I Know It Might Be Wrong, But...
“Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!”
The chants have now changed. Not the words, but the way it is being said as the crowd became rabid and excited after Stacy failed with her defense. The noise they made was deafening, so of course, it would not have gone unnoticed by the teachers who tried to dissipate the crowd. But, there was no stopping them in their quest to mete out punishment for the sinner.
Although, it was really only their definition of ‘sinner’. In reality, Stacy was not as guilty as they thought. She definitely was not dating Steven, which was supposedly her crime. But, they were driven by blind jealousy and not interested in listening. They wanted an outlet for it and, unfortunately for Stacy, she was an easy target.
She never really did have a chance of winning her trial. It was a kangaroo court. Hence, her predicament continues.
“Time to walk the plank”, she was told.
But, that just raised questions she was not sure she wanted to know the answer to. One of the things she wondered was how and where she would be forced to walk the plank. She knew of what the punishment is from movies about pirates, but obviously, they were not aboard a ship nor was there a sea her captors could throw her overboard to. In the worst case, she feared she would be forced to jump off the school building, so while she was being carried to the location where the punishment will take place, she continued pleading her innocence.
She would soon find the answer to it as she was led to the school’s swimming pool. In one of the diving platforms, there was a wooden plank attached to it by rope, which she figured her captors had put there beforehand. To the surprise of no one, Stacy was ordered to go on top of it.
Stacy was relieved that what they were going to do to her was only a bit of bullying. The side of the pool where her captors were telling her to jump off from was not deep enough for her to drown in, even with her hands and feet bound. The worst thing that can happen is getting stuck there until a teacher or a straight male student finds her and helps her out.
Although, while it was preferable over getting killed for something meaningless, it did not mean she minded taking an unplanned swim in her school uniform especially since she had not brought a change of clothes. She had no P.E. class for the day, so she did not bring her gym uniform. She could maybe borrow one from other classes, but seeing that the entire female student body is now hostile against her, it is an unlikely option.
By a stroke of luck, she found a way to escape. Beside the elevated pool area are the faucets that the sports clubs use. The school gym where the basketball team practices is also nearby and uses these faucets. On ground level, you would be unable to see it from the center by the angle, but from Stacy’s elevated position, she was able to spot Steven with some of his teammates who just so happens to be cooling off from the faucets. Then, with some quick thinking, she shouted "Look! It's Steven getting wet over to that side!"
At first, no one seemed to believe her. But, a couple of girls standing on the side looked to see if Stacy was telling the truth and screamed confirmation. By the blink of an eye, everyone went to view the spectacle.
Stacy was then free to step down from the platform and hop her way to safety. She could not run as her feet were still bound, after all.
Luckily, they're all idiots, she thought to herself. Fortunately for her, she did not say it out loud as she would have eaten those words when someone got in the way of her escape.
“Hurry this way”, Stacy was told by this person. It was the voice she recognized earlier as her classmate’s during the trial, but this time she could visually recognize her as the mask her friend was wearing was pulled up to show the face behind it. Her friend was pointing towards the back of the building housing the locker and shower rooms where it would be out of sight from the crowd.
However, Stacy had no reason to not be suspicious of her friend. After all, she is part of the crowd who was trying to force her to jump into the pool. Moreover, she was visibly carrying a box cutter.
Instinctively, Stacy’s thoughts immediately went to deciding whether her next step would be fight or flight. But, that was an easy decision to make since she obviously could not choose the latter, having her feet tied and all. Fighting would also be difficult with her hands tied, but she figured a quick attack would work so she lunged towards her friend for a shoulder barge.
But, again, her feet were bound, so she could not really put much force on her attack. The best she was able to do was fall right into the arms of her friend who then told her “Stop fooling around or the others might see us”.
“Let go of me!”
“Hey! Stop it! I’m trying to help you here!” her friend says as she tries to drag Stacy, who is swinging her elbows to try to escape, towards the place she pointed to moments earlier.
“Liar!” Stacy replied as she struggled some more. Although, despite all resistance, she was eventually led to where her friend wanted to take her to.
She did not stop struggling, however. But, because of this, her friend lost her patience, threw Stacy to the ground, protracted the knife part of the cutter and placed it close to Stacy’s neck.
“It’s dangerous so stop moving”, the friend menacingly said, which Stacy meekly obeyed.
Bracing herself for some pain, Stacy closed her eyes. Having realized there was no longer any hope for escape, she resigned to her fate.
