To say that the day had dragged was an understatement. It was perhaps the longest day of April’s life. It was as if the space-time continuum had shifted making each minute stretch into what felt like five. It started the moment she had entered her biology class first period. The usually short walk from the door to her seat seemed to take much longer as all eyes in the room settled on her, even as they continued their whispered conversations. April’s eye caught on the seat that would normally have a certain blonde occupying it that instead sat empty. The feeling of unease about what could have happened after the lock-in intensified. April sighed to herself as she slid into her seat knowing that there was nothing to be done for the next hour. She opened her textbook and tried to focus on the lesson while simultaneously wishing the day away.
As soon as the bell rang, April packed her belongings away and hurried to the corridor to find Ezekiel. Not only did he have the rest of the rumour that was going round but he also should have been in first period with Blair. Spotting him by his locker with Hannah B, April made a swift approach.
“Tell me what you know.” She stated as soon as she was beside them.
Ezekiel raised an eyebrow at her. “Someone seems very keep to lap up the tea today. What has brought on this sudden desire to discuss the wonder twins?”
April clenched her jaw as the frustration of still being no closer to having answers built. She fixed him with her best glare but internally she doubted it held the usual iciness as her single-minded focus was currently more fragmented. “Just tell me.”
Ezekiel regarded her for a moment, noting the fact that her eyes betrayed her inner turmoil and the fact that this wasn’t just a search for gossip but something deeper. “OK. Rumour has it that Friday night ended with the twins in a trailer park shootout.”
“I heard that it was a ransom situation gone wring and at least one person was shot.” Hannah B chipped in. April clenched her hands into fists at her side to try to bring the involuntary shake that had begun under control.
Ezekiel frowned slightly at Hannah B’s sharing of one of the more outlandish rumours going round. “Suffice to say that the Willingham student body is allowing their creative sides out to play and adding their own unique spin on things so what is actually true is still up for debate.”
“Everyone is aware Ezekiel.” Hannah B responded curtly. “I mean, its not like the part I heard about Sterling being kidnapped from the lock-in was true. Luke saw her get into the car with her mom.”
Ezekiel nodded. “Or the fact that Sterling was actually running some shady side business from the front of the yogurt shop her and Blair worked at and the whole shoot out was with the police as they came to arrest her.”
April had stopped listening to the various tales going around the student body. Her mind settled on the fact that something bad had happened after the lock-in. Something that happened after Sterling had left. Something she had set in motion through her actions making Sterling want to leave. Something she could have stopped if she hadn’t unlocked the door and left Sterling sitting on the bench alone at night. “…absence just makes the whole they ran off to escape some dark secret that bit more credible.”
“Who is absent?” April enquired having caught the tail end of whatever statement Ezekiel had been making.
“Blair. Neither of the Wesley twins are in today.” Hannah B supplied. Whatever had happened on the Friday night was significant enough to keep the entire Wesley family out of church on Sunday and both of the twins off school today. In all the years of knowing the Wesley family, April had never known either event happen, let alone both in the same week. The sinking feeling that something terrible had happened returned full force as the bell for next period rang. As much as April wanted nothing more than to get answers, there was no method for doing so in the confines of the school grounds that day. She resigned herself to getting through the rest of the school day and at least trying to focus on her lessons. Adding the concerned phone calls home of any teacher noticing her dip in performance to her plate was something she didn’t need to do. She would wait until tomorrow to see if anything changed.
By the end of the second day with neither Wesley twin at school, April had heard so many rumours she had lost track of them all. Some even involved her playing a part in the events of the night. The most ridiculous one she had heard that day was that she and Sterling had a heated argument over Luke which resulted in April killing Sterling before disposing of the body, hence why the police had been to speak to her. Ordinarily April would have had some rather choice words for such lies about her, but she just couldn’t muster up the energy to engage in any form of discussion on it.
By the end of the third day, April had taken to glaring at anyone who even came close to her. Even the teachers were opting to give her a wide berth. Ezekiel had spotted Ellen walking towards them one morning before she spotted the shorter girl and quickly side stepped into the janitors closet to avoid her.
It was on the fourth day that Blair Wesley returned to school. April walked into their first period Spanish class, her eyes cast towards the ground, as had become habit over the past week to avoid the unwanted looks. As she approached her desk she flitted her eyes up to the desk behind in the futile hope that she would be greeted with the sight of the blonde she missed but yet again the seat was empty. However, the seat behind it was not. The shock of seeing Blair sitting in her normal seat, after so many days of seeing them vacant, distracted April to the point that she managed to walk into her own desk.
The other students in the room broke into laughter at the spectacle and April felt her cheeks flush bright red. She was expecting some kind of cutting remark from the brunette seated just behind her but aside from the cold glare she shot at her, nothing was forthcoming. Taking her seat, April had to fight the urge to turn round and ask Blair where her sister was. If the look she had received was anything to go by, then she didn’t think that answers would be freely offered.
“Buenos dias clase. Hoy vamos a trabajar con un nuevo socio para desarrollar nuestro español conversacional antes de nuestro examen la próxima semana.” Good morning class. Today we are going to be working with a new partner to develop our conversational Spanish before our examination next week. Senora O’Reilly explained the task. April had decided as soon as she heard the mention of a new partner that she could use the opportunity to talk to Blair. Turning in her seat as soon as the introduction to the task was complete, she was met by the same cold glare as before. Before she had the chance to ask Blair to partner up, the brunette turned to her right.
