“We lose, we win, we fight, and we live.
All of it, regardless, oblivious and at lost
Of the people around us, and sometimes…
That people can be lost.”
Zoey was used to people being around her, she was, in fact, happy about it, always wanting the attention of everyone.
She was a star in ascension, after all.
But there were always the ‘exceptions’ to that rule, and she just so happened to have one of the most annoying ones after her.
“Hey, Zoey!” speaking of which. “You were amazing!”
She looked at the girl, Luz Noceda, the weirdo that just so happened to ruin every cheerleading practice she was involved in, the one who traumatized half the drama club and who just so managed to get the principal into E.R.
The most troublesome kid, ever.
“As always,” she said and turned her back on her.
Luz was always there, wherever she went; the Latina was already behind her. During practice, she was ready to go hand her water or a towel, during the matches she could see her looking at the squad instead of the team, and during the classes, she was always ready to talk if Zoey wasn’t paying attention.
She was such an obvious girl, and that annoyed her.
It wasn’t like she didn’t have fans, of course, someone so amazing would, but Luz was especially keen to pester her. Always, there, to, annoy, her.
“Why don’t you just tell her to go away?” one of her friends told her after looking at the newest thing Luz had left her.
A little bottle with cream for her hands, after she had failed the landing during afternoon class.
“Is too much of a hassle,” she had replied, “besides, Valentine’s day is coming, if she acts like always, I can just reject her then.”
Her friend had laughed. “You are going to put her in her place alright.”
Zoey smiled and nodded. She didn’t like Luz, but the girl had been at the very least considerate in her annoyance, she should just drop the rejection appropriately, not like some kind of heartless monster.
Her phone buzzed and she took it out, groaning at the message her mother had just sent her.
“What is it?” her friend asked.
She sighed and shook her head, sending a quick response. “My cousins are coming for a visit.”
“My youngest cousin, Amity, is having this stupid decathlon,” she answered, “the nerd is going to stay here with her siblings for a month.”
“Heh, are we going to meet her?”
“Absolutely not,” Zoey took her bag and stood up. “She is way too nerdy and not cool, you are better off without ever seeing her.”
She walked out of the room and took a deep breath.
She had lied a little, her cousin was actually someone super incredible! Amity didn’t just hold a prodigy’s brain, but she was also a former captain of a sports team, and she also played the fucking fiddle! The girl was perfect in many ways, and while Zoey was star captain of the cheerleaders and a killer singer, she wasn’t all that good on her tests.
Luz was in third place in the school while she was sixty-eighth, so yeah.
She wasn’t getting her friends close to her just so they could compare them like her parents already did.
Because, funny thing, they were physically identical!
“The hair was the only thing that made us apart when kids…” She thought and groaned, walking downstairs and out the school gates.
Luz would be there, waiting for her and about to rant about how wonderful she was and who knew whatnot, and she was not in the mood! She closed her eyes and waited to hear the annoying voice say her name.
“I love those books, too!” she heard her voice, but not what she expected to hear.
Zoey opened her eyes and found Luz, as always, but she wasn’t looking at Zoey. Instead, she was talking to a brunette wearing a black blouse and violette pants and boots, the girl had her cell phone in her hand.
The brunette looked at her and smiled, putting the device in her pocket. “Hey there, Zoey,” she said and waved.
“Zoey?” Luz said and turned, her eyes lit up when she met them. “Hey!”
“…Amity,” Zoey said and crossed her arms. “What are you doing here? Mom told me to fetch you guys from the bus station just a minute ago.”
Her cousin smiled a little more and sighed. “Edric and Emira wanted to wander around, and dropped me here,” she explained, “your friend here told me you were coming out soon.”
“Not my friend,” Zoey said and walked up to Amity, taking her wrist. “We are going, now, your crazy siblings can find the house on their own.”
“Oh, right,” Amity said and turned her head to Luz. “It was nice to meet you, Luz!”
“Same!” Luz replied and Zoey didn’t need to look back to know she was smiling like the idiot she was—yeah, she knew that technically Luz was smarter than her—before hearing her again. “Bye Zoey! See ya on Monday!”
She didn’t bother to give her a reply and pulled Amity, walking faster.
