All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Author's note: This isn't the complete book, but I am too excited to wait until it's done to submit it! Be prepared, it's intense.
Pain and hurt and crying flashed before my eyes. I didn’t want to remember but it seemed like I didn’t have any control over my mind anymore. I flinched because of the remembered pain. My brother shook my shoulder; I looked at him, his face blurred because of the tears that were so close to spilling over. He was trying to tell me something but I only heard this loud ringing.
There was a giant ripping sound and I was rushed to the present. I wiped under my eyes, careful not to smudge my make up.
“Jen, we have to go. We’re gunna be late for school.” Joe said grabbing a bagel and pretending, for my mother’s sake, what just happened, didn’t.
I got up and grabbed an apple, rushing to the car, forgetting my jacket. I pulled my knees up to my chest and turned up the heat. Joe sat next to me, driving his new car, a green truck, happily in his blue and grey varsity jacket.
“You remembered again didn’t you?” He asked, looking at me sadly.
“He’s not here anymore. Dad left. Do you understand? He won’t hurt you anymore. It’s okay.” He said and took my hand. I pulled away; touching was out of my comfort zone.
He parked the car and we went to our separate homerooms. I was a junior, Joe was a senior, and he was on the football team, AKA: really popular. And I was his socially awkward sister. I used to have a best friend, his name was Todd, but we grew up and apart, he was a guy and in guys didn’t have friends that were girls in middle school, and we never hung out again, although he had become my brother’s best friend. That was something, even with all the things my brother had done for me, I could never forgive.
I looked out the window at to rows and rows of cars, a few teachers who taught second period and students who were late were still coming toward the building. My favorite teacher, Mr. Sample, was pulling into the parking lot. Mr. Sample was one of the youngest teachers here, but also the best. He taught art, and he thought art was anything, math, writing, poetry, paints, nature, so he often let us do whatever if we said we thought it was art. I often wrote this kind of poem, he loved them. His class was the only one I really felt good at.
School was a sort of boring blur, as always. Until art, the last period. I put in my headphones and blasted my favorite band as I wrote and wrote. I was on the same table as Becca German, a cheerleader and, what do you know, an airhead. Mr. Sample, as he did everyday, started working on this gigantic painting he had been working on all year. It was really black; it was kind of a silhouette of a tree but it had bright red apples and there were, if you looked hard enough, faces everywhere, some of them I didn’t know some were of students some of teachers some of famous actors, but they all looked sad. He was adding a little green, dark green, to the trunk. Suddenly he turned around call for out attention. I pulled out an ear bud and turned down my music.
“I want all of you to pull out what you think is you best work and present it to me so I can present it to the class, it will all be anonymous, but I was people to get a feel for the talent in this class.” He said, putting down his brush and walking to behind his desk.
My best work, my best work…? I pulled out a poem I had written during homeroom this morning, it was about my living nightmare. It had passion, horror, feeling, hurt, pain, it was perfect. THIS was my best work, I knew it. I slowly walked to the front of the class, I wasn’t the only one, and handed him the paper.
He showed, and read each one in turn, he started to read mine, though no one else knew it was mine, I fiddled with my sock under the table. He had commented on each one, saying what he liked about them, once he finished with mine, everyone was silent. My poem was almost three pages long but was really a bunch of painful nonsense. Mr. Sample didn’t say anything. He just stared at the last word: “Excuses”. I was holding my breath. Why wasn’t he saying anything? Did he not like it? Why didn’t anyone make a sound? Was it inappropriate? What was wrong?
“Who wrote that?” Someone asked from the back of the room.
“I told you this was anonymous.” Mr. Sample said, not looking up from my poem.
“That was really good.” Someone else said.
“It was.” Was all Mr. Sample said. And then he moved on to the next picture.
What was wrong with mine? The bell rang. I got up; no one else was in the classroom except for Mr. Sample and I.
“Mr. Sample?” I whispered.
“Mmm?” He said, not looking up from his work.
“Why did you not like my poem?” I mumbled.
“Oh, Jennavieve. I loved your poem, I love all your poems but this one was, a little… intense.” He said looking up at me.
“It was supposed to show deep emotion and distress. It was supposed to show a hatred with the exclusion of all else.” I was crying out for help, and he, the only person I thought would see it, didn’t even notice.
“I think it was a little, too much for most of the class.”
“Too much for you, you mean. You don’t understand where I get those emotions and you think I need help.” It was written plainly enough on his face.
“No… No, I just think we should stick to painting from now on.” He said, spinning a pencil between his fingers.
“But…” I was going to cry, I just knew it. I ran from the room and almost ran into the crowd of people who were listening in on us, they all wanted to know who had written my poem.
I ran down the empty halls and out to the football field where I sat on the bleachers and waited. I watched the guys run play after play and do drill after drill. I was glad I was a girl and couldn’t play football. I put in my headphones and wrote in my journal. I tucked the poem in the back of my journal, a beaten up old notebook that always seemed to have more empty pages. It was covered in phrases and paragraphs and dates and notes and a whole bunch of painful memories, this journal was my extra brain that remembered all the extra stuff.
“Hey sis!” I heard my brother call. I stuffed my journal into the bottom of my bag and ran down the bleachers. “Todd’s coming over tonight. K?” THE Todd? My only best friend who totally ignores me now? That Todd? Yes, that Todd, he was walking out of the locker room, waving at Joe.
“Sure.” I mumbled and turned in the opposite direction of Todd. How did this happen again? How did Todd become JOE’S best friend? Todd was the only other person who I told what was going on with my dad. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I wanted to scream! I walked a few paces behind my brother and Todd. Looking at their feet.
I crawled in the small back seat of the truck and got my journal back out, drawing a sad representation of Mr. Sample’s tree. When we got home, my mother was still at work and Joe when to the living room and got out his Xbox, a totally useless thing that sucks your time and turns your brain to mush, I made popcorn, that popcorn soon become Joe’s popcorn, but whatever, I was watching my weight anyway.
