The Diary | Teen Ink

The Diary

July 21, 2011
By Moonchild. SILVER, McConnelsville, Ohio
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Moonchild. SILVER, McConnelsville, Ohio
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Author's note: This is the first book I've written and the only one completed thus far. It is an early work, as seen by the youthful style of writing.

“Yo Jake, how you doin’?”
“Not bad man, not bad.” Both Jake and John walk over to the room for study hall.
“Hey guys, what’s up?”
“Not much Sherri.” They sit down just in time to hear the bell ring.
“Good morning class and welcome back to school. My name is Mr. Eerb and I will teach your study hall block this year.” A kid walks in the door; he hands the teacher a pass and takes a seat. “Nice of you to join us Mr…”
“ Growsky, Edwin Growsky.”
“Right,” replies Mr. Eerb, “Now, turn your rule books to page five and we will talk about study hall.” Jake texts John on his cell, the text reads:
“Yo man, this kid’s a total freak.”
“Dido,” Sherri adds. They text back and forth about the usual things. The bell rings and they walk out the door as Mr. Eerb wishes everyone well.
“Dude,” Jake says once they reach the hall, “did you see Growsky’s hair?”
“More like Grossky!” John sneers.
“Yeah,” says Sherri, “total fashion emergency. So what’s your next block?”
“Gym,” John answers.
“Same here,” replies Jake.
“Me too,” says Sherri. “Check out all the little sevvies!”
“Yeah, they’re so puny.”
“Come on guys, we’re gonna be late, Coach Adams will kill us!” They scurry off to gym.
“Ah man,” groans John, “Grossky’s in our class.”
“Okay class, as I’m sure you all know, I’m Coach Adams. Today we’ll be playing a friendly game of basketball. Let’s pair up. Sherri Lynch?”
“Yes?”
“You’re with John Tyrone. Jake Masters, you’re with Edwin Growsky.”
“You’re kidding right?”
“Nope. I’m not a kidder,” booms Coach Adams. Jake gets set up, disgusted at the thought that he'll have to touch Growsky.
“Come on Newbie, let’s see what you got,” taunts Jake.
“Cheerio Jake, it will be a pleasure to be your opponent on a fine day like today.”
Jake stares, along with everyone else, in complete confusion. Coach Adams blows the whistle and the games begin, 1 on 1. Jake steals the ball and glances back to see Grossky hunched over holding his stomach. Coach Adams blows the whistle and rushes over to Grossky. Everyone stares, looks of confusion and horror cloud their faces. Jake stands there, frozen.
“I didn’t even touch him,” he thinks, “just brushed up against him.”
“Masters, Growsky, principal’s office, NOW!” shouts Coach Adams. Jake walks to the door, dazed, unable to believe what has just happened. Grossky limps in before him, where they see… no one. There isn’t a single soul in sight. They stand there for a few moments, and a secretary comes out.
“Have a seat boys,” she says, “everyone’s in an important meeting.” They sit down as she disappears to the filing room. Jake picks up one of the magazines. “Our Troubled Youth” the cover page reads. Face hidden behind the magazine, he looks at Grossky. “Unbelievable,” he thinks, “he’s really good at faking it.” They sit there as the clock ticks. Time seems to have stopped.
Suddenly, the nurse storms out of the meeting room. “You can’t leave! Please!” shouts Mr. Spencer. The nurse, Ms. Applebom, walks out the door.
“I quit!” she shouts.
“Great, more conflict.” Mr. Spencer mumbles, turning his focus to Jake and Edwin. “Ms. Jane, their files please. Come on boys.”
“A Mr. Jake Masters and a Mr. Edwin Growsky.” Ms. Jane says handing him the files.
“Thank you.” Ms. Jane leaves the room, closing the door behind her. “So would either of you like to explain to me what happened?”
“I do.” says Grossky. “We were playing a harmless game of basketball and I guess Jake’s competitive side got the better of him. He started ramming into me and pushing me around,” he finishes.
“I barely touched him!” yells Jake in defense.
“Sir, I’m still very sore, perhaps I may have bruises?”
“Well then, off with the shirt.” Mr. Spencer orders. Grossky pulls up his shirt revealing nothing but black and blue spots. “My goodness,” Mr. Spencer gasps, “this is assault. I’ll let the authorities deal with you Mr. Masters.”
“What?!? This is insane, I barely touched him!” Jake starts.
“Enough Mr. Masters, you may have busted something major, you could have killed him. This didn’t just happen from a little touch,” reasons Mr. Spencer.
“But I didn’t do it!” Jake pleads.
“Enough!” Mr. Spencer shouts as he calls the police department.

Everything after that visit with Mr. Spencer flies by. Jake is as scared as a cat when a dog’s out. “I didn’t do anything,” Jake argues as the police inspect Grossky.
“Unbelievable.”
“Yeah, first day of school too.” “Young man,” the police officer glances at Jake, “do you realize that this is a crime?”
“Oh, now just playing basketball is a crime?” Jake asks sarcastically.
“Boy, don’t you be getting smart with me, you’re the one who beat this kid up.” The police officer replies.
“But I didn’t do anything!” Jake cries out.
“Yeah, you didn’t do anything to this boy and money grows on trees. Put your hands behind your back.” The cop orders. Jake puts his hands behind his back and slumps to the cop car. He climbs into the back and watches as they slam the door in his face. As the car pulls away he sees John and Sherri standing there with a worried expression. And then he sees Grossky, smiling like he just got a medal.
“He knows I didn’t really do anything but he doesn’t care. Why did he do this to me? And where did the bruises come from?” Suddenly, an image flashes into Jake’s mind, an image from an old movie. It's an image of jail, with molesters and rapists and murderers. He fears it all. “Aren’t we supposed to see if there’s any witnesses? Maybe Mr. Edwin here’s lying.”
“Look, the kid’s got proof. Why do we need witnesses to tell us what we already know? Just shut up you little…”
“Hey! No cussing on the job remember?”
“Right, sorry.” As the policemen converse, Jake tries to sleep but keeps having nightmares about the same thing…jail. He awakes with tears of fear running down his face. They are at the police station and the policemen are opening the door. Jake sees his mom and yells to her desperately.
“Mom!”
“You leave my baby alone!” she shrieks, tears streaming down her face. She squeezes Jake into her arms.
“Mom, I didn’t do anything, I swear! They said I assaulted him.”
“This is not fair!” screams Mrs. Masters.
“You wouldn’t think that if you had seen the bruises ma’am.” The officer replied calmly.
“Bruises?”
“Yup.”
“You beat him up hard enough to leave bruises?” she asks Jake.
“No I didn’t do it!” screams Jake.
“Don’t you lie to me. You’re no son of mine.”
“Mom…” Jake says in a hushed tone.
“Jake they have evidence. I know you did it so don’t lie. There’s nothing that can be done now.” she says with tears and hatred in her eyes. Jake is dragged into the police station and thrown into a holding cell where he cries himself to sleep.

***

“This is insane!” says Sherri, outraged.
“Jake barely touched him.” John replies.
“They should call for witnesses,” Sherri brainstorms, “we could tell them the truth.”
“Let’s make a stop at the jail.” says John, both of them crying.
“Okay,” Sherri says, “I’ll call my mom and tell her what’s up.”
“Hey mom? Um, John and I are going to be late tonight, can you tell John’s mom?” Sherri conversed.
“Why?” asks her mother.
“I’ll explain when we get home. Love ya, bye.” Sherri hangs up the phone. “I miss him already.” says Sherri.
“I know honey,” comforts John, holding her in his arms.
“You know,” Sherri says, “the principal called it assault.”
“Yeah,” revels John, “I wonder why.” They walk to the jail in silence, holding onto one another for comfort.

“Masters!” Jake jumps up, half asleep. “Visitors, 5 minutes, no contact,” the guard instructs.
“Sherri! John!” Jake squeals in surprise.
“Hey Jake, how ya holdin’ up?” asks Sherri.
“It’s jail Sher, how do you think?” Sherri starts to cry. “I’m sorry,” mumbles Jake, “I’m just, a little edgy.”
“Yeah, I’d figure.” says John. “Uh, so are they pressing charges?” he asks hurriedly.
“I don’t know John, I… I don’t know.”
“No one at school can believe this is happening.” Sherri says, tears running down her cheeks.
“Come on Masters.”
“What?” Jake asks.
“They aren’t pressing charges, you’re free to go.”
“Oh, thank you Lord,” he says.
“Come on, we’ll walk you home,” offers Sherri in a cheery voice. As they walk home they all think about one thing: How they’re lives would’ve changed had they pressed charges. Jake reaches for the knob.
“It’s locked." he says. “And I don’t have my key. Do ya think I could crash at your place tonight?” he asks John.
“I have a better idea, you can both stay at my place. I may need some comfort tonight, we all might.” Sherri says. They gowent to Sherri’s house, and try to get some rest, which none of them succeed in. The next morning they climb on the bus to find everyone staring at them. “Whoa,” Sherri whispers, “this is ridiculous!”
“You guys don’t have to sit with me, I’m the reason they’re staring at us. I mean, I did bruise that kid up pretty bad.”
“Jake, I thought you said you didn’t do it?” John asks suspiciously.
“Well I didn’t think I did, but the more the fact remains, the more true it seems. Not only to me, to everybody.”
“Jake, don’t think like that.” Sherri says.
“Why? Maybe it’s the truth. Maybe it is my fault that he has bruises all over him. Look, you guys don’t need to be put through this, you didn’t do anything.” Jake says, standing up.
“But we’re your friends Jake…” Sherri starts.
“Yeah, and I’m yours,” Jake interrupts, “and that’s why I’m doing this.” He moves to a seat in the back of the bus. John sits there stunned.
“Why is he acting like this?” Sherri asks in a hush, starting to cry.
“I think,” John begins, “it’s because he cares.” Confused, they sit in silence as they ride down the bumpy road to school.

***

Jake trudges through the school day, ignoring the whispers and stares. What he can’t ignore is the one thing he wants to. Over and over again, the whole thing keeps playing through his head, like a broken record. The ring of the bell brings him back to reality, and he walks out into the hallway, running right into Growsky. “I’m really sorry.” Jake says, leaning over to help him pick up his books.
“Yeah right,” snarls Growsky. “I bet you did it intentionally.” Jake can’t help but notice one of the books. He picks it up and sees the word diary spread across the front of it. Noticing that Growsky is busy picking up his stuff, Jake puts the book in with his so he can read it later. He walks into study hall and sees all of the heads turn towards him. He sits in the back, and John and Sherri are in the front. He curiously opens the book and begins to read:
I hate my mom. She’s always drunk and high. She is the worst mother that anyone could imagine. She never asks me how my day was, or helps me with my homework. The only time she even talks to me is when she wants me to go buy more boos or drugs for her. She doesn’t worry about me any other time, just uses me as a punching bag. All the time. She never worries about me having to hide the bruises, she just threatens to kill me if I tell anyone. Last night, she beat me so hard that I was knocked unconscious. The night before that she slammed my head into a nail. I don’t know why she acts this way, but I wish she would stop. All she ever does is hurt me, in one way or another. Sometimes I have to wonder if heaven, or even hell would be better than what she does to me. She is so uncaring, and she doesn’t care about my life, no one does. Maybe I’d be further off dead. I had to blame Jake Masters for the bruises this time, I pretended he did it in basketball, and they were so bad that he was charged for assault. Now everyone hates him, and he really didn’t do anything. I screwed up his life just to save my own-how selfish and inconsiderate is that? God- I am starting to act just like her. Why does she do this to me? Why am I so unlucky? Why does everyone hate me so much that I have to go through this? If I kill myself, and trust me, I do want to, what difference would it make? She would still be alive, and I would be the only one to suffer, no one else would care…I should make the people who hurt me pay for the pain they’ve caused me, and then I can take my life. At least then it will have some meaning…who would it be? 1. Sherri Lynch, she rejected me, and that really hurt. 2. Jake Masters, he has made fun of me ever since I set foot in this wretched school. 3. John Tyrone, Jake’s little buddy, who’s made fun of me just as much. 4.Mom, of course-she has literally ruined my life, without her, none of the above would even apply. That’s all that I find any point in doing anything to. The rest are minor compared to these people. These people have caused me so much pain, and I plan to avenge myself, sometime, and in a huge way…
The bell rings and Jake jumps. “Whoa,” he thinks, “that is so scary, and yet…” He doesn’t allow himself to finish the thought. He heads to the bus and climbs on, and walks straight to the back, ignoring the glares he receives. He pulls out his cell phone and sends a text message to John and Sherri:
Meet me at my house at 5:00. It’s an emergency.
He turns off his phone and waits out the rest of the bus ride.

Jake walks in the door and puts his books on the table. He turns on his cell phone. “Jake?” a hoarse voice asks.
“Yeah?” replies Jake.
“Come here,” the voice instructs. Jake heads towards the den, where, to his dismay, he finds his mother. “Sit down.” she says. He sits, studying her eyes. They are red and puffy. Her nose is red and stuffy as she sniffles. She has been crying. “Do you have anything you want to talk about?” she asks, a fake motherly tone to her voice.
“No,” Jake replies calmly.
“Nothing about school, or—the incident?”
“No,” Jake replies, his frustration growing.
“What do you mean no?” his mom starts to yell. “You assaulted that kid, and you don’t have anything that you want to say about it?”
“No mom,” Jake replies in an angry tone, “I don’t have any comment because I didn’t do anything!” Jake screams, desperation in his voice.
“Jake, they have proof! How am I supposed to believe you when this kid has bruises all over him? How am I supposed to believe you when they have proof, and you don’t?”
“Who said I don’t have proof?” Jake blurts out in rage.
“What?” his mother asks.
“Nothing.” Jake says, running to his room. He sits on his bed, tears streaming down his face. Suddenly his cell phone starts to ring. “Yea?” Jake answers, trying to regain control.
“Are you okay?” asks Sherri.
“I’m fine,” Jake says quickly, “What do you want?”
“I—I just wanted to make sure you were okay, you turned your phone off.” Sherri says in a concerned tone.
“Look, I didn’t mean to bite your head off, I just had this big fight with my mom and…”
“Do you want John and I to come over?” Sherri asks.
“Um—if you could, I would really appreciate it.” Jake says, tears welling in his eyes.
“Alright.” Sherri replies. “We’ll be over.” She hangs up the phone and Jake sits in his silent room trying not to cry, but eventually he gives in and lets the tears flow.
“Jake?” Sherri asks, walking into the room. “Jake, honey?” Sherri asks again.
“Sh—she didn’t believe me. She said that because they had proof that I obviously had to have done it.” Jake sobs. Sherri sits next to Jake and hugs him, letting him cry.
“I’m sorry, I am acting like a baby. There was another reason I had you guys come over here. There’s something I need to show you…” Jake says, pulling out the diary. They read the few pages that have writing on them, looks of astonishment on their faces.
“So, Edwin wrote this?” John asks.
“Yeah,” replies Jake, “so what should we do?”
“Maybe we should confront him. Maybe he has an explanation for this, maybe it’s not even real.” John suggests.
“Yeah,” Sherri agrees, “surely there’s some type of an explanation.”
“Yeah,” Jake says, “either that or Edwin’s life is worse than we’ve known, and we haven’t made it easier, and he wants revenge.”
“So,” John asks, “we confront him tomorrow?”
“Yeah.” Sherri and Jake answer in unison.

