Never Give Up
Author's note: I think teamwork is a virtue, and friends are key. Please comment, and rate! I'd really... Show full author's note »
LionsBridget walked into a circus filled with mad, roaring lions. They had their fur all riled up and kept wandering around the room. They scavenged the area, making subtle threats and taunts to the others. It was a domain thing, she thought. It probably had something to do with the top of the pack—definitely the alpha with the big, broad shoulders and a huge mane that made it seem effortlessly confident—and how they constantly broadcasted a sense of popularity. It didn’t matter they were kind or
It wasn’t until a boy yelled, “Bridget, get out of our way!” that she realized she wasn’t at a real circus, and these weren’t true lions. For a second, she had been fooled.
She was in the middle of her high school Chemistry lab, standing absentmindedly in front of the TV, which the guys had put on Jerry Springer because the teacher was missing. She sighed, shook her head, and walked to the back of the room. She opened her notebook—the one she doodled in whenever she was sad or bored or angry—and opened to a fresh, blank page. The lines weren’t creased or filled with excess Sharpie marker splotches from the previous page like the other ones. This one was different, and that meant something to her.
In the middle of the page, she wrote in bright, bold letters:
You are the change you wish to see in the world. – Gandhi
This made her wonder. Did Gandhi know that society didn’t even care? That these high school boys only cared about who fought with who on the newest Jerry episode; who looked the best in a Victoria’s Secret bikini; who had the best home.
Bridget wanted to cry but instantly stopped when she heard the empty stool slide next to her on the loud tile floor. When she looked up, it was Luke. He had shaggy blonde hair and bright blue eyes and was always silent. They didn’t give off a hint of arrogance, nor did he seem to mind the ruckus going on. He didn’t even shout or defend himself when he got picked on, which was too often. No one else defended him, either.
“You shouldn’t have to put up with their collective obsessions and jokes,” he said softly.
Bridget jumped at the sensitivity in his voice. It was uncharacteristically manly, and very mature. It was deep, too. Though they had been going to school together since kindergarten—and they were now juniors in high school—she couldn’t remember a single time when she had heard his voice. She hoped, no, she prayed, that he was the voice that would change the world, because she knew it was already changing hers.
“You shouldn’t have to either!”
“Well, sort of…”
“No, you don’t! You don’t deserve to be picked on, or treated horrendously, for whatever reason I’m not completely aware of!”
“I’m an orphan,” he muttered nonchalantly, as if it used to be the biggest secret in the world but now it meant nothing to him. For Bridget, it couldn’t have been more deceiving.
“You’re an orphan?” That brought her back to the beginning of sixth grade. They were partners for this big English project and she had gone to his house. It was amazing, small and beautiful. The yard and acreage that surrounded it was at least four times bigger than the house. It was a rambler, with marble siding and huge windows on all sides. The property was located at least ten minutes away from downtown Bear Valley Spring, where the school and Bridget’s home was located, as well as the rich developments with manicured lawns and eight stories with million-dollar furniture inside.
So inside that rambler, she had met his mother, a petite, very tall woman with sleek brown hair, Luke’s bright blue eyes and a never-fading smile. The first thing she said to Bridget was, “I hope you come back to our homestead when your project is finished!” To Bridget’s ever-growing regret, she never returned.
Luke’s mother, a woman named Laura, was a volunteer at the USCF Benoiff Children’s Hospital after losing her goddaughter Marcie a congenital heart defect. Laura’s volunteer work—which she did successfully for two days every week for nineteen years—would come to a close when she developed breast cancer. She died nine months later, three days after Luke’s birthday in seventh grade. Bridget attended the funeral but it was too much for her to handle. Looking into Luke’s eyes—the ones that reminded her so of Laura—made the situation even worse. Laura had been a devote charity-worker, and her life ended prematurely.
As for Luke’s father, that’s a completely different end to his life. He was driving drunk and swerved down a road into Pike’s Peak, where a man named Pike Jenson—Billy, one of the primary bullies in school who picked on Luke the most, is Pike’s nephew and was there during the incident—lived. Pike was notorious for aggression but when he saw Luke’s dad—a man named Joel—he called for an ambulance right away. Joel didn’t even make it to the hospital. This was when Luke was a freshman, after Laura’s death. Joel’s drinking habits were definitely sparked by the death of Laura, because he had never drunk previously. It also sparked his own death, unfortunately.
Bridget put her soft hand on his tough, farmer’s hands. He wasn’t necessarily a farmer, but she remembered he loved to build things and restore vehicles. Trucks, mostly—Model T’s were his specialty. When his parents were alive, his blue eyes would search for any tool imaginable and tinker with his Grandpa Marv’s Mustang from the 50’s.
“You aren’t in this alone,” she said, but it was too late. The jokes had just begun.