But, moments later, to her surprise, all she felt was her arms being set free. She opened her eyes to see that her friend had cut the ribbon that had bound her wrists together.
“Don’t move just yet unless you want a cut on your legs.”
Then, the friend cut the ribbon tying Stacy’s ankles together. As soon as she was done, she stood up and extended a hand to Stacy to help her up.
“You look like you have a hundred things you want to ask me”, she said while smiling awkwardly. “But it won’t be long until the others will realize you’ve escaped, so I suggest making a run for it now and ask me questions later.”
Stacy, realizing her friend was right, grabbed the hand that was extended to her so she could be pulled up. She was still suspicious though, so she never took her eyes off her friend as she sidestepped her way towards the exit from the pool area.
Meanwhile, her friend was giving a suggestion. “Lay low for another three days or so. They’ll have calmed down by then.”
Stacy was still wary, but once she felt that her escape was now secured, she thanked her friend before darting towards the exit.
The advice given to Stacy was sound. Her friend was speaking from experience, after all. But, Stacy had other ideas. Regardless of whether she knew of the reasoning behind the suggestion, it was something she felt she had to do so the same thing does not happen in the future. Especially since she is very well aware that her association with Steven is not ending anytime soon.
Instead of running away to the safety of her own home, she opted to go straight for Steven, who was still by the faucets waving and greeting his admirers, wondering why there is a crowd of girls wearing uniform black hoods in the pool area. The adoring screams turned hateful once the crowd saw Stacy beside the object of their admiration.
“Get away from him, you ugly bitch!”
“You don’t fit each other!”
“If you two were cast in Beauty and the Beast, you’re not playing the beauty!”
Stacy just ignored the insults as she only had one thing on her mind - to clear the misunderstanding that she was Steven’s girlfriend.
However, Steven was not willing to cooperate. “Why should I?” he asked.
The response stunned Stacy for a moment. She was not expecting it.
“Well, they’re your fans. You should talk to them.”
“It’s not like they’re causing me problems.”
“It’s not just me they’re causing problems for, they’re also bothering the teachers!”
“So just tell them we’re not dating!”
“Like I said, why should I?”
Stacy was not about to give up the argument, but she did not have unlimited time to convince Steven. While the two were arguing, Steven’s admirers were slowly climbing the fence that separated the two areas (even though they could have just ran out the same way Stacy did before) and were about to land on Steven and Stacy’s side.
Recognizing the danger, she had no choice but to flee the scene. But, that also meant leaving the current argument she has with Steven, which she needs to win in order for her to truly get out of her predicament. So, she pulled, not his hand, but his shirt so he would follow her.
Of course, Steven protested as he jogged along with her. “You’re going to tear my shirt!”
“That’s why I’m pulling it because I know I can’t drag you with my strength alone!” she shouted. She still remembers how difficult it is to pull Steven by the arm from her experience trying it more than a week ago. “Now, if you don’t want to have your shirt torn, follow me!”
So, the two ran while an angry mob, who was really only after Stacy, pursued them.
They ran through the sports field. They ran around the oval track once and would have gone around again until they realized it would be pointless to go for another lap.
They ran inside the school building to try and lose the mob, but they were still followed on each floor.
The numbers of their pursuers were dwindling for varying reasons, however. Some could not keep up. Some were directed to split up and corner their prey, but were skillfully evaded. Some returned to their sanities when the first bell chimed and obediently went to their respective classrooms. But, thanks to this, Stacy and Steven eventually shook all of them off by hiding inside a stall in the boys’ bathroom.
“What’s the big idea dragging me all around the campus?” Steven complained.
“Shh!” Stacy hushed Steven. However, she was so out of breath from all the running that she was unable to tell him to not speak so loudly.
He got the hint, though, and lowered his voice. “You got away from them, you can let go of my shirt now.”
“Don’t… wanna…” she said with labored breathing.
“Then, what do you plan on doing here with me?”
Stacy raised her hand that was not holding Steven’s shirt with her index finger pointing up, indicating she wanted one minute. She was not able to reply immediately as she was in the process of slowing her breaths. Once she could speak again without heaving, she stated her intentions. “I plan to have you clear up their misunderstanding about you and I.”
“I already told you, why should I?”
“I know what you’re doing!” she exclaimed. Of course, Stacy had noticed that Steven was using her own words from their conversation earlier against her. “That’s why if you help me clear their misunderstanding, I’m going to help you clear the misunderstanding with my mom.”