***

The next day at school they see Edwin standing in the hallway. Jake walks up to him. “Hey—uh—Edwin?”
“Yes?”
“Can we talk?”
“Well?”
“Uh—in private?”
“I suppose.” Edwin sighs. They go into an empty classroom.
“Look—uh—I just wanted to apologize for what happened. It was an accident. I guess I just got competitive and I lost control. I shouldn’t have been so rough and I’m really sorry.” Jake says, trying to make Edwin feel guilty.
“Uh—well—that’s quite alright…” Edwin stutters uncomfortably. “…I’m used to it.”
“I beg your pardon? You’re used to what—being beat up?” Jake starts firing questions at him.
“Well—um—you see—I…” Edwin stammered. “…I was often—uh—bullied at other schools, so I’m kind of used to it, ya know?”
“Uh-huh.” Jake replies, unconvinced. “So,” Jake asks, “are we okay?”
“Yeah right. I’ll never…well; I suppose I can forgive you. I still don’t like you, but it really wasn’t your fault…” Edwin mumbles on and on.
“What do you mean it wasn’t my fault? Who else could be to blame? I am the one who assaulted you, the one responsible for all of the bruises right?” Jake asks, thinking he may get something out of him.
“I have to go. My next class is Chemistry, very important. Nice chatting with you. Tu-daloo.” Edwin says walking out the door.
“Man—he was so close. He was getting there, he just wouldn’t allow himself to say it.” Jake says as John and Sherri walk in the room.
“Oh well Jake, at least you tried.” Sherri says.
“Don’t you get it Sherri? Trying isn’t enough. Edwin’s screwin’ everything up for me. My whole life! My mom hates me, and doesn’t believe a word I say, I’m an outcast at school, I’m makin’ you guys’ lives horrible…I don’t know what to do. It’s like I’m trapped! I can’t get out of this nightmare. What is there that I can do?” Jake says sinking to the floor.
“Look dude,” John says, “we’re your friends, and we’re gonna help you get through this okay?”
“Yeah Jake, we’re here for you.” Sherri says.
“You guys are really great…do you think I could tell you something? It’s kind of serious.”
“What is it Jake?” Sherri asks, in a concerned tone.
“When my dad died, my mom was traumatized. She just sat around all day, doing nothing. One of her friends asked her to come to the bar with them. They were trying to get her in a better mood, trying to help. So she went, and when she came home, she was wasted. She started crying, so I asked what was wrong. And then—then she punched me. She said that I’d been a bad boy, and that I was to go to my room. I went up to my room, and sat there. I was just a little kid, and I was so scared. She went out every night after that, got wasted, came home and beat me, yelled at me. It became routine. And then one night, she didn’t stop. She grabbed a knife, and shoved it into my stomach. She sat there for hours, crying and staring at me, while I was in pain. After a little while, she called the police. She said that I was the one who stabbed myself, and that I’d threatened to stab her also. When they suggested counseling she agreed, but later said that if I told them the truth she would kill me. Now, it only happens on the weekends, but it’s still just as scary, and just as painful…” Jake finishes, staring at the floor, his eyes cold and hard.
John and Sherri stare at him, in astonishment, and fear. “Wow…” is all John can mutter. Sherri remains silent.
“Look, I had to tell you guys because…well, because I know the fear, and the pain that Edwin’s going through, and it’s really…” Jake stops. The bell rings and students flood into the hallway, and the three friends part to go to their next classes, but they can't stop thinking about Growsky.

Jake, Sherri, and John sit in the closet. “Why would he write this kind of stuff in an unlocked book?” Sherri asks.
“Maybe because he doesn’t think anyone’s going to read it, and why would they, other than pure curiosity?” John says.
“I don’t know John. I wouldn’t write that kind of stuff if there was the possibility that…” Jake’s voice trails off. Sherri and John look at each other.
“What Jake?” Sherri asks, concerned.
“He knew there was a possibility of somebody reading it. There has to be some reason that that didn’t matter to him. Maybe—maybe he wanted us to read it. Maybe the whole thing is some kind of a trap. Possibly we’d be further ahead to forget the whole thing.” Jake suggests.
“Maybe you’re right.” Sherri says.
“Yeah.” John states.
“But what do we do with the diary?” Sherri asks, holding it up.
“Let’s bury it,” Jake says, “and then if we need it later—for whatever reason, we can dig it back up.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” says John. “Here’s a metal box that we can put it in.” He pulls out a big red toolbox. They place the diary in the toolbox and put a padlock on it. They go outside of Jake’s house, and bury it, hoping they’ve made the right decision. As they bury something so important, so truthful, many thoughts come to their heads.
“Maybe I should run away.” thinks Jake. “But I can’t leave Sher and John behind, they’re my best friends.”
“Wow, how blind have I been? Jake’s been abused for as long as I’ve known him and I haven’t even been a good enough friend to notice. I wish he would’ve told me sooner, I know he misses his dad so much, but this really has to be hard for him.” Sherri thinks.
“I hope we made the right choice. If we didn’t, our lives could be impacted forever, or—we may no longer even be alive. This could change everything.” thinks John. They part, heading their separate ways, to their separate houses, leading their separate lives.

***

“Jake. Jake!” Sherri says nudging him.
“Huh? What?” Jake asks, taken aback.
“Come on dude, it’s time for study hall.” John says, walking out of the room.
“Oh.” Jake shrugs, standing up. “Um—I’ll catch up with you guys in a second, kay?” Jake walks into the bathroom.
“Yes, she is rather ignorant. She doesn’t think that I know what she’s doing is I-L-L-E-A-G-A-L.” a voice came from one of the stalls.
“That sounds like Growsky.” thinks Jake.
The voice let out a small chuckle. “I’ll show her. She’s such a dumb old broad anyways.” Jake stands there, listening curiously. “Over and out, that’s all for today.” the voice says. The stall door begins to open, and Jake quickly ducks into an empty stall. The other stall door opens, and the person leaves the bathroom.
“Man that was weird.” Jake thinks to himself, deciding to forget the whole thing. He goes to study hall and starts working on his geometry homework, but a few seconds later, he is interrupted from his proofs and theorems.
“Class,” Mr. Eerb says in his punctual manner, “I am handing out a book on bullying, and it is mandatory that you all read it, by orders of the principal.”
“Aww man,” a student in the front groans, “this is totally gay.” Mr. Eerb glares at the student.
“Gr8, more homework.”
“Uh, yeah. Bullys arnt even that big of a deal!”
“Eerb needs 2 get a life!”
“Guys—I am gonna fail Ms. Bs class!”
“No ya wont John.”
“My mom’s gonna frEak on me…what am I gonna do?”
“Ya can come spend da nite –w- me. U 2 Sher.”
“K.”
“K.”
The bell interrupts their text messaging. They rush out into the hall and hurry to their lockers. Jake gets to his locker and realizes that there was a newspaper article taped to it. The heading reads:
“Young Teen Assaulted During Gym Class: The Horror!”
Someone had taken a permanent marker and written “Jake Masters: popular, smart, athletic, ABUSIVE.” Jake throws the paper in his backpack with the rest of his books and heads to the bus. He hops onto the bus and grabbed a seat near John and Sherri.
“What’s up guys?” Jake asks.
“Not much Jake, what’s happenin’ with you?”
“Well,” Jake replies, “evidentially I’m considered popular, smart, athletic, and abusive.”
“What?” Sherri asks. Jake pulls out the article and shows them. “That’s horrible Jake.” Sherri says.
“Yeah. Kind of.” Jake mutters. Jake grabs his phone and cautiously calls his mom. “Hey—uh—mom?”
“Yes Jake?”
“Um—can I stay at John’s house tonight? Please? We have a lot of homework, and we were going to study together, and…”
“I suppose.” Jake’s mother says, a disappointed tone to her voice.
“Okay—bye.” Jake says, hanging up the phone.
“So?” John asks. “What’d she say?”
“She said that I could stay.” Jake answers.
“Cool.” John replies. “In that case, we have to get off at the store.” The three get up and head towards the door. “Alright,” John says as they enter the store, “what kind of refreshments do we want?”
“Lots of junk food.” says Sherri.
“And coffee.” Jake says. “This looks like it’ll be an all-nighter.”
“Yeah I can’t wait.” John says sarcastically. They laugh as they walk through the store. Things are finally starting to look up.

“Alright ladies and gents,” John says in a sarcastic tone, “what are we gonna do tonight?”
“Why don’t we start on our homework?” Sherri suggests.
“Well okey-dokey then.” Jake says, pulling out his books.
“We have a test in geometry, history, woodshop, Spanish, and English.” Sherri says.
“Well isn’t that just peachy?” Jake asks, an irritated tone to his voice.
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen,” John begins, “we are here with Jake Masters and Sherri Lynch who are going to compete against each other in—Jeopardy!” They all start to laugh. “Contestant numero uno, choose your category.”
“I think I’ll take Geometry for 400.” Sherri says.
“Okay, and the question, or shall I say answer, is: a four sided figure.” Jake presses his air buzzer. “Yes Jake?”
“What is a quadrilateral?” he replies.
“That is correct!” John shouts.
After they finish playing Jeopardy they go downstairs to watch some movies. “Dude—we have gotta watch The Ring 2.” says John as Jake puts it in. John and Jake sit on the couch, but Sherri is hesitant.
“Uh—guys? I get scared really easily.” she says, putting emphasis on 'really.'
“Relax Sherri—nothing’s gonna happen—I am here.” Jake says in a superior voice. The movie begins playing.
“The girl’s out of the well!” John screams. Sherri buries her face in Jake’s shirt. He puts his arm around her in an attempt to calm her down. John glances over. “What the hell? What’s goin’ on?” he shouts. Sherri jumps up.
“It was nothing.” she blurts out.
“Jake—I thought you were my friend. How could you?” John asks, glaring at Jake.
“What? I am your friend. She was just scared, it didn’t mean anything…” Jake pleads.
“Yeah right.” John says. “You’re both just right for each other. Full of lies and other crap…” John grumbles, cussing as he slams the door.
“Wait—John!” Sherri shouts.
“John, why are you doing this? Come on man…” Jake argues. John doesn’t look back, he just keeps on walking. Sherri and Jake stand in the cold night.
“I don’t understand why he’s making such a big deal out of this.” Sherri says.
“Yeah—we’re just friends…aren’t we?” Jake asks, looking at Sherri. They are both silent for a long time, and then Sherri speaks.
“Of course we’re just friends. We could never be more. I love John. He is my boyfriend, he’s the one for me.” Sherri says, looking up. Jake looks into her eyes, and they both know.

