Pulling Her HEARTSTRINGS Episode 34
A story written by HAPPY
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Once I’d stepped into the threshold of the palace walls that felt like my second home, I immediately noticed how busy everyone was. Oscar was whisked away in the blink of an eye by Miss Pearl Gareth, his governess. To get prepared. All these just seemed to tighten the hold on my chest as the stark realization glared at me in the eye, taunting me. This was the thin line. About to be crossed. Once it was, then any little thing— even friendship — I might have had going with him would be gone.
Oh, these days just can’t get any gloomier, can it!?
Diana proved to be useful company. And for an hour or so I forgot about every thing else, lost in chattering with the little princess.
It was the unending murmurs and screeches that caught my attention later. I peeked through her balcony to see the clutter of newsmen and the paparazzi as a whole. Jeez, what message did King Oswald pass to get them here at light’s speed?
Diana’s companion already had her dressed in a cute little gold dress.
I smiled at her. “I’ll step out for a sec, want to see how things are running.”
“Okay…. but no matter what, try not to run into Miss Pearl. She’s walking on charcoals!”
We both giggled and I went out.
I was walking towards Edward’s wing to see if I could speak with Iris for a moment, when I felt fingers wrap around my arm and pull me into a room which had opened and swung shut at light’s speed. Every thing happened so fast that my back was already against a wall while I tried to catch my breath and rearrange my five senses.
“Yeah, hello to you too.”
“What are you doing sneaking up on me like that, you should be getting ready.”
“Mmm hmm, for something I’m not excited about.”
“Aw come on, summon your fighting spirit. Where’s the Oscar I know huh, huh?” I asked and punched his arm a little. His eyes followed the movement and stayed there. That’s when I noticed his crisp crimson suit with gold buttons and cuffs, stripes across the front and on the shoulder brush and some badges….
Okay, I’ve drooled long enough.
I cleared my throat and swiped at the spot I punched to smoothen the slight crease.
He watched me silently all the while.
” Nuh-uh. That would be too cowardly. And I’m no coward.”
He linked his fingers with mine and raised them up above my head till they brushed the wall. Steadying my ragged breathing and talking at the same time was a problem that second, but somehow I managed to let out a breathy “Uh-huh…..”
He smiled, probably at the effect he had on me and nozzled his nose in my hair. “I’m thinking of something that’s quite crazy, but I couldn’t get it out of my head ever since Pearl pulled me out. Actually, I don’t think I can get you out of my head.”
I swallowed inaudibly and let my eyelids fall shut. Let myself just feel this sensations one last time before I backed down, accepted my fate. Which wasn’t with Oscar.
I felt his skin trail down my temples and come to linger at the corner of my lips. My heart beat faster I’m sure he’d hear it. I tried to work up some saliva to speak. Null.
“I was thinking that immediately after the public announce we’d head somewhere so that I’d tell you what’s bothering me. And maybe you can tell me yours?”
He stepped away from me, and in felt a flood of disappointment wash over me as his body heat was gone replaced with a cold, cold realization of what exactly he’d said.
“I want to get to know you better. I want to understand why I f—” he cut himself off and grinned. “I’ve never noticed how short skirt is. And it’s a pretty sight.”
I glance at my thighs and back at him, and my face flushed embarrassingly.
“Oh—gee—— well I’d better get going then. Good luck with the crowd.”
“How ’bout a kiss to go with that?” he asked out.
Smiling, I placed my index finger to my lips and pointed it to him in the form of a gun.
He chuckled and said, “You bad, bad girl.”
“Comes with the territory,” I replied, and realized that I shouldn’t have said that.
Hours On 🕠.🕔.🕠
Every station and channel in Primrose and the States carried the news of the secret prince of Primrose, who happened to be the beloved Darling boy of glossy page mags, teensRogue, and acoustic musician Osos of the COVS. It also was the topic of every sites ranging from gossip blogs, chatrooms down to my dearest friend Maggie, who kept playing and replaying the footage that had been taken earlier that day.
”Oh. My. Goody. God,” she chanted yet again, eyes glued to the screen as I sat crosslegged beside her in front of the TV.
It wasn’t a coronation; just something like a public appearance. The whole family was there too. Diana, Edward the King and queen. they stood on the balcony, addressing the mass.
“Damn Ummy, I still can’t believe it,” she muttered rewinding it again. “Da…mn! And you KNEW all along!? You kept this biggest secret from me, your bestest friend!”
