My Own Personal Hell

January 27, 2010
The sun rose early one September morning over the buildings of New York City. The streets were just beginning to see the normal crowd of harried people, anxious to get to work on time. I began to stir as the light penetrated my eyelids, being careful not to wake my boyfriend, Josh, who lay beside me. We were on the roof of my apartment building in Brooklyn, on a tattered old mattress removed from the side of the road for exactly this purpose; late nights spent together against my father’s strict orders.

“Urghh...”, I groaned, and rolled over to press my face into Josh’s chest and block out the light from the brightening sun. My hair was tangled up in knots and I wore nothing but a t-shirt over my underwear. Josh began to stir as well, sitting up and stretching his arms over his head, flexing his well defined arm muscles in the process.

He got to his feet, pulling me with him, and leaned in for a quick kiss before grabbing his jeans off of the concrete under our feet and pulling them on over his boxers.

“Babe, I gotta go.” he said in his husky voice, taking his phone and keys in one hand and the handle of the door to the stairs with the other.

“‘Kay.” I said, unhappy that he’s leaving so soon. “You still picking me up later?”

Josh turned back to give me a long, exasperated look. “Lacey, I told you, I can’t.” he sighed. “I have to go see Austin by three. If I don’t he’s gonna give that Brazilian weed to Dylan, and since the guy at that pizza place got busted, it’s been hard to come by. You know that.”

“Fine. I’ll just see you tonight then.” I quickly turned away so that he couldn’t see the hurt in my eyes. It upset me that he was putting his “self-medication”, as he calls it, before me.

As much as I tried to hide it, some of the hurt must have come through on my face. “Look,” he said, “I know you don’t like it but it’s just something I have to do.” He ran a hand through his perfectly tousled brown hair which, even after two years, I still found distracting. He sighed again and said, “I love you.”

“Love you too.” I waved and made a weak attempt at a smile before turning away to retrieve my own jeans from the other side of the mattress, unable to watch him walk away from me.

I wandered inside to the one-bedroom apartment I shared with my dad, tiptoeing past him, dead to the world on the futon in our living room. My parents got divorced long before I can remember. I was only two or three.

It was the first day of school. By this point, I’d lived through so many that they had lost all appeal for me. It’s not like each year was any different. There was always the same snobby cheerleaders, obnoxious jocks, overachieving brainiacs, and “the rebels”, the category that me and most of my friends fell under. Not that I’m much of a rebel. Yeah, I smoke but I don’t go out and get drunk and high every night or hook up with every guy I meet. Even I’m not that stupid.

There was no way I was going to make it to school on time, especially not with my morning Starbucks run- a mocha Frappachino was the only thing that could get me though the school day. I was close to using my lunch money to catch a cab, which was reasonable considering they could hardly call the c*** they served at the school lunch.

In the end, I decided to walk. Even after years, the beauty of the city still amazes me and I jump at the chance to walk whenever I can. From the street, I could just see the Brooklyn Bridge, all the cars whizzing in the direction of the breathtaking city lying just across the water.

I slipped into homeroom just in time, the bell ringing shrill in my ears as I slid into the standard desk, carved into and written on by generations. The teacher immediately began to call roll, either totally oblivious to or pointedly ignoring the stragglers who didn’t mange to make it in on time.

“Lacey Jordan?” my homeroom teacher called finally, in an annoying, nasal voice that I knew would drive me nuts for the rest of the year.

“Here.” I muttered, just as my iPhone, a back-to-school present from my dad, vibrated in my pocket. All around me, I heard the beeping and vibrating of my classmates phones as well. Almost everyone had taken their phones out, not patient enough to wait to find out the first big news of the school year.

It was from an unknown number, unusual for me. I had to read it over three times before my mind could even process the image on the tiny screen. It was a picture of a rusty, red truck, Josh’s truck. I knew it from the Brown sticker on the back window. The truck was contorted, all squashed up in the front, the metal twisted around the telephone pole it had hit. This could not be happening. No!

My stomach rolled over, the nausea overwhelming me. The little coffee I’d drunk so far was coming up, fast. I bolted out of the room, feeling the gazes of my classmates on me, not even caring what they or the teacher thought, if she even noticed.

I ran down the hall, sure of my destination. Just as the bell rang, signaling the end of homeroom, my knees hit the ugly grey tile floor of the girls bathroom as I leaned my head over the toilet. The worst start ever to what I was now sure was going to be a hell of a year.

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