Self Hatred

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Chapter 4

School this week isn’t so bad and by that I mean Daphne has left me alone and so does Brandon and Jason.

It’s like our little weekend never even happen.

And I honestly don’t care.

It’s easier to pretend it never happened anyways.

They ignore me, Tara bounces anytime she walks past Brandon, and my dad is barely home.

Tara said she’s going out with Brandon on Friday night, and she practically sings her excitement on the way to school Friday morning.

“What are you going to wear?” I asked, laughing at her joy.

She radiates her own perfection, her lips are glossy red, her black jeans are holey, and her knee high boots click clack against the pavement in the parking lot.

“Something sensual, but classy...” She said, tapping her slender, manicured finger against her chin as she walked past his old beat up car.

Tara paid him no attention as we walked, and as I glanced over at Brandon, I think it bothers him just slightly.

He straightens and although his eyes are hidden behind dark sunglasses, I know he’s watching Tara walk by confidently.

I can’t help the smirk that tightens my lips.

Brandon matches my smile.

Tara is quite the girl.

I grab her hand. “You’re bad...” I whispered.

She looks over and winks. “All the best girls are...” She said.

I take one last look behind me where both Brandon and Jason are now leaned against Brandon’s car, arms crossed, staring at us.

It’s the first I noticed that they have matching sun tattoos on their elbows.

The day passes easily.

A pop quiz greets me in English and Math, but I’m confident I ace both.

By the time lunch rolls around, I’m almost walking on clouds. Almost.

I walk into the lunchroom and there, at the safety of my table, are Brandon and Jason.

I take my time in line, grabbing a banana, a turkey sandwich, and a pudding.

Anything I can fill my tray with, anything that will tick away the seconds.

I’m only in line for 7 minutes, 8 by the time I make it over to where Tara has a seat saved for me.

Daphne and Tim have now joined Brandon and Jason.

I’m sandwiched between Tim and Tara, across from Jason, and I’m nervous because my safety blanket speaks quietly to Brandon next to her.

“Hey babe...” Tim says, throwing an arm around my chair.

“Hi...” I said quietly, picking up my sandwich and taking a large bite.

“Should you really be eating all those carbs?” Daphne asked, her lips curls in disgust. I look down at my tray. It’s just a normal lunch. “I mean, you could stand to lose, what, 20 pounds?” She asked with a confident smirk.

I’m taken back, and usually I’d have a strong retort, but I’m taken off guard by their intrusion at my table.

I continue looking down, swallowing not only the lump in my throat, but the bite of turkey sandwich I just took.

“Don’t be a bitch, Daph...” Tim said in my defense. He pulls my chair closer to his and leans into my ear. “You look fine...” He whispered.

I nodded at Tim and let him kiss my cheek.

I’m suddenly not hungry. I push my tray away gently and wonder if I can scoot away to the library or something.

Just as I decide to escape, Jason leans into Daphne’s ear and whispered something.

She peels back and smiles, standing to walk away.

I settle back into my seat as he watches her walk away.

After a few minutes, my stomach settles and my nerves loosen up.

Tim rubs my back and plays with my hair.

Taking a peek at Jason is easier than I thought.

While he doesn’t have a lunch in front of him, which I find odd, he’s slugging back a carton of chocolate milk and listening to Tim carry on about some guy gypping him out of two ounces.

“I don’t know if he thinks I’m a fucking idiot or what...” Tim said but is cut off by Jason.

“He probably does...” Jason said jokingly, leaning back in his seat, one arm around Daphne’s empty chair.

Tim gives a sarcastic laugh and bends to kiss my cheek.

“Catch ya later, Babe...” He said sweetly.

His public displays shouldn’t weird me out, but they do.

Jason watches the encounter more blatant than I watched his.

After a couple minutes, I play with the pudding on my tray.

“Don’t listen to Daph... She’s bulimic...” Jason said. But that simple statement shows compassion and it pisses me off.

I shook my head, grabbed my pudding, and walked up to the lunch line to fill the top with sprinkles.

When I return, Brandon and Tara chat away about the best pancake toppings. I want so bad for these misfits to go away so I can have my friend back.

It’s awkward when half of the 4 of us are talking and the other half aren’t. But that all changes when I sit down.