“I can’t believe this myself,” aunt Janet said.
I let out a sheepish grin. “I was sworn to secrecy.”
“Umbria a swear is no match for us. I feel betrayed. And my oh my it really suits him. No wonder he always behaved the way he did. Although nobody would have guessed. Wow!”
I dipped my hand into the popcorn bowl and put a handful into my mouth.
“You know it’s now I notice the similar features with the little princess, Edward and the king.”
“Aw Maggi come on!” I groaned.
My phone rang, it’s Audrey.
“Darrrrrrrn it Um! You KNEW?” She screamed and I had to hold my phone away from my ear.
“Uhm, I —”
“I just wanna cobble you with my bare hands! I’m coming over right away. You home?”
“At a friend’s,’ I ratted out the address of Maggie’s place.
” Yeah, OK. See you in five. And no bulletproof vest cause I’m gonna shoot you live! ”
She hung up.
“Phew, that was —”
“Great! Now I’ll have help beating you up!”
“Argh best friend, not you too,” I groaned and fell backwards on the couch.
Aunt Janet wrapped a shawl around her shoulder. “I’m going out girls. In know everyone at the saloon’s talking about this, so I’ll crash over at your mom’s for a while until the furor has died down. Hopefully.”
“Okay mom. Say hi to aunt Hannah and uncle George for me,” Maggie said.
When she opened the door, we heard a faint good evening from a female voice, and aunt Janet’s voice as she replied.
Then she called out, “Umbria, an Audrey’s here to see you!”
“Send her in,” Maggie yelled and pounced on me as I tried to run for cover.
“Help!” I shouted.
Audrey bounded in, not even taking a moment to look at anything, and held my legs firmly. Maggie sat on my back while I still trashed and kicked and twisted to escape.
“Hit her,” Maggie ordered.
Audrey grabbed a wornout throw pillow and began to repeatedly hit my head with it while Maggie twisted my arm to my back.
I was laughing and screaming at the same time. Then I began to tire.
“Traitor!” Audrey hit me.
“Betrayer!” Maggie tugged on my arm.
“Bad Umbria!” Audrey hit me.
“Secretr!” Maggie tugged on my arm.
“Lia— wait, secretr? Is that a word?” Audrey asked.
“Uh, no. I just made it up. It describes her don’t you think?”
I took that moment of distraction to roll off from under Maggie, making her fall.
I breathed rapidly and in gasps while they glared at me, and then we all bursted out laughing.
“I feel better now,” Maggie said.
“Me too,” Audrey breathed.
“Oh thank goodness. I was beginning to think I was whoosh! gone. But Maggie, are you fat or something? Felt like an elephant sat on me instead.”
WHAM! A hit from the throw pillow by Maggie.
“Shut up,” she hissed as Audrey laughed.
“Ow! Sure felt that way,” I muttered.
“Good.” she smiled at Audrey. “Hi, I’m Margaret. Maggie to friends, so since you’re a friend to Umbria who’s a friend to me, then you’re my friend too. So you can call me Maggie.”
“Ooh that’s a mouthful Mag,” I interjected.
“Shut up,” she said to me.
Audrey smiled. “Hi Maggie, I’m Audrey.”.
” I know, the good half of the Roger twin. Nice to meet you, ” Maggie extended a hand for a shake, and Audrey laughed and shook it.
Always knew they’d get along.
“You should know. You’re dating one,” I replied offhandedly.
Maggie blushed. “No way! You’re ‘it’?” Audrey gasped, referring to the last weeks news about Prince Edward.
“Yup. She’s ‘it’ ” I answered.
“Whoa, you guys are so cool!” Audrey screamed.
“Okay okay okay, that’s by the way. We’re talking about Umbria here. She’s in a real saucepan if she doesn’t know. Ummy, you love this guy.” said Maggie, and it wasn’t a question.
I huffed. “Wha—”
“Answer it,” Audrey cut in.
Again I huffed. “Is it that obvious?”
“Nope, only to those who knows you inside out aka me. And now…. count Audy— can I call you Audy? — in.”
“Sure,” Audrey relied to Mag’s question.
“Look bf I didn’t mean to, I didn’t even know when it happened. And now things had just gotten complicated. He doesn’t feel the same way. Oscar’s a player. And even if by some miracle he did, well, it’s all going to go down the drain once he finds out about….. me.”