When mom came home, Todd was still here and I had found it to be safer in my room. I did my daily routine, wash face and brush teeth, big whoop, and listened to my iPod until I fell asleep, I already did my homework.
The next morning I get up early to take a shower and do my hair, something I found I needed to do to keep sane: I had to look perfect. Joe was already out in the car, I ran out to meet him.
“I was gunna leave you!” He says. I turn on my iPod.
I sit through another boring day; I consider skipping Art but Mr. Sample catches up with me in the halls.
“Do you think it would be okay if I told everyone you wrote that poem? You were right; it was unfair of me to not praise it like I did the others. I’m sorry.”
“No.” I say, and turn to go to his class.
He keeps his word and only talks about how to paint with oil paints, boring. I leave directly after his class and watch the football team practice. Then it hits me: it’s Friday. Not that it really matters but Joe will probably have some jock spend the night. Yuck.
Joe lets me drive home, that’s cool. I see HIS car in the driveway and I turn the truck around without a word.
“What? What… where are we going?” Joe turns around in his seat and sees HIS car. “Oh. But mom was home, and I’m here, he probably won’t stay. Hey, come on, he won’t do anything.” I shut him up with a glare. He’s probably right. HE won’t do it again with a varsity football player around. I turn the car around again and pull into the driveway. Joe takes my book-bag inside and walks me to my room. I hear HIM in the living room with my mom. She sounds frazzled and nervous, an in-love kind of nervous, she never knew the monster HE was. I find myself crying and Joe stays in my room.
“Hey, it’s going to be okay. He’s gunna leave. Shhh…” He takes me in his arms and I cry, soaking his shirt with salty tears. He’s the best brother ever. There’s a knock on the door and I jump.
“I know you’re both in there.” My mother’s voice calls from behind the door. “Come look who’s come back.” She giggles.
“Hey, kids! Daddy’s home!” I hear HIS voice. I shake with sobs.
“Just get out of here you animal!” Joe yells. I’m even a little scared.
“Joseph! Don’t talk to your father like that!” My mother says, startled.
“It’s okay Miranda. Can we just talk about it? Jenna.” HE says in his cooing voice. I scream. “Jenna, I’m so sorry. I was… in some trouble but I’m better now! Honest! Please, give me another chance.”
“No. Mother. Please make him leave.” I say in the firmest voice I can muster.
“But… Jenna? What’s going on? Ralf?”
“I should go. I got you the car you always wanted Jenna. Keep it.” HE says.
“You cannot bribe me. Now GET THE HELL OUT!” I scream and run to the door, coming face to face with HIM. HE takes a step forward and I slam the door again. Joe is staring at me with wide eyes. “I’m okay now, thank you.” I say calmly. He blinks.
I hear HIS voice outside and I look down at him from my window. HE looks up and waves, I glare. The minute he leaves I run downstairs and find my car in the garage. How did HE get it in here? It’s a 2011 Ford Mustang, dark grey with light grey stripes. Dude. But I still can’t forgive him. Not until he goes to jail for what he did to me.
“Whoa. This is one awesome car.” Joe runs his hand over it. I smile. It feels funny. I don’t understand why. It’s because it feels natural. “You wanna’ take it for a spin?” He says and grabs the keys off the dash.
“Yes.” I say still smiling. He throws me the keys; I catch them and climb in. I run my hand over the steering wheel and breathe in the new car smell. No smoke smell like in the other cars. I love it.
“Where are we gunna go?” I shrug and back out. I drive to The Ridge, as Joe and I call it. It’s an overhang that you can park at and look out over our whole town in northern California; you can almost see the coast.
“Did I ever tell you how good of a brother you are?” I ask Joe. We’re both sitting on the hood of my car and I’m sketching.
“No. Thank you. You’re a good sister.” He laughed.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to strangle you sometimes but I love you.”
“Do I have my sister back?” He said moving my hair from my face. My face was still sallow, with dark circles under my grey eyes; they used to be blue, but no more.
“Maybe.” I smiled.
Monday came. Mother still didn’t know what HE did, not that I wanted her to. She survived in her thought that HE still loved her. I felt so bad for her. It was January, and cold and wet. I pulled on one of Joe’s old sweatshirts and my old jeans. I drove to school in my new car, awesome. I take notes for once in school. It’s like a veil has been pulled off my senses. I can feel everything; I care.
“Hey,” James Blockwood says while I’m getting my art stuff out. “You’re Jenna right?” I know him from church. He plays guitar for the little kids, though you would never know it from looking at him. He’s tall, I mean really tall, I’m 5’7” and he’s almost a head taller than me in heels, he has brown hair that’s cut pretty short and I think his dad is native American, anyway, he always wears a black T-shirt and jeans, always. I’ve had a crush on him for almost a year. Why he’s talking to me I have no idea.
“You play electric guitar right?”
“Well, I know this is weird, but we need a lead guitar for our band.” Right, he was in a heavy metal band! I knew that. “I was thinking, maybe you could play. Joe said you were really good.” I roll my eyes; I knew Joe was in on this. “Here’s my address, we practice in the basement, just tell my mom your there for the band. Come over after school.”
“Ok?” He takes a pen from his pocket and scribbles down his address and hand it to me.
“Thanks so much! You will do it won’t you?” What should I say? I mean: I want to but do I really want to? What if something happens? What if one of his band wants to go out with me? Then what?
“Of course. I would love to.” Did I just say that?
“Cool! See ya’!” He says and rushed off to class.
I had gotten a guitar from HIM four years ago, same reason HE gave me the car, for my thirteenth birthday. I took lessons and had really gotten good but then I shut down and I haven’t picked it up for a while.
I ran home after school and picked it up, along with my amp. I took out my iPhone and got directions to James’ house, it wasn’t that far away. A tall blond lady came to the door when I rang the bell.
