The new spring day broke the long winter's grip on the small town in Upstate, New York. Fresh air filled the halls of the senior high school, as the sun illuminated the walls within. It was most refreshing to the students, breathing in deep the cool breeze as the bird song filled the class through the open windows.
The class filled with teenagers on the verge of adulthood. Young men and women, who at the time, were more concerned with other things in life than learning.
Though labeled "Study Hall," the students did anything but. And with the senior prom just a week away, the students were distracted by dresses, dates and style.
Like with any conjunction of people, a certain type of class separation had endured. Students segregated themselves by common interest. The self-proclaimed labels were anything but flattering: The Jocks, the Heads, and the Geeks.
The Jocks, theywere notorious for their athletic ability. Each dressed in highly fashionable gear. The girls always consumed with fashion and accessories as they competed with one another in a constant beauty contest.
The Heads, theyhad a general lack of current fashion trends and opted for the classic blue jeans and tee-shirt feel. They were noted for rampant drug use, drinking and of course…Smoking.
The Geeks had neither style nor fashion. And they had a total lack of classic appeal. They were engrossed in technology and fantasy science fiction thrillers of the current month. One such "geek" sat in the class with an acne-speckled complexion, mismatched clothing and light brown hair. Her features seemed rather plain and she wore no makeup. Red blemishes littered her face. She was considered an "Ugly Geek" even by her own standards.
However, inside was another story. She was from a broken home, placed in a foster care system. She refused to become self-absorbed and as careless as those who abandoned her and of those given custody of the teen. She was a source of income rather than a teenager in need of a loving home. Refusing to become heartless, the geek wanted nothing more than to be accepted and loved. So, she allowed herself to love. However, the object of her affection had no idea she even existed.
Her fancy had been taken by a boy whom was considered one of the "coolest" students in the establishment. He was always dressed well, wore blue jeans and a flannel shirt and had come from a middle class family.
He seemed oblivious to the geek seated behind him a few chairs back, his chin resting on the palm of his hand, bright blue eyes staring out the window and his mind wandered to other places.
She gazed upon him with obvious affection of which any living sole could see. A glare settled on her back from another girl in the class; a brunette, who was the self-proclaimed "best friend" of the boy's girlfriend.
Sitting in her stylish pink tank top, Nadine plotted. She watched as the geek scribbled in a notebook upon gazing at the object of affection.
The bell rang, and in a seemingly controlled panic, the teens rushed from their seats and filled the halls of the school. As the study hall emptied, the geek was approached by the pink-clad classmate, Nadine.
"Terry?" she asked. "You got a pen I can borrow?"
The geek wasn't sure just why this preppy girl was even asking her for a pen. Nadine was dressed like all the popular girls with the latest name brand pink top from a trendy boutique in the mall. Hip hugging black jeans and expensive sneakers the shined like new.
It was quiet a contrast for Terry, dressed in plain jeans and a blue sweatshirt from the local discount department store with white sneakers that had to last her the entire year. And yet, Nadine asked her for a pen. Perhaps, just maybe, she would find herself with the "In" crowd?
Terry handed her the very pen she was using. "Here you go."
"Great! Thanks." Nadine swiftly took the pen. Glancing behind the geek for a moment and then quickly turning away. Meeting up with Heather soon after.
Terry loathed Heather. Perfectly combed long blonde hair, make-up applied seamlessly, embellished with the latest styles from the trendy mall stores and adorned with two escorts…Nadine and the object of her affection, Kyle.
She watched as Kyle slipped his arm into Heather's back jean pocket. She in turn placed her hand into his hip pocket while Nadine was obediently perched on her arm. It was quiet a sight for the geek to witness. The trio marching out the room before her; like if she didn't even exist at all. Gathering her things Terry was the last one to leave the room. Alone as usual, she walked down the busy hall towards her next class.
Home-life wasn't much better for Terry. Her father left her as a baby. Her mother, a convicted drug addict left, leaving her to the will of the state. Foster homes became the norm for the youngster. And like with any bloated, bureaucrat system there was abuse. Her foster parents didn't believe in spending much on the ward, despite the check the state sent them for her care.
Instead, she became a means of income. She didn't really care much for her foster parents; both who seemed to have a passion for the racetrack and local bars, rather than raising her or the teenage boy they shared. Of course her foster-brother was one of the popular teens in school and he found the less time he spent around his foster-sister, the better his reputation remained. Thus, she spent much of her time alone in her room.
She had accidentally discovered the art of cooking. Her first introduction to the art was through her part-time job at the local diner. Watching the cook work the grill with inspiration that she too might be able to be allowed in that hot, humid and yet, alluring spot. By all accounts the job was dirty and disgusting. Yet, it seemed welcoming for the diner's chef seemed to receive the most respect.