“Sprinkles?” Jason asked.

I nod and sort of smile to myself.

“My mom used to put them on...” I began but then I stopped, looking down at the chocolate pudding and rainbow wax.

I can hear my mom’s soft voice in my ear.

Her eyes would sparkle anytime I had something sweet.

She always kept a huge container of rainbow sprinkles for any occasion.

"Our secret..." She’d say with a wink.

Once, she even put them in my oatmeal.

“I remember...” Jason said calmly.

When I look up, his eyes are on mine finally.

I hate him in this moment.

His stupid hair and those eyes are still the same.

Rose red lips and fair skin.

Eyes that make me dizzy.

How fucking dare he.

What, has he had time to get over whatever I did?

Has he finally forgiven me for the wrong doing I still don’t even fucking know I caused?

Is this his way of moving on after 7 years of bullying, betrayal, and silence?

Red creeps into my neck and swallows my cheeks whole.

My eyes shoot lasers.

I have to get out of here.

I remember in the meadow that day of her funeral.

The look of pure pity and tear tracks that stained his cheeks.

The sun in his hair and the last day I had him as my best friend.

I glance back up at him and he’s just opening his mouth to say something else when I grab my tray and roughly stand.

The scrape of the metal on linoleum catches Tara’s attention, and when she looks at us, she knows somethings up.

“What did you do?” She asked him while glaring.

My heart beats into my throat as I dump my tray and bolt out of the double doors.

I run to the library and past the circulation desk.

I run behind the last row of books and flatten my back against the bare wall, sliding down to my bottom.

Minutes tick by.

The bell rings.

More time passes.

I can hear the door of the library open and close and then I hear her boots against the thin fabric of the carpet.

Tara finds me and slides down next to me.

Her arms wraps around my shoulders, pulling me in.

“You okay?” she asked finally. I nod. “I forget sometimes he used to be your friend...” She whispered. “Was it about your mom?” She asked.

After a moment I nod. “It was stupid... I don’t know why I lost it...” I admit. “She used to put sprinkles on everything...” I explained. “Ice cream, cupcakes, even one time on mashed potatoes...” I said with a chocked laugh.

“Ew...” She laughed. “Was it good?” She asked.

I laughed with her. “It was awful...” I said.

It feels good to bring her up in a normal context, remembering her for her silliness and not cursing her for getting cancer.

I smile softly as Tara tells me her mom once caught a pan on fire trying to boil water.

When the bell rings, we stand and head to the last class of the day.

“Tara, do I need to lose 20 pounds?” I asked her self-consciously.

“Never...” She said with a smile, kissing my cheek.

It’s Friday night and I’m bored.

Tara just texted me

"Brandon’s picking me up in 10 minutes. What kind of underwear should I wear?" ~Tara

"None." ~Hailey.

"Slut." ~Tara

20 minutes later, I text Tim.

"What are you up to?" ~Hailey

"Thinkin bout u. Wanna cum over?" ~Tim

I stop the eye roll before it happens.

"No car." ~Hailey

"I’ll get u. Send address." ~Tim

I think about it before I text him the address of the abandoned house across from the playground.

I’m sure if he wanted to, Tim could ask around for my address, but I don’t want him knowing just yet.

I slip on leggings and a slouchy sweater before heading down the to playground.

20 minutes later, I can hear the rumble of his engine as he turns down the quiet neighborhood.

“I was getting a little nervous, not gonna lie...” He admits, leaning over to kiss me as I get in the car.

I let him.

This must have surprised Tim because he leans in deeper and runs his tongue across my bottom lip.

“Let’s go before someone robs you of this nice car...” I said.

“Would that happen?” He asked seriously.

“Anything is possible past the train tracks...” I said honestly.

Tim and I sit on his couch and watch the end of a movie before he makes a move.

His hand travels around my waist and up the hem of my shirt as he pulls me into kiss him.

Eventually, I end up on my back with him above me.

Tim isn’t a horrible kisser, honestly, but there aren’t a lot of fireworks.

When he pulls my sweater off, I let him because what the hell.

If Tara is getting some, I want some too.

Next is my bra that he struggles with, so I arch and help him unclasp it.

“Your tits are amazing...” he breathes, leaning down to taste each nipple.

Tim settles between my legs, rocking into me every now and then.

