I PULLED down the sleeves of my blue sweatshirt as I heard some girls walk in to the washroom. I needed to get out of there before I rose suspicion in anyone. I gently rubbed some water on the cuts and blew on them. I winced.
I had to get out.
The chances of me---getting caught---cutting my forearms were very high but still, I did it anyway.
I looked down at my forearm and remembered the tally marks I made on my skin with a blade, everytime I kept failing myself and everyone around me.
Self-love was hard when you didn't know how to love. I didn't think it was enough. I wasn't enough for myself. I needed more.
Pretty colored eyes, slim thighs, long fingers, perfect health, straight teeth, something to love myself for.
I didn't hate myself but I hated that I couldn't be myself; nothing was enough when I couldn't find a reason to stick up for myself.
I had to get out of my head.
I stood up to open the bathroom door but suddenly noticed the stain on my sleeve. The bleeding didn't stop. Quietly, I opened the door peeking out to see if anyone was there and after I find the coast clear, I skipped out; slipped a hand into my bag searching for a band-aid.
And I found none.
The door handle turned making me panic. I threw my arms, elbow-deep into the bag so that it would only look like I was searching for something and I definitely was.
I looked at the mirror; the first thing I noticed were her freckles. She was one of the senior cheerleaders, walking in pulling on her hair. I didn't know her name.
Well, I didn't know most of the kids' names even though I had been in this school since forever.
The bell rang as soon as she came. But I couldn't leave yet. Not without stopping the bleeding.
As I stood quietly in the position, I didn't notice that she was staring at me in the mirror.
"Junior?" She asked.
I shook my head. "Sophomore."
She hummed to herself nodding. "The bell rung. Didn't you hear?"
I swallowed hard. "I did but-"
"Why do you have your forearms inside the bag for so long?" She quickly asked, her face foreshadowing suspicion.
I stuttered. "I- I was looking f-for my-"
"Is there something wrong?" Her forehead wrinkled.
Sweat broke from my body. "Umm, I need-" I stopped myself before taking a big breath, spitting the words out. "I need a big band-aid that can cover 1/4th of my inner forearm."
The senior had a strange look about her face as she walked closer to me.
"What's your name?"
She gently pulled out my arms from the bag and looked at the bleeding tallies.
I answered, "Summer."
She took in a sharp breath which sounded painful. "How strange," she said touching the side of the cuts, inspecting them.
"That's my name too," she added, her voice dull. The senior calmly grabbed her bag and pulled out 4 band-aids and started applying it on while tears broke from her emerald eyes.
I suffocated with the lack of context. "Are you- are you okay?"
She finished doing her work and looked up at me with a melancholic smile; a smile that tore into my heart.
Her showed me her wrist and there was a tattoo... A semicolon. Right next to the stitch marks on her wrist.
I gasped, a tear falling from my eyes. "You too...?"
"Please don't cut yourself," she begged me with pleading eyes. "Maybe the world was harsh to you but, if you do this, that would be the harshest thing you'll ever do to the people who thinks the world of you."
"So, it'll be like a cycle," I replied but felt that everything poured out of her mouth was ridiculous.
"A loop. Yes," she smiled.
"But it's not that easy-"
I sighed, pressing two fingers on the band-aids. "I have to go," I blurted out harshly because I couldn't listen to anything anymore. The silence was killing my insides and I needed the noise of my classmates to fill-in the emptiness in me.
Summer suddenly grabbed me by my elbow and calmly added, "Don't do anything that you'll regret. But if you need anything... You know where to find me."
I glanced up at her from my arm and gulped nodding in agreement. "Thanks, Summer."
She smiled and let go of my arm. I stormed out of the bathroom without speaking another word again. Let us not meet again, at least not in the same circumstances.
Her words fell on deaf ears. If stopping me from criticising myself was easy, I would've done it sooner. She probably got help from her parents, her siblings, friends or her relatives.
I was helpless. I was drowning in the ocean of my thoughts and I saw no boat. Nor did they see me.
I didn't even realise I was staring at a wall until a guy crashed into me, not mannered enough to apologise.
"Sorry," I blurted out even though he was the one who ran into me.
"Don't stand in my way," he frowned and pushed me to the wall before stomping away like a grumpy toddler.