A look of confusion clouded Aud’s face. “I’ll explain better later, but for now just know that I did something really stupid. As I told you the other day it’s something I can’t risk anyone finding out.”
Breathing out, Maggie said, “Assuming he feels the same way now. Whatcha gonna do?”
“You can’t do that Um else you’ll do it for the rest of your life,” Audrey said.
Maggie and Audrey exchanged glances.
They’ll say tell him. They don’t understand. They’ve got nothing holding them back from giving all in love. Audrey and Victor are of the same class. No dark secrets there. Maggie might be lower in status than Edward, but no dark secrets there either. Damn, why’s it always me? Why do I always have to be unlucky in matters of the heart?
The music of the start of a soap opera caught our attention.
“Adopted!!!” Maggie and I chorused.
“No way. You watch Adopted too?” Audrey chipped in. “Mom, Jessica and I never miss this for the world! Except recently that she’s become so secretive.”
“Ah yes, the evil twin. Wait, does she drive a gray rover?”
“Because…. never mind. Couldn’t have been her I saw. Cheers guys, it’s already started!”
Together we watched two episodes of adopted and after that walked Audrey out to the curb for a decent cab.
I bid Maggie good night and headed home.
Mom and Janet were in a discussion outside and she practically ignored me. I changed into a nightwear, with thoughts running through my mind.
When finally I slept, it was with a smile on my face recalling that brief moment between us in Oscar’s room before he was called out.
Oh, if only things were simply black and white without the grey shades in between!
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Pulling Her HEARTSTRINGS by Author Happy.
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When I got to school the next morning, I sure as hell did not know what to expect. As I’d told Oscar the other day, once the public appearance was made, his free movement would be greatly limited. Turns out I was right. We didn’t ‘hang out’ as we’d planned. What a loss.
As I walked into the locker room to retrieve my notes, I noticed something I expected: gossip groups. Of course, the biggest news in the history of Primrose just dropped yesterday. Might take a whole month before it starts to wane.
Today we had biology this morning. I’m a smart one which is a good thing because I despise biology. I slammed my locker shut and straightened my hair. I don’t think Oscar’ll be in school today. Bummer. I’ll miss his company and him. Best get used to it though. It’ll be like this most times as from now on.
I waved at Audrey as she closed her locker and came over to me.
“Soooo, what’s popping?” she asked.
She giggled. “Victor popped the question, that’s popping;”
“Yaayyy! Said yes?” I asked happily.
“Believe me Um, I wanted to just jump right in with the answer before he landed. But a girl’s got pride ya know,” she made a face and I slapped her shoulder, “told him I’ll think it through. It’s a small price he’ll pay for what I went through crushing on him in secret. And speaking of secret feelings….”
“Ugh, don’t go there.”
We took our seats on stools in the lab beside each other.
“But Umbria, Maggie and I, we’re just looking out for you.”
“I’m not a baby. That’s daddy’s job BTW.”
”Okay but —”
“You know I keep wondering about this. Like, what’s the different between, say, spermatophyte and spermatophyta?”
“That’s not a question Um. Is that your not-so-subtle way of telling me to mind my business?”
“Okay, I yield.”
Gradually the class filled up, but the teacher was no where in sight. Students began to congest in small gist groups, talking about the same thing.
“Hi there. Have you heard the big news?” Willa asked and slipped into a stool beside us. Darcy sat in another.
“Unless you’re assuming we live under a rock, yeah we did,” Aud replied.
“I mean…. maaaan! Who’d have guess! Now his appeal’s so strong. He’s not just the hottest guy, smart guy, and Osos, he’s a frigging prince. The Prince Charming notion is all too real!”
“Yah!” Darcy punctuated.
“It suits him too you know? With his easy but swagger gait. He’d always carried an air of importance around him.”
“The guys knew. I mean Stanley, Christopher and Victor. They don’t act surprised,” said Darcy.
Speaking of the guys, Victor Stanley and Chris strode into the class, and everyone cooed at them, still keeping an eye on the door.
They’re expecting the prince. Funny. They’re going to have to book an appointment three days in advance then keep their fingers crossed and —
The girls laughing made me realized I was speaking out loud.
“Seriously Umbria?” Willa laughed.
Other girls in the class glared at me.
“What are you his PA or something?” a girl, Xena asked acidly.
I laughed even more because she just for it right. Sort of.