***

Jake dials the number, “Hey it’s John…”
“John, Thank God…” Jake starts.
“Psyche! You know what to do.” The voicemail ends.
“John come on, I think you’re taking this whole thing way too seriously…” Beeeep. The phone cuts him off. Jake hangs up the phone. His mom is beating on his door. He slowly slides the window open and climbs out onto the roof. Tears in his eyes, he says aloud “Why do I have to ruin everyone’s life? Why am I such a screw up?” he glances upward. “Dad, why’d you kill yourself? I need you, so much right now. How could you be so selfish?” he shouts, feeling a little bit of the pain slip away.
Suddenly, a glimmer catches his eye. He bends over and picks the object up. “A knife?” At that moment he knows what he has to do. He brings the knife up to his wrist and pushes, softly at first, and then harder as he thinks about everything that has gone wrong in his life. He sees the bright red liquid ooze from the cut, and a sense of security surfaces. He repeats this a few more times, until he finally feels the serenity wash over him. He sticks the knife in his pocket and looks at the dried blood. He walks over to the vines that grew up the side of the house, and starts to climb down them. He takes them one at a time, like he always does.
Then, as he reaches the middle vine, he hears a cracking noise. Before he knows it, he is flying through the air. He hits the ground hard, and feels a sharp pain shoot through his side. He looks down and sees the handle of the knife, and his shirt soaked with blood. He lies there in pain, and remembering he has a cell phone, grabs it out of his pocket. He hits the phone button, and it starts to ring.
John’s voicemail kicks on, and Jake sighs. “John—uh—I know we aren’t really talkin’, but I fell off the vine, and I need you to get to my house quick. I…” Jake hears a beep, and looks at his phone. The battery's dead. He hopes that John will come. As it begins to get dark, Jake’s heart rate quickens. He begins to feel hot now, and he hopes that it's just from the increase of his heartbeat.
“Jake!!” a familiar voice shouts. “Man, you look bad.” John says, calling 911.
“John—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it—I—Sherri’s just my friend, just like you…”
“Shhh…I know man. I jumped to conclusions. Are you cold?”
“No, hot.” Jake replies. John rolls up Jake’s sleeves.
“Jake?”
“Yeah?”
“Why are there cuts on your arm?”
“I—I couldn’t help it. I didn’t know what to do. I was so upset, so stressed, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to.”
“Jake.”
“Did I ever tell you how my father died?”
“No, not really. You never really talked about him.” John replies thoughtfully.
“He killed himself. He left us, my mom and I, he didn’t care about us, but-…”
“What Jake?”
“I can’t help but wonder if it was my fault.”
“Jake don’t talk like that. You’re a good guy, it wasn’t your fault.”
“Did you call Sherri?” Jake asks.
“Yeah.”
“Oh…”
“Listen man, I’m sorry for acting like I did. I freaked, and I shouldn’t have.” John says.
“Jake?” Sherri asks.
“Sherri—don’t come near me. It’s bad.” Sherri slowly walks over to him, and starts crying.
“How did it happen?” she asks.
“I was climbing down the vines, and one broke.”
“And, the knife?” she asks, her voice shaky.
“It was in my pocket, and it must have come out when I fell.” Jake answers.
“And—the marks on your arms, why are those there?” she asks, fearing the answer. Jake looks at his arms and sighs. “You didn’t…” she says, her voice trailing off.
“John…can you tell her, please? I—I just can’t.” John leads Sherri over to the porch.
“Sherri—you need to try to stay calm. What I’m about to tell you is important, okay?”
“Yeah.” she replies.
“The marks on his arms, are from him cutting himself.”
“But—why?” Sherri asks, trying to stay under control.
“Well—you know how his dad died and everything?”
“Yeah?”
“The way his dad died, was suicide. Jake thinks that he made his dad kill himself. When I wouldn’t call him back, he didn’t have anyone to talk to, and the pain just kept growing. Imagine if you had that much on your plate—he just couldn’t handle it alone.”
“Did you call 911?”
“Yeah.” Just then they hear the siren. They tell Jake to relax and get into Sherri’s mom’s car. They get to the hospital and sit in the waiting room. To their surprise, Jake’s mom isn’t there. After a few hours the doctor comes out.
“Nothing’s broken, but he’ll probably be sore for a couple days.” he says.
“Thank God.” sighs Sherri.
“Yeah,” says John, “that’s great news.”
“You can go in and visit if you would like to.” the doctor suggests. They walk into the room.
“Hey Jake, how ya doin’?” Sherri asks.
“Sherri,” Jake says, his voice just above a whisper, “I’m so, so sorry. You don’t deserve a friend like me. You deserve someone so much better, someone who isn’t as much work, who doesn’t cause you as much pain…”
“Jake—I love having a friend like you. Without you, my life wouldn’t be as interesting, wouldn’t be as fun, as meaningful.” Sherri says. John rolls his eyes. Suddenly the door shoots open, and Jake’s mom barges in.
“My baby!” she yells.
“Mom?” Jake asks weakly.
“What sweetheart?”
“Could you please leave me and my friends alone, we were kinda in the middle of a conversation. Please?”
“Well,” she says with a sigh, “I suppose.”
“Guys, what is wrong with me? It’s like I’m turning into my dad. I mean…”
“Jake,” Sherri interrupts, “you know that is not true.”
“Really? I am acting a lot like him Sher…next thing you know I’ll be attempting suicide.”
“Not on our watch.” John says, a serious tone to his voice. They turn on the TV, and Sherri and John stay with Jake until he drifts off to sleep.

A few days later Jake is finally allowed to go back to school. “Hey guys.” Jake says.
“Hey.” John returns.
“Hey hon.” Sherri answers.
“So, what happened while I was gone?”
“Not much.” Sherri replies.
“Nothin’ at all.” John answers glumly.
“OK, catch ya guys later.” Jake says, heading to his locker. Suddenly his cell phone starts vibrating. He pulls it out and flips it open. There is a text message from John.
Look, I know that u like Sher. We broke up, but we’re still friends. If u wanna go out –w- her, it’s cool –w- me. Lata man.
Jake ponderd whether this is good or bad news. On one hand, he can go out with Sherri. On the other hand though, poor John.
“Jake?” Sherri’s voice interrupts his thoughts.
“Yeah?” Jake replies.
“Um—can I—uh—talk to you? In private?” Jake’s heart starts racing.
“Sure.” They walk into an empty classroom.
“John and I broke up. So—uh how’s he takin’ it?”
“Uh—he’s fine. It was a mutual decision.”
“Oh. Right. Okay then. Um—I was wondering if—if you wanted to—if maybe you and I could—uh—go out?” Jake stands there in shock. She's making the first move.
“Wow.” is all he can say.
“I’m—I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you that. I am so stupid.” Sherri turns and heads toward the door. Jake grabs her arm, and stares into her eyes, moving slowly towards her until their lips touch. Sherri pulls away. “I—I need an answer.”
“Read my lips.” he says, kissing her again.
“So who’s gonna tell John?” Sherri asks, breaking the kiss. “I’ll tell him. He can’t get mad at me.” Jake nods, unable to talk. He has done the impossible. Sherri is his girlfriend!
That night he goes home and sees his mom in the living room, vodka bottle in hand. He tries to sneak past, but she catches him. “Jake,” she says “get over here.”
“Yeah mom?”
“Sit.” This is unusual. She doesn't drink on weekdays anymore. Something's wrong.
“So?”
“It’s all your fault. He didn’t want a kid ya know.”
“Who?”
“Your father. He didn’t want the responsibility of being a father.”
“No. That’s not why he killed himself.”
“Yes it is. He said right before he shot himself that he just couldn’t handle the responsibility.”
“No! You’re lying.” Jake screams, running upstairs. He slams the door and locks it. He grabs his cell phone and calls Sherri. “Um—Sherri? Can you come over? Please? I—I just need you here.”
“Ok, I’m coming.” Sherri arrives and sees that Jake is a nervous wreck. “What’s wrong?” she asks in a concerned tone.
“She said that it was my fault, that he didn’t want a kid. She said that I was the reason that he killed himself.” Jake let the tears slide down his cheeks.
“Jake, honey, she’s just looking for someone to blame.”
“That’s all that anyone’s looking for. And for some reason they keep choosing me.”
“Jake, hon, I know you’re goin’ through a lot, but believe it or not there’s someone who has it worse.”
“How?”
“Well—maybe they’re goin’ through the same thing, only they don’t have anyone to help them through it. No friends.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Jake says, reaching for his knife.
“What are you doing?” Sherri asks, grabbing Jake’s wrist. Jake holds up a beef stick.
“They calm me down.”
“Oh, sorry.”
“That’s okay.” Sherri takes Jake’s hand, and they sit there, together.

***

“Hey—uh—Jake?”
“Yeah John?” Jake says, looking up.
“Are you and Sherri…you know?”
“Going out? Yeah.”
“Oh.”
“That is okay with you isn’t it? ‘Cause if it’s not I’ll break up with her.”
“No man—It’s cool. Good for you.”
“Thanks.” Sherri walks into the classroom.
“Hey Sherri.” Jake says.
“Hey hon.” Jake gets up and kisses her.
“Man—why does seein’ my best bud happy hurt so much?” he thinks to himself, a tear falling from his cheek.
“John? What’s wrong?” Sherri asks.
“Oh, it’s nothing.” he answers.
“Tell me the truth.” Sherri says, sitting on Jake’s lap.
“Why can’t you just stay out of my business?” John shouts. He knocks the chair over. Jake jumps up.
“Whoa John, calm down dude.” John swings his fist and hits Jake in the face. Jake falls to the floor, shocked and in pain.
“Jake!” Sherri screams.
“Jake.” John says. “Oh man—I didn’t mean to, I swear. I don’t know what came over me.”
“Look man,” Jake says getting up, “are you sure it’s okay for me to be seeing Sherri?”
“I don’t know.” John replies. “I guess I still…still love her.” Sherri stands there, tears flowing down her cheeks.
“Sher—maybe it would be best if we just stayed friends, okay?”
“Yeah, I agree.” Sherri says, sobbing. “It’s probably best.”
“What’s going on in here?” Mr. Eerb asks.
“Nothing sir.” Jake answers.
“Then why are you bleeding?” he questions.
“It’s just a nose bleed sir, I’ll get it cleaned up.” Jake says.
“Very well then.” Mr. Eerb says with a sigh. “Take your seats.” All three friends sit solemnly through study hall. Growsky walks in.
“Sorry I’m late sir, I was talking with the guidance counselor.” he announces, handing the note to the teacher.
“Thank you for that news Mr. Growsky. Have a seat.” He sits down. Sherri looks at Jake and tears well up in her eyes. He returns the gaze and a pang of longing shoots through his heart. He loves her so much, and knows that she loves him too. It makes staying away from her so much harder. Then a thought shot into his mind. Today was Friday.

“Hey Sherri.” Jake says, sitting down beside her.
“Hey.” she replies. They sit in silence. Sherri looks at Jake and sees that familiar look on his face. He's scared. “Jake—are you gonna be okay?”
“Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be fine, it’s just that…”
“What?”
“Well, she’s been drinking all week. I’m just afraid she’ll go too far this time.” he says, staring at his hands. “Don’t worry though, I’ll be fine.”
“I know you will.” Sherri says. But she's still worried. Jake climbs off the bus and walks up the driveway. He reaches toward the door, and grasps the handle, hesitant as he opens the door. He hears his mom crying.
“Jake?” his mother beckons him.
“Yes?” Jake asks, his heart rate quickening.
“Come here.”
Sighing, he walks into the room. “Your father never loved you, he wanted me to kill you. He wanted me to get an abortion. I should have. After I had you, he was so upset. He was still a good father though, until he killed himself. Fatherhood was just too much for him.”
“No! No. I—I’m going to my room.” Jake slams up the steps and locksthe door. He lays down on his bed. His phone starts ringing. “Hello?”
“Hey Jake, it’s Sher.”
“Hey.”
“Do you want me to come over?”
“I don’t know. It might not be very safe.”
“I’ll be right over.”
“Okay bye?” he asks, although he knew she’d already hung up. Jake lays there until he falls asleep. He awakes to a voice muttering something.
“I didn’t kill him then so I’ll do it now.” He opens his eyes and sees a knife coming at him. He put his arm up in defense and feels a sharp pain shooting through his arm. He looks down and sees the knife handle sticking out one end and the end of the blade sticking out of the other side.
“Aww!!” he yells. The blood has splattered. He looks at his attacker. “Mom?” he yells. She holds another knife in her hand. He kicks her in the stomach and sprints out the door. After he’s made it out of the house he reaches in his pocket and grabs his cell phone. “Sher, call 911. My mom—she—she tried to kill me!”
“Oh my God. Jake are you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m on my way to your house.”
“Okay bye.” Sherri hangs up. He runs as hard as he can, trying not to concentrate on the pain. He makes it to Sherri’s house and collapses on the floor. “I thought you said you were okay!” Sherri shouts, hysterical.
“Sherri,” Jake says, gasping for breath, “right now I’m alive, and that is okay.” Jake starts crying.
“Jake, I’m so sorry. I’m just, scared for you.” Sherri says, worry and shock in her eyes.
“Look—I’m telling you this so you can be prepared. I am telling the paramedics that I tripped with the knife.”
“Why? Jake, why would you tell them that? Your mother tried to kill you—and you’re gonna take the blame?”
“Sherri, you, John and my mom are the only people I have. If I tell them the truth, my mom will get arrested and I’ll be put in a foster home, somewhere away from you guys, and I’ll never see you again. I’m not going to give up everything I have and love. I’d be further ahead to take the chance of dying, because telling them the truth is like mental suicide.” Sherri starts to cry.
“Jake, you’re so—brave. I—I love you so much.”
“I know Sher—I love you too.” They hear the sirens coming and they climb into the back of the ambulance. Sherri holds Jake’s hand, and he squeezes it tightly.
“Did you call John?” Jake asks out of the blue.
“No—I…”
“Why not?” Jake interrupts.
“I’m sorry. You called me and told me your mother was trying to kill you, I was a little shaken up.” Jake gives Sherri a look. She glances at the paramedics and realizes that they are preoccupied. Tears slide down Jake’s face. “Jake, I’m…”
“I’m sorry ma’am. He's passed out from the pain.” The paramedic says.
“Oh.” Sherri whispers. She sits there, alone in the ambulance as it speeds off into the night.

***

Jake wakes to see Sherri, John, and his mother standing around him. A sudden flashback reminds him of the horror of his mother coming at him with a knife. He imagins her stabbing him again and again. “No!” Jake screams, sitting up abruptly.
“What’s wrong honey?” he turns to see it is his mother’s voice, his mother reaching for him.
“No quit! Stay away from me!” he yells, squirming towards Sherri. “Sherri, John, keep her away from me, please!” Jake pleads, bursting into tears.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Masters?” the doctor says, “Could you come into the hall for a moment?” Jake’s mom walks through the door, in shock that her son fears her so much.
“Why didn’t you do anything Sher? She was comin’ at me with a knife!”
“Jake, honey, I think you just had a flashback.”
“What do I do guys? I’m afraid to go home.”
“What do you mean you’re afraid to go home?” John asks.
“Sher—you didn’t tell him?”
“No—sorry.” Sherri replies.
“Well, to put it simply, my mom tried to kill me in my sleep.” Jake says.
“Whoa man. Are you okay?” John asks.
“Well, I’m still alive aren’t I?” Jake replies.
“Yeah.”
“So I beat her this time. But now what do I do?”
“Uh—you tell them the truth.” John says.
“No. I can’t. I can’t tell them the truth.” Jake says.
“Jake, please tell them the truth. Please. Do it for us. If you don’t she’ll kill you. Do it for your friends.” Sherri says.
“What difference does it make to you? You won’t get hurt no matter what the choice is, I will.” Sherri starts crying. “Sherri, I’m sorry. I’m just really scared. Scared that she’ll finish what she started tonight.” Jake says, crying.
“Jake, come stay at my house. My mom will understand.”
“Alright John, I will.” Mrs. Masters walks into the room and goes over to Jake.
“There’s my baby. How’d this happen to you?” she asks.
“I—uh—tripped when I was carrying the knife, and it stabbed through my arm.” he says, glaring at his mother. Sherri stares at Jake’s mom in disbelief. Sherri grabs John’s arm, trying to restrain herself, sobbing into his shirt.
“You kids sure are emotional these days.” she says.
“Mom. Leave.” Jake says, clenching his fists.
“Why?” she asks.
“Leave. Now!” Jake yells. His mom leaves the room.
“I say we kill her.” John says.
“I have to get outta here or I’ll go insane!”
“Jake Masters,” the nurse says, “you’re free to go.”
“Thank God!” Jake says.
“Come on honey.” Mrs. Masters says. “Time to go home.”
“Mom, I’m not going with you. I’m staying with John.” Jake replies.
“Well what for?” she asks.
“Don’t play dumb with me. You and I both know what you did.” Jake says, grabbing his clothes and pulling them on. “Aww…” Jake says when he hits his arm.
“You okay?” Sherri asks.
“Yeah.” Jake replies.
“Jake. Jake! Jake why are you doing this to me?” his mother wails as he walks out the door.
“Because of what you did to me.” he says, slamming the door.
“Jake.” Sherri says. “That was really brave.”
“Sher, trust me. That had nothing to do with courage. That was nothing but my will to change things. Being sick and tired of your life gives you a lot of that.” Jake replies.
“You do realize that we’ll have to tell my parents all about what happened, don’t you.”
“Yeah. But can you make sure they don’t tell the authorities? Please?”
“I can try.” John replies.
“I hope they don’t. If they do she’ll kill me for sure.” Jake says. Sherri starts crying, because, deep down she knew he wasn’t being sarcastic.
“Hey John, can I stay tonight too?” Sherri asks.
“Yeah. Sure.”
“If not all I’ll do is worry.”
“Hey—uh—guys? I have some things that I have to do. I’ll catch up with ya later okay?”
“Okay.” says Jake.
“Bye.” says John.