After a while, he asked. “Can I?” While pulling at the waistband of my leggings.

I nod, letting him sit up to pull spandex down to my knees.

It’s not very comfortable, in fact it’s very awkward, all of this, but I want to feel something.

I want to be a normal 17 year old girl who gets felt up by the star football player.

Tim dips his fingers into my underwear and smirks.

“I like my girls well manicured...” He whispers into my ear.

I’m sure he means it to be sexy, but it’s not.

He has a hard time finding my clitoris, and at one point I have to tell him he’s rubbing my pee hole and to please stop because it hurts.

Tim sits up and tries again.

He stares at me, watching my face as he presses large circles to the left of my clit, and I don’t have the heart to tell him to stop, so I fake it.

It’s the best performance by a lead actress this decade because next thing I know, Tim pulls me up and onto my knees and begs me to get him off.

“You don’t even have to put it in your mouth, Hails, just wrap your hand around me... Please... Fuck...” He grunts, palming himself over his pants.

So, I throw him a bone and give him a hand, pun intended.

He’s long and very skinny.

His shaft becomes engorged and swells to a purple-reddish color just before he grips my wrist after a few strokes.

His dick dribbles cum slowly and I wonder if that’s all there is to it.

His hips lower and he relaxes, so I guess it is.

“Thank you...” He whispered. “Wow, Hails, I didn’t expect…” He trailed off. “When I invited you over I didn’t mean for this to happen...” He said.

Instead of responding, I ask for a rag, and he jumps up to grab one, cleaning me off.

All is said and done by 11pm, and I fake a yawn, asking him to drop me off at the playground.

“Not home?” He asked suspiciously.

“I meet Tara there on Friday nights...” It’s not a total lie. There are some Friday nights we did meet up here. “You’d be saving me a trip...” I added.

“Oh, okay...” He said.

We pull up and Tim leans over to kiss me.

I don’t want to, but I kiss him back.

“I’ll call you tomorrow...” He said.

I shut the door with a nod.

"SOS. Playground ASAP! Hope you enjoyed Brandon’s dick." ~Hailey

I text Tara after awhile.

Surely they’re done, right? I mean, it only took Tim and I 10 minutes.

"Coming!" ~Tara.

"That’s not the first time I heard that tonight." ~Hailey

"Oh my god!" ~Tara

Not even 5 minutes later a car pulls up and it’s Tara and Brandon.

He sits on the swing next to her and for some reason, I don’t feel embarrassed to admit the comings and goings of my evening.

I guess the bottle of moonshine she pulls from her bag doesn’t hurt, either.

“Did you come?” She asked.

“He thinks I did...” I said.

“Your first hook up and you had to fake it? Oh fuck, I’m sorry...” She said sadly.

“He couldn’t find my clitoris!” I wheezed. “He was rubbing my urethra! My pee hole, Tara! And then, and then! And then he asked me to get him off...” I said but she cut me off.

“He did?” She asked, hanging on to my every word.

“Yes! I threw the poor guy a bone and jerked him off...” I said.

Brandon listens intently. He laughs when it’s funny and nods when it’s not.

“What was his dick like?” Tara asked with a giggle.

I grab the bottle and take a shot, chasing it with the can of coke she provides.

“The whole thing was just weird... I feel bad...” I said.

“Small, huh?” She asked.

“I don’t know... It was the 1st one I’ve seen with my own 2 eyes! It was long and skinny… Like a pencil...” I explained.

“Oh fuck, he’s got a pencil dick...” Brandon said with a laugh.

“And when he…” I began, trailing off because I’m suddenly embarrassed.

“When he what?” Tara asked.

“When he, you know…” I tried to explain.

“Jizzed?” Tara offered.

“Yeah, when he jizzed..." I said with a giggle. “It wasn’t like the pornos I’ve seen where it goes, like, everywhere… It just sort of… spilled out...” I explained.

“Spilled out?” Tara asked.

“Yeah, like dribbled out... Like it threw up a little...” I said.

At this point, Tara is wheezing from laughing so hard.

She falls off her swing, and so do I.

We’re a mess of laughter and tears on the old mulch below us.

Dust settles into the night air around us.

We catch our breath and finally sit up, and that’s when I notice him.

