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The Rush- Chapter One

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Chapter One

Miniskirts. Tank tops with lots of cleavage. Short shorts. High heels. Bejeweled sunglasses. Pink lip gloss. These were words that no longer described me, but still had to be admitted to, again. Even though my autobiography was only going to Mrs. Hewitt and no one else necessarily had to see it, I was ashamed to admit that I used to be like that to anyone. It never hesitated to make my face tighten like I was slitting my wrists even if I was alone and only haunting myself. I had already delayed writing several parts of what was supposed to be my life story when I got a text from Wes saying that everyone was meeting at the hole. The paper wasn’t due till the beginning of September and Wes was usually pretty handy when I needed a reason not to do summer writing. Plus, it raised my eyebrows to think about why our new teachers in ninth grade wanted our life stories so bad that they needed both an elaborate essay and a scrapbook.

I opened the drawer of my vanity and yanked a hair tie from the thing that was steadily growing inside. One thing I liked was that I didn’t have to make sure my hair was flawless before I left to go hang out with my friends. I could just go in the plain blue tank top and shorts that went down to my knees, which in the group of friends I used to have, would’ve been considered blasphemy of the blackest cut.

“Mom, I’m going out!” I called flatly as I made my way down the stairs and out the door. If she was asleep and didn’t hear me, not my problem.

Wes was only human to know that I would meet him at the intersection between Church Street and Beaver, as I always did. I would’ve thought he would be waiting for everyone in the hole, but I got used to him waiting at the corner. We would also meet Vinnie, who lived on South Main.

The air was very dense and heavy; just breathing on days like this was an aerobic exercise. That was one of the reasons I wasn’t as concerned with my fitness as some girls who had a potent distaste for sports and was painfully uncoordinated would be at my age. Common adolescent insecurities were seldom mine. Vermont seasons were always extreme in one way or another.

“Hey,” Wes mumbled casually as I walked up to the corner. He was watching a movie on his iPod again. I looked over his shoulder to see what it was. Saw. I tried to steal an earbud, but his hand beat me to it and slapped mine away. “No!!W- Wait a….second….”

When I covered a laugh, it always reminded me of suffocating a fire with a blanket. Wes tried to keep up the reputation of the boy who had seen and done everything although our gang was consistently at the bottom of the crap heap among our class. No one who had seen Saw before could be this hypnotized by the suspense. Might as well be a good friend. “THE FOOT COMES OFF!!!!!” I screamed after snatching an earbud as quick as I could.

Wes jumped as I bent over laughing at his face. He looked like he had to take his own foot off with a rusty saw that couldn’t make the slightest cleft in chains. He sighed in disappointment as he took the earbuds out, still looking down. “B****,” he mumbled under his breath as he stuck the iPod in his pocket.

I calmed down and said, “I know…but seriously, the ending is gross. The guy like takes the foot off and shoots the other guy like he’s supposed to, but he like doesn’t die so he gets up and kills the guy you think is Jigsaw. It turns out the guy who’s watching through the cameras was gonna die, too, if he didn’t do all this stuff to the guys in the room; the bloody pile of crap that’s been rotting in the middle of the room the whole time is the real Jigsaw. He gets up and shuts the chamber after the blond one crawls out.”

“Will you shut up!?” his eyes scrunched together tightly and his index fingers in his ears.

My mouth stretched into one of those awkward, hiding a laugh smiles before it opened and replied, “Okay, fine.”

“Wassssuuuupp mahh homiiiiieeeessss???” we suddenly heard from behind us in an exaggerated ghetto accent.

“Hey, Vinnie,” we said in unison without a hint of surprise. He was the official, spazzy, do-anything -no-matter-how-crazy weirdo of our group and it no longer shocked us to hear weird things being imitated behind us. We didn’t have to look.

“We gonna go? I think Seth and Clifford are already there.”

“Yeah c’mon,” Wes replied thoughtfully, scratching the bottom of his chin like he always did. He either did it to look smart when he said something, or because he wanted to be there when his first facial hair grew in. Being the unspoken, but known leader of our group, he got ticked that he wasn’t the oldest sometimes. I guess it was just a guy thing.....something I would never understand.....something that placed me apart from even my best friends......

NO, FORGET IT!! I’M NOT LIIISSSUUNNINGGG!!!! LALALALALALALAAAA!!!

.....Sorry, I must have like multiple-personality disorder. Ha. I fight with myself every day more than I have with everyone else the rest of the year. They don’t really have to know that, though.

Vinnie skipped manically ahead of us into the empty street and danced across. The dirty blond locks of hair danced up and down as he jumped. Something told us that he wouldn’t do anything different if the road was dense with holiday traffic. “DON’T STOP, MAKE IT POP! DJ, BLOW MY SPEAKERS UP, TONIGHT, IMMA FIGHT TILL WE SEE THE SUNLIGHT…..”