“I’m here for the band?” I made it a question.
“Oh yes! You’re Jenna! Come on in. They’re just getting started, go on down.” She opened a door with stairs that lead downward.
I went down the carpeted steps. Their basement was not a basement at all. There were French doors leading to the backyard, a flat screen mounted on the wall, and there was a mini-fridge in the corner. The only thing that was different was there was a twin bed in the corner and the walls were painted black with posters of all my favorite bands.
“Oh. Hey, Jenna! Guys this is Jenna, she’s gunna replace Rob.” There were three more guys, I found out their names were Paul, Kirby, and Lance. Who names their kids Kirby? They were all wearing black or some neon color, how original. I waved.
“I have to warn you. I haven’t played in a couple of months.” I said, taking out my guitar.
“That’s okay. Here, we’re playing these songs.” Lance hands me a folder. I flip through it. Most of it I’ve played before so this won’t be too humiliating.
“Cool.” I say. Awkward pause.
“Well. Lets warm up.” James claps his hands and we get started. I warm up with a few plucks, then strum the beginning of “World So Cold” by Three Days Grace. Then move onto “From The Inside” by Linkin Park, a song in the folder.
“Dude. You’re good.” Kirby says. I notice they’re all looking at me.
“Yeah. James, you have good taste!” Lance says. I smile.
“Thanks.” I mumble, smiling and tuning my guitar.
We “practiced” for a good three hours before we all had to go. I had friends. Wow. I had friends that made me want to go to school. I had “buddies”. Is this what having a life feels like? Awesome.
“Hey, Jen, do you know where Joe is? He was supposed to meet me but he never showed.” Todd said as I got out of my car.
I shrugged. “He should he here in a few, I think he had something to do.” I really think he mentioned something this morning. “Come on in.” I got out my keys a rattled them in the lock. Todd followed me in.
“I haven’t hung out with you in a while, huh.” He said. I went about putting up all my stuff.
“Yeah.” That seemed to be becoming my word. “You wanna sandwich?” I said getting out the bread.
“Sure. So, what’s up?” He took a seat at the bar.
“Nothin’ much. I might be in a band, how ‘bout you?” I offered him a coke.
“Well, I’m kicker on the football team, but you already know that. I dunno. Nothing too terribly exciting. I heard your dad came back lest weekend. How was that?” I guess he had a right to ask.
“I’m better. Much better. I confronted him, kind of.”
“That’s good.” I placed the sandwich in front of him and flicked on the TV in the kitchen, turning it to the news.
I sighed. There wasn’t any good news. Todd checked his watch and came over to sit next to me.
“There should be a Lakers game on now. ESPN.” I changed the channel and we watch basketball and ate our sandwiches. By the third-whatever-they-call-it-in-basketball we were yelling at the TV. Joe came in at the end, the Lakers won! We jumped up and hugged. Oops. Todd didn’t seem to notice anything wrong.
“Yeah! Go Lakers!” He yelled and high-five-d Joe.
“Sorry I was late, dude. I had to review some stuff with Mrs. What’s-her-face English and she wouldn’t let me leave. How’d your practice go with the band Jenna?” Joe asked me.
“Great. I think they’re gunna keep me on.” I showed my teeth like a good little sister and grabbed my book bag.
“Hey? Aren’t you gunna play COD with us?” Todd called as I started up the stairs.
I poked my head downstairs. Did I hear him right? Me, play Call Of Duty? “What?”
“You ‘wanna play COD?” He asked again.
“Sure.” Whoa. “But I have no idea how to play.”
“We’ll teach ya’! Won’t we Joe.” He nudged Joe in the ribs.
“Yeah. It’s not hard.”
In all truth, I sucked. But Todd and Joe were supportive. I don’t know what happened with Todd, but apparently whatever mental block he had against us being friends was gone now. I had friends. I didn’t have “girl-friends” but I had friends and that was a step in the right direction. I had never really had friends. Except for Todd. And that was because our parents were friends. Yeah, I said parents. People liked HIM. HE was a perfectly normal guy that you would invite over for dinner. HE might have had a huge drug problem, but nobody knew that. Not even my mother. No one knows why HE left. HE just did. I’m really glad HE did, but my mother wasn’t, not to mention everybody else. As I said before, HE was a likeable guy.
The next day school was not all as boring as it could be. Todd still pretended I didn’t exist, but James, Paul, Kirby and Lance talked to me. I smeared some colors around in art; I called it “Being really bored and restricted to only using paints”; if you saw it, it would say that to you too.
“Hey! Jenna!” Kirby called from across the parking lot. He ran over to me.
“You write… stuff. Right?”
“Yeah. Do you?”
“No I mean: yes, I do. Why?”
“’Cus our band kind of needs a name and your… creative.” Huh?
“Kirby, I just started yesterday.”
“I know. But James is kind of the manager and he’s got nothing. And we want to get a gig soon, and that kind of requires a name… so…” So…?
“Fine. Give me some time. I’ll come up with something.” I should be getting paid for this…
“Awesome. You’re the best! See ya tomorrow for practice.” Tomorrow? Okay?
“Hey! Kirby, Jenna!” James called. Why don’t we just set up a block party?
“Hey!” Kirby and I call in unison.
“Jinx.” We both say together.
“The jinx machine is out of order, please insert another quarter.” I mock him. He laughs.
“Hey, so Jenna. We’re having practice tomorrow, same time.” James says, joining us.
“Guess that means I should practice. Huh?” Well, at least someone told me.
“Yeah, that would be a good idea.” James says.
“Kirby – “
“I just said she should come up with a name for the band.” Kirby cuts in.
“Kirby! She just started! Give her a break!” He puts a hand on my shoulder, I cringe, he looks at me funny and removes it.
“Hey. I gotta go. See you tomorrow!” I hop in the car. Why am I having a nervous break down? He just put a hand on my shoulder. It’s not like he touched me, touched me. He was just sarcastically comforting me. No biggy.
