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Not That Simple This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "Iknew this would happen. I told you to forget about him."

I lookeddown at the sand as my best friend, Gwen, started on another one of her lectures.I didn't know if I was supposed to be worried, happy, or annoyed. What she saidmade sense, but I just didn't know how I could do what she was asking me. I justcouldn't get her to understand.

"I love him!" I burst out."I know he put me through hell, I know he used me, I know all that, Gwen,but I can't help it. I thought he was serious." I cried as I collapsed onthe sand. I put my hands to my face.

Gwen came to my side and put her armsaround me. "I know," she said. "I know you love him. But do youreally want to take that chance again? I just don't want to see you get hurtagain. This is our last year, I want you to have fun. Stop crying. Some of hisfriends are here. If he finds out you were crying, he'll just make things worsefor you."

"Gwen, it's not as simple as you think. It's not thateasy to forget someone who you have feelings for. We've been together for fiveyears. It was just an accident, nothing else. I'm sure he didn't mean it. It'salright." I tried to convince myself, and Gwen, as I noticed one of Jason'sfriends smirking at me.

Gwen took me by my hand and pulled me toward thegirls' locker room.

"Ouch," I screamed. "What's wrong withyou? What are you doing?" I faced the mirror as the door slammed behindme.

"This is an accident? Is this a damn accident?" Gwenscreamed, holding up my wrist to the mirror. "What kind of an accident isthis, Steph? Explain to me what kind of a boyfriend acts this way with hisgirlfriend? Tell me!"

She released my black-and-blue arm and turnedaway to conceal the tears in her eyes. I sighed deeply, dropping down on a bench.

"Steph, you are my best friend, I love you like my own sister. Icare about you, and I'm not gonna let this happen to you anymore! You are soblind that you can't even see what he's doing. He's playing with your mind. He'susing you, Steph. Don't you see?"

Jumping up in a burst of anger, Ifaced her with determination. "Gwen, stop it! Just stop it. He's not as badas you're making him out to be. He just gets really angry sometimes, and can'tcontrol his anger. Stop telling me what to do! Everything is fine." Istormed out of the locker room.

"Hey, Steph, wait up!"

Iturned to face Jason, my boyfriend. He gave me a quick kiss and pulled me towardthe stairs.

"What's up? Where are we going?" I laughed as Istruggled to keep up.

"To my car, let's go," he replied."The parking lot is completely empty, and I missed you so much the wholevacation. Your parents are such a pain in the neck!"

"Jason, Ihave a chemistry exam." I tried to slow down.

Jason faced me."What are you talking about, Steph? Come on, give me a break. I love you.You know that, don't you?" He held me tightly.

I was gripped withfear as I realized what was happening. Before I could respond, Jason had pulledme into his car.

"Jason, please. Not now, I have to take my exam.Please? I have to go. Try to understand."

"You can make up theexam. Anyway, you are a great student." He reached for my jacket.

"No, Jason I can't do this. I can't. Please." I reached for thedoor. He suddenly grabbed my hand and twisted it behind myback.

"Ouch, Jason, what are you doing?" Iscreamed.

"You know what, Steph? I've had enough of all this junkfrom you. First you flirt with that guy at the dance, then you put on this act inthe cafeteria about me hitting you, and now you're acting as if I'm raping you orsomething. What's wrong with you?" he screamed. "You are just spoiled,like everyone says. You don't even know what love is about.

"Jason,I'm leaving. I don't know what's gotten into you." I pulled the door handlewith my other hand.

I screamed as Jason clenched his fists. A great waveof pain flowed through my temple, and then darkness.



* * *

"Steph? Are you alright?"

I squinted at thebright light above my head.

"Huh?" I groaned. It was Gwen."What's going on?"

"You tripped over a rock in theparking lot?" the nurse asked. "It was a pretty bad fall. You'll befine, but I need to call your mother."

"Why?" I asked."You just said I'm fine."

"Just lie down, honey, I'll beback." The nurse left the office.

"Steph, what happened?"Gwen asked. "Did Jason do this? Tell me."

