Sarah's daughter, Nina has come home upset and in tears from the constant bullying at school. She finally had enough and decided to have a little talk about it with her mother. It lead to Sarah opening up to her own troubled past as a teenager.
Sarah “Scoots” Grayson
My daughter, Nina slammed the door behind her after getting home late from school I was in the kitchen preparing dinner for the night when I heard it; my reaction was to scold her about being gentle with the door before she breaks it and to call if she’s going to be late, so I don’t worry as much. I put down the spoon by the spaghetti pot.
I walked to the hallway, to where a short white pale girl in grey hoodie and black leggings with a dark purple hair stands. “Nina, what have I-“. I stopped as I soon see tears dripping down her face. “Nina, is everything alright?
Nina avoiding eye contact and stared at the wooden floor. “I don’t want to talk about it.” She said, as she lumped ran past me and up the stairs to her room, giving it another slam. “Not this again”. I thought as I climbed up the stairs. My daughter was always a “late bloomer” to put it nicely, problems at school must be getting worse.
“Nina sweetie, are you alright?” I knocked on her door. Using my best concert mom’s voice.
“Go away”. Nina yelled, part crying, through the door. I expected that response from her.
“Nina, this is the third time this week you came home like this. If you don’t talk about it, it’s just going to keep happening.” I said as I tried to reason with her. I hate seeing her like this.
“I said go away”. She repeated again.
“Fine”. I said. There was no point to fight with her at least for now. Dinner still has to be made. I would have to deal with Nina later.
I going back to the kitchen and continued what I was doing before; I put the garlic bread in the oven and turn it on. Then took the spoon and gave the spaghetti another stir in the pot of pasta. When I see Nina like this it truly breaks my heart however, she doesn’t like to talk about what the kids do to her at school.
I’ve seen her come home with cuts and bruises and once, a black eye! It keeps getting worse but Nina refuses to tell me anything. There’s not much I can do without any information. She used to be such a happy girl. Always smiling and laughing, now she locks herself in her room and only comes out for dinner or to go to school.
She doesn’t have that many friends and rarely goes out on weekends. She would rather stay home and not be at school. Nina makes every excuse in the book to get out of it. Like she has a stomachache or she doesn’t want to walk in the rain, anything she can come up with, she’ll use it. She has missed tons of school, too many days for me to count.
Pouring the boiled water out in the sink, separating spaghetti and water.
I’m at my wits end with her, since my husband, Robert goes on business trips four times a week and isn’t home that much to help out with Nina. I'm by myself most of the time with her. I kind of feel a like a single mom sometimes-.
“Mom”. A voice said behind me.
I turned to see Nina standing the kitchen, head low in defect. She actually came out of her room that’s a miracle in itself.
“Yes sweetie”. I said. Taking in this rare moment.
“I think I'm ready to tell you what happens at school”. Nina said. Tears formed in her eyes. Her self-confidence has really gone down hill since the surgery. She’s no longer that happy little girl she once was.
“Okay, give me a minute to finish dinner and then we can talk it over while we eat”. I said, putting the pasta back in the pot.
“Alright”. Nina sniffed. She left and went retreating back to the room to her room.
Supper is on the table. Nina sat at the far end, she staying quiet and glaring it at her plate of food. She picked at it a little, reminding silent as possible. Guess I'm the one who has to start the conversation (yet again).
“So Nina, what did you want to talk to me about?’ I asked from the other side of the table. Why did Robert have to buy the biggest one they had at the store? I mean it takes up half of the living room. I can’t believe he brought such a huge table without consulting me-.
“Focus Sarah, this isn’t important now.” I thought.
For a moment Nina hesitated before an answer is given. “I'm just sick of everyone treating me like shit since my leg was removed”. Nina said. She went back to stare at the floor again, a nervous habit she developed over time. “It’s like no one cares about me anymore”.
“A year ago, Nina was diagnosed with cancer in her left leg the cancer had gotten bad so quickly. The doctor acted and amputated part of the limp before could it spread. Nina was devastated that she wouldn’t be able to do cheerleading anymore. It was her passion. She gotten her team losing every competition to winning awards and to the regionals, owning her the cheerleader captain.it was hard for Nina to give that up.
She cried and begged me not to let the doctors do this to her. I told her it would save her life and will she make through it. I loathed making her do that but see he would’ve died if I had done nothing.,
My husband was away at work on another business trip and I couldn’t get a hold of him. I called him several times with no answer. I had to face that on my own with her. It wasn’t only hard for Nina it was hard on me too. I sobbed quietly in the hospital waiting room during her emergency operation. With no one to comfort me, I was on my own.
When Nina was able to return to school. She was greeted by getting ignored by her best friends or being shoved into lockers by others. Nina used to tell me everything but when bullying started, she turned very shy and didn’t want to be close to anyone, she has changed a lot over a short period of time.