Sherri walks into the drugstore. She goes to the self-help section, and looks at the books. In between Dealing with Drugs and Rape: It wasn’t your fault, she finds a book entitled Your Troubled Friends: How to Deal. She walks up to the cashier and pays for it, and then walks out the door, tears welling up in her eyes. She hopes that this book will help her to be a good friend to Jake and help him through this tough time. She goes home and flips through the pages. It talks about friends who are going through the death of a loved one, friends who have eating disorders or other illnesses, and other things among the same categories.
“This is never going to help me!” she screams, throwing the book. “I wish this was all just a nightmare. How am I supposed to stay under control through all of this? My life is full of drama already, and then all this stuff with Jake—I just can’t deal with it all.” she says to herself. She grabs her coat and heads down the stairs. As she walks to John’s house she takes in deep breaths, trying to calm herself down. She stops as she passes Jake’s house. Mrs. Masters walks out of the door.
“Where’s my son at?” she yells. “Answer me—NOW!! You better tell me or I’ll beat it out of you, you little—witch!”
“Just leave me alone!” Sherri shouts as Mrs. Masters comes towards her with a vodka bottle. “Please—just leave me alone!” she pleads. She backs up, a river behind her; stuck at a dead end. “Please quit!” I didn’t have anything to do with Jake. Please, just leave me alone!” Sherri screams crying. She looks behind her and watches as rocks fall into the river. “Please. Please don’t hurt me. Please!” Sherri pleads as the tears slide down her cheeks in streams. All she can think of is falling off the cliff, Mrs. Masters, murdering her. Then the thought flashes through her mind that this is what Jake’s had to deal with his whole life, and she realizes how brave he really is. She looks into Mrs. Masters’s eyes and sees anger and pain. She can’t bare the sight, and looks away. “Please. Please. Just please don’t hurt me.” Sherri says, her voice hoarse.
“You took my son away from me.” she shrieks.
“You didn’t care about him anyways. You never loved him, and you didn’t hesitate to tell him that, every day of his life. You hit him, you tried to kill him…what difference does it make to you?” Sherri shouts.
“He was my son, is my son, and he’s the only thing I have left.” she says, holding up the bottle.
“Then why did you want him dead? It’s obvious that the only reason he’s even important to you is that he makes a good punching bag for you. You don’t care about him.” Sherri shouts.
“You don’t have any idea what I’ve dealt with, what I’ve been through.”
“No,” Sherri says, “I don’t, but I know what Jake’s been through. His own mother, that he loves, tried to kill him. That doesn’t sound like love to me.” Sherri says, her anger rising. Mrs. Masters throws the bottle at Sherri, who ducks out of the way. She grabs a rock and hurls it at Sherri. Sherri feels a pounding in her head as the rock hits her and she falls to the ground unconscious. Mrs. Masters runs back into her house, leaving Sherri alone, and unconscious, on the ground.

***

“John,” says Jake, “Sher’s two hours late, that’s not like her. I’m beginning to get worried.”
“Maybe she had something else she had to do.”
“I guess. I just, it’s just unlike her. Usually she would call or something.”
“I know.” They sit and watch a movie. Two hours later they call Sherri’s house.
“Mrs. Lynch?” Jake asks. “May I speak to Sherri?”
“She left around 2:00. I thought she was headed over there. She isn’t?”
“Uh, no, I think she said she was gonna stop at the library or something, she probably just got caught up in a book. We’ll go and pick her up.” he says. “John,” Jake said after he hung up the phone, “she left at 2.” They grab their coats and a few flashlights. They tell John’s mom where they are going, and head out the door. They walk for hours. Then, in front of the house that Jake had lived nightmares in, they hear a faint moan coming from the woods. “Come on John, I think she’s down here.” Jake says. They shine the flashlight towards the bushes.
“There.” John says, rushing over to her. “Sherri, can you hear me?” he asks.
“Yeah.” she says.
“Are you okay?”
“My head.” she mumbles.
“Can you tell me what happened?”
“Jake’s mom…rock…hit head…” she mumbles, her speech slurred. Jake calls 911. Then he calls Sherri’s mom and tells her what happened. They sit, fearing the worst. “Jake…” she mumbles. “…I’m so sorry. I told her that—told her that she didn’t care about you. Told her that you were scared of her, I’m so sorry.”
“Would you quit talking like that? I don’t care what you told her, she had no right to punish you for what I chose to do.” he says, his voice strained.
“She did though.” John says.
“I know, and I hate her for it. I hate her for everything she’s done. I—I loved her…” he says, tears welling up in his eyes.
“We know Jake. You’re mom is a horrible parent. Your dad was too but…”
“You take that back!” Jake shouts, interrupting John. “My dad was a great parent. He loved me, and I loved him.”
“Look Jake, all I’m saying is that if he loved you, why’d he kill himself?” Jake sits there, silent.
“Because of me.” he answers as he runs, down the street, and then into town.
“John, why’d you have to do that? He loved his dad, a lot. Maybe you should respect that.” Sherri says weakly.
“I didn’t realize he’d freak out on me.” John says.
“Did you not know that his mom blamed him for his dad’s suicide?” she asks.
“No, I didn’t, I swear. Why can’t things just be normal again?”
“Normal?” Sherri asks. “So you want Jake to have to deal with his mom’s crap by himself again?” Sherri says out of anger.
“No, I—I didn’t mean it like that.” John says, frustration in his voice. They hear the sirens wailing their way, yet again. John stand up and hesitates. He doesn't know whether to pick her up or not. He let her lay and moves out of the road so the paramedics can take care of her. He climbs into the ambulance, wondering where Jake went.
Jake sits at the train station, waiting for the next train. He blames himself for his dad’s suicide. He sits there alone, tears forming. Then, he hears a voice. It sounds like his father.
“It’s not your fault.” the voice says. He looks around, surprised. There was no one to be seen. He listens again. “I brought it upon myself,” the voice says, “I had problems. Whatever anyone says, it wasn’t your fault. Stay here with your friends. They love you. I love you. I always will. Never forget that. Goodbye Jake.” the voice says, fading. He throws the train ticket in the trash, and heads for the hospital.
“Excuse me.” he says. “Could you tell me what room Sherri Lynch is in?”
“Room 105.” the receptionist says.
“Thank you.” He walks toward the room. He hesitates, and then pushes the door open.
“Jake!” John shouts, relief in his voice.
“Uh, hey guys. How ya doin’ Sher?”
“I have a killer headache, but I’m okay, I guess.” She replies.
“Look I’m really sorry. I can’t believe that my mom did that. I feel like it’s all my fault.” Jake says.
“No it’s not. You can’t control your mom’s actions.”
“I know. But…”
“No buts. Now come here and give me a hug.” Jake walks across the room and gives Sherri a hug. “Hey babe,” Sherri says, “you want to talk?”
“If you want to talk we can.” Jake says, looking at Mr. and Mrs. Lynch and John. They walk out of the room.
“Jake.” Sherri says, starting to cry.
“Hey. Hey—what’s wrong?” Jake asks, shocked.
“I—I was so scared. And—and you have to deal with that every day of your life. I was so scared, and it was only a few minutes…and you, you have to deal with her all the time, I just can’t even imagine…” she's sobbing now.
“Hey. Hey…” Jake says. “Look at me. I don’t have to deal with that any more. I’ve got great friends who are helping me out, and they’re saving my life…you’re saving my life.” he says.
“I know.” Sherri says. “but I can’t help but think about what you’ve been through, what you’ve dealt with.”
“Sherri, can I tell you something?”
“Of course.”
“I was going to get on a train, gonna ride to New York. Get out of here, away from it all. But, when I was sitting there, waiting for the train to come, I heard a voice, but I was alone. Sherri, it was my dad. He said that it wasn’t my fault he committed suicide. He said that he’d had problems, he convinced me to come back here, to be with you and John.”
“Do you mean, you were going to leave me, like this?” Sherri asks, anger in her voice.
“Well, no…”
“You just said you were going to leave, get away from it all…am I a part of that?” Sherri shouts.
“No, Sherri, I just wanted to leave my mom, my life behind. I didn’t want to have to deal with it. I was upset, and I didn’t think. I just wanted to run and hide, like a coward. And I’m sorry, I just wasn’t thinking.”
“Yeah, obviously. You didn’t think about me needing you, or didn’t care enough to even worry about it. You didn’t think about me—or even John, before yourself. Well, you are some friend, you jerk.” Sherri looks away, staring into space. Jake watches as a teardrop slips down her cheek.
“Sherri. I’m not going to argue with you. I am a jerk, and I don’t deserve you or John. I’d be further ahead to join my father.” Jake says, pulling out his knife. He slowly lifts it to his throat, his hand shaking, as he fights back tears.
“Jake! NO! Please don’t do this. You’re not a jerk. I was just really worried about you and I get angry when I’m worried. Please Jake. John! Get in here! Hurry!” Sherri screams, as she watches Jake, unable to move. John runs in, startled, and tries to pry the knife from Jake’s fingers. John screams for Sherri’s parents. They run in and start to help. “Jake! Please! Stop!” Sherri screams. Finally, John gets ahold of the knife, and holds it so that it would cut Jake a little on the hand. Startled, Jake let go. He falls to his knees, confusion clouding his face.
“I—I don’t know what came over me. I swear, I didn’t want that to happen, but I—I lost control…” he looks up at Sherri. “Sherri, honey, I’m so sorry. I—I think that you should just leave me here when you leave, I need to be put in the psych ward.” Tears come from nowhere.
“Jake, honey.” Sherri says.
“Jake, I’m sure it was just an accident, it probably won’t happen again. You’ve been through a lot lately, and you probably just snapped.” Mr. Lynch says.
“Thank you sir.” Jake says. He looks at John, who just stares back at him. A cold, empty stare. “John, I’m sorry. I didn’t and don’t want you to be in the position I put you in.”
“Whatever.” John says.
“John.” Sherri says, in a disappointed tone.
“No Sherri. He has a right to be mad at me. That was a stupid thing I did.” Jake says. They all stand in the hospital room, with nothing but mixed emotions.

