Continuing the story of lies, deception, and wrong choices. Click for Part One. I’d love feedback! 😀
Hailey yawned. She could feel the heat of the sun on the side of her face. She finally mustered enough strength… to open her eyes. The sun was shining brightly through the window. She sleepily sat up and glanced at the clock. It was already well past noon. Melanie and Kaitlyn were still sleeping soundly in their sleeping bags. Hailey automatically reached for a pillow.
“Oof!” Melanie grunted groggily. She pushed the pillow off her face. She looked over at Hailey, who was trying her best to fend off laughter and look innocent. Melanie rolled her eyes. “That wasn’t very nice,” she stated.
Hailey gazed at her solemnly. “You’re going to use the pillow to wake up Kaitlyn, right?”
“Of course.” Melanie snorted. “Do you think I would pass up an opportunity like this?” Hailey grinned at her.
Five minutes of pillow-pounding later, a very grumpy Kaitlyn was sitting up in her sleeping bag. “What time is it?” she grumbled.
“Almost two,” Hailey informed her.
“What time did we fall asleep?” Kaitlyn asked.
“Well, I remember popping the seventh bag of popcorn around five, and we never did finish it.” Melanie nodded to the half-empty bowl. “So, I think it was around six.”
Kaitlyn rolled her eyes. “No wonder,” she muttered. “We’d better get dressed and eat something. My mom’s coming to pick me up in half an hour.”
“Hi, Hailey, Melanie!” Brenna called, winding her way to the other girls through the post-class traffic. She finally reached them. “How was the sleepover?” she asked. “I wish I hadn’t missed it.”
“It was great,” Melanie told Brenna, mentioning all of the best parts. Of course, she left out the part about Finding Nemo.
Kaitlyn walked over to them. “Hey, guys. I was actually able to make it through today. Apparently the kid that the guys are usually messing with isn’t here today.”
Hailey didn’t say anything, but looked up, relieved, although she did wonder where Jason was. The girls left the school together and split up, heading their separate ways.
Once at home, Hailey couldn’t focus on her homework. She kept wondering why Jason hadn’t been at school. Finally she picked up the phone.
“Hello, Craywell residence.” The voice didn’t sound like Jason’s.
“Hi, can I talk to Jason?” she asked hesitantly, feeling awkward. She and Jason hadn’t really talked lately, after all.
“This is he. Who is this?” Hailey still didn’t think it sounded like him.
“Hi, Hailey!” A smile leapt into his voice. “What’s up?”
“Not much. I was just wondering why you weren’t at school today.” Hailey fiddled with her pencil.
“Oh, Kelly got a cold and passed it on to me. I’ll probably be back tomorrow, though. Thanks for thinking of me! I missed church on Sunday, too.” He sounded genuinely happy to hear from her.
“Do you need any of the assignments?” Hailey asked quickly, changing the subject.
“Sure!” Jason replied eagerly.
Hailey found the assignments for the classes they were in together and listed them. As she waited for him to write them down, an idea hit her. Jason was always asking her to go to church with him. She had always refused, coming up with various excuses. This was her chance to get him off her back once and for all.
“Thanks, Hailey. I guess I have something to do tonight.” They laughed. A short silence followed. Hailey twirled her hair around her finger nervously as she tried to think of something to say. Finally Jason broke the silence.
“So, do you want to, uh, come to church with me on Wednesday?” he asked somewhat awkwardly.
This was the question Hailey had been waiting for. “Nah,” she replied after a moment. “I didn’t really enjoy it much when I went on Sunday. I had wondered where you were—”
“You went yesterday?” Jason interrupted excitedly. “Aw, you should have called me. I wish I could’ve been there! Did you like it?”
“Not really,” Hailey replied hesitantly. Jason’s enthusiasm was starting to make her regret her lie.
“Oh.” Jason said thoughtfully. There was a short pause. “I’ve got to go, Hailey, my dad’s calling me. Feel free to call me later.”
“All right, ‘bye,” Hailey replied. She hung up the phone with the guilt weighing down heavily on her shoulders. She tried to concentrate on her schoolwork, but she couldn’t keep her mind on it. She couldn’t help hoping that this would be the last of all of the church invitations.
“Hey, Timothy!” Jason called as he slipped into the nearly-empty youth room that Wednesday.
The kid sitting at one of the small tables looked up, brushing his short brown hair out of his eyes and adjusted his glasses. He slipped a bookmark into his book and grinned. “Hey, Jason, I’ve got an open seat over here that has your name on it!”
Jason grinned and slid into one of the open chairs. “How’s it going, Timothy?”
“Pretty good,” the boy replied. “We missed you here on Sunday.”
Jason made a face. “Yeah. I was at home, sick. You’re still working on Moby Dick, huh?” Timothy nodded. “Oh,” Jason began, remembering. “A friend of mine came on Sunday. Did you get to meet her? Her name’s Hailey, she’s got red hair. She’s not very easy to miss.”
Timothy thought for a little while, unconsciously chewing on the eraser on his pencil. Finally he shook his head. “No, I didn’t see her. There were only a few people here on Sunday, and they were all regulars.”
Jason frowned. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Timothy nodded.
That’s weird, Jason thought. I guess I’ll ask Hailey about it tomorrow after school.
All week long Hailey’s friends had dragged her over to watch Jason getting bullied. She was finally tired of it. She was barely able to escape through one of the side entrances. She had plenty of time to get home since she had made it out of school early, so she strolled leisurely down the sidewalk.
Hailey had almost made it to her house when she heard running footsteps behind her. She turned around and saw Jason running towards her.
“Hi, Hailey!” he called, catching up to her.
“Oh, hi, Jason,” she replied somewhat nervously. She felt a twinge of guilt as she thought about the phone call.
“Hi,” Jason gasped as he finally reached her. “How’re you doing?”
“Pretty good,” Hailey replied. “What about you?”
“I’m fine,” he replied, still trying to catch his breath. “Oh, last night at church I asked a friend of mine if he’d met you, and he said he hadn’t seen you in youth.”
It only took a split second for Hailey to realize how bad this could be for her, and another one for her to come up with a reply. “Oh, I stayed in the main sanctuary, you know, with the adults. That’s probably why he didn’t see me.”
Jason laughed. “That makes sense. It also explains why you disliked it, too. Youth’s a lot of fun, while the adult service… not so much.” Hailey mentally groaned. She knew what was coming up next.
“So, do you want to come again on Sunday? You can try out the youth group. It’s a lot better than the sermons in the sanctuary,” Jason suggested eagerly.
“No, I don’t think so. I’ve got a big project due on Monday since it’s the week before spring break.” Hailey lied again. “We’re going shopping on Saturday, so I won’t have much time the rest of the weekend.”
“Oh, yeah,” Jason nodded understandingly. “Those teachers always dump extra homework on us right before spring break.”
Hailey laughed, relaxing. “Yeah. Well, I’ve gotta get home. I’ll talk to you later.”
Jason nodded. “Okay. See ya tomorrow!” he called over his shoulder as he jogged back towards his house. Hailey continued down to her house, breathing in the scent of the flowers blooming in the flowerbeds. She was really glad to have dodged two more tough spots, but she wondered how many more would follow.