Entry twelve: My life as a science nerd

I’ve been quite caught up recently, between my study and everything else going on, and I haven’t had the opportunity to post as much. (Sorry about that.)
I’m still trying to find some kind of regularity to these updates.
Something exiting happened a few days ago. Well, more for him because he’s the one going, but still, it’s awesome.
You guys have probably figured out by now how much of a science lover I am, and I’m basically obsessed with anything to do with space.
That’s partly because my dad happens to be an astronomer. He works at a research center, a few miles outside my town. It’s why he’s always so busy. Sometimes he’s out there for ten hours, sometimes, even longer.
In about a month there’s an international conference on space science and astrophysics. It’s focus: nebulae and star clusters. How they’re formed, the impact they have, that sort of stuff.
And guess what? My dad’s going! He got invited, and for him this is a really big deal because a lot of important people are coming.
He didn’t expect to be picked, but apparently they said he was the perfect role for the position.
My dad is hoping this might lead to him getting a promotion. A BIG promotion.
I would love to go to one of those conferences someday…
Maybe. In twenty years or something.
So there’s this study group at school. It consists of about half of all the people who make it into the top ten percent of junior and senior science classes.
Which, obviously, I’ve been dying to get into.
Well, yesterday, another exiting thing happened.
This group is, incidentally, ran by Kayle and Christie. The same girls who were recently the victims of one of mia’s stupid jokes. Remember chemistry class?
I’ve been trying to make it up to both of them ever since. – I owe it to them, since I was partly responsible for what happened. I gave them my best apology. I committed myself to be as helpful as possible during lessons. I made an effort to be as nice to them as I could (To the point where it started to look a bit weird.) I went as far as buying them both new shirts.
And then one day, a few weeks later, they asked me if I wanted to join their group.
It took me by surprise. Offering that was the last thing I would have expected, but obviously, I told them I was interested.
I thought they were still angry with me over what happened with our experiment. Christie said they were for a while, but they knew it was just a mistake, and neither of them could stay mad after how I had tried to make up for it. I was half convinced I just made myself look like an idiot.
I’m so grateful, to both girls. What they did means a lot to me.
I’ve been through a few recent encounters with daniel. They have never failed to leave me breathless, and filled with this mix of emotions I still can’t fully make sense of.
I keep hoping those feelings he causes every time he comes too close to me will finally go away, but if anything, they are getting even worse.
I’m blaming it on him. Daniel doesn’t seem to care that I have a boyfriend now (I’m still not used to saying that), and he will not stop flirting with me.
Our last conversation is a perfect example. It went something like this:
‘Hey, amber.’
I’ve learned how much he likes to sneak up on me, which is really annoying because I hate it when people do that.
‘What, daniel?’ I spin around to face him.
Daniel doesn’t seem particularly fazed by my irritation. He steps into that uncomfortable space he loves to enter, where he’s so close to me I have to turn my face up to look at him. It’s stupid and completely unnecessary.
But it fills me with fluttery excitement, and I don’t want him to move away.
‘I haven’t seen you in a while.’
We see each other every day. And he always uses it as an opportunity to do what he’s doing now.
I raise my eyebrows.
Daniel is taking his time staring at me.
‘You haven’t given me your answer to the party,’ he says finally.
The party. With everything else going on, I had nearly forgotten about it.
‘I told you I can’t come.’
‘You’re parents won’t let you.’ He says. ‘They must have been pretty hard to persuade at the end of the year then, huh?’
‘What? I don’t -‘ But then I get it. Now he is talking about Alia’s party.
‘How do you even know about that? Wait, you’re kidding me. Mia told you, didn’t she?’
Daniel looks slightly taken off guard. ‘Mia? What does she have to do with this?’
Daniel. You are so clueless. ‘Just because she told you I went to that party doesn’t mean -.’
‘Everyone knows you went. It was the biggest party of the entire year. And everybody had something to say about your litle spectacle with mia.’
I fight back a blush.
Did people really talk about it that much?
He raises his hands. ‘If you’re not comfortable with going to another one, that’s fine.’ Daniel looks down, and then up at me, with a sly expression. He clearly can’t resist adding, ‘My party is probably a bit too much for you anyway.’
‘Daniel, I’m not going to your party because I don’t like you.’
‘Amber, we both know that’s not true.’
He’s right. I hate it, but I know he’s right.
Not that there is any way I am ever admitting it to him.
‘Keep thinking that. I’m still not coming to your stupid party,’ I say.
‘The offer’s always open if you change your mind.’
Like I would ever be so stupid.
‘It’s a shame’, he continues casually. ‘I was counting on you showing up. Parents getting strict, are they?’
Why is it that he always knows exactly how to get under my skin? Is it impossible for him to understand how not interested I am?
I glare at daniel, but I can tell that just amuses him even more.
He calls out loudly as I’m walking away, ‘I’m reserving a spot for you. Also, I’ve already invited your boyfriemd.’
I stop.
No. He did not just say that.
Well, it turns out he did. A few minutes of fustration and trying not to slap daniel later, I realize he is, actually, being serious.
Daniel invited andrew to his party.
He’s counting on andrew to ask me to go with him. Andrew hasn’t, not yet, but I haven’t figured out what to say to him if he does. How do I explain why I can’t come?
Why daniel is so interested in me being at his party is a mystery, but I do know going is a bad idea. A really bad idea. For a lot of reasons.
Daniel can keep thinking he will see me at this stupid celebration he’s organizing. But that is never happening.
I’ve been trying to make sense of what I’ve learned so far about the symbols – that whole tangled mess of weirdness I’ve been stuck attempting to rationalize. But what I have discovered has, once again, left me with a lot more questions than answers.
I spent over an hour online searching for more information about them, but in the end I came out with nothing. (I’m not counting the random references I found from conspiracy theorists.)
However. things began getting more interesting (and more weird) when I started playing the gameboy again.
I’ve never been particularly good at games. Games is what evan does.
That’s why I’ve been curled up on my bed for nearly half an hour, trying – and failing – to get through one of these stupid levels.
Suddenly the pixelated alien appears on the screen again, and with him, the words:
You are but unnoticed in the magnificence of celestial towers

The weird theme song is playing again. I try pressing a few buttons – and nothing happens.
So I take a look at what the alien has to say.
Timeless eons are left easily forgotten
And then,
Consider the great expanses of nonexistence, and they may notice you
The screen on the gameboy suddenly starts to fade into blackness, ignoring my many frantic attempts to stop it. This lasts for about fifteen seconds, and then it lights up again. For whatever reason, the gameboy has just restarted. I have to wait a minute for the familiar title to appear and then, finally, I’m returned back into the game.
But now, something has changed.
With way too much spare time during the holidays I had still managed, despite being so utterly awful at playing, to make it up to level 3. Which is where I was stuck ever since.
Now I’ve been skipped through to level 5. And the way everything looks has changed slightly. It takes a while to place all the differences – most of them are insignificant – things like the appearance of the ships I’m supposed to shoot and all the stars and asteroids I keep flying past.
But a few details are more important than that.
The symbols. Before long, they capture my attention. I might not have noticed if I hadn’t become so familiar with them through all that research I did online, but I am positive at least some of the old symbols have now been replaced by new, unfamiliar ones.
I quickly draw a few of them, comparing the pictures to satellite photos of the symbols in the cornfields.
And a single pair shows up, identical.
But wait. It gets weirder. I did a bit more research and realized, there’s more. I probably wouldn’t have ever made this other connection if castella hadn’t told me everything she did when we last met.
My old primary school used to have a large, ancient gate with patterns interwoven all the way through the bars. I looked at a few recent photos taken at the school – it’s still there, only now really rusted. A few parts look like they’re ready to fall off.
In the centre of the gate there is this shape completely separate from the rest of these patterns.
Want to guess what it looked like? The symbol is a match for that, too.
But it was frustratingly difficult for me to make any more progress.
The only thing I could find was when the school gate was built – it has to be at least a century old and it’s basically the one of the only parts of the school that hasn’t, at some point, been refurnished.
I’ve considered exploring the cornfeilds to check out the place where the new symbol was drawn. I have the satellite photos to help me find it, but the cornfields are so large. Even with the size of those symbols, the idea still feels sort of daunting.
So now I’m stuck. Again.
I can keep playing the gameboy. And then, probably, I will see another weird message or something. But there can’t be much more to discover that could be very helpful.
My next option is something I don’t think I would have even have considered before a few weeks ago. I’m still very doubtful about it now.
My plan involves breaking into the old primary school.
It wouldn’t be that hard. And the place is broken into by people all the time. You can tell from the graffiti, discarded beer bottles and other signs of inhabitance. You can see that all from right outside.
I’m not sure what I expect to find. If there was anything interesting, then someone would have discovered it already. I guess I’m hoping maybe going there again will help me remember the time I spent at that school. Castella, or the symbols, or what happened when I left.
If I go I’m doing it soon because otherwise there’s no way I’ will ever b able to commit myself to it.
It’s a bad idea and most likely I’m taking this whole thing a little too far.
I feel like I need to go there again.
But I am so full of stupid decisions.
I’m taking an early night tonight – a little unusual for me on a weekend. I’ve been dying for one since Monday.
Maybe I’ll check out the sky first. It looks so beautiful from outside my window. I have a great view at my house and sometimes I love to just sit and stare at the thousands of stars twinkling, millions of light years above me.
Next time I should have something interesting to tell you guys.
I can’t wait to find a few answers. There is so much that I still can’t explain…

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Entry eleven: A first date – part two