“That was pretty mean,” her cousin said when they turned a corner. “You could have said goodbye.”
Zoey stopped and turned around. “That girl is just a stalker, and a problem, I don’t have to say anything to her, and you shouldn’t, either.”
“A stalker?” Amity repeated and got her wrist free from her grip. “She seems nice, honestly.”
“I’m telling you, it’s better not to get involved,” she said and turned again, starting to walk.
“Whatever you say,” she heard Amity say.
Zoey groaned and kept walking.
Edric and Emira had come home the day after they were supposed to, both of them with six thousand dollars and the news of having rented a car.
Her parents didn’t ask questions, neither did she.
She was in the Living-Room, battling with her homework and losing when Amity walked to the kitchen in her jammies and took a glass of juice from the fridge, all while looking at her phone and smiling like an idiot.
“What are you doing?” she asked when her cousin took a seat on the sofa behind her.
Amity looked up at her for a second before turning her eyes back to her phone, typed something, and smiled a bit more before answering. “Watching some memes.”
“Memes? Are you really into that stuff?”
“What’s wrong with ‘em?”
“They are for losers.”
“Ninety percent of the internet uses them.”
“I rest my case.”
“Whatever you say,” Amity replied, and looked at her again, chuckling before leaning back. “That answer is wrong, you multiply and then you subtract.”
“What?!” she looked at her notebook and groaned. “I don’t get it.”
“You should study a bit more.”
“I’m not a nerd.”
“You know where the hospital is?”
Zoey blinked at that and turned to look at her cousin. “What?”
“The hospital,” Amity repeated, “you know where it is?”
“Why do you even want to know?”
Zoey sighed and looked back at her—horrible—homework. “It’s two streets down the plaza we passed when we came back from school.”
“Thanks!” Amity said and Zoey turned at her, she was on her phone, typing something real fast with a stupid grin.
She didn’t give more attention to her and turned back to her notebook, at the very next second she heard Amity walking upstairs.
And not long after, Amity’s voice reached her again when she told Zoey’s parents that she was going out. She looked over her shoulder to find her just leaving and fully dressed.
“Did you know she had friends here?” her mother asked from the stairs.
Zoey looked at her and shrugged. “Not really.”
She didn’t care either, she still had homework to do.
That week in school was refreshing.
She had finished her homework after bothering Amity who had come back that Sunday after she ran off in a real good mood and willing to help her finish her papers. Zoey’s notes on those had even raised her PAG apparently, and her teacher was so happy about that!
She had managed to do the trick she had failed before during practice and she had even gotten an extra strawberry sweet from the machine!
“You seem to be on a high note,” she heard Luz’s voice and turned to look at the girl.
She smirked and nodded. “Something like that.”
Luz had been like always, pestering, but she was somehow less annoying than before, maybe because she wasn’t screaming so much. She had also stopped tailing her during her walk home. The girl would usually follow her until they reached the plaza and then she would go in the opposite direction, every, single, time.
It was so damn annoying!
But that week Zoey had walked out of the school to find the entrance devoid of the Latina’s presence. She had walked calmly to her house and hummed at the loneliness.
She did get one car running too fast next to her and getting all her clothes wet one day, but she was already sweaty because of her practice, so she didn’t really mind it.
All in all, she wasn’t so annoyed with Luz at the moment.
“I’m glad! With the decathlon coming, you’d need to be in perfect shape!” Luz commented looking to the front.
Zoey turned her head to look at Luz directly. “What do you mean? It’s an academic event; they don’t need the cheering squad.”
Luz blinked and turned towards her. “They don’t?”
“No, how weird can you be?” Zoey sighed. “If I were to go, it’d be because of my cousin, and she surely won’t want me there.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Luz whispered.
Zoey didn’t say anything about that.
She heard the bell and finished the sweet she was eating and gave the envelope to Luz. “I’m going to go back to class,” she said, starting to walk.
“Oh! Sure, yeah!” she replied.
Zoey heard her steps, the trash can was on the opposite end of the corridor, too much of a hassle. She could also avoid getting to class with the weirdo that way, two birds with one stone.