I sighed, “Good ole Vinnie, huh?”

Wes snorted confidently. “Yeah, good ole Vinnie who lives under the noses of the cops. He’s been here one year and he’s banned from the Cup n’ Saucer, Shaw’s, Dot’s, he’s been suspended from school, got a curfew......I’ll bet you anything he won’t be on the street long enough to drive his first car.”

I smiled timidly. “Probably now, but it’s like what would we do without him, you know?”

He exhaled sharply and shook his head. “He’s probably gonna leave again soon. Did he tell you he moved to some small town in Jersey…uh, Bloomsbury or...... whatever? His mom said they’d be there for at least two years. This was six months before they bought the house up here.”

We walked side by side across the street and past the crowd of wide oaks. They were stretched all throughout the unnamed chunk of land that had no sidewalks and was alienated by streets in all directions. No one had built a house or playground for the neighborhood kids; it was the perfect hangout.

I looked down at the forest floor that was matted with months of leaves and dirt blowing in and out from all directions. “Jeez, what would Seth do without him? You know their like exactly the same. It’s never fun to be the odd one out.” I thought for a moment, recalling the time Seth confided in me about his family. I debated whether or not to bring it up with Wes. He might have already known since he was everyone’s best friend, but I was screwed if he didn’t…. “Something about Seth tells me he would get even more screwed up than he already is if he was alone.”

“You mean his parents who only stop shootin’ up to look at the picture perfect grades he gets then hit him for it anyway?” he asked, a little wary. “S***,” he whispered. “What’s that kid gonna do if he ends up alone?”

“He’d probably have Clifford,” I blurted out involuntarily, regretting it instantly since Sean Clifford was perhaps the most permanently screwed up kid in our gang. He was goth, but not emo; he made just as many sex jokes as the rest of us, tried a cigarette when we all did, saw movies, all of it. But we all knew the guy issues. It was never spoken of, but the facts were always there in the room like an extra person just there to stare at us. He never cared much for his academics just as his parents never cared for him. They were too broke to divorce, which made Clifford’s house a real crap hole. None of us had ever been over there, but between the constant physical fights between his parents and the four younger brothers that were loved exponentially more than Clifford when they did bother to open their eyes, you can only guess that much. That and the fact that he never let any of us walk him home or bring him his homework when he missed a day of school. His house was basically the same picture as mine if you took it to Michael’s and blew it up into one humungous poster.

Wes’s fingertips stroked his chin as he winced slightly at my outburst. “I don’t think Clifford would ever talk about it.”

The trees towered over us like the super-tall titanic kid in school we all have. They’re just kind of....there. They mirrored back Vinnie’s vocal imitation of Ke$ha even though he was almost out of sight. They became denser and wider the deeper we went until we got to the tree house. No, it wasn’t a wooden shack one of our dads threw together at the top of a tree to get rid of us for a few hours every day. It was stealthier and naturally made….for the most part, anyway.

I wasn’t in the gang when they made it, but they hadn’t been meeting for it for so long when I did. From the bottom to the top, the tree trunk was very funnel-shaped. The log was hollow and round, but the bark was very thick so it didn’t collapse. Plus, the trees in this area of Vermont were almost always empty and just had filling at the very top and at the branches; the trunk got more and more thin and flimsy- looking as it went up. Where we hung out was in the round compartment at the bottom. It wasn’t a claustrophobic fit, but you wouldn’t able to fit a lot of people.

What made them pick this tree was, not only the room they would have, but the way to get in. Vinnie told me that to get in for the first time, they had to dig down along the edge of the bark and there was a hole. Seth came back the day they discovered it with a few pilfered few power tools from his dad’s side of the garage and made the hole easier to fit through. Vinnie brought a few old pool covers for the inside. One to spread out across the ground inside for sitting and one to nail into the wood about six feet up the tree so bugs and debris didn’t fall on their heads.

Once I joined, I started complaining about how hot it got in the confined space on humid days like the ones we got nearly every day in the summer. I mean, there’s no AC installed in a tree. Luckily, the branches near the top of the tree were sturdy and close together. And, man, we swore God grew that tree knowing that one day a group of four boys and a girl would come by in the woods and claim it.

Wes and I followed Vinnie’s trail of gaiety as if we didn’t know the area so well we could walk to the hole in our sleep. We finally walked up to our tree and knocked. No one was in the hole today, like I was surprised; it was lethally hot outside. I walked to the other side of the tree and looked up; Seth and Clifford were up there with Vinnie. Even though he was the highest up, I could see that Seth had a fresh black-eye blossoming on the right side of his face. I could only guess where he got another one of those. Once in a while it was a sprained wrist or ankle, once when he was a baby it was a cut that was now a huge scar on his back, but we managed to fix up the sprains and other cuts he got so the ER wasn’t necessary. Despite our objections, he always insisted on keeping his parents out of the eye of the law and himself out of the hospital. He wanted to protect them. They spent every day higher than kites and he protected them. I still couldn’t seem to get used to it almost every few days. His skin was naturally tannish, like Wes’s, and his hair was auburn and reddish in some lights. I will admit that he would be a fine specimen of a young boy if he wasn’t always so sloppy and beat-up looking.

