The Impossible Vastness Of Us
“Don’t.” She cut a hand through the air. “Those are your trust issues, India. Not mine.”
My blood boiled with indignation. She was completely naive if she thought for one second this guy wasn’t a loser. She had chosen badly before, after all. I had a right to the dread that was making me feel sick.
“I just wanted to give you a heads-up that it’s serious.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means that if this is going where I think it’s going, then that might mean a big life change for us.”
I stared at her in horror.
Hayley sighed wearily at the expression I wasn’t even trying to conceal. “I’m going to make a cup of tea. I’m tired so we’ll talk about Jay another time.” She turned but then stopped to stare sadly at me. “Thanks for being so happy for me, by the way.”
That didn’t even deserve a response.
There was a time Hayley couldn’t give a damn about my happiness. I felt it only fair that I feel apathetic now about hers.
* * *
“So wait, what does that mean?” Anna stared at me with big round eyes. “Are you, like, moving to Boston?”
Thursday. Days after Hayley dropped her bombshell that included a possible “big life change for us.” She’d left for Boston on Tuesday, and I’d barely heard from her. This lack of communication had finally made me tell Anna what was going on.
I leaned against my locker, glaring at the opposite wall. Unfortunately, said locker was situated right next to the guys’ bathroom, which meant enduring Eau de Teenage Turd every day. “I have no idea.”
“That’s what she meant, though, right?”
“Why aren’t you freaking out more?” She stood directly in front of me now, hands on her hips as she glared up at me. “I’m freaking out!” She flapped her arms around. “Freak out with me!”
“Why are you freaking out?” Siobhan said as she, Kiersten and Tess stopped by my locker. “Is it because Leanne Ingles looks like a walking thrift store today?” she called out loud enough for Leanne Ingles to hear as she passed us. I watched Leanne turn bright red and felt my blood heat.
“Don’t be a bitch,” I snapped at Siobhan.
“I’m just saying, terrible dress, ugly mess.”
“You were being horrible.” And it was hardly the first time. If it were up to Siobhan she’d rule the school with terror and meanness.
“Whatever.” She sighed. “Why are you freaking out, Anna? And why are you doing it in front of India’s locker? This whole area should be quarantined.” She wrinkled her nose at the bathroom doors.
“Lunch,” I stated firmly before pushing off my locker door. I strode away, knowing they’d follow.
I heard their footsteps and suddenly I had Anna on my right, Siobhan on my left and Kiersten and Tess right at my back.
“So?” Siobhan nudged me with her elbow. “What is Anna flipping out over?”
“India’s mom might be moving them to Boston!”
The girls shot me stunned looks at Anna’s outburst, but I ignored them as I also tried to ignore the swarm of butterflies in my stomach.
“Boston?” Siobhan gasped. “No. Ugh.”
Siobhan was a California girl. As far as she was concerned there was sunny CA and then there was the rest of the world. I almost grinned at her disgust.
“You’ll so lose your tan,” Tess said sympathetically.
I glanced at her over my shoulder. “And that’s my biggest concern?”
“No, her biggest concern is Jay,” Kiersten insisted. “You can’t leave Jay. He’s totally in love with you.”
I wanted to roll my eyes at the fairy tale Kiersten had obviously been weaving in her head these last few weeks. “No, he’s not.” I shook my head and looked forward. “And that’s not my biggest concern, either.”
“Her biggest concern is leaving me,” Anna huffed.
Actually, the answer was none of the above. The truth was my biggest concern was the dude we would be moving to Boston for. But Anna was definitely up there, too. If there was anyone in my life that I truly cared about, it was her. I had lied to her about my past, I had kept my secrets and I didn’t really tell her what was going on in my head most of the time, but I gave her more of me than I gave to anyone else. It didn’t bother her, either. Our friendship was based on the fact that she trusted me. I’m a vault. Anna knew she could tell me anything without fear that I’d gossip about it. I had seen her through her parents’ really freaking messed-up divorce and the fallout—she had sex for the first time when she was only fourteen and she was too young. It was a difficult time for her and I was there. Not judging her. Just being there.
It meant a lot to her.
She’d be sad if I left her.
I’d worry about her without me.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I told her, wishing I felt as confident as I sounded.
“Hey, India.” A group of juniors waved as they headed into the caf.
I threw them a smile and followed them in.
“Remember we have our first dance committee meeting this afternoon,” I reminded the girls. “We have to start planning Winter Formal.”
“I don’t even see the point in organizing the vote for Winter Snow Queen this year. We all know you’re going to win.” Kiersten’s voice held more than a hint of envy.
I shrugged, but I couldn’t argue. There was more than a passing possibility that my classmates would vote to make me queen.
If there was one thing I’d mastered more than any of my classes, it was the art of being well-liked. I wasn’t rich, I wasn’t snooty, I didn’t judge people and I had the ability to hide how different I felt from everybody else. I made an effort and I tried to be friends with people from all cliques. I was on the school newspaper. I was on the debate team. I was on the girls’ soccer team. I was the theater manager.
I was really, really busy.
And that was just the way I liked it. Needed it actually. Being popular wasn’t about the attention. It was about the control it gave me. It was much harder to be hurt, and much harder to lose the game, when I held all the right cards. I was the most popular girl in junior year, and if Hayley didn’t ruin everything by moving us to the east coast, I’d be ruling the school next year.
After standing in line for food that resembled something a cat might throw up we settled down at our usual table.
“Is someone going to fill me in on the whole Boston thing?” Siobhan asked, a gleam in her eyes.
Siobhan was captain of the girls’ soccer team, pretty, smart and rich. As far as she was concerned I was sitting in her seat. I bet she was secretly thrilled I might be taking off for Boston.