Sherri climbs into her mom’s van. “I finally get to go home!!” she says, anxiously. Jake climbs in behind her and John beside her. Jake is in disbelief. He is so upset that John isn’t talking to him, he doesn’t know how to make it up to him. Sherri wishes that John would just say something already, it's killing Jake, although he won't say anything. John is still in shock from the incident. He can’t believe that he tried to do that, that he wanted to do that, and in front of Sherri…how could he be so cold? The drive home is silent, everyone caught up in their own thoughts.
Mrs. Lynch is worried. He had tried to kill himself. Was he a bad influence on Sherri? Should they ban her from seeing him? Mr. Lynch is sympathetic. The poor kid’s been through so much, it’s a good thing that he has Sherri and Jake there for him, or he’d already be dead. The breaks squeak as they pull into the driveway. John gets out and helps Sherri out. Jake follows.
“Look you guys, I really am sorry…and I hope you can forgive me.” Jake says hopefully, looking towards John. “I…I don’t deserve you guys, you’re such good friends, and you’ve stuck by me through everything. I really appreciate that, and I think I’ll take advantage of out great friendships.” he says.
“Jake…” John said, “…why’d you do it man? What triggered it? I mean there had to be something. Anything?” he asks.
“I guess…I guess I just couldn’t handle Sherri being mad at me. She’s never been mad at me before, and she’s always been the one I turn to, and I couldn’t this time. I guess…I don’t know…I—I guess I just have some problems.” Jake says, looking at his hands.
“Yeah.” says John. “You do have problems…you’re way too slow to catch me.”
“What?” Jake asks, he and Sherri look at John, confused.
“Supper’s at my place. Last one there has to do the dishes!” he yells, taking off. Sherri and Jake run after him, and as he runs, Jake swears he hears his father's laughter.
After they make it to the house, they help John’s mom make supper.
“Mom?”
“Yes John?”
“Is the lasagna supposed to be black?” John’s mom turns.
“Oh no.” They all stare at the burnt lasagna. “How does pizza sound?” Mrs. Tyrone asks.
“Yeah!” they all shout. John grabs the phone and dials the number of their favorite pizza and movie place.
“Yo, Big Mac there?” John asks. He waits as the girl gets him. “Hey Big M, ya think you could hook me up with two pepperoni pizzas, cheesy zingers, and Scream 1,2,3, and 4??”
“Sure thing Little J, it’ll be about 20.” Big Mac says.
“Kay, man, later.” John hangs up the phone.
“Cheesy zingers?” Sherri asks, laughing.
“Extra cheesy breadsticks.” John answers. They go into the living room and grab a piece of paper.
“We gotta get chips, Reese Cups, and Dr. Pepper.” Jake says.
“Okay. Hey mom, are you going to the store?”
“Yeah.”
“Can you pick us up some stuff?”
“Sure honey.” John hands his mom the list, and then he runs and jumps on Jake.
“Aww man! Watch the hand!” Jake shouts.
“Oh, sorry man.” John says.
“S’alrite.” Jake says. The doorbell rings.
“Pizza’s here.” Sherri shouts. They all rush to the door. John pulls out the money and pays him. They rush into the living room and pop in Scream. Sherri curles up beside Jake and Jake puts his arm around her. John sits there, trying to control his anger. The first scene comes on. The scream character poppes up and killes an unsuspecting teenager, and Sherri burrowes further into Jake. After the movie has finally finished, they hear a knock at the door. Sherri jumpes. “Wh—who is it?” Sherri askes. Silence, followed by another knock. “Who could it be?” Sherri mouths.
“I don’t know.” Jake whispers back.
“Let me in.” a voice hisses, one they all recognize.
“Mom?” John askes, hoping it was his mom, hoping that he’d mistaken the voice.
“No.” the voice answers.
“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.” Jake whispers, fear running through every part of his body.
“Let me in.” the voice hisses again. The person started pounding on the door. “Let me in!” Suddenly an ax chops through the door.
“Oh God!” Jake screames, jumping up.
“Call 911!” John screames. He grabs the gun out of the closet, and puts the ammunition in it. “Drop the ax!” he shouts. She heads towards Sherri.
“Leave her alone mom!” Jake says, stepping in front of Sherri. Mrs. Masters hesitates for only a moment, and then swung the ax at Sherri. Jake through his arm up, without thinking. Sherri stands and watches in horror as the ax slices into Jake’s arm. “Aww!!!” Jake screames as the blade of the ax makes contact with his arm. The pain shoots through his entire body. Shakily, John watches and decides that he has to do it. He pulles the trigger, and everything seemes to be in slow motion. Jake’s mom screames, and then falls to the ground, as the blood oozes from her head. Jake stares in complete and total silence.
He watches his mom squirm, and all he can concentrate on are the moans that she utters, the tears running down her face. “Mom?” Jake whispers. She moans in response.
“Jake, I…” John starts. Jake can see the fear in his eyes.
“We should call 911.” Sherri says, dumbstruck. They watch as no one moves.
“John, you—you shot my mom.” Jake stutters in disbelief. “My mom.” Jake glances down at his arm.
“Jake, I had to, she would’ve killed all of us. I …”
“I know.” Jake interrupts, “I just, can’t believe it.” He leans over his unconscious mother and smells her breath. “All of her life she drank…At least she’s happy, she’s drunk.” Jake says, in a disappointed tone.
“Jake, I’m so sorry. You protected me from her, and—uh—thanks.” Sherri says, crying.
John looks down at Jake’s arm fearing what he’ll see. “Jake, you’re arm. It’s—it’s…”
“It’s gone.” Jake finishes. “Just like my mom.” Tears run down Sherri’s face as she pulls Jake into a hug. John lays the gun and he collapses to the floor. They all sit there, in total shock.

A car pulls up and they suddenly hear feet pounding on the concrete. They look up and see John’s mom.
“What happened? Are you okay? Did you call the police? Why is she? Who is she? Is she dead?” Mrs. Tyrone shouts out questions, the reply nothing but silence. “What? Who? When? Why?” she's shocked. She grabs the phone and dials 911. She gives her name and address and stands there. The sirens come as the cars pull up. Police come in and put Jake’s mom on a gurney and help Jake into the ambulance. The rest are taken to the hospital in a cop car. They sit in the waiting room.
“So—uh—can either of you tell me what happened?” he asks, looking at John and Sherri.
“She had an ax, and broke through the door with it.” Sherri starts.
“I grabbed a gun and told her to stop, and sh—she didn’t.”
“She came towards me and Jake stepped in front of me. She swung and cut through Jake’s arm.”
“I shot her. I—I had to. She would’ve killed us all.” John finishes. The officer writes something down. Then the doctor comes out.
“Jake is doing fine, but he will be in the hospital for a few days.”
“And Mrs. Masters?” John’s mom asks.
“I’m afraid she was dead upon arrival.” the doctor says dimly.
“Can we see Jake?” Sherri asks.
“Yes, of course.” the doctor replies, showing them to his room.
“Jake, honey?” Sherri asks.
“Hey guys.” Jake says, opening his eyes.
“How ya doin’?”
“I’ve been worse John. Hey—how’s my mom?” The room grew quiet.
“Um, Jake, your mom’s…she’s dead.” John says.
“You, you mean…”
“Yeah.”
“You killed my mom? You killed her!”
“Jake, I—I had to…”
“You couldn’t have shot her in the leg or something? You had to shoot her in the head? Had to kill her?”
“No. You’re right. I didn’t have to kill her, but I did. I—I killed her.” Sherri watches as her two best friends, the strongest people she knows break down into tears, not knowing what to do.
“No, John…” she says, “…it wasn’t your fault. You had to be quick, you didn’t have time to think. If you did, she may be alive now, but Jake and I probably wouldn’t be.”
“I’m—I’m sorry John. I didn’t mean to blame you, I just love my mom, and I always had that hope that she would get better, and now she’s dead, so she can’t…I was just looking for someone to blame. I’m sorry. Forgiven?”
“Forgiven.” John replies.
“So Jake, what are they going to do about your arm?” Sherri asks.
“They could get a fake one, but I can’t afford it.”
“So you just walk around with part of an arm?” John asks.
“Yeah.”
“How much does the arm cost?”
“$5,000.”
“Wow.” Sherri says. They hear a knock on the door. An officer comes in.
“I need to talk to Jake in private please.” he says. Sherri and John give Jake a hug and leave the room. “Can you tell me what happened son?”
“My mom chopped down the door. She headed toward Sherri. I jumped in front of her and my mom cut my arm off. And then John shot her. She fell to the ground, I smelled her breath. She’d been drinking.”
“Um, is there any way that I can contact your father?” Jake looks down.
“No my father…my father committed suicide.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. It was a long time ago. The reason my mom turned to alcohol.”
“So your mom drank a lot?”
“I’d rather not talk about all of this right now.”
“Okay, I understand.” Sherri and John walk in.
“Um, guys, could you just leave me alone for the rest of the day?”
“Um, yeah, I guess we could do that.” John says.
“Thanks.” Jake replies. Sherri and John leave.
“Hey Sher, I’ll see you tomorrow okay?” John says.
“Yeah.” Sherri says. They both head towards their houses, it is starting to get dark out. Sherri walks in thought. A van pulls up.
“Hey, ya wanna come to a party?” a boy asks. Sherri thinks about it.
“Sure,” she says, “I could use some fun.” Sherri climbs into the van.”

***

“Hey, what’s your name?” a guy asks, looking at Sherri.
“Uh, Sherri. Sherri Lynch.”
“Well hello Sherri Lynch, my name’s Brian. Can I get you a drink?”
Sherri hesitates. “Yeah, I’ll have whatever you’ve got.” she answers. Brian gets up and heads to the bar. It's just a drink, what harm can it do?
“Two martinis, on the rocks my good man.” he tells the bartender. He pulls out a five-dollar bill and a packet. “Five dollars for a job well done.” He says, tossing the bill at the bartender. He opens the packet and pours a white powder into one of the martinis and then heads back “Here you are ma’am.” Brian says, handing one of the glasses to Sherri.
“Thanks.” Sherri says in a hushed tone as she takes a sip. A slow song comes on.
“May I have this dance?” Brian asks. Sherri gets up and walks onto the dance floor. She puts her hands on Brian’s shoulders and feels a tingle go through her spine as he puts his hands on her hips. She starts to feel dizzy. She rests her head on his chest and feels him gently kiss the top of her head. Slowly, everything gets dimmer, the music just a hum, until everything goes black.
She wakes with the sensation of being trapped. She's unable to move. She opens her eyes and sees Brian on top of her. She realizes what he's doing, and squirms to get loose. “Stop!” she yells. “Get off of me! Please! Quit!” She tries to kick, but Brian holds her down. “Stop! Leave me alone! Get off of me! Now!” Her body locks, and she's temporarily paralyzed. She tries to move, but can't. She tries to clear her head, but her objections, and everything from earlier that night surge through her mind. She comes back to reality and realizes that he's getting off of her and putting his clothes back on, as if he hadn’t just raped her, as if nothing he’d done was wrong. She tries to get up, but still can’t move. As Brian’s hand grasps the handle, he looks back at her with a smirk on his face.
“Well, that was some good clean fun, now wasn’t it?” he asks her, opening the door and leaving. Sherri lays there, scared, confused, disgusted, violated. She finally gets up and puts her clothes on. She walks down the stairs, the house empty now. She opens the door and walks into the sunshine. She pulls out her cell phone and calls her mom.
“Hello?”
“Hey, mom, can you come pick me up?”
“Sherri, where are you? Why didn’t you call? I thought you were at John’s…you’re not?”
“No.”
“Well then where are you? Are you okay? You should’ve called me.”
“Look mom, I’m by the library. Can you just come and pick me up? Please?”
“Alright sweetie. I’ll be right there.” She puts the phone back in her purse and sits down on the curb. Her mom’s car pulls up and she gets in. “Honey, are you okay?” Out of nowhere Sherri starts crying. “What’s wrong sweetheart?” Sherri hesitates, debating whether or not to tell her mom. She decides against it.
“I went to a party, and it got out of control. It was just, a little scary, that’s all.” Sherri says. “I’m sorry I didn’t call.”
“It’s alright. I’m just glad you’re okay.” The rest of the drive is silent. When she gets home Sherri goes upstairs to take a shower. She scrubs and scrubs, but that disgusting feeling is still there. She gets out of the shower and goes to her room. She lays on her bed crying. Her phone rings. It's Jake.
“Hello?”
“Hey Sher, it’s me. I’m out of the hospital, already!”
“That’s great.” she says.
“Are you crying?”
“Could you come over, please?” Sherri asks him.
“Yeah sure.” She sits the phone down. After a while her mom yells up.
“Sherri, Jake’s here.”
“Send him up.” Sherri says.
Jake walks into Sherri’s room to find her sobbing. He sits down on the bed beside her and holds her, letting her cry. Finally she starts to talk. “He—I think he drugged me. Everything went black and then, I woke up and he was on top of me.”
“Who is he?” Jake asks, cautiously.
“I think his name was Brian. I met him at the party.”
“And he—he raped you?” Sherri nods. “Oh my God.” Jake says, letting Sherri lean into him.
“I—I feel so, so dirty.” she says.
“Sherri, you know this wasn’t your fault don’t you?” he asks.
“But if I hadn’t drank the martini then it wouldn’t have happened. I could have stopped it, it is my fault.”
“No. Don’t say that…wait…you were drinking?” Jake asks.
“I—I had one sip of a martini…”
“Why? Why did you even go to a party?”
“I was so stressed with everything and you…”
“ME? I stressed you?”
“No, you know that’s not what I meant.”
“Then why’d you say it?” Jake asks, anger in his voice.
“It’s just with the—the accidents, and you not having your mom and…”
“And me being abused by my mother after my dad committed suicide? You don’t think that’s stressful for me?” Jake gets up.
“Jake I’m sorry, I—I just…”
“I just lost my mom and you, you think I’m stressful?”
“I…”
“I don’t need to hear this.” Jake says as he storms out of the room and down the stairs.
“Great…” Sherri says, “Now I’ve lost Jake.” She sits there crying, thinking about how horrible she’d sounded, how cruel, how selfish she was acting. The tears stream down her face. She gathers her books, trying to regain control of her mind, her emotions have run awry. She tries to relax. She lays down on her bed and cries herself to sleep. It's not long before the nightmares start.