He’s leaning against the pole behind Brandon, his arms crossed, looking like the devil in a black Haynes shirt.

Pale skin mixes like creamy milk into the deep black ink of his tattoos.

I wonder again about the forest of trees climbing up his forearm.

“When did you get here?” I asked.

Jason just stared. “Somewhere between your lost clitoris and Tim’s pencil dick...” Jason began but Brandon cuts him off.

“You bring the shit?” Brandon asked.

“As asked...” Jason said, dropping his backpack at Brandon’s feet.

“It’s not lost!” I yelled drunkenly to the stupid boy in all black.

Jason smirks subtly.

He stance says annoyed, but his lips look playful.

“Oh, yeah? Have you found it?” Jason asked.

I don’t dignify his question with a response, but my squinted eyes and crossed arms, sloppy and exaggerated from too many shots, match his annoyance level.

With no other words, the 2 boys walk down the grassy hill onto the blacktop and start their graffiti.

I have to shake him off. Literally.

A chill creeps up my spine and spreads like tiny hairs tickling my skin.

I feel it harden every goose bump until my stomach somersaults and settles.

“Tell me everything...” I said to Tara as soon as I’ve recovered.

“I had the polar opposite evening...” Tara admits with a smile. “I didn’t have to guide him anywhere... That boy... No, that man... Knew the way around my pussy like he’d been there before... He made me come over and over Hails...” Tara said, leaning back in the swing, totally satisfied.

I laugh so loud I was sure I’d woken up whatever crack addict was passed out in the alley down the street.

I fall backwards out of the swing and land back first on the mulch.

Tara falls too, and again, we are one ball of besties, laughter, and ease.

This is the best night I’ve had in a very long time.

“And?” I encouraged.

“And what?” Tara asked.

“Was he a pencil dick like Tim?” I asked.

She scoffs and shrugs. “I wouldn’t know...” She said.

I look at her like ′what are you talking about?’, but she smirks devilishly.

“He got me off, Hails... Not the other way around...” Tara proudly hmph’s next to me in satisfaction.

“Was he mad you didn’t?” I asked.

“Nope...” She said honestly. “Brandon’s so used to getting what he wants when he wants it... I’m here to teach him that Tara Matthews bows to no man...” Tara said proudly.

We spend the evening there, on our backs, counting stars and airplanes and bats as they fly around the ink-stained sky.

Occasionally, the boys down at the courts would laugh, but mostly the white noise of spray paint cans fill the silence.

I know Tara is tough, but I can’t stop this nagging feeling of hurt or suffering or pain that eats at me.

I’m not sure if it’s my own or Tara’s, but I feel compelled to say, “Be careful, Tara...” I said in a serious tone.

Tara nods in understanding.

She’s not like us.

Tara acts tough, but she comes from good.

She’s not used to the let down, the hurt, the disappointment.

Sure, her mom ran off, but her dad’s been a solid parent since then.

Tara’s trauma isn’t less, but it’s not the same.

Brandon and I?

We’re pieces of shit.

We’re molded together using the same worn, infected thread, anchoring us into a hole, a life, we’ll spend most of our adulthood trying to climb out of.

But we can’t because it’s filled with mud, and the walls crumble from our struggle.

“I’m trying...” She finally whispered back.

Just before 1am when the street lamps turn off, the boys finish up, and we pile into Brandon’s car.

I’m too drunk to walk home, so I don’t even fight the ride.

We drop off Jason first, and I watch as he sneaks to the back where I know the window to his room is.

Nostalgia almost rips a cry from me, but I swallow it and look away.

Too many times we’d climb out of his bedroom window when his parents would fight, it’s how we first discovered the meadow.

The meadow.

A place I haven’t let myself dream about since I was 12 and Jason called me fat in front of his friends on the same day my dad called me, "Maggie".

Next is Tara.

Brandon helps her out and into the house quietly.

He could have just left her on the swing on her porch, but he gets her settled on her couch and I watch as he turns on the lamp next to the TV.

Back in his car, he quietly drives us away from our friends’ 3-story, manicured home, across the train tracks to where we belong.

Long weeds stand tall, victorious from the fight between gravel and brick and concrete.

They force themselves through cracks in the exterior and never waver in wind.

“Last stop...” Brandon said as he pulls onto our street.

