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In the Stars
As beautiful as I’ve always been, I never felt uglier. I was lovely, sure, but that didn’t suffice for Ryan. Of course, I had more to offer than just my looks and father’s wealth. Talented dancer, star student, and dedicated leader I was. Somehow, though, my idiotic, lazy, make-up addicted best friend stole his heart and stabbed me in the back simultaneously.
Now, I had to wear a smile and pretend my father raised a happy, blessed daughter so that our family seemed immaculate in front of hundreds of colleagues and friends. My father always required to be the best, even at my expense. I just wanted to crawl in a corner in sweats while crying and shoving chocolate frosting down my throat to a sad romance. That doesn’t look good for the CEO of an international business, though.
“Kara, hurry up! The limo is waiting!” my father’s trophy wife and my step mother shouted. As if I was the one who kept the car waiting. She always made us late. I wiped away my last tear of the night, built up my pride, quickly retouched the make-up that smudged, and ran down the stairs as fast as I could in four-inch pumps. Of course, I beat the skinny whore to the door.
My father, in the kitchen, gently smiled at me. He was a good man at heart, I knew, but had awful taste in women. He wasn’t a cheat or a jerk. His women were the problem. My mother had the affair that ended their marriage, and I hardly ever saw the woman anymore. This was only his second marriage, but I knew for a fact that Lily only loved him for his money. “You look very pretty, Kara,” he complimented. I looked down at my gold-speckled white dress. I pressed my dark purple lips together as I remembered their shade of a bruised plum. Of course I was pretty. My mother blessed me with her charming smile, delicate nose, and jaw-dropping body, while my father blessed me with smooth blond hair, intuitive ochre eyes, and naturally tan skin. I always would have that, but I never asked for it. I prayed and begged for Ryan, but immense beauty trumped that. Maybe immense beauty caused that.
As I began to perplex myself with the concept “wants versus needs”, Lily came running down the hall until the loud clanks of her heels met the hard surface of the kitchen tile. She didn’t compliment me nor smile at the “happy” family. Instead, she looked at my outfit with a look of horror, judgment, and pity. “Oh, honey, are you sure white is a good color for you? Very unflattering.” Most teenage girls would then bicker with this “helpful” hint, but I knew better. I was used to her motherly insults that tried to make her sound like she actually cared about me. I smiled at her brilliantly.
“Thanks for the input, Lily!” I chirped back at her. She gawked at me, dumb-founded, and watched me as I left. I rolled my eyes as I strut away the disgusting couple. I swung open the front door, and headed for the limo.
The car ride was pleasant chit-chat that did not involve me one bit. I preferred it that way in the corner, away from them. Prepping herself for the grand entrée, Lily exited first, followed by my father, and lastly, and certainly least, myself. Immediately, people began to greet each of us. I smiled as big as my lips could reach and wondered if they knew it was fake. I wondered how many grins that warmly greeted me hid bitter emotions, just like mine. Everybody was smiling, but who was actually happy?
The actual party was quite awful. It celebrated the finality of the instauration of the headquarters of my father’s business. The host, a VP, owned a large property with pristine accessories. The house, mixed with the people, seemed so phony. I smiled my way through the yard, the deck, and finally the main party room. There were so many smiling waiters serving smiling guests sitting on glitzy furniture in a glitzy room. I couldn’t take it any longer. I felt suffocated. Their smiles haunted my closed eyes. I escaped the chockablock room with a quick dart. I kept stumbling in my heels at a fast pace until the mixed banter was distant. Nobody noticed me leave, and I was finally free.