Steven had a sour expression on his face before as he felt that the whole scenario was a bother, but he lit up upon hearing Stacy’s proposal.
“Really?” he asked. He was not expecting it nor did he think he could get Stacy to offer it through his actions. He just wanted to be stubborn, actually, so it came as a surprise for him.
“Really really”, Stacy replied as she gripped Steven’s shirt with both hands while looking him in the eye with serious determination.
“It’s a deal then”, Steven happily said.
“Good, now let’s go try talking to them.”
Stacy then slowly opened the bathroom stall’s door to see if any of their pursuers were there. Once she saw it was clear, she led Steven out without saying a word.
“The first period has already started, we - I mean, you’re probably safe for now”, Steven commented as the two of them headed for the exit.
“Considering how fervent and persistent those people chased us, let’s hope so”, Stacy replied just as the two of them stepped out from the bathroom.
Their hopes would be dashed very quickly, however. Their pursuers had not obediently gone to attend the first period, but instead had split up to search for Stacy. One of them happened to be standing guard at the doorway of the bathroom where the two were hiding so they were immediately discovered. Even worse, they were seen leaving together. Stacy would not have blamed anyone if they started to think she was doing lewd things with Steven in there and that’s exactly what ran through the mind of the girl who spotted the two.
“I found her and she was doing lewd things with Steven in the boys’ bathroom”, the girl screamed.
Immediately, her companions rabidly rushed towards the area, towards Stacy to capture her.
“Wait!” Stacy pleaded. “I want to talk! Let us talk!”
“There’s nothing to talk about”, one girl answered.
“There's no bargaining for someone doing lewd things to Steven”, another girl said.
“Listen! Steven has something to say about all this!” Stacy stated as she nudged Steven’s side with her elbow.
He took it as his queue to speak up, but before he could, the leader of the girls showed up and told him to keep quiet. It was the same girl who headed Stacy’s trial earlier. The pursuers still had their black hoods on, but Stacy could recognize her by her voice.
“I’m sorry”, she said. “Normally, we would love to hear you talk, but there is something we have to do first.”
Stacy tried to protest, but the crowd had stopped listening when they were ordered to catch her.
As the two were surrounded, it was inevitable that Stacy would be captured again. Her hands and feet were tied once more, but this time her captors had brought a pole to tie her to and hung her upside down like hunters would with wild game they caught.
Steven, not really wanting to get involved as he was not sure what he could do in that situation, simply observed, to Stacy’s frustration. But, as she was taken away, she told him screaming “You have to help me or I won’t help you!”
So, he followed and ran after the mob. However, they were unnaturally quick so he was unable to keep up.
The next thing Stacy knew, she was back poolside. Not atop a wooden board attached to a diving platform, but still being carried as her captors were debating whether to just throw her in or still let her walk the plank.
Resigned to her fate, she muttered “Just throw me in already and get it over with”.
Nobody heard what she said, but regardless, the mob had decided to do away with the ceremonies and simply throw her in.
However, since the angry crowd took time to debate their next action, it gave an opportunity for Steven to appear before they could mete out their punishment on Stacy.
“Stop!” he shouted. “You guys are making a mistake!”
“Don’t try to stop us when you’ve betrayed our feelings”, one girl shouted back.
“That’s right!”, the crowd followed up.
“How could you be dating a girl that is not even prettier than any of us?!” another girl shouted back.
“If you were dating a supermodel or a pop star or a movie actress, then we would have accepted it!” This time, it was the leader who shouted back. She then pointed towards her back, towards the direction of Stacy and continued “Maybe even a minor celebrity, but not that!”
“I heard that!” Stacy angrily protested. “I know I’m not the best looking girl in school, but I’m not as ugly as you’re suggesting!”
“That’s right!”, the crowd chanted in agreement with their leader.
“Hey! There are a lot of girls here who have no right to say that about me! I recognize some of you and your fat legs!”, but Stacy was still being ignored.
It was Steven’s turn to speak up. “But you guys are wrong, I’m not dating Stacy. I’m not even dating anyone as of now.”
“You don’t have to lie”, the leader responded. “We know the truth. We know you’ve been visiting Stacy’s home these past few days.”
“We also know you’ve been coming together to school since yesterday.”
“We also know you’ve held hands during your commute together.”
“We also know you’ve been k-k-.” The leader struggled to say the next word. “Ki-ki-ki”
“Ki?” Steven mouthed as he wondered what was being said.
“We know you two have been kissing out in public!”
“Wait just a minute!” Steven finally protested. “There is some huge misunderstanding going on here.”
