” Clare asked, confused.
“Oh, come on. You know,” Jane said with anger.
“Sam told me yesterday that she saw you talking to that kid from West High in the bookstore on Saturday!” Jane said.
“Ummmm, yeah. So?”
“So? He’s from West High! Do you know what the kids at school would do if they saw you talking to him?!”
“Calm down! We were just talking and I don’t care what the kids at school think!” Clare said.
At this point, Jane was practically screaming.
“Are you out of your mind?! You know those kids are jerks!”
“No they’re not, at least not all of them. You judge those kids and you’ve never even gotten to know them,” Clare screamed.
“Well, I can’t be your friend if you’re friends with that guy.”
“His name is John and you’re not a good friend if you’re going to treat me like this.”
“Well, then go hang out with John all you want. Our friendship is over!” Jane said, as she went back into her house.
Clare was furious. She walked to school, alone, and couldn’t believe what just happened. Her friend just ended their friendship just because Clare had a five minute conversation with a guy from the other side of town.
The next week was a lonely week for Clare. In the mornings, she walked straight past Jane’s house. After school, Jane didn’t come to her locker. Usually, Jane would’ve gotten over it by now, but this was serious.
Clare hadn’t seen or talked to Jane in over a week. She was in her room studying one night when the doorbell rang. Clare ran down the stairs, and to her surprise, it was Jane. “She’s probably just here to give me a hard time,” Clare thought.
“What are you doing here?” Clare asked. Jane looked shy and embarrassed.
“I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” Jane said. Clare couldn’t believe her eyes. She knew Jane for years and she never heard her apologize for anything. Jane continued.
“You were right. I thought about what you said and I was being stupid. If you want to be friends with that guy, John, it’s your decision, not mine.” Clare smiled and Jane knew she was forgiven. The two friends hugged.
Clare had learned a lot over the last couple of weeks. She learned not to judge people before she got to know them. She judged John, but he was actually a really nice guy, who is now a good friend to her and Jane. Clare also learned not to worry about what other people think. The kids at her school didn’t like her hanging out with a kid from West High, but Clare learned to ignore them. She realized she didn’t have to make decisions and worry whether or not her friends would approve. Now, in a way, Clare was glad she went to that basketball game.