“Nina, no swearing at the dinner table, it’s not lady like”. I cautioned slightly. ‘And what do you mean when you think that no one cares?”
Nina sighed. “None of my friends have spoken to me after the operation, even if I go near them, they walk off together. They called me a one legged freak-”. Nina erupted into tears and broke down. I got out of my chair and hugged her.
“Shh, It’s going to be fine. Those girls aren’t your friends if they’re treating like that”. I comforted her as I hugged her tighter.
Nina sniffed. “How do you know? You don’t understand what it’s like looking like a freak show all the time”. Nina cried. “I’ll be a one legged loser for the rest of my life”.
I took in a deep breath to calm myself down. That brought back some bad memories and uncovered old wounds. “She doesn’t mean it, She's having a rough patch’. I told myself for another time. It still pains me to hear that my daughter thinks she’s a loser and I felt the same once as well.
“Nina, I know what you're going through and it isn’t easy, I wished you weren’t hurting so much but I had a very similar thing happen to me when I was your age”. I confessed.
Nina wiping her tears away. “What do you mean?”
Imagine not being able to be like everyone else? What it’s like seeing others do what you cannot. Something you were supposed to do at birth but for whatever the reasons are, you couldn’t. Going through a living nightmare each and every day.
No matter how much you want to scream and cry, you're not allowed too. No, you have to put on a brave face and live life to the fullest. Be an Inspiration for everyone around as there’s always someone with it way worse than you. Show everyone you're not bothered by what your disabilities are.
That’s what I struggled with for years.
Hello. I'm Sarah Edwards.
For the longest time I felt useless and a disgrace to my family. I'm not like other girls. I had delayed speech known as “Apraxia of Speech” or “AOS”. A disorder that affected speech and basic motor skills, it impacted my life in many ways.
My parents were told that I will never ride a bike or talk. Ever. I was put in speech therapy at the age of four and didn’t talk until I was 5.
“I’m just a waste of space.”
In school, that’s when I knew I was different. None of the other children had special teacher or had speech therapy for them like I had. Mrs, McLane, an older narrow face woman with greying coffee black hair, who followed me everywhere I went. I couldn’t stand it.
Having a special teacher and special private room to special work really made me different from all the other children. I wanted to be like everyone else. I didn’t really stand out until middle school.
* * *
It was the first day of middle school, a huge change for me.
“Hey Scoots.” My friends, Emily Walter and Bella McDonald happily greeted me in unison before school started. Using the nickname I had since I was little,
“Hi”. I returned the greeting with the same energy they both had. Couldn’t let them clue in that I’m not happy with being in the Special Ed program. But in reality, I didn’t want be there. I plotted my escape to go home at lunch.
“Scoots, are you alright?” Emily asked in her thick southern accent. Noticing the look on my face., as she moved a long red piece of hair out of her bright green eyes.
To tell the truth, I wasn’t. I’ve been miserable and dreaded this day since before summer even started. But my friends don’t need to know that. I'm not going to be that damper on this exciting day. Emily and Bella were nonstop talking about this day. I couldn’t ruin that for them.
“I’m fine”. I lied. With my great acting skills to the test, they couldn’t know
“Umm… okay”. Emily remarked.
“We should try to find the theatre room”. Bella said as she fixed her dark chocolate brown hair ponytail paired with lilac hair tie.
“Okay”. I replied.
That was a lie I told every day. Who knew two simple words could cause me all this grief. It bothered me I was being two faced to my two best friends, but at the time I saw it as protecting them.
I thought they'd laugh at me if I told the truth and tell me to get over it. I didn’t want deal with that kind of crap. I don’t need to hear it from them too. I don’t want to see their sorry faces; I have dealt with that enough.
Now I'm going to be more of a target. West Sun Middle School, the school I’m just started was well renowned for bullying the special needs kids and the freshman by the other students… and I was both,
To keep it short, I was bullied and harassed. I lived through being pushed to floor and getting tripped by conveniently placed feet in cafeteria. I had a speech impediment (still do) and some kids seem to love made fun of me.
Then there was a day that causes me to snap. Dianne Welsh the most popular girl at school I'm not sure what her problem with me was but whatever it was, she hated me.
At lunch, I had tray of mashed potatoes with gravy and ham sandwich, I was walking to the table where Emily and Bella were. i already had the most terrible day of my life. First I forgotten my English teacher, Mr Watson screamed at me in front of the entire class, leaving me red in the. face everyone found it so hilarious . Then after that humiliation, a group of boys, teased me how I talked and pushed me to floor.
I now have a face full of mashed potatoes on the floor after Dianne Welsh tripped me with her leg. That did it. Dianne and her friends were all laughing at me. I couldn’t take it anymore,
“Y-you think that’s funny?’” I shouted at her. I got up and grabbed the tray.
