Trust MeI trudged out of bed on Monday morning, sighed, and headed off to the shower. The warm, beautiful, tranquil water washed through me as I ladled my hair with shampoo. It felt good, as if I was washing away the past. Then I shook my head – there was no way I could get off so easily. Surely the guilt would hit me again later. Then, suddenly, the dripping shower water became not my harbour but my doom, a speeding tidal wave showering me with shame, over and over again. I got out of the shower quickly afterwards, blow-dried my hair, and pulled on my boring grey, white and black school uniform. I seemed too wicked to be able to wear such simple colours. I felt as though I should be swamped in red with a big yellow sticker on my forehead screaming: ‘scarlet woman’. I sat down on my padded stool once more and stared into the mirror – and saw a liar, a cheat, a life-ruiner – but hey, the truth hurts. As I slowly brushed through the long blonde strands of hair as delicately as spun silk, I thought, what’s the point? If I was evil on the inside, I might as well be on the outside. I scraped my hair back into a simple topknot, and didn’t even bother with mascara or lip gloss. I looked like a pale, shadow girl with guilty chocolate eyes, indulgent in Steve-related pleasures. There were shadows under those shameful eyes of mine, so prominent, and yet so faded at the same time. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Summer today, as I’d totally ignored all her attempts to contact me over the weekend. No doubt she’d be full of questions, while I’d be pitifully empty with answers. I decided Summer must never know – it would slowly destroy the foundations built up around my life. I shuddered – it didn’t bear thinking about.
So here I was, sliding on the school bus, looking down in case he was there. I had never before noticed quite how intriguing the tiled bus floors were. So fascinating, in fact, that I didn’t notice I was about to fall over a bus seat until it was too late.
Hands, appearing out of nowhere, quickly stopped my fall before I hit my head on the wretched, waiting floor.
But, wait. I knew those smooth, honey-coloured hands.
Was it fate, plain bad luck, or another bout of karma? I couldn’t believe it was coincidence, no way. I was sure whoever the hell was in the sky was having a pretty big laugh up there, along with dodgy Cupid with his bent aim.
‘You, again,’ Steve grinned casually, pulling me up into the seat beside him like I couldn’t do it for myself – then again, I had just nearly stumbled over my own feet onto the floor, so maybe he was worried about having blood on his hands.
‘How can you be so casual?’ I demanded, ignoring the alluring purr of his lovely eyes.
Steve frowned. ‘I just...thought...we could...you’ know...um,’ he seemed to be at loss for words. I knew that feeling.
He looked so devastatingly cute; his eyebrows knitted together, lower lip trembling irresistibly, cheeks flushing, expression mingled with a mixture of embarrassment, guilt, and...I didn’t want to think about what else. I owed Summer that much.
Sudden tears sprang into my eyes, tearing at the corners in shame, weeping out the sin within.
‘Hey,’ Steve’s voice was kinder, stronger, gentler now. ‘It’s gonna be OK, Fliss, I can feel it...’
‘How?’ I said through sticky lashes.
‘Trust me,’ he pleaded, hazel eyes gleaming in the sunlight.
‘I do,’ I breathed. ‘It’s me I don’t trust.’
Then the bus squeaked to a halt and the huge, automatic doors swung open, breaking, shattering everything within our little bubble like broken glass.