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-Tuesday evening. Library.-

“Ly, I will be in the library at our usual table, meet me there as soon as you read this, the sooner the better.”

“Would have been faster if you had told me G,” I thought the second I entered the library, “might as well look out for something interesting too.”

I had pulled an all-nighter last night so I was completely done with my assignments for the moment, I had decided that I wanted a break from everything as I had too much on my mind already though Gretchen’s odd behaviour after our last encounter was something I could not ignore.

Normally my blonde friend would be the one who spoke the most out of us four but lately, she has been quiet and distant which worried us all.

Checking my surroundings I noticed her slouched silhouette at the end towards the left, somewhat close to where Theo and I always played chess after our classes but before breaking her focus, as she seemed to be working on something important which was low-key obvious thanks to her frown, I decided to first borrow a book.

Standing in the queue towards Mrs. Camari’s desk, I allowed my mind to drift momentarily until I heard the librarian say to the black-haired girl in front of her that the book she was requesting was in the restricted section of the library.

I knew that it was none of my business, but the girl’s posture was so tense and stiff that it only caused me to become even more curious about the girl’s behaviour, It is obvious that she needs to read whatever she was looking for.

“I am so sorry dear but without permission, you cannot,” said the headmistress’s sweet sister. “I cannot help you there.”

“Fine,” the girl sighed, “would you help me find this book then?” she said providing the librarian with a ripped piece of paper.

“That I can do,” the woman smiled before looking towards me, “and you dear?”

“The Hawthorne Effect Research if possible please,” I replied acting as if I had just arrived.

Mrs. Camari nodded and proceeded to walk somewhere else to grab a journal of hers where I supposed was the information of the place where everything stood.

“Do we have a psychology class?” the girl suddenly asked me; she seemed calm but I could clearly notice the small anxiety plastered on her grey-blue eyes as she tried to figure if I had heard her exchange, so trying to grant her some relief I placed my silliest smile possible.

“Yes though I am still not enrolled in it,” I said laughing slightly, “I am just an awfully curious person who happens to have a kin for psychology.”

The girl nodded to my confession but before she could say something else, Mrs. Camari was back with two small cards that contained the location of our materials.

“Mrs. Winters here is yours,” the woman said handing the respective card to the girl beside me, “Mrs. Suárez.” I smiled as a gesture of politeness and carefully grabbed the card from her hand.

“Thanks,” we both said but before I could add something, the girl had already left from my side. Odd, really odd. I thought as I shrugged and walked towards the shelf that had my research.

Minutes later I was taking a seat in front of Gretchen, tapping her book trying to get her to focus on me, and after the third attempt I accomplished it.

“The Hawthorne Effect?” she scoffed, “Ly you do know that that research is controversial because it is deemed faulty?”

“I know,” I agreed.

“Then why do you bother?” she asked confused, her blue eyes scanning for a sign of a joke from me.

“Because I want to know why it was deemed faulty G,” I said, “I find it important to realise what they did wrong and how it still developed a managerial concept that people are still studying today.”

Gretchen nodded, fully comprehending now my rationale behind the sudden interest for a flawed research.

“Anyways, why did you call me here?” I ask, noticing straight away how she tensed and averted her sight from me while biting her lip, “What is wrong?”

“We cannot talk here,” she mumbled. “Follow me.”

Confused as to why she asked me to come here for us to leave then I stood up and waited for her to pack her stuff, “G, let me sign for this.”

castle, dark, and private school image aesthetic, black, and indie image

A while later we sat down in a pavilion that was located in a small hill somewhat far from the centre of Catachan.

“I am sorry for making you workout today,” she joked knowing well that I was actually grateful to her for showing me this spot.

Since it was high, you could see the village from up here with all its splendour. People coming out of shops, students walking towards their houses, the castle that was our Academy, everything.

“Speak,” I demanded, scanning her thoroughly with my eyes, knowing that she hated how I always seemed able to tear away any information from her.

