It’s hard enough being a girl, but it’s even harder being a teen age girl. I am not saying that being a boy isn’t hard, but, really, how would I know? I am not popular, but I have friends. I don’t “run” with one group or another, and I wouldn’t say I fit the “nerd” category because I don’t have have the greatest grades. I don’t study all the time, in fact I don’t really study at all. School is just not something that interests me. In fact, other than my friends, I really don’t have any desire to be there. High school, which anyone who has attended one knows is just one big popularity contest. You are judged by the way you dress, the people you associate with, the classes you take, and what activities your involved in. For example, I play the flute in the school band. Both marching and concert so that makes me a “band geek.” Now ask me if I care, because I can tell you right now the answer is no. Not everyone can play an instrument. Not everyone can run a football down the entire length of a football field or throw a perfect spiral. Not everyone can hit home runs all the time in baseball or softball or make three point shots in basketball. I think you get my point. Everyone has their things they are good at but in high school, all that matters. Everything matters.
My group of friends consists of Malory, by bestie. The one I go to with everything. The shoulder I cry on when I am having bad days and the one I laugh with at all things silly and stupid. My go to girl and I am the same for her. That’s what besties do, right? At least that’s what I thought. Mary, Laura, and Mahleah who I made the long trek through middle school with. We all check in with each other on occasion just to make sure everything is ok, and know that no matter what..we are there when and if we are needed. Autumn and I met because we ride the same bus. I look up to her because she is from downstate and carries herself with confidence. She has a “do not mess with me” kind of persona and she likes to party. Not that I go to any. I can’t stay awake that long. And then there is Mark. My “guy” best friends. My rock. The jean jacket, cowboy hat wearing, bible carrying teddy bear. The kind of guy who sticks with you no matter what. That is until you go off the deep end and he just can’t handle it anymore because he doesn’t like the decisions you’re making. There are other people I talk to. Hang out with in the halls. Sit with in the library. And there are people who just don’t like me because they are the shallow kind of person who “judges a book by it’s cover.” I avoid those ones. Or, at least I try to.
So, how does a girl like me end up where I did? How does a girl who comes from a stable, loving warm home with two hard working parents that spends time with you and encourages you in the things that you do and teaches you things you didn’t know. How does a sixteen year old girl start her downward spiral the way I did? Well, let me tell you. With a boy, of course. My very first serious boyfriend.
After school I had the pleasure of an hour and a half bus ride, because I was the last stop. Mark was a Junior and rode the same bus as I did. He always sat in the very last seat and if you dare sit in it before he got on, he would make you move. I had seen him around school. Walking in the halls. Sitting in class, but I hadn’t ever really talked to him. He would smile or wave as he passed by. So why, on this day did he decide it was time to change that, I had no idea.
I was sitting in my regular seat on the aisle. That’s where most kids liked to sit. It was easier to socialize with everyone if you weren’t boxed in and sitting up against the window, even though sometimes I didn’t mind that either. We didn’t have assigned seats necessarily just seats we preferred. The bus is always pretty loud since everyone’s all hyped up about being out of school for the day so most of the high schoolers kept walkmans and cd players in their backpacks with headphones or earbuds to drown out the craziness. I used them sometimes but today, I was just staring at the front of the bus lost in my own thoughts when I heard my name. I knew who it was, and I thought if I just ignored him than he would stop trying but I did and he didn’t. He yelled my name again.
“Clarissaaaaa.!” all long and drawn out so I would know he was trying to get my attention.
I turned around, and there he sat. Smiling at me. His dark, wavy hair cut short. Big blue eyes behind thick silver framed glasses. His cheeks a rosy pink color like he’s permanently blushing. He wore blue jeans. The kind that have the loop on the side that you can slide a hammer in and carry around. Tennis shoes and a dark t shirt with a picture of a hot rod car on it. I would later find out he loved fast cars. And other fast things. At that moment, it came to me that I never really noticed him before. I always saw him in passing. He always smiled, which I thought was nice but I didn’t notice how cute this guy actually was.
He waved at me. I smiled and waved back.
“I see you around all the time.” he said
“I see you too.” I replied.