She was surprised by Luz getting to the class ten minutes after the teacher was already there, even when Zoey herself had entered one minute before them. But then again, that was Luz.
She was just weird.
Zoey groaned when she hit the ground, hard, what a great way to start her week.
She looked up and groaned, her hands weren’t able to hold her on the damn bar, the sweat had made it all so slippery! She stood up and walked to the benches, extending her hand to the side.
“Stupid P.E…” she whispered, waiting.
But nothing happened.
She blinked and looked to the side, there was nobody there.
“…Right,” she said and moved to get one of the towels piled up on the bench.
When was the last time she did that? She couldn’t remember, Luz was the one who usually handed her the thing.
“Zoey, are you OK?” one of the other girls asked her and she nodded.
“Yeah, just a bit out of focus,” she replied and took a water bottle. “Huh? Why isn’t this cold?”
The girl chuckled. “It was Luz the one who got you cold water, the rest of us just bring it when class starts.”
Zoey blinked at that. “Is that… so?”
“How could you ignore that?” the girl asked, “Could it be that the reason you are out of it’s that you don’t have your ‘number one fan’ here?”
“Huh? No!” she replied and downed half the bottle in a swing. “Why would that weirdo not being here affect me?!”
“Dunno, but it is weird for her not to be around you,” the girl commented, “I think she is playing volleyball…”
Zoey groaned. “I’m fine, and I don’t care!”
The girl didn’t press and just shrugged, getting back to the stupid bar they were supposed to hold on to after jumping.
Zoey sighed and shook her head, looking around, she had expected the towel and the water like it was a natural thing, in a way it was. Luz had been doing that kind of stuff ever since they started their freshman year.
“Where is she?” Zoey wondered and slapped her cheeks. “No, don’t think about it, just be happy that the nuisance is gone.”
She needed to get the stupid jump right.
Her week just went downhill from her disastrous class.
Her friends wanted to go out to have fun, but she was still stuck with extra homework to do if she wanted to maintain her place as the cheerleader captain, so she was left out of the planning and instead, trapped in her house, trying to solve the damn problems!
And to top it all, she couldn’t even ask Amity to help her!
Her cousin was getting out whole afternoons every day, she had even seen her running when she was walking back home, always passing her with a simple ‘Hi’ and disappearing until the sun was down, sometimes even later.
On the other hand, her school life was getting tiring, too.
She had to change her locker combination after some prankster had decided to change her lock, she had callous hands during her classes after P.E and she had even forgotten her lunch money and was forced to beg to get a bit of her friend’s!
She had experienced those things, but they were always solved, or dealt with almost naturally, it was like someone had decided to make her life hell!
So you’d understand her bad mood and why she didn’t want to talk to anyone, right?!
“Zoey!” she heard that annoying voice.
“What?!” she braked the words, turning around.
Luz flinched and backed off a bit. “Wow, are you OK?”
“OK?” she chuckled. “I was until you appeared here! What do you want?!”
Luz backed off and looked at her feet, Zoey had always hated that! It was such childish behavior for a teen! Why couldn’t Luz just act her age?! Maybe that way she’d get some fucking friends and wouldn’t pester her so damn much!
“I-I baked some cookies last night,” she said, and showed her a small bag full of circles and squares, “and was wondering if you wanted some?”
Zoey glared at her and took the bag, looking at it for a second before throwing it in the trash can.
“Cookies?! I’m a cheerleader! I can’t eat those right now!” she shouted, and it was a shameless lie, she could, but at that moment she couldn’t care less. “And even if I could, I wouldn’t eat your damn creations, now, is that all?!”
Luz looked at her and Zoey could’ve sworn she was about to cry.
“I’m sorry,” Luz said and lowered her head again, holding the strap of her bag and running past her.
Zoey watched her go and groaned, closing her eyes and massaging her eyelids.
Great, she now had a headache.
She looked at the stupid trash can and groaned, turning around and walking outside the school.
Her walk home was slow and noisy, all the people on the street were in a rush for some reason, and she almost got run over by some idiot on a bike! She was in a horrible mood when she reached her house door and in an even worse one when it opened, showing Amity with her hair down and a worried face.
Which turned into a glare when seeing her.
“What is your problem, nerd?” Zoey asked.