Dianne said nothing and kept laughing loudly, I took the tray and her over the head with it as hard as I could and then punched her in the face. She dropped to the tile with a bleeding nose
“You’re a bitch”.. I shouted again and walked out of the cafeteria. I later got two-week suspension for fighting with excessive force My defence was Dianne started it when she tripped me and I acted in self-defence however the principal disagreed and still punished me.
“ I hate my life”.
Nina and I moved into the living room and began chatting on the couch. After her meltdown at dinner, I'd moved us here to have a brief heart to heart. She'd finally calmed down and willingly joined me. I even gave her a glass of red wine, deciding that it would calm her down a bit. It was only a quarter of cup, so I didn't see the harm in it. I hoped she wasn't a lightweight like her dad is. Giving a minor a teensy bit of wine was one thing, but getting a minor drunk was an entirely different beast altogether.
“So...are you ready to talk about what happened at school?" I asked her, taking a sip of wine. This should be good.
“I will after another glass of wine...pretty please?" Nina gave me her signature "puppy eyes." I wasn't impressed. I'd seen better.
“Nice try. You've had enough already, and besides...your father is going is to kill me if he finds out I let you drink any in the first place...”
“So don’t tell him. What he know doesn’t, won’t hurt him, right?"
“No more alcohol for you, girl. You're only fifteen. Now focus."
“Ugh...you’re such a buzz kill, mom. Fine.” Nina rolled her blue eyes at me.
“Forgive me for not being "with it" or whatever you kids think is "cool" nowadays. Now what did you do, missy?” I was beginning to lose patience here. I didn't feel like getting the run around right now.
“Okay, okay! I'll tell you...but you've got to promise you won't get mad."
“Fine. I promise. Now what happened?"
“You've got to give me a "Pinkie Promise." I put a hand to my forehead in exasperation. I didn't have the patience for this right now.
"Whatever. "Cross my heart, hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye." Good enough for you?" Nina nodded.
"Yep. Okay...so this is what happened...." Nina began telling her story.
Nina grabbed her history textbook out of her locker and closed it. History was her last class for the day...and it was also her least favourite class. She looked around her in the crowded hallway full of students chatting in between periods. She usually didn't mind the noise, but she had a bit of a short fuse today. She decided to head straight to class. She turned around...and suddenly bumped into something and heard a clamour as several books fell upon the linoleum floor. It was a boy with light brown hair in a bright red hoodie and dark blue jeans. She'd made him drop his textbooks by bumping into him.
“Oh, my bad! Sorry 'bout that...didn’t you see there." She went to pick up the books to help him. It was the least she could do after crashing into him like that.,, but then again...he was built pretty solidly. She doubted she'd so much as bruised him.
“No, no, don't worry about it. It’s fine. I got it," he said while picking the books up off the linoleum floor of the crowded hallway.
“No. I was the one who bumped in you. Let me help." Nina stubbornly ignored his protests and continued to “help." Her militant politeness was to be refused by no one. No one.
“You don’t need to. Really." The boy sighed in resignation after realizing that Nina was going to help him whether he liked it or not. While the two of them gathered the textbooks off the floor, their hands touched briefly. They both blushed, and Nina frantically took her hand away.
“S-sorry." The crimson taint on Nina's cheeks darkened even further. She couldn't help it. He was cute.
“It’s cool. Hey, I was skipping class, anyway. You wanna' join me?”
“Won't you get in trouble for that?” The boy rose to his full height. She was maybe five inches shorter then him. He was pretty imposing and well built.
“Only if we get busted! And we're not gonna' get busted. Scout's honour!" He winked at her. Nina thought about his proposition for a second. History had never been her favourite subject, and there was someone actually talking to her. In person. Not many people had talked to her now after she'd had her surgery. They usually saw her as an outcast or a freak. She couldn't blow this for herself. Maybe the two of them could foster a closer relationship?
“Okay, I'm game. History sucks anyway."
"Huh. Really? I'm going to' have to disagree with you there. I'm Nina by the way." Why would this guy hate gym class?
He seemed pretty athletic, so it should be a breeze for him. Nina, however, despised gym only slightly less than history. Despite her slender build, she was pretty unfit. She couldn't do a single pull or do anything more than dangle with her feet off the ground on the rope climb. This guy shouldn't have any problem with either activity, though. Maybe he just didn't like dressing out or showering with a bunch of dudes. That last thought made Nina blush again. She inwardly cursed her adolescent hormones for making her such a clumsy, amorous mess.
"Nice to meet you, Nina. I'm Chris. Ready to head out?"