I realized then that the people around us had gotten much quieter. Maybe to hear what we were saying since this was a new development or because their conversations had ended for the moment. So I didn’t need to yell for him to hear me anymore.
“So, I wanted to ask you something.” he said.
My stomach flipped and little nervous butterflies started to flutter around.
“Will you go out with me?”
I don’t know why it’s such a big deal when a boy asks a girl out. It just is. Especially when it’s one you see around but never really had any kind of contact with but he has noticed you enough to be interested you just had no idea he was thinking or feeling that way. So the whole thing comes out of left field. So I sat there. Staring at my shoes. Which were new and I really liked.
I felt the bus stop and out of the corner of my eye,saw him stand up.
“Think about it ok?’ he said as he passed by me. Then he was off the bus and walking up his driveway.
Autumn looked over at me and shrugged. I scooted over to the window and watched the trees fly by as the bus started and stopped dropping kids off at their houses, until finally I was home too.
When my parents bought their house it was a one room log cabin with a little hallway that lead to a bathroom. It sits a good ways back off the road down a long driveway nestled in some trees but not too many so there is a nice yard. The driveway has a turn around three big oak trees that has a backboard and a basketball hoop attached to it. There is a fairly large red pole barn, a smaller shed, a trailer where my grandfather has lived for as long as I can remember, and my parents house. After two additions the house is a story and a half, cozy country house, I love to call home. My safe haven. Nothing can touch me there. Off the driveway there is another driveway that leads down to a mile round private lake. My stomping grounds. I have spent many hours swimming, fishing, skiing and snowmobiling around and on that lake. There isn’t one inch of that area I don’t know like the back of my hand.
As I made the long trek down the driveway, I noticed my mom’s car wasn’t home yet. Her and my dad worked opposite shifts so unless he has a weekend off, we aren’t off at the same time too much together, so we really enjoy the times that did happened. I cut through the yard where the horse shoe court used to be and up to the door. After I got in the house, I went through the kitchen and down the hall, dropped my bag in my room and went back into the kitchen. After I emptied the dishwasher, I put the load of clothes that was in the washer in the dryer and went to start my homework. A short time later, I heard my mom’s key in the door.
“Hey, I’m home!” she yelled.
I smiled. She said that every evening when she came in.
“Hey mom.” I said as I came down the hall.
“How was school?”
“Fine. Same ol’ same ol’.”
“I guess so. I did get asked out today by a guy on the bus. His name is Mat.”
“You did huh?” she asked skeptically. “What do you know about him?”
“He rides my bus. I see him in school all the time but never really talked to him. Until today I didn’t even know he like me. Or that he noticed me. He’s cute. I guess I never really noticed him either.”
“So, what are you going to say?” she asked.
“I don’t know yet. I need to think about it.” I said and smiled. “I am going to go finish my homework.”
“Okay. I guess I will figure out what we are eating for dinner.”
But, there wasn’t much success in finishing anything because I couldn’t concentrate. What did I have to lose with this. It’s not every day I got asked out by a guy and he was cute. And he liked me. So, I decided to go for it. I was going to date Mat. Turns out, that was not the right decision I should have made.
The next morning it seemed like my alarm went off a lot earlier than it was suppose to. When I rolled over the digital said 6:45. Time to get up. Throwing my arm out from underneath the warmth of my comforter, I shut the alarm off and sat up. After grabbing some clothes, I jumped in the shower, dried my hair, and got dressed. Grabbed a granola bar and packed my bag for school. By this time my mom had come out ready for work. She looked gorgeous as usual. A very fashionable lady.
“Good morning Clair.” she said as she poured herself another cup of coffee.
“Come to any decision on the situation?”
I smiled at her.
“Actually, yes. I have. I am going to date him I mean it’s not everyday I get asked out by a cute boy ya know.”
I had no idea, what I was actually getting into.
