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If You Don't Do Something
Author's note: As a teenager, there have been plenty of times when I have wanted to run away and never come back. Starting over new when times were tough was something I only ever dreamed of. Through Anabelle, I am able to express this view.
There she was again, on the beach, with him. She could feel the warm sun all around her, and could hear the hushed roar of the waves as they crashed along the shore. She felt the love and serenity of the moment fill her up. Ashton had his head turned so that only his profile was visible in the rays of the setting sun. She smiled as she took in this perfect moment. There was nowhere else she would rather be.
“I love you,” she whispered, and reached up to caress his soft brown hair.
For some reason, however, her hand would not budge. As hard as she pulled, it did not move from its spot. Then he turned toward her, but instead of seeing the other half of her boyfriend’s gorgeous profile, his face was blank. Then she heard it. It was soft at first, but grew louder and louder. Suddenly, everything began to fade. It all turned to black, and then to light once more as Anabelle awoke in her bed. In her morning haze, she struggled to find her alarm. Slamming the top of it a few times, she managed to finally end the deafening noise. Drowsy, and depressed from being interrupted from her enchanting date, Anabelle rolled over and continued to sleep.
What seemed like only seconds later, she felt herself being shaken by the foot. Coming to, she realized it was her mother, Gladys.
“Anabelle, wake up! You’re going to be late. Get out of bed! Its 7:00!” her mother yelled.
“No,” Anabelle groaned, turning over to sleep once more.
“Anabelle, you need to go to school. Get up. That next history paper is due today, and I’m not having you turn it in late. And you have that fundraiser after school for the Service Club that I signed you up for. You need to get up, now,” persisted her mother, “I’m leaving before I’m late, but if you’re not in school by 7:30, so help me God, there will be consequences.” Her mother stood, and walked out of the room.
Anabelle could hear her mother mumbling something about eight weeks left until graduation as her footsteps faded down the hall. With a sigh and a push, she managed to get up. The day was bright and sunny, but this didn’t make her feel any better.
I shouldn’t even go to school, she thought, but “so help me god” if I miss another day blah, blah, blah… Sometimes her mother could be so annoying. Actually, these past few weeks, Gladys had been bothersome more often than not. She tried to control Anabelle’s life, and eighteen year old Anabelle was sick of it. She had no freedom- like she was living in a box with no room to move. Anabelle was not allowed to stay out past nine, according to her mother, she could not partake in anything unless it was an extracurricular activity for school, she was expected to spend all her time studying for tests, applying to colleges, seeking out scholarships etc…no boyfriends, it interfered with her education, no junk food, it stunted proper growth and development, no frowning too much, no smiling too hard, no showing too much emotion. Anabelle couldn’t breathe thinking about it. Her patience with her mother was waning. The person Gladys wanted her to be wasn’t who she was, and she tried to show her that. She would come home at midnight after skipping school functions to be with her boyfriend (when she had one), would deliberately hand in assignments days after they were due, and do anything else she could to rebel. She hated school, and wasn’t even sure if she wanted to go to college. She really needed to get away, so she could actually be a kid without having to worry about all the pressure her mother put her under.
She pulled into school at 7:23.
And so it begins, she thought. As she stepped foot in the door, Sally Preston was already there selling hot chocolate for the Student Council.
“Hiya, Anabelly! Are you ready for the bake sale after school? I know I am!” She yelled in her peppy voice. Anabelle really disliked her, even more when she called her Anabelly. The only reason they talked at all was because Alice, Sally’s mother, was one of Gladys’s good friends from high school.
“Yeah, just can’t wait,” mumbled Anabelle.
“You wanna buy some hot chocolate? The proceeds go to kids with cancer,” she replied.
“No money, sorry,” said Anabelle in a flat tone.
“That’s ok! Maybe next time! Wednesday is donut day!”
Anabelle kept walking. As she rounded the corner she saw Mr. Smit, her English teacher.
Oh great, she thought.
“Anabelle, I still don’t have your paper that was due two weeks ago, and you still need to make up the last two tests. If you don’t do something to get these things turned in, your grade is going to remain an F.”
“Thanks, Mr. S***,” she replied.
“Oops,” she replied, sarcastically.