A girl followed him, yelling incoherencies and I visibly cringed. Was this highschool or some divorce court?
The marble walls started to twist and turn. Colors started to fade, my vision blurred. I looked down at my hand and suddenly noticed that my sleeves were drenched in blood. I rolled up the sleeve and found the band-aids leaking. What the heck?
Tears started to fill my eyes, a drop falling on the cut.
Did I cut too deep? Was I losing a lot of blood?
As I fell on my knees, I thought, words cut deeper than the blade I used. It didn't just cut through my skin but also pierced through my soul.
('I wish you weren't born! You caused me so much pain, broke my back and now I have to take a load of medicines everyday, I became diabetic at a young age! Thanks to you!'
'Sienna, shut up!'
'No Michael, she has to know what she did to my body. What she did to my body that makes me take a lot of pills and now look what they are doing to my mental health! You life wrecking wi-'
Slap. I was blamed for it too. What did I do wrong?
When I regained my consciousness, Dad's worry-struck face met my eyes and I instantly closed my eyes. I couldn't with his pain. I could imagine every possible advices he would give me, and everytime I did things wrong, he would blame himself. He had a problem of self-blaming; I could see the roots of my self-criticism very clearly.
Muffled voices could be heard and I recognised some voices as my head teacher, Mr. Raymond; my favourite teacher, Mr. Finely; my dad, Michael Porter; the school nurse, Tabitha and unfortunately, my mom, Sienna's too. Two other voices could be heard too but I couldn't point out who it was from the voice-recognition memory bank.
They were talking about how I collapsed to the floor, sleeves soaked in blood and they also mentioned two names that sounded somewhat familiar to me: Dillion and Puja.
Maybe they were in my class? I wasn't sure.
I peeked through my eyelashes and saw mom's red face, a big frown and panic-fear stricken eyes jumping from one face to another. I was so caught in the moment and couldn't think twice, and ended up cutting lines on myself.
Finally, I decided to fully open my eyes. I suddenly made eye contact with the boy who pushed me aside in the hallway. As I was about to open my mouth and speak, he whispered something in the girl's---Puja's---ear and soon they disappeared.
The rest of the day went in fast-motion. That day was the first time I had ever seen my mom genuinely concerned about my well-being. I shouldn't feel this way, but I was happy. I was happy because she was scared for me for the first time.
And that felt more than enough.
Now, I could finally see why Caleb hated that outfit of mine. It was stained with my blood at the end of the sleeve.
A silly yellow stain; a reminder of a bad memory. The truth of my mental state.
Alright but, the questions lingered. Why did I hate myself? What was so wrong in my awfully 'perfect' life?
The answer was: I had no reasons to love myself but a lot of reasons to hate myself. And when there's plenty of people in your life to remind you of how useless and humiliating and disappointing you are, it's a bonus. Shameful birth,
if you should know, was the exact title my mom addressed me to. Now, wasn't that so kind of her?
Talk about my appearance.
Not very shabby but not the prettiest either.
I looked--was--chubby. With the fat thighs and freckled face, inhaler dangling from my pocket, red nose, braces, and spectacles, I cosplayed Ugly Betty in my everyday life. I felt like her too.
My dad told me that they'd love me when we moved from Florida to Texas but things only became worse. I mean, yeah, that's the least a parent could say, right? He won't say, "Sweetie, try impressing people with your skills or personality because you wouldn't get even a needle with your looks."
Maybe he should've said that because that would push me to tidy and polish my personality, maybe even construct a few new ones for certain people so I could fit
Some people hated the hell out of me.
But I never really expected anyone to like me anyway. Deal closed.
Saoirse used to remind me how beautiful I was, on some Sunday evenings during our daily run. But she’s not here anymore.
I still saw Caleb and his blonde bimbos crowded against the school locker, making up gossips and spreading rumors about people, laughing at their misfortunes and silly mistakes.
Why were they mean to everyone?
We've got our own Mean Girls
but the Walmart edition.
We've had Camila Carter
for Gretchen Wieners, Cassie Smithe
for Regina George and Isabelle Locke
for Karen Smith.
Everyone fitted into the places except Caleb. Isabelle's boyfriend--Caleb Carter--
was mean but pretty easy on the eyes but, Aaron Samuels was quite the opposite.