Somehow he managed to keep close to us and not take out the rage he undoubtedly feels against his home life on us. If it weren’t for the all too frequent injuries that we all had the inside story on, you’d think he was a normal, happy kid. “Hey, Mavie?!” Seth bellowed down from the branches.

“Yeah?” I replied without looking up. I was watching my step as I began to climb.

There was the wobbly, ruffling sound of paper that came from the tops of the trees. Seth was drawing again, no doubt. And that was no joke. His portraits looked like photographs. “What’s your middle name?”

This threw me off and I looked up. “Huh?”

“We’re playing truth or dare!” he laughed.

“I never said I picked truth,” I countered as I made myself comfortable on a branch diagonally below him and next to Wes.

Seth’s eyes lit up darkly and he made a grinchy smile. “You want a dare? I’ve made two people kiss before. ” He looked at Wes devilishly as he scratched his chin with an ashamed look on his face.

I was quiet for a moment as he continued to stare at me as well as everyone else. “Noor,” I finally said. “My middle name’s Noor. Happy?”

He chortled evilly. “What the HECK?” he squeaked, his jaw dropped as chuckles came from everyone.

“Noor,” I said again. “It’s Indian.”

“Sweetie, you’re not Indian.” More laughs came.

“So?”

He blinked rapidly and eventually started laughing as I rolled my eyes. “Dude, you’re from like.....Sweden!!..or whatever. You’re supposed to be like a....I don’t know...A**-TIRD?” Now everyone was laughing hysterically including me.

I covered my face with my face as I tried to digest laughs that were building up despite the topic. Everyone else was already howling like the guy in The Shining. I finally said, “Seth, Astrid. AS-TRID!!!"

Seth snorted arrogantly. “And you would know!”

The other three struggled to stay balanced on their branches through their paroxysms of laughter before I said, “Wow, Seth, you know my self-confidence just dropped dramatically. I actually think I’m gonna go cut myself because you don’t like my name. In fact, my whole life just depended on that one little thing and now there is just…..no reason for me to go on.”

“I love you, too.”

Everyone laughed; I wasn’t really offended and everyone knew it. All of us knew not to take Seth’s insults personally; it was his way of showing appreciation and humor. I heard Lisa Simpson call them ‘un-sults’ one time, I think.....fake fights were what kept him going sometimes; maybe it was his way of letting off steam from his crackhead parents playfully, but caustically.

“Vinnie, truth or dare?” I asked, turning my looking directly above me. Clifford had climbed down onto me and Wes’ branch and they were talking in their own little brother bubble. Wes had a way of making you feel like he was your brother and you could tell him anything. Probably one of the reasons he was the first one you’d think of when our gang is brought up.

“Truth!” he called down.

Perfect. “Were you the one Seth dared to kiss someone? If so, who was it?

I couldn’t see his face, but I almost heard him grimace. It wasn’t a memory he cherished. “Big red dog,” he answered quietly, his voice cracking.

I eyes widened and I slapped my hand across my mouth, wrestling to cage the big laugh that pounded at the inside of my lips. “And you did it?” I choked out, looking at Clifford. I was also laughing at the flamboyant cartoon dog that we constantly compared our goth friend to. One of those things that was in the back of our minds and brought up at the most random moments. That’s why it never really got old.

“He’s not even that bad a kisser,” Clifford interjected mockingly. We rarely saw his hazel eyes through the jet black bangs that covered them, but we all knew what they looked like. They had pretty streaks of green in some lights and were a complete almond color in others.

I guess I was kind of expecting it. Wes had too much dignity to kiss another guy and the fact that Clifford was his best friend made it the perfect deal. For those who are wondering, Seth would be gay to dare another guy to kiss him on the lips, but he knew it was probably the best way to torture someone if he had to.

“I’m not a p****, Mavie. No offense, but I’m just not,” Vinnie smirked.

I sighed. Count on Vinnie not to beat around the bush and bring up the things people try to avoid. “Anyone ever tell you that you’re not a p**** if you don’t do some stupid dare your idiot friend gives you?” I scooted back against the tree, wrapped my arms around my knees and rested my chin on top.

Wes let his head roll back and made a grossed out slash annoyed slash ticked slash slash slash noise in his throat. “You guys ever just let anything go? Who gives a s*** about a dare?”

Seth head jerked up like a scared rabbit and pretended to act gay. Hurt face, high voice with the sharp ‘s’, you name it. He swallowed hard. “I care....I care, Wesley!”