“Detention. After school,” he replied looking right at her. “I don’t know why you seniors think you can suddenly just say anything you want and get away with it. Not on my watch. Yes, ma’am I’ll see you in detention.”
Anabelle gave thumbs up and walked away. The rest of her walk down the narrow hallways was fine. She managed not to run into anyone else she hated, until she rounded the last corner before reaching her locker. There stood her most recent ex, Justin, with his hands wrapped around the butt of his most recent girlfriend, Renae. Anabelle saw them, saw them talking, saw her laughing, and a sudden pang of anger came over her followed by a longing for what used to be. Justin had cheated on Anabelle two months ago with Renae, and had ruined the best relationship she had ever had. She could feel Justin’s eyes on her as she passed by. Glancing at him, she saw him smirk at her, then look away.
Whatever, F you too, she thought, and proceeded to open up her locker.
As she was putting away her stuff, Ashton came up. Ashton was her current boyfriend. He liked working out, breaking the rules, and anything that wasn’t good for him. On the weekends, he would pick her up after Gladys was asleep, and they would do whatever wild things they thought of. Last week, he convinced her to get a tattoo (she got a white dove on her left hip, Gladys was still unaware), the week before, they outran the cops on his motorcycle speeding to the beach at midnight, next week, who knows what they’d do.
“Hey Anabelle,” he said, his tattooed arm leaning against the row of green lockers. His deep brown eyes always looked mysterious, as if you never knew what he was thinking. Anabelle got lost in them sometimes…well, more often than sometimes.
“Hey, what’s up?” she asked, still kind of in a bad mood.
“Uhh…I gotta talk to you,” he replied, awkwardly running a callused hand through his light brown hair.
“Yeah? About what?” she asked, busy with putting away her books, “Are we all set for this weekend? Like, did Jimmy get the stuff?”
“Yeah, yeah, but um, we’re not going. Well, I am, but you’re not,” he shifted his body and leaned his back up against the lockers, trying to keep up with his careless image.
“What? What do you mean?”
“Look, An, I think it’s time we see other people, ya know? I mean you were fun and all, but now I’m ready for some different stuff.”
“Are you joking with me right now? Like, please, tell me ‘cuz it’s not effing funny,” Anabelle could feel her hands getting hot and sweaty, something her body did when she got nervous.
“What the hell?!” she yelled, and pushed him.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Renae looking at them. Suddenly, she said something to Justin (something that obviously took him by surprise and made him mad), and walked over to Ashton. She put her hands around his waist, and looked right at Anabelle with a spiteful grin.
“S*** happens, Belly,” she spat.
Anabelle spent that day in silence while a cycle of emotions constantly played in her head. She was shocked then angry then enraged, heartbroken, confused, and back to shocked. She felt furious one moment then dead the next. How could this happen? What did she do wrong? Ashton’s words played over and over in her head, and Renae’s malicious grin stung every time she thought of it. The bell rang, and she picked up her books and headed for home. That night, she actually studied. It was all she could do to not to cry.
She was in the middle of analyzing Romeo and Juliet when Gladys burst through the door, “Anabelle Elizabeth Wilhart, your principal is on the phone right now, and wants to know why you never showed up for detention. Care to explain?”
“I don’t know, I just didn’t go.”
“How on Earth could you get a detention? Anabelle what did you do? Do you know how this is going to look on your record? You’ll never get into college now! And we worked so hard,” Gladys started to blubber, and Anabelle just rolled her eyes.
“Stop, I’m not dealing with this right now.”
“No, you stop! I cannot believe you would do this to me!” She picked up the phone, “Yes? Principal Sticks? Yes, I am very sorry she never showed up. You can be assured she will be there tomorrow.” She hung up, “You! You are grounded, Anabelle! I can’t take this anymore! I try so hard to make a nice life for you, and this is how you repay me? Just like your father!”
“Yeah, maybe I’ll walk out on you too.”
“How dare you,” Gladys was steaming as she left the room.
Anabelle threw herself on her bed. She was sick and tired of everything. She hated school even more now that she not only had one ex to face, but two. She no longer wanted to study. She didn’t even want to go to college! And Gladys’s pity act was getting real old. Anabelle didn’t want to think anymore. She pushed all her books off her bed and went to sleep.
“Get up. I’m leaving,” said her mother in a harsh tone.
“Just leave already.”
