A short story by Jessyca L. Goodwin
Today he had looked at her. And he had seen her. His eyes met her eyes and for a brief moment all they did was stare. And then he smiled at her, and she thought that she might faint. She had managed to smile back and not look like a complete idiot. But then the blissful moment was ruined when she was pushed from behind. Anyone who has been in a state of bliss knows that all sense of balance is thrown off while in said state. So, the simple push had sent her toppling over, her books flying from her hands, her papers spewed onto the concrete. She landed on her knees and her forearms. She was a bit shocked, not sure as to what had happened.
But then she heard the evil giggles, that sounded more like cackles to her, from behind.
"You should, like, learn to watch where you're going," a piercing voice said.
She ignored the voice for a moment, her eyes looking up, searching for him, but he was gone, lost in the crowd of students that only came while switching classes. She sat up and began gathering her papers.
"Excuse me," the ice-pick demanded.
She turned to look up with a straight face at the source of the voice that made her want to hurt kittens; Fresca "Yes?" she asked as dully as possible. She didn't think that Fresca Williams deserved expression. She didn't think Fresca Williams deserved oxygen. Fresca was a short and skinny red-headed Pixie of a girl. Well, that's how most described her. . . To her, Fresca was an anorexic bulimic shrinky-dink of a Gremlin that had been fed past midnight.
"You should really say you're sorry," Fresca said with mock innocence, the wannabes she called friends at her side like parasitic twins.
"I didn't do anything," she replied like a robot and returned to her papers.
"Didn't do anything? You bumped into me. Say that you're sorry," the Gremlin hissed.
She didn't say anything and continued reorganizing her binder. When she got up she turned to head to class and was met with a cold soft drink spilled onto her shirt. She had gasped, not expecting the chilly beverage on her chest. Her mouth hung open for a minute in shock.
"Sorry," Fresca had said with sweet sarcasm. Then she walked away, being sure to flaunt her curves for all the passing males to see.
But. . . he had looked at her. And he had seen her. He had smiled at her. People never smiled at her . . . And now, as she sat on her bed, she smiled, not caring that her favorite shirt was now stained with RC Cola. Oh wait a moment. . .Fresca. She was the one that spilled the RC cola on her in the first place. . .The one who made her fall and embarrass herself in front of him. Her smile turned into a frown and her eyebrows creased as she was filled with anger. Oh, how she hated that girl! Fresca had always been there to bring her down one pinch at a time! Ever since they were Freshmen and Fresca had singled her out because she was different.
She moved off of her bed and to the floor, getting on her hands and knees. She bent her head lower, scanning the dark ground beneath her bed for a shoe box. She spotted it, a lonely red silhouette in the dimness. She pulled it from under the bed and onto her lap, sitting cross-legged.
The lid came off with a scratchy pop, and she set it on the floor. She gazed down with the look a mother might give a sleeping newborn. Admiration?
But, in a way, the contents of the box were her children, for she had rescued them; from dumpsters, from thrift stores, sometimes from the lonely wilderness that they had been left in, forgotten, uncared for, like she so often felt.
She had taken them in, sometimes payed a few dollar bills for them, and made them better; made them into the best that they could be. She had cleaned, sharpened, polished, but still kept them the blades that they were.
She smiled as she lifted one from the box, rotating her wrist and making the metal glint in the artificial light spilling from her ceiling fan. This one was rusty and jagged, as if it had stabbed through flesh, cut through bone, and was never properly cleaned, like the blood had stained it, and the bone had scarred it.
She smiled again, an evil smile. It would be nice to use this one on Fresca. To force the bruised blade through her peachy skin and hear her ice-pick voice squeal and then gasp in agony. Oh, how satisfying it would be to look into her pale blue eyes and see the light slowly drain from them. . .
Would the knife even be able to cut through flesh? She was sure that it would be able to. . . but she had never tested it out before. . .
Just then her golden retriever walked through the door and into her room. She through the knife towards the door. Its point dug its self deep into the wall above the dog's head. Hm . . .It could cut through wood.
She held her hand out and the dog came to her. She could see a small clump of blood in her fur. Her lips twisted and she sighed; poor dog had been hit again by her mother. Probably with a glass bottle, she guessed. Something sharp enough to cut through the dog's thick coat and slice her skin.
She moved to her closet and pulled out an almost empty first aid kit. She cleaned the dogs wound and thought back to earlier that day.
When he smiled at her.