Mom always drops me off at school on her way to work otherwise I would have to get up at five in the morning to catch the bus a little after six. That was just way too early, even for an early bird like me. As we pulled up to the school, high schoolers who had the advantage of having their own cars were pulling in while other parents were dropping their kids off too. After a quick good bye I climbed out of the car and made my way through the double doors, past the office and down the hall to my locker. As I was unloading my books and grabbing my stuff for first period, a river of kids coming off the busses make their way in. The halls were full of hustle and bustle of people talking, laughing, and slamming locker doors. Tucking my notebook and textbook into the crook of my arm I started down the hall to English. Writing short stories, poems, reading good books although I could do without Shakspeare, and having some pretty interesting discussions. By far my favorite class. The teacher was a tall, very skinny soft spoken lady who always wore really long printed skirts. She kept her hair pulled back in a severely tight bun and had a pair of reading glasses either perched on the end of her nose or hanging from a chain around her neck. She tried to be tough sometimes but she was just too sweet.
Just as walked up to the classroom door Mat walked up next to me.
“Hey.” I said.
“Can I walk you to class or something?” he asked.
“I am kinda already here.” I said laughing.
“ Oh. Ok.” he laughed too. “Well, how about next period then?”
I smiled. “Okay.”
“Okay. I will see you then.”
“See ya then.”
The first bell rang as I made my way into the room and sat down at my desk. For forty-five minutes I watched the clock tick the minutes by in what seemed like slow motion. Finally the bell rang and I walked to the door. I didn’t want to rush because I didn’t want to seem over anxious, even if that was exactly what I was. And there he was. Waiting for me. My heart jumped, and the butterflies took another flight around in my stomach. He reached out and took my books, walked me to my locker and stood there patiently as I spun the lock to open it.
“So, have you thought about what I asked you yesterday?”
“Yes.” I answered without looking at him.
“O.K. What do you think?”
“I think you should walk me to my next class.” I replied and handed him my books.
He smiled. That great smile. And so it began. We would hang out in between classes, he came over to our house and met my parents. Things were great for a long time. Then they weren’t.I noticed that he was pulling away from me. Spending lunch down in the gym while I hung out in the hall with my friends. I know what you’re thinking right now. Why didn’t you go down there and hang out with him. He didn’t want me to. At least that’s what he told me. It took a very long time for me to figure out why. I don’t know why I didn’t go see what he was doing. I think part of me didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to see. Oblivion I think is the right word. It’s amazing how things could go from bad to worse, but they did. And I still stayed with him.
Mat and I were standing with in the hall arguing. Mallory and Mark were standing next to us trying their best to mediate.
“You don’t hang out with me anymore. You always go down there.” I yelled. I hated sounding like such a girl.
“This is what I like to do. Why are you being so selfish!”
“I am not the one being selfish! You are!”
“Mat. Man, why don’t you just hang out with her today and go back down to the gym tomorrow.” Mark said trying to be helpful.
“No! I shouldn’t have to give up what I want to do on my lunch because it’s not what she wants to do.”
He turned to walk away and I grabbed at his arm. Before I knew it, he shoved me. Hard. My head rocked back and slammed into the brick wall. I felt myself slide down and land on the floor. Stars swirled around my head. I started crying but he didn’t care. He disappeared into the crowd of people and out of my view. Mark took off after him. I don’t know what was said. They argued. Mat went one way, and Mark came back to where I was sitting.
“What did he say?” Malory asked.
“Nothing. He didn’t mean to push her so hard. Didn’t mean to make her hit her head. He just needs to cool down.”
They were talking about me like I wasn’t even sitting there on the floor. Bawling my eyes out. People walking by staring at me. It’s like people who rubber neck when driving by a car accident. A total spectacle and I just wanted it to stop. I hated it. I was not the kind of person who liked to be the center of attention.
When lunch was over and the bell rang. I already had my books and was sitting in class. I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to talk to him. I was so angry and hurt. Asking myself over and over why he was pulling away so much. What did I do wrong? The next two periods dragged by. I just wanted to go home.
