"Hear My Heart"

Chapter 1: The Vile Creatures Known as Men (Alyssa)

Finally. The graduation ceremony was over. People ran and hugged and cried. I swam through the sea of whiners, breathing out when I finally got out. Ducking my head under flying arms, I searched for my mom.

"Alyssa!" I turned around, her magenta safari dress making her stand out. She was waving her arm. As I walked towards her, she ran to me and squeezed me against her. "Congratulations, sweetie," my mom said, her arm wrapped around my neck as we left. "I'm proud of you." She kissed the top of my head.

"Thanks," I said. Dirt soaked in between my toes and sandals as we walked towards the gated exit. I held my light blue graduation cap as my arm swung back and forth.

My mom wouldn't understand how happy I was to leave this awful place. AKA high school. The only thing I even appreciated about it was that I gained the education required to get into my dream school: UC Mayberry. With Providencia, the city known as "The City of Endless Nights," people either wanted to stay (reasons being it's wide location, variety of fun clubs and restaurants, perfect weather and clean air, not to mention there was always something to do) or get the hell out (reasons being that it's just too wild and hectic). I was the latter, but for a different reason. The people here made me want to run to a bush and vomit. Especially the men.

My parents divorced seven years ago. Seeing my father with some younger woman was a crushing memory that eternally stained my mind. How could he do that? I understood that they argued a lot, but weren't most relationships like that anyway? How could cheating on someone possibly help? All that coward did was fly all the way to the east coast, never to talk to me or my mother ever again. To make matters worse, my mom started suffering from depression, even having to see a counselor and take pills. She'd gotten better, but hadn't fully recovered just yet. If only that could happen to me.

Why would I say something like that? Well, let's just say I have an oh-so-wonderful reputation of being The School Slut. My earning the title all happened when I had my first boyfriend in seventh grade. We lasted two months. Immediately, I dated another guy. Then another. And another. And another, year after year. The second a boy broke up with me, it was on to the next one. With my asshole dad in another state and my mom working two jobs while also recuperating, being lonely just wasn't an option anymore. A year of that soul-crushing feeling was already too much. Additionally, my only friend moved at the end of sixth grade. I needed someone with me at least eight hours a day. Someone to hold me against them. Someone to kiss me passionately. Someone to tell me I'm hot/great/anything positive. But I guess people started to notice and heard things that weren't even remotely true. Most of my past boyfriends had psychotic ex-girlfriends who wanted to tear my hair off and stalked me. Literally. Guess someone with an abundance of boyfriends-half with super jealous ex/current girlfriends-obtains the plaque of The School Slut. Nobody knew me as Alyssa anymore. Or that I excelled in the flute, getting first chair since I was a freshman. I was just the blonde-haired girl who held a boy's arm like a dog to its owner. I didn't even sleep with any of my boyfriends, yet the rumors still spread. In concerts, people in my section and the rest of the band rolled their eyes and shook their heads.

When we reached my mom's grey car, a burst of laughter roared into my ear. One cackle I instantly knew. From the corner of my eye, I saw Nate Murphy. My Least Favorite Ex-Boyfriend. His signature gelled black hair smelled of cheap product. What shit did he buy this time? I shielded my face with my cap, then jumped inside and slammed the door shut.

Even if he paid me billions of dollars, I would never forgive him. Junior year, I dated him for nine months. We met the summer before that year. He always winked and smiled at me whenever I served his table at The Providencia Palace (the city's famous diner). It was the second day of my job, and I saw him with his two friends at a short rectangular brown table. Right away, I recognized him. He was the cute guy I always passed by in the halls. He was always talking to someone, usually a girl or his close friends, arms crossed or back leaned against the wall. My first time as his waitress, I shakily asked what he wanted to drink. Nate responded, "As long as you're around, my thirst is gone." Immediately, I blushed. He always came up with those lines and even claimed I was his official waitress. After a month, we exchanged numbers and called everyday. During our relationship, he'd give me flowers and plastic-wrapped cookies and pastries, my favorite. Whenever I baked, he'd stand behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. His head would rest beside mine. Then, he'd place his hand over mine and sometimes caressed it, leaving goosebumps all over my arms. He'd do the same whenever we hung out. His kisses were breathtaking too. He seemed so perfect, but he always flirted with other girls right in front of me. Even when I told him it upset me, he'd say it was no big deal and that he was just being nice, then kissed me. How did I believe his bullshit? If he was just "being nice," why the hell did he wrap his around every damn girl's waist? Worst of all, on the last day of school, I caught him making out with a girl two years younger than us. And he broke up with me right when I approached them. People were crowded around us, snickering and whispering, "Ho got what she deserved."

Now, I'm done with dating. It was just another reason to shatter my self-esteem and create idiotic lies that people somehow believed. Prince Charming was simply a fantasy. The thought of him was just oh-so-wonderful, but in reality, he's a figment of our imagination.

Didn't matter anyway. I was leaving in September, never to see the ugly faces ever again. I could stay inside my dorm room and, instead of secretly crying over school shit and loneliness, just concentrate on work. Senior year was like that, but with the exception of recycled rumors. That wasn't gonna happen at my new school. Thank goodness.

Until we drove away, I still covered my face with my cap. My hands smoothed over my matching gown.

This is the feeling of escape. Of the end of this hellhole. I thought. No more boys. No more idiots. Just me and work.

"Wanna go anywhere?" My mom asked.

I shook my head. "I'll just bake." And I was totally willing to do so. Baking was my hobby, and something that helped me through hard days. Kind of.

"But you always bake. Don't you want anything done for you?"

"Trust me. If I'm going to celebrate, I want to eat something I make. It's much more rewarding that way."

"Want me to help?"

"Sure. It's great to spend mother-daughter time." And it was. My mom and I were still close, even if she was busy most of the time. When she wasn't, we'd watch soap operas. Well, this past year anyway. During my boyfriend years, she'd sit down and chat with me and whoever I was dating at the time.

"What do you want to bake?"

"I'm in the mood for raspberry cheesecakes."

"That sounds good right now." She grinned widely. When she stopped at the red light, she asked, "Think you're gonna miss this place?"

Shrugging, I replied, "Yeah."

I'll miss my job and my mom anyway.

Note: I'm back! Sorry that took so long. I really needed a break, and new story ideas. Like I said before, I was working on another city and series. Now here it is. Hope you enjoy the upcoming characters and adventures in Providencia, California!