Chapter 1: Horizon
That day had not been the first time I had seen him at school. Yes, definitely not the first. And the way he looked at me, right over the head of his blonde cheerleader girl friend made me hope desperately that it wouldn't be the last.
Under normal terms, Isidro Rizonne would probably not be considered more than the runt of senior year boys. Average height, short hair, tight curls. A generally clear olive complexion with the tastefully placed beauty mark under his right eye. He squinted when he smiled, in an almost authentic oriental mockery. His teeth weren't perfectly straight either. Well maybe that just added character.
Two months into my junior year of high school, I had taken that cheerleader's spot as Isidro's - or as I alone was permitted to call him, Izzy's - girl friend.
Dating a girl a whole year younger than him made him the target of a good deal of uncreative jokes at the hands of his classmates. He took it in and he let them insult him. He often joined the others in insulting himself. Although his own attacks at himself were creatively and grammatically more mature than his classmates'.
The only time I had seen him react violently in the face of an insult was when it had involved me. It happened in the cafeteria, not more than a month after we had started dating. I always brought my lunch to school. So as usual, I was waiting against the wall by the lunch line for him to buy his chicken burger so we could eat together.
As usual I blended into the wall. Average looking, averagely slim, averagely dressed, the most common shade of brown hair. The only thing I ever noticed for was my personality. And only the people who actually bothered to give me a second glance or a first chat figured that out.
I suppose that's why they didn't think twice about what they said. Maybe they figured Izzy wouldn't have reacted to an insult directed at me when I wasn't around. Who knows? Maybe he wouldn't have. But I was there. I heard it all and he had my back.
Thinking back, I can't recall exactly what the guys had said. It had been that kind of comment that made you cringe internally; Wondering if you might actually be capable of becoming the person they thought you were.
The chat had started off as harmlessly as it could have.
"Hey bro, where's your girl?" Or something along those lines.
"…Daniela's… around," he had replied. I remembered it specifically because he hadn't used my whole name in weeks. He had said 'Danny' suited me better. The next day I'd gone to get my mustache waxed.
"So is it true then?" that little asshole had continued.
"Is what true?"
The boy's next comment was something totally unexpected. It wasn't uncommon to hear someone call me ugly, or a savage, or a terrorist, or a sasquatch. Although it was more common to hear those in combination.
I might have even been occasionally called the s word, the w equivalent, or the many other synonyms of the word prostitute. But I figured those words had lost all meaning now that people threw them around like dead skin cells.
"Rumour is, you're dating her 'cause she's a brainer," he had snickered. The smirk was quickly wiped off his stupid ugly face when Izzy grabbed the back of his head and slammed him face first into the wall.
Brainer. I didn't even know what that word meant until the night after. Logically I had related the stem word brain to intelligence and had jumped to the conclusion that it meant something along the lines of nerd.
I figured if that really had been the case, Izzy wouldn't have reacted like that. He had stormed out of the cafeteria, forcing me to quickly shuffle out after him. He had apologized to me for not punching the guy out. And promised next time, would be his last time.
That night I had Googled brainer at Urban Dictionary. And man, had I been way off. The word referred to someone who made a habit of performing oral sex, consensually. Stupid misleading slang terms… The only possible link up between the term and the meaning might have been through the connection of another slang term, giving head. That was a dumb misleading term too! I glared at my computer screen, wondering how many hours these idiots dedicated to creating nonsense slang terms.
That's when it hit me. They thought I was like that. There is only one word to describe what I thought about that. Vomitrosious! A term that means what it logically implies, disgusting! Base word, vomit; which is, generally: chunky, smelly and unpleasant. Which is totally relevant.
I doubted there were rumours about me. I don't think I was high enough on the popularity food chain for people to bother trying to ruin my reputation. I don't really see why Izzy would be considered very popular either. But for whatever reason, girls always looked at him when we walked down the halls. I suppose it was his charisma. Seeing them, I'd feel like walking up and yelling, "There's better looking guys in the school, what the hell are you looking at??"
Not that I didn't want him to get attention. I just wanted him at my level in everything. Like any other female creature on two legs, old perverted men honked at me occasionally when driving past. Other than that, I got no male attention. And I would've liked him to be the same way.
Back to my point: Recalling the way he reacted, I wondered what the point of it was. I hoped it was to make sure all those assholes knew he expected them to respect his girlfriend. But I couldn't ignore the voice in my head that suggested he only used the insult as an opportunity to start a scene. Guys got in fights over useless things all of the time, didn't they? Maybe he just wanted to create the false impression that I meant as much to him as he did to me…
We never really talked about that again. After all, that's the way our relationship was. We stuck to easier topics: Family problems, emotional breakdowns, nightmare analysis. We were comfortable telling each other almost everything. We just filtered out a few thoughts here and there. Then again, who didn't?
It wasn't until a few months later that I realized how that day had changed my outlook on the relationship. It happened around the same time that I realized what I liked about Izzy. It was his composure. He never snapped or laughed until he was out of breath, he never reacted to much of anything.
In the many months that I had known him, the cafeteria scene was the first time he had reacted to something violently. And I felt like I was the underlying cause of that.
It gave me a sense of power, a sense of control, to know that I could make him lose it. It presented itself as a challenge. I'd go to extents to see if I was capable of causing that again. I'd hurt him and pick at his insecurities to see when he would stop me. I constantly fantasized about how he would go about doing that.
I was a romantic masochist, maybe you could say. He was a ticking bomb. And I was eagerly waiting for him to explode.