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The storm rolled in with it’s slate puffs of clouds that merged together, practically covering the entire sky. Deep thunder rolled in shortly after with a loud groan, and drops knock on the diminutive window of my bedroom. I throw a black tee over my long brown hair as the clock flashes 7:30 in bright numbers like a siren. Half out my bedroom door I hurry to put converse on my feet and grab my backpack. My dad is positioned on the couch in a manner in which I know he’s drunk. Light from the vibrant pictures on the TV reflects off his pale face and Corona and Pacifico bottles litter the living room floor. My mom is nowhere to be found, as usual, so I don’t mind slipping the wallet out of her jacket and right into my bag. Turning the power button on the TV to off, I walk out the door, making sure to slam it firmly.
I’m pelted with heavy rain drops that instantly absorb into the rips of my jeans and drip down my legs. Cars and buses honk multiple times as I sprint across the street. One man yells out his window “What’re you doing kid!?”
The truth is… I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t care. Life just passes in a blur and I sit for the ride.
The store door bell rings as it opens and out of habit I give the usual wave and good morning to Stan at the cash register. My eyes skim over the freezers until the traditional white label comes into sight and I snatch the last mango smoothie.
“$4.69,” Stan states,”Are you always going to go with the mango?”
“You know it’s my safe drink.” I say, rolling my eyes sarcastically. I’m already late for first period so there’s no time to talk but I wave goodbye just before rushing around the corner. There really isn’t any point to go to high school for me. I have no friends. My grades suck. And for the most part I simply sit there waiting for the clock to hit three. But it’s better than being at home I guess.
I walk into world history and take my seat in the back corner which is mostly deserted. Mrs. Stevens stands in the front of the room with her short frame and plump figure. Today she wears black pants and a loose blue shirt that is too revealing on her part. Her brown bob is extra ratty and her part in a zig-zag. Scolding, she makes a note on a piece of paper and announces, “Do you have a pass Ms. Robinson?”
We both know the answer so I simply shake my head knowing not to get too sassy. “This is becoming a serious problem Taylor… I expect to see you after class. ”
My head slumps down onto my desk as the other kids giggle from the front. They’re quickly hushed and class resumes as usual. Textbooks, papers, and notes all swirl in front of me and the class stretches on. I silently take my notes on the civil war and my boredom grows… that is until he comes. His blond hair was swept back making the darker highlights shimmer in the sun. Bright blue eyes radiate light across the room and his broad shoulders slowly shift as he skims the room. “Hi… my name is Jackson I’m new here.” Mrs. Stevens plasters a fake smile onto her makeup coated face.
“ Well hello Jackson! Welcome to Legacy. You may have a seat wherever in the back.” Jackson plops down at the desk next to me and almost every girl in the class either has heart shaped pupils or is glaring at me. Mrs. Stevens continues the class and Jackson finally speaks.
“Hi… I’m Jackson.” His hand runs through his hair and then he places it back in his pocket, fidgeting with his wooden pencil.
“Taylor.” That’s all I say and turn back to my notes with a straight face even though inside I’m burning up. Throughout class I answer a few yes or no questions and Jackson studies what I’m doing. The cute girls in my class constantly gaze back and blush whenever he looks up from his paper.The bell finally rings and I rush out of class to avoid the dreaded conversation with Mrs. Stevens. It turns out that Jackson and I have most classes together so he follows me around like a sad puppy. At the end of the day he trails me to my locker.
“Taylor… Are you ok? Why are you sad?” He says suddenly.
I was 15 and using the restroom. A group of “popular girls” walked in discussing some makeup crisis. All the sudden one of them said to the group, “Omg! Did you guys see the outfit Taylor Jackson was wearing today!? Like hashtag outfit fail.” The rest of them laughed and added little comments about my old torn shoes and oversized hoodie. Another girl began to speak.
“I saw her dad passed out on a park bench! They’re obviously homeless.” More laughter.”Oh no wait, unless you consider a cardboard box a home.” I can see them all touching up their makeup in the mirror. “No wonder no one wants to be her friend, she looks like trash and her family is obviously trash.” By now my feet are up on the toilet seat so that they don’t recognize me under the stall. But the trash talk about my dad or me wasn’t even the part that got to me since I knew that was true already.
“What a waste of space. Like can she do us all a favor and just kill herself already.” Everyone else agrees as they walk out with one more check at their appearance. I slowly unlock the stall and look myself up and down. They were all right.
I was a waste of space.
There was no point.
It’d be better if I wasn’t even here.
My head is hung low when I re-enter math and after class the teacher pulls me aside. “Taylor… Are you ok? Why are you sad?”
“ I’m not sad… and if I were why do you care?”I say to Jackson, not looking directly at him. My olive eyes stay glued to the ground and my fawn hair continuously falls into them.
“That’s what I thought. Listen I know how it feels you can tal-”
“You don’t know me alright! Stop following me around!” I storm out questioning why the sudden anger had surfaced. The walk home is long and dreary as more grey clouds fog my vision. I’m starting to regret yelling at Jackson… he was only trying to help. When I open our apartment door it’s completely deserted inside. I open the ragged fridge there’s only some baloney and bread with a couple bottles of beer. My backpack is thrown onto the ground and I flip the TV on with teary eyes. `
Apparently I had fallen asleep because when I open my eyes, an alarm is ringing loudly. I don’t remember owning an alarm clock but I turn it off anyway. Groaning, I pull myself up and drag my feet to my room. I pull a green shirt over my head considering ditching school all together but there’s nothing to do in the apartment. My hair is thrown into a messy bun with one annoying strand of wavy hair hanging out.
Trudging my feet along the sidewalk, I enter school with such a blank face that even I don’t know what my feelings are. Weeks whip by but I have no sense of time. The days all seem to be worthless. Hours on end of a boring life.
One day a hand taps me on the shoulder and Jackson appears.”Hey!” He says with a grin.
“What do you want Jackson!? I thought I told you to leave me alone!” His smile disappears and he grabs my hand.
“What are you doing!? Let go of me!” I’m dragged through the traffic filled hallways and into the empty gymnasium as I struggle to get away. He needs to stop I don’t want him here… well not all the way.
“Listen to me! I know we don’t know each other but you obviously have something going on!”
“That’s none of you business!” We’re practically screaming at each other now.
“Taylor! I don’t care if we don’t know each other! But I need you to listen!” I glare. “I know you think that no one cares. That life is worthless. That it’d be better if you were gone. Believe me I know.” I stop squirming and look at him from that last statement. “If you give me a chance I can help! I want to be your friend, I want to care.” I stare at him as if it’s a joke.
“You don’t know…” My voice is quiet. We stand in silence staring at one another. My head droops down and Jackson cups his large hand around my delicate face. A tear streams down and he catches it with a finger. I fall into his arms sobbing, my body racking with tears that had been hidden for years. I looked up my nose skimming his, staying there looking into his eyes I feel comfort with every second. An emotion of relief washed over me as we both stand there in silence.
“Just give me a chance…” Jackson whispers never looking away. I nod and it seems as if something inside of me has opened.
“Get out of here! This isn’t a makeout area!” The gym teacher yells startling both of us as we break apart and awkwardly rush out. Way to ruin the moment coach Z, I think to myself. Jackson chuckles briefly as we speed away to history class.
I actually focus today and Jackson helps me on the things I don’t get. After school, we sit giggling in the hallway about some funny dog videos on Jackson’s phone. My parents don’t care where I am and I don’t care. At least I’m lucky enough to have a friend who cares and is willing to hang out with me. It’s as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can see life in a new light.