Going Under
Author:S. Walden

I felt the hairs on my neck stand up because I knew who it was. And I didn’t like it. Or him.

 

I looked down at my outfit. I don’t know why I cared, but I was starting over at a new school, and I wanted the first impression to be the right one. Dark jean shorts with a see-through billowy top. I wore a camisole underneath the top and let it hang off of one shoulder. My feet sported jeweled sandals. I wore just a bit of make-up. Mostly I focused on accentuating my dark blue eyes. Gold tones to make them pop. Thick mascara on my upper lashes. I kept my lower lashes naked. I liked the contrast. I even curled my hair and left my locks loose, cascading down my back in soft blond waves.

 

This was so important—first impressions. I was trying to start fresh. I was confident that most students at Charity Run didn’t know who I was because my old high school wasn’t a rival. They wouldn’t know my history with Beth, my history as a terrible friend. I had a chance at a real transformation. I would be a good girl my senior year. I would walk the halls every day and feel Beth’s ghost—a constant reminder of my betrayal—and welcome the pain. It would be punishment I deserved. And if I was lucky, eventually I would be reformed.

 

Dad struck up a conversation with the teacher helping me, so I decided it was time to turn my face, to let my surveyor see me fully. I jumped when I saw him. I thought he would be somewhere across the gym, but he was standing right behind me. The heat crashed over me then, but not the good heat. I was nervous, and my skin burned with it.

 

He smiled at me. I returned my own, shy and uncertain.

 

“You a senior?” he asked casually.

 

He towered over me, brown hair buzzed, chocolate eyes dark and foreboding. His arms were thick with years of competitive swimming, and for a split second, I imagined Beth trapped by them, unable to move, to escape as he took whatever he wanted from her. A violation of the most personal nature. Too devastating for Beth to overcome, so she took her life in her bedroom closet instead.

 

A righteous anger flared in me immediately, and just like that, I discovered a purpose. My purpose. It flooded me instantly, a great wave slamming into my mind and my heart, carrying with it the courage and conviction of my newly formed plan. I knew how to apologize. I knew how to make things right with Beth. I was a warrior in that moment, and I was going into battle on behalf of my friend. I’ll fucking bury this guy, Beth. I’ll do it. Just watch me do it. And I transformed into the predator. He just didn’t know it yet. He thought I was the prey, and I’d let him.

 

I swallowed. “Yeah,” I said, combing my fingers through my hair. I wanted it to look like a sweet little nervous habit. I cocked my head playfully as I looked up at him.

 

“That’s gotta be hard. Moving to a new school your senior year,” he replied.

 

“Not really,” I said. “My old school sucked.”

 

I watched as his eyes roved over my body. He was covert about it, but I wasn’t blind. My skin crawled, and I felt an overwhelming urge to attack him. I’d be no match, I knew, but perhaps I could claw his eyes out before he slammed me to the floor, knocking me unconscious.

 

“Well, I hope you like this school better,” he said after he finished his assessment.

 

“I guess it doesn’t matter either way,” I said. “It’s our last year.”

 

“True,” he replied. “But I plan on making it a good one.”

 

Yeah, I bet you do, you fucking asshole.

 

“Oh, me too,” I said a little too enthusiastically. He seemed to like it.

 

“I’m Cal, by the way,” he said, extending his hand.

 

I took it tentatively. I didn’t want to. Adrenaline was pumping overtime, and I was afraid I’d squeeze his hand so hard I’d rip it off.

 

“Brooklyn,” I replied. “But everyone calls me Brooke.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Brooklyn,” he said, curling his lips into a pleasant smile. He squeezed my hand before releasing it.

 

Hmm, so he had no plans to call me “Brooke.” At least not yet. What was he playing at? Perhaps he didn’t want me to think that I had captured his attention. Maybe he didn’t want me thinking we would even be friends. He was, after all, one of those popular guys. I, on the other hand, had no social status and had no ambitions to be popular.

 

“Nice to meet you, too, uh . . . what was your name again?” I worked my hardest to suppress the grin. You don’t wanna give me “Brooke?” Okay then. I won’t even give you a name.

 

He chuckled. “Cal.”

 

“That’s right,” I said. “Cal. Is Cal short for anything?”

 

He smirked and looked over his shoulder before turning back to me. “Yeah. Calvin. But everyone calls me Cal.”

 

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Calvin,” I said. I cocked my head to the side and grinned.

 

“Hmm,” he replied, and I imagined he was thinking about the type of panties I wore.

 

Dad tapped my shoulder at the perfect moment. I had to get away from this guy. I wanted to throttle him, knowing what he did to my friend, and I was heady from the plan still unfolding in my brain. And frankly, I was scared of Cal’s physical size.