“Okay then, tell us where we were wrong”, the leader challenged.
“For starters, I’m not dating Stacy.”
“I told you, you don’t have to lie about that!”
“No, you don’t understand! I’m not dating Stacy because I’m in love with Stacy’s mom!”
The air stood still as Steven declared that. The crowd was shocked to hear Steven state it with such conviction. Some of them heard it before but thought it was nothing serious. To hear it again from him makes them question reality.
Stacy, meanwhile, was collateral damage. She was expecting for him to say it, but it was still something she could not bear to hear without being creeped out.
Then, he continued, “I went to Stacy’s place because I wanted to meet her mom. Of course, it would not be unnatural if Stacy and I go to school together after my visit to see her mom. I don’t know about the other stuff, but I’m sure you all are just misunderstanding.”
“That’s enough”, the leader said. “We get it, it just means we have to take our anger out on Stacy’s mom!”
Then, the crowd cheered in agreement. But, Steven, being the person everyone was willing to listen to, managed to stop them before they could begin lynching anew.
“If any of you hurt as much as a single strand of hair on the woman I love, I will not forgive any of you”, he declared.
Stacy, hearing all of this, thought that if Steven had directed everything he said to her, she would have fallen madly and deeply in love with him. But, alas, it was directed at her mom, so rather than feeling something in her heart, it was her stomach that was making her feel something and it was not good.
It was also effective as it shut the crowd up. They were not sure if he was being serious, but nobody dared to risk Steven’s ire, so they meekly agreed to his demands.
Confused about what to do with their misdirected anger, their leader, pointing at Stacy, asked Steven, “What do we do with her now?”
“You’re not going to go after her anymore after this, are you?”
“No”, the mob’s leader replied matter-of-factly.
Stacy was expecting Steven to ask the mob to let her go, but contrary to her expectations, as he has already done his part of the bargain, he answered offhandedly. “Well, I don’t know. She’s not my girlfriend so you can do whatever.”
He did not mean for them to continue the punishment, but that was how his answer was interpreted. So, before he could correct them, they untied Stacy from the pole then threw her into the pool to make themselves feel better.
The mob cheered then soon dispersed.
Once everyone else was gone, Stacy was helped up by her friend, who had stayed behind.
“I don’t know what to say”, her friend said as she unmasked herself.
“Don’t, please” Stacy begged, sounding dead inside. “Just don’t say anything.”
It was her victory against the Extremists, but she could not feel joy from it since getting mental damage from Steven, not to mention still being thrown into the pool, makes it feel like a defeat.
Speaking of Steven, he also stayed behind to apologize. Noticing this, Stacy crossed her arms along her chest as she listened to him saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t think they’d still go through with it.”
“I get it, just leave.”
But, he did not get the hint.
“I swear I didn’t know they were going to do that, please don’t be mad at me.”
“I know, just leave already!” she said, getting angrier.
Worried about their deal, he continued to try to placate Stacy’s anger, not knowing him simply being there while she was soaking wet was the only cause of it.
Finally, Stacy snapped. “You idiot! I’m telling you to leave because my underwear is showing, so leave!”
By that point, he got the message and scuttled away, leaving her alone with her friend who seemed to have been amused by their interaction.
Once he was out of earshot, Stacy’s friend then asked her, “Are you sure you two aren’t dating?”
To which Stacy replied, “He’s a pain in the ass once you get to know him more.”
“Sounds like a complaint a wife would have about her husband”, the friend teased.
Stacy did not bother with a reply but glared at her friend angrily, which was met by a show of hands as a sign of surrender, signaling the issue will not be pressed further. Instead, she asked “So what’s up with you? Why were you with that group?”
“I’m sure you would want to know that, but you should change your clothes first before you catch a cold.”
“As if I could. I haven’t brought a change of clothes.”
“No problem, I brought my gym clothes with me. It’s hidden in the locker room.”
“You… you’ve really prepared for this haven’t you?”
Stacy’s friend did not answer, but she offered it once the two of them were inside the locker room while Stacy was changing out of her wet uniform.
“I was the one who suggested to have you thrown into the pool,” she confessed.
“Huh?!” Stacy reacted angrily, naturally.
“Hey, calm down, let me finish”, her friend said. “They really were trying to kill you at first, you know? Like burning you at the stake and actually having you jump off the school building. At least give me some credit for getting it toned down from plain murder to bullying.”
