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Yesterday's Friend

Why? Why do you even bother to ask. The answer’s obvious, even if you refuse to admit it to yourself. Why do you stay?

You know you’re better than that. Every day last month you stood in front of the girls bathroom mirror (4th floor, 3rd corridor, next to Mrs. Rossel’s room), choking down your own tears, lying to yourself about how you deserve better.

Do you act? It seems like you don’t care, too afraid to care. Is the look on your face, the pale, purple bruise above your thick-lashed left eye, are those enough to remind you? You said you’d change, that you’d stay strong, hold your own. You promised you’d stop dressing that way, talking that way, acting that way, dating that way. Do you care? Do you honestly deserve better?

Each day you wake up in some unknown location (a park bench, the beach, the janitor’s closet, the local dump), or at least somewhere new to you. Come to school late, dragging yourself through the hallways with your well-groomed,though barely-there, school clothing . How can you see your locker combination through those thick lashes ? Is it natural? Is it Maybelline? Taste your daily vanilla Frappuccino beneath the layers of Mary Kay lipstick and Lancome Juicy Tubes? . Feel the freeze of the overly-air conditioned classrooms underneath those layers of cover up? Hear the morning announcements crackling over the loudspeakers through those multiple cartilage piercings? Smell the sour stench of sweaty football pads wafting from the boys’ locker room with that cloud of Victoria’s Secret Sexy Little Things (Your signature scent- it used to be Vera Wang’s Princess- what happened?) filling your nostrils?

Just a year ago you said you hated girls like that. Said they would end up either working the streets ,conveniently located in the 24/7 dark alley behind the McDonalds- they wouldn’t even have to leave their day job- ending up as one of those cranky old 70-year olds, faces eternally overcrowded with makeup, reduced to working at the local Carvel.
***



Today’s enemy (and your old best friend); Amelia: simple, straight-A student, clean-cut Mother Theresa. She’s well-known all around, hated by only those consumed with jealousy. Even the toughest teachers adore her.

You feel Tammy’s hot gaze following you as you pass Amelia by.

“Beat it ugly.” A direct quote from you. Is Amelia ugly? No. Does it matter? No.

She scurries along, turning around at the final second, face scared but determined. “I miss you. You know-the old you, not this,” she says, gesturing to your short skirt and tall boots.

You scowl, praying that neither Tammy nor the others hear. With them, the past is not to be mentioned. “Get a life and move on.” When did Amelia become so perfect, you wonder. Even beneath those big, nerdy glasses, shirt that seems like she borrowed it from her grandma- with no creases whatsoever; and loose pants, covering up any hidden curves. A painful reminder. You scoff, not like she has anything to show anyway.
***

Are you better than that? Do you deserve better? You ask yourself these simple questions when there’s time. You avoid the answer- after all, it is only human to fear the unknown. At night ,well on a free night, you curl up in your pastel-pink bed, next to your stuffed Persian cat, Mr. Cupcake. You fear the dark- loathe what might be lurking in it’s depths, keeping the door open just a crack. Usually it’s closed shut by morning.
***
Tammy’s still standing by her locker, smearing pinkish gloss across her puffy lips. She stands tall, wearing a short, denim skirt and leather boots, combo similar to you. This is what you’ve traded clean-cut in for; the most popular, trashiest b**** in existence. It’s so much better. She turns.

“Screw you, Callie, I heard what you did behind the 7/11 with Danny during Seth’s party.”

You play dumb. “Wha-what are you talking about.”

“God, you’re such a b****. He’s my ex of 2 weeks. You just can’t give it time can you? Can’t look before you leap.” She sighs, scanning you with disgust. “Just go kill yourself Callia- you’re nothing but a wannabe- and such a sl*t.”

She’s dropped the nickname-a bad sign. It slips out before you can control yourself. “What are you then?”

Her bejeweled hand rises, slapping you across your face, it’s hard enough to knock you down. The hallway seems to have eyes as they watch you hit the tile. One last kick in the stomach before she gives a scoff, skipping away.

You deserve better, you want to think. You’ve always suspected that Tammy only dated Danny to spite you. You wanted him first. Screw my life, screw it all. You want to run, but have nowhere to hide. Grabbing your purse, you flee, all the way to the so-called “loser” bathroom by your AP history class. They won’t find you here.

You look into the mirror, and stare at yourself. You look so ugly, even with all this makeup on. I am a loser, you thought. I deserve to be here. Without a moment’s hesitation, you bring out the Exact-O knife that you stole from the art room, slashing it across your thin wrist.
The familiar sting of the knife brings you back to reality, as you watch the blood swirl in galaxy-like patterns, down the drain. Does it hurt? Do you care?

It’s all over: your popularity, your social status, perhaps even your relationship. After all, it’s now Tammy’s position to make your life a living h*ll.

You let out a high-pitched laugh, echoing off the hollow bathroom halls. Isn’t your life already a living h*ll? There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide but here. You’ve been silent, so whose stopping you from continuing your silent rampage against the demons that visit you each night?

The door slams before you have time to turn on the faucet. You turn. It’s Amelia. Clean-cut. You stare blankly.

She sees the blood, the razor, your tear-stained face.

“Is this a normal thing?”

“Get out,” you mutter, before bursting into a tangle of full-fledged sobs. You sink to the floor, staining the white lace on your top. The blood finds its way onto the body-hugging skirt as well, onto your bracelets, onto the floor, everywhere.

She holds you as you cry, dabbing at the cut with a paper towel. It’s deeper than you meant, you realize. S***.

She leaves, returning with her bag containing gauze and Neosporin.

“I’m a certified EMT, by the way, so you can trust me.”

You remember- something about building a resume and gaining life experience.

“Remember? We were gonna take the course together before you…”

You nod. “I know. I would’ve liked that.”

She pulls a tank top out of her bag, extracting a pair of sweats (for emergencies ONLY-well, that and varsity basketball games) from yours.

“Wear these.” She turns to leave. “Hey Callia- stay strong, okay.”

You nod, a mix of feelings swirling through your head. You stare at yourself in the mirror. The makeup’s running down your face. D*mn, you’ve forgotten that your eyes were that green. Kinda hard to see through those lashes.

You clean up, applying only some mascara and eyeliner before you leave. The sweats are comfy- better than you’d assumed. You’d normally shun them, but maybe it’s time for a new start, maybe it’s time to re-enter the real world, with today’s new enemy now yesterday’s friend.





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