Part two – Things can’t get any more weird

Um, remember the game boy? And what happened at summer camp?
Three days ago, I saw castella again. This time, while I was at a cafe.
It’s weird. I was having a craving and randomly decided to try out somewhere new to eat. After a little exploring I discovered an attractive place that I was quite sure I had never been to before. It was one of those stylish cafes, spacey and well decorated. And it looked popular.
So I go inside and take a seat. A minute or two later I’m staring down at my phone when someone clears their throat.
I raise my head.
She looks so different, dressed in her uniform, but I still recognize her immediately.  The big glasses and purple hair are total giveaways.
I can’t remember castella ever telling me she worked at a cafe.
She doesn’t show any reaction to meeting me and asks for my order. I’m so distracted by her that I end up telling her the wrong thing.
I haven’t seen castella since summer camp and one of my last memories of her there starts replaying in my head; Castella is throwing my gameboy into the blackness of the forest and stalking back to the campfire.
She writes my order down and looks like she’s ready to walk away, but I grab her arm.
‘Castella’, I say in a low voice.
She twists free and leaves without another word.
I watch her disappear behind a door.
Sometimes it feels like nothing she ever does ever makes any sense.
When castella doesn’t come back, I turn my attention back to my phone and try to push my thoughts of her away.
Five minutes later, I catch sight of her again. And to my surprise, after moving around a bit and taking a few other peoples orders, she comes over to my table and slides into the seat opposite me.
‘Hi, castella,’ I say, a little uncertainly.
She raises her eyebrows. ‘What do you want?’
‘We left each other a bit… Awkwardly. You know. At summer camp.’
‘Yeah. Right.’
I attempt small talk for a bit, asking her a few questions about working at the café and how she’s been in the past few months, and what else she did over the holidays. But I can tell castella is probably still supposed to be working, and I don’t want her to be caught sitting with me. I decide to get to the point.
There’s something I’ve wanted to ask her, ever since the night at summer camp, when I lost the gameboy.
‘So,’ I venture, trying to keep my voice casual. ‘I, um, found the gameboy.’
I’m watching her for a reaction, and the one I get is instant. Castella stiffens, and suddenly she looks weary, her fingers tightening over the table and her expression becoming a careful blank.
‘What?’
‘The game boy. It turned up. I… Sort of went looking for it.’
She lowers her voice to a quiet hiss. ‘Yeah, right. Because the councilors let you walk into the middle of a forest that late just to go looking for it.’
What really happened was a whole lot less believable, so I shrug and say, ‘Yeah, something like that.’
I can’t tell if she buys it or not.
‘By the way,’ I continue, allowing a small hint of irritation to enter into my voice, ‘you never got to tell me why you threw it there to start with.’
‘You need to get rid of it. Now.’ She half whispers.
‘Why? What’s wrong with it?’
She looks around the café. When I follow her gaze I see someone standing by the door castella went through – a middle aged woman wearing a stern expression as she surveys the shop.
I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that’s the owner.
‘You can’t – you wouldn’t -’  she sighs. ‘Enough people think I’m crazy already, okay?’
‘What do you mean?’
She lets out a long breath, looks at me, and then pulls out the pen and notepad she used to take my order a few minutes ago, ripping out a piece. With the pen she quickly draws out a symbol, and then pushes the scrap of paper toward me.
It takes me a few seconds to place the familiarity of what I’m staring at.
It’s one of the symbols from starships three.
‘Recognize this?’ She asks.
‘It’s from what I was playing. On the gameboy.’ I glance up at her. ‘How did you know how to draw that?’
For a moment she looks like she won’t answer.
‘You’re not going to take me seriously.’ She finally mutters.
‘I will, cass. Whatever it is.’ I meet her eyes. ‘I promise.’
‘Don’t call me that.’ She says quickly. ‘Nobody calls me that. Just call me castella.’
‘Okay,’ I say, though I can remember, at least I think I used to call her cass all the time back while we were in primary school together.
‘You owe me an explanation.’ I tell her, trying to keep my tone light. ‘Since you did grab it from me and try to make sure I never saw it again.’
She speaks softly, with her eyes still locked on her hands. ‘You don’t understand.’
‘You’re right. I don’t. So tell me.’
She shakes her head. ‘No, you don’t get it. You don’t know… Amber, you’re not going to believe me. You can’t.’
Now I’m even more confused. What is she talking about?
I push the paper back at her. ‘How do you recognize these symbols?’
She sighs. A second passes where, from the expression she’s wearing, I think she is considering walking away and leaving me there.
Then, in a low voice, she asks, ‘remember our old primary school?’
‘Yeah, of course I do.’
She busies herself pulling at her nails. ‘Remember the school logo?’
I shrug. ‘Not really.’ I have difficulty now recalling what some parts of the school looked like.
Castella points to the sketch of the symbol. ‘’It’s this. This was the school logo.’
I try to form an image of the marking on the school uniform we used to wear and there is very faint ring of familiarity. ‘But that’s probably just a coincidence, right?’
‘You really think so? The symbol isn’t exactly undetailed.’
‘Castella, you’re acting like this is familiar to you. The game or whatever.’
She frowns. ‘You don’t remember, amber?’
‘Remember what?’
‘You gave it to me. At our school.’
Surprise sweeps through me. I know how vague my memories are from back then but I’m definitely positive evan never gave me that gameboy. He was hooked on it. To him, playing it was almost a ritual. And brought it to school? Gave it to her?
‘By the way, where did you find the gameboy?’
Her question reminds me of the cornfields and how I first discovered it there.
I don’t have any idea how to answer. But I owe it to castella to tell her the truth, after what she told me.
‘This is going to sound weird, but did you leave it… Somewhere?’
Castella raises her eyebrows. ‘What do you mean, somewhere?’
‘It was lying nearly a mile outside my house’, I say. ‘It looked sort of like it had been… Buried.’
…‘Buried where?’
‘Um, these cornfields. They’re right past the town –‘
‘Yeah, I know. You could sort of see them from one end of our old school.’
‘Then that’s where you left it, right?’ I ask.
Castella slowly shakes her head. ‘No, I left it somewhere else. Amber, you have to get rid of it. Throw it away. Trash it.’
‘Why? Castella, you’re acting like this thing is dangerous.’
Her eyes are full of meaning, but she just says, ‘When you gave it to me, I played it. Starships three. It’s just a stupid game where you shoot things. It’s pointless. Trust me.’
She glances over her shoulder.
That middle – aged woman is approaching us.
‘Okay, I have to go.’
‘What? No, wait. I have so many questions. And by the way, those symbols, they’re all over the cornfields, too! And when did I give you the gameboy? And-‘
‘Promise you’ll get rid of it,’ she says. Her voice is filled with intensity.
She stands up.
‘And look amber, whatever you’re about to say, it doesn’t matter. Forget. About The Gameboy.’
‘But-‘
‘Just leave it, okay?’
She’s gone before I can respond, weaving her way quickly through the tables.
Castella kept telling me how ‘none of it was important’, but there is just no chance of me believing that. She was clearly even more involved in whatever is going on here than I am.
The first thing I did when I got home was search up the logo from my old primary school and compare it to the symbol she drew.
Castella is right. They’re identical.
How weird is that? Not similar, identical. I played the gameboy just to double check, and yes, they’re definitely the same.
I’ve been thinking through the years I spent at my first primary school, trying to remember if I ever gave castella the gameboy. But all I get is an even stronger certainty that never happened. It’s not as if I can’t remember anything. I’m sure I’ve never even touched the gameboy until recently, when I rediscovered it.
Evan definitely used to be obsessed with the gameboy. But usually, the only time he would play it was while he was locked inside his own room.
And I don’t buy that castella was lying, either, which makes this even more confusing. She knows about the symbols. She knows all about the game and how it works. Things she only could have known either if she did a lot of research or she played another copy of the game.
She could have owned the game herself, but I don’t think that’s likely. I searched for starships three on the internet and I didn’t see any matches. If this game exists online, I couldn’t find any sign of it.
Of course, it’s possible I missed something.
But why would she lie, anyway? What’s the point to go to such an effort to make me believe I gave it to her?
Clearly there is more she knows she hasn’t told me. Maybe because she doesn’t count on me believing her, or she just doesn’t trust me.  But I don’t have any doubt the gameboy is, somehow, important to her.
I am so going to play that gameboy again. And I’ve been thinking maybe I should check out the old primary school, too.
It’s really weird. I’m trying to find rational way that these symbols can be inside the gameboy, are the logo of a school that burned down and also drawn randomly everywhere all over the world, including the cornfields near my house.
Every idea I come up with sounds progressively less believable.
Anyway, I’ll update again if I find more about the symbols.
Well, I have way too much study to catch up on. I feel like the workload this year has doubled, and I’m still getting used to it.
Keeping up with all the advanced science stuff is intense.
So I’ll talk to you guys again soon!

 

Entry eleven: A first date – part one

Part 1: Family issues

Okay, so I’m not sure of the best way start this entry, but I think I’m going to have to make it my first (ever) date with a guy.
Andrew texted me with a Mexican restaurant called ‘Mesa de la abuela’. He wanted to pick me up at my place, but I knew if they saw andrew my parents would go nuts, so I told him to meet me there.
After spending about an hour looking through my wardrobe, I decided to wear a knee-length skirt, black denim jacket, and the most dressy shirt I could find. Bree offered to loan me a pair of high heels, but after stumbling around in them for five minutes and reminding myself how much I HATE high heels, I knew they were out of the question.
After looking through all the shoes I owned, (and trying not to have a mini panic attack), and rejecting every pair, bree finally picked me some Hayze mules and pretty much made me wear them.
Then I spent another hour in the bathroom, trying to make my hair work. I thought maybe I could get the straightener to curl it up a bit. Emphasize the I thought. My hair turned into this monstrous mess I spent the next twenty minutes trying to fix.
Bree comes to the rescue (again) with her own hair curler and guides me through how to use it. It takes me a while, but I end up with (somewhat) wavy hair! Which, by the way, I was so not used to.
After struggling with one or two stubborn knots, I move on to makeup – and at this point I’m starting to freak out a bit because I was planning on leaving five minutes ago and I’m going to need at least fifteen minutes to get my makeup right. (I am awful with makeup.) I don’t have time to waste selecting things, so I follow my instincts. Beige lipstick, with a little touch of red. Foundation, then concealer. Bree persuaded me to try out a few highlights and I picked one I thought brought out my eyes a little more.
I decided adding anything else would be a bit excessive, so after that I give myself a quick examination in front of the mirror.
Bree says I look great. I just can’t get over how different I am with my hair done and all the makeup on.
Mom and dad think I’m going out with bree. They told me to be back by nine thirty (Usually they’re okay with ten but tonight they were in one of those moods parents sometimes have.)
I go downstairs and my dad’s there, busy fiddling with something (That’s what I usually find him doing.) I attempt slipping quietly past him, but he decides that’s the best time to glance up and notice me.
He gets this sort of… Surprised expression. Any other time he would let me leave with no more than his usual reminder to ‘be back by ten’, but tonight he looks at me and goes, ‘wow, amber. You’re, uh, looking…’ And then trails off into a very awkward silence.
I have to try not to roll my eyes.
‘Dad, we’re going now. We’ll be back in a few hours.’
He nods, but the weird stare remains.
‘Out for anything special? Am I forgetting someone’s birthday?’
‘No, dad. We’re just having dinner with some friends.’
He frowns. ‘You’re not seeing anyone, are you?’
UUUGGGGHHHH. PARENTS.
I glare at him. ‘Dad. Seriously. It’s a new look. That’s it.’
Thankfully, that seems to convince him enough to let us go.
‘Back before nine thirty!’ He calls after us.
‘Dad, it was ten!’ I yell back.
Amber.’ His voice is exasperated.
‘Okay, fine,’ I say, a little sulkily. ‘Nine thirty.’
How am I ever going to get through a whole date in less than two hours? And my parents will more than happily ground me if I arrive home late by more than a few minutes. They’ve gotten me into worse trouble for even less.
But there’s no time for that. The date hasn’t even started yet.
We make it to the front door – and nearly run into evan, who gives me a look that is identical to the one my dad was just wearing.
This time I do roll my eyes.
‘God, not you, too.’ I moan.
Abruptly, evan grins. ‘What are you ladies doing tonight?’ He asks us.
Great. I’m already late and now I’m stuck here talking to my stupid brother and wasting even more time. How am I ever getting there? Before eight?
‘Look, we really have to go, okay evan?’ He’s casually blocking the doorway, in a way that makes it nearly impossible to get past him.
‘Can you… Move? Please?’
Evan does. About three inches.
‘You didn’t answer my question.’
‘Dinner.’, I say.
‘Where?’
Exactly why both evan and my dad are both so interested in what I’m doing tonight is beyond me. ‘The mall,’ I say. It’s the first thing that comes into my head, and it works because me and my friends go there all the time.
‘With who?’ he asks.
He has got to be kidding. ‘My friends. Which, by the way, is none of your business.’
I pull bree toward the door.
We will charge past evan, if that’s what it takes.
‘I can tell when you’re dressing up for something, amber,’ evan says. He sounds slightly amused.
I shoot him a glare.  ‘The mall, evan. Where do you think I’m going?’
I don’t like the way he’s smiling.  Evan can’t possibly know anything about my date.
But I’m not planning on giving him more time to get the wrong idea.
Still holding bree by the arm, I slip past him, open the door, and get out of there.
He opens his mouth to speak again and I push the door closed. From behind it, his words are muffled.
‘Bye, evan!’ I call.
I begin walking, stop, turn back and yell through the door, ‘If you tell our parents anything I am going to kill you.’
I hear laughter. Then what sounds like, ‘Have fun at the mall, amber.’
After having finally escaped the house, bree hugs me and makes me promise to call her right after our date to tell her how it went.
Mesa de la abuela isn’t the closest restaurant, but it’s no more than the kind of distance I’m used to. And by some miracle I manage to avoid arriving late, which is probably good since I don’t think I’m going to be able to stay there for much longer than an hour.
I take a peek inside the restaurant – it’s nice, a combination of peaceful and attractive, and not too crowded. There’s definitely a little spark of romantic potential. I decide immediately that andrew made a good choice.
But I can’t see him anywhere and I’m not sure whether I should pick a table or wait for him outside.
I figure I would just look awkward standing beside the doors of the restaurant, so I claim one of the tables by the corner of the room.
I wait a few minutes. It’s not long before I to start to get bored, and then restless.
Five minutes later, I’m flicking through the menu.
Five minutes after that, checking my phone.
Another five minutes and I’m texting andrew, asking what he’s doing. When he doesn’t respond, I go to bree for advice on what to do.
Me: He hasn’t come yet. ITS BEEN TWENTY MINUTES. Also, he’s ignoring my texts.
Bree: Calm down. He’s not ignoring you. Have you tried calling him?
Me: He won’t answer. What if he’s not coming? Bree, he’s not coming, is he?
Bree: He IS coming. Just give him a little more time.
Andrew arrives close to eight, wearing a white shirt and jeans. He looks apologetic. He’s also holding a box of chocolates.
‘Hey’ he says. ‘Sorry I’m late. I sort of… Missed the bus.’
He offers me the chocolates.
I smile. ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I take them (Yum, assorted creams.)
I should probably be madder at him. But I love chocolates.
‘Thank you.’
I have an awkward moment because I wasn’t expecting any gifts, and I don’t know where to put them.
He sits down. We begin talking. It starts off a little hesitant – I don’t think either of us really know what to talk about. We try a few different subjects; school, movies, hobbies. I learn a few things about andrew: he loves action movies and rarely watches anything else. He likes sports, but isn’t too fond of school.
Unfortunately, none of those are things I can relate to.
Finding something that we both like takes us a while. I try science, but that dies, fast. His attempt at explaining baseball leaves me confused.
I’m feeling like the more I get to know him, the more I realize how different we both are.
When I ask andrew about his parents he tells me he lives with his dad, who is an engineer, and his mom and dad have been separated for nine years. And I feel awful now for bringing that up.
Talking about parents: definitely off-limits.
But our date does start to improve. Andrew doesn’t know what to buy so I guide him through some of the dishes. He eventually picks the spiciest thing on the menu, despite my repeated warnings.
Andrew is funny. Not really funny, but he knows how to make me laugh. He says some slightly weird stuff sometimes, but to be honest, I think I might have said a few random things myself.
After a while, conversation becomes a bit easier. And I start to actually enjoy it. I giggle when andrew covers half his dish in jalapeno sauce and takes a large mouthful. I have to cover my mouth to hold my laughter as I see his reaction.
After dinner, we’re both a little quiet again. But it’s different this time. It’s easier for me to relax around him. I can push away the feelings of being awkward and uncomfortable (mostly) and focus on the moment we’re sharing together.
I lose track of how long we’ve been sitting there, but at some point I think okay, now this date is starting to look a little excessive. And it has to be close to the time my mom and dad expect me home.
I try to give andrew a few hints, but he doesn’t seem to notice.
At this point, the awkwardness begins coming back. When I realize small hints aren’t working, I go for a few more obvious ones. ‘Those waiters are probably thinking how weird it is we’re still sitting here’ becomes, ‘Wow. It has to be getting really late.’
Andrew seems oblivious to how frequently I make a point of checking the time and doesn’t seem to understand why I’ve suddenly lost interest in our conversation. I manage to save awkward before it changes to desperate, calling for the check and giving him a quick explanation about how mad my parents will be if I don’t get back by their curfew.
Andrew apologizes and tells me he should have realized earlier (Yes andrew, you really do miss a lot). We get the check, and I make sure he allows me to pay for my half of it.
And finally, we thank the chef and leave the restaurant.
I’m ready to say goodbye –and take off running to catch to my bus – but andrew comes a bit closer and, giving me a very serious look, he says, ‘I enjoyed tonight. A lot.’
‘I did, too,’ I tell him. I mean it – except for where our date sort of messed up at the end. I return his smile and get ready to say goodbye, but then andrew steps closer again, like, personal space closer. At first I don’t know what he’s doing, but when he breaks the distance down even further, and then starts to lean in with his lips parted, I get the idea.
‘Andrew, stop. Stop.’
He pauses. ‘Huh?’
‘What do you think this is?’
He frowns. ‘A date.’
‘Yeah, our first date. Me and you? We barely know each other.’
In a few moments his face transforms completely, now somewhere in between surprised and confused. ‘I’m sorry – I – just thought -’
‘Thought what?’
Am I taking it a bit too far? I honestly, really enjoyed the date. And I do like andrew. He’s cute and funny and interesting and I feel comfortable around him – which for guys, is a thing that virtually never happens.
But I need to set him straight.
‘Look, andrew, I’m just not ready for that, okay? Not yet. You have to get to know me first. We have to get to know each other.’
Andrew is silent for a moment. Then he nods, looking down.
‘Sorry. You’re right. I shouldn’t have done that.’
I smile a little. ‘Treat me like a woman and take me out a few more times, maybe…. I’ll let you try that again.’
‘Okay. Cool.’ He grins. ‘That sounds great.’
He promises to cal me and we say our goodbyes.
Then he leaves, and with him goes the last of my happiness – now I have to prepare myself to face the wrath of my parents.
It’s 9:45. I haven’t taken the bus yet. I haven’t even gotten on the bus yet.
They are going to kill me. Literally.
I check my calls first – one from my dad at 9:34, two more, also from him at 9:38, and about five from both mom and dad since then (Yes, they actually  tried calling me eight times in fifteen minutes.) One missed call from bree – and a single SMS from evan.
I call bree first. At this point the best thing I can go for is damage control.
Bree then calls my dad and tells him we’re both stuck waiting for public transport. And the battery on my phone died an hour ago.
A little to my surprise – my parents buy it.
Unfortunately, my dad decides it’s a good idea for him to drive both of us back home.
And then bree tells him we can see a bus and he won’t need to bother.
I’ve been to the mall enough times to know it will take about half the time to travel there it would to reach the place me and andrew just ate at. My parents are going to catch us in our lie and I’m going to be completely screwed. And they will be mad at bree, too, since I brought her into this.
It gets worse: Bree messages again a few minutes later telling me my dad just asked to speak to me on her phone and she had to hang up on him.
Feeling dread, I check my other SMS. The one from evan is short but meaningful: Parents are getting ready to murder u.
Need any help?