We continued to talk into the day about the most random things I don’t know how we get into. The sun was rising higher into the sky slowly, though we didn’t notice. It seemed like when we were all together, just hanging around the hole, it was so easy to get so absorbed in the casual, friendly bubble that was apart from the hell of our homes. Where we’re no longer ignored, hit, yelled at, and there was just laughter and being the people we had to shelter from everyone else in the outside world. To hear me say those kinds of things out loud, you’d think I was crushing on someone. Not in this lifetime.

At around noon (I could only guess it was around twelve because the sun was at the epitome of the sky) I suddenly felt a strong urge to go home. It was a very paranoid and insecure feeling that was in my gut. “You guys, I just got a text from my mom, I gotta go.”

Wes was only one who challenged me with these things. “Really? I didn’t hear your phone go off.”

I froze for a second, trying not to make my lie obvious before I finally thought of another one to cover it. “Well, um….it’s on vibrate, so….I’ll see you guys later,” I stuttered frantically as I jumped down from the branch.

“See ya,” they all said in unison before continuing their conversation. I was relieved that, despite the bad liar I am, they believed the things I said half the time. Or were at least content to go along with it, even if they knew I was lying.

Once the tree was out of sight, the negative notion suddenly exploded in me and I started to run. The rush raced along side me and seemed to be faster, but I couldn’t let it prevail. It was still hot as heck outside so I was sweating within a minute. I made it outside the woods and the sun was now madly focused on me. It felt like the heat was chasing my directly and feeding off the anxiety I had no reason to feel.

I raced across the street, picking up speed as I got closer to Church Street. Heedless of cars that could come around the corner at any moment, I ran in the middle of the road. My stomach was throbbing agonizing heat as I ran down my block. Every heartbeat shot the sharp ache into every ally of my body. When I finally came up to my lawn, I strode up the slight crescendo of my front yard. Barely touching the knob, but somehow managing to haul the door out of my way, I dashed into the foyer. “MOM?!!” I yelped desperately, my voice cracking twice on the one-syllable word. It was followed by a series of very heavy breaths as if I was having an asthma attack.



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This article has 14 comments. Post your own!

Chris19 said...
Nov. 20, 2010 at 10:56 am:
One word: AMAZING!
 
Macx14 replied...
Nov. 20, 2010 at 11:28 am :
Thanks a lot!
 
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Alexandria G. said...
Nov. 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm:
Your story was very realistic and enjoyable, I loved your choice of similies and meteaphors. My favorite characters are Vinnie and Seth. Seth reminds me a lot like myself with his humor. I am very intrigued about the characters' personal lives, especailly Mavie's. I noticed that your story contains a few akward sentences here and there such as: "I tried to cover my face with my faceas I tried to digest my laughs..." and "I eyes widened and I slapped my hand across my mouth..." Besides that, I l ... (more »)
 
Macx14 replied...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 9:27 am :
Thanks a lot for your criticisms! I know I had some typos here and there. I spent a long time looking over all of it, bleeping out the swears, dividing the chapters, etc. So I probably missed some stuff lol:P Thanks again
 
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blackmist said...
Oct. 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm:
Nice :) Just wondering, is any character based on someone you know? 
 
Macx14 replied...
Oct. 17, 2010 at 7:35 am :
Thanks:) and sort of. I know a kid in one of my classes who you can tell has some problems at home like all these characters do. He doesn't get good grades, been held back, does a lot of sports, and things like that, but you can tell there are issues he covers up....I didn't write this for or about him, though. No characters based on him, per se. I met him long after I began writing, but he kind of reminds me of all five, somehow.
 
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Mbookrooted said...
Oct. 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm:
I love your characters! They are so intriguing and I want to know more about them! Especially the mystery at the end here. I like your writing style too-kept my eyes scanning efforlessly. Good job, I will try to get through the rest of your chapters when i have time. ;]
 
Macx14 replied...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 5:35 am :
Thanks so much, I really appreciate it!
 
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COEURDARKO said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 9:13 pm:
Really thrilling and brimming with suspense. Can't wait to read the next chapter!
 
Macx14 replied...
Oct. 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm :
Thanks a lot!
 
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fashionluvr16 said...
Oct. 11, 2010 at 5:10 pm:
WOW!! SUS-PENS-FULLLLL!!!!!!! I AM SOOOO GLAD U SUGGESTED ME 2 READ UR WORK!!!! KK GOING ONTO THE NEXT CHAPTER!!!!
 
Macx14 replied...
Oct. 11, 2010 at 7:47 pm :
Thank you so much!!
 
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JRsingersongwriter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm:

ooh suspenseful! im supposed to be babysitting my sisters... nah i'll just move on to the next chapter!

i really like how u developed the characters already!! 

 
anneliese S. replied...
Sept. 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm :
Thank you so much!!
 
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