¬¬¬¬The two walked out the school doors as the bell rang. Chris discreetly draped one of his arms around Nina as the two of them walked out into the warm sunshine. She chose not to say anything about it. In a weird way, she liked it...and she was desperate to have any sort of friend after her old "friends" had ditched her. She'd felt lonely for such a long while. This was a nice change of pace. And, hey...it wasn't like Chris wasn't easy on the eyes or anything. She could do a lot worse, right? The boy smiled at her. She liked his smile. He had a cute smile. Today was turning out to be a pretty good day, after all.
With hands locked, Chris took Nina to a small park across from the school. He brought over her a shady spot where trees hidden from any prying eyes. The boy sat under a tree motioned Nina to join him. Nina took a seat on the ground but made sure she sat beside him where her single leg could put some distance between them. She was nervous. As much as she liked this guy, she wanted to take things slow. She'd heard from a lot of girls how relationships always turned sour when a couple rushed things. But were they a couple? A real, legit couple?
“So...uh...do...do you come here often?” Nina asked. Making a rather clumsy attempt at conversation. Luckily, Chris didn't seem to mind. He seemed perfectly at ease in her company, though. She wished she could say the same about herself.
“Just to cut gym class...which...I guess makes that all the time...maybe I should've just said that outright, huh? Hehehe..."
The boy chuckled. She wondered if it was a nervous chuckle...a part of her wished that he were feeling just as awkward as she was right now. Was he nervous, too? But after Chris suddenly scooted a bit closer to her, she decided that he wasn't. The two of them were barely two inches away from one another now...but the big guy wasn't putting any pressure on her, and he seemed to be taking things slow with her. She smiled and grasped his hand in her own...she could feel the rough, callused texture of his hand. It was so much different than her own baby-soft, smooth hand...and Chris’s¬¬ hand was so big that it completely engulfed her own. She blushed. He was clearly pretty strong...but his grip on her hand was so gentle. He was sweet. This wasn't too bad. She relaxed a little. She was close enough to smell his cologne now...she also thought she could smell something else...tobacco? She couldn't really tell for certain, seeing as to how she didn't hang around smokers enough to know the smell.
Not that she cared that much, though....it still smelled nice. He smelled nice. Masculine. Should she tell him such a thing? Would he take it as a compliment, or would he just think she was weird? She forced herself to stop over-thinking the situation. She took a deep breath and tried to relax again...
“You skip English much?” The boy didn't seem the slightest bit ill at ease. Had he done this with another girl before? She felt a sudden pang of irrational jealousy. She forced herself to stop over-thinking...yet again. She hoped she wouldn't keep over-analysing everything the two of them said and did. It was getting kind of annoying at this old.
“Not so much English. Mostly just History...that stuff is mind numbing. But...I don’t have anyone to skip class with...so...uh...*ahem*...I don't usually do this...but like I...this is pretty cool...I'll...I'll shut up now..." Nina was inwardly kicking herself. Why couldn't stop babbling and shut her big yap?==
She wondered if she sounded like a dork? Did he think she was a dork? She hoped not. Dorks didn't land boyfriends. Dorky girls ended up fat and alone with their only solace in life being their occasional trip to the comic book store to buy the latest issue of Spider-girl or Batgirl...and to chat up the guy working as the cashier as their sole means of male contact. At least, that's what she thought happened to dorks...in the movies, anyway. But what qualities made ag irl a "dork," anyway? She was starting to feel nervous again...
“Ha! Well, you do now, Nina! Consider me your "go-to" from now on, if you ever wanna' skip with someone. But I actually kinda' dig History myself. UK history is pretty cool, if you try to get invested in it and stuff. You learn all sorts of awesome stuff about the past that most people have forgotten about. Some pretty crazy stuff went down in history, trust me. Did you know Queen Elizabeth were originally from..." Nina groaned. Great. Just what she needed right now. A history lecture, she begun to tone him out. But she didn't want him to think he was boring her. Either
"Uh...wow...I didn't know that. That's...that's neat." "Neat?" Did she just say "neat?!" No one her age said "neat!" What was she? Eighty years old?!
"Ah, I get it...I'm boring you. Sorry. I kinda' get carried away about all that stuff." Uh oh. He was on to her. She pretty pulls a quick save.
"Oh! No,! It's cool! Y-your is not boring me or anything. I...we can talk about history, if you want. I like history, too...I just like...said all that stuff before to...to...uh..." Crap! Now she was babbling! Her brain frantically searched for the right words to say to the handsome guy. She didn't want him to think she despised his favourite subject in school! But Chris merely smiled at her in response.
"Hehehe...yeah...suuuuurrrreee. Whatever you say, Nina. C'mon. You can't fool me. I saw your eyes glazing over." What should she say to him? Should she be honest? Or should she make something up? Thankfully, Chris
"It's fine. So what if you're not a history buff? Big deal. You can't help what you do and don't like. Everyone’s different.” That was true. He wasn't judging her. She sighed a breath of relief and responded...