“Sorry, sorry! I was being thoughtful, didn’t know it hurt,” I shouted waving my hands.
“But wait, Umbria. I see you with Oscar all the time! Are you guys dating or did you know about him or are you his PA like Xena asked?” Penny tossed in.
“Whoa, you don’t need to assume that much,” Audrey said.
“She’s right. Let’s learn to curb rumormongering.
The COVS strolled to us.
Victor bent down and gave Audrey a kiss on the lips and the class went wild!
Cooing and crying.
*Oh no! Victor’s taken already!*
“No way, I’ve been waiting since forever*
*Whhhhhyyyy? My heart’s broken*
*Victor I still love ya*
I shook my head with a smile. Somebody mentioned that they’ll have their eyes on Stan and Chris. Well, they’re ready to have their hearts trampled on, not only broken.
” Hey….still thinking about what I’d said? ” he asked her.
“That’s a reminder. Won’t wait long.”
Hmm, these two have gone farther than I thought!
We exchanged his and hellos, and I saw that…… jeez! Blackeyed Stan? Bruised lipped Chris? Of course they wore make up to hide it, but it was visible up close for me because living partly on the streets when I was young had taught me exactly what injuries looked like.
What happened to them?
When the guys returned to their seat I left Audrey and Willa and Darcy to go to them.
“Erm …..what happened to your faces?” I asked them both, and Victor burst out laughing while Stan winced and Chris made a face.
“Thought Liz said the concealer was what it’s name implies: concealer. Why don’t it conceal the marks?” Chris murmured.
“No, the makeup’s perfect. I just know an injury when I see one. What happened to your faces?” I repeated.
“Apparently your ‘boyfriend’s the only one with the liberty to talk about your kiss. Not us, not even to you,” Stan explained grudgingly.
“I —I don’t understand.”
“Punches, that’s what!” Chris said.
I gasped. “Wait, you’re sayi— No!”
“Yes! We met up in our locker room, and before the door could go shut I was hit. Stan followed. Not even Vic could hold him back. So Oscar decked my handsome face. And before I forget, we’re sorry.”
Victor was still laughing.
“I don’t get it. Oscar hit you, because you told me that he told you about the kiss.”
“No, because we made you uncomfortable. It’s a good thing though. He’s finally catching on the L word. And because of that I hold no grudges. Unless the scars remain that is,” Stanley finished.
Now this is weird. He fought with his friends just because of…. no way. Doesn’t make sense to me. Why would he do that if he’s just trying to play me, or could that be an act? No, he’d told me that he’d never felt the way he feels before. What way , and for who?
“Why?” I asked again.
“I told you. He’s smitten. L word.” said Stanley and his friends nodded.
Shaking my head, I returned to my seat after telling them sorry.
Before I could dwell on the issue Jessica and her minions stilettoed feet stepped into the class. She wore and proud expression on her face as she stood in front of the class.
“The witch, twelve o’clock,” Willa whispered. “No offense Audrey.”
“I see her.”
She scanned the class with a smirk on her face.
“I’ll assume that everyone’s privy to the news that dominated Primrose yesterday,” she began without preamble. “That my boyfriend Osos, is Prince Oscar Oswald —”
“He’s not your boyfriend anymore!” Darcy pipped up.
“Oh he is alright.”
“But he mostly spends time with Umbria,” Xena said.
“That’s because your Umbria slut is a two faced jackass.” Jessica deadpanned, and murmurs erupted.
“Look Jessica, if you’re going to stand up there and call names, then get off,” Victor said.
“Nope, don’t think so. I’m still Primrose’s queen remember? And I still will be even after this year’s elections. Anyway, as I was saying….” she scanned the hall until she settled on me. Her smirk deepened. So did my scowl.
“The two faced bitch thought she could just waltz into Primrose because she won a scholarship and challenge me in every way. Honestly I’d have backed down, but that changed when I realized exactly what and who Umbria Lee really is. And I have proof.”
She snapped her fingers and a guy appeared holding my bag.
“Hey! That’s my backpack. What are you doing with it? It was in my locker,” I yelled and stood up.
My friends stood up too. The Boys did so too.
“Jessica this is crazy. What exactly are you getting at?” Audrey asked.
“A point that would make perfect news to the principal. But first, I decided to show y’all. So that you’d kno. Empty it,” she said to the guy.
“Don’t you dare,” Stanley countered.