But Amity didn’t say anything, she just shook her head and passed next to her, starting to run down the street.
Zoey watched her go and sighed, entering the house and going straight for the fridge, taking her secret pudding from the bottom of it, and going up to her room.
The damn thing was overdue and it gave a stomachache to top her shitty day!
And that led her to her current state, throwing up in the bathroom.
“What the hell is going on…?” she thought, flushing the toilet while she moved to wash her mouth.
She heard the entrance door opening and walked out of the bathroom.
Amity looked at her for a second with the coldest eyes she had ever felt before walking upstairs.
“…What’s her problem?”
Zoey was tired that day, and it may have to do with the fact that school went just like the week before.
She slipped, again, she waited for a towel and realized that nobody was handing it to her, she ate alone when her friends had to go with the class representatives about some stupid thing for the decathlon that would be taking place in their school and she even got lectured for not paying attention in class, that had never happened!
But there was something else.
She looked at her side, three seats away from hers, Luz was paying attention to class, her eyes went from the notebook to the board and she was sure to answer the questions they asked her, but she wasn’t volunteering.
And that was odd.
Luz would always look at her from time to time, but she wasn’t doing that anymore, she talked a lot less, and she even left the school for the lunch hour.
She had seen her once, and she doubted she wouldn’t do it more, even if that day she had stayed and was eating while looking at her phone.
Zoey had also noticed the girl too immersed in her phone, and even going from the principal office to the teacher’s room a lot. She was everywhere she looked at, but…
“You are staring again,” her friend told her, “is really that important that Luz is not ogling you?”
Zoey bit back her response and turned to her friend. “It’s weird!”
Luz was seated on the other end of the classroom, immersed in her phone instead of looking at her.
“Why are you complaining?” her friend asked, “She isn’t pestering you anymore.”
“I know, but it’s weird, OK?” she sighed and bit her lunch, swallowing before adding. “She is planning something.”
“Well, Valentine’s day is this Friday. Maybe she is mustering the courage to finally confess?”
“Ugh, gross,” Zoey said and looked ahead. “I really hope you are wrong.”
“Come on, it could be, and you already said that you’ll reject her, it is better if she tries, right?” Her friend pointed out and leaned back. “What about your cousin? Their event’s on Thursday, right?”
“Don’t remind me,” she replied, “they are going to stay for the weekend after it, apparently, their parents told them that they couldn’t pay for the bus tickets.”
“It’s obviously a lie, they just don’t want the twins back, with the school year about to end and all in a couple of months,” she said, “I heard that their school has some kind of event coming up, so they won’t be having classes half of the time.”
“Yeah, snob schools are weird.” Zoey sighed and looked at Luz, who just stood up and walked out of the classroom. “Where is she going?”
She heard a chuckle. “And you don’t care.”
Zoey didn’t reply to that and just continued eating, things would be better later.
Everything would be coming back to normal soon enough.
She fell, hard and apparently had sprained her ankle, so they sent her to E.R.
She didn’t like the stupid E.R, there were only—OK, not only, but most of them—stupid people there. She saw a man with his hand stuck in a pipe, a woman with a kid who had a laundry basket stuck on his ass—or his ass stuck in the basket?—and she even saw a guy her age with his foot in a concrete block.
So yeah, she didn’t like it there.
“Zoey Williams, right?” someone asked her and she looked up.
“Yes, Ma’am,” she replied, looking at the woman, she smiled at her, fixing her glasses.
“I’m resident Camilla Noceda, now, what seems to be the problem?”
Zoey blinked and pointed to her ankle. “Noceda?” She thought, looking at the woman’s moves.
She was subject to all kinds of tests and procedures—even when Camilla told her those were just the essential ones—when they told her that they’ll have to fix her foot position.
“Well, you are going to be my last patient around here,” Camilla said standing in front of her. “I’m lucky.”
“Why would I be your last?” Zoey asked, her eyes going to her foot, Camilla was holding it.
“I’m transferring to ‘Bonesborough’ medical center, doubt you ever heard of it,” Camilla said and smiled at her. “My daughter told me that she never heard of it except for a new friend.”
Zoey looked up and smirked. “I actually do know the place; my cousins are from the- argh!”
