Maybe this year will be different.
I stood across the road staring blankly at the large, brown building directly in front of me. My eyes trailed across the black, bold font that stood proudly against the white marble plaque, the fierce crest beaming in all of it’s glory precisely underneath. Chestington High. Home to the jocks, nerds, loners, bitches and unfortunately me.
Every day is the same, I stand opposite this building procrastinating on whether I should go inside. See, to some people High School comes easy and it would probably be a little easier for me if I fitted into one of the cliques mentioned above. However I don’t.
I’m just... me.
Clawing air into my lungs like I’m desperately trying to suck out all of the courage floating in the oxygen surrounding me I start walking towards the school. Maybe this year will be different.
As I enter the courtyard I feel like I’m suffocating, subconsciously holding my breath and focusing on my main goal - to get to my locker. In my peripheral vision I eye the jocks getting out of their cars, they always travel together and make an unmissable entrance by booming rap music which bleeds through their speakers.
I just need to get to my locker.
Hearing whispers from crowds of teenagers around me and seeing eyes stalking me from every direction as I make my way through the school grounds. With heat radiating from my cheeks and anxiety that surges through my veins I begin to pace faster. I need to get a head start on the jocks.
I must get to my locker.
My ears are burning, my heart is racing and my tummy feels queasy. But I’m close to achieving my simple goal. Pulling on the double doors and stepping inside I feel myself relax ever so slightly. With another strong inhale I make my way down the corridor stopping at my locker. I’ve done it.
“Olivia girl! How was your summer?” Excited, soft brown eyes focused on mine.
I exhaled and suddenly I realized how hard it has been to breathe these past few minutes. My shoulders became untense and there was a fleeting smile across my lips that didn’t quite make it to my eyes. This was Tia my best friend since kindergarten. My only friend since Kindergarten. She was painstakingly beautiful with smoothest dark skin which was always blemish and blush free, sparkling brown eyes and perfectly proportioned features. Her shiny dark hair dropped down by her shoulders in little ringlet curls and her fashion sense was more ‘in style’ than mine.
In that moment I paused trying to come up with a suitable answer to her light hearted question. What did I do this summer? Nothing. I stayed home, alone for most of it since my parents work away a lot because they can’t bare to be around me. I read a few books which helped me escape the silence of an empty home. I didn’t go to the beach like everyone else, I didn’t go to the carnival, I didn’t go to the cinema or hang out at parties. I was too scared in case I ran into anyone from school so I just stayed at home. How was my summer? ... Lonely.
“Summer was great.” I answered quickly, a little too quickly. “How was seeing your family? I know you haven’t been back to Nigeria in many years so it must have been wonderful catching up again.” I attempted to turn the conversation around so Tia was talking about herself, something that works well with her.
We chatted a little about her summer and exchanged this years timetables to see what classes we had together. We were excited to have geography together and history but sadly, that was all because my GPA was higher than hers for the most part.
Suddenly we were both torn away from our conversation by the commotion entering the school corridor, the jocks. Nervousness bubbled through my entire body and I could feel myself tensing up again. I watched the people around me crumble, some scared (mostly boys), some infatuated with their bulging muscles and perfect faces (mostly girls) and some completely disinterested.
There are four main jocks.
Jordan Peers - A total douchebag, he has no brains - completely dense, over sexulizes everything and is quite possibly the most evilest person alive.
Zak Adams - He’s dating the head cheerleader, though I know their relationship is anything but monogamous. His parents pay a lot of money towards the school so he can pretty much get away with anything and not get kicked out.
Ben Milton - I used to say Ben wasn’t that bad. He’s the type of person who doesn’t ‘look’ like they would fit in with the popular crowd but he made the soccer team because he was a good goal shooter. The other jocks accepted him into their clique but he’s definitely the underdog of the crowd. He knows that himself, which is why he does absolutely everything they tell him to, just to fit in.
Last year we took History class together and he was forced to sit by me. It was awkward as hell at first but then he started talking to me more and more. He was really nice and I started to let my guard down. After a few weeks of chatting he asked me out on a date. I wasn’t sure at first, I’ve never dated and I wasn’t the most confident person. But he was really handsome and popular so I couldn’t reject him. You know where I’m going with this, right?
He was the sweetest guy for two months. He would draw love hearts on my notebooks with ‘Ben loves Olivia 4eva’ written next to them. He would slip romantic poems into my locker which made me smile throughout the day. He would surprise me with a bunch of flowers every now and again.
How could I be so stupid?
After two months of what I believed to be a healthy, happy relationship he asked me to the school dance. Of course I said yes. This was the first dance I actually had a date to. I was beyond excited, I remember a smile being super glued to my face the whole time between him asking me and me going. I used the savings to buy a dress and I splashed out at the salon having my hair and makeup done professionally.
I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Out of everyone in school the popular, good looking and downright lovely guy had picked me. I felt like I was in one of those chick flicks with a cliché plot.
Again, how could I be so stupid?
We arranged Ben to meet me at the dance, I did think it was a little strange he didn’t want to pick me up at my house but as I mentioned earlier, the jocks always travel together so I shrugged it off and headed to the dance for him.
Ben was an hour late. Looking back I see how truly naive I was. I stood by the punch bowl scanning the room the entire time. I was still SO sure he would come. Sixty minutes of people secretly shooting me knowing glances and giggling under their breaths as they swayed to the music with their partners. Sixty minutes of me standing on my tip toes for a better view anytime someone walked through the door. Sixty minutes of holding a fake smile across my face to prove to my peers I was confident I hadn’t been stood up.
Then in they came. The four jocks, together. Instantly drunken eyes pooled in my direction followed by a herd of coiled over laughter. In that moment I knew I had been played. I shrunk to a centimetre high and hot tears furiously rolled down my face. It was the single most humiliating moment of my entire life.
Ben was bad but I have saved the worse until last.
Liam Maines - As young children we used to play together, Liam lives a few houses down from me and occasionally he would come and play in my backyard. We were never really close friends, he would randomly show up on occasion and we would sit in my tree house sharing kiddy secrets, eating snacks, playing board games and talking. It lasted a few years on and off but then I didn’t see him again until we started high school.
By that time it was abundantly clear that he was a completely different person. Liam doesn’t follow anybodies rules. In a nutshell he is Chestinton Highs biggest delinquent, best soccer player, most hottest and most popular male. He smokes, drinks and takes drugs, he sleeps with every girl. He picks fights with whoever gets in his way.
But that’s his business I suppose. If he wants to head down the path of self destruction that’s on him. It’s not what he does that strikes him as the worst jock to me. It’s how damaged he is. His eyes are completely devoid of any emotion. He shows no remorse for anything he does. I think whatever soul he had as a child has been lost to the black abyss of his now personality.
I don’t know what happened to Liam but whatever it was I think it may have broken him forever.