Chapter 1.20: A Note on Friendship

“Well, we are so screwed.”


Ash leans against the railings of the playground, tracing his finger along the cold metal floor. He stares at the fireman’s pole, watching the sunlight gleam on the silver surface. Max sighs next to him and taps his feet anxiously. “Dude, what are we going to do? We’re going to have to do some explaining sooner or later.”

Both boys think for a moment, listening to the sleepy melody of the evening. All seems quiet and peaceful, but the same cannot be said for the dilemma inside Ash’s mind.


Briar had not said one word to him ever since Ash had made his incredibly stupid mistake. His twin sister had locked herself in her room, and Ash could hear her playing with her dinosaur whenever he had pleaded with her to come out. Fern and Christopher tried coaxing their daughter out for meals. It didn’t work.

Aren’t you supposed to be a genius? The problem is, there isn’t a good solution Ash can see. If he and Max lied, Briar would stay furious and betrayed. If they told the truth… well, Briar would kill them for interfering.


How frustrating. Ash wishes solving problems would be easy as the ones on the blackboard in maths. Tired of thinking, Ash’s thoughts drift away from the playground.

“Please talk to me!” Ash pleaded with his sister one lunchtime. The kids at school usually hung out at the back porch at breaks, chalking hopscotch on the stones, or swinging their legs from the railings and thinking dreamily about the diner nearby. That meant Briar was always there playing tag with the little kids, too.

Briar glared at him. She said nothing, but pointedly turned her head to the girls behind her. 


A young girl came up to Briar and excitedly asked her to play tag. Briar nodded and chased after her. Although she seemed to be laughing, Ash heard the words that lingered in her wake. “This is why I don’t want to grow up, brother.” 


They passed Anastasia and Shania, who were lounging cross-legged on the warm bricks, looking over the school kids with a haughty air. No, Ash realized, only Shania was. Anastasia’s eyes were focused on the ground, and she had a sort of dead look on her face. No mocking the others like she usually did. That’s why Shania wasn’t bullying anyone that day, because Anastasia wasn’t. That was very strange.


With Briar not talking to him, and Max off at basketball training, Ash felt strangely alone. That’s when he noticed a girl standing quietly nearby. Her name… Allie… Beard? The girl that got teased for her last name. Being friendly, Ash went over to say hello. Allie looked up, startled. “Um… hi.” Allie mumbled, blinking her eyes rapidly. 


Ash saw that she was very shy, so he tried to talk to her about things like books and nature. Soon Allie warmed up and they were laughing and chattering easily within a few minutes. Ash couldn’t believe he had never spoken to her in three years of being in the same class. He found Allie was a really sweet person, that they both liked the same things, that her eyes were the most distractingly rich hue of melting chocolate… 


“… dude? Earth to Ash?” Max nudges his foot and Ash is jolted out of his memories. “Oh… what?” He says, blushing. “Girlfriend alert.” Max whispers dramatically, raising his eyebrows as he looks down at the sandy ground.


To Ash’s surprise, Anastasia walks away without saying anything. She sits down on a bench and opens a book, staring down at the crisp white pages. Ash can tell she is reading the same page over and over again. “Do you think I should get this over with?” He says. Max understands and nods his agreement. Ash slides down the pole and glances at Anastasia. Prepare for a rage… 


“I’ll wear my best suit to your funeral.” Max snickers from above.


“You’re the one who has to deal with Shania.” Ash replies, pointing a gleeful finger up at his best friend. That shuts him up.


“Erm… hi.” Ash says, steeling himself. Anastasia snaps the book shut and places it on the bench, and gingerly stands up.


“Hey Ash.” Anastasia says quietly before leaning forward and kissing him. Ash is taken aback by the shortness and gentleness of the kiss. Usually Anastasia is all over him.


Anastasia steps back and gives him a small smile. “I’m really glad to see you today.” Ash doesn’t reply, totally confused. Why is she acting so meek and quiet today?


She’s been a bully for years, Ash reminds himself. “Anastasia, I’m breaking up with you.”


Anastasia does the complete opposite of what Ash expected. She stumbles back, and fear flashes across her face before her blue eyes start sparkling with tears. “Oh no no no Xa-”

Anastasia clamps her lips together. Panic fills her eyes. “I mean…I-I- I understand.”


“What?” Ash says aloud. He quickly presses his lips together, extremely confused. Why had Anastasia looked so scared? What had she been about to say that had made her panic the way she did?

Ash’s mind whirs. Something about what she said… Xa… caught on his nerves.

Something is up.


{Okay, that was a bit of a random chapter. I was practising taking screenshots because I kinda suck at them, so didn’t really do much of a story. But then I saw Anastasia and she looked really depressed and alone so I thought something might be up with her. And then I thought maybe I can get into Ash’s investigating early… the next three/four chapters will focus on this since Briar is winning so far. If you would like to vote or revote in the heir poll please do!}



12 thoughts on “Chapter 1.20: A Note on Friendship

  1. I wonder what has Anastasia so panicked. And I wonder what she was about to say, Xa…. Hmm.
    Uh oh. You have a girl named Allie in your story now! No kidding, my next chapter that I was planning on posting today has a new character named Allie! Great minds think alike I guess! Lol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha really? Is she another love interest for Noah? Well, Allie’s original name was Dolores but that reminded me of a certain Harry Potter character… so no. Can’t wait to read your new chapter!


  2. Just tell the truth, boys. (Whatever that is.) She’ll get mad for a while, but at least her mind won’t conjure up its own truths.

    What is wrong with Anastasia and Shania? Who hurt you, girls? Why are you like this?

    “…her eyes were the most distractingly rich hue of melting chocolate…” – I never could write this way! I really struggle with description and metaphors and similes. Uhhh… But on the other hand… Allie and Ash… hmmm… *nods slowly*

    Oh whoa… Xander has been meddling? Anastasia and Shania seem really scared… Interesting…

    Briar’s winning?! Briar’s winning! But then I’m beginning to really like Ash now too… Oh phooey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I smell Xander in this somewhere… but why? And why would the boys think dating and dumping these girls would be a sufficient way to help Briar? I’d be flaming pissed in Briar’s shoes, so these boys have a long road to forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

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