By the time I got home I was hyperventilating. I wish Joe were here. Or Todd. They were the only ones who knew, much less understand. I wanted someone to hold me and tell me it’s okay. Why is it that if the touch casual I freak, but I seem to always want to be held if I’m the least bit distressed? I curl up on the couch and cry. I have never been close to anyone but my brother and Todd. And not even that close to Todd. I was never close to my mom, first, because she never understood, and now she’s a workaholic. I drown myself in self-pity until the doorbell rings. I wipe my eyes and go to the door. It’s HIM. I freeze. If I stand very very still he wont see me though the semi see-through door.
“Hello? You know, I can see you.” HE bends down to look though the panel that’s completely clear. “Oh, Jenna. Please let me in. I just want to talk.” I get a surge of confidence I speak in a clear, firm voice. Who knew I had it in me?
“Go. Away.” Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
“Come on Jenna. I was… not right. Joe got me to go to rehab and I’m all okay now. Please let me in?”
“I will not let you in.”
“Fine we’ll talk like this. Do you like the car?”
Yes, but I’m not giving you that satisfaction. I stay silent.
“I hear from your mother you’re in a band. Using the guitar I gave you.”
“Stay away from my mother.”
“She was my wife. I loved her. I still do. Now that I’m thinking straight.”
“Stay away from my mother.”
“I love you Jennavieve. So much. I’m so sorry. You have no idea. I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”
“No.” I was numb. His pleas had no effect on me, the same way mine didn’t, so long ago.
“Please I didn’t mean to do it. I was sick. But I’m all better now. Please let me come in there and talk to you.”
I said nothing.
“Fine. I’ll go.” I watched him leave.
The next thing I knew was that I was calling Todd. I don’t know why. But Joe had said he was sleeping over at somebody’s house (what do guys do at sleepovers?) and I didn’t want to be alone.
“Hello?” He said on the other end.
“Hi, Todd? It’s me, Jenna.” I said tentatively.
“Oh, hey Jenna. What’s up?”
“Can you come over?” What a stupid question of course he can’t come over.
“Sure. You sound kind of choked up, what’s wrong?” He sounded really concerned.
“You-know-who came back. He’s gone now. But I’m home alone and I… I… I don’t… I’m scared.”
“I’m on my way.” Dial tone.
Why was I calling him? He made it clear he didn’t want to come over. You don’t even know him anymore! What are you doing? Stop being such an idiot! He’s going to be here… alone… what if he does… He’s Todd! He would never do that. But you never know. Call him back tell him to – Ding-dong.
“Hi.” I said.
“Hi.” Todd said. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. I’m sorry I called you over. I just didn’t want to bring anyone else into this and I didn’t want to interrupt my brother so… Wanna come in?” Awkward.
“It’s okay. I just want to make sure that bastard doesn’t come over here anymore. I’ll always be here for you Jen, you know that.”
“Let me get this straight. And I don’t want to sound mean but I’m on like a confidence high so deal with it. I should know, from the guy, my only best friend, that didn’t talk to me for four years, that he’ll always be there for me? Yeah, no. Not happening.” It was good to get that out.
“I’m sorry, but I… Well… I mean… I have no excuse. But I want to make it up to you. Can I do that? Will you forgive me for not talking to you for four years? Wow. That sounds… really bad.” Forgiveness? Honesty? Wow.
“Yes. I can forgive you. I just wanted you to understand.”
“Yeah.” Awkward. “So? What do you want to do? Watch TV, play a game, talk, or rather, me listen?”
“How about we talk. About stuff.”
“What you been up to?”
“Nothin’ much. Football.”
“One, like two years ago. It was too much work that it was worth.”
“Oh really? That’s nice. I think…”
“Yeah. So this band, are they nice guys?” I knew he was worried about me.
“You go to our church, James? He’s the lead singer.” Get raped once and everyone thinks it’s gunna happen again. Geeze.
“Oh yeah, I know him. He’s a nice guy. Although, I think I’ve only talked to him once in my life… Doesn’t he have a sister?”
“No, he’s an only child.”
“Oh, wrong guy.”
“I’m sorry I asked you to come over. You didn’t have to. I… I…” I’m crying.
“It’s okay. I just want to make sure you’re safe. You’re the closest thing I have to a sister. Hey, come here.” He tilted up my chin to make me look up at him and held open his arms.
“I – I – I’m ruining your shirt.” I laughed a little.
“Your in luck, I’ve been needing a reason to get rid of this shirt.” He pressed his face into my hair and it felt good. It felt good to be protected in his arms. I wanted to melt into him. I was falling in love with him. Me, broken little me was falling in love. How was this happening? I was broken the past of brokenness, I was ripped and torn, I had the unthinkable done to me and now I was taking a risk and falling in love and trusting someone.
This was evil and selfish of me. I could never have a healthy relationship with him. I doubt he even felt the same way. It was so selfish of me to love Todd. I don’t think I could ever give him what he wanted. Did he feel the same way? I was looking for love in all the wrong places.
Then mom came home early. EARLY. The one time I wanted her gone she came. Parents suck.
“Hello? Jenna? Joe? Anybody - oh! Hello Todd.” She said in her high-pitched fake loving voice. Ew. When did my mother get this annoying? Who was this woman? She was tall with long legs like mine; we had a 32 inch in-seam, she was skinny and had black hair, and she had blue eyes, like mine, now he hair was flecked with grey, lot’s of grey actually, her eyes were more like grey and she had bit puffy black circles under them, and she somehow got shorter. What happened to her?
“Hey Ms. Petrakis.” I quickly wiped under my eyes. Crap my mascara ran. Now I can’t hide it.
“Joe’s at a friends, mom. I didn’t think you’d be home.” I tried to ask if this was going to be a constant thing with my eyes, like you see in movies.