I think I have some idea of what evan means by help. But it’s a choice between calling either my mom or my dad, or bree, or responding to evan, and I think I can already guess what I’m going to hear from my parents. With them it’s a few minutes of their predictable ranting about how much trouble I am in. And after what bree told me, it’s probably best not to involve her more.
So I text back to evan. Despite how stupid of an idea I know that is.
U can’t save me from our parents
Moments later, evan replies.
Do u have any idea what they are going to do to u when u get home?
I shudder.
You’re going to tell me u conveniently know a way to get me out of this?
No. U have to get yourself out of this. But I can give u some time.
I’ve learned never to trust these rare, charitable moods evan has. He never gives anything for free.  But believe me, I did not want to be the subject of whatever awful punishment my mom and dad are planning.
What are u going to tell them?
Not something u need to worry about.

Evan. I need to know what you’re going to say.
Trust me, you’ll find out.
That doesn’t sound good.
You in or not?
I briefly consider, comparing what my parents are likely to do to what evan’s worst idea could possibly be.
I’m pretty sure he already knows my answer.
Fine.
Evan’s final text reads, See u at home, u have fourty minutes.
Great. I made it here in an hour.
Forty five minutes later, I decide I had only luck and good timing to thank for being back outside my house so fast. That and having ran the entire way home from the bus stop (And my house happens to be over a mile away from the closest local transport,)
When my parents open the door, I am expecting to see them with ‘I’m going to smother you’ looks on their faces, but to my surprise, they are only mildly annoyed.
Which is not what I was prepared for.
The fact that my mom and dad aren’t even angry by how late I am is… Alarming.
I need to know. Exactly what evan told them.
Even though I have a feeling I really don’t want to find out what he said to get my parents to let me off the hook so easily.
Calling him doesn’t work. I go up to his room but he isn’t there, and a quick check around the house makes me realize he must have gone out again.
I text evan, but he’s ignoring all my messages.
Obviously, he isn’t interested in speaking to me.
Since I’m starting to strongly doubt there’s any chance me of ever making him say anything, even if I do find him, I reluctantly approach my parents.
And they tell me. What evan said to them.
I knew evan would make up something stupid. Something really, really stupid. But somehow he still managed tell them a lie far beyond the most stupid story I had imagined.
He explained to them I had an ‘accident.’
Just stop for a second and try to think of the worst, most embarrassing thing he could have said. Then multiply it by a hundred.
I knew I was being an idiot when I agreed to let him help me.
And this is always what happens when I make the mistake of trusting him.
Apparently, now I owe evan two favors. He thinks that counts as a favor. To him this is just another one of his dumb pranks, and yes, he actually finds it funny.
Evan has the worst sense of humor. Ever.
I’m not going to tell you exactly what he said. That’s… Personal.
And horrifyingly embarrassing.
Andrew and me have called back and forth a few times since our date. He apologized again for the way it ended and promised to make it up to me, but we haven’t arranged anything yet.
Hopefully, the next time won’t turn out quite as complicated as our first night together did.

Entry ten: First day of junior year: part two

Part two: My experiment exploded

It’s after recess, as I’m going to fourth period, when I first notice him.
With everything else going on I had totally forgotten about the whole mess that was summer camp.
He’s standing, talking with a few other guys, but as I watch he takes turns high-fiving them and then they separate. For a moment his face is hidden behind his long, tousled dark hair and I think, no, maybe it’s not daniel.
Then he looks up. He looks up and oh god, it’s definitely him.
I’m tempted to run back into the cafeteria and find another way to get to my next class. I probably would have done that, but then I thought, Wait. One way or another, I’m going to be seeing this guy every day. I can’t avoid him all the time just because he’s drop dead gorgeous and sexy and hot and…
Anyway, once I’ve decided, I find myself trying (unsuccessfully) to push back a wave of conflicting emotions.
I spend a few seconds tidying up my hair as I attempt to gather my courage.
I’ll just ignore him. He won’t even notice me.
That’s what I tell myself, anyway.
Come on amber, get a grip.
I begin walking.
I know it’s a stupid idea to look at him but as I come closer, I can’t help stealing s few glances in Daniels direction.
He’s staring down at his phone now, smiling a little bit. He’s using one toned hand to push his hair out of his face and he’s leaning against the lockers and WHY IS HE SO HOT?
I take a few more steps closer. He glances up.
And then looks at me.
My heart sort of skips a beat. And when we lock eyes, it goes into overdrive.
He gives me a slow smile and straightens up.
Daniel begins moving. Straight. Toward. Me.
My knees feel weak. There’s a part of me that’s like, Why am I acting like this? But the rest is still caught inside the magnetic effect of his gaze. I want to create all the distance I can from him, but at the same time I can’t stand the idea of him walking away without noticing me.
I finally manage to tear my eyes from his face. I have about five seconds before he reaches me and I use it to compose myself.
‘Hi, amber.’ Daniel says.
Somehow he can even make that sound sexy.
I force myself to look up at him. ‘Hi. Daniel.’
His gaze flicks over me. ‘How was the rest of your summer break?’
‘Great. Awesome. How about yours?’
I’m speaking too quickly.
‘It wasn’t too bad.’ He pauses. ‘Could’ve been better.’
I stare down at my hands. I take a peek at his feet and I’m pretty sure the shoes he’s wearing have to cost at least five hundred dollars. Definitely not average school shoes.
‘Great time for sunbathing.’ He says slowly. ‘And swimming.’ His eyes glitter.
I tangle and untangle my fingers together. ‘I guess.’
Then, quite suddenly, he changes the subject.
‘Hey, I’m hosting a party in a few weeks time.’
It had to be the last thing I ever would have expected him to say to me.
Well, until he adds, ‘And I thought maybe you might want to come.’
I honestly have no idea how to reply.
Daniel? Inviting me out to a party?
It’s a long moment before I manage to splutter out, ‘I -I can’t.’
He opens his mouth, but I hurry to explain.
‘My parents would never let me.’
Daniel grins.
‘Well, I’ll give you some time to think about it.’
He glances down at his phone, then looks up at me and says, almost regretfully, ‘We’d both better head over to our lessons.’
I look around. The number of people visible around us is rapidly depleting. Most of the remaining students are already disappearing into their classrooms.
‘Yeah. Right.’
I start to turn away.
Then he says, ‘And amber?’
I glance back at him.
‘I really like the curls. They look good on you.’
He noticed. Literally nobody noticed that.
I burrowed my mom’s straightener last night and tried running it through my hair a few times. I guess I wanted to try a ‘new look’ for the new year.
It didn’t really work and after a while I gave up. But he noticed.
My cheeks are warm as I meet his gaze again. I look away quickly.
Daniel gives me one last smile before he turns and toward the stairs, leaving me staring unwillingly after him, temporarily forgetting about how I’m already late for my class.
When I finally pull myself together I nearly run to my next period.
This time its food tech and when I come in, I have to do that thing teachers make you do – if they feel sadistic enough – where you stand front of the class and explain why you’re late. (Obviously I lied.)
Nearly two hours and two very long lessons later, I have lunch.
As I’m going out to meet my friends, I run into andrew, who I somehow also managed to completely forget about.
The last time I saw him was at the end of year party, and although we’ve talked on the phone from time to time after that, it’s never been much more than meaningless conversation.
Suddenly I feel shy.
‘Hi,’ he says. ‘Hi’ I say, a little nervously. He’s smiling at me in this really cute way. I smile back at him.
‘How have you been?’ he asks.
‘Okay… How about you?’
He shrugs. ‘Same. I had a great holiday.’
‘The summer break was awesome,’ I agree. (He knows my parents grounded me but I never told him exactly how long I was grounded for.)
We talk, about school and what we both did during summer. I have a feeling that andrew has something important he wants to say, but then I think maybe I’m just misreading him.
We eventually both lapse into a short silence.
He breaks it by clearing his throat and asking me shyly, ‘hey, uh, anyway, I was just wondering if… maybe you wanted to go out to dinner or something?’
It takes me a few seconds to actually get it.
Andrew is asking me out. On a date.
The thing is, I don’t really ever get asked out by guys. Like, I’ve never been asked out by a guy before then. At least, not seriously.
I’m blushing again and hiding behind my hair and staring down at my feet as I ask, ‘where did you have in mind?’
‘Um – I dunno – whatever you want.’
I can’t hold back the little smile that wants to spread over my face. ‘I like Mexican. And do not get me flowers.’
Andrew grins and laughs a little. ‘Okay. No flowers.’
There’s one second of me thinking omigod I did I really just get a date?
Then, ‘does this Friday work?’
‘Yeah. Sure.’ I feel a tingle of excitement shoot through me.
‘How about seven?’
I hesitate. For a moment I consider my parents, and what they would probably think of me going out – with a guy. But I already know there’s no way I’m ever going to tell them about this.
I gather a little courage and look up at him. ‘Seven. Cool.’
‘I’ll text you the details.’ He gives me another adorable grin. ‘I’m really looking forward to it.’
‘Me too.’ I bite my lip and push my hair behind my ear.
Andrew glances behind him. Following his gaze, I notice a few guys approaching us. I recognize them as some of andrew’s friends.
‘Anyway, I’ve gotta go.’ he tells me. ‘I’ll catch you later.’
Feeling happier than I have all day, I say quietly, ‘Bye, andrew.’
We separate. I glance back at him once and catch his eyes. We both smile awkwardly and he looks a bit embarrassed and I feel another warm little tingle run through me.
So the first thing I do once he’s gone is go straight to bree and tell her everything. We have a girl moment and she hugs me and tells me we’re going to have to go out shopping together to get a dress for me to wear.
I’m not sure if wearing a dress to our date is a good idea. I mean, how serious is this? It’s only our first and don’t people usually go for something slightly more casual for that? And I don’t want him to think I’m too intense or over the top. But obviously I have to find something pretty.
And I have no idea what I am going to do with my hair. And makeup. And shoes.
I don’t even have any nice shoes.
God, I am seriously freaking out over this.
Anyway, after that I was convinced nothing else could possibly happen in a single day, but in the last two periods I was realized how very wrong I was.
I have a double of advanced chemistry. Which I’m pretty excited for.
That is, until I walk through the door. In the first three seconds I see her, lounging back at one of the tables in the centre of the room. Sitting there, smirking and staring down at what is so obviously her phone she’s hiding under the desk.
Mia.
Having mia in my English class for the entire year sucks, but whatever. It feels almost inevitable that she shows up in at least a few of my subjects each year. But advanced chemistry? There is no way mia made it in any kind of ‘advanced’ class. She doesn’t even finish her own work, she always just gets someone else to do it for her. I’m honestly surprised she even made it into eleventh grade. And why science? Mia hates science. She makes a point of moaning whenever anyone even mentions anything to do with it.
I spend a few long seconds staring at her before I force myself to walk into the room.
Suddenly, this subject doesn’t seem quite as exiting anymore.
As important as she knows chemistry is to me, I know that mia is going to make sure she does everything she can to try to ruin it.
Her first attempt is just over an hour later.
The beginning of the lesson is an introduction to the first unit of our year. Since we have a double, after that’s finished there’s still plenty of time left, so we do a practical. I pair up with two girls I used to work with sometimes back in our sophomore year science class.
And somehow, mia and her group end up working right next to us.
So obviously, I’m careful. I keep an eye on mia, and make sure I never get within tripping distance of her, and I check my experiment regularly whenever I leave the station.
Everything is going great. We’re getting all-perfect results and we’re progressing through the experiment really fast. I’m actually thinking that maybe, for once, mia isn’t actually going to try anything.
I was turned around when it happened, so the two girls I was working with got the worst of it.
The substance that blew up was acidic, but not enough to actually hurt you unless it got into your eyes, and since the girls were both wearing safety glasses, the acid didn’t harm either of them. But it was enough to permanently stain their clothes with big, yellow blotches. And the experiment was totally ruined.
I still remember the feeling I got when I saw that stuff splatter over everything. The sinking in my stomach as I realized something had gone horribly wrong.
The girls wash their faces quickly. Then they both turn around and glare at me.
I can see the mess which is all that’s left of the experiment we were about five minutes away from finishing.
It takes me about six seconds to figure out what went wrong. And I realize something. I could not have had anything to do with it. I remember exactly how much of every ingredient I added. I checked and double checked to make sure I hadn’t made any mistakes.
Then my eyes drift over to mia. She’s looking at me. Holding something out in one hand.
If you add too much of a particular ingredient in this experiment, then everything goes wrong. It causes a reaction that’s sort of like a mini – explosion. But this won’t happen unless you add at least three times as much as you’re meant to.
Guess what was lying in the middle of mia’s open palm?
The girls thought I did it. It was written all over their expressions. And while they stand there blaming me, mia observes us with this stupid, self-satisfied smile on her face.
I was careful. But obviously, I wasn’t careful enough.
With absolutely no proof, I can’t accuse her of anything. But I know she’s the one who did it.
The two girls were mad. They tried to hide it, but I could tell how angry were at me. And I can’t really blame them.
I made the worst possible impression on my new teacher. A teacher who I have to impress. A teacher who’s going to grade my assignments and mark my tests and he’s my only chance to get into advanced chem for year twelve. I want him to give a recommendation for me. And now… I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen.
But I think the worst thing is that I know those girls aren’t going to let me work with them anymore. And they were the best partners EVER. There’s no one else in that class I even want to do the practical’s with.
So thanks, mia. For like the hundredth time you’ve managed to destroy something important to me.
One thing about the day I was grateful for was how few people reacted when they saw bree. Most of the degrading comments thrown her way were from members of mia’s gang and we could, mostly, avoid them. I noticed some people giving her dirty looks as bree was going to her classes, but that was the as bad as it ever got.
I’m still worried about bree and how this is all affecting her, but… Maybe the worst of it is over. Mia will probably lose interest once she realizes everyone else already has.
And Bree seems a little better. When school ended (finally), we went over to her place like we usually do after school. She said she enjoyed the day and she really didn’t look like she was bothered by any of our encounters with mia’s followers.
I think bree’s… still looking online. Checking all of mia’s recent posts. But she is getting through it.
Bree, you are so amazing.
So I’m quite sure now I’m probably going to start developing eyesight problems if I stare at my screen for any longer.
I’ve got lots of study to do and bree is going to need some encouragement to get all the homework I know she has to get done finished.
I have a feeling I’ll be updating again soon. This week has been such a mess and I still have to survive another entire day of school (And my first date ever) before it’s finally over.
So I’ll see you guys soon!