“Well, I guess that is something to be grateful for…” Stacy stopped short of asking why she could not stop it altogether, but she figured any attempt to appease an angry mob by their lonesome would have been futile. “What I want to know is why did you join that group?”
“At first, I was also enraged that you were getting too close to Steven.”
Stacy was not surprised. She knew her friend was an ardent admirer of him as she was the most giddy and chatty towards Steven when he joined their group for lunch before.
“But then, during discussions with that group, I realized that, if you were taken out of the picture, I would no longer have a chance of getting close to Steven.”
Stacy recoiled and almost tripped as she was putting on a pair of sweatpants upon hearing her friend’s story. She thought it was a dumb excuse, but she was not going to say her thoughts out loud when it ultimately saved her life.
“I figured that I could barge into some of your time together and eventually steal him away from you”, her friend continued. “I was sure I could since I know I’m prettier than you.”
Stacy could not help but admire her friend’s optimism since she thought the same, that she was prettier than her friend. But, she still had some self-control from saying it out loud.
“Regrettably, it seems that you two aren’t an item, so there’s not a chance of that happening now.”
“Yeah, shame, isn’t it?” Stacy finally commented, albeit sarcastically.
The rest of the day was uneventful. Well, it was uneventful for Stacy, but it was busy for the rest of the school as the teachers were calling students left and right to have the incident in the morning be explained. However, that is a story for another day.
As for Stacy, her problems are not over yet. There was still the promise of fixing the misunderstanding with her mom. But, that will not be until the following morning as she would not be able to meet her before then. She explained that to Steven, who is already aware of their family’s situation, so for the moment, he was satisfied with Stacy’s promise and the permission to visit for the determined time.
The next day, as promised, the three sat down together and the misunderstanding of Stacy and Steven’s relationship was finally made clear for Stacy’s mom. She seemed a bit disappointed, but she accepted it. Then, naturally the question of what Steven was doing visiting their home so often came up, in which he took it as a cue to finally admit his feelings.
“The truth is, it’s you that I’m in love with”, he said.
He then explained how it started. He relayed the story that he grew a fondness for mature women when he was hospitalized due to an injury during middle school. That he fell in love with her at first sight when they met by chance at school when she went for a parent-teacher meeting.
However, the expression on the face of Stacy’s mom did not change one bit since getting confessed to. All this time while Steven was talking, all she wore was a look of worry and he picked up on it.
He thought she was worried about the age gap so he tried to assure her “Don’t worry about our ages, it doesn’t matter to me.”
“Why aren’t you that sensitive when you’re with me?” Stacy grumbled, but was ignored.
“That’s not what I’m worried about”, Stacy’s mom replied.
“Then, what is it?”
“I’m worried how I’m going to put you down when you’re this enthusiastic”, she said.
Stacy could not help but burst out in muffled laughter. She did not expect such a cruel response from her mother.
Steven simply froze.
But, Stacy’s mom soon realized the implications of what she said.
“Oops, I’m sorry”, she continued. “But, I’m just not interested.”
“W-why? Is it because I’m young?”
“Well, there’s that, but-”
Steven cut her off and pleaded. “But my teachers keep telling me I have a bright future with my academics. My coach even tells me I could go pro with basketball. If you could just give me a little bit of time-”
This time, it was Steven who was cut off mid-speech. “I don’t doubt your potential either, it’s just that…”
“What? What is it?”
“Let’s just say you’re not my type.”
“What do you mean? What is it about me that isn’t to your liking? I mean, people say I’m a model student, athletic, and attractive.”
Stacy found it uncool Steven resorted to that line, but she refrained from commenting.
Meanwhile, her mom continued the rejection. “That’s just it, I’m more into bad boys, you see.”
It was the first time Stacy heard of her mom’s tastes for men so she was surprised by it. But, she figured that was why she dated a scumbag who would disappear on her when she got pregnant.
Steven though, was worse off and had nothing more to say. Rather, he was stunned. By simply stating her type, he knew he no longer had a chance with Stacy’s mom as it was a far cry from what the image the people around him told him he was.
But, he was not about to give up. An idea just came to him.
“Then, I’ll become a bad boy”, he declared.
“Oh god, please give up on my mom already”, Stacy grumbled, realizing Steven will continue to stick around. After her mom’s rejection, she had her hopes up that her association with him will finally come to a close, but apparently, it is not over just yet.
“My, I’m looking forward to it”, Stacy’s mom commented.
“And you”, Stacy reacted, sounding mad as she pointed to her mom. “Don’t encourage him!”