“All done,” Camilla said and smiled at her, “we are going to have to put some restrains so it can heal correctly, otherwise, you’ll be fine.” Camilla straightened her back. “And I’m surprised, ‘Bonesborough’ is not a commonplace.”
“Tell me about it…” she said, letting out a long sigh. “And why are you transferring?”
Camilla smiled a bit more and looked around before getting closer. “This is clearly unprofessional, and I shouldn’t do it, so keep it secret, will you?” She asked, and Zoey nodded.
Camila smiled and got a thin chain with a small silver ring with a golden stone on it. Zoey gaped at the thing.
“Co-Congrats,” she said when she stopped gaping. “He must be really happy.”
“She, darling,” Camilla corrected her. “She is really happy about it, as I am.”
Camilla didn’t say anything else and walked away, leaving Zoey with the shock and the—slowly disappearing—pain.
She got a special boot, of which she didn’t remember the name, and clutches, before she was released. Her mom told her that she’d go for her and that she just needed to wait outside.
“I won’t ever hear the end of this…” She thought, standing on the sidewalk.
“Are you sure you want me there?” she heard the all well-known voice and looked to the side.
Luz was standing next to a car and she was talking with somebody, who? She couldn’t tell, a stupid decorative bush blocked her view.
“Yeah! I-I mean…” the other person said, and Zoey blinked, that was a girl’s voice. “I’d appreciate it if you could be there to cheer for me.”
Zoey scoffed and looked back to the front. Whoever that person was, they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. Luz was a mess of a cheerleader; don’t get her started on being a fan.
“But I’m going to make a fuss if I go, I know that much,” Luz replied, “in sport’s matches is not really an issue but…”
“I don’t mind it, I want you to be there,” the other person said, “is that… is that too much?”
Zoey didn’t know why she turned at that moment, but she did and saw Luz blushing so bad!
And she didn’t know why it made her heart skip a bit.
“I-I’ll be there,” Luz said and the other person cheered.
Zoey heard a car and turned her head, her mom was there for her, she dared a last look towards Luz and she found her even redder than before and with a hand holding her cheek.
What had happened?
“Zoey, dear, let’s go!” her mom called her and she moved to get in the car. “We need to go for your cousins.”
“Huh, why?” She asked, sitting shotgun.
“The twins apparently need the permission of an adult to buy the car they just rented.”
“What? They are buying it?” she asked, “Where did they get the money?”
“Apparently, they have been working as an ‘Uber’.”
Zoey didn’t want to think about her cousins anymore.
It was the stupid decathlon day and her mom wanted Zoey to check on Amity. Apparently, she had a story of being a freaking mess when it came down to the public presentations and that was the reason for her siblings to come with her.
She didn’t want to do it, to begin with, she hadn’t met the other members of Amity’s group for the damn thing. And it made even less sense the fact that all of them got a stupid month out of class just so they could spend it sightseeing in the city!
That school was crazy!
So she was there, in the gym, watching the school committee adding the last touches to the stage and waiting for her cousin to show her face.
“This is stupid.” She thought, closing her eyes and turning to the side.
“Wow, Amity!” she heard and opened her eyes, looking to the left. “Oh, sorry, I thought you were someone else.”
She looked at the girl, she had ash-blonde hair and was wearing a strange uniform with a black jacket and a red shirt under it. The girl must’ve been one of her cousin’s classmates she guessed.
“Don’t worry, happens a lot,” Zoey replied, “my cousin is not around?”
The girl smiled and looked to the stage. “Nope, she had been disappearing a lot, but we are a little worried because she tends to overthink a lot.”
“I know,” she sighed and considered that a good time to take away a doubt of hers. “Why didn’t my cousin stay with the rest of you?”
The girl chuckled a bit and looked to the front. “Her parents didn’t like the school’s hotel selection.”
“What? Just because of that?”
“You must not know the Blights too well.”
Zoey bit her lip.
She really didn’t know her family that much, the Blights were her aunt’s husband’s family and her aunt wasn’t precisely someone who would call for Christmas or any holiday.
“Guess I don’t,” she accepted and looked back to the front. “It's crazy that you guys lost a whole month of classes because of this.”
