I sat on a stool in the middle of Beth’s bedroom as she cut at my knotted hair.
“Bloody hell Alexis, when did you last get this cut? There are so many split ends!” She said.
“I’ve never really cut it. What are split ends anyway?” I asked.
“What never?” She sounded horrified. “Anyway they are pretty much exactly what it says, the ends of your hair splits. It’s why it gets all frizzy.”
“I’ve never had the money to spare for stuff like that.” I fidgeted with my hands on my lap. I was really self-conscious about how poor I was, but this was Beth. To my relief she didn’t comment on it, her hands moving my head to the side so she could get a better view before starting to cut again.
After a few minutes silence she said. “There’s word going round school that you beat up Haley. Is that why you got in detention?”
I’d wondered if she heard about that.
“I wouldn’t say that was accurate.” I said, keeping my voice level.
“What did she do to you?”
I didn’t say anything.
“Alexis, you can tell me” Her voice went cold. “I know what she is like. Besides, we’re friends right? We are supposed to share our problems.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to tell you Beth, I just don’t want to drag you into it. Besides I know what you are going to tell me…”
“Try me.” She said. She was serious, I wasn’t used to this friend business. I sighed.
“Ok, It’s been going on a while. I’ve always been… Called names.” It sounded so childish. “But things started getting worse last year, physical.”
“Last year? After summer break?” Beth interrupted.
“Yeah.” I said, curious. “Why?”
“I’ll tell you later.” She said, overly cheerful. “This isn’t about me; I want to know what happened.”
I wondered she wasn’t telling me, I knew they had been friends – maybe they were until that summer? I couldn’t imagine Beth being her friend, she wouldn’t be like that would she? A shiver went down my spine.
“Careful! Sharp blades here.” She said snipping them in the air. She’d noticed I wasn’t saying anything though. She sighed.
“She was one of my best friends, I really… liked her. I should have realised that it wasn’t good for me, I used to ignore the stuff she did you know? Play it down in my head. Tell myself it wasn’t so bad.
“Deep down I must have known how much of an awful person she was but I was blind to it I guess. That summer we had a bit of a… fight and she just turned on me.”
She’d stopped cutting.
I stayed silent for a bit. If she was going to tell me things, I should return the favour though shouldn’t I?
“She was doing stuff to me in class, you know flicking things at me. Annoying, but nothing too bad.”
“And?” She said, coaxing me on.
“Well, she came up to me – I really thought she was going to hit me so I was all wound up. Then she kind of stabbed me with this needle.”
“What!?” She shouted.
“She sta…” I started to repeat but she interrupted me.
“No, I heard what you said. She stabbed you? Fuck! So you hit her?”
“Yeah, it caught me by surprise and I just reacted you know. I wasn’t planning to or anything. It wasn’t even hard.
“So she just screamed I was hitting her and burst into tears.”
I left a pause and Beth said a quiet “Fuck” under her breath.
“Yeah, some people had seen me do it, they didn’t know any different so the teacher took me out and sent me to the principle… I got a warning, a weeks detention and sent to a councillor. If anything happens like that again I could get expelled.”
“Shit Alexis, you wouldn’t get a scholarship.” She said, after an awkward silence. “Sorry, you know that don’t you…”
“Yeah…” I said.
“Counselling though, that’s not bad you know. It helped me.” She said, clearly trying to sound cheerful.
“Yeah, I’ve been already. It’s not too bad.” I wondered why she had been. I didn’t want to pressure her though so I didn’t bring it up.
She carried on cutting my hair, most of it had been cut off now and was curled round my feet. I wondered what I was going to look like.
“Alexis, what are we going to do about it?” She asked. We?
“Nothing. There is nothing I can do, if you know Haley you know no one is going to believe me. If I do anything she’s just going to beat me up or get me excluded.” I shivered again.
“They might believe me…” She said.
“Not if they know you fell out, and you haven’t actually seen anything – all you have is hearsay from me.”
She made a reluctant noise of agreement. “Ok then, we need some more solid evidence.”
“You know in films when the main character confronts the villain?”
“Yeah” I said, curious where she was going.
She put her hands on each of my shoulders. For some reason my heart gave a little flutter at the contact. “Well, I hate those scenes, because the villain always outlines his master plan, confesses or otherwise indicates his guilt.
All the hero needs to do is shove an audio recorder in his pocket and he’s got his ass covered.”
“Ok, that sounds like a good idea. If I could afford a voice recorder or something. And really we’d need video to prove she was actually…” I felt self-conscious again.
“I’m sure a phone would work, my phone has a camera – maybe I could hide and take a video?”
“I have no idea when they are going to do anything though, sometimes it’s weeks… You can’t follow me around all the time waiting for them to jump me.”
“Well, I don’t want you going round alone then. We should stay together.”
“Beth, we only share a few classes – there is no way we could stay together. We’d have the same problem as getting a video.”
“I suppose… Still, be careful Alexis.” She sounded sad.
“I will.” I said, with a sigh.
After a few more quick cuts and a bit of studying she announced:
“Done!” Puling me up off the stool she dragged me by the hand to the bathroom so I could see it in the mirror. “There. It suits you.”
I smiled, it was nice to see her happy again. Things were getting two serious before. Then I looked what she had done in the mirror.
It was… very different.