It was her senior year and she readily sent out applications for the cooking school of the elite. She would have to travel to New York City. She would have to work as she went to school to pay the expensive housing and tuition but she also knew that without the degree she wouldn't get hired as much more than a waitress.
Eagerly she opened up the letter addressed to her. It was from the premier cooking school she secretly hoped to be accepted.
"Yes!" She jumped up upon reading the acceptance. She did it! She got into the school! Yet, there was no one around to hear the news and she highly doubted anyone would care. It was a bitter-sweet moment for the geek. No mother or father to tell the news too. No one to congratulate her, just her, just four simple walls of her room.
School came all too soon for the geek but at least morning classes occupied her. Finally arriving for lunch at the dreaded cafeteria where she would undoubtedly spend her time alone, sitting at a table tucked away in a far corner, she sat with her lunch tray and picked at her food.
The chicken for the day seemed greasy and full of nothing but bones. Her memory wandered back to moments prior while waiting in line. She spied the box the consumable arrived in. Bold letters written across the side: "CHICKEN BELOW GRADE D BUT EDIBLE".
The mashed potatoes were somewhat better though the smooth texture and dry taste gave clues its origins were from a powder. The gravy wasn't bad but the tin cans of gravy lining the stock shelves of the kitchen were a dead give away that it was not from scratch.
Heather and an entourage approached the table. Clutching the secret diary in her hands and grinning from ear to ear.
Terry looked up and was taken by complete surprise. She remained speechless at the sight.
Heather became meek, "Oh, Terry. You dropped your diary yesterday. I hope you don't mind but I took the liberty of reading it last night." Her hand flew up over her chest in a rehearsed fashion. "I was so touched by what you wrote. I think it's only fair you go to the prom with my boyfriend."
In deep recesses of Terry's mind a red flag shot up. Something was very wrong. Yet, at the same time her mind was processing what was told to her: That the most popular girl in school was so touched by her writings, that she wanted her to go to the prom with Kyle. For the geek it was a dream come true.
Terry wondered if it was a joke, "Seriously?"
"Seriously," Heather replied and then took a seat next to her. "Now, the prom is this weekend, so you have to come with us to the mall and get: a dress, shoes and if you will…I can do your make-up and Nadine will do your hair. Right girls?"
The entourage agreed on cue.
One of the girls suggested, "Like a make-over."
Heather smiled in a most unpleasant smile with a gaggle of girls cheering her on, "That's right. Terry, you are getting a make-over."
Shocked her mind scrambled to keep pace with what was happening, "A make-over? Um, seriously?"
"Seriously," Heather agreed. "I'll pick you up this Saturday around lunch. We'll go shopping and have you ready for Kyle to pick you up that evening."
"Um, okay," she agreed. Trying to not seem too silly as the grin crept across her face. She couldn't believe it! She was going to the prom with Kyle...The boy she had secretly admired from afar for years. The popular girls liked her, they wanted to help her. She couldn't think of anything else.
"Great," Heather exclaimed. Confidently she rose from the seat. Gave an alluring smile to her gaggle of girls and then flicked her long blonde hair. "Come along, Ladies. See you Saturday, Terry."
The geek watched as the flock followed their obnoxious leader. Terry never cared much for Heather but over time she became rather envious of her. She seemed to have everything she ever wanted: The boy of her dreams, a brand new car, stylish clothing, loads of cash, and lots of friends hanging off her every move. As if Heather was a celebrity or royalty, adoring fans flocking to just be seen with her.
Terry felt like an outsider around the queen of high school, and everyone wanted to be part of that royal court, for the first time in her life, she felt like she might actually have a chance to be one of the popular students. It was a dream come true for the geek but often dreams can turn to be nightmares.
Shopping with Heather and the gaggle wasn't as fun as Terry imagined it would be. She brought every cent she had saved…Two hundred dollars! And Heather spent ever penny of it. The prom queen had chosen the dress, even though Terry hated it. She choose the shoes which were hideous in nature, a putrid green color. But Heather assured it was the newest and latest style and that all the girls would be wearing similar gowns.
Her hair and make-up wasn't any better. She expected that a "make-over" would make her look better but instead she looked worse. Bright red lipstick, blue eye shadow smeared over the eye lids. Horrific amounts of blush and thick foundation applied to the skin. Her hair was curled into a frizzy mess atop her head.
Standing before the mirror in her room, the reflection staring back at her seemed like that of a clown from a traveling circus. Worse yet…An evil clown from a bad movie rather than a young woman about to embark to the senior prom.
Her whole outfit was just horrific by even a geek's standards. She doubted if she should even go to the prom. But, she was assured that Kyle would come in a limo to pick her up and she needed to be out front of the house where he could see her.
