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Tom (working title)
Week number two… how many days are left in the year… way too many, I say to myself in first period. I look around the class and immediately catch the eyes of the others. Their looks say I can’t believe I liked him last year, I wish he was dead. I’m beginning to get used to these looks from people I barely know. The ones from my old friends? I feel like cutting open my chest so they can see how damaged my heart is. Why did I have to mess up like that? Probably because I was so drunk… the punch was spiked which sometimes makes me think someone hated me.
Once the bell rings, everyone rushes into the halls. I get shoved so hard that my books fall to the floor. While I’m picking up my books Nate comes over. He was my best friend last year. He kneels down next to me and says, “Screw up.” He then kicks my books away. Isn’t he nice?
Every class is the same as first period. Lunch rolls around. Lunch is when I go in the library and pretend everything’s all right and I’m just studying. This time though, a girl comes up. She’s not pretty but definitely not ugly. She asks, “This seat taken?” I shake my head no. Does she not know who I am? I mean, how could you not? When she sits down, I manage to say, “I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.”
“Why? Are you trouble or something?”
“When you say it like that it actually sounds cool.” Am I actually talking to someone who isn’t walking away? “So what’s your name?”
The whole time we’re talking I keep thinking how she’s being kind of open to someone she doesn’t know. Why couldn’t I be like that? I bet if I was I could get some new and probably better friends.
Once again, I feel alone. Amy isn’t in any of my classes. But that would only happen in a perfect world and let me tell you, my world is not perfect.
Things haven’t just changed at school; they’ve also changed at home. My dad got laid off last month. Now my mom has to work all the time. I rarely see her and when I do its like looking at a stranger. I don’t think she even knows who I am anymore. My dad sleeps all the time probably to hide his great quality of being stubborn.
All I can think about is Amy. Why would she talk to me when she knows everyone else is disgusted by me? And then it hits me, it’s a joke. Some stupid football player put her up to this and now they’re having a good laugh about it. I can’t believe how stupid I am. How gullible I am. Why would some nice girl want to talk to me? I can’t believe this. So this is what it’s come to. It only took a year for me to forget how to work social situations? I really cannot believe this. Who does she think she is? Just because she’s some girl doesn’t mean she has the right to be this rude. This is a bunch of s***. But when I do really think about it, I’m not surprised.
The next day at school I try to avoid her as much as possible. I can’t bear the idea of facing her and knowing what she did to me. It would be too horrible. What would either of us say? “Hey, Amy. Nice joke you played.” Then she would say, “Yeah. It was pretty good wasn’t it.” And then she would walk away to the cheerleaders who would wave pompoms in my face.
Lunch appears again. It’s like this huge shadow that will never fade away no matter where the sun is. Again I walk into the library but this time it’s not silent. I hear crying from the back and go toward it. Amy. Of course. I’m unfazed. Although there are tears running down both her cheeks. I pull out a chair next to her and reach for her hand. She doesn’t pull away. I move my chair closer until our arms are touching. She lays her head on my shoulder. It’s the first moment in seven months where someone shows me affection.
I invite her to my house after school despite the fact that my house is like a jail cell.
Fortunately no one is sitting in the kitchen waiting to torture me with words.
“Where are your parents,” Amy asks as I got us something to drink.
“My dad’s asleep and my mom’s at work.”
“Why is your dad asleep at 3:30?”
“To hide his shame.” She stares at me until I realize what I just said. “I mean… he gets tired during the day.”
“Give me a tour of your house, Tom.”
I show her the living room where my dad watches sports and COPS reruns. I show her the bathroom where he then tries to wash off his rudeness.
“Is this your room?”
“Sure is.” All she does is sit on my bed and look around. “So why aren’t you saying anything?”
“What?” Amy looks at me as if she just noticed I’m in the same room.
“You’ve said something about every room. In this one you’re just looking at everything.”
“I just wanted to see what’s in your room. Is there something wrong with that?”
Well… no…” Wait. What am I thinking? There’s a girl in room and I’m probably annoying her. But what do I do? I don’t know if she feels the same as me. I go over and sit on the bed. She looks over and stares at me for what seems like forever.
My brain leaves my head as I lean into kiss her. I’m positive she’ll pull away but she kisses me back. “I’m sorry but I have to go.” Amy is talking so fast that I can barely understand her.
What just happened? I kissed Amy then she kissed me back. Doesn’t that mean she likes me? But then why did she leave right away? Whatever. Amy can do whatever she wants as long as I’m unhappy apparently.
At around midnight I hear my mom come home. This is the earliest she’s come in all week. I get out of bed to get some water knowing she’ll be in there. “Hi, mom.”
“Tom. What are you doing up.”
“Just wanted some water.”
“Oh… well, okay.”
“You’ve been getting in pretty late this week.”
“This job is crazy, honey.” She looks so exhausted. There are these invisible weights on her shoulders. One is my dad and I and the other is her wants and needs.
“Is there something you wanted to talk about?”
I shake my head no and go back to my room.
Amy keeps avoiding me the next day. Is this what it’s going to be like? She talks to me one day and ignores me the next? I won’t be able to handle it.
She doesn’t come to lunch even though I left a note on her locker. Someone probably ripped it off. I would be so shocked.
Do you think Amy shows up in the library? It’s a one-word answer if that helps you. No. She doesn’t. Why in the world would she come when she knows it would make me happy?
I just got called to the office. The principal is too busy playing Tetris and my mom is too busy for anything so this secretary has to tell me to go to therapy. Annoying how she can remember that and not remember my last birthday.
Forty-five minutes. That’s how long I’ve been trying to bring myself to go inside. I can just tell that the group will be full of recovering alcoholics, druggies, and other recoveries. I wouldn’t fit in with them. I’m a seventeen-year-old boy who messed up one night but lost everything.
I find myself at a bookstore across the street ten minutes later. I know people can tell how alone I am. It’s pretty obvious now that I think about it.
I look down when I walk, probably so I won’t see how much I let everyone down. You always think things can get worse and they can. There is one exception though, for me. This is the worst thing that could happen to someone like me.
When I look up at the clock I realize therapy is over and my mom would be waiting. “Tom. Where’d you come from? I didn’t see you,” My mom says as I get in the car.
“I came out of where everyone else came out.”
“Oh. How was it?”
Why does it matter? “Fine. I didn’t talk.”
“You were probably just nervous. I’m sure you’ll say something next week.”
Do you not know me at all? “Yeah. Sure.”
The rest of the ride home is silent. I just stare out the window, thinking. Thinking why and how. Why am I not trying to do anything to help myself? How could one life get so screwed up so fast? I hate this.
My mom drops me off since she has to work. I go up to my room and lie down. The scene of last summer pours out of my mind and onto the ceiling.
I was with Nate on a Saturday in late June when his girlfriend Kate called. “There’s a big party tonight at Luke’s. Supposed to be the blowout of the summer.”
“You know I’m not good at parties.”
“Come on, Tom. It’ll be fun. Lucy might be there.”
He knew that would make me come. He knew how much I liked Luke’s sister. “Fine. I’ll go.”