He parks at his house but he walks me to mine.

My dad’s car is in the driveway and I swallow hard.

If I hadn’t sobered up by now, this definitely did it.

“He hit you lately?” Brandon asked quietly.

I don’t even deny it this time.

I’m too exhausted to make up a lie, so I don’t.

And for the first time, I feel relieved.

“Doesn’t happen a lot...” I decide to tell him a half-truth. “Just when he’s...” I began to say till he cut me off.

“Really fucked up?” Brandon finished and I nodded. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before...” He said. “You ever hit back?” He asked.

I shake my head and look down.

I could never, what would happen if he kicked me out?

Or the neighbors heard and called the cops.

CYS would take me and everything I’m working for would be for nothing.

I can feel the tightness in my chest and my breaths quicken.

Brandon doesn’t press me for more information.

“Tara is nuts...” Brandon admitted with a smile.

“She definitely is...” I agreed.

Shaky breaths turn from nervous to relaxed as I think about my best friend.

I climb the lattice to my window and undress quietly.

My dad’s drunken snores sound all the way up stairs and under my door like a white elephant.

It’s heavy and greasy and I can’t stop my hand from grasping my throat.

I’m choking on the uncomfortable sensation of living as a stranger in a place that should feel safe.

Over the next few weeks, Tim walks me to every class, Daphne ′accidentally′ bumps into me any chance she gets, and Tara and Brandon play hot and cold.

“Wow...” Tim said to me on a random morning. “Your hair looks really good...” He added.

I slept at Tara's last night, our water got shut off and the city couldn’t get someone to turn it on for 2 days, and I let her curl my hair.

Tim’s fingers move in slow motion to the tips of my hair that sit atop the swell of my breast, a place Tim sunk his teeth into just last weekend.

Tara really had a field day with that.

Just as Tim curls his fingers into my hair and leans to press his lips to mine, Daphne shoulder checks me from the back.

“Twat...” I muttered, rolling my eyes.

Tim smirks and shakes his head, leaning down to kiss my cheek.

“See ya, babe...” He said.

I shutter but not in the way you’d think after a cute boy calls you babe.

Tara saunters over to me, directly past Brandon who pays her absolutely no attention.

With his back against the dark gray, metal lockers, he chews on the end of a pen cap as he watches Jason and Greg discuss whatever the hell they’re discussing.

Anytime I ask her what’s up with them, she evades, so I know she’s not ready to talk about it yet.

It should hurt but it doesn’t.

I understand secrets.

This is day 10 without talking, and enough is enough.

So, at lunch, I push her for more.

“I’m not folding first, Hails... I’m a strong bitch...” She said permanently.

I shrug because okay, whatever. I don’t tell her it’s been 2 weeks since he’s been at the playground, or 2 weeks since I’ve seen him walking around the neighborhood, or 2 weeks since he’s even looked in my direction.

I don’t care one bit, in fact it makes it easier, but I can’t stop my brain from screaming ′he knows!′ every second of every day.

In school, he acts cool, calm, collected.

Sometimes he watches Tara as she prances past him.

No smile, no frown.

He’s totally blank.

Neither Jason nor Brandon stop the onslaught of name calling Daphne and Megan put me through.

“Skank...” Daphne sad in the hall one morning.

“Cunt...” Megan retorts.

I look at them like they’ve grown 4 heads.

Surely not me, a girl who barely made it to 2nd base 1 time, is the skank here, right?

I apply for a part time position at the public library and get it!

50 cents above minimum wage, 15 hours a week.

It’s not a whole lot, but it’s a start.

Tim asks me out the last week of September, and I oblige.

Maybe I can teach him where my clitoris is.

Tim picks me up from work on Friday night and we head to dinner and movie.

Cliché, but okay.

The movie theater is packed full of students from our high school.

I recommend a seat in the back, and quickly regret it.

Hopefully he doesn’t think this is me inviting him to get it on back here.

I mean, maybe if the theater wasn’t so packed, or maybe if it was someone other than Tim, but then I rescind that thought.

Don’t be a bitch′ I thought for the rest of the night.

Tim grabs snacks and drinks while I save our seats.

The few rows in front of us are empty for now, and I take the time to sit back and judge all of my peers because I’m a horrible, judgy bitch, wait, wasn’t I trying not to be one?