“Well, no, it's not that I just...uh...like totally hate history or anything. I guess I just don't like the teacher, Ms Scott. All she does is put on movies and give homework. It’s really boring. I think she hates her job. Like...for example, I saw her put her feet on her desk last week...she started texting the whole time we were watching this movie about slavery or something. And I think she puts scotch in her coffee, too." Much to her surprise, Chris started giggling. Actually, giggling! She didn't know boys giggled! It was one of the cutest things she'd ever seen...she groaned to herself...she was acting like a complete tool.
“Hehehehehe!!....aw....man...she sounds like a model teacher," Chris said, as he'd procured the items for which he'd been rummaging in his pack.
Chris took out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter...he lit up a smoke and took a heavy...he breathed out the blue-grey smoke in a big, nebulous cloud in front of the pair. Nina merely stared at the smoking boy in pure disbelief. She'd had no idea he smoked...but then again, his cologne had masked most of the tobacco's scent on his clothes. Nina felt a pang of intense disappointment. As a cancer survivor, she wanted nothing to do with smoking...or smokers.
Why did Chris have to do one of the things she hated the most? Did the one colt who actually took an interest in her really have to a smoker? Why couldn't she just catch a break? Was this all some sort of complex joke? Did some cosmic being up above think messing with her every other day in some new and unique way was funny or something? If so, then she hoped it was all worth it. She hoped he was getting a good laugh out of all this, whoever he was. A simple knock-knock joke was good enough for Nina, but nooooooooo! This guy liked architecting these great, farcical tragedies that were absurdly complex and laden with all sorts of satire and irony!
“Oh, did you want one?" Chris offered her a cigarette, dangling it in front of her face. She grimaced.
“No, thanks," she said in a terse, no-nonsense voice.
"Oh. Okay, then." A thick waft of tobacco smoke entered Nina's nostrils, prompting her to sputter and cough.
“*cough* *cough* Blegh! Could you please just...like put that out? Please? It's making me tear up, Chris."
The stench of the oily, acrid smoke was grossing her out. She scooted away from him, as she sputtered and wheezed. Why did some people think it was "cool" to smoke? Were they trying to kill themselves? Did they have a problem with breathing without an oxygen tank after they'd contracted emphysema? Did they just like the smell or something? Nina shook her head. She just couldn't understand some people.
“Sorry...but could you just let me finish one first? I'll stop after this one. Promise."
“Okay...*cough*...but no more...*cough*...jeez..." Chris's eyes softened. He exhaled a final drag off his cigarette before flicking the lit cherry out onto the dirt by his boot. He stomped out the cherry and put his cigarettes away. He looked...apologetic...and embarrassed...Nina felt guilty. She hadn't wanted to make the guy feel bad or anything. She'd just wanted to breath air that didn't make her cough up a lung or something.
"Hey...I'm sorry. I didn't know it bothered you so much. Sorry." She smiled at him.
"Don't worry about it. It's not a big deal. I just can't stand the smell...it makes me gag...ugh..."
“Is that all? Hehehe...well, that's why people invented body spray. Cigarette smoke, I banish thee!" Chris procured a black can of body spray with a roguish grin and then proceeded to spray himself with the strong-smelling substance...
Nina decided that the body spray wasn't much a superior alternative smell to the stench of burning tobacco. The caustic cloud of deodorant was starting to make Nina gag almost as much as the smoke had...in fact, it was actually worse! She covered her nose and mouth to block out the smell. Nina wretched and coughed as the body spray assailed her eyes, nose, and mouth all at once...like some sort of "bum's-rush" offensive maneuverer intended to overwhelm with sheer intensity rather than any sort of defined strategy. Why did guys think that girls liked the smell of that crap?! It made you smell worse than before! And why did the company that made the stuff think it was a good idea to make the smell so strong?! It was like getting punched in the head with a huge fist holding a bunch of flowers that had been soaked in pine cleaner! Nina covered her nose with her shirt to filter out the ordure. She sighed in exasperation as Chris continued to clueless pile on the cheap, vehement deodorant with a goofy smile on his face. He actually thought he was helping...
Great. She couldn't believe that she'd ever miss the smell of cigarette smoke.
A while after he had completely encompassed himself in a thick cloud of that awful, gag-inducing body stray and had put out his cigarette, Chris spread his arms and got. He walked to the edge of the park and quickly surveyed the distant school to see if class had let out or not. Nina hoped the wind would blow some of that nasty stench off him (somehow). Chris walked back to Nina and sat back down next to her. He had the look of a boy who had something awkward to ask/say. And as he began speaking after what had seemed an eternity of uncomfortable silence, Nina understood why he had this look.
“Um...hey, Nina...can I ask you something?"
