It had been several months since everything changed. While the exact details of exactly what had happened were unclear, something had occurred at the lock-in that derailed whatever had been building between April and Sterling. Since that day, both of them had retreated into themselves. Those moments where April’s hard exterior had softened were gone, replaced with taller and thicker walls that formed a seemingly impenetrable defence against the world. On the rare occasion that someone crossed her, April would cut them down with a few carefully selected but cutting words. While not new, the words had become more scathing. As for Sterling, she no longer smiled as much and all too often kept her eyes focused on her books or the ground. That spark that was always present seemed to have been extinguished. Yet there were odd moments where April’s walls cracked and Sterling’s spark glistened, moments when neither girl realised they were being observed by another. When one of them would let their eyes drift to the other for a short time, stolen glances that seemed to provide a temporary bandage to their broken souls.
With one more look at the photo on the desk, the decision was made. There was only one place to put this plan into play. It required a careful balance between not revealing too much and yet including enough to force their hand. The message board loaded on the school’s go to site for the latest gossip, a quick click on the new post button and this was it. Last chance to back out. The cursor blinked on the screen in question as if tapping a finger against the side, waiting for the decision to come. With a deep breath, the sound of typing filled the room.
Let’s get one thing straight...
Casting a look over the message, it felt like there was something missing. It was enough to grasp the interest and start the rumour mill turning but it needed more. A finger tapped against the desk beside the laptop while various phrases were considered and rejected. It had to be something that would speak to both April and Sterling without being too much. It just needed to plant the seed in their minds that whatever they had, could be again. A small smile appeared as fingers tapped on keys.
Actually, there is one more thing...to that one person...I still miss you.
With one final read of the message and a click of the mouse, it was done. The clock in the bottom corner of the screen read 1.35am. In all likelihood, virtually nobody would see it till the morning...or later that morning. Then, well...this was either a genius plan or the first step towards an untimely demise.
The Willingham campus was buzzing as soon as they set foot on site. Every group of students discussing the latest development and who may be at the heart of it. Of course, none of them would guess who was really behind that message and that was kind of the point. Names were banded around between the different huddles of teens, usually accompanied by some attempt at validating their suggestion.
“...he took ballet…”
“...I mean, she plays soccer…”
Of course, the vast majority of their justifications were based around age old stereotypes. Nobody was considering the girl who slept with the captain of the golf team nor the Fellowship leader and member of the straight-straight alliance, which was kind of the point. It wasn’t like the message was designed to actually out either of them, just nudge them back towards each other.
There was a glimmer of hope in Fellowship. It didn’t go unnoticed that April kept shooting glances over to where Sterling sat but for some reason, there was no reciprocation from the blonde. It seemed that initial message hadn’t been enough of a nudge. Perhaps it required a bit less subtlety. While everyone else bowed their heads in prayer, the opportunity presented itself. A surreptitious look at the group confirmed that this was the opportunity. With a couple of clicks on the phone screen, the message board opened and the new post took shape. It was time to narrow the potential field a bit.
I kissed a girl...
...and I really liked it!
In fact, I kissed a girl right here at Willingham for the first time.
I’ll let you in on another secret...The Fellowship room isn’t just the place I built my relationship with God.
It was a gamble. The message revealed a detail that she believed was true but it hadn’t ever been confirmed. It was only later when she reflected on everything that led to the suspicion it all changed the day of the Bible Studies presentations. There had been no missing the shift in Sterling leading up to that day, the fact she had chosen to work with April on the project at all should have been a big sign. However, it was what she saw as she waited at her locker that became the moment she attributed to the full shift. The excuse of Ellen having asked them to put their model into her office didn’t account for the time between the end of the class and their reappearance. Not that she had thought much about it at the time. It was only later when she thought back to the drive home that she realised it had been oddly quiet, the usual conversation absent. She had caught the way fingers had brushed over her lips as they drove past the other girl. Surely that was no coincidence. She clicked post on the message and slipped her phone out of sight, waiting for the word to spread.
