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After & Before
I have been verablly abused and people close to me have been physically abused. I hear stories of abuse all the time and I hate how people are tricked into being silent. I want those who read this to muster the strength and courage and speak out against this. (This will have triggers as I will be talking about sensitive topics. I will put warnings as best as possible on those chapters.)
I sat on the bench in the rain, wondering how the hell I ended up in this state. My makeup was running; my tears mixed with the rain beating down on my face; I had no idea where I was. My hair and clothes clung to my skin as my body shook with sobs. How could this happen? What went wrong? What did I do wrong? Questions and thoughts churned in my brain chaotically, spinning out of control. I choked on my sobs and stood up quickly. This caused the pain I was feeling to worsen, yet I continued to walk quickly. I couldn’t stay here. After a few minutes my vision started to blur. I fell to my knees, mouthed “help”, and then blacked out.
I kept my head down and pushed through the sea of insane teenagers to my locker and took a deep breath. I grabbed what I needed and pushed through to my first period class. I sat next to my best friend and put my head on the desk. He reached over and rubbed my back.
“Fighting?” he asked me. I nodded. He pulled me into him and hugged me tightly. I tried to not sob. The bell rang, so I sat up and wiped my face. I listened as the teacher called roll and raised my hand when she called,
“Jessica Matthews.” She looked me up and down, gave me a disdainful look, so I responded by rolling my eyes. Kris just snickered and slumped in his seat. I zoned out for the rest of class. I finally snapped out of it once the bell rang again, this time signaling the end of class. Kris also shook me to get my attention. His normally emerald eyes were currently jade and filled and lined with concern.
“You gonna be okay?” he asked me. I nodded and followed him to our math class. We sat down and prepared ourselves for copying the board and talking, like every other time we’re in this class. Kris started telling me all about this new video game he got and how he was going to play it all night. He made a silly face to see if I was paying attention
“Idiot,” I muttered.
“But you love me!” he exclaimed before putting his arms around me. I nodded. I then went through the rest of the day dreading home.
I woke up to the sound of machines and the smell of antiseptic. I slowly opened my eyes and saw a nurse checking things and an IV bag. She gave me a soft smile before leaving. I looked around the room and saw Kris asleep on an uncomfortable looking couch. My big brother was next to the bed, in a green plastic chair, asleep with his head on the bed, holding my hand. I smiled and reached over and ran my fingers through his hair. His black hair that was normally like feathers felt greasy, like he hadn’t taken a shower in a couple days. I played with his hair for a few minutes before he stirred.
“Oh Jesse, you’re awake,” he mumbled sleepily. I giggled and gave him a couple minutes to actually wake up. Soon his amber eyes widened.
“Jesse!” he exclaimed loudly before hugging me tightly. His loudness woke up Kris who fell onto the floor. I laughed at the boys. It got silent after that.
“How long was I out?” I asked.
“2 days,” Andy responded. “They didn’t know how long it would be before you woke up,” he continued, “you hit your head pretty hard. Your wrist is broken and a couple ribs are fractured. It’ll take a while before they heal.” I nodded. After a few more minutes of silence, the doctor came in. He ran some tests and told me that a woman called 911 when I passed out. Apparently, I hit my head hard enough to lengthen my black out, but not hard enough to get more than a minor concussion. They didn’t understand it. Andy had told him that he didn’t know how I broke my bones, or got my bruises, but that I like to go on “adventures” around town, so that might be what happened (all lies but you know, they didn’t need to know that…minor details minor details). Andy’s always been good at lying, so the doctor believed him.
I learned all my lying from Andy, so I just went along with the story. The doctor started lecturing me about how bad it was to go where you shouldn’t and how I could get in major trouble if I wasn’t careful. He asked me if I remembered what I was doing or where I was or if I knew what the cause of me passing out was. I simply told him,
“I remember wandering, and it storming. That’s it.” He gave me some pain medicine for everything and then left to go put what I told him in the computer. All Kris did was stare at me and Andy.
“What?” I asked him.
“Y’all can’t go home. What are y’all gonna do?” He asked.
“I can. Jesse can’t. I’m not letting her near there ever again for any reason.” Andy snapped.
I walked home slowly, taking the long way. Today was birthday and the only happiness I get is not going home right away. I heard Chewbacca scream and knew someone had texted me. It twas my brother.
Andrew:): get home quickly! We’re having dinner w/ johnsons!
Me: on way now. @ 6th plaza.
Andrew:): hurry woman!!!!!!!
I sighed, put my phone away, and pretty much all ran home. 5 minutes later, I ran upstairs and threw my bag onto my bed. I quickly put on make-up and changed into a strapless black flowy dress that came to about my knees. I fishtailed my burgundy hair and put on a beaded emerald headband. I put on black heels and a navy blue sweater. I grabbed my purse and phone and walked down stairs. My family was standing around talking to the Johnsons, and my brother looked uncomfortable. He was in a black suit with a white button up and navy blue bow tie. Ashley Johnson was flirting with him endlessly and he looked very displeased. I giggled and walked over to my brother. I stood next to him and smirked. All he did was scowl.