"Yeah. Sure. What's up?"
"Do you like...d-do you have a boyfriend? It's cool if you already do, though. Just...you know...curious...*ahem*” Nina’s cheeks turned beet red.
“Um.... n-no...Not really, why?" She was still reeling from her surprise.
Nina had been taken completely off-guard by his question. Why would he ask her about something like right out of the blue?! Weren't you supposed to ease into asking questions like that?! She wasn't even sure how she should answer him. She barely knew him after all. Although Nina had seen Chris in the hallway quite a few times, neither of the pair had ever talked until today. They didn't even have any classes together. Why would Chris take such an interest in a girl he barely knew? But...apparently, she was doing something right, as Chris put his arm around her again and pulled her in closer to him. Nina was glad that the dreadful tobacco-body spray stench had been dissipated by wind...he didn't smell like an ashtray full of cologne anymore.
“You don't? Oh, cool. I just figured a girl like you would have already...uh...you know..." He pulled her even closer towards him. But what had he meant by that last comment?
"What'd you mean by all that "a girl like you would have already, you know" business?" He wasn't implying that she...she was "loose?" Was he?
"Oh, uh...it's just that you're really pretty. I just figured you already had a boyfriend is all." She blushed again. Her heart began beating a bit faster. She had to answer him...she had to let him know that he hadn't flustered her. She had to play it cool.
“T-thanks,. You’re not so bad looking yourself.” Yeah. Like a boss. If she hadn't stuttered a bit while saying "thanks," then she'd have almost sounded like a veritably sultry movie vixen.
"Hehehe...thanks, Nina. So...uh...what do you think of me? Being your boyfriend, I mean?" Nina felt Chris's hand slide down her back to her waist. It was making her pretty uncomfortable, but she did nothing to stop it. After all...wasn't this kind of stuff a part of dating? Should she just go along with it?
"Uh...I...I'm not sure..." What sort of answer was that?! Would he take offense?
“Well...I think we'd good together, Nina...I've seen in around the school a bunch of times. You're always by yourself...you always look so...well...lonesome. I don't think that's right. A pretty girl like yourself shouldn't be alone all the time...you deserve better..." As sweet as his words seemed, Chris's subsequent actions held an entirely different connotation.
After he'd said this, Chris began sensually running his hand down Nina's leg. He pull her even closer...his hand began massaging her upper thigh. That did it. It was too much too soon. Chris had crossed the line. He couldn't possibly think she'd do something like that, could he? This wasn't even their first date technically! Why would he even think doing such a thing this soon was reasonable?! But...what if he didn't care? That thought chilled Nina down to her very bones. Alarm bells started going off in her head. She needed to come up with a reason to get away from him. Anything. Now.
“I-I think I should go, Chris. S-sorry. I have a lot of homework to do. I'll see you around..." She slung her bag over her shoulders and began briskly walking away from where Chris sat. She thought it'd be a pretty good idea right about now to put some distance between the two of them.
"Nina! W-wait a minute!!," he shouted after her. Nina stopped suddenly in her tracks and turned to face him. But why? Why was she doing this? She must be crazy. She had to get out of here.
"You forgot your textbook." Chris walked up to her and handed her the book. She took it and put it in her bag. She turned to leave again.
“Thanks. Bye," she said in a terse, nervous voice. But she couldn't leave for some reason. She just stood there. Her hand brush a single strand of her vibrant, purple hair away from her eyes, and she awkwardly stared at the while avoiding eye contact with the boy. He was the first to break the silence.
“Uh...so...d-do you wanna' hang out again sometime?" His demeanour had changed entirely. Now Nina understood. Chris had likely thought that putting on a cool face and being overly aggressive equated to "confidence." She had misread his intentions.
He'd probably taken some bad dating advice about "being the alpha male" without understanding what that even meant. He wasn't a creeper after all. He'd tried to put on the “cool act”, but now Nina knew that he'd been every bit as nervous as she had.
"What do you mean by "hang out?"
"Uh...yeah...sorry about that. I didn't mean to freak you out or anything...I just...I really wanna' see you again, Nina."
He was sorry. He hadn't wanted to frighten her at all. He was so unsure of himself. Vulnerable. This was the real Chris. He wasn't some "ladies man" type guy at all. He was inexperienced, too. It was pretty adorable, she had to admit. She was feeling a lot more comfortable around him now. Maybe she should give him a second chance?
“Hehehe....so...like...what? Are you asking me out or something?"
“Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how you answer." Nina giggled. He was trying to reclaim a little bit of his lost confidence. But he couldn't fool her anymore. She knew he was just a big softie inside. Not a lecherous creep.
“Yeah. Okay, sure. So, what'd you have in mind?"
“How 'bout a movie next Friday?"