The next day Sherri wakes up and gets ready for school. “Let’s see…” she tries a cheerful tone, “…today we have an algebra test.” She looks at herself in the mirror and puts on a fake smile.
“Sherri, how many eggs?”
“Just one mom.” she shouts. She puts on the rest of her makeup and grabs her backpack. She eats her breakfast in silence.
“Honey are you okay?” her mom asks.
“Huh? Oh yeah. Big algebra test today.”
“Kinda nervous?”
“Yeah. I guess—I guess I—just haven’t been the same since—since—you know.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“No—the bus. Gotta go mom. Love ya, bye.”
“Bye.” Mrs. Lynch sits there with a concerned look on her face. “Love you.”
Sherri walks toward the bus stop. She gets on the bus and sits down beside John. “Where’s Jake?” she asks.
“He said something about not wanting to be too stressful for you?” John says, confused. “What’s going on?”
Sherri sits there, trying not to cry. “Um, we just had a fight, that’s all, a stupid fight.”
“Oh-kay. Are you all right?”
“I’m—I’m fine.” Sherri says, unconvincingly. John sits, looking out the window. He's unsure of the situation, but one thing he is sure of is that Sherri is not fine.
The bus pulls up to the school and Sherri brushes the tears from her cheeks. She pulls out her cell phone and sees that it has an unread text message. She opens it and sees that it is from Jake. It says:
Sher—sorry about before. I wuz bein’ a jerk. R u ok? Let me no. I am so sorry that guy did this 2 u. u r 2 good 2 deserve this. I—I luv u Sher. Plz 4give me. I—I was kinda stressed, that’s all.
SORRY.
PLZ 4GIVE ME.
LOVE,
Jake
Sherri is about to cry. She texts him back telling him to meet her in the auditorium, under the bleachers. The bell rings and Sherri runs into the gym. As she sneaks under the bleachers she considers the secrecy of the spot. No one will even know they are there.
“Hey, how ya doin’?” Jake asks.
“Gr—good—well…” Sherri starts to cry.
“Hey it’s over. He can’t hurt you again. I promise.” Jake says in a comforting tone. “Don’t you think we should tell John? He might like to know.”
“I don’t know Jake. He has a temper, remember?”
“Yeah, but he’s gonna find out that something’s goin’ on, and he may take it the wrong way.”
“I—I don’t want to tell him. Not yet anyways.”
“Okay.”
“Jake?”
“Yeah?”
“Why did he, how could anyone do such a thing?”
“I—I don’t know Sherri. I don’t know.”
“I don’t feel so good, I think I’m going to go to the nurse’s office.”
“Okay, do you want me to come with you?”
“No, that’s okay. I think I can manage this on my own. You go back to class.”
“Okay, goodbye then.”
“Goodbye.” Jake stands there alone as Sherri starts to walk away, and soon she's gone. He paces for a few minutes and then gets down on his knees to pray.
“Please Lord, help Sherri to get over this, and make sure that the guy who did this to her pays. I know that’s a cruel thing to ask of you, but I hope that you make an exception this time. If he did that to Sherri, what’s to stop him from doing it to other girls? Sherri is so good, she didn’t deserve this, sure I’ve had trouble, but I’ve deserved mine. And I know how crazy this sounds, but I really miss my mom.” Jake starts to cry. “Um—anyways, thanks for listening, and please, we need your help down here. Amen.” Jake stands up and wipes the tears from his face. He heads out the door. John’s mom is sitting in her car waiting for him.
“Come on man, you’re gonna be late!” John says.
“Alright, chill, I’m comin’.” He opens the door and climbs in.
“Isn’t Sherri comin’?”
“I don’t know, she said she didn’t feel too well.”
“Oh man, she’s gotta come, she’s a witness.”
“I’ll go get her.” Jake says. He runs into the building. “Come on Sher—we have court today.”
“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry, I totally forgot.” Sherri says.
“Come on, they’re waiting.”
“Comin’.” They jog out of the building and get in the car.
“Hey John—good luck.” Jake says.
“Yeah—good luck.” Sherri says.
“Yeah. Thanks. I’ll need it. Look—um—whatever happens, we’ll still be friends, right?”
“Of course.” Jake says.
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.” Sherri says. They all sit in silence as John’s mom drives them to the courthouse.
“Alright guys. We’re here.” she says as she parks the car.
“I’m scared.” John says.
“There’s nothing to be scared about. She was my mom, and I’m testifying in your defense…so…”
“Yeah.” says Sherri.
“And the last thing you need to be is late.” John’s mom says. They walk up the steps and into the courthouse, all nervous about the trial.
“All rise for the honorable Judge Samuel.” the bailiff says. Everyone stands as the judge walks in. “Be seated.” the bailiff says.
“Okay, first witness.” the judge says. After being sworn in Sherri tells her side of the story.
“Mrs. Masters was furious. She had an ax and if John hadn’t of shot her, Jake and I would both be dead right now.” Both sides ask her some questions, which she answers nervously. After a while it is Jake’s turn.
“Mrs. Masters was my mom.” he says, staring at the jury, seeing the shock in her eyes. “She was an abusive alcoholic. That night, she was drunk, as usual. She wasn’t let into the house, she broke in. She used an ax to chop the door down. She headed towards Sherri. I stepped in front of Sherri. She swung the ax, and I—I didn’t know what to do. So, I tried to defend myself by putting my arm up. She didn’t even hesitate. The ax cut through my arm. It cut through the flesh, the bone…everything. I no longer have an arm. And then John shot her. It was too late to save my arm, but it did save my life.”
Jake pauses, trying not to cry, not to let the memories of that night effect him. “I beg you to choose not guilty. I’ve already lost my mom, don’t force me to lose my best friend too.” Jake gets down from the stand. After a few more people testify, the jury goes to make their decision. After a few hours they come back out.
“For the charge of murder in the second degree, we the jury, find the defendant…” the juror pauses. “…not guilty.” Relief washes over John, as well as his family and friends. Not one person objected, not one person disagreed in that courtroom that day. No one.
They walk out of the courthouse and head toward the car.
“Thanks guys.” John says.
“For what?” Jake askes.
“Uh—for testifying. DUH!”
“Hey—cut it out!” Jake shouts.
“Guys, please.”
“Whoa—what’s wrong with you?”
“Just—quit, please.” Sherri says, starting to cry.
“What?” John asks, confused. Jake walks over to Sherri.
“Hey—he can’t hurt you. I promise. Just forget it.”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t hurt her, I didn’t even touch her.” John says.
“Not you John.” Jake says.
“What’s going on?” John asks.
“Look…” Jake starts.
“John.” Sherri interrupts, “I’ll tell you later.”
“Well—I say we get pizza to celebrate.” Jake says.
“Okay.” John and Sherri say. They climb into the car and sit quietly as John’s mom drives them to their favorite pizza place, PIZZA WORLD. After they grab a booth, John asks Sherri again.
“Look…this probably isn’t the best place to tell you.”
“Would you just tell me already?” John says, frustrated.
“Okay.” Sherri says sighing. “I went to a party, and I met a guy. We got some drinks, danced, and that was all I remember. I woke up and he was on top of me…”
“You mean he raped you?” John asks angrily.
“Yeah.”
“What was his name? Where does he live?”
“Calm down. His name was Brian.”
“Brian what?”
“I—I don’t remember.”
“I’ll kill the jerk.”
“John, please, quit.”
“How can I quit when he did that to you?”
“Because I asked you to.”
“What can I get you?” the waitress asks.
“I don’t have much of an appetite, thanks.” John says, heading towards the door. Sherri and Jake follow.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” John asks. “WHY?”
“I was afraid.”
“Afraid of what?” John yells.
“This.” John stands there, not sure what to do next. “You, your temper, do I need to go on?”
“No, you’ve said enough.” John says, starting to run.
“John, come on—don’t do this!” Jake yells.
“He is so inconsiderate. Why can’t he just see my side of things?”
“Look, I know you’ve been through a lot, but aren’t you being a little harsh? John loves you. Don’t you think he deserves to be a little upset that you wanted to keep something that important from him?”
“No. It was my decision and I didn’t want him to know.”
“Grow up Sher. He’s your friend. He wants to be there for you. But you pushed him away. You wouldn’t let him be there for you.”
“If he was my friend, he wouldn’t continually pester me. He would just live with the fact you knew something he didn’t. But he couldn’t. he just had to know…”
“Sher…I think you have a lot that you need to think about.” Jake stands up.
“Now you’re leaving me?” Jake looks back, and then he turns and leaves.

Sherri sits, nervously waiting. It’s been seven weeks since the rape and she is scared to death at what the outcome will be. “Okay…” she says, trying to prepare herself. “Oh God.” Sherri says, staring at the pregnancy test. It's blue. She starts to cry. She picks up the phone and dials Jake’s number, hands shaking. “Jake?”
“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asks, cautiously.
“I—I’m pregnant.” she says. Jake is silent.
“You mean from…”
“Yeah.” Sherri sniffs.
“Did you tell your parents?”
“No—I—I haven’t even told them about the rape. What if they don’t believe me?”
“Sher—they’re your parents. Of course they’ll believe you. You have to tell them.”
“I know.” Sherri says, sighing.
“You want me to come over?” Jake asks.
“No, this is something I need to do on my own.”
“Good luck.” Jake says.
“Thanks.” Sherri sits the phone down. “The one thing they wanted was for me to not get pregnant, to not ruin my chance at college, the rest of my life, not like this, and I couldn’t even do that.” Sherri says to herself. She walks down the stairs. “Mom? Dad? Can I talk to you?” Sherri asks shakily.
“Sure sweetheart. What is it?” her father asks.
“Look, this is really hard for me to say…”
“What is it?” her mother asks. There is a long silence.
“I—I’m pregnant.” Sherri says, trying not to break into tears.
“How could you? Sherri, you promised us that you wouldn’t have sex until you were married.”
“I can explain…”
“I don’t want to hear it. You are no longer welcome in this house. Get out, now!”
“But dad…”
“NOW!” her dad shouts. Sherri runs out of the house. She runs as fast as she can, her head clouded with fear, pain, anger, and so many other emotions. She rings the doorbell at John’s house, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“What’s wrong?” John asks when he opens the door. Sherri throws herself into John’s arms. “Whoa. You wanna tell me what’s goin’ on?” Sherri shakes her head. “Okay…”
“Hey John, who is…” Jake pauses when he sees Sherri. “What happened?”
“They, they kicked me out.”
“Um—why?” John asked.
“I told them I was pregnant and they freaked. They didn’t even give me time to explain about the rape and…”
“Wait a minute. You’re pregnant?” John asks.
“Yeah.” Sherri says, digging further into John for comfort, suddenly exhausted. “John, I love you so much.”
“I love you too.” John says. Jake stands there, silent.
“Sherri?” Jake asks. Sherri ignores Jake and kisses John.
“Hey John—can you come here for a second?” John’s mom asks.
“Yeah mom?” John walks out of the room.
“Are you okay?” Jake asks in a whisper.
“About as okay as I could be.”
“Where are you going to stay?”
“I—I don’t know.” Sherri says, a worried look on her face.
“You can stay here.” John says as he walks into the room.
“Are you sure? Your mom doesn’t care?”
“No—I just asked. You can stay as long as you need to.”
“Thank you so much.”
“Anything for you.”
“Okay, not to be annoying or anything, but are you two back together?”
“Yeah.” Sherri says.
“Uh-huh.” John says.
“Oh.” Jake says, disappointed.
“That’s cool, right?” John asks, looking at Jake. Sherri turns to look at him too. He looks into her eyes. He loves her so much, he just wants her to be happy. If that means being with John, then so be it.
“Yeah.” Jake says, sadly.
“Great.” Sherri says. They get ready for bed. John and Sherri sleep on the bed and Jake sleeps on the floor. Not very long after they all fall asleep Sherri starts to yell. “No! Get off of me! Please! Quit it!”
“Sherri! Sher!” John yells, shaking her. She opens her eyes, tears streaming down her face. “Hey—it’s okay. It was just a nightmare.” John says, hugging Sherri. Jake sits there, helpless as he watches the scene play out. Sherri and John are up most of the night talking while Jake goes back to sleep.
“That night.” she begins. “I just wanted to have some fun. I really screwed up. I shouldn’t have been drinking, but I was. It was a mistake I wish I could take back, but I can’t. I really love you John.”
“I love you too Sher.” So, what are you going to do about the baby?”
“I may get an abortion.”
“Sherri! You can’t kill the poor kid. C’mon.”
“I don’t want to, but it may be the best thing to do. What if I can’t love it? He or she would be a constant reminder of him, of what happened. I just, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to love this baby if…I don’t know. It’s totally ridiculous.”
“No, it’s not. But maybe keeping this child would be like a confrontation to your fears. Living with it every day.” John suggests.
“Maybe.” With that they both go to sleep.
“Ow!” Jake shrieks, as Sherri steps on him.
“Oh,” Sherri says laughing, “sorry Jake.”
“Oh yeah, I bet you are.” Jake says.
“Hey Sher!” John yells up the stairs. “Ya want pancakes?”
“Yeah!” Sherri yells back, running down the steps. Jake sits up. He is starving. He heads down the stairs, not far behind Sherri.
“Pancakes for everyone!” John yells, laughing. “Ladies first. Madam?”
“I’ll have three pancakes please.” John plops three pancakes on her plate.
“How many Jake?”
“Just one.”
“Only one?”
“Yes.” John sits the pancake on Jake’s plate.
“MMM! These are good John!” Sherri says.
“Don’t forget to tip!”
“Ha, ha, ha.” Jake says, grimly.
“Jake, what’s wrong?” Sherri asks.
“Nothing.” He says, soaking his pancake in syrup.
“Don’t lie to me, what’s wrong?”
“Ya really wanna know? Okay fine. My life sucks!”
“What are you talking about?” John asks.
“Nothing. Just forget it.” Jake says, slamming his chair.
“Jake? What’s wrong?” Sherri asks in a concerned tone.
“I already told you. My life SUCKS!” Jake yells. He turned and runs up the stairs.
“What’s wrong with him?” John asks.
“I don’t know.” Sherri says, a questioning look on her face.
“Are you ready for school?” John asks Sherri.
“I guess.” Sherri says. They grab their books and head out the door.
“Hey Sher, I’ve been thinkin’. Maybe we should uh—go see Ms. Sovaz.”
“The guidance counselor?” I don’t think I’m ready.”
“Hey…” John says, “…I’ll come with you.”
“Okay.” As they walk to school, they link hands. They walk up the stairs and into the office.
“Is Ms. Sovaz in?” John asks.
“Yeah. Go on back.” the receptionist says. They walk back the hallway to Ms. Sovaz’s room.
“Good morning Sherri, John. How are my two best students today?” she asks. Sherri starts to cry.
“We need to talk to you about something. Something serious.” John says.
“Okay.” Ms. Sovaz says, sitting down.
“I’m…pregnant.” Sherri says.
“Oh.” Ms. Sovaz says, no shock in her voice. “Okay, have you seen a doctor yet?”
“No.”
“Well here’s the phone. You need to call and schedule an appointment.” Sherri dials the number.
“Dr. Crum’s office, how may I help you?” a voice says.
“I need to schedule an appointment. I think I’m pregnant.”
“Okay, name please.”
“Sherri Lynch.”
“Alright, you can come in at 1:45 today.”
“Okay thank you.” Sherri says, handing Ms. Sovaz the phone. “1:45.” she says, looking at John.
“Today?” he asks. Sherri nods her head. “Okay, I guess that’s it then.”
“For now it is.” Ms. Sovaz says. John gets up and opens the door for Sherri.
“Uh—thanks Ms. Sovaz.” he says.
“Come on Sher.” John says as they walked to their first period class.
“John I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Ah, Sherri, John, so glad you could join us.” John hands the note to Mr. McAdams. “Take your seats.” Sherri feels her phone vibrate against her leg.
Where were u? –Jessica
Ms. Sovaz’s office. –Sherri
Y? –Jessica
…I think I’m pregnant. –Sherri
What r u gonna do? –Jessica
Mayb abortion. –Sherri
No, y? u can’t! –Jessica
Can 2! –Sherri
“Sherri?” Sherri looks up. “Do you know the answer?”
“Um—no sir. Sorry.”
“Well then, you can write me a five page essay on paying attention in class.” Sherri buries her head in her arms.
OoO…sorry u got busted. –Jessica
No big. Ttyl. –Sherri
Sherri walks to Mr. McAdams’ desk. “Look, Mr. McAdams, is there any way I can get out of that assignment? It’s just not a very convenient time right now.”
“Why am I not surprised at that?” he asks.
“No—I’m telling the truth. My parents kicked me out and…”
“Why’d your parents kick you out?”
“Because…I’m pregnant.” Sherri says.
“Oh.” Mr. McAdams says, shocked.
“Please sir, the last thing I need right now is more homework to get an F on.”
“Very well then. You’re dismissed.”
“Thank you so much sir.” Sherri steps out into the hall. As she walks to second period she sees everybody staring at her.
“I heard she’s going to have an abortion.”
“I heard that John’s the father.”
“I heard she doesn’t know who the father is, she’s slept with a ton of guys.” Sherri feels the tears welling up in her eyes as she runs to the bathroom. She finds herself wondering why she is being forced through this. She sits in that bathroom stall and prays.
“Please Lord, give me the strength to get through this. Thank you for letting me have John, I don’t know what I’d do without him. Please let me be a good mother to this child and let me lead a good life, so that I can set good examples. And Lord, although I may not understand the reasons now, let me serve the purpose in being a vessel for this unborn son or daughter of yours. Amen.” Sherri sits there, alone. “It’s just John, my baby, and I now.” she whispers.

