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"Drop Dead," those were the words I saw everyday. After school, I hide, behind the bike rack, notebook in hand. People scare me, but words scare me more. That notebook was both my safety blanket, and my death wish. Even if I hadn't hid she would've never picked me. But just for memory sake, I hide. She had dried blood and old scars covering the famous fists that I thought would never be seen at this school again. But they accepted her back. No one believed the story told to the judge. They all just said the victim was overreacting, trying to get her back. She wasn’t, that girl was me.
It all started a year ago yesterday. She had black hair, green eyes, and a thick silver ring that never left her right hand thumb. She walked into the school for the first time and smiled. I don't think I have ever seen such an unrefined girl leave such an impression on this world.
I was the cheerleading captain, an A student, head of the welcoming committee, and most importantly a very well respected student. Also known as: Popular. The day she came to our school, I was called down to the office. Principal Evans spoke with ease as he introduced me, "Sorry Rachel, for pulling you out of chemistry, but I was hoping you could show this young lady her classes today. She coincidentally has all but two of the same classes as you."
"Sure, absolutely!" I said. I wish I had known what I was getting myself into that day, but I didn't and accepted the request from my needy principal. "Hi, I'm Rachel," I extended my hand as a common courtesy to the strange, antisocial girl in front of me.
"I'm Marissa," she said curtly. When she held out her hand to ungratefully accept my handshake, I noticed something. Along the knuckle of Marissa’s left hand she had the tattooed letters: D-R-O-P. She noticed me attempting to nonchalantly get a good look at the tattoo and held her fists out one top of one another so it read "D-R-O-P D-E-A-D.” “Do you like it?" she asked suddenly interested in my opinion.
"Uh…yeah, it's kinda cool. I love the font of the writing," I said trying to sound fascinated but polite at the same time.
“Thanks! My dad never thought I would get it but I guess that’s what made me prove him wrong after we had a fight one night,” she said as if a tattoo was no big deal. As the weeks passed, our differences meshed and we became inseparable friends. Marissa and I spent every possible moment with each other gossiping and giggling about other kids and complaining about our parents like every other normal teenager. The more we hung out, the less extracurricular activities I became involved with. But that was just the beginning.
One day we were sitting in English listening to some monotone recording of a guy reading Shakespeare. Marissa and I, sitting next to each other were passing notes.
Marissa: I have a great idea!
Marissa: Let’s make a diary duo!
Marissa: A notebooks, full of all of our thoughts and opinions, but both of us use it!
Rachel: Okay, sounds cool!
I always went along with Marissa. It was like she had this power to make me feel inferior unless I went along with what she said. And so the notebook began. At first the entries were harmless, about boys we liked, teachers we hated, and things our parents wouldn’t let us do. But one day, when we had a fight we wrote in the notebook about each other and passed it back and forth so we could insult each other without actually speaking.
Marissa finally got so mad with the insults that she told somebody who I liked. I only found out when he came up to me and told me he wasn’t interested. Of course, because of that, I became infuriated with Marissa. And that’s when the insult circle/war really began. It really didn’t last very long before we stopped being friends entirely. I told her crush that she liked him. He let her down easy. One by one we crushed each other’s dreams, until we thought nothing was left. My former life of popularity and hundreds of friends had disintegrated. And we both were completely alone, against each other.
Finally I gave in; I went to her house to make up. I had nothing left to lose and she was winning in the long run. So, I made my way to her brick house on Maple Street, the one that in all our times together, I had never actually walked into. I peeked through the window, checking to see if she was in her living room watching TV, or maybe doing something relaxing so I could catch her at a good time. She wasn’t watching TV.
Marissa was there; curled into a ball, like what you are supposed to do when there is a tornado. I looked up, half expecting to see a black sky and being swooped into a tornado funnel, but all I saw was a pale blue sky and a few white, fluffy, cumulus clouds. I looked back into the window and now another figure stood next to the ball of Marissa. The tall figure was an older man, brownish black hair, with a pale complexion. He leaned over her to get a closer look, probably to comfort her about something. No, no that’s not it.
“What is he doing?” I whisper to myself, now hiding in the bushes peering over the window ledge. Out of nowhere his leg started doing a swift repetitive motion, that at first, I thought was a trick of the light. But as I peered through the glare on the window, I realized it was all real.
I ran to the front door and rapped against the piece of wood that separated me from saving my ex-friend, hoping I could get the man who I figured was her stepdad, to walk away from the scene he was creating. He came to the door, “I’m sorry, Marissa is up in her room. She is grounded, so she can’t come out, maybe in a week or so.”