It was the next day and she was sitting at a lunch table, alone, reading. She knew that Fresca and her parasitic twins were at their table, thinking of new ways to humiliate her, but she didn't really care; she was reading.
Then she heard someone sit down next to her and sling their backpack noisily onto the table. She ignored this person, because whoever it was, she was sure that they didn't deserve her attention. It was probably just some idiot Popular, come to hit on her as a dare. She continued to read.
Then she heard a voice. "Hi," he said. It was him! Sitting at her table! Talking to her!
But she tried not to think anything of it. He was probably just being nice. Still, she looked up, for he was the only person at the school who did deserve her attention. But she didn't say anything. She just looked up at him, trying not to seem too boring. Be mysterious? Could she pull that off? Probably not. . .but she stared at him anyway, stared into his gorgeous aqua eyes, being sure to blink every four seconds.
"Yeah, so. . ." He looked down, as if he were uncomfortable. Was he nervous around her? No, he was probably just creeped out by her staring.
She dropped her eyes, not wanting to scare him away.
"I just wanted to say hello," he said, chuckling. . .uneasily? Really?
"Hello. . ." she said slowly.
They were both silent for a moment. She pulled her lips in, basking in the awkward silence.
"So. . ." he rubbed the back of his head, messing up his orderly mahogany hair. If she could only touch that hair, play with it. . . She imagined it being incredibly soft, like a chinchilla. . . A corner of her mouth pulled up at the thought.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," she said. "Just a little thought. . ." She smiled to herself again.
"So you like funny things?" He suddenly asked. That was an odd question.
"I guess so. . ." she replied.
"Ha!" He laughed as if she had told a joke. "I guess everyone does!" He continued laughing like . . . an idiot, she realized. He was nervous.
His laughter died and his tan skin turned red with . . . embarrassment. But why would anyone be embarrassed around her?
"Is there a point to this, or . . ?"
"Um, yeah, there is." He suddenly became serious, but still tried to smile. "I was wondering if you maybe wanted to go. . . to a movie? Sometime?"
She felt her lips part and her heart accelerate. He was asking her out. On a date. Unbelievable. Her eyes were wide with astonishment.
"Well . . ?" He asked, quietly.
"Ye'," was all she could say. Nod was all she could do.
The bell for sixth period rang.
His face lit up in a bright, perfect smile. "Cool!" He said, obviously not trying to sound too overjoyed. He stood and grabbed his backpack. She watched him search his pockets for something, then pull out a pen. He grabbed her wrist gently and she thought her heart exploded. His skin was so soft, his touch so gentle, his body so warm. He gingerly wrote on her own skin, being careful not to push too hard.
He capped the pen and pulled away. "Go ahead and call or text me when you decide what you want to go see. And you can choose when, too." He moved away.
She watched him leave before looking at her hand. Numbers were scrawled across it in hand writing so messy that it was perfect. She smiled and brought the hand close to her chest.
It hurt, a little. But the pain was worth it. And the point was sharp, so the cuts were smooth and quick. She remembered that she had found this knife on the floor of a buffet that her mother had taken her to one night. Surprisingly she wasn't drunk . . . The knife had been on the floor, under a counter, alone and forgotten, just waiting for someone to claim it and love it. So she had been that person and picked it up and put it in her coat pocket. She had taken it home and rinsed it in warm water to rid it of the germs from the awful place that was so careless to it.
Her wrist twisted, leaving her palm with a curvy slice on it. She pulled in her lips and breathed sharply, trying not to scream. Screaming wouldn't make it hurt any less and her mother was sleeping. It would be bad if she woke her up.
So she continued to carve his number into her hand in painful silence.
When she arrived at school the next morning, he ran up to her, smiling.
"Hey," he said, stepping with her.
"Hi." She smiled.
"Did you decide on a movie?"
"Not yet. I was thinking about that newer one, The Tell Tale Heart, off of one of Poe's stories?"
"Oh yeah, that one looks kinda spooky," he said.
"Well, we can see another one if you don't like that one," she said quickly, her hand moving to her hair nervously.
"No, no, that's fine. I'd love to it. . .What happened to your hand?" He asked.
"What?" She looked at her hands. "Oh," she said seeing the bandaged one. "I just cut my hand, that's all."
"Oh, that doesn't sound fun," he said, obviously thinking it had been an accident. "Are you okay?"
She nodded vigorously. "Oh yes, I'm fine. Nothing to worry about." She highly doubted that he was really that worried. He was just trying to be polite, of course.