I looked around myself. It was a grassy area, with many trees around. I tried to subitize the amount, but gave up and counted them. With a deep sigh, mixed with relief and sorrow, I kicked off my pumps and gently lay down. I shut my eyes to the setting sun and breathed. If I focused on my breath, I’d forget about the manipulative best friend and heart-wrenching crush. I breathed slowly and smelt the faraway grill, pine, my own perfume, and anger. I was so angry. My best friend sneaked behind my back and pretending not to put a knife through, even though it was clear as day as the blood gushed out. She denied every word I accused her of, yet I saw with my own eyes the betrayal. My crush chose a futureless girl over myself. My father married a dumb slut. My step mother was set to destroy my confidence because she clearly felt threatened by a fifteen year old girl. My own mother abandoned me when I was young. Anger bubbled inside me as I checked off each item, like I do most nights. The worst part was that everyone expected me to have the perfect life. I was beautiful, wealthy, smart, funny, and led the life that most girls dreamed of. If something went wrong in my life, it “didn’t matter”. My appearances were too fantastic for anything to penetrate my heart for too long. I’ve also heard that my problems, even if they were exactly the same of someone less fortunate than myself, mattered less. Summed up, I don’t have the right to be angry apparently. It’s not allowed. I’m too pretty for actual feelings to matter. It’s one thing to be angry, but then to remember that nobody will sympathize with you because of your status is another level up.
Now, I wasn’t just angry. I was livid. I loathed society and everyone who told me I had no right to pain. Angry and sad tears spilled over my cheeks as I curled into a ball. I don’t know how long I cried, but when I was finished, I felt refreshed. I needed to get that out of my system, but the pain was still there, just not red hot. I sat up, rubbed my eyes, and realized that it was night. There were no stars due to the party not too far away, and I tried to decide if the moon was a waning or waxing crescent. I never grasped the moon phases. As I tried to remember the trick, I heard footsteps behind me.
“Don’t you wish you could see stars?” a man’s voice gently spoke behind me. I turned around to see a beautiful teenage boy walking towards me in a button down and khakis. His hands were shoved in his pockets and dark curls fell against his forehead and ears. Ryan was nothing compared to this kid.
After I caught the breath that stuck in my throat, I found my voice. “Definitely. During the summer, I try to watch them every night. I almost have the constellations memorized.”
The boy laughed as he sat next to me. “Same. I’m Daniel, by the way.”
“So, Kara, why did you venture off from the fabulous party?” He looked down at the house with distaste. He obviously felt the same way I did.
“Claustrophobia. And it’s been a long day. The kind of day when you want to play scared turtle and hide in a shell,” I explained, looking down at my hands between my legs. I carefully examined my robin’s egg nail polish to avert his striking stare.
“I can tell, your eyes are red from crying,” he laughed. “Want to talk about it?”
I thought about that. I desired to spill my story, but something didn’t feel right. I trusted this unknown beauty, but I told myself to hold off. I finally placated my conflicting desires and sighed, “People suck.”
This made him laugh loudly and honestly. I smiled at his amusement. “I’m glad you find that funny,” I joked.
He contained himself and managed to box his laughter into a smile. “I do find you funny, but I am sorry about whatever these people did to suck. I’m sure they do suck. If it’s any consolation, I’ve had an awful day too.”
“Want to talk about it?” I asked, quoting his exact words. He smiled at me, and I noticed the shadow of pain in his dark eyes. Even though he was hurt, I knew his smile was genuine. If you can see emotion in the eyes, the smile is genuine.
“Nah, it’s a long story. To sum it up though, people suck,” he explained. I smiled and giggled. “I’ve always hated these parties. The only reason people have these parties is because we’re supposed to. People expect the upper class to have all these banquets and parties and balls, so we do. Everything is defined by society.”
“I hate society,” I growled, going back to my previous self-debate. Society doesn’t let me ache when I have a bad day. “And I know what you mean about these parties. Everyone’s so fake. Nobody actually cares.”
I picked at the grass beneath me as I waited for his response. After a few seconds, I looked up to see him asses me. His deep brown eyes met mine and he smiled. “What?” I asked insecurely. I wondered how weird he thought I was, or how smudged my makeup was. I had been crying for a while.
“Nothing,” he said, looking away. He still had the pleasant smile on his lips. “We’re just a lot alike.” I smiled at him. I felt the same way. “Want to see something cool?”
I narrowed my eyes. “Sure,” I said suspiciously. He rose to his feet and reached out his hand. I studied it, and then I gave in. I had nothing to lose. I grabbed his roughened hand and he pulled me up to my feet. I thought he would let go after that, but he didn’t. He just held my hand as he led me back to the house. TThere was nothing romantic in it per se, but rather friendly and caring. It was nice to have someone hold my hand after an awful day just to let me know that I wasn’t alone.