Entry ten: First day of junior year: part one

Part one: Another year of hell

If I had to find one word to describe the first four days of junior year, I know exactly what it would be.
Hell. Absolute, total hell.
Sometimes I think my school is hell.
Waking up on the morning of the first day of eleventh grade, I have absolutely no clue what to expect. I’ve picked all my subjects, but I have no idea who I’m taking my classes with or what they’re going to be like. I know how important this year is and I’m already scared I’m going to fail everything.
From first being a freshman at maple high, I haven’t experienced a single grade that hasn’t caught me completely by surprise. Since the first semester here every expectation I’ve ever had has always been thrown away when reality hit.
So now I’m standing at the gates of my school, after over an hour of walking and a really uncomfortable bus ride, preparing myself.
I’m at the edge of hell, and I’m terrified.
But of course I know doing nothing is just going to make it even worse so I take a deep breath… and step through the gates of hell, (I’ve already overused the metaphor, haven’t I?), and begin my junior year.
So when it starts, it’s not actually that bad. The first five minutes consist of me meeting maddy and a few of my other friends, and us getting our new timetables. Okay, so we don’t have that many classes together (I’m sharing a grand total of one class with any of them), but now that I’m starting to get past the overwhelming fear, I feel a small tingle of excitement as I look down at my list of subjects.
I mean, I made it into all the advanced science courses. Which is awesome. And I’ve got two of them on today. Well, I’m probably going to miss the first because of orientation, but I have advanced chem to finish, which I can’t wait to get into.
I’m still fighting back my excitement as the bell rings and me and my friends make our way toward the big hall where our yearly introductions will take place.
It’s as I’m going there, passing through the school courtyard that I see mia, and the easy part of my day comes to an abrupt end.
She’s standing with all her minions encircling her. I can tell by one look there’s no way she’s just going to let us walk past her and into the auditorium.
The small group around me falters as we come closer.
As I meet eyes with mia and raise my chin at her, I’m fighting back a mixture of apprehension and anger.
I make a split decision, turn around and whisper to my friends, ‘hey, you guys meet me at the assembly?’
I try to keep my voice casual but I think it’s as clear to them as it is to me what’s about to happen. Bonnie shakes her head and takes me gently by the arm.
‘Come on, we’ll go together. We can’t separate before orientation has even started.’
She gives a slightly forced laugh.
The thing is, I know, one way or another, a confrontation with mia is inevitable. And honestly, I’m not going to try to avoid it.
I smile at bonnie and gently peel her hand off.
‘I’ll only be a few minutes’, I promise.
Bonnie glances over her shoulder.
Now mia is sauntering over, escorted on each side by the most loyal of her followers: Samantha and Catharine, and behind that, what has to be at least fifteen other people.
I give my friends a meaningful look.
‘I’ll be fine,’ I whisper, although as I glance back at mia and the size of the group surrounding her, I have to battle back a little anxiety. In my past fights with mia it was always between me and her, and usually she only had her closest minions to back her up.
When mia is with her entire gang, it always means she’s up to something serious.
Bonnie looks like she’s thinking the same thing. ‘Please,’ she says, her voice low. She pulls at my arm again, this time a little harder. But by then I’ve accepted that this isn’t going to wait. It’s happening. Now.
‘Hi amber.’ Her voice is sugary with an undercurrent of venom.
I mouth see you soon to bonnie and my other friends. Then I turn back to mia.
‘I hope you’re ready for junior year,’ she drawls.
I can’t look at her for long without remembering about all the things she’s done to hurt bree.
And thinking about that awakens the rage that I pushed down all holidays.
I embrace the anger – all of it. It leaves no space for any other feeling. It takes away my fear and replaces it with reckless confidence.
I take a step forward and raise my gaze to meet hers.
‘Mia. It’s great to see you’re…’ I look her up and down. Of course she’s flaunting her usual please-screw-me clothes. Her outfit is way too short, but since she’s rich, and popular, she gets away with it.
Mia gives me her trademark smirk. ‘Oh amber’ she says, and suddenly she’s doing that really immature thing where somebody talks to you like you’re twelve.
‘You don’t get it, do you? It must be hard, trying to see out of your little bubble. I know you think you’re cool, and popular, and everyone likes you but amber, they really don’t. ‘
An important fact about mia: sometimes you just know exactly what she’s going to say.
‘Oh mia.’ I drawl, imitating her condescending tone, ‘You think because you’re so rich and entitled everything that comes out of your mouth actually means something to me.’
She smiles sadistically. ‘Where’s bree, by the way? She’s always so attached to you.’
I stiffen when she mentions bree’s name and mia’s smile widens.
‘She wouldn’t possibly miss the first day of school, would she? But then again, after those… Things she did over the summer, I guess she might still be too wasted for it.’
Samantha giggles, and kevin snickers.
‘By the way,’ she adds, ‘did you see her new photo from last night? I guess you must have with how close you two are. You were probably with her the entire time. How drunk was she, amber? She looked pretty… out of it.’
No, last night I didn’t check for any updates online. I thought mia was finally done posting her lies.
I. Really. Hate. Her.
I put as much venom as I can into my next words.
‘Queen Mia. All hurt and injured because she got busted for drugs. I wonder how long it would take for me to find a picture of you getting wasted?’
That wipes the smile off her face and I feel a surge of pleasure.
‘By the way, how did that go? How did the councilors react?’ I raise my voice, making sure I’m loud enough for everyone else to hear. ‘Are you still hiding another drug stash in your room?’
She opens her mouth, but I’ve saved the best for last. ‘What did your parents think when they found out what perfect little mia does in her spare time?’
Now I’ve pissed her off. But she makes a visible effort to compose herself.
‘It’s such a shame it has to be this way between us.’ She says. Then she gives me a malicious smile.
‘I’m sure this year is going to be really great experience for you. It’s going to be so amazing.’ The last words she articulates, with slow emphasis. ‘You will never forget it.’
‘Aww, that’s so sweet, mia. But I know nothing could possibly compare to how you’re going to feel by the end of this year.’
I mean it as much as she does. I probably mean it more.
We glare at each other for a moment that seems to stretch out into forever. I think I see several conflicting emotions passing through mia’s face, but before I can read them she tosses her hair and turns away from me.
‘Come on. Assembly’s about to start.’
She stalks toward the auditorium. Samantha, catharine and a few others shoot me ugly looks as they fall into a loose group behind her.
It takes a while for my heartbeat to slow and the tension running through my body to loosen. I keep watching them until they’re obscured behind the other students starting to fill the courtyard.
Maddy gives me a serious look as we walk toward the assembly hall a few minutes later.
‘You shouldn’t have done that,’ she says quietly.
‘What?’
‘You shouldn’t have pissed her off.’
‘I – maddy, did you hear what she said about bree?’
Maddy sighs. She looks miserable. ‘Yeah, I know, but the more you provoke her like that, the more she lashes out.’
I swallow. Maddy’s right. Of course she’s right.
The realization sort of makes me feel sick and maddy must have noticed something because she says quickly, ‘Look, it’s great that you stand up to her. Don’t you dare start blaming yourself for what mia did to bree. But amber, maybe it’s enough to prove to her you’re not scared. You don’t always have to get back at mia. Just… Show her you’re better than she is.’
I’m don’t believe mia deserves to get away with all the things she’s done to my friends.
But I know maddy’s right.
Mia is only going to make things worse now that I’ve pissed her off again.
And of course whatever she does next is going to partly be my fault.
I can’t just let her tyrannize me and my friends. But can I stop her without causing even more harm? Mia isn’t going to quit hurting people, no matter how I treat her. It’s what she does.
Assembly was boring, and it was difficult to focus on anything anyone was saying. I only really managed to pull my thoughts away from mia when it was finally time for us to go to our first class.
For me that meant english.
I saw bree as I was walking there. She was standing just outside the doors to the main building. I waved at her and she waved back, but there was something about her expression that made me stop and go outside to speak to her.
She’s looks scared. But of course she’s scared. She has no idea how everyone is going to react when they see her at school.
I feel awful again. It occurs to me that she probably saw the newest addition mia added to her online collection. Which really isn’t going to help her out when she has to face everyone in a few hours time.
‘Hey, bree,’ I say, giving her a big smile. She returns it, but the smile she offers looks a little forced.
‘Come on,’ I gently touch her arm. ‘Everybody wants to see you.’
Bree nods, but doesn’t move. I’m trying to think of something comforting to say when she asks me suddenly, in a small voice, ‘You don’t believe it, do you? You don’t believe-‘
Her words give me an unpleasant little shock. They’re frightening. It was something I never thought bree would ever ask. Not to me.
I tilt her chin up so she’s looking into my eyes.
‘Bree, I’ve known you since forever. You are my closest friend, no, you’re more than that, you’re like, a sister to me. I will always trust you. No matter what.’
I make sure she hears, in my voice, how much I mean that.
Bree only responds with a small smile. But this time, I know, it’s real.
She hugs me, tight enough that I say to her in a slightly choked voice, ‘wow, bree, loosen up a bit. I can’t breathe.’
She giggles and lets go of me.
‘You ready?’ I ask after a long moment.
She takes a deep breath, then nods, this time with more confidence.
‘That’s my girl.’ And we go to get bree her timetable.
I arrive late to english, which earns me an icy glare from my new teacher.
And then: what an unpleasant surprise for me, guess who’s in my first ever class of the year?
Mia. Sitting beside one of her newest boy toys.
I give her an ugly look, which she returns with an unpleasant smile.
Inside the classroom, I move straight for the table furthest away from her, doing my best to pretend she isn’t there. But of course, somehow, I make the stupid accident of walking directly past mia’s desk.
I realize my mistake just as she sticks her foot out, but by then it’s too late to stop me from stumbling face – first into the carpet. I don’t think I could have made myself look like much more of an idiot.
The entire class laughs. The teacher stares me silently.
Of course she doesn’t even look at mia. As if she’d ever get mia into trouble.
It’s funny, no matter how many times mia does it, I still feel the same humiliation as I get up and stalk over to my seat.
I try to ignore her as she calls ‘my god, you’re so clumsy, amber. Do you have to trip every time you enter the classroom?’ (Which makes everyone laugh. Again.)
I’m still not sure who I was angrier at, mia, for having yet again humiliated me, or myself, for being stupid enough to forget what she tries to do in every single class we have together.
So anyway, English sucked.
After that I have math, (I only really picked math because of how important it is for some of my science classes.) Which, (thank god) mia wasn’t a part of.
Recess is me and a small crowd of girls sitting together under the big oak tree.
I make a gagging motion when I notice mia has gone over to the distant group of guys playing football and is now flirting… with all of them.

