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The Unspoken Truth
It was a long, lonely summer of secrets and silence. I’d had over two months to get ready to see her. But even after all that time, I still wasn’t ready. I was in the parking lot before the first bell, trying to muster up the courage to get out of my car and officially let the year begin. As people walked by, talking and laughing, I went through all the maybes in my head: maybe she was over it by now, maybe something else happened over the summer to replace our little drama, or maybe it was never as bad as I thought it was. These were all possibilities, but very unlikely ones. I sat in my car for what seemed like an eternity, trying to delay the inevitable. When I finally took the keys out of the ignition and reached for the door handle, she was right there. We just stared at each other through the glass window; eyes unwavering. My best friend, Emily, had become a stranger to me; distant and unfamiliar. My face was flushed and my hands were shaking nervously. She, however, remained expressionless as she turned her back, swung her hair over her shoulders and walked away. I could feel the entire school staring. I had no choice but to get out of my car, with everyone watching, and begin the year, alone.
I had cut myself off entirely after everything that happened, figuring this was safer than the risk of people judging me. I ignored phone calls and avoided people when I saw them out in public. I didn’t want to talk about what happened, so I did not talk at all. The result of this, was that now, all day at school, when I would walk up to people chatting, I felt a sudden distance, one that remained until I walked away. In the summer, all I’d wanted was to be alone. Now, my wish had come true.
When I headed down to the parking lot at the end of the day, there was a big crowd making its way across the turnaround. I was so distracted that I didn’t even see the parked black Jeep until I was walking right in front of it. I looked away fast, quickening my pace as I walked in front of the bumper. “Caitlin!” He called out to me. He was sitting there in his car, wearing a polo shirt and a pair of sunglasses perched on his forehead. I knew I should have ignored him, but instead I turned my head, almost as if by instinct.
“Hey,” he said. I was so close to the car that I could feel the A/C drifting out the open window.
“Hi.” Just one word, but it came out all twisted as it squeezed up my throat.
He didn’t seem to notice my nervousness. “I haven’t seen you around at the parties lately,” he said.
“Well…” I trailed off. I couldn’t look at him, so I kept my eyes down. “I just-”
“What the h*ll do you think you’re doing?” Oh no, I thought. It was Emily. She reached out and grabbed my shoulder. I whirled around and faced her.
At that moment, all I wanted was to get away, to be in some tight space that I could huddle in and feel safe. Deep down, I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, that this wasn’t entirely my fault. I wished that I could tell people what really happened. But once people knew about the truth, I was sure they would look at me differently. It seemed safer to hold it in, where I was the only one who could judge me.
Emily stepped closer to me. “Stay away from my boyfriend,” she said her voice low. “Do you understand me?”
I just stood there, my face flushed. “Emily…” I took in a breath. “You don’t know the full story.”
She shook her head, and then stepped forward, brushing past me. Her shoulder hit mine, hard, and I stumbled. “Wait!” I called after her, but she was already gone, the black Jeep driving away in the distance.
I still remembered everything that happened- the shame, the fear. The memory had not faded away, like the way a gash heals to an unnoticeable scar. Instead, it seemed to grow stronger, the weight heaving on my chest. I could feel something suddenly rising up inside. I started to cry. Really, cry. The way I hadn’t in years. It hit me like a wave, pulling me under. The sobs climbed up my throat, my shoulders shaking. I put my head in my hands, pressing my palms over my eyes. Eyes closed, I saw blackness, reminding me of that one thing, the deepest of my secrets; eyes open, there was the world that didn’t know it, bright and inescapable.