18 The New Student

Riana returned home and followed her usual routine. It was already the weekend, and there was still no sign of Dmitri.

Riana went into her now clean room. She was able to feel the smooth carpet rubbing against her toes. It felt weird, but she smiled when she thought of how clean it was now. She glanced at the walls as she thought of this, then she admired the portrait of Dmitri for a moment, and then she looked around at her clean floor. It was completely spotless, just like the rooms in Dmitri's house. The room now completely reminded her of Dmitri.

***

The weekend came and ended without anything special happening, and Riana returned to school on Monday.

She arrived early at the lockers, and she chatted a bit with Stella before entering the classroom. Surprisingly she did not forget any of her school supplies today.

She sat at the desk that she shared with Evan on Friday, and she quickly spread her stuff out across the desk. She was surprised that Evan did not appear. He was absent.

Riana was a bit upset to see that her new friend was not there, so she spoke with each and every one of her classmates while she waited for class to begin. She chatted with everyone except Maddie and Elizabeth who were still avoiding her.

She was a bit upset when she saw them. They were doing perfectly fine on their own, without her by their side. She wanted to be over there chatting with them too.

As she walked past them, she overheard them talking.

"That Evan, you know, I am so like embarrassed that I ever liked him. You know what I mean? I can't believe that he would do such a thing. How could he kill someone like that?" Maddie said.

"Evan is not a murderer." Riana interrupted. She knew that she was not wanted there, but she needed to stand up for her new friend.

"Oh, look, it's the murderer's best friend." Maddie mocked, "Well, Riana, are you happy now that you abandoned your friends for a murderer?"

Riana was petrified.

"Yeah. What a good friend you are, Riana. What, do you have a crush on the murderer?" A voice behind her mocked.

Everyone else in the class laughed. They were the same people she was talking happily with earlier, and now they were laughing at her. Riana's face turned bright red from anger.

"Look, now she's embarrassed. Her face turned all red." Maddie added, trying to make the situation worse.

"Enough, everyone. Leave the poor girl alone!"

Riana turned around to see who stood up for her and she saw that it was Stella. Finally, Riana felt comforted. At least there was one good person in this class.

"Oh, fine. But only since Stella said so." The person standing behind Riana said, "Stella, you really are too nice. You're even showing kindness to a murderer's best friend."

Then everyone returned to their seats. Riana sighed as soon as they were gone.

"Why did you side with the murderer? You knew that they would do this, didn't you?" Stella asked.

"He's not a murderer." Riana firmly replied.

"Fine. Evan. Why did you side with Evan?"

"He's not a murderer. Why should he be treated like one?"

"If not him then it would be someone else. They are just being teenagers. They'll grow out of it eventually."

"But they would harm him in the process. Why shouldn't I help him?"

Stella sighed. "Do you really want to be isolated from the rest of the class so easily?"

"Isn't Evan also being isolated? He did nothing wrong."

"But do you also want to be isolated? Isn't it better to be liked by the rest of the class? Why not lose one friend so that you can have many?"

Riana then sharply turned her head to look Stella directly in the eyes.

"Would they even be my friends then? What if the same thing happens to me one day? It easily could. I could be next."

"Then, is Evan even your friend? If I remember correctly, on Friday he refused to be your friend. Why should you be so adamant about protecting Evan? He doesn't want you. He doesn't need you."

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Riana turned around and walked back to her seat. She did not care about what Stella was saying anymore. She did not want to hear any more of this.

Riana knew that she was right. She did not need anyone telling her otherwise. She would not allow any words to affect her.

When Riana finally returned to her seat, she turned around to face Stella.

"It doesn't matter whether or not he is my friend. I am doing what I believe is right, and that is all that matters. You shouldn't interfere."

Then Riana sat down in her seat and opened her notebook.

Stella walked over and sat next to her.

"Riana," Stella said, "You needed my help today. How can I not interfere when I care about you?"

Riana laughed and turned her head back to her notebook. She felt no need to answer to Stella's words. All of Stella's words sounded pointless to her.

She knew that she could not avoid the bullying now that she decided to side with Evan, but she also did not regret her decision. It was the first time she truly felt happy since she saw the freshman girl's death.

That time she could not make the right decision in time, so this time she would not leave any opportunity for her to make the wrong decision.

***

Finally, the teacher walked into the classroom. Stella already went back to her seat, and Riana was still staring at her notebook and drawing.

"We have a new student today." The teacher started. Everyone in the class starting murmuring to each other about this. They did not hear anything about it before now. Everyone was excited about the new student and curious, everyone except Riana.

Riana was still drawing, and she completely ignored everything.

The new student walked into the classroom, and Riana could hear the female students gasp.

"Is he really that handsome?" she thought, "he can't possibly be as handsome as Dmitri."

Riana continued to ignore the voices and continued drawing.

"Hello."

The new student's voice sounded strangely familiar. Riana could not remember where she heard it, but she still did not look up.

"My name is Dmitri."

Riana finally looked up and froze. Her eyes grew wide as she saw him. Dmitri was standing before her.

She pinched herself hard, and when she felt pain she realized that this was not a dream. She could not believe her eyes and ears. Dmitri was here, right in front of her, in reality.

Riana looked at Dmitri in the eyes, and when their eyes met Dmitri smiled.

It was the familiar Dmitri that she knew. He was not a dream, he was now a reality. Riana knew that it was him. She felt it in her heart. This was Dmitri in reality.

Then Riana began to think, "was he ever truly a dream? Maybe he was always real."

Dmitri was real, and standing right in front of Riana.

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