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Unbidden Truth

Sometimes we're told things we'd have rather heard from the source.

Watercolour Painting ©Susan Clare

"What?" The words didn't seem to sink in, they seemed to pass over her and never really settle. She refused to believe it, maybe that was why.

Jennifer flashed a smile, mischief and gloating glinting in her dark eyes. She leaned back in her chair.

"Yeah, I know. I never thought it would happen, but it did. I can't believe they never told you; you're the first person I thought would know..." Her words hung in the air, the connotation was not missed.

Emma shook her head, still in shock, disbelief, and concern plastered across her face. She could feel the tension in her brow and had to forcibly relax it by raising her eyebrows to break the tension. However, she couldn't do anything about the faintly sick feeling emanating from the back of her throat.

She looked around at the other students, shaking her head and not really seeing them.

"I don't believe you."

"It's true. You can ask Josh if you want. I even saw the messages she sent Andrew, but he doesn't know I read them." Jennifer looked oh-so smug, so unbelievably satisfied with herself for spreading such news. You could almost feel it dripping off her words. Emma just stared at the table, her hands shaking in minute increments. She felt the tension return to her brows.

Claire joined them at the table.

"What's going on?" Emma could feel Claire's gaze on her, 'probably concerned I look like this,' but she couldn't bring herself to look at her.

"Oh, Karen and Andrew fucked—or should I say Karen got plowed by Andrew on the bunk bed at Phoebe's last party." 'She's definitely enjoying telling people about this.' Although Claire didn't say anything, Emma was sure she was shocked, though not as much as herself.

'How could neither of them have told me? Maybe it's not true; Jen's always making shit up anyway'

She looked to Daniel, "I feel a little sick," he only shrugged and gave an apologetic smile; evidently, he was at a loss for appropriate things to say at the moment.

As more and more people joined their table, Jennifer continued to regale everyone with the news and so spawned a discussion of sorts about it, despite Josh telling her to shut up. Emma felt detached from the persons of interest, completely confused as to how it could've happened.

Daniel spoke up, "How'd you even find out, Jen?"

A huff of laugher, "I bullied it out of him—got him drunk at Jamie's and made him talk. Right, Josh?"

"Shut up about it; it doesn't matter." He seemed bored with the topic of conversation but made no attempt to introduce a new one. Jen leaned towards Emma.

"You know what you should do? You should call her and ask her about it. No? Oka,y then you should tell him you know and see what he says."

Face full of displeasure, Emma reluctantly sent a snapchat bearing the caption "I know" to Andrew. A few moments later, she received a blank photo in return. 'He won't admit it? Maybe it is bullshit after all. Actually, he probably just has nothing to say to that.'

A couple of hours later, Emma met Jennifer at the front of the school. She was already with other people, laughing and joking at Karen's expense since Andrew was no longer enrolled there. When Karen showed up, Jennifer and the others snickered, but Emma remained quiet. In fact, she barely said anything as the two of them walked home.

"Are you okay?" She couldn't bring herself to look at Karen properly. Instead, she smiled brightly.

"Yeah, fine. Why?"

"You just seem..."

"Quiet?"

"Yeah, but a different sort of quiet."

'Ah, she noticed. I want her to tell me but I don't want to force it. Maybe if I keep quiet, she'll tell me.'

She gave no response and they walked the rest of the way in silence, not even exchanging goodbyes when they parted ways.

'What's wrong with me? She probably doesn't want to tell me because she doesn't want me to react like Phoebe and the others. Maybe next time she's drunk I'll tell her "I know" and she'll either explain or cry and I'll comfort her. But I don't want to push her... It must be stressing her, I don't want her to worry. It's like that time with Bianca; she never wanted to tell me either. Or maybe it was me...? I hope she's okay.'