“Well...you have to come to found out." Chris smirked at her like a mischievous boy.
“Playing hardball, huh? Alright, then. It’s a date." He beamed at her. She liked his smile.
"Okay. Cool...so...what do we do now?" Nina walked over to him and grasp his right hand in her left.
"How 'bout we just walk around for a bit? It's a nice day. Shame to waste it, right?" He nodded and intertwined his fingers with her own, taking care not grip her digits too tightly. He was gentle. Sweet.
"Yeah. You got a point, Nina. Heard it might rain tomorrow, too." The pair began walking away from the tree hand-in-hand. She was feeling a lot more optimistic about the two of them.
She smiled gently as she walked with him. She was glad she'd given him a second chance.
Nina ended her story there.
“Nina...did anything else happen after the "walk?” I exhaled a deep sigh and set down my glass of wine. I was worried that there was more to the story than what Nova had let on.
“No, that’s it. We had coffee afterwards but nothing else, really."
“Then why did you come home so upset? I'm confused."
“Well...I kinda' felt guilty for skipping class. And...uh...and...I got beat up on my way home...”
"Jeez, mom! Relax! It's not that big a deal! This is why I didn't wanna' tell you at first." She wanted me to relax after hearing something like that?! Had Nina lost her mind?!
"Are you kidding me?! Of course, it's a big deal! What happened?!"
"Do you know who they were? Were they kids from your school, or were they townies? Whatever. Doesn't matter. I'm calling the school first thing in the morning." No one was going to rough up my kid and get away with it. I'd see to it personally if need be.
“Mom! C'mon! You don't have to do that! It happens all the time to some kids between classes."
"Yes, I do need to do this! This is serious, Nina! What if you'd really gotten hurt?! What if you keep letting it happen to you, and you end up in the hospital?!"
“Calm down! Please! I'm already embarrassed enough as it is! The last thing I need is something else they can make fun of me for! I don't fit in as it is already!"
"Whoopty friggin' doo, Nina. High school doesn't matter in the long scheme of things. You grow out of it. But someone putting his or her hands on you isn't something to take lightly. In fact, it's illegal...does the word "assault" ring any bells? We've got to do something about this."
"Just...please...please just drop the subject already. Calling the school won't do any good, anyway...I shouldn't have even told you all this..."
Wait...what? What do mean, "¬¬¬¬it won't do any good?"
“Remember from Gabriela Phillips my last year's class?” I did. In fact, I knew the name well.
Gabriela was a girl who'd gone to Nina’s school last year and was regularly bullied just like Nina. Of course...the school had done nothing to stop it. It had gone on for most of the year until one day...it went too far. Gabriela couldn't take the taunting anymore and committed suicide in her room one night after school. Nina had been pretty broken up about it even though she and Gabriela weren't all that close. But I understood why. Gabriela's situation was almost identical to my daughter's. But I'd be damned before I'd just sit idly by and let the same thing happen to Nina.
“I rather not gossip about this. Can finish you what were telling about school? How did Auntie Dash or your parents take it”. Rania Dash, my adoptive sister, she took me in where no one else would. She even walked me down the isle on my wedding day.
“Let’s just your auntie was there for me when no anybody else was”. I said. To this day I won’t talk about my parents. Even my husband doesn’t know very much and I have married been to him for twenty years almost. Just something I don’t rather not to remember those times.
School wasn’t the only thing that made me depressed. At home with my parents were horrible times and they put a lot of pressure on me to act “normal”. They told I would be disowned if I didn’t. I wouldn't mean anything to them if I didn't. My father used to come in my room and would tell me that I was a piece of shit. My mother stood by and did nothing to stop it. Eventually I had enough. There was a night where he went too far. My own father hit me. That was the day I would take no more…
I ran away.
When my parents were sleep that same night, I went through the window in my room. I slept on a park bench in the cold of the night with a newspaper blanket. I pulled down my sleeves as far as they go to keep myself warm. I eventually fell asleep with a tear rolling down my face.
“Sarah, what are you doing here?” I heard the voice just before a hand started shaking me.
“W-what,” I stuttered as I started to wake up. I saw a blonde curly hair woman. Near her was a tall man standing in the distance. The only thing I could tell was that he had navy blue jacket on and black hair.
It was Rania Dash. I’ve known her since I was in elementary school and I have looked up to her for just as long.
“I said why you are sleeping on a bench?” She repeated. “Won’t your parents be worried sick?” Rania got on her knees to my level.
“It’s fine,” I lied. “I just wanted to sleep under the stars.” It was a cloudy night and below zero in the winter.
“Do your parents know you’re here?” Rania questioned.
“Dash, are going to be much longer? I'm freezing out here,” The man called out.
“Sorry Simon, I just need another minute with her.” Dash rolled her eyes. “Go run for a bit to stay warm.”