“I had an appointment and thought I’d come home. Want me to order out?” She was awkward. I felt sorry for this stranger that suddenly stepped into my life.
“No, I’ll make something. Todd do you want to stay for dinner?” I guess I should have probably asked my mom first but too late now.
“Sure. I’m home all by myself anyway, my parents went to Italy.”
“That’s cool. Mom why don’t you go change I’ll make pasta.”
“I’ll help.” Todd volunteered.
“No. No I can make something. Umm…” She said, a little fluttery.
“Mom, you burn water. I’ll make pasta, Todd ‘ll help.”
“That’s what I said.”
“Umm… Okay. If you really want to.” Please, I don’t want to have char grilled charcoal, that’s what we had the last time you came home early and made dinner. If I remember correctly, we didn’t say more than 30 words the whole night. Call me pessimistic, but I don’t think tonight is gunna go any better.
She went upstairs and I went to the kitchen. We had stainless steal everything, a flastscreen above the wine and marble countertops. My mom had a “re-decorating” phase after HE left. You see, she works for “Architecture Digest”; she goes all over the country writing articles about famous people’s homes. I think it’s a stupid job, but it keeps her out of the house almost all the time. That being said, our house looks like a mini “Architecture Digest”, believe me, she makes enough money to own half the stuff in those things.
No pasta. No cereal. No milk. Uh oh. The grocery fairy forgot to stop by our house.
“MOM!” I yelled up the stairs. She came down in jeans some fancy top and pumps; this was better than a suit?
“You forgot to get the groceries.”
“Oh no! Oh no, oh no, oh no.” She ran to get her purse. “I’ll go got them right now. Order something. You know where the money is.” And she was gone.
“She just wanted an excuse to leave. Throw me the phone will ya?” I grabbed a menu from the “eat out” folder. “Chinese?” Todd shrugged. “Thanks for having such a strong opinion.” I smiled and dialed the number.
“I’m gunna go get my books from my house, I’ll be right back.” I nodded.
After I ordered I went upstairs and changed into a sweatshirt and old jeans, this is casual. Todd came back and we started working on homework. We ate our Chinese in the kitchen and watched Glee. Mom came home around 8 and Todd went home. I went straight to bed, just to avoid a conversation with that stranger who lives here.
I decided to go all out and I actually dressed up for school. Whoa. I wore an oversized jean shirt and a purple sheer skirt and loafers with my straw fedora. I look good. Even in oversized baggy stuff I have a shape. Who’s perfectly tanned and toned legs are those? Mine? No way. I’m a total nock out! I like looking good. I pulled my mousy brown hair into a bun and headed down the stairs.
School was the bomb. I got A’s on all my tests and I was practically floating on air. I could conquer the world; I could stand up to my teachers. I was free! Wheeeeeee!!!! Life is great. I go to band practice and totally rock out.
“Jenna. Have you come up with a name?” Paul asks.
“Kind of. James you know your first name is Adam? And mine is Eve? Anyone seeing it?”
“Hey. Like Adam and Eve. Right? From the Bible?” Kirby’s light bulb comes on.
“Yeah. I’m working with it but from now on I’m Eve and your Adam. Got it?”
“Okay. Adam.” I laugh. I’m totally getting awesome at this normal stuff. “I gotta go. Hey, do we have a gig?”
“Yeah, two weeks. Can you make it?” Lance says.
“Uh. Yeah. I would pretend to have a life and say I need to check my calendar but I don’t so I wont.”
“Cool. Practice this Friday.” James – excuse me, Adam – says.
“Oh. I don’t think I can go. Joe is having a party and I’m there to make sure nobody had sex on my bed.”
“That’s always important, just practice at home. We have to have these songs perfect.” I leave, Adam’s mom lets me out and tells me to have a great day and that she’s so glad he son is being exposed to girls, she was getting worried about him. I laugh and Adam flushes.
“Even your mom thinks you have issues, Adam.”
“Oh! You’re going by your first name? That’s great. I always liked Adam better than James.” Mrs. Blockwood says.
“See ya Mrs. B!” Lance says and drives off. I do the same.
Guys are fun when you stop being scared of them.
When I get home the yard guys are there. I talk a little with Fernandez, he goes to my school. I go inside and make a pouch of lemonade and set it out on the front step with paper cups for them. I scribble down some homework, not bothering to check them, or even really think about them. I pull out my oil paints, the old ones from when I was little, they still smelled the same. I smiled and started to draw. I held the feeling when I had my first grapefruit, my favorite food, and drew it on the page. Honey dribbled off the side of a lilac in a bowl of water in a field of color. I pulled out another piece of paper and thought of the feeling I had when I went to church and felt God. I started to pray. Not on my knees, not with my eyes closed and my head bowed, but with my eyes open painting a picture. I just talked. I told Him all my feelings, bringing Him up to date with my life, I asked Him questions and somehow He answered, in His own way.
My family was never religious. We went to church on holidays and, back when my mom stayed home on the weekends, we never went out of the house until noon and the car was always in the garage. One time, when I was really little, we went to church, out of the blue. I was probably eight; I tried not to remember anything before 12, when HE left. But the youth pastor told us about how God loved us and how He used the bad stuff in our lives to teach us and strengthen us. I prayed my first prayer that day. I asked God to show me what he was trying to teach me when HE… hurt me. Then the thought soon popped into my head. Just like that. And for a couple of weeks I had peace. Now, I’m not spiritual or anything, and I’m definitely not insane, but this was real, unmistakable God stuff. Why wasn’t I going to church now? I could drive; I had every reason to go.
I looked down at my page. It was amazing. It was abstract but everything about it screamed peace. It was all in primary colors so it was bright and chaotic but… peaceful, somehow. I would eventually frame it and take it with me to every house I will ever live in, this was the milestone in my life where I turned a corner, I started to heal.
Joe’s party doesn’t get out of hand, I’m the only girl there but I mainly hang with Todd. Who cares if I don’t have friends that are girls!