“Oh, we didn’t,” the girl said and smiled, “we had a long-running project about social studies and the school allowed us to use this trip as research, we still saw the online classes on mornings with the rest of our groups.”
“What? That’s unrealistic!”
“Hexside is unrealistic in itself,” the girl said and shrugged. “I’m Skara, by the way, I’m in a different class, but I’m a friend of your cousin.”
“…I’m Zoey, but I guess you should know that.”
“Yeah, Amity told us about you.”
Their little conversation didn’t last any longer, there was a call from the stage and Skara waved her goodbye, running backstage. Zoey stayed there and looked at the stage, she saw her school’s team, the top six student’s minus Luz.
Nobody wanted to work with her, so she didn’t step up to it.
And then she saw the team for Amity’s school, she was surprised to see a kid that looked obviously younger than the rest, Skara and two other girls, a redhead with a Bindi* and another one with glasses and short black hair. Her cousin stood at the end of the line as the team’s captain.
The gym started to fill, she looked at the people and found that there were mostly friends of her school’s team members and the teachers. It was optional to go either way.
Amity looked fine enough for her, so she turned and started to leave.
And she almost ran into a person entering the room.
“Zoey!” Luz said and backed off a few steps looking down. “I-I’m sorry.”
She blinked and looked at Luz. She was wearing her usual clothes, but there was something off, she looked… different, somehow.
“No, I wasn’t looking either,” she said, “what are you doing here?”
Luz looked up. “I’m cheering.”
“Cheering? But nobody there likes you,” she said and bit her tongue.
That had sounded horrible.
“There’s at least someone who does,” Luz replied in a little voice and moved past her, entering the room and closing the door behind her.
Zoey looked back at the closed doors with a new feeling blooming in her chest.
What was it…?
Her phone buzzed and she looked at the message of her friends asking where she was.
“This is nothing; I don’t care what she does.” She thought and started walking.
She didn’t care… not at all…
Amity didn’t go back the night before after the decathlon, her siblings told Zoey’s parents that she would stay with her friends after a perfect victory and asked that they would please keep it a secret.
Zoey didn’t know how she felt with the defeat of her school—mostly because she didn’t really care, but hearing her parents had been hellish!—and she understood even less how she felt with the little encounter with Luz.
Those weren’t really related, but she had experienced both in a short time-lapse so…
She sighed and closed her locker; the stupid decorations the drama club and the student council had decided to place in the hallways for Valentine’s Day were so annoying!
She saw so many confessions while getting to her classroom and she even received some chocolate from some underclassmen, she looked at the packed sweets and sighed, entering the classroom, her eyes instinctively went to Luz’ seat.
And she saw her there, looking at her phone.
“Zoey!” one of her friends called her. “Come here, listen to this, someone just confessed to-”
Other of her friends interrupted. “Don’t shout it!”
She looked at them and then at Luz, the girl didn’t even look up, too immersed in whatever she was doing.
“Well, she must be nervous or something.” She thought, walking to her seat and smiling at her friends. “I’m sure she’ll come sooner or later.”
But she was wrong about that.
She waited, got asked out by some players of the football team, and even received a letter, but nothing from Luz, literally nothing, not even a greeting, nope, zero, nada!
And she wasn’t even sure why it bothered her!
“She hadn’t come yet, uh?” one of her friends commented when they finished their last class.
“What?” Zoey asked, getting out of the classroom.
“Luz I mean!” she said, “I was expecting a big stuffed animal and some balloons by now.”
Zoey didn’t say anything, but she nodded. It was strange that Luz hasn’t done anything yet. Just a year before she had left a whole cake on her desk with a note! She had to share the damn thing.
“But it was delicious…” She thought, sighing and getting her stuff from her locker.
“Oh, there she is!” her friend whispered/shouted.
Zoey looked back and saw Luz opening the locker at the end of the corridor; she got her bag out of it along with a box.
“Her locker was there?” Zoey said.
“You didn’t know?” her friend asked.
“I never cared,” she replied and got her own bag from her locker.
Luz turned towards them and started to walk. Zoey took a sharp breath looking at the girl. She took a better look at the box, and noticed the patterns on it, they were strange, and it seemed like it was… was it handmade?!