Carla and Mike are practically fornicating several rows down.

Laura talks to Steven so loud I can hear their entire argument.

Stacy and her best friends share popcorn and throw it at the guys in the rows in front of them.

How can these be my peers?

With that thought, a gang of misfits turn left into the aisle and fill the 2 rows of seats in front of me.

Everyone is here.

Daphne, Megan, Carol, Ivy and all of their friends.

Greg, Aaron, Mark, and all their friends.

They smell like Victoria’s Secret body splash, mint, and skunk.

I’m only slightly relieved when I see two prominent boys missing.

Tim comes back with Reese’s Pieces and popcorn with extra butter.

“Thank you...” I said.

He really is kind when it’s just us 2.

In the car, his hand never left my knee.

He let me talk about my new job, and even asked what my favorite books are.

He’s the boy next door, full of charm and sweetness with a dash of bad boy, and I’m still trying to figure out if those proportions work for me.

It’s like he’s got all the pieces, but they don’t fit together.

Tim sits down and leans over for a kiss.

I don’t know why, but I deepen it just slightly.

Tim takes the opportunity to cup my neck and press his lips harder against mine.

He feels warm and kind and safe.

I let him kiss me until Daphne turns around and makes a gagging sound.

“Try a little less teeth next time, sweetie...” She teased.

“I don’t think I’ll take lessons from the girl rug burn on her knees...” I sneer.

Daphne pulls the bitchiest part out of me, and I shouldn’t let her get to me but I do.

Knowing where she comes from, seeing her house worse off than mine, should be eye opening, we’re battling demons.

She’s about to open her pretty red lips again, but a tall boy in a dark hoodie plops into the seat next to her.

He doesn’t turn around, but I know it’s him when he puts his arm around Daphne and the black edges of the forest tattoo spill out from under his arm.

It’s wrapped in plastic and I wonder if he hurt himself.

Half way through the movie, and I’m bored to tears.

Tim, engrossed in the gore, only has eyes for the screen.

Jason still has an arm around Daphne who hides behind her hands.

Aaron and Carol make-out 2 rows up.

Greg and Megan whisper in each other’s ear every and now and then, and Brandon, wait, Brandon?

I lean forward getting a better look. Brandon?

He’s sitting next to, who is that?

Some blonde with long hair.

I text Tara.

"What the actual fuck. Brandon is here at the movies with some blonde tramp." ~Hailey

"For real?" ~Tara

"For real, for real. The fuck is up? Want me to say something?" ~Hailey

"No, but let me know if they hook up." ~Tara

"On it." ~Hailey

I watch them like they’re the movie.

20 minutes later, he puts his arm around her.

5 minutes after that, he leans in, brushes her hair from her neck, and whispers who knows what into her ear.

He gets closer and closer until he can’t go anywhere else.

The room goes dark in a suddenly suspenseful scene, and I’m on the edge of my seat.

When the theater fills with light, I notice the shine on his wet lips as he pulls back from her neck.

I gasp so suddenly a piece of popcorn lodges in my throat.

“I know!” Tim said. “Can you believe he cut her tongue out?” He said.

Ew...′ I thought internally.

I keep watching, confused about what Brandon is doing, and I fight the urge to yell at him right here.

I settle in my seat and cross my arms, no longer hungry.

I turn my attention back to the movie and notice now that Jason has his tongue shoved so far inside Daphne’s mouth, I’m sure he can taste her tonsils.

They stay this way, both Brandon and Jason, until the movie ends.

“Let’s go...” I said to Tim, standing to put on my coat quickly.

If I don’t get the fuck out now, I’m bound to say something to Brandon.

We make it to the end of the row but get stuck by the rest of the people exiting.

Fuck fuck fuck...′ Is the only thing running through my head.

Brandon and this blonde bitch are right next to us.

He hasn’t noticed me yet, and I pray Tim shuts the hell up before Brandon overhears.

Tim does, but Brandon notices me right away when he turns to look behind him.

“Hi...” Brandon said.

He looks bored. Uncaring, unapologetic, unwavering in his decision.

I glared at him as menacingly as I can before pushing my way into the aisle and exiting the building.

“You okay?” Tim asked.