"So we'll see the heart one," he said, back on the movie subject. "I can check showing times."
"Yeah," she said. "You can do that."
"See ya later then," he said and jogged away.
She couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day.
They had went to a six o' clock showing, he bought the popcorn and she bought the drinks. It had been a good movie, or at least it had sounded like one. She couldn't keep her eyes off of his face, perfectly shadowed by the dim movie theater light, the scenes on the screen dancing across his face. She watched his strong jaw chew the popcorn with sure, lithe movements. She watched his supple lips move to the straw of his soda to take a sip, and wondered what it felt like to be kissed by them.
From time to time he would glance at her and she would immediately turn her attention to the screen, pretending to be just as absorbed in the movie as he was. But when he returned his eyes to the screen, she returned her eyes to him.
The movie had ended and he drove her home. They were chatting about the bloody scenes that she had missed. Even as he spoke directly to her, she couldn't help but get lost in the sweet basso that was his voice. He had walked her to the front gate; that was as far as she wanted him to take her. He didn't need to see the trash and beer bottles that her mother had undoubtedly thrown about the yard in the time they had been gone. Not that her mother knew that she was gone.
"Thank you," she had said. "It was really fun." She blushed for some unknown reason.
"Yeah," he said. "Yeah, it was." Then, in the time it takes one to blink, he leaned in and kissed her lips. It was a quick peck and her mind barely registered it. When he pulled back he looked embarrassed. "I'll see you at school." He had rushed the words and retreated back to his car.
Only when the car drove out of site did she remember to breath and to wave goodbye.
Her life became. . . good, after that night. She saw him during the day at school and even managed to receive a few additional, more passionate kisses from him. Even Fresca and the twins' usual picking didn't get to her. She hadn't thought about skewering or burning anyone alive for a few good weeks.
But then things went sour. . .She wasn't sure what it was, but it was after she gave him a gift. It was for their four week anniversary, even though they had never technically agreed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. She had spent hours making it, and days gathering the materials needed.
It had been hard, keeping the gift a secret. She couldn't just ask him for strands of hair; that would easily give her plans away. So, while he wasn't paying attention, she would carefully lift away stray strands that had fallen onto his jacket. Collecting enough was difficult, but eventually she had done it. Then she needed only to cut away a lock of her own hair and intertwine it with his. It was a beautiful mix; light brown on sleek black. The bracelet had taken her a few hours to create, but she had done it.
She gave it to him in a small brown box.
"What's this?" he had asked.
"Just a little present," she had said, smiling knowingly. He would love it, he had to love it. It was apart of her, apart of him, together. To show that they were one.
But when he had opened it, his face looked confused, not excited. He lifted it out. "Oh . . . cool . . ." He said unsurely. "What is it?"
"A bracelet. I made it out of your's and my own locks of hair. I have a matching one, except the pattern is reversed, see?" She held up her wrist and pulled back her sleeve, revealing his bracelet's opposite. Her black hair was wrapped around his brown hair. "I thought that it would be a more personal gift. Do you like it?'
He had stayed silent for a moment. "It's different," he finally said. "Thank you."
"Will you wear it?" she asked hopefully.
"Um. . .Sure." He slowly slipped the bracelet on. "Well, I got to go." He moved away, a little too quickly, leaving her there to think.
She had heard the hesitance in his voice. . . The "um" before the "sure." But it didn't mean anything. He was just too happy to think straight. Yes, that's it. He loved her, so of course he had loved the gift, of her, of him, together. Sure, he hadn't actually said the words to her, but he showed it with his kisses and hugs, right? Yes, of course he did.
He loved her, she was positive.
But if he did love her, and he did, why was he sitting at Fresca's table that day at lunch? Talking to Fresca and the parasites?
No. He wasn't talking to her. He couldn't be. He was supposed to hate Fresca. Wasn't he? He was supposed to hate the creature that made his love miserable, correct? Yes, he was. And he did. She just knew that he did. He had to.
She passed the table quietly, looking at the back of his head from under her lashes. He didn't turn around.
She continued on, and sat at her table. She opened her book and started to read. She began to wait for him to join her, like he always did, always had done for the past four weeks. But he never came to sit by her. Not in the first five minutes of lunch. Not in the first ten. Not even in the first fifteen.
But he would. . .He had to. She was his love . . .
But he never did.
In fact, he didn't talk to her at all for the rest of the day. And it wasn't that he hadn't seen her. Of course he had. They always saw each other while switching classes, and that day was no exception. He did look at her.