That was a confession!
“Well, it’s not like I didn’t know this would happen.” Zoey thought and closed her eyes, preparing herself.
She should say no in a polite way, but how could she say it? Luz was a pest around her, but she had been kind to her from the very beginning, she needed to let her down slowly and calmly, not humiliate her like some bad movie girl, she just needed to say no to her confession…
She opened her eyes and Luz was just a few steps. “It’s now or-”
“Bye, girls!” Luz said and passed next to them, straight for the entrance doors.
Zoey stood there, and she was sure she was gaping or something; she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to her friend, who was just as surprised as her, apparently.
“What just happened?” She asked.
Zoey closed her mouth and turned around. “I don’t know.”
She started her way back home as always after that, and took deep breaths all the time. Somehow thinking about how certain she was about Luz confessing to her made her feel so embarrassed!
“Ugh, but it was almost a sure thing!” She thought, trying to justify herself.
She stopped on the plaza and tried to calm her head, she didn’t care about Luz enough to dedicate her a lot of thought, she was just surprised by her going away without even looking at her more than just to say goodbye.
It was just a surprise! She didn’t care…
…She didn’t care, right?
She raised her head and saw Amity, her cousin was wearing a skirt—she never used one, just with her weird school uniform—and a pink shirt with a leather jacket.
“Are you OK?” Amity asked, “You looked tired.”
Zoey bit her lip and sighed. “I am, it’s just… today has been a weird day.”
“Where are you going?”
Amity smiled and blushed before answering. “I have a date, actually.”
“What?” Zoey asked and smiled. “So that’s where you’ve been going all this time?”
“Why do you sound so surprised?” Amity asked, crossing her arms.
“Sorry, sorry, it’s just I didn’t think you’d be on for a short romance story,” Zoey said, “you gotta go back to ‘Bonesborough’ next week, are you sure this is a good time to have a crush?”
Amity smirked at her. “Actually, yes, because I’ve been very lucky with this person in specific and I feel this, us, are going somewhere, now, I’m running late, see ya!” She said walking past her and stopping, looking at her over her shoulder. “And Zoey?”
“Yeah?” she asked back.
“Thanks!” Amity said, smiling once again and walking away from her.
Zoey watched Amity go until she disappeared into a little crowd. Something moved inside her and she could just call it uneasiness. She looked the way back home, and she looked in the direction Amity had gone.
She shouldn’t pry into other people’s business…
She did pry, and even when she wasn’t really happy about it, she had to accept the fact that she was weak to the gossip.
So she had followed Amity to the Hospital—she just so happened to reach her when a traffic light stopped her cousin—and from there, she tailed her until they reached the park. There she saw her look around while standing next to the fountain, she moved aside, to a little clear where no one really bothered to get close to, Zoey followed her and gaped.
She saw Luz and Amity’s classmates, Luz had a guitar! She stared at the place, they had placed potted plants to hide it from the sight of outsiders, and they even had a picnic blanket on the ground with the box she had seen Luz carry earlier that day. She was ready to go in there and ask just what was happening-
And she heard the music.
“I never thought I would, did it.
Never thought I could…
I did it like that, did it like this
Did it like everybody knows.”
Zoey looked at Luz while gaping. “She can sing?!” She thought, covering her mouth.
“That we got something real, shorty
I know what I feel
So shout it like that
Shout it like this
Listen up, everybody knows
But you, so here it goes.”
One of Amity’s friends got next to her and pulled her closer to where Luz was, and the Latina smiled, circling Amity while continuing the song, her cousin spun with Luz, dancing and smiling all so giddy, and she was blushing so much, same as Luz.
Zoey bit her lip and closed her fists, feeling how something inside her started to boil.
Why was Amity having a moment like that? Why were her friends hiding them? Why in hell was Luz singing for her?!
Luz was hers!
Zoey’s eyes snapped open and she covered her mouth. “What…?”
“'Cause I never really noticed…” Luz continued.
And Zoey started to remember when she met her, how Luz had stuttered so much at seeing her.
“Took a while for me to see
Playing back the moments.”