“Hey, Joe! Got any beer?”
“No beer.” I say. Beer + teenage guys + me = not good, beer was how HE first hit me.
“And who are you?” The senior jock says to me.
“Joe’s sister. And there is no beer and there will be no beer. Do we have an understanding?”
“Well if I want to go get beer I can and your not gunna stop me.”
“Hey, Patrick, what’s the problem.” Todd says coming up behind me and taking my hand, I don’t flinch.
“She says no beer.”
“Then there’s no beer. Hand me a coke will you?”
“No beer.” Jock looks at our hands.
“Geeze, Todd. What happened to you?”
“Nothin’. Hand me a coke.” I stare up at Todd. He’s holding my hand, protecting me, backing me, and standing up to a senior. Dude. What did happened to him?
“Okay.” Jock leaves.
“Sorry about that. He’s a real ass.” Todd said to me, still holding my hand. Uncomfortable.
“No, really, I didn’t notice.”
“I hate guys.” I pout and sit on the stairs. A bunch of howling in the living room. Guess who scored a point?
“I can only speak for myself, but I’m sorry.” He takes a seat next to me.
“Thanks, I think. But why do some of you have to be assholes?”
“I don’t know, but it put all the good guys to shame.”
“Beer: the worst invention ever. EVER!”
“I totally agree.” The thing with people with problems: is that if you have a bigger problem than another person, no one can vent or complain to you. The thing is, Todd’s dad was an alcoholic and walked out on him when he was really little, I only know this because I asked, not because he told me.
“Yeah, the football isn’t even that interesting, you can go watch if you want to, you know.”
“Naw, I’m good here.” He smiled at me and took a swig from his coke. I smile back.
I got a phone call from James – I mean Adam. When did he get my number?
“Hey, could we start practicing at your place? Nobody else has a basement. My neighbors kind of threatened to call the cops if we practiced again, they just moved in.”
“Cool.” I said painting my toe nails bright purple and watching Twilight for the billionth time.
“So we can?”
“My basement is cold and damp and dark, but sure, I think there’s a plug for my amp…” I mused. I used to be scared of the basement, and to this day I try to avoid it. It was just as I described it: cold and damp and dark.
“Awesome, we were thinking this Sunday, 7ish.”
“K. See you. Hey, do you know where it is?”
“Uh…” Be fore he could respond I gave him my address. “Ok great, I’ll call the guys. You’re a lifesaver, Je – Eve. Later.” Dial tone.
I flipped off the TV, not bothering to take out the DVD, or even pause it. Joe was in his room, doing homework; I went in there and sat on his bed.
“Hey.” He said, scribbling something down and then turning in his “spinny chair” to look at me. “What’s up? Who was that?”
“Ja – Adam. He’s in the band.”
“Cool. You seem, different. It’s freaking me out: you being all cheery and stuff.”
“Do you ever think about… him?” We both knew whom he was talking about.
“No.” I lied. I thought about HIM all the time. HE was always on my mind, there wasn’t anyway I could get away from HIM. If I told Joe that, he would kill HIM, and I don’t need that.
“Good. You?” What else do you say?
“Good. Hard. Boring.”
I nodded. “Where are you going to go to college? You have to graduate this year.”
“I don’t know, I was thinking Berkeley.”
“That’s like two hours away right?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to go too far, you’d probably be alone till you graduate, and I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
“I don’t mind. I might get a dog.”
“Isn’t mom allergic to dogs?” He asked.
“Yeah, but when is she ever home? I just wont let it in her room, problem solved.”
He laughed. “I guess you’re right.”
“I will miss you though.” I couldn’t bear my brother leaving; he had always protected me and helped me. What will happen when he left?
“I’ll only be a few hours away, it’ll be okay.” He came to sit next to me.
I wasn’t going to cry. “I know. I’m just, going to miss you.”
“I heard you and Todd were hanging out more. You’ll have him.”
“Yeah. I just hate being alone ALL the time. I wish mom would stay home more often. I mean: I don’t and I do at the same time.”
“It’s her way of… coping. I wish I had advice but I don’t.” He shrugged.
I got up and left.
I went to church that Sunday. I looked like an outsider, I felt like an outsider, but I didn’t mind. I would just go to a different church next week. Nothing would deter me from God. That next week the guys came to my house for practice. We were laughing about something Ja- Adam’s mom did when I opened the door.
“Mom?” She was bent over writing something down in the kitchen and on the phone.
“Phil, I’m going to have to call you back. Hello, Jenna, who are they?” Uh… Who are you?
“Um… This is the band I’m in.” I introduced them, they waved sheepishly. “We’re going to practice in the basement. Okay?”
“When were you going to tell me about this?”
“What you don’t know can’t hurt you.’ I mumbled.
“Hmmm?” She started to get all “authority” on me. Who gave her that right?
“Guy’s go on down.” I opened the door to the basement. “I’ll bring down some sodas. Mom, I didn’t tell you because you’re never home.” I said once they were all downstairs.
“Well, I should know, it is my house.”
“You sleep here, sometimes, and you pay the bills. Not that I’m not thankful, but come on. You wouldn’t have cared if you weren’t here.”
“If I wasn’t here right now, would you tell me you were going to have four boys over?”
“That is what this is about? Me having guys over? That’s it? Well screw you! You never gave a s*** about my love life before! And now look, you’re getting all ‘mom’ on me, you were never ‘mom’ before, you should just be thankful that I turned out as good as I did.” I flung open the door.
“You’re not done yet! So nobody knows how you’re going to turn out!” She said.
“I’m seventeen mom. I’m as grown up as I’m gunna get.” I said calmly and walked down the stairs.
They were all staring at me when I came downstairs. They heard all that. Oh no.
“Sorry, I forgot the sodas.”
“We’re good.” Adam said.
“Yeah, it’s cool.” Paul said, setting up his drums.