“I'm not leaving you in the park alone this late!”
“Then quit complaining and stay close,” she retorted, a little annoyed.
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“My date. Don’t change the topic. Now answer the question.”
“No they don’t, and I'm not going back to that house ever again.” The tears now began to pour down my face. Rania stood back up and went in deep thought.
“Sarah, you can crash at my house for the night, but we’re going to have a talk about what happened with your parents, alight?” I nodded. When I left, I didn’t take a jacket with me. That was a mistake on my part.
“Can we go now?” I shivered as I rubbed my hands together to try and keep myself warm. Rania took off her black scarf and handed it to me.
“Here,” She said, as she wrapped it around my neck.
“We should get you warm. Hey Simon, I’m taking Scoots home with me.” Simon was running around a bench to keep warm.
“What about our date?” Simon asked. “I don’t know when I’ll be getting time off again.”
“We’ll have to reschedule,” Dash said. “I need to get her home. Look at her, she's freezing.”
Simon agreed but didn’t seem that happy.
Rania and I walked back to her apartment with Simon lagged along behind us. We all entered her place. Her tiny one-bedroom flat was just a little bit than the room at my parent’s house.
“Scoots, looks like you have the couch. I’ll get you a shirt to sleep in, so I’ll be back in a bit.” Rania hung her red parka in a hanger and put it the closet.
Simon sat at the small table in the kitchen area. He honestly looked like he wanted to kill someone. It was probably me. I felt bad that their date was a bust because of me, but Dash did offer me to spend the night here and I was not to going to reject that proposal. I could have frozen to death if she didn’t come by when she did. I have been that cold before.
“So, how many dates have you been on with Dash?” I asked casually. It felt painful with the silence.
I saw Simon counted on his fingers.
“Nine, I think,” He said.
“That’s nice,” I commented. Aw, that’s so adorable. Dashie has a boyfriend.
“Okay, Scoots. Here’s a shirt, a blanket, and a pillow,” Dash said as she threw the green shirt at me. Due to my slow reaction, it landed on my head. Rania giggled at that.
“Is it that late already?” Simon said as he stared at his watch. “I should get going now. Night Dash and Sarah.” It was practically two in the morning on a Saturday night…
“You can just call me Scoots if you want,” I said.
“I’ll walk you out. Don’t fall asleep yet, Scoots. Remember we need to have our little talk first.” She grabbed her keys and put on her shoes. Simon wrapped his arm tightly around her and headed out the door.
“Goodnight, Scoots,” Simon said, as he closed the door.
“They sure make a cute couple.” I thought to myself as I laid down on the couch. It sure was better than outside on a cold night. I was exhausted and I wanted sleep, but Dash said not to. I bet my parents don’t care that I ran away, my father especially. I never want to see them again.
Rania returned to her apartment. She put the keys on the counter and put away her shoes in the closet.
“Scoots, are you still awake?”
‘’Yes,” I responded as I fought the urge to sleep. Dash joined me on the arm of the sofa.
“I did ruin your date with Simon, didn’t I?” I felt so guilt-ridden; Dash seemed to like him a lot, enough to go in nine dates with him.
“No, it’s not a huge deal. He’ll get over it. Besides, I wasn’t going to leave you in the park! Its quite dangerous for you to be out that late by yourself,” Dash assured. “He just didn’t like how our time was cut short because he works so much as a fireman.”
I felt relieved.
“Are going to see him again?”
Dash nodded. “We might.” Dash got off the sofa. “I can see your tired and I am too, so I won’t keep you any longer. Night.”
“Night Dash, and… thanks.” I rested my head on the pillow and closed my eyes
“Your welcome, Scoots,” She said as she headed into her room.
Next morning, I woke up to see Rania in the kitchen. She had made herself a bowl of cereal and was eating it at the table.
“Morning,” I said blearily as I rubbed my eyes.
“Morning sleepy- Sarah what’s with your eye?” Dash was in complete shock, so she dropped her spoon on the floor.
“What are you talking about?” I asked confused.
“G-go look in the bathroom mirror now!” Dash said in terror.
I did as she said and went straight to the bathroom. When I saw my reflection, my right eye was black and swollen. It was my father’s handiwork. Weren’t parents supposed love their children? Rivulets of tears formed in streaks down my face. There’s no way I'm going back. I hate them so much.
I heard a knock at the door. “Sarah, is everything alright in there?” Dash called from the other side.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine!” I hastily wiped away my tears. Don’t show any weakness. I opened the door and stood at the doorway.
“Sarah, w-what happened? Who did this to you?”
I couldn’t fake it any longer. There wasn’t a point in hiding it anymore. No longer would I pretend that everything was fine. All she wanted was to help me out.
“It was my dad.” It was all I managed before I broke down in heart clenching sobs.