Sherri sits in the cheaply furnished waiting room with John by her side. “I’m scared John.”
“Don’t be. I’m here for you.” John says, kissing her lips softly.
“Sherri Lynch?” the nurse says. “We’re ready for you.” Sherri stands and follows the nurse into the room. “Okay hon, change into the gown and go ahead and lay down on the bed. The doctor will be in to see you in a minute.” Sherri steps behind the curtain and changes into the gown. She lays on the bed and waits nervously for the doctor. He finally comes into the room.
“Okay Sherri,” the doctor says, “what we’re going to do is a simple ultra sound, no pain whatsoever, okay?” Sherri nods. The doctor rubs a gel on Sherri’s stomach and begins the ultra sound. “Well, your baby seems to be doing fine.” Sherri smiles at the good news. “I’ll tell you what, we’ll see you in about a month and see how you’re doing then.” After they finish filling out the paperwork they go out for lunch.
“You know,” John says, “I haven’t really paid attention to how much bigger you’ve gotten. You can really tell.”
“Gee thanks.” Sherri snaps.
“Whoa, sorry.” John says.
“Sorry—it’s just been a really long day.”
“Hey it’s okay, anything you wanna talk about?”
“No.”
“Okay. What do you want to eat?”
“Hmmm…” Sherri says, looking at the menu. “…I’ll have a grilled cheese sandwich with pickles and ketchup.” she tells the waitress.
“What? Sherri that sounds disgusting.”
“I think it sounds good.” Sherri says defensively. The waitress writes down their orders. They eat their supper and then leave the restaurant. “John…” Sherri says.
“Yeah?”
“I’m pregnant. Actually pregnant. I have a living person inside of me…” she says as the reality of her situation hits her. “I’m scared. I’m not ready to be a mom. I’m still a teen. I can’t do this, I have to get an abortion.”
“No Sherri. You are going to have this kid and we’re going to get married. And we’re gonna raise this kid as if they are our own.”
“Married?” Sherri asks, stunned.
“Yes…eventually. I love you, why not?”
“I love you too John. So much. You’re an angel.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” John says. He walks Sherri to work and then goes home.
“What’s wrong?” his mom asks.
“I—I just told Sherri I’d marry her.”
“WHAT? John, why would you do that?” she asks.
“Because she’s pregnant, and she’s so scared…”
“Pregnant?” she asks in shock.
“Yeah and she was going to get an abortion.”
“That’s why she’s staying here, because she’s pregnant?” she asks. “John, how could you? I am so disappointed in you.”
“What do you mean? She was gonna get an abortion. I’m sorry, I panicked okay?”
“Not that. How could you have sex with her? How could you just throw your future away like that?”
“What? No—mom, Sherri was raped.” John says calmly.
“Oh.” John’s mom says with a look of relief. “Well, do her parents know that?”
“No. She told them that she was pregnant and they kicked her out, they didn’t give her a chance to tell them the whole story.”
“Oh. Well I’ll speak to them then.”
“Mom? Could you wait and see if that’s okay with Sherri first? I mean, I’m sure it is, but just in case?”
“Yeah. Of course.” she says.
“Thanks.” John goes into his room and lays down. Before he knows it someone is shaking him. “I’m awake, I’m awake!” he shouts, opening his eyes.
“Come on John, it’s time for school.” Sherri says.
“Huh? Oh, okay.” he says, standing up. “Oooohhh…” he groaned.
“What’s wrong?” Sherri asks. “You’re not sick are you? You can’t be sick…I need you today.”
“It’s just the light in my eyes.” John lies.
“Oh—sorry.” Sherri says.
“It’s okay.” John replies. John goes downstairs and turns on the tv.
“John, breakfast.”
“No thanks mom.”
“You have to eat breakfast or you don’t go to school.”
“Fine!” John says, walking out to the kitchen. He shoves a few pieces of bacon and some toast down his throat. “Bye mom.” John says. “Come on Sher—I’m leaving.” John walks out the door.
“Whoa. Wait up honey.” John slows his pace as Sherri came jogging out the door. “Hey—what’s wrong?” Sherri asks.
“Nothing.” John mutters. “Where’s Jake?”
“Jake’s sick. He’s not coming to school today.” John is jealous. He feels horrible and he has to go to school, but Jake gets to stay home. John opens the door and walks in the school. Then the whispering starts. People point at Sherri with disgusted looks on their face. John pulls Sherri into his arms and they walk down the hall together. They walk to their homeroom class and take a seat in the back.
“I’ll be passing out your report cards today.” Mr. Eerb says to the class. John looks at his report card, a look of terror forming on his face.
“John what…” Sherri asks as he shows her his report card.
“Man my mom’s gonna kill me!” John says. Not only will he disappoint his mom, but he's disappointed himself also. The tears began to form in his eyes. “How could my grades slip this bad? I had all A’s, and now…all F’s? This can’t be happening.”
“John—it’s not your fault.”
“Yes it is…it’s all my fault. Everything’s my fault.” John says, slamming his fist against the wall.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Sherri asks, concerned.
“Mr. Eerb, may I use the bathroom?”
“Go ahead.” John leaves the room, leaving Sherri very confused.
John runs into a stall and locked it. “Why in the….Owww!” John yells, grabbing his chest. There are pains shooting up his left arm, and his chest hurts. He can't be having a heart attack. He's too young…but his chest, his arm… “HELP!!” John yells. Mr. Eerb runs into the bathroom.
“What?” Mr. Eerb asks.
“I think…heart attack…” John mutters, pain surging through his body.
“Quick, call 911!” Mr. Eerb yells. He and a few other boys drag John into the hall.
“John!” Sherri yells, rushing to his side.
“Uh—don’t worry. I’ll be fine. Promise.” And then everything goes black.

The doctor walks into the waiting room. “So, is he okay?” Sherri asks, tears streaming down her face.
“Um, he should be okay. He’s suffered a mild heart attack, probably caused by stress, inconsistent sleeping patterns, bad eating habits, emotional distress…”
“But he’ll be okay, right?”
“Yes, we’re asking him questions now to determine the cause, or causes.”
“Oh thank God.” John’s mom says, her hand over her heart.
“Well, what stressed him out?” Jake asks.
“It’s somewhat hard to determine causes until after the interview.” the doctor explains. “But I’ll let you know what we find out.”
“What do you think it could be from?” Sherri asks Jake.
“Uh—I don’t have a clue. At least not of anything in particular, lately…” Jake says, deep in thought. He considers another possibility. What if Sherri was the cause of all of the stress? She has been depending on him a lot lately. He waits anxiously for the results of the interview.
In John’s room the nurse asks him a series of questions. “How much sleep do you get each night?”
“Usually three to four hours at the most.”
“And what does your diet consist of?”
“I normally have a decent breakfast, toast, juice, and supper is whatever my mom makes.”
“So you don’t eat lunch?”
“I used to, but I don’t anymore.”
“Why not?”
“I have other stuff to do.”
“Okay, have you been stressed out lately?”
“Huh,” John chuckled, “that’s an understatement.”
“Okay, what’s been stressing you out lately?”
“Well,” John starts, “everything. I mean, Sherri, well not really Sherri but the rumors about her, the pain she’s in, I mean, I told her I’d marry her and I’m not ready for that. Her parents think that she willingly had sex so they kicked her out, and, it’s not fair, they didn’t even let her explain. School too, my grades went from A’s to F’s. And I guess I still can’t get Jake’s mom out of my mind. I killed her, I didn’t have any other choice, but I’m still responsible for her death.”
“Is that it?”
“Probably not, but that’s the major stuff.”
“Okay. You get some rest then.” The nurse walks out of the room and into the waiting room.
“You may want to look at this.” the nurse says, handing the paper to Sherri. Sherri reads the paper and starts to cry.
“What?” Jake asks.
“It’s my fault? I’m the reason he’s stressed out?”
“What?” John’s mom asks, taking the paper.
“Oh my.”
“What?” Jake asks. She hands him the paper and he reads it. “Sherri, you know that’s not how he means it.”
“I’m the reason he had the heart attack?” Sherri asks in disbelief.
“You can go in and see him now if you’d like. I would like you to remain calm though, we don’t need to stress him out anymore.”
“Right.” Sherri says, trying to regain her composure. They walk into the room and see John lying in bed.
“Hey.” he says. Sherri feels herself about to cry and rushes out of the room. “What was that about?”
“Uh—she’s a little emotional, and she doesn’t want to stress you out.”
“Why would she stress me out? I’m fine. Really.”
“You’re not fine. Why didn’t you tell us that you were so stressed?”
“I’m not stressed, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“John, we read the paper from the interview. You can quit the act.”
“Oh—you read that?” he asks, realizing everything bad that he said, how much he would’ve offended Sherri, and now they knew…everything.
“Yeah, we all did.”
“So Sherri…”
“She thinks that she’s the reason that you had a heart attack.”
“What? That’s crazy. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s just that with the whole scenario, everything’s been so hard for her lately and, it’s just that she depends on me so much…she called me her angel the other day. She expects me to be perfect, and I’m not. Not even close.”
“I don’t expect you to be perfect.” Sherri says, walking into the room. “I just expect you to be you. I just want you to be there for me. That’s all you have to do. There is no way that you’re going to disappoint me. All that I want from you is love. And you give me that everyday.”
“I know, but I want to be able to be there for you. And I just don’t do a very good job at it.”
“John—you’re the best boyfriend I could ever have. You do the best you can, and that’s what really matters. I love you, and if you’re not ready to get married then we won’t. And don’t worry about me getting an abortion, I already love this baby. And I love you.”
“I love you too Sherri. I’m sorry for all of this. I really am.”
“John, why have you been skipping lunch?” his mom asks.
“Haven’t been hungry. Besides, it allows me to have control over my life.” he says, regretting it immediately.
“You don’t feel in control so you starve yourself?” she asks, anger and concern in her voice.
“No mom. I don’t starve myself, I just don’t eat. There’s a difference.” John says, matter-of-factly.
“John!” his mom shouts, letting the anger get the better of her. She regains her serene attitude. “I don’t care what you call it, it is ridiculous behavior and it’s not going to help you deal with your stress. If you are having problems, you can come to me. You know that don’t you? You can tell any of us, and we’ll do what we can to help you.”
“I know mom. I—I just wasn’t thinking clearly…I mean, I told Sherri I’d marry her. I was so desperate, and I was freakin’ out. I just kept getting further and further into the hole that I dug. I’m sorry. From now on I’ll be forward with all of you, and tell you how I feel. I’m really sorry. It’ll never happen again.”
“Don’t worry,” says Sherri, “we’ll make sure of that.”
“Yeah, you’re never gonna have to worry about this happening again.” Jake says.
“Look Jake, I’m really lucky to have you as a friend, and Sherri, you’re the best girlfriend a guy could have. I love you so much.” Jake looks enviously at the shine in Sherri’s eyes. He wishes that she had that shimmer in her eyes when she looked at him. It's as if her eyes are smiling. It is then that he realizes that they will never be a couple, because she is happy with John. They are perfect for each other. Jake is just a third wheel, a friend that’s in the way of a couple. He knows that there is nothing that he can do, that she will only be happy when she is with John, is with a regular guy, who lives a pretty regular life, he realizes that he was just a guy she’d taken pity on. A really screwed up guy she’d taken pity on. And for the first time in his life, Jake feels completely alone. There in the hospital room, he feels like the only person there and knows that he’ll feel like this for the rest of his life.