He did see her.
But he didn't smile.
Even when she smiled at him.
She was laying on her bed, thinking. About that day and how he did look at her, did see her, but didn't smile. It was puzzling, really; they were in love, and didn't people in love smile at each other? Yes, they did.
So why hadn't he?
Was there something wrong with her? Wrong with her face? Something so wrong that she became unsmilable at?
She sat up and climbed off of her bed and walked into her bathroom. She dug through her cabinets and pulled out a small mirror. She sat on the counter and looked at herself, at her face.
She gasped and almost dropped the mirror. Stretching across her face was a large ugly line, like a crack almost. From her forehead to her chin it stretched, in a jagged line.
"I. . .I need to fix this!" She jumped off of the counter and raced to her bed. She pulled out a small green tin. Its contents clattered against the metal as she raced back to the bathroom and collapsed onto the floor. She held the mirror up again as she blindly sought out a needle and thread from the tin. She located one, already strung, and held it up to her face.
The next day when he saw her in the morning, he didn't smile. He twisted his face in shock and recoiled. He approached her slowly.
"I needed stitches," she confirmed with him.
He nodded, but she didn't know that it wasn't in agreement. It was in confusion, as if he were trying to understand.
"I'm better now." She smiled.
"Good," he said quickly, letting air escape his lungs that he had kept there since he saw her face. "Can I talk to you?" he continued.
"Of course," she said. She was very pleased. So the line had made her unapproachable, and now that she had fixed it, he wanted nothing more than to talk to her.
He moved them under a tree, a more private location, away from the passing teens.
"What do you want to talk about?" she asked.
He kept his eyes down as he spoke to her, as if he couldn't bare to look at her. . .
"I think that. . ."
"Yes," she pressed playfully.
"I think that maybe. . ." he scrunched his face.
"Maybe what?" She dropped her smile and stared at him intently.
"That maybe this isn't going to work out," he finally said.
"That what isn't going to work out?" Her brows furrowed with worry. What was her love doing?
"Just. . .Us. Here." He pulled something out of his pocket and placed it into her scarred hand. "Bye," he mumbled before walking away hurriedly.
She opened her hand and saw the bracelet of them that she had made, crumpled, their hair askew. "But . . . but. . ." She felt tears come into her eyes and stream down her cheeks. Her world was shattered. He had broken up with her, returned the item that represented their bond!
But no . . . he couldn't. He loved her! Why would he do--
She widened her eyes as the realization dawned upon her. Fresca.
It was her lunch period. The one she shared with him.
And that he shared with Fresca.
She scanned the lunchroom, searching for her and him. And there they were, at Fresca's table, talking and laughing like lovers do. Like she and him used to do.
She clenched her jaw and walked towards Fresca's table, determination in every step. Fesca saw her coming and grinned.
She stopped behind him and stared at her with hatred. She tried not hyperventilate as she hissed, "Fresca."
"Oh, well, hello there," the shrinky-dink said, the sarcasm in her politeness thick. "Long time, no see." Fresca got up from her table, carrying a blue slushy in hand.
"I didn't think that--"
Before Fresca could finish she lashed out, driving a scalpel she stole form the science lab into her throat. She could have sworn she heard the flesh tear under the blade. With her free hand she latched onto Fresca's shoulder, tackling her to the ground.
The parasitic twins at her table screamed, he turned around, others gathered.
"Yeah! Chick fight!" some idiot Popular yelled. A crowd gathered as she brought the blade, clenched tightly in her fist, down again, and again, turning Fresca's neck into a bloody piece of ravaged meat. Fresca was chocking, gurgling her own blood.
It ran over her hands, warm, wet and sticky. She never let her eyes stray from Fresca's. She watched her eyes bulge and her mouth sputter blood. The light was fading, quickly.
She brought the blade down for the thirteenth time, and let the blade sit there, lodged in her windpipe as she watched the glow disappear.
The cheering crowd had grown silent, not sure what was happening, what was causing all of the blood.
She was shaking as she brought the blade up and threw it to the side. It clattered on the tile. She looked up, searching the gathered crowd for him. And there he was, his eyes wide with shock, his lips parted with horror.
She smiled a weary smile as she got to her knees. The crowd gasped in unison. But she didn't care. She gazed directly at him.
"There," she said, her voice high. "She's gone now. Now, we can be one again."
She held something up to him; a bracelet made out of his and her hair, dripping with Fresca William's fresh blood.