Only I See
Author's note: Originally I wrote this for my class, but I took a lot of pride in this as my first ever novella.
BillyI’ve seen cuts going up both of her already scarred arms. It’s no longer skin colored, but red. I don’t think she knows me, but I always see her in the hallways of school. Last time she bumped into me while she came running out of the bathroom. She got a drip of dark red on my shirt. I know what she does… but why? I never saw her smile or talk, so she pprobably doesn’t have any friends. I don’t even know her name, but a lot of kids here don’t. I’ve asked around and nobody knows her, they just see her. Oh wait, here she comes now. We were the only ones in the halls because we had gotten to school late. All the other students were rushed to homeroom already. Her head was hanging down as she slid down against the wall. A tear slowly touched her lips. I walked over to her taking my time, rehearsing what I would say in my head. Do I ask her what’s wrong, or do I just try to change the subject and cheer her up? She’s clearly upset, I can’t really ignore that. Then she might think I’m a jerk hitting on her. I’ll make small talk.
“Hey,” I said crouching down in front of her to see her face. She looked back up to me with big blue eyes. I’ve never seen them before but they are beautiful. “I always see you around… I just never had the chance to ask you for your name.”
Unsure of herself and trembling, she spoke. “It’s… Erica…” Her voice was soft spoken and breaking up. You could tell she had spent hours the morning before school crying, which had only been a few minutes ago. Regardless of that face, her voice was beautiful and it sounded as if she were an angel. I could see the light illuminating all around her.
“That’s a pretty name; I love it!” I smiled at her, moved the hair from her face, and pulled it back behind her ear. The tears slowed down, but her face was still stained and her eyes were all bloodshot and puffy. “What’s the matter?” I asked her as I looked into her eyes.
She looked right back at me as a new tear rolled down her cheek. “You wouldn’t understand, just leave me alone! I don’t need your pity and I especially don’t need your lies!” Then, she ran off into the girls’ bathroom. Frowning, and still on the floor, I wondered why she would flip out on me like that. I shook it off, got up and ggrabbedbooks. It was late and I didn’t need another late slip from Ms. Ungermeyer. She was the worst teacher I had.
The bell starting first period rang as soon as I got there and I got a usual look from Ms. Ungermeyer. I swear that she has something against me. What? I don’t know. I always do my homework, I ace the tests. I mean its English, it’s the easiest subject. The only people who fail this subject are the Spanish kids who talk the whole period. They don’t even talk in English. They talk in Spanish, which gets really annoying after a while. Why can’t the teacher hate them? Whatever.
I shook my head to begin concentrating on what the teacher had written on the board. It was hard though, considering I couldn’t stop thinking about Erica. She’s beautiful. She’s average height, maybe a few inches shorter than me. She’s always wearing dark eyeliner and her hair is sometimes curly, sometimes straight. When she has a nervous look on her face, she usually plays with her sleeves. She wore long sleeves often. When she didn’t, she had gloves on that went up to her elbows. I know it was pprobably to cover up the scars. She wasn’t much for dressing up; I think she’d rather be comfortable. Occasionally, she does wear a skirt or dress. And trust me. I know how I sound. It sounds crazy to me too. I just notice all these things about her.
“William!” The teacher exclaimed and slapped a ruler across my desk. Not expecting this, I jumped up and fell off the chair. “Pay attention!” God, this teacher. I got back up and started copying down the notes from the board. Once she was done talking, there was a few minutes left of class. Everyone began talking so I went over to one of my friends, Mike. He saw me making my way through the kids crowding the door.
“Hey Billy, what’s good?” He addressed me and did our handshake.
“Hey man. Not much.” This was our usual conversation really, whenever we would pass.
“Cool. Hey, I saw you with that chick… I think her name’s Erica? Are you into her dude, because I could easily get her number for you?” I swear good ole’ Mike, always trying to set me up. He’s a good guy though, and having her number would make things easier. Maybe she’d feel more comfortable opening up to me in text message instead of person.
“Actually, that would be awesome. She’s not my type but I need to talk to her about something important.” Mike being Mike begins making winking faces to tease me, pprobably disregarding everything I said about not being into her. The bell rang. Wow, talk about saved by the bell, Mike was really starting to annoy me.
In global history, my phone softly vibrated. I slipped it out and looked at it under the desk. It was Mike. He sent Erica’s number. I tapped the letters “t-h-n-x” out quick, and went right to texting Erica. I saved her number, and then sent her a text message;
Hey… It’s Billy… You know, from before in the hall.
I wasn’t exactly sure why I got her number from Mike. I just want to see if she’s okay because she seemed so upset before. Not seemed. She definitely was upset. I just want to be there for her. Something’s wrong and I need to help her because she has no one else. And teenagers don’t really go to their parents for anything. My door bell ringtone interrupted my thoughts. She texted me back.