I watched as her blue eyes shifted from incredulous to anxious and even scared, and after she managed to breathe a shaky breath she looked at me straight into my eyes and muttered something I could not fully comprehend.

“Clearer Gretchen,” I whispered getting closer to her and holding her hand, “I cannot understand you if you don’t speak clearly.”

She watched our joined hands and no less than a second later she had shoved me into her arms and I could feel her starting to cry.

“Do you remember my ex-girlfriend?” she whispered in the crease of my neck.

Stunned because of her actions, I forced myself to hug her back and whispered back a “yes.”

“She tried to move on but…” she choked, “she could not and decided that it was better to speak clearly with her parents…”

Already sensing where she was trying to go, I brought her closer to me as I pulled us to the floor and the instance my back touched the cold concrete I proceeded to place her beside me and lowered her head to my shoulder before I started drawing some random shapes on the hand that she had on my left thigh to try to keep her grounded, something that Louis used to do with me when I was distressed.

“Her father grew mad,” she whimpered, “he sent her to a hospital where she stays in a coma.”

Now it was my turn to tense up and open my eyes in disbelief. Slowly I turned around to see her tear-stained face and her bloodshot eyes.

“The worst part is that her mother did nothing about it,” she mumbled connecting her eyes with mine, “her best friend was the one to tell me, her mother would not allow anyone to know but he thought I deserved to.”

I knew that I had to have a frown because she pouted and cried harder when I said nothing about the matter, so sighing I brought her back onto my neck until I felt that she had calm down enough for us to leave.

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So as we walked through the plaza I offered her to eat something which she replied with a faint smile asking me instead to go eat at her place.

“I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts,” she had excused herself the instance she saw me hesitate, so leaving me without any more of a choice I agreed. “Thank you, I did not know whom to speak to.”

“Since when had you known?” I softly asked as we made ourselves to her house. “And your mates won’t complain if I go there without notice?”

“They usually come back late on Fridays,” she replied, “and I had known about it for a week.”

“Are you going to tell El and Jane?” I asked the instance we stopped at her porsche.

“Eventually,” she sighed, “my intention was never to worry anyone and you all deserved to know why I was acting odd and harsh so suddenly.”

Her last sentence brought back the remembrance of my anxiety attacks, the luminescent eyes that still haunted me, Louis’s meeting with that weird man and the day I almost collapsed when I thought that I had seen him but never provided any explanation.

She surely trusted us - trusted me, and I knew for a fact that so did Jane and Elizabeth, but if that was the case… Then,

why did I fail to convince myself to trust them fully?

Was I so scared of judgements that I decided to simply act gleeful like my past self used to be every day of her life, regardless of me being the way that I am right now?

Apparently yes.

My eyes drifted towards Gretchen’s apparent carefree demeanor in the kitchen; I could hear her moving out cutlery and prepping out ingredients for our dinner.

“Oh and Ly? I am so sorry that came out the way it did, it wasn’t my intention and I meant no harm back there in your haven. I was just stressed,” she had excused herself after a while, earning a shrug from my behalf because I suddenly felt drained of energy.

Image by claudette
photography image piano, aesthetic, and hands image

-Tuesday evening, next week. Music studio-

A week later I still felt bothered and it was obvious how distracted I was, so I settled myself to engulf in my assignments and dancing, this time changing of place and actually convincing Mr. Samuel to aid me in the search for a place that’s actually designed to do so.

I would need to help him with some extra work - something I was currently doing - but as long as I had an actual place to dance until I couldn’t do anything else, I was fine with anything.

“Mrs. Suárez, as soon as you are done cleaning those double basses, please tune them up,” ordered Mr. Samuel from the other side of the music studio we were in, himself in the hideous process of tuning a piano and interrupting my train of thoughts, “if you need a reference warn me beforehand so we can work something out.”

I nodded and proceeded to continue to absentmindedly polish the bass I was working on.

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