She went back to when Luz tried to join the cheerleaders, pushing herself so hard to get into the team and failing miserably, but happy to be on the support team—even when it was just cleaning after them—and how she had said that she just wanted to spend time with Zoey.
She had been annoyed, but flattered.
“Now I'm starting to believe
That you could be at the show and know every word
But it's you who makes me sing.”
The Valentine’s Day from a year before flashed in her mind, how Luz had smiled at her when she caught her looking while Zoey ate the cake. The soft look, the yearning expression she had at that time. She hadn’t thought of it, she didn’t want to, because she didn’t want to accept it.
That it had made her feel… happy, special…
“And I know where we are and I know who I am
Baby, I'm your biggest fan…”
That last line from the song got Zoey to realize that the stupid phrase her friends had used to tease her and that she thought it was so damn annoying just meant all she ever wanted.
All she ever had and didn’t care to look at.
“Amity, would you like to go out with me?” she heard Luz say, “Please say yes.”
She heard her cousin laugh so loudly. “Of course I’d love to!”
Zoey watched from the shadows how Luz put the guitar behind her and hugged Amity, lifting her from the ground and spinning with her in her arms.
And she wanted to scream, to shout her lungs out against it all, to say that it wasn’t fair, that Luz liked her first, that she was the one who should be getting confessed to!
…But she knew she wasn’t in the position to do so.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so happy!” Luz said and laughed in that annoyingly cute way she always did when Zoey was close… the way she used to do when she was close. “I may or may not have told my moms about you and this would’ve been really awkward if you hadn’t said yes.”
“As if I would’ve said no,” Amity said and leaned in, kissing Luz on the cheek. “You are the only person who manages to make me brave enough to want this. There is no way I’d let you go, I’ll be damned if I did.”
“You’ll be the first to actually think that way about me…” Luz replied.
“She is smart, unlike me.” Zoey thought, turning around and walking away from the place.
Amity was always the smart one; she was the blessed one in comparison with Zoey, she had the brains, and the brawls, and even the friends! Zoey knew that, she always knew about it, and she thought that she never had anything that could place her on the same level as Amity.
But she was wrong.
She had Luz…
So, she cried a lot those two months since Valentine’s Day, even after Amity left.
Her cousin didn’t talk about what Zoey saw, and she didn’t even try to bring it up. She just saw the box Luz had made, and she got a few cookies from it and she had savored each with a damn sadness on her.
And she had seen Luz all those two months.
The girl was beaming, laughing a lot while looking at her phone and doing stupid things while keeping a video call and such.
She didn’t look at Zoey like before, she wasn’t around during practice anymore, she wasn’t close to her during, breaks, she wasn’t there when she fell, she just…
Wasn’t there anymore…
And that haunted her for a while, but there was something about it all that made her worry. How she had just left her chance pass, how she had ignored the girl, how she had thought of Luz as a given and constant, how she had been arrogant and stupid and messy and…
“I’m just overthinking about old stuff now…” She thought, entering the classroom.
It was a new year, a new time and she hoped for it to be a new beginning for her.
“Hey, Zoey!” one of her friends called and she smiled. “Hear this, apparently this new guy is your fan!”
“You told me you wouldn’t tell her!”
Zoey blinked at the boy and chuckled, shaking her head. He was tall, really tall, and he had that beautiful blond hair, she guessed he should be a year older or something, but he was in her English class, apparently.
“Really? Why thou?” she asked, taking her seat and looking at the guy. “What’s your name anyway.”
The guy looked at her and smiled. “I’m Beck, but my friends call me Bucket.”
“Seriously?” she asked, smirking. “Why would they do that?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Well, it better be good,” Zoey’s friend said, “because you are trying to fill Luz’s spot as Zoey’s number one fan!”
Zoey scoffed and got her thing out when Bucket asked. “Who is Luz?”
She flinched and ran over all the memories of the girl, she thought of all the times she had a chance to just… look at her and see what she was missing, what she was letting go by.
And then she remembered the face Luz had when Amity had said yes all those months ago.
She smiled and leaned on her hand. “Luz was just a classmate of ours a year ago,” she said closing her eyes, “she was that weird girl who used to look at me.”
And who was now looking at someone else…