“Brenda, do you want to pair up with me?” Seeing the nod from the girl with glasses, she shot April a smug look knowing she had managed to derail whatever plan the shorter girl had in mind. April reluctantly turned to work with Franklin, knowing she would have to wait for another opportunity. The rest of the lesson was spent trying her best to focus on whatever conversation Franklin was having with her but her heart just wasn’t in it. Her mind opting to supply the memories of the last paired task in the Spanish class. The rare opportunity to be able to let a little part of her true self show at school under the cover of a conversation that few others in the room would have been able to follow. A rare opportunity to demonstrate her courage to publicly flirt with the girl who had been the holder of part of her heart for as long as she could remember. Mentally shaking the memories from her head, April set her mind to working on ways to get the only present Wesley twin to talk to her. Before April had the chance to even turn to face Blair when the bell went, the other girl was out of the room and out of sight. She didn’t see her again that day.
Friday. This was the day she would get answers. April made the decision after her week kept spiralling further out of control that she would get some information today. A decision she had made somewhere between 3am and 4am when she woke yet again plagued by nightmares of what may have happened. She had checked her phone to see none of the messages she had sent to Sterling had been delivered. Whether it was a grand plan or one born out of sleep deprivation, she had made the decision to ambush Blair after her lacrosse practice and demand answers. She would sneak into the locker room and swipe the keys to the Volt from her bag while they were out on the field. At least that way, she would have to hold some form of communication with her.
The school day dragged on as April watched the clock. Waiting for the end of the day. Waiting for the time to enact her plan. Finally, the time came. The hallways were empty at this time of the day, most students opting to make an early escape on Friday to get the weekend underway as soon as the final bell rang. April waited just outside the locker room as the rest of the lacrosse team filtered out. Blair’s voice carried through the open door. “You go on. My keys must have slipped out of my bag and I know you have a hot date tonight.” April watched the last two girls leave and waited until they had turned the corner before making her move. She took a deep breath the steel her nerves and slipped into the locker room.
“We need to talk.”
Blair spun round from where she was hunting through her locker at the sound of the voice. Her face clearly displayed a level of distaste for the girl before her. “Actually, no we don’t. You need to get out of my way.” Blair approached the shorter girl, but April refused to concede her ground. She met Blair’s eyes and was mildly taken aback by the anger swirling in them. Along with the anger, she also saw something else. Blair was tired. She had bags under her eyes that were not hidden now they were so close, and her eyes had an almost bloodshot look to them. She looked like she hadn’t slept properly in days. “Now Stevens.”
April squared her shoulders and held the fiery gaze of the brunette before her. “Not until you answer me one question.” She was pleased her voice came out strong and held the level of authority she had worked so hard to cultivate over the years. The tone that said she expected whatever she said to be carried out without question. The two girls both met each other’s steeled looks, both refusing to back down. She watched as the anger seemed to intensify in the other girls’ eyes and wondered if she had miscalculated in her plan. If she had overlooked the possibility that Blair would resort to some kind of physical altercation. The seconds ticked by without either girl moving until April spoke. “Is Sterling OK?” She knew that the moment she uttered the name of the blonde, her gaze would have softened. It had becoming a repeating pattern in her life, one she was sure someone observant would pick up on sooner or later. It was something she had tried to hide but knew that her resolve was waning. She was just so tired of all the lies, yet also terrified of the fallout from the truth.
“Are you serious? You actually have the audacity to stand here and ask me that? To ask about Sterl after what you did?” April felt another crack form in her armour, allowing the regret she felt over the way she treated Sterling start to trickle through. Blair was getting louder in her reproach and stepped into April’s space. April automatically backed up until her back hit the door but Blair didn’t stop until they were mere inches from one another. “It’s your fault! She was so happy to be going to the lock-in. Positive that what she had with you was real. That she had a future with you. But it was all bullshit! You broke her heart by being the bitch that you have always been! You made her need to leave. You left her alone out there.” Every accusation was hammered home as Blair poked April square in the chest with each one. The physical contact paled into insignificance compared to the blow the words dealt themselves. “It’s your fault! I almost lost my sister.” Blair’s voice cracked on the last word and April watched as the taller girl seemed to deflate in front of her. “I have lost my sister.” The words came out quieter than the others. “It’s your fault!” The poking became less forceful and tears slipped down the brunette’s cheeks. “Your fault.” The last two words were barely above a whisper.
April was shocked by the sudden break down in Blair. She reached a hand tentatively out and placed it on the other girl’s shoulder in an attempt to offer comfort but fully aware that it would likely be rebuffed. “Blair, what happened to her? Is she…” Her voice trailed off not wanting to finish that question. Not wanting to actually voice the nightmares that had been plaguing her every sleeping and waking moment since this whole mess began lest they somehow become reality.
Blair shook April’s hand off and pulled the door open, shoving the smaller girl aside with it as she did. She held her hand out, “Keys.” April shakily reached into her pocket to retrieve the keys.
“Please Blair.” April had given up with any pretence of strength now. The quiet plea revealing how much she did really care.
The brunette snatched the keys from her hand but paused in the open doorway. “She’s not dead but I lost her that night.” Blair let her head drop. “We all did.” With those words, she was gone. Leaving April alone in the silence of the locker room. As the door clicked shut, her legs gave out from beneath her as the cracks in her carefully constructed walls reached the critical number and collapsed letting every emotion flood her mind and body in an instant. Something terrible had happened to the girl she had very strong feelings for, feelings she was too scared to name. The girl she had hurt in the fear of what would happen if others found out about them. A fear that faded into the background having come face to face with the possibility of never seeing the blonde again. A fear that their someday would never have the chance to come. In that moment, on the floor of the girl’s locker room with tears silently running down her face, April made the decision not to let fear rule her life.