Entry nine: What I remember from middle school

So somehow I survived the last torturous week of being grounded. And my parents finally let me go out.
I managed to wipe away (mostly) the horrors of being permanently stuck inside my room with two full weeks of daily shopping trips and swimming and hanging out with my friends. Which was totally awesome.
Me and bree went on holiday together last week. We didn’t travel that far, just over to this cabin bree’s parents rented. But it was so beautiful over there.
We spent most our time either soaking up sunlight or exploring all the different lakes and rivers nearby. At night we were either binge watching friends (We both liked it but by the end of the week bree said she thought it started to get a bit boring), or working our way through pretty much every single romance-drama movie bree and I brought with us (And we brought a LOT of movies.)
The entire week was so much fun. It was one of those times you wished never had to end.
It was so nice to escape somewhere we could just forget about everything for a while.
Bree’s still trying to deal with these fake pictures mia started posting at summer camp.
After it happened I checked online twice. Both times I saw Mia doing everything she could to give the pictures attention. (Yes, pictures. Obviously one fake picture wasn’t good enough for her.) And simultaniousy she was spreading pretty much every kind of lie and rumour you can think of about bree.
Things got worse with something that happened about a three weeks ago when me, maddy and bree were hanging out.
We were in a store, looking at clothes. We noticed one of the girls we knew from a few of our classes at school, so we all stopped and said hi.
This girl looks at us, giggles and says, ‘I like your new pictures, bree.’
Then she holds up her phone. And shows…
Mia. She is so dead.
Anyway, bree broke down crying as we took her back to her house.
After summer camp, I told bree just to ignore whatever mia was posting. Which worked for a while. But the moment we arrived back at her place from the store, bree went online and read everything. All the stuff mia posted about her since she uploaded the first photo.
The last time I had looked was about two weeks after summer camp, and mia was still reposting all those images and attatching dumb jokes and lies to them, and when I saw the number of times the pictures had been shared… But by the time bree saw everything, somehow it had gotten even worse.
The stuff mia wrote about bree, it made me sick.
And bree, she… She really freaked out. It took us hours to calm her down.
After what she saw, I can’t blame her. Anyone would have reacted like that if they had to go through what she did.
I’m not sure how many people actually believe what she’s posting. But I know some of them, at least, are willing enough to buy it.
And the thing is, this entire thing is my fault. It all started because of what I did at summer camp. If I hadn’t pissed mia off so much, maybe she would have let this go. If I hadn’t acted so totally clueless this wouldn’t be happening right now.
I goaded her. She posted the first photo because I was making fun of her. And then I made it even worse by going to daniel.
I guess I’d like to say that I told daniel those things about mia to get back at her for what she did to bree, but really it was because I wanted to hurt her.
I did it for myself.
And now I really, really wish I could just take back everything.
Hurting mia wasn’t worth hurting bree.
I’m trying not to think about what will happen when the next year of school starts.
And it really sucks because now there are less than two weeks of summer break left.
I still don’t think I’m ready for the next year. Besides everything that’s going on with mia, I know I have to start to figure out what I’m going to do when I graduate high school.
The first thing I think of is university. But which one?
And will I have to leave all my friends?
I mean, I can’t even imagine doing that.
I’ve tried talking to my parents about it. They always tell me they’re ‘looking at options’ or something like that. But they never actually listen to what I want.
It’s sort of like they’re trying to make all the choices for me.
l guess there are two years of school left. I still have some time to think about it.
I’d just better make up my mind before my parents make a descision. Then I’ll never have any say in what happens.
So me and bree and a few of our other friends were hanging out a few days ago, talking about our memories from middle school. We all have pretty different experiences because a lot of my friends went to other places.
I didn’t really like middle school that much. It’s not that I hated it. But since a lot of my friends from primary didn’t go there, and I was sort of shy back then so it was difficult for me to find new ones, it was a little hard for me to fit in.
A few too many of my memories from middle school are still quite clear for me. There’s this one from my first year there. While I was talking with my friends I was reminded me of a lot of things, but I guess this one time stood out the most.
It was during lunch. I was sitting alone because the few friends I had were either sick or away.
I stare down at my lunchbox unenthusiastically. By then my parents had decided I was old enough to start packing myself lunch, but I had woken late so I didn’t have time to get anything more than a slightly mouldy looking apple and a few slices of bread.
I remember looking up, hearing someone yelling and then a few other voices laughing, loudly.
It takes me a few seconds to find where the sounds are coming from. A small group of kids have surrounded someone, a girl, with dirty, red hair.
I recognize her from my classes. She’s yelling, and the other kids are the ones I heard laughing. As I watch, one of the boys in the circle dances backwards as she reaches out toward him and throws something to a girl standing opposite. Then, as she raises her voice, I catch what the girl with the red hair is saying:
‘Give it back! Give it back! Please!’
She makes a grab for the girl holding the thing but she just giggles and tosses it to another one of the kids, this one a scrawny looking blonde.
I get up when I see what the blonde kid is now holding. It’s a book.
He opens it and starts reading aloud from a random page. They all laugh.
He doesn’t notice me come up behind him until I push him and grab the book from his hands. The boy stumbles back but I barely noice. I move right past him, up to the girl now eyeing me from the centre of the circle.
She stares up at me with wide eyes. Her cheeks are pink and her hands are shaking slightly.
I offer her the book.
‘Here. Um, this is yours, isn’t it?’
She stands there for a long moment before hesitantly taking it from me.
She hugs the book to her chest. She looks like she’s about to say something. Then another voice makes me turn.
It’s one of the kids sorrounding us.
‘You pushed him!’ The girl who spoke is pointing at me accusingly.
‘You were trying to steal her stuff,’ I retort. I glare at her.
‘I – he-‘
She looks sort of surprised. There’s a moment of silence.
I survey the group for a few seconds and then say directly to the girl still scowling at me, ‘get a life.’
None of them try to stop me or the redhead girl as we leave their circle, but when I glance back, I can tell they’re all staring after us.
Some distance away, we slow down and the girl looks up at me, shyly. She says, in a small voice, ‘thanks’.
I feel awkward and suddenly I don’t have any idea what to say.
‘Don’t mention it.’
The lunch bell rings, saving me from me from what I worried was about to become an uncomfortable silence.
We walk back to class. There’s this moment where I’m pretty sure we both thought about sitting together, but then we separate and move to our usual seats.
The girl gives me one last small smile before turning her attention toward the teacher.
During recess the next day I was the one who got surrounded.
They took my lunch box and upended it’s contents onto the ground, then threw it in the bin. The scrawny blonde kid grabbed me and shoved me, hard, backwards into the dirt. The girl who accused me of pushing him kicked, spraying soil into my face.
They ran away laughing.
I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. Not then, not when I had to endure the rest of my classes with dirt smeared all over the back of my shirt, or when I got home and my parents asked me what had happened and I lied, telling them I tripped.
I refused to cry. It wasn’t just that I thought crying would add to the humiliation. For me crying was letting them win. It was admitting what those kids had done to me had actually, really, hurt me.
I guess it was the first time anyone had ever treated me that way.
Luckily for me the group didn’t bother me much after that, and I learned to recognize which kids it was always safer to stay away from.
The thing is, I don’t regret it. Even though it got me thrown into the dirt, and my mom yelled at me for losing my lunchbox, I’m still glad I helped that girl.
But I sort of realized the way it worked in my school.
The most popular people were always at the top. No matter how unfair or cruel or mean they could be or how they treated everybody else.
I guess I just made this a pretty moody post, didn’t I?
Sometimes school sucks.
By the way, evan has a new girlfriend. (I know, another one!) Her name is amanda.
It’s pretty hard to keep track of evans girlfriends because of how many he goes through, but I think they’ve been dating for a few weeks now.
I seriously have no idea what any girl sees in him. Like he’s even more of a geek than I am.
But anyway, she came around yesterday and we had this really awkward conversation. Like, really awkward. I’ll give you an idea:
‘Do you like… dogs?’ she asks.
Standing there talking with her is the last thing I want to be doing but she’s being utterly relentless with her attempts to keeping the conversation going.
‘I guess,’ I say. Theres this long silence that makes me want to squirm. I’m still trying to think of an excuse to escape when she tells me suddenly, ‘I don’t have a dog but I’ve always wanted one.’
She’s clearly running out of things to say to me because then she asks me if I’m a cat person (I don’t mind them) and she starts talking about cats, like, ‘They are so cute. There’s this adorable little neighbourhood cat that visits all the time and sometimes we feed it and stuff.’
It gets worse. A lot worse. For a reason I can’t explain, she thinks it’s a good idea to talk about evan. Like, ‘he is so amazing’ and, ‘Isn’t his guitar awesome?’ (evan plays heavy metal). And then she asks me if I have a boyfriend (i’m serious).
When I tell her I don’t have a boyfriend, she says something like, ‘Oh my god, really? But you’re so… hot! Boys must be all over you.’
Yeah, I know. She really said that.
When evan finally finished whatever he had been so busy doing for the last half hour, and came downstairs, amanda had progressed to talking about what she called ‘girl stuff’ (trust me, you don’t want to know) and I gave him a very meaningful glare.
Then I got out of there before they started to make out or something. (It’s happened before. A LOT of times.)
And trust me, I’ve been through way more awkward moments with evan’s past girlfriends than that conversation with amanda. (I know that’s not easy to believe)
I think a lot of them are just trying too hard to make me like them. Since I’m his little sister. Some of them probably think evan could be the beginning of a long term relationship.
Which he totally isn’t.
Seriously. I write too much. If there are actually people reading this, I hope I haven’t bored you yet.
I probably have, haven’t I?
I’m going to end this blog before I can think of something else to start writing about.
I promised my mom and dad I’d cook dinner tonight. They acted happy but I think they’re a little bit scared after how I messed up the last one.
Food I create sometimes turns out, um, questionable.
So I’m going to make another attempt at cooking… And hope it works this time!

Entry eight: Sneaking out again

Okaaay…
So for the last few weeks I have spent pretty much every day in my room. Every. Single. Day.
I can’t risk sneaking out anymore because if my parents find out they’ll just ground me for even longer, and there’s barely any of the summer break left for them to take away from me.
There has been one time I’ve been out of my house since summer camp, and that was to see maddy perform.
It was mostly because of Evan that I actually made it.  He did me a what he calls a ‘favour.’ It’s this thing that goes back all the way to when I was ten.
Basically we exchange favours. Usually pretty small things, like lending each other money, stuff like that. But every now and then it’s something major.
Evan loves it when I owe him a favour. Especially if it’s for something major.
So I asked him to make sure my parents didn’t notice when I snuck out for a few hours. And he agreed.
I’m still not sure exactly what he told my parents, but I made it to the concert. And maddy’s dance recital was amazing.
Like I’m sitting there, and I cannot believe the girl on stage is my best friend.
It brought tears to my eyes.
Then, a few minutes after the performance finished, evan called.
I was still sort of in a daze, getting out of my chair, ready to run over and meet maddy, when my phone rang.
It takes me a few seconds to pull it out and look at the number.
I lose my smile when I see who’s calling.
His voice is urgent. He says I have to leave the concert now, or he’s going to lose the cover story he made for me. So I panic, because I need to see maddy. I can’t just walk away now but I know my parents are going to totally freak if I don’t get home soon.
I run down to see her. She’s laughing with a few of the other dancers, looking almost unrecognizable in her costume, with all her makeup on and her hair done up. And I can’t just leave like that, not after the way she just performed.
I talk to maddy for nearly half an hour.
And when Evan calls me repetitively, I ignore him.
After that, I’m pretty much convinced I’m done for. My parents are going to ground me again, probably for the rest of the holidays (at least).
Maddy wants me to go back to her place and celebrate for a bit. She’s in one of these moods she virtually never has. Bree is loving it. I want to go with them, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die if I go back home and face my parents. Evan had stopped calling and I thought by then my parents must have already learned the truth.
So I figured I might as well make the best out of my one night out.
And if it’s going to piss off my parents, then whatever. Seeing maddy perform was worth it.
So I go back to her place with bree.
I call evan again first, and he pretty much tells me my parents are about five minutes away from having a mental breakdown.
I guess I could have gone home, but in that moment I was just so sick of them that I decided to go to maddy’s place anyway. Besides, there was no way I’d ever get back in time to save myself.
It was fun. I mean, it was great.  I almost forgot for a bit that my mom and dad were going to kill me the next time I saw them.
I lost track of time. I think we all did. Evan didn’t call me again and I tried to pretend for a few hours that partying was how I would spend the rest of the holidays.
I got home past midnight. I had already resigned myself for the worst.
Evan was leaning against the door. I expected to see my parents, standing behind him. Waiting for me. I expected to see them run out as I approached the door, to start yelling at me.
But they didn’t. The house was silent. I couldn’t even see any lights on.
Evan grinned and said, ‘you owe me’. Then he disappeared inside.
I have no idea exactly what happened or what evan told my mom and dad. Obviously, I’m, like, so grateful.
But I have a feeling he’s going to make sure the favour I owe him is something really, really bad.
It’s still a whole week before I can actually do anything. One week more of being grounded (unless my parents find something else to get me in trouble for).
But then, by the time my parents have finally finished grounding me, the whole summer will have pretty much ended anyway.
I cannot BELEIVE my parents.
At least I’m still going out on a holiday with bree. My mom and dad were pretty reluctant to let me go.  But they’re pretty used to bree, so they were okay with it.
Since I’ve had basically nothing to do for the past weeks I – after a few hours of research – learned a bit more about what happened to my old primary school.
While we were on summer camp castella told me that the school had closed down shortly after I left because of a fire or something. Nothing that I hadn’t heard already, anyway.
But castella talked about it differently. Sort of like she was… Hiding something. Like there was something about the school she knew but she wasn’t telling me.
Um, anyway, the point is I had nothing better to do, so I looked into it online.
You have to remember the town I live in is really weird.
So no one technically witnessed a fire. But the school was totally ruined the day after. It looked like it had burned to the ground, and several people reported seeing a ‘bight glowing light’ from far away the night before. So they figured it had to have been a fire.
There are a few weird things about this. The way the light looked; people described it more like a ‘blinding, white light’, than a flickering, red one.
The thing is, I think I saw that light. I still remember it, even though it was so long ago. It was late at night and I was lying in bed, and then there was something shining through the curtains, so I pulled them open, and I saw… Light. So blinding I had to shield my eyes.
And it was nothing like a fire.
There are a lot of other theories about what happened that night; but trust me, they’re all way less believable.
Apparently, the school has been abandoned since the fire. I’m pretty sure it’s a popular place for people to sneak into.
There’s something else.  If you want to hear me talk about all this weird stuff.
So I’ve been looking at the symbols, the ones that were on the Gameboy. I decided to search them up online.
It’s just too weird that the Gameboy was lying there, in the cornfields. In the middle of what looks exactly like a giant version of one of the same symbols I saw while I was playing starships 3. And it’s not just one. All the symbols from the game match with the ones outside my house.
So anyway, I didn’t find out too much. I did find a few images that looked pretty similar. But I can’t tell if they’re actually related.
Another thing I found, though: apparently, those random giant symbols aren’t just in the middle of the cornfields around my house. They’re all over the place. Like, the all over the world.
Seriously. I’m getting way too interested in this stupid Gameboy.
I should probably just throw it out or something.
Trust me, you don’t want to read about what else I’ve done to try to kill all the spare time I have. Being stuck in your home for half the summer break SUCKS.
I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been sitting here writing this. I think I’ve read through everything I’ve written so far about twenty times. That’s how bored I am.
I’m going to go lie down on my bed and pretend I’m out with my best friends getting ice cream.
One more week. One more week of being grounded and then I can do whatever I want.