“Um…but-” I started as he slammed the door in my face. I panicked and ran home.
The next day she didn’t show up to school. The words maybe in a week or so kept flashing back to my mind. Carla, an old friend of mine came up to me and asked what was on my mind. All I said was, “I’m not going to let it be a week or so!”
"Uhh...What?" said Carla with a confused look on her face and a few crinkles between her eyebrows. I ignored her as I walked away toward the teacher. I knew what I had to do.
"Mrs. Hark? ...Marissa isn't here today and I think I know why..."
Twenty...Fifteen...Ten...Five...Two...I counted the last thirty seconds in my head as my heart rate steadily increased till I could feel it lurching in my throat, the bell made that annoying sounds that everybody loved to hate. I jumped up, threw my backpack over my shoulder and ran out of class. I pounded down the two sets of stairs and raced for the front doors, till a flash of silver hit me hard in the eye, at the bike rack, where I had left my worn out, rusty blue bike.
"I can't believe you would do that!" I heard a familiar voice say to me as I awoke from crashing against the cement next to the metal bars holding the bikes up, "My step dad did nothing wrong! I messed up, I didn't do the dishes. I deserve to be punished!"
I stared up at Marissa, trying to comprehend the helpless girl that I had befriended only weeks ago. "Marissa, he hurt you...no one deserves that." I felt another pounding fist reach my cheek and push me to the ground with the help of that stupid thing called gravity. When I opened my eyes again, Marissa was gone, along with half of the other bikes.
I reached home just as the pitter patter of rain sounded against the blacktop driveway. I pulled the door open, and instantly was bombarded by my mother, “Honey, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you about what?”
“About your friend! I had no idea this was happening.”
“How did you find out? I only told the teacher, so Marissa could get help! Now the whole school probably knows!”
“No, no sweetheart. I got a call from child services. They need a statement from you because you were a witness.”
“Oh…” was all I managed to say.
The next day consisted of pretty much the same thing. Chemistry, Algebra, English, World History, Music, a fist in my face, and rain. The only difference was a black eye, and I had speak to the woman that said she would help Marissa stay safe; as the week continued, each day Marissa would send me home with a new bruise for taking her away from the life she thought was normal. Although her mother could still see Marissa, her mom refused to leave “Paul,” the light of her life. Also known as: the stepdad.
My mother was concerned with the wounds I had recently been accumulating, but didn’t ask why, knowing I would just lie to her. Thirteen days had passed since I told the teacher the truth. But it wouldn’t be until thirteen days later that the step dad would be thrown in jail, and coincidentally I would end up in the hospital. I awoke with an IV stuck in my arm and bruises covering my body. My parents both stood above me looking attentively at their little girl. My father was the first to speak. First to my mother, then to me, “Karen, she’s awake! Rachel, how are you feeling, kiddo?”
“What happened?” I asked peering around the room, “all I remember is…” my voice trailed off as if it was afraid of speaking the truth.
This time, it was my mom’s turn to speak, “Well someone called an ambulance from an untraceable number, but when they arrived you were passed out and no one was around.”
“Marissa called…” I said in a melancholy tone, “She called after she did it.”
“Did what?” my father questioned in a fearful, yet almost demanding tone.
As I sat in the court room, my parents urged me to be brave and tell the story. The judge looked at me with doubt as I told him that Marissa had given me the bruises. I even showed him the journal in which Marissa and I had made an oath to keep a secret. It had insults from the both of us, and the journal entries I began to write the day I was first hit. He kept repeating the same question in between my breaths of telling him about the after school beatings, “And you’re sure there were no accomplices?”
I kept nodding to the judge and no one else. I couldn’t bare looking at Marissa, who according to my parents was reportedly crossing her arms and staring intently at the floor.
After hours of sitting in uncomfortable court room chairs, the judge and jury had made their decision. Marissa would have a one hundred feet restraining order against myself, but nothing would be put on her permanent record because she was a minor.
So here I am, hiding behind the bike rack, remembering everything that happened in just the past year. Marissa’s school schedule was altered to work around having matching classes with me. My life had slowly returned to normal, although, cheerleading is a struggle with my aching body still going through therapy to recover. The name, ‘Marissa’ was silently prohibited from my house since the day of the court’s decision. But, I still remember clearly the memories of pain and sadness that were revealed about the world to me in just one year. So I sit behind the bike rack, with journal in hand, writing the story of the girl with the words “Drop Dead” forever imprinted on her fists.