Like the damn fool she complied, perching herself in the front yard, looking absolutely ridicules. She was thankful that her foster brother had already gone ahead for she feared he would laugh at her. The forester parents had plans for the evening, they had gone to a party at a friend's home, something she never would have been invited too attend.
But tonight she wasn't going to let that bother her. She had date with destiny! She would finally get to go to the prom with the one boy she had a crush on for years.
The crisp evening air was suddenly flooded with a line of headlights coming down her street. In the lead was a long white limo. Like a fairytale coming true, her prince charming was about to arrive and pluck her from obscurity. But something was wrong. The limo merely slowed before her, it didn't come to a stop.
Kyle in his tux, popped up in the sunroof opening. Heather wearing a pink strapless gown, was by his side, grinning from ear to ear.
"Here's something to write about," Kyle shouted.
A barrage of raw eggs, water balloons and paper bags full of dog waste came down around her. Instinctively, she covered her face as the bombardment continued. Then she fell to the ground in tears as the row of cars passed by.
As quickly as it began it was over. The last car drove away leaving her covered in raw egg, animal feces and soaked to the bone with cold water. She pulled herself up from the ground and made her way back into the home where she would find some sanctuary from the horrors of the evening.
After a taking a shower to remove the debris she wandered around the empty home in nothing but a bathrobe. Throwing the ugly green dress and shoes into a large black garbage bag she decided to get rid of the dress before anyone saw it.
She felt ashamed after the egging. Foolish, stupid and hated! At that moment in time she would have given anything for just one friend. One single person to cry on, to help her through the epoch of hate and belittlement.
Wondering into the garage in dismay to dispose of the dress in the trash, she stood in solitude. She dreaded a single thought that crept into her mind…That come Monday she would be the laughing stock of the school. The last thing she wanted to do was see her tormentors again. Her mind churned for a way out, to not have to go to school in the first place, her eyes settled on a rope.
The idea of hanging herself came to mind. In some twisted logic she believed she wouldn't have to go to school ever again if she hung herself. Logic left her reasoning as she fiddled with the rope, making a crude loop with it. Then she flung one end over the garage rafter, tying it to a post. She found an old chair, brought it over to the make shift noose. She stood upon it and placed the rope around her neck. Then took a deep breath, as if she was about to dive into a pool of water, she jumped from the chair, kicking it over in the process.
Suddenly the rope tightened around her neck, squeezing the air off as well as the blood flow. Her hands instinctively flung up to the rope. Using her toes she found the edge of the chair, grabbed the tight rope above her head, she had hauled herself back up, removing the rope as quickly as she could, then falling once more to the ground in tears. She started to cough and gag.
"I couldn't do it. I can't even hang myself right," she cried.
After what seemed like forever of sitting on a cold cement floor, staring at the dangling rope, Terry finally pulled herself back up. She untied the rope and placed it back where she found it. Then put the chair upright once more and hid all evidence of her act.
She wandered back into the house in a solemn state and entered her bedroom, looking upon her sorry face once more in the mirror. She puffed her cheeks out as she sighed. Turning her head to the side she spotted something odd on her neck. A large red mark where the rope had been. She rubbed it. Nothing, it refused to move. A mark burned into her neck to remind her of the horrible attempt she had made.
She wasn't sure what to do. She had to hide the mark, for she feared the classmates at school would see it and tease her about the failed attempt. Her mind conjured up the scene, walking down the hall with the student body pointing and laughing, teasing her with cruel words, calling her "ugly" and "geek." Tormenting her on how they could help her do it right next time.
That fear drove her to dive into her closet and find the only scarf she had, a lime green summer scarf that was given to her as a gift some time ago. The scarf was out of date, a throw back to the sixties but it was all she had to cover up the burn. She had no choice but to wear the ugly scarf.
She knew Monday would be horrid, for she would be teased for being so foolish. She could only imagine the hurtful words that would be lobbed at her akin verbally to the raw eggs and dog manure of the evening.
Monday had finally come. It was the moment of truth. Just how badly would be harassed in school? It was as bad as she imagined. The students started calling her "Eggy." And with the common mispronouncing of her last name the new nick name stuck like glue. "Eggy Buckwald" was now the official laughing stock of the school.
The scarf held tight. Many students had tugged at the scarf and noted it hideous lime green color but no one knew the reason for her donning the article. And that was just fine with her. Beside the rude name she also got rude remarks. Statements such as "How did you like your eggs? What some toast with that? How about a side of dog poop? Bombs away!"
It wasn't as bad as it could have been, for the teasing was limited to the raw egg theme. Grateful no one found out and that in two weeks she would leave that little town and never come back.