When the bell rang and school was finally over for the day I quickly made my way to my locker and grabbed my bag. Walking out to the bus, I thought I was in the clear. I didn’t need to deal with this or him until tomorrow. Then it dawned on me. How could I have forgotten? We ride the same bus. My stomach sank. I didn’t want to fight with him. I just wanted to be left alone. Deep breathes and climb the stairs. He wasn’t in his seat. I flopped down in mine and looked out the window. Only a few more minutes and the doors would close and we would be leaving. Part of me wanted him to come out of the doors, because I wanted this to be alright. But a part of me wanted to pull away from the school before he had the chance. The doors squeaked shut and we were moving. I scooted over and stared out the window. I could feel people looking over at me. I knew Autum wanted to say something but she wouldn’t. Not yet. Not until there were less people around. That’s just how she was. I just stared. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t think anything. I was lost in the nothingness.
That evening at home, mom and I went through the same routine we go through every night. I faked being alright because I didn’t want her to know. I didn’t want her to worry. Shortly after dinner I told her I was tired and went to bed, dreading the next day.
Before I knew it, I was back in school and he was standing there waiting for me. I didn’t look at him. Or speak to him. I wanted him to know how mad I was. How hurt. Maybe he cared. Maybe he didn’t. I wasn’t sure.
“I’m sorry.” he sounded pathetic.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I shook my head. The words just wouldn’t come. Grabbing my books, I turned and walked away. I didn’t speak to him for the rest of the day.
The next day I only talked to him a little bit. The basic one word answers but by the time the week was up I couldn’t be mad at him anymore, and Friday night we went to the football game together. Things were good after that. I didn’t give him a hard time about going to the gym. He came over after he got off work, or after school and we hung out. Took walks down to the lake, holding hands and kissing every chance we got. Nothing more because it never really crossed my mind and I just wasn’t ready. Even though, there were some pretty hot heavy make out sessions. I was compltley in love with this boy.
Prom was right around the corner. Malory, Mat, Mark, Laura, a sorta friend, named Tina, who had a reputation for being “easy”, and I were all standing in the middle of the hall in a circle. I was standing between Mat and Tina. Mark was standing next to Mat. We were all joking around when I noticed a strange look cross Mark’s face. Then I noticed that Mat and Tina were having conversation over top of my head. When I tried to catch what was being said they stopped. I didn’t really think anything of it. I hadn’t ever seen them talking before.
A few days later I ran into Eddie, Tina’s boyfriend, in the hallway. He didn’t look happy at all.
“Hey Eddie.” I said cheerily.
“No, I broke up with Tina."
"Oh no. I am so sorry. What happened?"
"I was walking around town and I walked up on her in the backseat of a a car with another guy.”
“ Do you know who the guy was?”
A pained look came across his face. It was like someone had just stabbed him, or shot him or something. It was awful.
“Yes, but I can’t tell you who it was. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. It’s better if I just keep this to myself.”
I thought that was a strange way of putting it but the bell rang and I left it at that. I don’t know why I didn’t catch the hint or give it more thought. I would think back on this later, and realized what he was saying.
It was finally Prom night. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. I hadn’t told Mat anything about the dress my mom was making except that it was gorgeous. It was a melon color with straps that could be worn over or off the shoulders. The front came up just to the knees but that back was longer. I felt like the most gorgeous girl in the world. I watched Mat pull into the yard through the window in the living room. I wanted to make a grand entrance. My mom’s suggestion. He got out and was wearing an all white tux with a light blue cumerbun. He looked so handsome. I couldn’t believe he was my boyfriend. Mom opened the door and said hi to him. My dad, who was sitting at the kitchen table said hello also and shook his hand. I walked out into the kitchen and his face lit up.
“Oh, wow! You look amazing!” he exclaimed.
“Thank you! So do you. So handsome!”
“I guess we had better go.” he said. “We are meeting Randy and Mary at the restaurant then going to the dance from there.”
After pictures were taken Mat walked me out to the car and opened the door for me. When I got all of my dress tucked in, he closed the door and got in the driver’s side. I was so nervous and excited at the same time. For most couples, or non couples, Prom meant sex. But we hadn’t talked about that at all. So I wasn’t sure how much pressure there was for us. Maybe none since it was never a topic of conversation. Was it expected? What if I didn’t want too? It was possible it would never even come up.