I shake my head because no, I’m not.

“What the fuck was that?” I asked Tim.

He shrugs. “I don’t even know who that girl is he was with...” He said.

Again, I shake my head, and I let him take me back to his house.

Tonight, his parents are home, but he has no problem sneaking me into his basement.

I kiss him, but the entire time I think about how hurt Tara is going to be.

When Tim puts his hand up my shirt, gripping my breast, I no longer think about Tara.

His fingers rake across my budding nipple, and the smallest moan bubbles out from between my lips.

“God, Hails...” Tim moans into my mouth. “You’re so…” he trails off, lifting up to pull my sweater overhead.

He bends to taste my nipples over the lace of my bra.

When his teeth scrape against me, I arch my back.

This feels good. He peels off my pants, and I let him touch me again.

The search for my clitoris goes as expected, and he takes my squirming as a good sign.

Tears of frustration well behind my eyes, I need this.

“Tim, can you do me a favor?” I asked after a few minutes.

“Yes, anything...” He said breathlessly.

“Put your fingers inside...” I all but demanded.

He doesn’t need to be told twice.

Tim licks his fingers to wet them and slides one in slowly.

His fingers are almost as skinny as his dick, so I don’t feel a whole lot at first.

He adds another, and the sensation tingles in the strangest way.

“Faster...” I asked.

“Fuck...” He spits as he pants.

Tim speeds up.

He rests his body on his arm and hovers above me.

I can feel my breasts bounce as he fingers me.

Maybe I could almost get there if he’d just go faster or harder or literally anything else.

When I snake my hand down between my thighs, something I’ve only done a handful of times since I hit puberty, Tim almost loses it.

He watches me intently as I rub my clit.

I hope he takes notes.

Suddenly, Tim stops.

He sits up and pulls out his dick.

“Oh, fuck, fuck, fuuuuck...” He grunts as he jerks himself off over me.

His cum leaks out onto his jeans and dribbles onto the blanket under us.

I try not to look too disappointed, but the female equivalent of blue balls fucking sucks.

“God damn, you’re so tight, Hails...” Tim grunts. “I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like… and then I…” Tim admits like it makes up for his premature ejaculation issue.

One hour and a very painful vagina later, Tim takes me home.

Before I exit the vehicle, I turn to him and tell him the truth.

“Tim, I think it’s best if for now we just stay friends...” I said.

“Friends?” He asked, taken aback.

“Yeah, I need to really buckle down this school year and with my job, I just don’t know if I have time to commit to...” I said but Tim cuts me off.

“You’re dumping me?” He asked.

“We weren’t really...” I began but again he cuts me off.

“Okay, Hailey... It’s fine... See you later...” He stares straight ahead and guilt consumes me.

Maybe I should have overlooked his shortcomings, maybe he’s the best I’ll ever get, maybe I should get out of the car.

Tim barely waits for the door to shut before he speeds off down my street.

No car in my driveway lightens my mood slightly.

A dark figure walking across the street captures my attention.

It’s him.

I don’t know if it’s my aggression from not getting off, breaking it off with Tim, or my anger for what he did to my best friend, but I boil over.

“Hey!” I called over loudly.

Brandon stops and turns.

The way he smokes his cigarette makes him look cool, and I hate him for it.

“Hey, what’s your problem?” I called.

“What’s up, Dawson?” He called back nonchalantly.

“I said, what’s your deal, Brandon?” I asked barely holding onto my anger or the urge to hit him.

“With what?” He asked totally confused.

By now, I’ve crossed the street and I’m matching his long legs stride for stride.

“With that girl? I thought...” I began but he cut me off.

“You thought what?” He interrupts abruptly.

“I thought you and Tara...” I began but again he cuts me off, and I seriously wanting to slap him.

“Would what, live happily ever after? You thought she’d get over what a fuck up I am? Guess what, people from the other side of the tracks don’t get with us, Dawson... You should know that by now...” Brandon said aggressively.

“Bullshit... Tara is my best friend... She doesn’t care that I’m...” I began my friends defense but he again cut me off.

“Of course she doesn’t care where you’re from, you wont have to provide for her...” Brandon snapped.

“She’s not like that, Brandon...” I said but it’s a lie, and I can’t stop myself from telling it.