Guys were so much easier than girls.
Mom didn’t come home early again.
Our gig went smoothly, and I really started to mesh with all the guys. I found a church and started going every week; the pastor was amazing. Joe started filling out applicants and Todd came over almost everyday, or at least called. The holidays came and went. Christmas was uneventful, mom had to go to a conference. I got new paints, a new journal, new guitar strings, and a s***-load of gift cards. Joe got a football (what was wrong with his old one?), money from our grandma, and I got him a signed jersey from some football dude he liked. Todd got me a bracelet.
The second semester of my junior year was easy enough. People started to know me by name. Don’t get me wrong, I was still a freak, but other freaks knew who I was. I joined Chess Club even though I had never played chess in my life, they thought it was awesome a girl as cute as me would even be seen with them, I liked it. I got pretty good at chess, Todd even played with me, I beat him.
Joe graduated and got accepted on a football scholarship to Berkley. Awesome. I came up with a name for the band “Death by Association”. Get it? Adam, Eve, satin’s apple? Yeah. Kirby could play acoustic guitar. Who knew? I was the only one who was allowed to listen to him sing (Ha-ha guys!), he sounded JUST like Elvis Costello, seriously. We’d play with it. I signed us up for a concert contest thingy. It was awesome! We almost won, but we totally rocked out! I mean: we were good. Apparently, someone put our performance on Youtube and I got a call from a guy in NYC about a record deal…
“I’m not really the manager. Nobody really is. We just practice in my basement.” I told him.
“We just want to know if you can come out here so we can watch you and maybe sign a deal. Give you a name in the business, sort of thing.”
“So: you want me to spend hundreds of dollars for a chance, a chance, to maybe, maybe, make a name for myself? No.” When did he even get my number? Where are all these people getting my number?
“No, no. We’ll pay you. We want to listen to you live, you could record and we’ll take care of the rest.”
“Seventy-thirty and we’ll talk.”
“Get somebody out here.” I said and hung up.
I quickly picked up the phone again to call Adam.
“Guess what?” I asked when he picked up.
“Somebody is going to fly out within the week to take us to New York! They saw the Youtube video and want to see more! We might sign a record deal!” I yelled into the phone.
“Ow. And that’s awesome! I’ll call Lance and Paul you call Kirby, tell him all about it.” Dial tone.
The phone rang again.
“Bye!” Adam said when I picked up. I laughed and he hung up, again.
I dialed Kirby. “Hello?” A man’s voice said, obviously not Kirby.
“Hi, I’m looking for Kirby.”
“Yeah, I’ll get him.” His words sounded slurred, he was drunk, in the middle of the day. “KIRBY!” The man called, not bothering to take the phone away from his mouth, ouch. “THERE’S A GIRL ON THE PHONE FOR YA’!”
“Eve.” I said.
“Huh?” He said.
“My name is Eve.”
“SHE SAYS HER NAME’S EVE!” Ouch.
“Dad, stop yelling.” I heard Kirby say.
“Why a girl would be calling you I don’t know, but here.”
“Hello?” Kirby asked.
“Hey. We’re going to New York!” I tried to sound happy, but it didn’t seem right.
“Really, why?” He seemed just like his happy self.
“I just got a call from a guy in NYC and he said he saw the video on Youtube and wants to sign a record deal, maybe. We’re not sure yet, but they’re sending somebody out to take us.” I was having a lot of mixed feelings right now.
“Awesome! Does Adam know?”
“Yeah, he’s calling everybody else. We should go out for pizza and celebrate! Can you come?”
“Sure. Lemme’ ask my mom.” Silence. “Uh, let me call you back.”
“Is there something wrong?”
“Uh, no just, well yeah I’ll be over in a few.”
“You don’t have to if you want to stay home.” I knew what this was like, trying to keep your life a secret, and failing miserably.
“No, I need a reason to get out. Meet you at Pepperoni’s.” He hung up.
I wanted to know what was going on with him, but it wasn’t my place. I sighed and went about calling Adam’s mom to tell her to tell Adam that he should meet us at Pepperoni’s. She told him and he told whoever he was on the phone with. She told me that I was the best thing that happened to her son and she was so happy we were friends. She had always wanted a daughter; I promised I would come over later this week. I loved Mrs. B.
We all met a Pepperoni’s and talked about what we wanted to do. I said I wanted to go, come back in the fall and see what happens. College wasn’t that important was it? Kirby agreed with me. Lance wasn’t planning on going to college anyway. Paul wanted to go to medical school; he was already double enrolled. It all came down to Adam, we all looked at him.
“I think this is a great opportunity, but I want to go to college too.” He looked at the ceiling and sighed.
“I want to go to school too, and it might not even get that far. It’s just for the summer.” I said.
“We’ll go for the summer, but come back in the fall. We have to finish high school. We’ll bring it up again after we graduate.”
“So, are we going to New York?” Paul asked.
“Yep.” Adam said. A smile stretched across our faces and we whooped and hollered and high-five-d.
I stayed up late enough one night to catch my mom between phone calls and emails. I told her that I was going to New York and that I would have a chaperone and it was all good. She, surprisingly, said sure.
We met our manager, he was pretty cool. He told us that we were going to leave “ASAP” those exact words; I think you could call that words. I was packing the night before we left, go figure, I never packed before then for anything. Now that I think about it: that is totally true. Every camp that I have ever been to, Grandma’s funeral, cousin Linzy’s wedding, long drive to Georgia to pick up mom (Todd never told me how she got there), our trip to Canada last summer. Anything.
The band met up at the airport. We all went to Starbucks and they called me a sissy for getting froo-froo coffee, but I said I was a girl, I was allowed to be a sissy.
We got on the plane and I sat next to Kirby.
“I’ve never flown on a plane before.” He said matter-of-factly.
“It’s cool, I guess. I’m glad you got the window seat, those are the best.”