I wouldn't call them the Plastics because they were too iconic. These guys would be called Polythene instead.
And there's no Cady.
I used to complain about them to Logan and he took care of it but it didn't have a lasting effect on him. He bullied and embarrassed me in front of everyone and act like he wasn't the one who got his ass beat up by my bodyguard.
"Hey look! It's the freckly Teletubbie!" laughed Caleb, his amber eyes twinkling with mischief. Ah, speak of the devil.
"Leave me alone," I managed to say.
Seconds after the words left my mouth, I felt a cold liquid flowing down my head and onto my face.
I opened my mouth to curse, "Hey what the-" and there came again, the cold smoothie hitting the back of my head.
"Take that, glasses!" said Camila yanking my bag pulling me to the floor along with the bag.
"Loser," spat Isabelle and chortled like the pig she was.
"What do you guys want from me? Let me go!" I cried while Cassie and her cheerleading chipmunks grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled me up.
"Aww are you gonna cry now, Bummer Summer?" Camila chirped nastily.
Out of nowhere, a big bag of confidence was offered, but just to shatter my self-esteem. Again.
My face suddenly turns into furious scowl. "Screw you, Camila."
And with that, a big hand came down on to my cheek, leaving a burning sensation and an impression of a hand.
I whimpered in pain as Isabelle crushed my hand under her dirty heels.
"Watch your mouth, you ugly bitch," spat Camila as her eyes twinkled wickedly, clinging onto Caleb's shoulder.
"Look out for yourself, chicken." croaked Isabelle, her lips twitching as she fights back a laugh.
Caleb was about to help me up when a strong voice was heard. "Caleb, leave her alone."
Everyone's head turned to look at one of my classmates. I couldn't remember his name. But he's deadly hot tho-
"Matt, stay out-"
"Come on Cal, leave the girl alone," he stated so calmly and I wondered why and how that guy wasn't shaking with fear.
Both of them stared at each other for a second and then Caleb rolled his eyes, sighing. "Whatever dude," he said and backed off pulling his girlfriend and his twin along with him while Isabelle stared at Matthew annoyingly.
"Quit staring at him, Belle. We've got a class to get to," called out Camilla and I snickered.
Matthew smirked at Isabelle. "Later losers!"
"Shut up!" The four of them chorused making us laugh.
How in the world did he tame the Polythenes?
"Why don't you take care of yourself, Bunny?"
I scrunched my nose and huffed, "I was about to, then you came!"
"Of course!" He mocked, "I saw your little ass getting kicked by them and had to save you and you decide to be ungrateful?"
"I didn't ask for your help," I rolled my eyes and shook my head trying to get rid of the tiny ice cubes in my hair.
He scoffed, "Oh, I see." He poked the tip of my nose and said, "Then let's call them again back, shall we?"
My eyes widened in horror. "N-no!" I suddenly grabbed his hand.
He slowly eyed my hand on his and smirked with amusement.
I stuttered. "N-no, don't. I'm sorry."
He shook his head. "That's not what I want to hear."
I pouted. Ahh now I remember his basic-ass name.
Internally rolling eyes I blurted out, "Thank you."
He smirked. "Very well then. See ya, later Hunny Bunny." With that, he disappeared.
Eventually, the morning drill came to an end.
My mouth was filled with blood. You know, the struggles of having braces. They started flowing into my mouth the moment Camila's hand met my face. I hoped I didn't have a bruise on my cheek.
And there's no time to use the washroom. I guess I'd had to swallow the blood.
Like I usually did.
“Why do they still do that to you?” asked the voice in my head that I've had recognized as Saoirse's. I closed my eyes and took a breather, imagining Saoirse's frowning face.
“Because you are not here," I replied vaguely as I felt my head spinning and the veins beneath my skin thumped hard against them.
"I'll be back at night," she said and before I could bid her goodbye, she vanished and went back in my head; the place where she had always been ever since it happened.
“Who are you talking to?” asked the class clown Tom aka Talking Tom, as he pulled me up and gave me a pack of ice from the nurse’s office.
“No one," I lied and forced a smile.
“Summer you can talk to me, you know," he said in a soothing tone but I can imagine where the conversation will turn.