“They’re all like that, Hails... The sooner you realize that...” He began but someone cut him off.

“Woah, woah, woah… Who the hell is this?” A male voice asked.

It’s deep and sexy and when I turn around, I’m floored.

We’ve walked down to Brandon’s house, and turned into his driveway during our talk, and now one of the cutest guys I’ve ever seen stands tall in front of me.

“Carl, this is Hailey... Hailey, Carl...” Brandon said, stubbing out a cigarette and lighting another.

“How you doin’, baby?” Carl asked.

“Baby?” I question in disgust. “I’m not your ba...” I began to retort but Brandon cuts me off.

“Watch this one... She’s feisty...” Brandon joked, clapping Carl on the shoulder as he turns to walk to the back of his house.

It’s dark save for the streetlamp at the end of the drive way.

Carl is tall and dark and totally handsome.

Dark brown hair shoots out from his head and fuck me but I just want to run my hands through it.

When he smiles, it’s blinding.

The blush creeps up my neck and lights up my cheeks.

I wonder if he can see it.

“You live around here?” He asked, putting his hands in his pockets awkwardly.

“Yeah... You?” I asked. ′Please say yes...′ I chanted in my head.

“Paradise Valley...” He answered.

“The Valley?” I asked.

“Total Native...” He joked. “Cut my hair in rebellion over the summer... Totally pissed off my pops... It was worth it believe me...” He talks like a surfer, but I don’t mind it. “You got a boyfriend?” He asked.

Not anymore...′ I smiled internally. “No...” I said.

“Sweet...” He said lowly. “Come around back... Let’s chill…” He said. I hesitated. “Unless it’s past your bedtime, princess?” He teased.

I checked my phone. It’s not even 11pm.

“Okay, for a few minutes...” I said. ′But only because you’re hot and only because I’m horny as fuck...′ I said internally.

Carl puts his arm around my shoulder and guides me to Brandon’s backyard.

There’s a fire going and bunch of people that I’ve never seen sit around it.

Old tires line the chicken wire fence, and there’s a tan shed that looks pretty new in the way back of the yard with a light on.

I watch as Brandon exited the shed and locked the door.

Carl and I talk for a while.

Turns out he’s a year younger and met Brandon through a mutual friend.

“He sells me weed... Sometimes pills... Mostly weed... How do you know him?” Carl asked.

“Uhm, I don’t really know him...” I admit because I don’t. “My friend sort of dated or hooked up with him... I don’t really know...” I said.

“Who’s your friend?” He asked.

“Tara Matthews...” I answered.

“Ohhhh...” Carl said, connecting the dots.

“Do you know her?” I asked.

He laughed. “I know of her...” He said.

I can’t help the chuckle that bubbles out.

“Did he talk about her?” I asked.

“Not directly, but that’s guys for you...” Carl joked.

Brandon sits down next to another guy with short wavy hair and packs weed into the end of a blueish-purple glass pipe.

He takes a hit, lighting the weed he just placed in, and passes it to Carl who take the biggest hit I’ve ever seen.

I cross my legs uncomfortably.

I wonder for a moment where Brandon’s parents are, but then shake my head.

I don’t really care, and I’m sure neither do they

“Here...” Carl said, handing me the pipe and lighter.

The end is still hot, and it glows red.

“I’ve never...” I began, but then Carl puts the end to my mouth and instructs.

He held the lighter and told me to inhale until I feel it burn.

When I do, he instructs me to keep it in as long as I can and then blow it into his mouth.

I nod when I’m ready, and Carl puts his lips so close to mine without touching.

He sucks in what I just exhaled.

“Baby’s first shot gun?” He asked.

I shrugged because I have no fucking idea.

All I can think about is his earthy breath mixed with the sensation of his bottom lip on mine.

After some time, he leans in to my ear and I think he might kiss me.

Butterflies swirl around before he breathes in the scent of my hair.

“You’re, like, really fucking pretty... Do you know that?” he asked.

“And you’re, like, really fucking high...” I joked back.

He laughed because he agreed, and I laughed because his bright smile makes me.

Normally, I’d feel weird, unwelcome, unwanted in a group of boys and a few girls I don’t know.

Something about the feeling of Carl’s arm slung around my shoulders makes me feel safe.

For this moment anyway.

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