“So, now we can leave once Jared gets out of the bathroom,” my mother said happily. It was my brother’s turn to smirk and my turn to scowl. My parents have wanted me to date Jared Johnson for the longest time now. I. Hate. Him. He’s annoying and rude. He doesn’t help others unless it benefits him. He bullies those who don’t do as he says and gets pissy when he doesn’t get his way. And my parents want me to date, and potentially marry, him? Not happening.
If I marry Jared, they get more money. They also want Andy with Alyssa for the same reason. They figure one will happen. It takes a lot for me to not roll my eyes whenever the topic comes up.
Any who, when Jared came back we piled into our cars and left for the restaurant. I joined Andy in his F150 that he was giving me in 2 months when he gets a new one. The Johnsons went in their mustang and my parents in my dad’s corvette (*gags*). It’s amusing how different Andy and I are from our parents. They’re rich and snobby and we’re laid back and would rather a day on the couch watching Netflix than a day at the country club.
“Before you came down they were talking about you and Jared again,” Andy commented half way to the restaurant. Just like any rebellious teen would, I proceeded to pretend to throw up at this. Andrew laughed and turned up the radio. Alone Together by Fall Out Boy was on.
“I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING BUT DO YOU GOT ROOM FOR ONE MORE TROUBLED SOUL?! I DON’T KNOW WHERE I’M GOING BUT I DON’T THINK I’M COMING HOME! I’LL CHECK IN, TOMORROW, IF I DON’T WAKE UP DEAD! THIS IS THE ROAD TO RUIN, AND WE’RE STARTING AT THE END!” Andy and I belted out. We stopped and did our best to be serious and not laugh. We busted out laughing and then were silent after that. I stared at my brother as he drove. His amber eyes glittered gold from the slowly fading December sunlight and his black hair was gelled back.
“What?” he finally asked.
“Why’d you gel back your hair?” He sighed.
“Alyssa made me. I wasn’t going to, but she took one look at me and made me do it. She wanted me to wear a regular tie. I told her no.”
“And you’re still alive how exactly?” (Stubborn complaining runs in their family.)
“Her mom was like, ‘Oh hush Lyssa! He looks handsome! Not as handsome as Jared, obviously, but he still looks nice,’” he responded, mimicking Mrs. Johnson’s high-pitched voice.
“Dang. Shots fired.”
“You shoulda’ seen mom’s face! She looked ready to slap her!” I laughed at this.
We soon arrived at the restaurant and headed to the table we ALWAYS sat at when we came here with our parents. The Johnsons usually joined us. It was in the back corner and had a clear view of the restaurant and front windows. We had beaten our parents here but went ahead and ordered alcohol, which was expected of us (don’t ask…our parents are messed up in more ways than one). I didn’t agree with this expectation, but did so because I knew better than to test my parents. It’s too long of a story to go into.
Any who, soon everyone finally arrived. As my parents were sitting down, the waiter brought me some red wine and Andy some beer. I didn’t pay attention to what Andy had ordered because he gets the same thing every time usually. I rolled my eyes as Alyssa flirted with the waiter as she ordered some fruity drink. I didn’t pay attention to anybody else’s order until a bottle of champagne was brought out. I shared a look with my brother and we both became uneasy. Last time champagne was involved, dad had gotten a raise, and Jared was pissy because the food wasn’t made exactly 100% how he ordered it. I slid closer to my brother and he put his arm around me.
“So we have exciting news,” Mrs. Johnson started off in that annoying voice of hers.
“Jared and Jesse, y’all are officially dating. Alyssa and Andrew, we would like you to, but it’s up to you guys. It is, however, not up to Jared and Jesse,” my dad finished. I choked on my drink at this. Jared smirked and Alyssa smiled to herself. Andrew was glaring at our father.
“Not. Happening.” Andrew stated through gritted teeth. S***. S***. S***. S***. Andy’s mad at dad. S***, I thought. I laid my head on Andy’s shoulder and rubbed his back. This is how I normally calm him down. It gives him a sense of grounding. He stayed tensed up and wasn’t calming down. S***. This was serious.
“My sister’s not dating that asshole. Not now, not ever,” my brother continued.
“She is and she will. No exceptions. No ands, ifs, or buts. Understand me son?” my father snapped. I was trying to not panic. Andy noticed this.
“Jesse and I are leaving. We’ll discuss this later.” (Aka I’m going to Kris’s and Andy is gonna punch my father once I’m gone……) We left the restaurant and drove back home in silence. As soon as we got there, I went inside and changed into something way more comfortable. I quickly packed a bag for a couple nights and packed my bag for school. I put everything in the back of Andy’s truck and went inside to grab my phone, charger, and purse. I found Andy in the kitchen, and he looked pissed. He had changed and his face looked red.
“Let’s go before they get back,” I whispered. He nodded and we went out to his truck. As we went down the street, we saw the Johnsons and our parents pull into the drive way.