“Fine, I don’t care what you do. Good-bye.”
The door slammed and Anabelle quietly rose. She looked at herself in the mirror.
Should I go to school today? I can’t I really just can’t…but I have to. I can’t let him see that I’m upset.
She took a deep breath, stood up straight, and got ready.
Her hands were hot and sweaty as she walked into the school. Every corner she turned she expected to see him there with her. See them both with their arms wrapped around each other. Every time she thought of them she heard Renae’s voice.
S*** happens, Belly.
Every time she heard it, she wanted to punch something. As she approached her locker, she noticed a box on the ground in front of it. When she looked inside she found all of the things she had given Ashton, or left at his house. There was a picture of them both, an old bra, a half empty cologne bottle, and some other odds and ends. Looking through all the things made her angry. She was about to kick it across the hall when they rounded the corner. She was under his arm, wearing his leather jacket, flirting with him, and he was smiling back. They saw Anabelle and started laughing. In a fit of rage, she picked up the box, and hurled it towards them.
“Anabelle, what has gotten into you? Get down to the principal’s office now!” Mr. Smit had been passing by at just the moment she threw the box.
How convenient, she thought. As she walked down she could hear the roar of laughter from Renae and Ashton behind her. She hated this place, she really did.
The principal gave her two Saturday detentions. One for the box, and one for missing yesterday’s. She was “lucky”, according to Principal Sticks, that more severe action wasn’t taken. Walking out, she rolled her eyes and went to class.
During algebra, she could do nothing but think about everything going on. Her mother was trying to control her every move, hated her existence, her boyfriend broke up with her for the one girl she despised, and she was expected to give up two Saturday’s for getting angry. Suddenly, everything came crashing down on her at once. She could hear the voices in her head.
“S*** happens, Belly.”
“I still don’t have your paper that was due two weeks ago.”
“I am, but you’re not.”
“So help me, God, there will be consequences.”
“Detention. After school.”
“I don’t care what you do.”
“I think it’s time we see other people, ya know?”
“…will remain an F.”
“Anabelly! Are you ready for the bake sale after school?”
“If you don’t do something to get these things turned in…”
“If you don’t do something…”
“Anabelle, can you please pay attention, and share your answer with the class?” asked her math teacher, “Anabelle?”
“No,” replied Anabelle.
“I said ‘no,’” with that Anabelle rose and proceeded to walk out of the room.
“Excuse me! Anabelle Wilhart you get back here this instant!”
Anabelle kept walking, she went to her locker gathered her things, and proceeded out the door.
She didn’t know where she would go, but she knew she couldn’t stay here. Back at the apartment her and Gladys shared until today, she found an atlas. Reading the index, she turned to page G39, and found a large map of the continental United States. Anabelle dug her hand into her pocket, and pulled out a dime. Closing her eyes, she dropped it over the map and waited until she heard the sound of it landing on the book. She looked down to see what it landed on.
“Georgia, perfect. Any where’s better than here. New place, new me.”
She closed the book and went upstairs to pack. She didn’t know how long she would be gone, so she grabbed two large suitcases and packed whatever she could. She had never been to Georgia, but before her dad left, he had told her about the South.
“It’s a warm place, honey, where the sun shines all the time, and everyone down there lives good lives. It’s a good place to be.”
She smiled for a minute, then scolded herself for thinking of her father. It was not something she did often.
By the end of her packing spree, her room looked more ravaged than before. Even with two suitcases stuffed and packed with who knows what, her room still looked untouched. She reached under her bed, and pulled out her savings box. She counted all the money she had, about $550, plus the other $200 from her bank account she would withdraw once she was on the road. That would have to do for now. As she put the box back under her bed, something caught her eye. She reached for it. When she pulled it into the light, she realized it was the doll Gladys had given her for her eighth birthday. The last birthday she had shared with her dad, when they were all a happy family. The doll, once bright eyed and cheery faced, was now covered in dust, its colors fading with the years. Anabelle looked at it for a moment, unsure what to do, but then the words of her teacher came back into her mind.
“If you don’t do something…”
She scared herself with how that sentence could end. She had to leave.
Anabelle walked downstairs, left a note for Gladys, turned off all the lights, then without even turning around, she left the apartment in its darkness and headed for a better beginning.