Chapter 6:


Fair, no Fair

Our room looked empty at first sight, but I could hear the shower running, so I sat down on the bed and checked my phone. Joey came out of the shower not much later, wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. I did not look away quickly enough to keep my eyes from taking it all in: his wet, tousled hair and impressive abs which still glistened from the warmth of the shower.

He looked surprised and began blushing. “Oh sorry, I thought you weren’t going to sleep here after what happened today, so I um..” He quickly grabbed a shirt and sweatpants from the closet. “I’ll be back in a sec.”

A minute or so later he came out of the bathroom again, this time fully dressed, and sat down next to me. He stayed silent for a while. Neither he nor I knew what to say. I put my phone away.

“So… how are you feeling?” He finally asked tensely.

“Well… Nothing’s broken, so it could have been worse,” I sighed, shrugging. “I mean… I had a nosebleed for a while after, but it's fine now.”

“And how do you feel about what Nick said? That was some pretty harsh shit…” He clarified timidly while staring at the wall in front of him. If I had not been so tired, I might have gotten mad at him. Did he really think what Nick said was harsh after all the shit he pulled on me? Either Joey was the worst liar on earth or the most ignorant person in the universe.

“It’s nothing I’m not used to,” I answered passively. I laid down and turned my back to him.

It stayed silent for a while, uncomfortably silent. It had started snowing again and I knew all physical marks left by today’s events would be covered up within minutes: our footsteps leading from the hotel to the lake, Max and Georgy’s snowman, odd holes left in the snow by snow fight artillery that had missed its target and my frozen blood on the ice of the dark lake.

“I know it's a cheap thing to say, but I’m sorry,” Joey said, playing with the fabric of the sheets between his fingers. “You were right when you said Nick should apologize, but I could at least have done something. I should have called him out. It was really stupid what he did to you.”

I turned back to face him and a seed of forgiveness started to sprout in my heart. “It’s fine, you had nothing to do with it. You even tried to help me! I’m sorry for lashing out at you.”

He smiled awkwardly. “I understand why you wouldn’t trust me, I haven’t said a single nice thing to you in years. I guess I’m sorry for that too,” he sighed. “This probably doesn’t change anything, but if you still want me to stay the fuck away from you as you said, I will. I’ll figure something out so we don’t have to share this room anymore.”

Little did Joey know that did not just change anything, it changed everything.

I jumped up. “I just said that because I was hurt. I lashed out at you. I didn’t actually mean it,” I quickly answered. “It’s just for two weeks… After that, we never have to speak to each other again.” I ran to the bathroom, grabbing my pyjamas along the way. Joey looked at me quizzically while I disappeared behind the bathroom door.

I walked over to the sink and turned on the tab. I quickly splashed some water on my face before looking at myself in the mirror. God, I looked terrible. My ashy blonde curls did not have much volume and hung around my face like the branches of a willow tree. I knew that if I cut my hair shorter my curls would probably look better. Or maybe I could try wearing it in a bun or ponytail? On second thought, sporting such a hairstyle would definitely give my bullies more material to work with.

My skin was very, very white. Not just because I do not go out much, but also because I get sunburned very easily. My skin is either red like a crab or as white as a vampire's with no in-between. My younger sister always used to joke that I would blend in very easily with a troop of snowmen. My mum on the other hand always told me I looked like the male version of Snow White, except for the blonde hair of course.

There was some truth in both of those comparisons: not only do I get cold very easily, but my eyes are also unusually dark and form a stark contrast with my skin and hair. Unfortunately, my set of deep, dark (and very dysfunctional) eyes were also paired with a set of, almost equally as dark, bags underneath them.

I quickly, but efficiently brushed my teeth and switched outfits, after which I stored away my contact lenses. I stumbled back into the room, trying to not fall over anything. I know, my natural eyesight is shit. Luckily, I was able to get into the bed unharmed. In front of me lay a bulky shape that I assumed was Joey. I could not see whether he was sleeping or not, so I whispered: “Joey, are you awake?” I got no answer in return, so I assumed he was.