“Are we really going back to the party?” I groaned when we were only a little bit away. He laughed.
“Hell no. I’m not going back, even if my dad grounds me for being a bad host,” he explained with another laugh. I smiled.
“No way, I didn’t know you were Levin’s son! I’m Kara Bishop,” I explained. He looked at me with a sneaky smirk.
“Huh, I can’t believe the guest of honor is avoiding her own party,” he mocked. I narrowed my eyes at him as he laughed. He didn’t judge me immediately or even seemed fazed. For once in my life, my name meant nothing.
“Hey, it’s not my party. It’s my dad’s. I’m just here for appearances. I was told that white is not my color by my step mother, so I figure its best that I avoid pictures and judging stares,” I commented sardonically. Even though I was joking a small voice inside me told me that Lily did not mind that I was missing. She was glad my white dress and I were out of her hair. I kicked a small rock in anger, and Daniel squeezed my hand to remind me that he was there. I looked up at him and his sorry and pained eyes.
He let my anger subside before he spoke again. “My step mom barely convinced my dad to let me even come to the party. They’re both going to be p***ed when they find out that I ditched it entirely. It’s not a privilege to attend a boring party with boring, self-centered people.”
“Parents suck,” I amended from my previous summary. This time, Daniel only nodded in agreement. Suddenly his eyes lit up as he led us to a roped off door. I laughed. “I feel so dangerous; I’m disregarding the rules!” He laughed at my rebellious tone. He opened the door with his key, and led me into a dark room. I should’ve felt nervous, but I felt very comfortable. He switched on the lights. I found myself in a garage with three vehicles. There stood a silver motorcycle, a gorgeous Mercedes, and a golf cart. He began to climb into the golf cart and motioned for me to get in. The cart revved on.
As I slid into it, I grinned. “Please tell me you’re taking me somewhere,” I begged. He laughed as the garage door began to slide open.
“Yes, I am. You’re going to love it,” he promised. He began to peel away from the garage and the party. We were silent as he drove, and the ride was very peaceful. I missed the feel of his hand on mine though, so I kept busy by watching the dark trees and leaves slowly fly by me. After a while, my eyes found his face, and I watched him focus on the darkness ahead. I felt as if we were going nowhere, but I was glad just to be with him. Soon though, I saw a faint light draw closer and closer. He finally stopped the car in front of a lit glass building in the middle of the woods. He quickly got out and I followed. He waited for me to catch up to him before he grasped my hand again. He held the door open, led me down a hallway, and finally into a room with a giant pool and Jacuzzi surrounded by glass walls and a glass ceiling. Around the walls were dense dark trees. If it wasn’t so serene, it’d be as creepy as a white, windowless van.
“Wow,” I whispered looking at the trees and ceiling. Suddenly, the lights of the entire building shut off. My heart began to race. Now this was creepy. I jumped as I felt something move on my hand. Everything was hidden in shadows, and I turned to see a figure with curly hair above me. As my eyes adjusted, I realized how close he was to me.
“It’s okay, it’s just me,” he laughed. Once his chuckle disappeared into the vast darkness, he whispered, “Look up.”
Fear absent, my eyes peered to the ceiling expecting darkness. Instead, I saw a night full of noctilucent stars and a sliver of a moon. I recognized the planets and constellations immediately and gasped at the beauty. The bright lights against the dark sky contrasted as beautifully as a fresh rose on a sheet of snow. I wanted to stare at them forever, but I needed to see Daniel’s face. Lit by the stars, I could tell he was smiling. With his face in mind, I turned back up to the sky.
“Wow,” I repeated. “It’s so beautiful.” Once I had taken in enough beauty to last a lifetime, I turned back to Daniel. He was still observing my expression. I smiled at him. “Thank you for showing me this.”
“You know,” he whispered in my ear. My spine tingled from my neck to my lower back. He slid his hand around my hip. He was going to kiss me. I knew he was going to kiss me. “The view is better from the pool.” Then, instead of kissing me, he laughed. I creased my eyebrows. I honestly thought he was going to kiss me. Suddenly, I felt his arms tighten around me and my feet left the ground. I screamed as he laughed and threw me into the pool. My dress, completely demolished, flowed around me as the water drenched my skin and hair. I kicked up until my head met the surface and I gulped air down. I laughed as I saw the wet curls stick to the head of the boy beside me.