“I’m the school’s queen Stanley. Remember that. Now empty it,” she repeated. Stanley looked like he wanted to punch the macho in the face, but Victor held him back.
By now everyone was watching.
Machoman unzipped my bag and upturned it, spilling everything onto the table. Books. Pens. My scrapbook. My pencil case which served as a washbag.A few dollar bills.
And a white powder in a transparent plastic.
What the hell’s that?
Jessica stretched out her hand and the guy placed a glove in it. She wore it.
She picked up the parcel and my eyes widened.
” Coke,” she voiced out my thoughts. “Umbria Lee’s a drug addict and trafficker.”
BAM! The bombshell.
Everyone talked at once.
I couldn’t even say anything, I was dumbstruck. Audrey, Willa and Darcy stared at me. The Boys stared at me.
“That’s a lie,”: Audrey toned up.
” You’ve gone too far Jessica. ” Victor said.
“I’ll pummel your face if you don’t get off that place,” Chris said.
“Wait. If you don’t believe it, how do you explain a video evidence? I’ll have it transferred to the group’s blog and…… voilà!” she pressed stuff on her phone, and soon everyone was viewing a video.
I pulled out my phone too and watched it.
And tears slid down my eyes as every one who watched it whispered nasty things about me.
This is not happening.
This video…… it’s not recent. It’s strange. I remember when this happened; I was high at the time. And was still dating Tom. That was a year ago. Where the hell did she get this!?
I saw red.
I slammed my phone on the desk and lunged for her in an attack. I pulled her hair, scratched her face, kicked her. I was fighting blindly with my main aim to take a hit on her fake, scheming face. Wherever she got that video from I didn’t think about that now. Her screams as she tried to block my attacks and pull at my hair also.
Strong arms pulled me up. My hair messy. Jessica staggered up with the help of her friends. I turned to those who separated us. Chris and Vic held me.
“You lair Jessica! You’re a bitch! You’re framing me. I don’t do drugs I swear it.”
“Explain a video evidence then,” Jessica spat and swiped the blood from her lips. “See guys, who else but a junkie would attack me the way she did!?”
“You’re lying! She’s lying. I don’t do drugs… that.. that was…. I don’t.”
“Umbria let it go, you might attract teacher’s attention,” Audrey said soothingly. But the look on their faces was clear doubt. They didn’t believe me.
“Daddy’s going to find out about this Umbria Lee. So kiss your scholarship goodbye, and prepare for a road trip to juvenile prison.”
“Which isn’t going to happen because you’re going to delete that video, wipe it off the blog and pretend it never existed,” a male voice said.
We all turned towards the doorway and watched as Oscar came in. He wore grey joggers and tee., his hair was attractively messy. And his eyes were cold, zeroed in on me.
My grade mates were torn between bowing down or taking photos or saying hi, and they did all at once. That wasn’t my concern though. I wished the ground to open up and swallow me. He’d seen the video. That’s it; my whole ugly past stupidity captured in one disgusting footage. He’d hate me. Be disgusted. Avoid me. I couldn’t bear it, I bowed my head away from his gaze.
“Excuse me? Os—” Jessica stuttered, not knowing what to call him, “you’ve seen it. She’s a..a..a threat, she could soil Primrose’s image. Look what she did to me!”
“Which you rightly deserve, uh-huh,” he replied simply, and it sounded like he was laughing.
Curious, I risked a glance at his face. Sure enough there was a grin on it. “You look toasted Jess,” he added, and laughs started from a corner and spread throughout the class.
“I’d warned everyone here about taunting Umbria didn’t I?”
I continued staring at him like I was watching a movie.
“And I was damn serious. Jessica you’ll get what’s coming to you. Now get on with deleting that video.”
She stubbornly stood still. Oscar rolled his eyes at her and turned to me. He tipped my chin up. Gazed into my eyes. “I always knew you were a bad girl,” he said.
I swallowed past the lump in my throat. “Oscar I —”
He silenced me with a kiss that I gave into immediately, removing my hand from Victor’s and Chris’s to link at his neck. My eyes fluttered shut and tears streamed down, staining his cheeks. Still he kept on kissing me, stroking my tongue softly, changing angles slowly but deftly. I wasn’t aware of the coos and shocked murmurs, my senses were filled with only him, and that he was kissing me right now.
When we broke apart, he bit his lower lips and wiped my tears with his thumb.
“I love you.”