'Just LOSE some weight,' he would say.
“Where were you when they were hurting me?” I asked him looking straight at his shiny brown eyes.
"Sorry Sum, you know that I'm not strong enough to protect you. Just take my advice and lose some freaking weight," he said with a concerned look. Okay, but what's with the nickname, curl-head?
"My weight has nothing to do with the fact that I get bullied," I said annoyed and pushed him out of my way; walked into my classroom hiding the ice pack behind my back.
Did I smell like an iced smoothie?
"Good Morning, Miss Porter. Nice choice of glasses today," cooed my optimistic English teacher, Mr. Fenley.
Couldn't he see the slap mark on my face or had it disappeared already?
"Good Morning, Mr. Fenley. You don’t look bad yourself," I complimented with a toothy smile, ignoring my insecurities that started a stampede in the back of my brain.
He flashed me an appreciative smile and waved me away to my seat but said something behind me, "You smell... sweet."
Yeah, I just took a shower with the bimbo's iced smoothie.
I quickly put the ice pack in my bag and sat.
"Go up to your seats, kids, and get ready for our quiz," he announced merrily like he always does.
What quiz was he talking about? Was I missing something here?
"I think it's about the drama he was teaching us," said a voice behind me.
How come Saoirse knew about it and I didn't?
I turned and saw Perfect Patrick smiling weirdly at me.
“I’m sorry?” I asked and he repeated,
“Mr. Fenley was teaching us the Shakespeare's drama, Hamlet. Remember?"
“Oh I see, thanks," I said smiling awkwardly, and turned around to face my teacher.
“Any time," he said behind me and I remembered to ignore him for the rest of the class.
The morning part was always quick and I had no idea why it was like that. I slowly walked towards the free seat with the food tray in my hand and Tom waved at me asking me to sit down with him.
I smiled and walked up to him and sat down even though my mind told me to run away and jump in a well.
'One more month and they'll be gone, I repeated in my mind like a mantra as I bit down on the apple slices.
One more month till the school closes for the summer vacation and after that, I’d be a Junior.
Caleb and his gals won’t be there to bully me. They will graduate and get out of here.
"What are you thinking about?" asked Tom nudging me with his elbow.
"Nothing," I said as I continued to nibble on the piece of apple which is almost done eating.
"Oh and you have a pink color growing on your cheek," he pointed out and I murmured under my breath, "Thanks to Camila."
As if my cupid was summoned, (like I had one) Mr. Fenley appeared in the cafeteria with a paper in his hand. It looked like a halfday leave-pass by the way he was holding it.
His eyes kept searching for someone and it stopped when his eyes locked with mine.
"Ah, there you are Sweet Summer," he said, the voice booming in the area.
Yes, that was the nickname Mr. Fenley gave me just like he had given to everyone in my English class.
Everyone was motionless and stayed quiet as they watched him approach me.
Oh god, not another wedding invitation for me. Please god.
The young teacher beamed with those ‘Spidey Glasses’ as the girls say and held out his hand for me. I took it and he helped me up.
“Summer, you have another invitation.”
I sighed and took off my glasses, wiping them with the hem of my shirt placed them back on my nose.
“Not another wedding invitation," I whined as he gave me the card which he was hiding beneath the pass.
He blew his cheeks and let out a awkward chuckle as he said, “It’s a graduation ceremony actually. From...” he trailed off trying to remember the name and nodded thoughtfully.
“Mr. VanHueson, I assume," he added, “You are invited to their son’s graduation.”
“Why is she welcomed to some random dude’s graduation? She is a Nobody," I heard some girl murmur behind me.
“Quiet, Miss Rupert," commanded Mr. Fenley coming to my rescue, and added something softly which was loud enough for anyone to hear as it was pretty quiet here.
“The perks of being the politician’s daughter," he said stressing the word ‘politician’.
“And Miss Rupert, she is a very important somebody. Do you get me?" He spoke with a dangerous tone that even I was surprised.
Why was he always so nice to me? Was it because I was the Mayor's and the infamous Criminal defense Lawyer's daughter? I wasn't sure. Or was it because that the entire school staff had declared me as an endangered specie?
But all I knew was that being the politician’s daughter wasn’t a perk at all.