As I slammed the locker door at school, I said to myself it happens to everyone; why should I be different than anyone else?  But it was different.  I really loved Terry, head of the football team, nice looking.  He was perfect, we were perfect, what went wrong?  It hurt like hell, as I sobbed and the tears rolled down my face.   I had to get on the bus, and I worried that my friends Debbie and Toni would notice; it was a long bus ride, how could they not notice?  They probably already knew, rumors spread like wildfire at our small junior high.

As I sat on the bus, I could feel every eye and wisper upon me, I didn’t care the pain swelled inside of me. How could he take his ring back, how could he not care how hurt I was; he said there was someone else, oh those wounding words.

Someone else..., the tears started again as I thought of a hundred people who it could be. Terry was nice to everyone, well liked, kind young man--or was that all just a blurred lie now too.

The bus finally rolled down the bottom of the hill to my stop on the left by the old willow tree. I stepped off the bus.  There was heaviness in my body, so I went and sat under the tree awhile trying to compose myself long enough to get through the door and to my room. My mother was not the type of person you dare share your personal secrets with, she just didn’t get it, so why bother.

I finally decided to start the long walk up to my house.  It was a bit lonely living out here, and sometimes I thought my dad was a hermit for living here, but the house looked old and a bit rustic, it had a nice flavor to it. As I walked up through the garden I saw my mother gathering the laundry off the line. She commented about the weather, mumbling about it looking like a storm was coming, but all I could see was the one dwelling inside me.

I walked into the house and went straight to my room. I always took a nap after school or rushed home to see my favorite vampire show "Dark Shadows."

Today I felt like sleep, this was not very unusual for me.

I fell into a deep sleep trying to forget the hurt and loss, it felt as if my heart was being ripped out, it was the end of my world.  Sleep gave way to peace and silence.

I woke up to find my mom was right; a storm had settled in.  I went into the living room, and heard the phone ringing.  It was Debbie laughing at me about Terry. Later there were more calls to follow, same theme, Terry.  I took the phone off the hook.  I couldn’t bear it any more.

Just then I heard a knock at the door.  A stranger was standing there, drenched. I invited him in; he was here to give an art test my brother wanted to take.   "Gee, I didn’t think my brother was so smart."  I offered him a coffee and listened to his spill, then we started talking about life.  I started rambling on about Terry, as he listened thoughtfully.  I told him my thoughts and feelings.  He put the cup of coffee down, and tried to comfort me by telling me it wasn’t anything I did. Then he advised me to go to school the next day, hold my head up high, and not let them control the situation. Yeah right, I thought , but at least it was better advice than my mother would have given me.

Just then my parents came in and started talking to the man.  I excused myself and went to think about what he had told me. Then I did my homework and got ready for bed, preparing my clothes ahead of time so my mom wouldn’t yell about me not being able to find my shoes in the morning.

Rise and shine, it’s time for school, hot cocoa, and chocolate gravy, my favorites. I slowly got dressed and halfheartedly walked into the kitchen.

Ate the gravy, and gathered my books for the journey to the bus stop.  Why couldn’t I stay home sick.

I got on the bus.  All the usuals were there, Laura the snob who always looked like a Christmas tree. We called her the Virgin Mary; she was just so perfect.

I took a seat in the back, my mind going into a trance thinking about the stranger's advice.  Could I do it, look into Terry's eyes, without cracking up, and ignoring them while they laughed?  Suddenly I heard a thump, it was the bus crossing the bridge that let to the short stretch of pavement before the gates of the school.

I stood up slowly knowing this was the moment of truth, I would have to go into study hall.  Oh God, I wish I didn’t have study hall first period. They’d all be there ready to laugh at the sight of me, the rats.  My stomach was all cramped and twisted.  I just wanted to crawl inside myself and hide.

The bell rang.  I had to go in.  I walked into the classroom and sat four tables down from the others.  I could hear them snickering and whispering behind my back.

I started concentrating on my math book.  I hated math, but it was the one day it got my full attention.  I never studied so hard before in my life. Just then Toni walked by to sharpen her pencil, and there it was Terry's ring on her finger, the tears were starting to well up inside of me, and then a calmness.  At that moment, my pain didn’t seem as big as before.  I took in a deep breath and pushed myself up from my seat. I found myself walking towards Toni, my gaze fixed on her. I could see the fear in her eyes...and the guilt.  I leaned nearer to her kissed her on the cheek and whispered you deserve each other.  Then I walked out of the room.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. The control I had given to them, and the pride I felt when I took it back.


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