“Sherri!” John’s mom yells. “Phone!” Sherri starts down the stairs.
“Who is it?” she asks.
“Your mom.”
“Huh…ohhh!” Sherri yells as she trips over a backpack on the stairs. She falls and lands with a thud at the bottom. A sharp pain runs through her stomach. “Ohhh…” she says, holding her stomach, a million thoughts racing through her mind. She hopes that the baby is okay, she doesn’t know what she will do if it isn’t. Why did this have to happen? She is so scared. John’s mom hangs up on Mrs. Lynch and dialed 911.
“Relax. I’m sure everything’s fine.” she says, sensing Sherri’s fears. Jake and John run down the stairs. They are asking her questions, but she can’t understand them. Everything seems to be going in slow motion. She is concerned about one thing and only one thing: her baby. She doesn't care if she's hurt, she just wants her baby to be okay. All she does is hope and pray that the baby will be okay. The paramedics load her onto the stretcher and she sits there, worrying about her baby.
Jake and John climb into the car and they follow the ambulance. They make it to the hospital and sit in the waiting room, unsure of what could happen, to Sherri or the baby. The doctor comes out and looks at their faces. “She’s not hurt…” the doctor says, “…but we’re not sure about the baby. Um—which of you is the father?”
“I am.” John says without thinking.
“Okay, you can come in while we do the ultrasound.” John walks into the room and sees Sherri staring at her hands.
“Hey.” he says, grabbing her hand.
“Hey.” she replies. They sit nervously as the doctor preforms the ultrasound.
“I’m afraid it’s bad news.” the doctor says. “There isn’t a heartbeat.” Sherri sits there in shock. Then she starts to cry. “Do you want to know if it was a boy or girl?” the doctor asks. Sherri nods her head. “It was a baby boy.” The doctor leaves to allow John and Sherri some privacy.
“I already loved him.” she says, sobbing.
“So did I Sherri, so did I.” John says, squeezing her hand.
“Why did I…” she stutters, and then utters another sob.
“It’s okay. It’s going to be all right. Let’s just go home.” John says. Once they get home Sherri goes upstairs and crawls into bed. She feels as if her whole life has ended. Meanwhile, John, Jake, and Mrs. Tyrone sit in the kitchen. “How’d she fall mom?” John asks.
“I guess she was so shocked that her mom called that she didn’t see the backpack, and she just tripped.” she replies. “I need to call her mother back.” she says, grabbing the phone. “Hello, Mrs. Lynch? This is John’s mother.”
“Oh yes,” she replies, “what happened?”
“Well,” she pauses, “Sherri fell down the stairs and apparently the baby didn’t make it.”
“Oh my, is Sherri okay?”
“Well, she’s asleep right now, but she’s pretty upset. I think she’d really like it if you came over and talked to her.”
“Of course. I’ll come over in an hour, that way she can get some rest.”
“Okay, bye.”
“Goodbye.”
“Sherri’s mom will be over in an hour to talk to her.” she tells Jake and John.
“Wow.” John replies.
“Uh—that’s really great.” Jake says. They go into the living room and watch some television. Then the doorbell rings.
“I’ll get it.” John says. He opens the door to see Sherri’s mom standing there.
“Hi, uh—please come in.” John says, closing the door behind her.
“Who is it Jo…” Sherri says, coming into the room. “Mom?” Sherri asks in disbelief. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you again, and I think we need to talk.”
“Oh, okay.” Sherri says. “We can go into the dining room.” She leads her mother into the dining room. “So…” Sherri says, closing the door.
“I’m really sorry Sherri, about the miscarriage.”
“You are?” Sherri asks.
“Of course. It’s really horrible.”
“At least I won’t have a baby anymore, that’s what you wanted right?” Sherri says, her eyes moist.
“Honey, we know that you think you’re in love with John, and he probably pressured you…”
“Mom! it’s not even John’s baby okay!”
“Then whose is it?”
“It was this guy I met at a party…”
“A one night stand?”
“No. Mom, he raped me okay?” Sherri says, crying.
“Oh my…why didn’t you tell us?”
“Because you wouldn’t listen.” Sherri says, anger in her voice. “John is an angel. Don’t ever talk about him like that. He has been so wonderful to me and I do love him, but I’d never have sex with him. I can’t believe you could even think that.” Sherri says.
“Honey, I am so sorry. I guess your father and I just jumped to conclusions. I really should’ve listened to you. We should have listened to you. Can you ever forgive us?”
“I just wanna come home.” Sherri hugs her mom. “I love you.”
“I love you too sweetheart.” Sherri dries her eyes and opens the door.
“I’m going home.” she says, as everyone turns to look at her. John walks over to her.
“That’s really—really great Sherri.” he says.
“John. I love you so much. I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me. You offered to sacrifice everything for me and I…” Sherri starts to cry. “…I just don’t know why you’d do that for me.”
“Hey…don’t cry. You don’t owe me anything. I wanted to help Sherri, I’d do anything for you. I love you. I just hate to see you in pain and I know how much you wanted that baby and you would’ve been a great mother. I know you would’ve.”
“Thanks.” Sherri says, kissing John. Sherri goes upstairs and gets her stuff packed. They say their final goodbyes and then Sherri leaves.
“I’m glad she finally gets to go home.” John says.
“I’d better get to bed, school tomorrow.” John says, headin’ up the stairs. He is really going to miss having her so close to him, being there to comfort her when she has a nightmare, being there to talk with her late into the night. A tear slides down his cheek. At least he can still see her at school. He puts on his pajamas and goes to bed.

***

“Hey Sherri!” Jessica yells, running down the hall. “Where were you yesterday?”
“Hospital.”
“Why? Is the baby okay?”
“No—I—I don’t want to talk about it, okay? My baby’s gone and that’s it.”
“An aborti…”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it and that’s what I mean!” Sherri yells, interrupting Jessica.
“Well then.” says Edwin. “An abortion. I knew she was a selfish witch.” He walks away, a strange look on his face. Sherri slides into her seat in media management to find a surprise on her computer. It says:
Sherri Lynch: Slept with John Tyrone.
Got pregnant.
Got an abortion.
She is a murderer.
“May I be excused?” she asks, rushing to the bathroom. She sinks to the floor and starts to cry. Jessica walks in and sits down beside her.
“Would you please talk to me?” she asks.
John’s not the father.”
“Then who is?”
“I don’t know. Some guy spiked my drink and then he raped me. And I didn’t have an abortion.”
“Well then—what happened?”
“I miscarried.” Sherri breaks down.
“I am so sorry. It’s gonna be okay. I am here for you, okay? Whenever you need me.”
“Jess—I lost my baby…my baby…”
“Shhhh…” Jessica says, holding Sherri.
“I loved him Jess, and now he’s gone. I didn’t even get to hold him…”
“He?”
“Yeah, I had a son…and then he died…” Sherri is sobbing now, letting out all of her emotions. Once she cries so much that she can’t cry anymore, Sherri dries her eyes and stands up. “Thanks Jess. Thanks a lot.”
“Hey. I love you Sher—you’re like my sister. The least I can do is be here for you when you need me.”
“I love you too Jess.” The bell rings.
“Do you want me to walk with you to your next class?” Jessica asks.
“No—that’s okay.” Sherri says, walking into the hall. Everyone stares at her, and she can hear their whispers. She proceeds to her next class, trying not to cry. She sits down and opens her book, trying to concentrate on it and not everyone staring at her. She feels something hit her shoulder and turns around. There is a paper wad on the floor. She uncrumbles it and reads it. “Murderer!” It says, with a picture of her with a knife and a bleeding baby. She crumbles it up and throws it on the floor. The teacher walks in and class begins. Soon enough, notes are being passed around and ones is intercepted by the teacher, who reads it aloud.
“Did you hear about Sherri Lynch? I heard she slept around with a lot of guys, and then she got pregnant. She didn’t remember who she slept with so she got an abortion.” He reads another note. “I heard that Sherri Lynch is a prostitute and when she got pregnant she couldn’t afford the abortion so she threw herself down the stairs and the baby died.” Sherri is near tears. “I think we can get back to class now.” the teacher says, looking at Sherri disapprovingly. After class, the teacher asks Sherri to stay after. “Sherri,” he says, “are the rumors about you true?”
“What parts?”
“Everything.”
“Well—I was pregnant.”
“Was?”
“Yes. But I had a miscarriage from falling down the stairs, but I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“And who is the father?”
“Some kid that I met at a party drugged and raped me.”
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe you should go and talk to the school guidance counselor.”
“Maybe.” Sherri says, uncertainly.
“Here’s a pass.” the teacher says.
“Thanks.” Sherri says, closing the door. She walks to the office and asks to see Ms. Sovaz.
“Go on back.” The receptionist says. Sherri knocks on the door.
“Come in.” Ms. Sovaz says. “Sherri, how can I help you?”
“Um, I need to talk.”
“Okay, where would you like to begin?”
“Well, I guess we’ll start with the rape. I was going home when some kids in a van pulled over and asked me if I wanted to go to a party. I’d been really stressed out at the time, so I climbed in and they took me to the party. I met this guy named Brian and he got me a drink. We danced and then I guess I blacked out because the next thing I knew he was on top of me. I begged him to stop but he wouldn’t.” Sherri pauses, crying as she remembers the night. “Um, seven weeks later I took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. People started talking, but it wasn’t too bad. And then yesterday I fell down the stairs, and—and my baby died…” Sherri starts to sob now. “…and um—now people are saying that I got an abortion and saying that I’m a murderer. I—I just can’t take all the staring and whispering anymore. I didn’t kill my baby, I loved him…”
“There’s really not much that I can do about the rumors Sherri.”
“You don’t understand, all of this is making me physically sick.”
“There’s only an hour left in the day, why don’t you go home. Come back tomorrow, and stay with your friends when you can.”
“Okay.” Sherri goes to her locker and gets her books, trying to ignore the signs taped to her locker. She walks home and lays down in her bed and then falls asleep.
“Honey, wake up.” Sherri hears her mother say. “Why are you home so early?” she asks.
“I didn’t feel well.”
“Oh, well are you hungry sweetheart?”
“No—I just don’t feel well, okay?”
“Well, okay.”
“Mom?”
“Hmm?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.” Sherri walks over to her computer.
“120 new messages.” the voice says. She looks at the subjects: “Murderer, Killer, Abortion…” they go on and on.
“NO!” Sherri yells. Her mom runs in.
“What honey?” she asks. Sherri points at the computer. “Oh my gosh…” she says. “Honey…” she says, pulling Sherri into a hug. “No! Why can’t they just leave me alone?” Sherri asks, crying into her mom.
“It’s all right sweetie. It’s okay…”
“Mom, could you please call and see if Jessica can come over?”
“Of course.” About 10 minutes later Jessica walks into Sherri’s room.
“Are you okay?”
“No. Everyone thinks I’m a murderer. How could I be okay?”
“It’s going to be okay. Look, we’ll go to school tomorrow and get the real story out in media management, okay?”
“Okay.”
“Look, I need to go…”
“Could you stay, please?”
“I’ll call my mom and ask her.” Jessica says, walking out of the room. She comes back in after a few minutes. “She said it’d be okay.”
“Good. I just don’t want to be alone tonight.” They get ready for bed and finally get to sleep. Then Sherri starts to scream. “No! No! Get off of me!”
“Sherri! Sherri!” Jessica yells, shaking her. “Hey, it’s alright. It was only a dream. Shhh! It’s okay Sher.” Jessica says.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you up. I should’ve known this was gonna happen, it does every night.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah—uh—I’m fine.”
“No you’re not. Do you wanna talk about it?”
“I always have nightmares about that night. And I think it was my fault. I didn’t have to climb in the van. Didn’t have to have a drink. Didn’t have to have anything to do with—Brian. But I did and I have to pay the consequences.”
“What? Sherri you can’t blame yourself for this. You didn’t deserve this. No one could deserve this. What could possibly make you think that you deserved such a thing?”
“I was being irresponsible. I planned on drinking, I didn’t know anyone there, and I deserved everything that I got.”
“So you had some bad judgment. Everyone does sometimes. Don’t try to convince yourself that you deserved this.” Sherri starts to cry.
“Then why did it happen? Why me? If I didn’t deserve it…”
“Sherri…” Jessica says, holding her, “you can’t think like that. None of this is your fault. Just trust me, okay?”
“Okay.”

“Hey Sherri,” John says, “you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m—I’m better now.”
“I wonder who did that.” Jake says.
“I don’t know, but if I did…” Jessica says. The bell rings and they head to class.
“Hey look, it’s Growsky.” says John. “What’s he…?” Growsky pulls something out of his jacket.
“He’s got a gun.” says Jessica.
“I’ll kill you Sherri. I hate you.” he says. Jake starts towards Edwin.
“Why do you want to kill Sherri?” he asks, slowly moving towards Edwin.
“Because she’s a murderer. She killed her baby just like my mom tried to do to me and now she’ll pay for it.” he answers.
“She didn’t get an abortion Edwin.” Jake says, in a calm voice.
“Yes she did! She killed her baby.” Edwin shouts.
“Please Edwin, just put the gun down.” John says, remembering the diary that they buried.
“No. My life’s been hell and you only made it worse.” Sherri stands in shock as Edwin raises the gun and aims it at her. Jake lunges for the gun, and he gets ahold of it. There is a struggle between him and Edwin, and then a shot is fired. Jake falls to the ground.
“Now, back to what I was doing.” Edwin raises the gun again. There is a shout from behind him.
“Freeze, Police!” Edwin pushes his finger on the trigger. A shot rings through the air, and Edwin falls to the ground. The paramedics come in and put Jake on a stretcher.
“Jake!” Sherri yells. She runs and climbs into the ambulance.
“Sherri…” he says, “I—I lo-….” The machines start beeping and flashing. Sherri stays out of the way as the paramedics do their jobs. She can’t believe that this is happening. Jake is shot, and could possibly die…all because he’d tried to save her life. Sherri is overwhelmed with emotions. She sits in silence as the sirens scream through the town and to the hospital. They take Jake into the emergency room and Sherri goes into the waiting room. They sit there, John, Sherri, and their parents, waiting, hoping, praying. Soon the doctor comes out.
“He’s in critical condition.” the doctor says. “He’s lost a lot of blood, and things aren’t looking too well.”
“Can I go in and see him? Please?”
“He’s unconscious, but if you’d like you can go see him.” Sherri walks into the room.
“Jake,” she says, holding his hand, “you can’t leave us here. We need you. You have to stay here, with us. With me. We all need you Jake.” she sits there for hours, holding his hand, seeing how peaceful he looks. “Jake,” she says, a few hours later, “you can’t die…I love you.” Slowly Jake’s eyelids open. He looks into her eyes. He sees them glistening, smiling at him. “I love you too.” he says. She squeezes his hand. She yells for John, and Jessica, and they come rushing in.
“Jake! I thought we were gonna lose you.” John says.
“Nah. I couldn’t leave you guys.” Jake says. He turns the tv on, and sees the shooting on the news.
“One student, who risked his life to save that of another, is in critical condition today, and another student, the shooter, is dead.” Jake turns the tv off.
“You’re a hero Jake.” Sherri says.
“No…I was just in the wrong place at the right time.”
“You three have had quite a year.” John’s mom says.
“Yes,” they say, “yes we have.” They all gather around Jake and give him a big hug, in hopes that the next year will be a new start.



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