“You NEED to get up! You’re going to miss the bus!” my mother yells from the kitchen. Hesitantly, I get up, take way too long in the shower, throw on an outfit for the mere sake of being clothed, and drag myself and my soggy hair to the bus stop. It’s Friday. I love Fridays (not). Most people hate Mondays, but I hate Fridays because Friday means I’m going to have an entire two straight days without school to somewhat distract me from the situation at home. As I walk to the bus stop, blaring “our song,” Monsoon, by Tokio Hotel, on my pink Zune, I can’t help but anticipate what lies ahead. Escaping one torturous part of my life, only to descend into another. I thought eighth grade was supposed to be fun? I’m the first stop on the bus in the morning, so I get an entire five minutes to myself before anyone else gets on. Second stop, Alexander Road – three get on. Third stop, Zachary Circle, two get on. Fourth stop, Acorn Drive, one more gets on. He’s at the fifth stop. The bus drives a few more miles, past Hickory Boulevard, past Willow Avenue, and stops at Sycamore Lane. The doors of the bus menacingly screech open, and of course, he’s the first one on.
He sits down beside me, takes out his pack of gum, and whispers, “You coming over tonight?”
“Yes, Ryan. My mom is dropping me off at three…”
He nods in approval, puts his headphones in, turns his volume up, and shuffles songs by his favorite band, Escape the Fate. I feel the cold metal wall pressing against my arm as I attempt to pick a poorly applied duct tape patch off of the back of the vinyl seat in front of me. As he leans in for a kiss, all I can smell is his Crush for Men cologne, and his mouth tastes of Orbit Maui Melon Mint gum. He pulls me in, and I lean on his chest with the cold zipper of his red Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirt pressed against my face. Before I know it, the bus full of people I don’t care about, pulls up to a place I don’t care to be – school. Ryan and I part ways.
School just isn’t what it used to be. I hate seeing my friends laughing with one another. How are they so happy all the time? They’re like children. But then again, their parents aren’t in the middle of getting a divorce, so they probably don’t hate life.
First block – advisory. All I have to do is pretend to do the homework I didn’t do the night before. I can make it through the next ninety minutes… I hope. First the pledge, then the annoying announcements that seemingly go on forever, then attendance where I have to actually draw attention to myself by saying “here.” I power through, and onto second block I go. Algebra – I hate it. Absolutely hate it. As my classmates turn in their homework, I sit in silence. I didn’t do it. It just simply was not worth doing. Nothing is worth doing anymore. I zone out through second block and finally get to go to my locker and see Ryan again. Of course, he’s there before I am, waiting with a kiss. He slips his flavorless, overly-chewed piece of gum into my mouth.
“I love you,” he says.
“I love you too.”
The bell rings, he goes to class while I go to lunch. I eat nothing – I’m too fat to eat. I need to be skinny and pretty for Ryan because I don’t want him to leave me. I stand at recess with my “friends,” participating in meaningless conversation with a fake smile and nod every now and then. The bell rings, finally. I have only two blocks left – science and social studies. Science was okay, I actually did my homework for that class so it wasn’t too painful. Social studies consisted of first grade-level map coloring – easy enough. The bell rings, it’s 2:10 p.m. Finally,
I’m back on the bus once again with Ryan. He puts his hand, adorned with black-painted fingernails, right above my knee. Slowly bringing it upward.
“No, Ryan… Please,” I whisper.
“Shhh… I know you like it.”
He continues bringing his hand upwards, resting it on the inner part of my thigh. Too afraid of angering him, I say nothing. I don’t want to seem like a “prude.” The bus stops and the doors open.
“I’ll see you soon,” he says, “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
He sends me off with a kiss, and I make my way down the long, judgmental aisle of the bus. I hear a boy’s voice call out, “bye slut!” and the bus breaks out in laughter. I finally get off the bus, cross the street, and unlock the door. My mother is on the phone with a friend, talking about what an asshole my father is, as he’s asleep on the couch. I brush my teeth, change my shirt, and put on perfume.