I kept quiet as Itried to hold back the tears. Why did he do this? I had no answer. I turned myhead to avoid her eyes.

"I have to tell someone, Steph. Please? Thisis getting serious. I am really worried. Jason said that you tripped over somerock and hit your head on the car. That's not what happened, though, is it? Don'tyou realize this is abuse ?

"Gwen, please. You don't understand. Ican't tell anyone. I can't leave him. It's not that simple," Ireplied.

"Steph, why isn't it that simple?" Gwen asked as Jasonsuddenly burst into the office.

"Hey, Gwen, what's up?' he asked."Steph, are you alright? I was so worried." He gave me a hug and puthis hand to my face. "Gwen, I think the nurse is calling you," headded.

"Why would she be calling me, Jason?" Gwen askedmenacingly.

"Just go," I replied.

Jason looked at me withwatery eyes. "I am so sorry, Steph. I am so sorry." He gave me a kisson my cheek as I looked toward the doorway.

"I lost my patience,Steph. Please forgive me. I am so sorry. I love you, you know how much I loveyou. Please forgive me. It will never happen again." Hebegged.

"Jason, I have to tell you something ... "

Gwencame back in and shoved Jason into the corner. "What were you talkingabout?"

"What's your problem, Gwen?" Jasonbarked.

My mom came in as Gwen raised her hand to slap Jason. She rantoward me. "Are you alright, sweetie? What happened?" She asked as shecaressed my forehead and ran her fingers over the damp bandage on mycheek.

We went right home and my mom scheduled a doctor's appointment forme the next day to make sure everything was okay.

"Fine, Mom. I'll goeven though I don't need to," I said, annoyed.

"Good. But I amsorry you'll have to go alone. I have a really important meeting and can't missit. Why don't you take Jason with you?"

I looked up in surprise."Jason?"

"He's such a nice boy. You're lucky he was there.If he hadn't been, you might have been really hurt. I hear that he is verybright, too."

"Yeah," I replied as I remembered the scenein the car. "He's a really nice boy. No, Mom, I'll go alone," Ireplied.

Two days later, things were far from fine. I was sitting on thebathroom floor, choking with tears, when Gwen came in.

She gasped in shockas she saw my condition. "Oh my god, Steph. What happened?" Her voiceshook as she ran toward me.

I convulsed in her arms as she raised me up.Tasting the blood on my lips, I realized that it had to be over. My temples beatwith pain as I squinted to meet her gaze.

"Gwen, help me.Please."

"Steph, where is Jason? Tell menow!"

"Gwen, I'm pregnant." I said, choking. "I don'tknow what to do."

Gwen gasped and gazed at me with tearful eyes."What?" she asked in bewilderment. "Steph, what are yousaying?"

"Jason doesn't believe me," I said, feeling verydizzy. "He thinks that ... " Feeling weak, I reached for the sink."He thinks that I cheated ..." Everything went black as Gwen screamedmy name.

Things did not get easier for me. Jason denied all theallegations, spread rumors and conjured up alibis all over town. He knew a lot ofpeople, and they thought he was nice. Who would ever think he was involved in anabusive relationship? Regardless, Jason was arrested and I was released from thehospital.

Only months later did I realize what a mistake I had made by nottelling anyone about Jason sooner. Only after everything did I realize that lovewas not what had existed between Jason and me. It was fear, and it was denial.Had I listened to Gwen when she tried to help, perhaps things wouldn't have goneso far. I was wrong about so many things. I made so many mistakes.

Huddled in the corner of my room, I relive the terrible experience whenJason laid his hands on me. I had loved him so much. It had taken so long tounderstand and to accept everything. After all the tears, all the testimonies,all the pain, I was still sure about one thing. One thing that all victims feel,but people don't understand, is that it's not that simple to step out of fearwhen you mistake it for love. It's not that simple when the object of all youraffection seems to repeatedly make "mistakes." It's not that simple torealize what love is, and is not. It's not that simple. But it can be done.


*Names have been changed. This is a true story but thefirst-person voice does not represent the author or her experiences.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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