“Why?” He asked.
“I don’t know, you can see everything?” I shrugged.
We sat in silence for a while; I read the magazine I got at a kiosk.
“Are you excited?” He asked my after I put down my “Style” magazine.
“Yeah. I’ve never been to New York City, so that’ll be fun, but I don’t think its really sunk in… you know?”
“Yeah totally. Like, we might me rock stars? It feels so… weird.”
“I know! But I’m excited. It’s nice to get away from California, and home and all that.” I sigh.
“I know what you mean.” It felt like he wanted to leave home more than I did, and I wanted to leave like no tomorrow. I don’t know why, but I find myself saying: “I’m sorry.” And putting my hand on his.
“Why should you be?” He looks at me with a mixture of offence, gratefulness, and hurt.
“I don’t really know. I just… I don’t know, forget it.” I stare out the other window.
“No it’s okay. I… want to talk about it.” He holds my hand, in a kind of romantic way, and for some reason I don’t have a panic attack. I almost like it. I guess being healthy is growing on me. “Just not here, okay?” He gives my hand a squeeze.
“Okay.” I smile a little. I almost want to tell him about HIM, but then I think I don’t ever want to tell anybody anything, and then I almost blurt it out right there. I’m a nutcase.
Transformers starts after we reach maximum altitude, and Kirby and I both bought headphones. He still hadn’t let go of my hand and I don’t mind, after a while I totally forget about it. I’m astonished with myself.
When we touch down in LaGuardia we get a call from our manager. Adam answers it and puts it on speakerphone. “There’s a limo waiting for you to take you to your hotel. I’ll see you tomorrow morning 9AM.” Dial tone. We look at each other with wide eyes. Lance shrugs and starts off to baggage claim we all follow.
By far, I have the most luggage, Kirby (who packed less than nothing) had to help me carry it all to the limo. He looked pretty ridiculous with my pink carry-on bag over his shoulder.
We all got settled in our rooms, I had a separate suite. It wasn’t until 11 that we all got unpacked but nobody was tired so we took the subway to Times Square and went everywhere! They call NYC the city that never sleeps, well, they’re so right! It was 2AM and none of the shops were closed and all of them were still crowded. We grab a pizza and head back to the room. We joke around and have such a good time I forget about HIM or California or anything about my old life. New York is my new beginning.
A week later we had recorded our record. School wasn’t supposed to start for another couple weeks so we decided to stay in NY for a few more days. It was all so much fun until 3 days before we left…
I opened my room, I was alone; the guys were in their room. I flicked on the lights, laughing to myself. I looked up and there HE was. Standing, in the dark in the middle of my hotel room. I heard a blood curdling scream, at first I thought it was a scream from my past, from when I was very young, and didn’t know that HE would hurt me less if I made less noise, but then I realized the scream came from my mouth.
HE started walking towards me. I backed up to the door. My brain shut off from fear.
“Jenna, if we could just talk. I’m not here to hurt you!” HE said. HE practically yelled the last part at me. My scream shut off. HE would hurt me less if I was quiet.
“What… What…” I stuttered trying to form a complete thought but my brain wouldn’t work. “Wha…” I shook my head. “What… Whatdoyouwant?” I said in a rush.
The door rattled behind me. “Jenna? Eve? Are you okay? Lance, call the police.” I heard from behind the door.
“I just want to talk.” HE reached out his hands. I whimpered. I was so helpless around him. Tears streaked down my face. I just wanted to be home.
The door burst open, flinging me into the desk. “Who the hell are you?” “Eve, are you alright?” “There’s some guy in my friend’s hotel room. She was screaming and now she’s bleeding on the floor.” “Jenna, please.” I heard all of that all at once. Blood streaked down my face from hitting my head on a lamp. I was on the floor. Kirby was hovering above me.
I looked up at HIM and HE took the hint. HE bolted for the door and ran down the hallway. My body shook and I broke into sobs. I was light headed, everything was cold and my hands shook, I was sweating buckets, and crying. I felt like the first time HE raped me. But now I had 4 guys around to watch me lie on the floor and recover. I was suddenly 8 again. Blood was coming out of me, not out of a gash in my head this time, but from “down there”. I laid my face on the cool concrete floor waiting to die. I pinched my eyes shut and came back to the present.
I sat on the gurney outside our hotel. A paramedic was stitching up my face and a female police officer was listening to my story. The guys were close enough to hear, but I was too exhausted to care.
“Go ahead, Ms. Petrakis.” She got out her notebook ready to write down my life. I took a deep breath.
“It all started when I was about 7. The teasing got worse and HE started doing drugs, without my mother around. HE said it would be “our little secret”. HE had always been a drinker, but then it stated getting worse. HE would hit me when HE got drunk; at first it left no mark, just a little shove. Then it escalated when my mom left HIM to baby-sit me. HE had taken some drugs, I don’t know what, and something made HIM mad and HE started beating me. Not on the face, HE said HE didn’t want to mess up “my pretty little face”. That went on until HE took me on a “trip”. HE went to go get more drugs and then when HE got back, HE was high, of course, HE raped me. It” I took an unsteady breath. “It bled, a lot. I didn’t understand. We went home and HE told me HE would slit my throat if I ever told. I was 8, so I didn’t tell. Then it was just a regular thing. One time HE pushed me down the stairs. I lay there, in a pool of my own blood as HE shouted at me for being a klutz and stupid and… and other stuff. Then HE made me “clean up my stupid mess!” Then Joe, my brother, found out. Accidentally. He came home early from football practice and saw me cleaning the blood off my… my parts. I was 12. Joe beat my dad up and sent him to rehab. Then it was fine. I guess. My mom went crazy, a little. Joe protected me. I tried to live my life. Then over the past year, HE has tried to come back into my life and “make amends”. This time HE got caught.” I looked shamefully at the ground. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the guys looking embarrassed. Kirby just stared at me. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.