“I’m ready,” I said.
“I’ll be off the phone in a minute – meet me in the car.”
The drive to Ryan’s is a short one, but it feels like forever. We pull up to Ryan’s house and approach the door. Before I had the chance to knock, we’re greeted by a sweet, middle-aged, Italian woman.
“You must be Jess,” she says.
“Yes, and this is my mom, Jen.”
“Nice to meet you,” my mother says, shaking hands with Ryan’s mom. “Please just don’t let them close the door… and no blankets!”
Ryan’s mother laughs “of course! We’ll have dinner shortly – I’m making lasagna!”
My mother smiles, “okay then. I’ll pick you up in a few hours, Jess. I love you! Be good!”
“I love you too, mom.”
At this point, Ryan comes upstairs from the basement.
“Hi beautiful, come downstairs for a few minutes,” he says.
“Keep the door open, Ryan,” his mother yells from the kitchen.
“Okay, mom!” He closes the door quietly and locks it behind him with a smile.
“She won’t bother us down here… She knows better.”
My heart starts pounding instantly. Alone, in the basement… maybe I really am a “prude” if this is all it takes to make me uncomfortable.
“Come cuddle me!” He plops down on the big brown couch in front of the T.V. and pulls over a blanket. “I’ll put on a movie.”
I lay on top of him, with my head on his chest. I can hear his heart beating, and feel his hands wandering. I don’t even know what movie he put on because all I can focus on is where his hands are.
He whispers, “take off your pants.”
“No, Ryan. I told you, I’m not ready.”
“Yes you are. I love you, and I know you love me. You know you want this. Come on, do it.”
He gives me a soft, gentle, slow kiss while attempting to undo my bra.
“No, Ryan… I love you, but I don’t want this. Please… please don’t make me do this,” I whisper as a tear rolls down my cheek.
“Fine,” he snaps back.
He shoves me onto the couch, forcefully squeezing my left bicep with his right hand. “You’re such a fucking prude – just like everyone says.”
I feel his nails digging into my skin, as he shoves himself on top of me, holding me down with all of his weight. I wedge my left leg between us and push him off of me. He jumps to his feet and stands at the opposite end of the couch.
“You’re worthless! You little whore. You’ll fuck everyone in school but not me? All the girls want me. You don’t know what you’re missing.”
At this point, I am numb, broken, afraid. Someone who was so sweet to me only moments ago has turned into a monster. I guess I am a prude, and somehow, simultaneously a slut.
I spent the rest of the time at Ryan’s sitting on the couch, staring at the T.V. as he plays video games, just counting down the minutes until I get picked up from my mother. Finally, I get the most beautiful text of all: “I’m here,” my mom said. I make my way slowly up the stairs, quietly unlock the door, and leave without even saying goodbye to him. Once in the car, my mother begins with the dreaded questions.
“How was it? Did you have fun? What did you do? You kept the door open, right?”
“Yes, mom. We just watched a movie with his little brother, had dinner, and then you were here. Everything was great.”
“Oh good, honey,” she says. “I’m glad you had fun. He seems like a sweet kid.”
Upon arriving back at home, I just went upstairs and laid in my bed. There are no texts from him. I don’t even know if we’re still together. He was the only thing I cared about. So now, I care about nothing.
I spend the entire weekend watching Netflix and eating pizza in bed, avoiding everything and everyone. I don’t even know if I exist anymore.
Monday morning – I wake up to the disgusting sound of my alarm clock. It’s 6:30 a.m. I have to get ready and get on the bus, only to re-live my pain. I struggle through the morning as usual, make my way to the bus stop, and get onto the bus. I listen to the sounds of the bus, feeling my heart pounding in my throat. We get to the first stop… second… third… fourth… and finally, the bus stops at Sycamore.