“You jerk!” I shouted with a laugh as I splashed him. “My dress is destroyed!” I laughed louder as I swam to the edge. I grabbed onto the side as he grabbed my waist. I was completely unprepared as he wrapped both arms around me and kissed me with vigor. His lips were warm and wet and his arms were strong and safe. I rejoiced as I wrapped my arms around his neck. He continued to kiss me for a few minutes until his feet completely slipped and we both went underwater. We guffawed as we resurfaced.
“Do you want to go in the hot tub? I’m freezing,” he asked, already pushing himself off the edge. His thin shirt stuck to his skin and showed the definition of his tan muscles. I followed suit and felt weighed down by my soaked dress. I left a trail as I followed him to the large, steaming hot tub. He slowly emerged himself, and slid in next to him. I laid my head back against the stone and looked at the stars.
“You know what I really appreciate?” I whispered as traced the stars with my eyes. “You haven’t told me I’m beautiful.”
“I figured you get that a lot. I always get it, too. ‘Wow, Mrs. Levin, your son is so attractive!’ It’s all people know about me,” he explained. I had never heard anyone talk so openly. I trusted him; he trusted me. “The worst part is that I’m not even Mrs. Levin’s son. Mrs. Levin is my step mother.”
“I get the same thing,” I sympathized. “I’m Lillian Bishop’s beautiful daughter. These people aren’t as smart as we think, because then Lily would be eight when she gave birth to me and one when she gave birth to my brother.” Daniel laughed, and I tried to smile, but I was too bitter.
“What’s your brother like? I’ve only ever heard rumors about you,” he wondered. I smirked at that. Rumors always circulated about the Bishop daughter in the high-class society. Apparently, I’m one, crazy fifteen-year-old.
“When he was a teenager, he was really into partying and drugs and drinking. He started really young, when he was thirteen. My mom showed up one day after being absent for five years, and then disappeared the next day after promising to stay. He stated drinking, then partying, and finally got into drugs. My dad was really ashamed and couldn’t have him pinned to his image, so he sent him to a boarding school on the west coast. Now he goes to school over there and I haven’t seen him in years. It’s not his fault, though. My family shunned him.”
“What about your mother?” he tentatively asked. I sighed as I opened the doors to my deepest secrets. I never talked about my brother because nobody ever asked, but people asked about my mother all the time. I just shrugged them off, but this time, I was prepped. I was already knee deep in secrets, so why not let the words pour?
“She was very beautiful. She had been with my father since college, through thick and thin. They were in love, and everyone thought they would last. When I was born though, my mother admitted to my father that she didn’t know if I was his or not. Of course, they later found out I was, but my dad was heartbroken. My brother said that they never fought; they just remained silent. Nothing was ever the same. My mother continued to have affairs, my father continued to catch her. Eventually, when I was two, she just left. She was done and bored. I never saw her again. I always wonder where she is, but I then I try to convince myself that I don’t care. But I do. My mother left me; I’m allowed to be curious.”
I busied myself with counting the stars as I continued to talk. The story of my mother led to my father and Lillian, then to my friends, Ryan, and finally everything that popped into my head during my bad day. I sulked in my hatred towards the tendencies of society; he listened. Every time I glanced over, he was staring at the stars, but he was clearly processing the information. I respected him for not interrupting, or splashing in the water. He listened to every word, and let in sink in after I finished.
“You’re not given nearly enough credit,” he admired. “You’re extraordinarily strong. Know that.”
I turned my head to face him. He was already gazing upon me. I gave him a small smile. I nudged his leg with my knee. “Your turn!” I had been talking for so long, I missed his voice. I needed to hear him speak into my ear.
“Oh jeez,” he sighed. I watched his face as he spoke. “My parents divorced when I was six. I have three full siblings, three half-siblings, and currently, four step siblings. My father’s been married three times, my mother twice, and they were each other’s first. I don’t remember much from their marriage, other than the fighting. They fought a lot, especially when I was around. I was relieved when he moved out. It didn’t take him long to remarry, only about a year, and the woman was nice and sweet. I liked her a lot. She was, like, Mrs. Brady. Then my dad had to be an ass and cheat on her. She left with her kids and I haven’t seen her since. My dad married his mistress a couple months later, and she’s okay. She cares about me, but her morals are very loose. She drinks a lot, even though she knew my dad was a recovering alcoholic. She got him back on the wagon and makes living with him hell.” He choked up at the end.