It didn’t take long. Only minutes later the room had been filled with the sound of messages arriving and whispering spreading amongst the group. She saw the way April swallowed upon reading Ezekiel’s phone. The knowledge that her gamble had paid off, she had been right about where it all began settled in. She fought down the smile that threatened to form on her lips with that new piece of information and just knowing she was right. She watched as April turned to where Sterling usually sat and saw the way a small frown formed when she was met with empty space. It looked like her nudge had worked. She knew they had AP Chem together next period so it was just a matter of sit back and watch it play out.
It was only after Sterling exited the chemistry lab with her head down and the same sad look on her face that she knew nothing had changed. The blonde walked straight past her without so much as a momentary glance at herself or anyone else. Chancing a look back into the lab, she saw April talking to their teacher. A frown creased her brow as she chewed the inside of her lip. Subtle hadn’t worked. A gentle nudge hadn’t worked. It was time to be a bit less gentle with the nudge. She pulled her phone out and quickly typed a new post.
We’re both the girl in the relationship…
...That’s kind of the point!
There are moments where I wish I could just drop the act I put on each day. Stop pushing away the one person I desperately want to pull closer. We have been friends. We have been enemies. We have been...more.
She didn’t even stop to re-read this one before posting it. She knew that she was pushing it now. The information she was giving in these messages was narrowing the field further if their fellow classmates paid attention to the changes in social groups anyway. She slipped her phone away and turned to gather her books for next period from her locker. When she turned, she saw April walking down the hall ahead of her and then she stopped. Ground to a halt right in the middle of the hall, her phone in her hand. Realising she was far too focused on what April was doing, she quickly looked away and continued her own journey to class managing to look away just before the shorter girl scanned the crowd. Hoping that this time, it would be enough to force April and Sterling to interact again.
She couldn’t believe it. Despite everything, it had been nearly an hour since that last post and still nothing. There should have been that moment of revelation by now but instead it was just silence. She hadn’t counted on the pair of them being so stubborn. She had one more play left but it was risky, very risky. It was less of a nudge and more of a full on smack in the face. It really was the Hail Mary play. She considered if she should pull the plug now, quit while she could but then it would have all been for nothing. As much as she didn’t fully understand it, when whatever had been going on between them had been happening, there was a change in both of them for the better. With a few quick taps the message was written and posted.
When you get the taste of a real woman…
...the rest of the world never really tastes the same.
I know that my messages have created quite a stir and so I think it is time to come clean.
So here goes…
This was it. Time to end this. A quick glance around her class told her nobody was paying her any mind, so a couple of quick taps and it was done...posted.
The only thing I want in my closet...
...Is the portal to Narnia!
My name is…
“APRIL?” Franklin's voice echoed around the room.
Everyone turned to look between him and the girl in question. It was clear that April hadn’t seen the latest post from her reaction. Hannah B shifted to be standing slightly behind Ezekiel when he passed his phone over to the shorter girl, not sure she wanted to be within the firing line when she read those words. Seeing April spin on her heel and leave, Hannah B and Ezekiel followed behind her. It didn’t take long before they saw April grab Sterling by the arm and drag her towards the Fellowship room.
“You think white girl with the eyes did it?” Ezekiel turned to question Hannah B.
“Girl, check your phone.” Ezekiel rolled his eyes at her before walking off. Hannah B waited until he was a few steps away before pulling her phone out and opening the board. She could hear all the passing students talking of the post, of April’s coming out. Not that April had done anything. She clicked on the new post button and sent the last message, the one post that would curtail the gossip.
It took a moment but sure enough, the scandalised tone in people’s conversation changed. Some people laughed while others tried to cover their being sucked in.
“...April Stevens? I never believed it.”
“...I mean come on, she’s a founding member of the straight-straight alliance.”
As Hannah B cast one more glance over towards the Fellowship room and the closed door to Ellen’s office, she finally let the smile that had threatened to emerge all day spread across her lips. Whatever the outcome, she had managed to get them back in a room together, alone. Now it was up to them.