We talked some and listened to the radio on the way to meet Mary and Randy. When we got there he acted like the perfect gentleman opening doors and pulling out chairs. But he didn’t sit next to me. He sat across from me and he wouldn’t make eye contact. It was like his whole mood shifted. I ate in silence. Randy and Mary did their best to involve me in their conversation but it was an uncomfortable situation that made me want to know what was going on and run at the same time. The restaurant was the fanciest one in our little town. Nice decor and lighting with a romantic ambiance. The food was fantastic. I even had tiramisu for the first time that they lit on fire right there at the table.
The Prom was held in one of the ballrooms at the bigger ski resort we had in our area. While our town wasn’t big it was known for two things. Skiing in the winter, and golf in the summer. It was a considered a tourist town. The ballroom was decorated up with low lightning. There was a snack table with cookies, brownie, chips and every other sort of finger food you could imagine. And of course punch. The D.J. was playing dance interspersed with slow music. Everyone on the dance floor were snuggled up to their partners, enjoying the romance of the evening. I danced to all the fast songs, and anticipated Mat asking me to dance to a slow song but it’s never happened. So I asked him. He told me, he doesn't dance. So why did he ask me to the prom if he didn't want to be there? And he didn't dance?
When the dance was over we said goodnight to Mary and Randy, and started the long twenty mile drive home. Me staring out the window, something I was doing a lot of these days, and him driving. No radio. No conversation. Before I knew it, he was pulling down a two track and hiding the car behind a bunch of pine trees.
“What are we doing?” I asked.
“Well, it’s not even close to your curfew yet.” he said and reached across the seat and kissed me.
I kissed him back and I felt his hand on my leg. Bells starting sounding in my head. I knew I needed to relax. He wasn’t going to do anything I didn’t want him to. Right? We kissed some more but I could feel that he was getting anxious. Like he wanted to go farther and I still wasn’t sure I was ready for all that. His hand slid up under my dress. I had nylons on so I didn’t think he would do much else. I was wrong. He turned on his side, facing me and had managed to get his hand under my nylons and into my panties. Right then I knew. I defintly was not ready for this. I grabbed his wrist and stopped him.
“What? What’s wrong?” he asked with a look that was confusion crossed with anger.
“I can’t.” I said.
“Why not?” he yelled. Now just angry. “It’s prom night.”
Like that explained anything. Like it was expected.
“Just take me home.” I said and smashed myself against the door to get as far away as I could.
“I’m sorry. I just thought. We have been going out for a long time now. I thought maybe at some point that we would.”
“I’m just not ready yet. It’s a big deal ya know, and I’m not losing it in a car.” I said angrily.
He sighed. Starting the engine he said.
“I’ll take you home.”
And he did. He pulled in the driveway and waited for me to go in the house before he pulled out and went home himself.
Mom came out into the kitchen when I walked in. Her hair messed up like she had been sleeping on the couch.
“Hey kid. How was it?”
“Good. We had fun.” I answered.
I peeked out into the living room. Dad was stretched out on the end of the couch half asleep watching t.v.
I smiled. Two oblvious parents with no idea what had just happened. How could they. I didn’t act like anything had happened. In fact, I acted like everything was fine.
“I’m wore out. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning” I said and hugged her.
The next day was Sunday. I spent the day laying around watching movies and walking around the lake. The phone never rang and he didn’t come over. So, I couldn’t help but worry what that meant for Monday. What I found out was, nothing. It meant nothing. He acted like nothing happened so I did too. Life went on, and before I knew it it was spring and he was graduating. His mom and dad threw him a huge party. After that he was packing his room up and moving into town to be closer to his job. The day I went over to help him, turned out to be be one of the worst days of my life. The beginning of the end. The beginning of some of the worst decisions I made in my life. Well, aside from staying with him after he pushed me up against the wall the way he did. One right after the other.
The day he was packing he came to pick me up at home. He had asked me if I wanted to help and mom said it was okay with her it as long as his parents were going to be there. He told me they would be. He lied.
As soon as we got to his house, his mom was leaving, taking food to someone she knew from church. She was going to leave us there. In the house alone. We went down the hall to his room. It was a mess. Boxes of stuff stacked everywhere, papers and clothes stacked on the bed. I sat down in a small cleared spot and watched him through stuff into a garbage bag.