“Why don’t you live with your mom?” I gently asked. The questions caused tears to well up in his eyes.
“She died five years ago. Before then, I mostly lived with my mom, but I moved in with my dad when she got in a car crash. Died on impact.” I grabbed his hand and rubbed his thumb. He just continued to stare upwards. He was so beautiful. “I never liked her second family, but it was weird when I stopped seeing them. Who knew I would actually miss them? My dad’s wife, the Mrs. Brady one, was really great about it all. My dad barely cared that the woman he spent ten years with died. I had no one to talk to. My brothers were really young, so I was all alone. Elle, my step mom, listened and held me. Then, my dad scared her away. He never cared that she was gone; he never cared that I missed her. Well, he wasn’t necessarily heartless. He was just really oblivious. It’s not enough, though. Since he ignored me, I ignore him. That’s why he doesn’t like me. That’s why he doesn’t let me come to parties. I p*** him off; he p***es me off. Then there are my brothers, who are clones of him. Preppy, private school kids who use their money and name to get out of everything. They think that people only live to serve them. My one brother is starting to catch on to the hidden complexities of our life. He’s starting to get into drugs and stuff, and he’s at the age when I got into that stuff so I wasn’t really worried. It’s just a rebellious phase; I would know. But he really screwed up last night. That’s why I had a bad day. At, like, five in the morning, he called me, completely freaking out, for me to pick him up at this gas station. He took some bad pills and was tripping major. I took him to the hospital, they called our dad, and he blamed me. He said I must’ve given him the pills. He thinks I’m some awful, ne’er-do-well. I’ve never even done anything worse than pot, and I haven’t touched that in two years. And of course, Craig, who actually took the drugs, gets off without even a slap on the wrist. I don’t get it. I’m a good kid. I just want to leave this house, leave New York, and leave this life.”
“I wish we could,” I whispered when I knew he completely trailed off. I wondered if he forgot I was still there, holding his hand. I squeezed it. Finally, neither of us was alone.
He seemed to remember his surroundings as he brought his head up. “It’s getting late; we should probably head back. Party’s wrapping up probably.” He climbed out of the hot-tub in his see-through shirt and dripping pants, and reached for my hand. He helped me out, and squeezed my dress out. I frowned at it. It was such a pretty dress.
I started heading back to where I believed the door was, but his arms tightened around my waist. His lips found mine and he kissed. I felt all the emotions of the night. I felt connected to him. I knew him better than I knew anyone now, and he knew me like no one else. Our secrets lingered on our lips and brought us closer together. I never wanted to stop kissing him.
The filter of the pool switched on, and we remembered that we had to head back. He held my hand as we slowly walked back to the golf cart. He drove back silently, and I found a dusty enchiridion on the floor. Pages were dog-eared, and I flipped through. It led through the assembly of a motorcycle.
“Did you build that bike in your garage?” I asked, the pieces forming into a puzzle. He glanced over at my hands.
“Oh,” he said, “yeah. Well, technically, I rebuilt it. It used to be my dad’s and he was going to just throw it out. I wanted it; he said I could have it if I fixed it up myself. It’s not done yet, but it’s almost there.”
“You’ll have to take me on it when you finish,” I calmly planned. Smiled at him, and he smiled back.
“It’s a date,” he promised.
The party was still lit when we came back, and had thinned out. We sneakily parked the cart and headed back to the party. I noticed Lillian chatting up some old guy. She glanced at me across the party, and her eyes grew wide. She didn’t stop talking to the man, though; that would look bad. I smiled at Daniel. “How should we explain why we’re wet?”
Daniel smirked down at me. “Just pretend you’re not. It’ll drive ‘em crazy.” His eyes looked around the party, and when they found what he was looking for, he turned back to me. “I have to go. I’ll see you soon, kay?”
I smiled. “Definitely.”