My high school had never been a place I loathed
I strategically placed my books in front of my stomach as I ventured into my early morning AP English class.
A few months ago I would have ran to the front of the classroom and entertained everyone until the teacher arrived.
No, today I slid into the very first desk I saw, making sure to keep my head down, my stomach covered.
I heard my name from across the room and looked up to find a group of students staring at me.
I knew what they wanted with me.
My name was called again.
I didn't answer instead I turned my emerald eyes down to my red English folder and kept them there until the teacher arrived.
"Good morning," Mrs. Lightwood smiled and nodded to the students as she made her way to the front of the classroom.
All the students wanted to be in this class but only a few were chosen.
I had always thought I was one of the lucky ones.
All the students loved Mrs. Lightwood; she treated us as equals instead of students.
I now know that was wrong, we were students not adults.
Mrs. Lightwood stood in front on the projector, "Now, seeing as your junior year is coming to an end."
She smiled as the room erupted in cheers and laughter.
"Today we will be discussing your end of the year essay."
"Oh come on Mrs. Lightwood, don't do this to us," Brandon Cowart cried out as he raised his hands up in the air.
I couldn't help but grin, Brandon was the class clown, always had been since the ninth grade.
Mrs. Lightwood shook her head, "No we don't have to do anything."
More cheers from the students.
"As long as you're not planning to go to college," Mrs. Lightwood's tone was serious.
Brandon groaned as he dropped his forehead on his desk.
"Moving on," Mrs. Lightwood walked over to the projector and began to write something before turning the switch on.
My mouth went dry when her words lit up on the screen.
Why would she pick that subject?
"For the first paragraph of your essay, the introduction, you will need to draw your reader in."
I could hear the beating of my heart through my ears.
Mrs. Lightwood was talking but I wasn't listening.
I was staring at the screen.
It wasn't until I heard a student's voice that I came back to the conversation.
"A need for attention," Kaelie Whitewillow's nasally voice made me cringe, she seemed to be answering a question that came from the teacher.
"That's good Kaelie," Mrs. Lightwood began to scribble on the projection.
My hands were beginning to sweat, was this really happening?
"Anyone else," Mrs. Lightwood looked up from the projector and gazed around the room.
"Stupidity," Seelie Queen chuckled as she gave her suggestion.
"Okay, what else," Mrs. Lightwood's big brown eyes continued to move around the room.
"A lack of self-respect," I blinked, did my best friend really just say that?
"Very good Isabelle, I'm impressed," Mrs. Lightwood gave Isabelle a dazzling smile before turning her attention back to her writing.
I sat there stunned, this could not be happening to me.
"Clary," I heard my voice but I didn't answer.
"Clary, did you not hear me," I turned my head to Mrs. Lightwood.
I wanted to yell at her.
But I didn't.
"No ma'am, I'm sorry."
Mrs. Lightwood pressed her bright red lips tightly together.
"Well now that I have your attention, will you please stand and read the introduction out loud."
It wasn't a request, it was an order.
I wanted to run.
I wanted to hide.
But I didn't.
"Yes Mrs. Lightwood."
I stood from my desk; my legs were shaking beneath me.
I opened my mouth and closed it.
My green eyes fixed on the words that I was supposed to read.
"Why teenage girls get pregnant," my voice cracked as I read the title to the essay.
I could hear the whispers flowing through the classroom.
"Teenage girls feel the need for attention, the need to keep someone or something close to them."
I could hear the laughter coming from the other side of the room.
"Teenage girls do not make wise choices when becoming sexually active with their partner."
I could hear my name being carried around the room.
"Teenage girls that have low self-esteem are unable to say no when it comes to sex."
I stopped speaking.
I stood there frozen.
Tears were filling my eyes as I stared out at my classmates.
I had known most of them my entire life.
I thought that they were my friends.
I thought they would have my back.
I thought wrong.
I could hear Mrs. Lightwood urging me to continue.
Kaelie Whitewillow had answered, need for attention.
Did she need attention in the eighth grade when she gave Jordan Kyle a blow job in the back of the bus on the way home from a field trip?
A few weeks later Jordan dumped Kaelie for Melissa Freeman.
Seelie Queen had answered stupidity.
Was it her stupidity that caused her to go to the Health Department last year because one of her MANY sexual partners had been diagnosed with an STD?
Isabelle Lightwood had answered a lack of self-respect.
Was it a lack of self-respect that caused Isabelle to sleep with her boyfriend Simon when he threatened to break up with her if she didn't have sex with him?
Simon broke up with Isabelle less than six months after she gave him her virginity.
"Clary Fairchild, you will finish, right now," Mrs. Lightwood was staring at me with anger.
Without a word I bent down and picked up my books.
Then I stood.
I was nothing but a terrified pregnant sixteen year old girl staring back at a teacher that I should have been able to trust.
"No," my voice was quiet.
"Excuse me," Mrs. Lightwood frowned as she moved her hands to her hips.
I stood straight.
This was my moment.
This was my time.
I was scared to death.
I knew I wasn't ready.
But I wouldn't show it.
Not to them.
None of them were worth it.
"I said no," I took a very small step forward, my body visibly shaking.
I took a breath.
This is happening.
"You're right, I may need attention. I did not use good judgement. And yes, I do have low self-esteem but guess what?"
My green eyes were overflowing with tears as I met every student's stare.
"So do you, I was just the one that got caught," my voice was thick with emotion as I felt the tears rolling down my face.
I turned to leave the room but I stopped.
Standing in the doorway I turned back to look at Mrs. Lightwood.
Her mouth was wide open as she stared back at me.
With my head held high I spoke loud and clear.
"I'd be careful what I say about others, you never know how your children will turn out or your grandchildren."
I left the room.
Until I knew I was safe.
Until I knew I was hidden.
I cried some more.
I cried until there were no tears left.
I cried until I felt empty.
I cried until I felt like I was nothing.