“My mom will be pissed if she finds out I was here and your mom left.” I said.
“Do you always do what you’re told? Don’t tell her she left.”
I smiled. “I won’t.”
“So, we’re alone. There’s a bed. What do you think?”
“Your bed is covered in all your stuff, that’s what I think.” I replied jokingly. I knew where he was going with this.
“Do you want to?”
I just looked at him. I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what I wanted.
“I’m not sure how much I am going to be able to come see you from town. And if you love me you would want to do this. You love me don’t you?” he said sadly.
“Are you breaking up with me?” tears welling up in my eyes.
“No! Not at all. I am going to come see you as much as I can.
He came over to where I was sitting and kissed me. I kissed him back. He laid me down on the bed and one thing led to another. That’s the day I lost my virginity. Despite telling him to stop. Despite all the tears and telling him how much it hurt. Despite wishing it was over while he plowed on. And not gently either. When it was over I just stayed where I was. Like a wet rag. I couldn’t move. Every muscle in my body hurt from tensing up. My head hurt from crying. And other parts hurt from being torn into. I was so sore I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to walk again. He climbed off of me and stood up.
“I am going to take a shower, wanna join me?”
I shook my head. No, I didn’t want to shower with him. What the hell was he thinking. I couldn’t move. How much of an ass could this guy be. I knew that already though. He proved it time and time again over the last year and half.
An hour later, after a glass of red kool-aid as a consolation prize for losing my virginity,he took me home. Mom was at the door waiting for me.
“I thought his mom was going to be there with you guys.”
“I didn’t know she was going to leave mom. How did you know?”
“She brought a motorcycle helmet over wanting to know if your dad wanted it. So what happened?”
“Nothing mom. Nothing happened.”
I lied. Of course I lied.
I loved him. Or at least at the time I thought I did. But that would change a very short two weeks later. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to have my heart ripped out of my chest.
My grandmother lived in a town an hour and a half away from us, and we would often make trips there to see her. The fourth of July week everyone was there. Aunts, Uncles and especially cousins. The kids did their thing while the adults did theirs. As a kid, we loved the freedom we had. This time was different. Something was bothering me. I missed Mat. I knew that, but there was something else. An anxious feeling like I needed to talk to him. So the first thing I did when I got home, was call his house, but he wasn’t home. His mom didn’t know where he was or when he would be home. I was pissed. He knew what day I would be home. I didn’t expect him to be sitting on top of the phone but this seemed like he didn’t miss me.
Later that evening the phone rang. It was Mat and he sounded bad. There was a lot of noise in the background so it was really hard to hear him.
“Hey.” he sounded miserable.
“Hey. I called your house earlier but your mom didn’t know where you were.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I was at a party last night and the cops got called and I ended up in jail for the night. I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I think maybe you should be with someone better.”
“Wait, what? Your breaking up with me? Over the phone. So, you got what you wanted then right? I finally slept with you and now your done with me!” I started crying. I could not believe this was happening. “Is there someone else.?”
“It’s not like that I promise. I know that’s what it looks like but that’s not how it is. I didn’t just stay with you to sleep with you”
“You are a lier.” and I slammed the phone down.
Within an hour he was standing at my front door. I was beyond distraught. Inconsolable and extremly angry. Mom knew we had broke up. That was all she knew. I was dealing with all the this alone.
“What is he doing here? I don’t want to see him.” I yelled.
“Just get it over with and be done with it.” Mom said as she stirred something at the stove.
I opened the door as he walked up, tears were streaming down his face.
“I never meant to hurt you.”
“Yeah, but you did didn’t ya?” I spat. I was having a hard time trying to not slap him across the face or punch him in him in the nose.
“ I have been seeing Tina.” he blurted.
“So, you have been cheating on me. With a hoe. That explains a lot.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” he said again.
“Fuck you!” I growled through gritted teeth. I slammed the door and turned to walk away. I stopped by the pantry cabinet trying to catch my breathe.
“Keep walking. He’s still by the door.” mom said.
I turned the corner and went into the living room. I heard his car start up and he was gone. I wouldn’t see him again until fall. A cool night at a football game.