How did you get my number? What do you want? I told you to leave me alone! Don’t you get it? I know this is pprobably just a dare from your cool friends. Get close to the invisible girl. It’ll be funny. Make her feel good about herself for the first time in her life and act as if you like her. Classic
After I read her reply, my jaw dropped. “Why would she think all of this? She wouldn’t even know”, I thought aloud forgetting I was in math class. Everyone looked at me; about twenty eyes peering at me, laughter joining in.
“Is there something you’d like to share with the class, William?” All of my teachers call me William when they’re mad at me. I hate it.
“No Mr. Sikorsky, nothing to share.” Upon hearing this, he must have smelt the attitude because he told me to see him after class. Ugh… I wanted to try to find Erica. To see how she’s doing. I need to know what’s wrong with her!
After a class of quadratic equations and confusion, everyone took their time as I bolted for the door. I was not going to talk to the teacher. I need to find Erica. I need to. I speed walked down the main hallway hoping by some luck I might find her. I hope I could find her; we only have four minutes to go from class to class. Luckily, we both have lunch next period so being on time isn’t exactly a priority. The main hallway had displays from the art classes in glass windows. One window showed a picture of a girl coming out of a room. As I looked closer, I noticed the tears on her face, the same tears that were on Erica’s face. That’s when I saw, it was Erica. Someone had taken a surprise photograph of her. While I was still staring at the picture, I saw her out of the corner of my eye. She was right behind me staring at me.
“Why are you looking at that picture?” There was frustration in her shaking voice. Frustration that she wanted to hear, she wanted me to know notice. “Because you’re beautiful, even when you cry…” I paused so she knows I knew she’s angry with me. “...even when you’re angry.”
Her lips parted as if she was trying to say something, but was in a mute. She tried to hold in her tears but there was no luck. As she started crying, she ran into the bathroom.
Knowing I can’t go in the girls’ bathroom to get her, I sat down against the wall next to the door. Kids were passing by and giving me looks, but this was the first time I didn’t really care. I just want to ne here for Erica. She needs someone and whether or not she knows it, I am that someone. I am only a joke to her, a lie. But I need to prove it to her, that’s not why I’m trying to talk to her. I truly think she’s the most beautiful girl in the school. The most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.
The door slams open and almost hits me. Erica runs out. “Come on, Erica, where are you going?” I yell and run after her. She leaves out the side exit from the school and continues running down the block. At least it’s lunch time. I keep calling after her, wondering about the weird route she’s taking. “Erica!”
After about five minutes of running, she slowed to a walk. This helped me catch up to her. “Hey,” I said, coming up next to her and slowing down. “Where are you going?” She didn’t respond to me, as I expected, but the woods came into view. She ducked under a pole and went into a hole in the fence. I followed her, curiously. It’s obviously she’s been here a lot, because she avoided all the branches above our heads and the broken twigs and rocks on the hard-rocky ground. Finally, she sat down on a fallen tree trunk and I kneeled on the ground in front of her. Light fell upon her pale skin. It was close to summer but there was still a pleasant breeze. The trees above formed shadows of funny shapes on both of us. Erica usually wore her hair down, she had side bangs that covered her left eye; and oh, her eyes. It’s like taking the sky and the purest greenest trees and mixing them together. I could stare into them forever; like I was just now.
She looked up at me and saw my eyes locked on hers. She quickly looked away and acted as if she didn’t notice and tucked a piece of hair away. But I know she saw me.
“So why are we here?” I asked, still wondering about her choice in setting. “Did you purposely lead me here?” I waited for her to respond.
“Yes… and no. You followed me here. But I decided, if you really want to talk, its private here. So why have you been bothering me?” I didn’t like her choice in words. I spoke up for myself. “I haven’t been bothering you, at least not on purpose. I just want to know why you… do what you do.” She gave me a puzzling look.
“You know what I do?”
“Yes. The first time I saw you, you got blood on me.” She was quiet, and didn’t know how to respond. I could see she was trying to think of the things appropriate to say, but there was nothing she could say to that. So he continued. “Why? Just why do you do it?” She said, “I have my reasons.”
“No one has a reason to hurt themselves.” I said firmly. I was not about to back down. I’m right… There’s no reason for someone to do that. This was her breaking point.
“You have no idea what goes on in my life or my head, okay? You don’t know that my father drinks a few 6-packs of bud light every day. You don’t know that my parents hit me and beat the s*** out of me and my younger brother who is only five. You don’t know that I am so close to being kicked out of school from my terrible grades. You don’t understand!” She wanted to cry but she looked like she wasn’t going to let herself. Shocked by Erica even opening up to me, I immediately got up and sat next to her. I gently placed my arms around her, one hugging around her shoulder, and the other rubbing her other shoulder.