Entry seven: I HATE summer camp

Okay, so I have NO idea how I made it through summer camp.
I’ll start from the beginning, but there is no chance of me putting in half of what happened without making this entry a novel. I’m going to have to skip over some parts.
My mom and dad drove me over there. It took, like four hours and my parents basically spent the entire trip acting like I was really excited, even though I lost count of how many times I told them I didn’t want to go.
By the time we got there it was mid-afternoon.
So the camp is in the middle of a forest in this really large clearing. On one side there are the dorm buildings. In the middle there is this large center where we have meetings and they host indoor activities. There’s a pool there, the meeting hall, a gaming area and some other rooms. On the other side are the residential quarters for all the staff and Councillors. When we pulled up outside the clearing, there were plenty of staff but barely any kids: my parents got there early.
One of the councilors bounces up to us, this little blonde woman who looks like she is about twenty four, wearing a bright red and blue uniform. When she talks she sounds SO weird and she acts like I’m five or something. She takes us, (I’m dragging a large bag behind me), over to the main building. A goth girl is leaning against the doorway. She looks at me like I’m a venomous snake.
The blonde girl (Trisha) shows me around. Then she spends about an hour remising, talking about all the wonderful kids we’ve enjoyed having here and all the great experiences we’ve shared together.
So there are these guys in the gaming room. Four of them. I don’t really give them much attention, I mean, I don’t until I see the middle one.
He’s gorgeous. Like, drop dead romance story beautiful. Long, tousled dark hair and eyelashes to die for, and full lips and creamy skin. He’s wearing a really tight short sleeve shirt so I can see how toned and muscled his arms are.
I stand there and gawk at him and I sort of forget that Trisha is still in the room talking. And then he looks at me.
His eyes. Omigod his eyes.
Suddenly his standing up and I’m like, he’s going to get a drink or something, but then he says ‘hey’ and after a second I realize he’s talking to me. And of course I stutter and stumble over my words because I have NO idea how to talk to this guy. He is WAY too hot.
‘I’m Daniel.’ He says, with a grin. (It takes my breath away.)
I can’t tear my gaze away from him. ‘a-amber’ I say, and I loathe how my voice quavers.
‘Nice to meet you, amber.’ He gives me this long, slow look, and not just at my face. And I know it would be creepy if it was any other guy but when he does it, it gives me thrills.
I try to force my eyes to focus on something else.
Trisha has finally noticed I’m not paying attention to her anymore. She introduces me to all the guys but all I can really think about is that there is NO WAY anyone like him could ever be interested in me, but whenever I succumb to temptation and let my gaze drift over to meet his…
My parents noticed (it was probably pretty obvious) and said something stupid like ‘Don’t get mixed up with those boys, okay amber?’
Mom’ I moaned, and speed up ahead of them, staring down at the ground to try and hide how red my cheeks are.
She takes us back outside along this path (still carrying all my bags) to another, smaller clearing with a campfire set up in the middle of it. After that Trisha walks us to the main building again, (And I’m still dragging around my bag), and says she would like to show us the lake but it’s too far away and now a lot more people are starting to arrive.
My parents hug me and tell me to stay safe and they disappear back into the car, leaving me standing there looking after them wishing I was somewhere, anywhere else.
I look around for bree for a bit but I can’t find her. I catch a glimpse one or two kids from my high school, but I’m pretty sure that almost everyone else there come from other towns and maybe some of the bigger cities nearby.
But there is someone else that I recognize. I catch a glimpse of her pink hair and glasses through a small group of girls and I jog up to her.
It’s Castella.
She looks up at me. She looks surprised.
We talk for a bit. Castella is pretty quiet and reserved but we manage to strike up an awkward conversation. I figure out we actually share some common interests. But a few minutes into it there’s this loud voice in a microphone, the guy who sounds way too cheerful and announces that he’s the head councillor and we all have to go into the hall in the central building. Castella jumps up and disappears into the mass of kids crowding into it.
There’s a really boring speech about how happy they are to have us here, what we’re going to do together and the importance of safetyrespect, and team spirit.
I still can’t see bree and I’m a bit worried but I figure I’ve missed her in the crowd.
They divide us into seven groups. Castella is placed into a different one, so literally everyone in my group is totally unfamiliar. Then they separate and all the other ones move away, while my group stays in the hall.
That’s when I see bree run in with her bag, breathless and looking very flustered.
As it turns out it’s actually great that she came late because it meant that she was in the same group I was.
So Trisha, (she’s our ‘guide’ as she put it) instructs us to sit in a circle.  She tells us we have to take turns introducing ourselves, (our name, our favorite color, and one interesting thing about us).
I keep wondering how I’m ever going to make it through an entire week of this?
It is SO embarrassing.
After that we play a few games and Trisha runs us through the week.  The camp has all the traditional activities: rock climbing, giant swing, swimming, high ropes, you get the idea. Since its nearly evening when she finally finishes she tells us to get settled down in our dorms.
As we are walking there, I tell Bree about Daniel, (She giggles and says he sounds amazing). And then I catch sight of him walking with someone I don’t recognize. I show bree – Bree gasps – ‘oh my god he is so gorgeous,’ but I’m not really listening to her because the girl looks familiar. And don’t want to believe it, this is SO not happening, but I would recognize that stupid catwalk she does anywhere.
Mia.
Bree figures it out a second later as she turns around. And WHY IS MIA AT THIS STUPID CAMP? And then Daniel turns around too and oh god, he noticed us and now he’s waving and they are coming toward us.  And he used to be pretty but now I just hate him for letting Mia anywhere near him.
Suddenly Daniel and mia are in front of us, and Daniel is grinning and telling me, ‘this is my cousin, amber.’
Mia is wearing a bikini and she’s glaring at me, and I’m glaring back but somehow Daniel doesn’t seem to notice the animosity between us. She simpers something like ‘Yeah, we already know each other.’ and gives me a vicious smile.
‘These two are so adorable. They’re like a school couple. It’s so cute.’
‘How’s your dress, mia? Wait, you probably preferred it wet, didn’t you?’
I think that’s when Daniel finally gets it. But before he can say anything mia pulls at his arm. ‘Let’s just go, Daniel. Trust me, they’re not worth it.’
She urges him away from the cabins toward a path leading into the forest. I’m about to call something rude after her but bree grabs my arm. And then I notice one of the nearby councillors standing next to the dorms, watching us.
We go to the dorms, where we share a room with a few younger girls and that Goth I saw when I came in.
That night is pretty uneventful. I and bree both find a secluded spot and we talk (how great her summer break has been so far and how awful mine is). Bree eventually decides to take a swim in the pool. There’s dinner (I have no idea where mia is for that.) After that most of the kids trickle out to the activity area and I go to ask the councillors if I can take a jog on one of the bushwalking trails. (Trisha said she could let me go.)
By some stroke of horror Mia took one of the beds in my dorm. She was clearly as pissed about it as I was, but neither of us could move because all the other dorms were already full.
Nothing actually happened that night. Mia disappeared again, (I was pretty convinced to get drunk somewhere).
The first day, somehow, was survivable. Since I was in a separate group from her, me and mia mostly avoided one another, and the activities weren’t that bad. There was high ropes, archery, and this obstacle course. A few other boring ones.  My mom called and we talked for a few minutes in the afternoon.
The third day was where it went wrong. The councillors decided to throw in one of their ‘special’ activities, which was basically a competition between our group and another. For me and bree that meant the one with mia in it.
In the first activity we were both searching for these hidden objects using the clues our councillors gave us. I’m not sure it would have gone so badly, but Daniel (also in the other group) started trailing me around and trying to start a conversation. And he would not take the hint to leave me alone.
It’s clearly pissing mia off. I think that’s why I didn’t actually tell him to.
So mia does what she always does when she’s angry. She takes it out one someone else.
I catch a glimpse of her talking to bree and that’s when I already know something is wrong.
I’m walking over to them. Daniel has finally stopped trying to socialize with me but I know he’s still watching.
They’re arguing, and bree’s close to tears. Mia is holding what I first assumed was her phone (she’s not even allowed to carry a phone) from the way she’s holding up I can see she’s somehow got Wi-Fi and she’s on Facebook. Bree’s begging her ‘no, no, no mia, please!’ Mia looks up at me and says in her sweetest voice, ‘hey amber, I bet your bestie didn’t tell you about this, did she?’ She holds up the phone and then I see the picture.
It’s fake. Trust me, mia loves spreading rumors.
But I know that no one will care if it’s fake or not, not if mia sends it. And the thing is, she’s not even holding her phone. She’s holding bree’s phone. And I can tell it’s logged into bree’s Facebook profile.
I clench my fists.
Mia has her finger poised over post. I want to grab the phone but I’m not sure if I can without her posting it first.
I mean, bree can delete the post, but mia then will just re-upload it herself.
I force myself to relax. I give her this sympathetic smile. ‘Aww, mia. It sucks not to feel relevant enough, doesn’t it? The thing is you realize l no one’s going to care, right? Everyone knows you’re a lying, manipulative bi- ‘
Mia hits send.
I try to grab the phone but mia laughs and backs out of the way. I can see bree standing very still, looking stricken.
Mia’s doing something to it again. ‘You want me to send this one too, amber?’ She raises the phone again.
The second photo is worse.
What happens next seemed pretty slow at the time, but now I remember it, it was mostly a blur, like that time at the party. I grab her arm and twist, trying to pull the phone out of her hand. And then, when that doesn’t work, I punch her, as hard as I can.
She stumbles back a few steps, holding her face.
There is shouting. Mia has dropped the phone and I pick it up, clutching it in my fist so hard my knuckles ache. One of the councillors is running up to us, running up to her. Mia doesn’t lift her face from her hands. Instead she starts to shake.
She’s crying.
Obviously I don’t buy it, but they do. Everyone is suddenly crowding around mia, and they are concerned from her, and they’re asking what my problem is.
I see her lift her hands, just for a second, and give me a smirk. Then she goes back to the ‘crying’.
Mia plays victim. She really plays victim. She tells everyone ‘I just walked up to her and hit her.’
The thing is, I can’t show them those photos. Not with what they displayed. I know there is no way bree would be able to take that. And mia knows that, too, that’s why she sent them.
I tell them that mia was bullying bree. I said she was trying to steal her phone. Mia said it was because bree was trying to send rude stuff about her.
Want to guess who they believed?
They ended up calling my parents, and they told me I was grounded for another two weeks.
I had to apologize to mia. I had to apologize to her. While I literally wanted to kill her, while I knew she had posted those fake photos onto her stupid Facebook to show all of her stupid friends. Then I had to skip the rest of the day to spend in a room where I wrote notes for one of the councillors. And then I had to do that again every afternoon for the next few days.
They also confiscated bree’s phone and wouldn’t let her use it. She had to borrow mine to call her parents.
I looked online recently. She’s still playing victim, saying she’s ‘scared of me’ and I’m ‘violent.’
I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen her push people around and get guys to shove them against lockers in school and beat them up, but of course no one cares about that.
Mia is so horrible.
Anyway, so the next three days were awful. Everyone in the camp acted like I was dangerous or something and mia somehow convinced everyone that her face was still hurt. (It as makeup). Then she claimed I threatened her a few times, and I was told off again. And of course all the while she’s still spreading lies about bree on facebook.
And believe it nor not, that isn’t even the end of it.
I decided to try to get back at mia. And I wanted to do something that would really hurt her.
Maybe I wouldn’t have gone that far, if I wasn’t so angry at her, so sick of her manipulating everyone all the time.
It took me a while to figure out how I would get back at mia. I only had a few days before the summer camp ended. And my options were limited because I couldn’t even get near her without her going into victim mode.
But the opportunity eventually presented itself, in Daniel.
For whatever stupid reason, he had spent the last few days trying to find out why I ‘attacked’ mia.
I decided to feed him an idea that would hurt her. Something that was believable and one he wouldn’t take to mia so she could debunk it.
I know I saw her do it, so it was really just a slightly modified version of the truth.
I told Daniel mia was a heroin addict.
It worked because I had figured out what mia did all the nights she wasn’t in the dorms or at dinner. I followed her when I saw mia sneak out two nights after I punched her.
I would have told one of the councillors, but after I hit her, I didn’t think any of them would take me seriously. I mean, I didn’t think Daniel would either. I still don’t know why he was ever so trusting of me.
Well, Mia knows how to act, but so do I.
I can still remember him leaning in toward me, his eyes full of intensity. ‘Amber, is this true? You’re being honest with me?’ And me, forcing myself to look into those eyes, saying back to him ‘Yes. Yeah. I’ve seen her do it, Daniel. More than once.’
Then the look that flashes across his face, quickly smothered pain that shows how much he cares for her.
For whatever reason, Daniel believed me enough to follow her that night.
Maybe it was just how the pieces fell together. I’m pretty sure he was suspicious of something already.
And the thing is; now I actually feel a little bad. Which is the stupidest thing ever, because mia totally deserved it, and it’s not like she isn’t into taking drugs.
So the day after I tell him (the last day of camp thank god), I see them arguing on the other side of the camp site.
I come a bit closer.
Mia looks pissed off, like, really pissed off, and I can’t stop from smiling. Daniel is gesturing helplessly. They’re both too far away for me to hear what they’re saying but I can tell mia isn’t being very quiet. The only reason no one else has noticed is because everyone else is at morning tea.
It goes on from a few minutes until mia yells something loud enough even I can hear her, and stalks away from him.
That’s when she notices me.
I cross my arms and let her stride up to me. I know I’m going to enjoy this.
What surprises me first is how she looks.  Her hair is a mess and she doesn’t have any makeup on, and her cheeks are red and puffy like she’s been crying. Really crying. She isn’t composed or controlled like I always see her, at school or even before then while we were both at camp.
She looks… Almost vulnerable.
I didn’t expect her to be like that. I’ve never seen her like that.
When she speaks, it sounds more like she’s hurt than angry.
‘Why did you do that?’
I can’t feel the same satisfaction I felt before and I can’t think of anything clever to say. I end up stammering ‘I-I – you-‘
She takes a long, shuddering breath and all I can think is there is no way she was actually crying.
‘How could you? Do you know what you’ve done to me?’
I think that’s the part where she started to piss me off again.
‘Aww.  Poor mia. Did someone figure out what are junkie you are?’
I expect her to try to hit me, or maybe slap me or something, or at least answer with some degrading remark. But instead mia takes another long, uneven breath and covers her face with her hands.
I tell myself she has to be faking it, just like she did a few days ago.  She has to be. The last thing I can imagine is mia even having a vulnerable side.
She half turns away from me for a second.
I’m determined not to fall for her. I am sick of her playing victim.
‘I’m not going to feel sorry for you, mia,’ I say. ‘So you can stop your pity display, okay?’
Mia turns around again. She’s a little more composed this time.
‘I swear to god I’m going to make you pay for this.’
Now it’s back to the old mia, the one I’m familiar with. The one always looking for a new way to bully me or my friends.
I smile sweetly at her.
‘I hope you’ve got some new ideas,’ I say, and I spin around and start walking away because I know the only thing left mia has for me are threats and more promises of how she is going to ‘make me pay.’ Mia always wants me to pay for something.
I don’t see much of her after that.
Near the end of the camp Daniel corners me as I’m getting my phone back from the councillors. He leans casually against the door, blocking my exit.
I sigh loudly. ‘What do you want?’ I ask.
He grins and steps in closer to me. I’m tempted to slip past him.
‘How did you like the camp?’ He asks me. I shrug, still eyeing the door. ‘It was okay, I guess,’ I say.
Daniel is staring at me too intently and I know if I look into his eyes I’m going to get caught up in them because he still has that effect on me. And I have to remind myself that I’ve already given myself to another guy (Andrew, he’s called me a few times since the party).
‘Only okay?’  He asks me. I fiddle with my phone and remind myself: He’s mia’s cousin, there’s NO WAY I’m allowed to be interested in him.
‘I’m not really into summer camp that much,’ I tell him, with a nonchalant shrug, while I keep wondering why he is even talking to me. I still haven’t figured out, of all people, why it was me he decided to take interest in. Like, there were way hotter girls at the camp.
‘Why did you go, then?’
I can’t help but notice how little his shirt does to hide how muscled his chest is.
I make myself look up his face again. I raise my eyebrows.
He seems to get it.
‘You must have had some fun, though, right?’
I smile a little bit as I remember me and bree screaming together on the giant swing, and swimming in that beautiful lake.
‘Well, so I was just wondering,’ he says, ‘if maybe I could get your number?’
I stand there for a moment, confused, not sure I’ve heard him right. Because I cannot believe he just asked for my number.
‘Wait, what? My number? Why?’ And then I feel like an idiot.
Daniel looks a little surprised. ‘It’s fine if you don’t want to-‘
I know bree would kill me if I reject him but I’m also already talking to someone, (Andrew, he actually called me a few times earlier this holidays) and shouldn’t interested in giving my number to anyone else.
And I hate myself because I really, really want to give him my number. I struggle not to look at him too directly as I stammer ‘I-I can’t, I’m sort of with –um,’ I have no idea how I explain it to him because I’m not even sure what Andrew qualifies as yet. Friend? Boyfriend?
Daniel gives me this look that I can’t read.
‘Look, sorry it’s fine, I shouldn’t have asked,’ he says, running a hand through his hair in an incredibly sexy way. ‘We don’t really know each other, do we? And I’m definitely a lot older than you…’
I nod quickly and my heart’s sinking a little bit and I know I am so going to regret this.
Then he brightens up a bit and he’s like, ‘hey, wait, you go to maple high, don’t you?’ (that’s the name of my school). When I nod he grins and says, ‘Yeah, I think I’m moving there.’
He’s moving there. That took a few seconds to sink in.
I tell myself it’s not a big deal, but that is so not true.
Daniel continues, ‘So I guess we will be seeing a bit more of each other after the holidays.’
His smile makes thrilled and I hate it.
‘And I’m really looking forward to seeing you again.’
When he passes me on the way out he’s close enough I can feel his warm breath on the back of my neck.
I’m not actually sure what it is about him that turns me on. Like, sometimes I think it’s not the way he looks, (I mean, well, that’s obviously part of it), but knowing how he’s basically against all the rules (older, mia’s cousin, my parents HATE me if they knew I was dating him.)
It’s not exactly that I have a crush, (although my feelings are always such a mess when I’m around him, so I don’t even really know if I do or not), but that I’m attracted to him because I know I shouldn’t be.  Which I know makes absolutely no sense.
Anyway, that was pretty much the end of summer camp.
We had this stupid farewell thing where the councillors all said they were ‘looking forward to seeing us next year.’ And that was basically it.
My parents were late (what a surprise) and spent basically the entire trip back telling me how disappointed they were in me, (Mia) and how I could think about my actions in the next four weeks.
Ugh. My life is OVER.
There was one other thing that happened. But I honestly don’t know why it’s bothering me so much.
It happened on the third night, one of the ‘campfire nights’. I think one of the councillors is trying to start a song but no one is really getting into it.
I have the Gameboy, (for some reason they let me keep it.) I am sitting next to castella, although we aren’t talking much. It is pretty quiet, which is probably why she looks up when I turn it on (the theme music started playing).
She sort of stiffens. I don’t notice that much. I’m too focused on the screen.
On the Gameboy the alien appears, with the message, hello, amber.
I’m expecting it to go straight to the level but instead the alien speaks:

Be aware the magnificence in the endless oblivion of space.’

It doesn’t surprise me that much, because sometimes the alien does that between levels.

Contemplate their nonunderstandability when they visit you.

The alien’s mouth opens wide.
I’m staring down at it, waiting for the screen to change or more words to appear, when suddenly Castella grabs it from me.  I turn to look over at her in surprise and irritation.
‘Hey, what are you doing?’ I snap.
Then I wonder if I’m even actually allowed to have the Gameboy with me, since I never actually asked the councillors for permission.
Castella is staring down at the gameboy in horror. At first I’m worried that she’s going to tell the councillors about it, but I quickly realize that wouldn’t make any sense, because she looks terrified.
She turns to me a second later and in a voice that tremors slightly she asks,
‘Where did you find this?’
I say, after a little hesitation, ‘Uh, my brother gave it to me. Wait, what do you mean, where did I find this?’
‘Amber, you- you’ She takes a sharp breath and I don’t think I would have taken her seriously if she didn’t look so… Stricken.
‘Oh god, amber, what have you done? They-‘ She moans and starts pressing frantically at the Gameboy, her voice rising, ‘-no this can’t happen, not again!’
Of course I have absolutely no idea what she is freaking out about.
She turns to me. ‘Amber, you have to get rid of this.’ She says it with conviction, like the Gameboy can actually hurt me.
I’m trying to decide whether I should be irritated, confused or just creeped out by her reaction.
‘Why?’ I ask stupidly.
‘I- It’s- just get rid of it, okay amber? You can’t keep it.’
‘What are you talking about? What’s wrong with it?’
She looks away for a moment. Her tiny fist is clenched so hard around the Gameboy her knuckles are white. I’m worried she’s going to break it.
She mutters something. I’m not sure, but it sounds like, ‘I buried it. This cannot be happening!’
At this point I’m sort of creeped out.
‘You wouldn’t-‘ She sighs. ‘You don’t understand.’
Then she stands up, strides up to the edge of the forest, and hurls the Gameboy into the darkness. A few people glance at her as she comes back to sit down.
‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ I hiss. I peer into the darkness, but of course I can’t see it anywhere. She turns around again, her eyes haunted. Her hands are shaking.
I have no idea what has gotten into her.
‘You don’t know – what that thing can do to you.’ She turns away from me.
Castella won’t talk much after that.
There’s no way I’m going to go into the forest and look for that thing, and it’s not like I cared about it much anyway.
A few hours later, we go back to our dorms. I’m pretty tired so I go straight to bed. After a few minutes I fall asleep.
I’m woken up a while later by the faintest, almost unrecognizable sound. And then, as I’m about to sink back into unconsciousness, a song starts playing. A song I recognize.
It’s the one that plays whenever I start up starships three.
After a few seconds of lying there, making sure it’s not my imagination; I get out of bed and turn on my phone.
The light illuminates something under my bed.
It’s the Gameboy.
I stare at it. After a long moment I reach under, grab it, and switch it off.
I still haven’t figured out how the Gameboy got there. I saw Castella enter her cabin, and there’s no way she snuck out to get it, and no one else even really noticed when she threw it. I keep telling myself one of the councillors probably found it, turned it on, and saw ‘hello amber’ on the screen, and then came in quietly and returned it under my bed.
But I could swear none of the Councillors noticed, either. And they all left when we did.
Also, there was this thick, black liquid dripping off it. And it sort of looked like it was leaking out of inside the Gameboy. I told myself it was mud or something and in the morning most of it was gone. But still, if mud had gotten inside, wouldn’t it stop working?
So that was really weird.
I still have no idea why castella freaked out so much, but now I guess I’m more interested in the Gameboy. (Even though it really does creep me out.) I want to ask castella why she freaked out like that.
Um, anyway. So that was summer camp.
Oh my god. I’m going to have to split this entry up into parts. This is what happens when I’m stuck in my room all day. I have been writing for HOURS.
Anyway, I’ll tell you guys if anything interesting happens (trust me, that won’t take long).
Now I’m going to have to figure out a way to pass the next month of being grounded.
It’s funny, now I’m done with summer camp, I actually miss it. I mean, it sucked having mia there, but at least there was always something to do.
Honestly. I never thought I would say that.

Bye, diary!

