“Darrell Rivers. Of all the past devils.”
Darrell’s stomach churned at the sound of the familiar voice. She looked up from the magazine she was engrossed in – an agony aunt magazine, she was ashamed to say, one of the critically acclaimed author’s guiltiest of guilty pleasures – and felt her blood rush with the adrenaline of the unexpected as she stared into her former classmate’s face.
Alicia hadn’t changed a bit, apart from being dressed in a smart pantsuit instead of the dreary Malory Towers uniform she wore in her memory. Her grin was as cheeky as ever, her eyes bright as in their schoolgirl days.
“Alicia!” exclaimed Darrell in response, standing up rather clumsily. Alicia half opened her arms as if to give the other girl a hug, then seemed to change her mind and gave her a friendly punch on the shoulder instead, laughing in a somewhat strained manner.
“How have you been?" asked Darrell.
"Not too bad. Just lost my job, what about you?" grinned Alicia.
"What? Why?", Darrell replied, taken aback.
"Deviant behaviour. Unnacceptable for a police officer. Oh well, never mind, I'll find some other job to be kicked out from", she replied cheerfully.
Darrell sighed, shaking her head.
"Oh, Alicia. You never were careful."
"Unlike you, changing all the 'she's' into 'he's' in those books of yours", retorted Alicia.
"How do you know I haven't grown out of the 'she's'?" replied Darrell, the corners of her lips twitching as Alicia have her a "look".
"We both know that's a load of rubbish. I don't blame you, though. Your books wouldn't have sold nearly as much if you had kept the 'she's'."
"They wouldn't have been published at all", laughed Darrell, shrugging.
"Well, congratulations on your success...I see your reading tastes have become more sophisticated now you’re a famous author” began Alicia, nodding towards the magazine Darrell was clutching, her sly drawl as sarcastic and dripping with humor as ever.
Darrell laughed and rolled her eyes, swatting the other girl on the arm.
“You caught me. It’s quite interesting, really, reading about other people’s dreary problems.”
“Lets see...” began Alicia, taking the magazine out of her hands. “’I keep seeing my ex boyfriends’ face wherever I go. I thought I saw him at the bus stop the other day, but I was wrong, and I ended up kissing a random stranger’…Lord. Well, that’s a psychotic break if I’ve ever seen one”, she remarked dryly. “My recommendation would be to go get locked in an asylum, but here old agony aunt just recommends stuffing her face with ice cream and focusing on other things like friendships and work”
“Well, it worked for me…” she began, then stopped abruptly.
There was a short, awkward silence.
“Stuffing your face with ice-cream?” replied Alicia lightly, her voice tinged with something only they could sense.
Darrell smiled wearily.
“That and focusing on my writing”
“I guess it did. I knew that Daniel bloke in your book definitely sounded familiar…the cutting remarks, sharp tongue and all that”, Alicia said at last, giving a small laugh. “And the hot tempered Julia sounded very much like someone I know. ‘One of the greatest loves of all time’, didn’t The Daily Paper call it? They wouldn't have called it the greatest love of all time if it had been two 'she's'...”
Darrell laughed, rubbing her nose.
“You didn’t mind, did you?”
Alicia shrugged, then shook her head.
“I guess not. I mean, I’d rather you turn our thing into a bestselling novel than have a psychotic break over me.”
“I bet you’d love that, you narcissist”, murmured Darrell, shaking her head, the corners of her mouth twitching.
“I mean, I wouldn’t blame you. Who wouldn’t have a psychotic break over losing me?” Alicia smirked.
“I know. That’s why it didn’t work out, isn’t it?”
There was a slight tone of regret in Alicia’s voice, however much she tried to mask it with her usual air of nonchalant don’t-care-ness. Darrell didn’t quite know what to say to that, and they stood in silence for a few seconds.
“Mind you, maybe I’m the one having a psychotic break, seeing you here at this bus stop. Maybe you’re not here at all”, said Alicia, breaking the silence.
“I’m definitely here” smiled Darrell. Then her smile faltered, and she sighed, throwing her hands up in resignation.
“Alicia I…if you wanted me, you really should have showed”, she blurted out. “All you had to do was say sorry once.”
“I know…” Alicia sighed, running her fingers through her hair. “I guess it’s too late now.”
Darrell nodded, looking down.
“Well, in my defense…” began Alicia, trailing off. “In my defense…well, I have none. But –“
Darrell let out a bark of laughter.
“You’re such an idiot”, she giggled.
Alicia shrugged, laughing, and looked down at her feet. She always shuffled her feet slightly whenever she was nervous, Darrell suddenly remembered, and felt a surge of affection for the hard-headed, annoying girl in front of her.
“We were something though, weren’t we?” smiled Alicia suddenly, a nostalgic look on her face as she looked up and stared Darrell right in the eye.
“Yes. We were”, replied Darrell, memories flooding her mind. Stolen kisses in empty classrooms, running off to the village with Alicia dressed as a boy in some of her brother’s clothes she had packed, lazing together under a tree in the summertime, throwing pennies in a wishing well…then Alicia’s cursed tongue finally sending her hot temper over the edge, again and again and again, until all that chemistry finally imploded into nothing. Maybe if she had swallowed that stupid pride of hers and apologized, maybe everything could have been different. Maybe if that one thing had been different…
Say you’re sorry now, Darrell suddenly wanted to scream at her. Apologize now. Show me now. But she wouldn’t, Darrell knew that. Even if she did, it was too late; realistically, she knew that. But part of her felt like maybe, somehow, of Alicia uttered those words, they would be able to turn back time, and they would find themselves back in that empty classroom, back in that village, back under that tree, back to that wishing well…
A red bus came into view.
“Well…that’s my bus”, said Darrell.
“Right. So...this is it." Alicia's usual carelessness in her tone faltered slightly.
“This is it", replied Darrell, less firmly than she would have liked.
Alicia turned around and began walking away, a lump rising in her throat.
She swiveled around.
“If you had been the one…I don’t know if it would have worked, honestly, or if it would have been one of the greatest love stories of all time, but…it would definitely have been fun.”
Alicia let out a chuckle, and shuffled her feet.
“It would have been fun, if you had been the one. That’s a good rhyme. You should use that in your next book” she replied. "You could write poems about me. I mean, about Daniel."
Darrell laughed, rolling her eyes.
"You're impossible", she shouted out again, as she climbed inside the bus.
Then she disappeared inside the bus, and then the bus disappeared into the distance. And all Alicia could think of was that, even if the greatest love story of all time - at least, the greatest love story of her life - was over now, if her wish in that wishing well had come true, it would have been Darrell. And it would have been fun.
A/N: Hope you liked it! Please comment! :)