 

 

Entry six: Evan’s old gameboy

Okay, so it’s been nearly two weeks since my last entry.  My days have varied in how much they suck, depending on whether my parents notice when I try to sneak out.
There’s something about me you should know. I HATE being stuck indoors all day. Like, I’m okay if it’s just part of the day. But right now the only thing I’m allowed to go out for now is my jog.
Ugh, GOD my parents are driving me NUTS.  I have spent have spent, like, the entire summer so far break up in my room and there is NOTHING to do in my room.
Obviously, I expected to spend it sunbathing and swimming and hanging out every day with all my friends.
It turns out that wasn’t going to happen.  I’ve managed to escape my parents twice, but for the most part I’ve been stuck in this stupid house all day.|
I’d try to get out more, I want to get out more, but my parents have made sure that’s nearly impossible.
It turns out this time they really were serious about grounding me.
Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with my suffering.  At least my parents didn’t ground me for the whole summer break.
I found something pretty weird one evening. I was jogging through the cornfields, passing over one of those giant symbols, and I tripped. I stopped to catch my breath and looked down to see what I had stumbled over.There was something half buried in the ground.
I recognized it. Evan’s old gameboy.
Evan said he lost it somewhere, but I thought he meant in the house somewhere. I still have no idea why he would have ever taken it out into the middle of the cornfields. I mean, he used to go there sometimes, before he was ‘abducted’, but that was only when he wanted to smoke weed with his friends or go with one of the girls he was into.
With a little effort, I managed to dig it out of the grass. I pressed the power button, not actually expecting anything to happen, but after a few seconds the screen lit up with the pixelated image of a spaceship flying past a couple of planets, and the large text, STARSHIPS THREE . I caught the faint sound of eerie music playing from the tiny speakers. I turned it off and decided to take it back with me, so I could give it back to him.
I had to wait a while because evan stayed over at his girlfriend’s house for a few days but eventually I caught him in his room one morning later that week.
I figured it would probably be pointless trying to wake him up (I can tell when he’s stoned, trust me) so I tossed the gameboy at him and told myself to forget about it.
Evan knocked on my door a few hours later. I was a little bit surprised when I opened it to see him standing there, holding the Gameboy awkwardly. He looked confused.
‘Hey, amber, where did you find this?’
I raise my head from a book that I wasn’t really looking at. ‘Seriously?’ I ask him. ‘You know where I found it. Why did you leave it there?’
Evan frowns.
‘Amber, I never took this out of the house.’ He fingers dirt off the screen. ‘Did you bury this somewhere?’
I cannot BELIEVE evan sometimes.  Of course he would think I stole it.
I supress a sigh. ‘Look, whatever, you were probably drunk or something when you took it out with you.’
Evan’s frown deepened. ‘Where?’ He asked.
He looked genuinely confused but evan is great and faking things, so I can’t really tell.  ‘I found it in the cornfields’ I eventually say reluctantly, because I still want to know why he left it there.
Evan stiffens, very slightly. He stares down at the Gameboy like it’s about to sprout fangs.
‘The cornfields? ‘An emotion fluttered across his face too fast for me to recognize.
I give him a look. ‘Yeah, evan. In the middle of the cornfields, half buried in the grass. I don’t know why I bothered bringing it back with me.’
His expression slackened.  There was this long moment I still remember where his face looked sort of dead.
‘Evan? Evan? You there?’
Quite abruptly, Evan grins.
‘Catch’ he says suddenly and throws the Gameboy at me. It lands next to me on the bed.
‘I don’t want it.’ I snap, but Evan ignores me. ‘You’re into space and planets and everything, right? You’ll love it.’
I looked down at the Gameboy, picked it up and threw it back at him, but he just laughed and turned away, walking toward the door.  I got up and strode after him. ‘Evan! I don’t want you’re stupid Gameboy!’
Evan grabbed his coat and called to my parents that he was going out.
I thought about leaving it in his room or throwing it away, but I eventually decided to give it to a charity shop instead.  I would drop it in the box outside a second-hand store near the shopping mall. (Whenever I actually got the opportunity to go there.)  I left it in my room and spent the rest pf the day waiting for my parents to go out so I could sneak a few hours with my friends.
As it turned out that only my mom was going out, and not my dad. So I actually spent most of the night stuck up in my room, until I went down to make dinner (which I totally failed at) and glare stonily at my dad.
Mostly out of crushing boredom, I eventually decided to look at the Gameboy again. When I switched it on the same scene appeared, and the theme music began to loop.  This time I hit play.
The screen went blank for a long moment, and then this pixelated alien face appeared.  Words formed slowly under it:
We are but flies in the infinity of space.’
The screen faded to black again, this time for a little longer.
I was about to press the power button again when a new scene appeared, this one moving. It looked like one of those old shooter arcade games. From the digits at the top, I could see that Evan had gotten to a pretty high level.
Anyway, so I played it for a bit and pretty quickly lost interest.  I’ve never really been into games.  But then, after a few attempts on that level, the screen, once again, went blank. The alien face reappeared. I blinked a few times when I saw the words displayed, not sure I read them right.
New player: identify yourself.’
I told myself it had to be something to do with my score being so bad, or a glitch, or maybe it was automatic after the game not being played for so long. I typed in amber and the screen went blank again, this time for nearly half a minute.
Then the alien appeared again, along with the text:  ‘hello, and welcome, Amber.’
Look, I know this probably all sounds really lame, but it gets weirder.
The theme song restarted and I was brought back to the screen showing the words ‘We are but flies in the infinity of space.’ They slowly faded, replaced by new ones: ‘A fragment in endless cosmic decades. Are you aware of your insignificance?’
An image with two boxes appeared, one with yes and one with no, I selected yes and the screen, once again, faded into black. Then:

Stage one: Initiation

I was playing again, dodging through asteroid fields and around comets, only this time the score was at zero.
The strangest part was when I noticed the miniature symbols that appeared on the screen sometimes. They looked exactly like the giant markings in the cornfields.  Like, they were identical. I mean, it could be a coincidence, but it was more than one of the symbols. I even managed to take a picture. I compared it to a satellite image of them I found on the internet.
It was weird. The entire game was weird.
Anyway, I don’t really have that much else to write about. Bree has decided to come with me to the summer camp, now only a little more than a week away, (oh god).  I’m so happy because at least there will be someone I know there and I might be able to at least try to not hate it if I’m with her but I feel terrible at the same time because I know that bree wouldn’t  come if I wasn’t going there.
Do you know that we can’t bring our phones? Well, we can, but if we do they confiscate them and hold on to them basically the entire time. I mean, are they serious?
Bree knows but I think she’s in denial.
They have this website.  The title on it is something like: bring your kids here to make new friends and lean some important social-survival skills!
My life so over.
Of course I’ve been pleading with my parents every day not to go, but they just do what they always do.  Ignore me.
Maddy’s dance performance about a week after summer camp. She’s been practicing it for months. Literally. And of course my parents won’t let me go because I’m grounded until, like, five days after. It’s one of those things I argued with them about that night when I got home from the party (And nearly every day after). There is NO WAY they are stopping me from seeing her perform. I don’t care what I have to do to sneak out.  I can’t miss that.
Anyway, I am going to outside and stare at the sky for a few hours, (That’s basically what I have been doing every night since I first got grounded). I’ll probably update soon since this stupid summer camp is coming up, and I’m definitely not looking forward to it.

Entry five: The most amazing end of year party EVER

Okay, so I have a LOT to write about.
Yesterday I went to the end of year party.
It was amazing. But I swear to god, I will not touch tequila ever again.
I left with bree pretty late and we must have spent an entire hour waiting for a taxi, but when it pulled up at that house I nearly DIED.
Pictures don’t do alia’s place justice. It looked so amazing.  I mean, it was hard to believe I was even going there for the party.
It felt so surreal, stepping out of the car, with bonnie and Melanie and a few of our other friends running up to us. I mean, I’ve been to plenty of parties before (most of them with bree) but none of them like this one. I was so nervous and shy and I must have looked so lame in my red dress and I honestly don’t even know why I wore a dress. I don’t even like dresses.
There are three or four girls I recognize from my English class giggling together in the massive pool, and there’s this really cute guy grinning at me and omigod guys don’t EVER look at me like that. There’s a bar and I can see a group of people huddled around it taking shots of tequila. We passed a collection of guys playing poker (poker!) and smoking what looked like weed.  I’m pretty sure one of them was alia.
I should probably mention that if mia actually had some crazy plan to humiliate me or my friends, she never acted it out, and that I never got back at her for ruining my science project. And, of course, that mia was at the party. I caught a glimpse of her flirting with alia.
The first few hours are great. I talk with my friends. That guy from before is still looking at me but I am too shy to approach him, but eventually bree shoves me in his direction and I nearly stumble into him. I’m blushing and trying not to meet his gaze but there is no way I’m just walking away after that so I make myself look up at this guy, and oh god he is SO cute. And he’ smiling at me so I shyly smile back and I’m like, ‘hey’, and I try to think of something to say that won’t make me sound like an idiot. After watching me stuttering and stumbling over my words for a few seconds he laughs and asks, ‘You’re amber, right?’ And I’m thinking wait, omigod, he knows me? I’m pretty sure he has to be at least one year above me, because there is no way he is sixteen.
We talk for a few minutes. I’m blushing constantly, and I can’t make myself look at him too directly but he doesn’t seem to notice that much.
Then mia walks over. She has this little crowd of people around her, mostly part of her gang. Of course she is wearing the sluttiest outfit in the party. She looks me up and down and makes a show of being unimpressed. ‘Wow.’ She says snarkily.  ‘Even I didn’t know you were that cheap, amber.  Seriously, where in the world did you buy that dress from?’
Of course mia would come over and try to ruin it the one time a guy gets interested in me.
I give her a sweet smile. ‘I have to admit, you’re dress is you know, better.  Whenever anyone gets interested, you don’t even have to take it off, all the guys have to do is-‘Mia stalks toward me. I clench my fists but I’m still keeping the smile on my face because I know it will piss her off.  ‘Mia, I know you‘re angry, but It’s not my fault you parents raised you a brat, or that you want to screw the entire football team.’ My hearts pounding now and I’m a little sweaty and mia is right in my face.  I can see how much mascara she has smudged around her eyes and I can tell she has been drinking. A lot. Her breath stinks of alcohol. ‘You I know I can kick you out of this party, don’t you, amber? All I have to do is ask –‘I interrupt her. ‘Yeah, I know mia.  By the way, how much did alia pay you to suck him?’
She’s pissed. I know she is. But her voice is still sugar sweet when she says, ‘I thought I saw bree bent over the table back there, amber, I didn’t know your BFF was a druggie-‘
I shove her.  Hard. She pushes me back and I stumble back a few steps and it sort of looks like she’s about to try and hit me or something but she doesn’t get to because I shove her again, ever harder this time. And it was a lucky coincidence that mia is standing right in front of the pool.
She looks surprised. I am, too, because she’s so much taller than me, and I didn’t think I would be able to unbalance her like that, but now she’s falling backwards. She gives a piercing shriek as she crashes into the water. Droplets spray all over half of her friends. Samantha looks down at her dress in horror.
A few people are laughing at her. Her gang stand around the pool, one or two girls reaching for her hands.  Mia struggles to get out of it, but she keeps slipping back in before she can get a proper grip. Her hair’s a mess and her makeup is ruined.
‘Well,’ I call to her, ‘At least your face is actually visible now.’
She spits at me and splutters something.
When she finally pulls herself out, she’s dripping wet and she might as well not be wearing the tiny dress because now everyone can see through it.
I’m still giggling at her and I can’t take her seriously anymore, not when she looks like that. I cross my arms and do my best to imitate her cocky expression.
‘You ruined my dress, you f#ucking wh#ore!’ She shrieks.
Before she can reach me that guy I was talking to before steps in with his hands raised, looking like he wants to be a peacekeeper or something. One of mia’s nearby boy toys takes a fistful of his shirt and shoves him aside. Then mia and the rest of them are trying to grab me and push me against the wall. I’m struggling but there are so many of them and it’s hopeless, and now I’m starting to panic because I have no idea how far mia will go when she’s that pissed off.
But after a few seconds, they all start backing away. A moment after, I see why.  Alia is striding over. And he’s looking pissed.
‘Get away from her!’ He snaps. ‘All of you!’ Mia speaks up, her voice still dripping with anger, ‘She pushed me into the pool, alia!’ She grabs at her sodden dress. Alia glances at her, and I’m surprised when he only looks more irritated. ‘I don’t have many rules at my party,’ he snaps, ‘But I expect each one to followed. By everyone.’ Mia tries to speak again but alia interrupts her. ‘No fighting. No exceptions. If you have issues, sort them out somewhere else.’
Mia gives him a cutting glare, and alia glares back. ‘Stay away from each other.’ He turns to look at me. ‘If I see this again, you’re all getting kicked out.’
It was so funny to watch, when he’s pissed and mia looks at him like a sulky teenager looking at her parents. She can’t bully him like she bullies everyone else, and I realized he won’t let her manipulate him either. There is nothing she can do about it because there’s no way she’s going risk getting thrown out of the party, she won’t even ask one of her friends to take her place because he might throw her out anyway.
A few seconds pass and then she turns away abruptly and drags a few of the girls with her into the house, probably to bully one of them into switching dresses.
I can’t stop grinning. I know that mia is never going to get over this. She’s so used to everything going her way, everyone doing what she wants.
Thank god I have a break from her for ten weeks.
The rest of the party was great. That guy, the one I met before mia interrupted us, we talked for, like, hours. He was really nice. I mean, there was a few times where I thought he was trying to make a move on me but he wasn’t pushy or anything.
He asked for my number. My number. No guy has ever done that before. Or at last no one who was serious about it.
I left well past midnight, but I’m pretty sure the party went on until close to dawn. Most of alia’s parties do.
Bree got pretty drunk. I took her home (with a little persuasion). That guy I spent half the party with, (His name is Andrew), offered to drive both of us but it was pretty obvious he wanted to stay.
This was where things all went wrong.
So my parents got ‘concerned’ and called bree’s mom to check that I was at her house sometime around midnight. And obviously bree’s mom told them neither of us was home. Since I had told them we would be at her place and they already knew about the party, they freaked out. And I mean, freaked out.
Since they didn’t actually have any idea where alia’s house was, it wasn’t like they could drive over. So instead they decided to call the police.
The POLICE.
When I got home my mom was on the phone talking to them. Crying.
It’s SO unfair. My parents never notice me. Whenever I want to speak to them or when I come home and show them my high marks, it’s like they don’t even care. My mom smiles and hugs me and my dad says something like, ‘Well done, sweetheart’, but it’s practiced, mechanical, fake. They don’t even look at my tests, not really. The only time they actually notice me is when I get into trouble.
Once my mom stopped crying, my parents told me I was grounded. For about half the summer. I argued with them about it for over an hour. But it’s basically a repeat of every argument I’ve had with my parents over and over again. It always ends the same way. They’re not interested in apologies or compromises.
And the stupidest thing is that I still have to go to summer camp. Even though I’m grounded all through July.
Anyway, that was yesterday.
I’m so mad at them. I would be tempted to give them the silent treatment or something, but that feels too immature, and besides, it’s not like they would really notice.  Since my parents barely ever actually want to talk to me about anything.
Anyway, I’m going to sneak out. They told me ‘they’d know’ if I left the house while they were still at work. But they won’t.
My dad won’t be home until after I have gone to bed, and mom won’t call me down until dinner.
Is it unfair that I wish my parents would talk to me more?  Like sometimes I feel that the most communication I ever have with them is when we are arguing.  They could show some actual interest, in school, in my friends, in my hobbies, or in something.