This book has a lot of triggers - mental health struggles, abuse, stuff like that so if you’re sensitive to that please don’t read.
I covered my head and face with my arms, bracing myself for the next punch. But it didn’t come. Instead Jason grabbed a fist full of my long hair and used it to tug me to my feat.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” He yelled, his eyes full of hatred and anger.
He said that every time I somehow did something better than his precious daughter Madison. If a teacher complimented me or a boy looked at me, Madison would come crying to her dad making me seem like the bad guy. And every time I got beat for it.
Suddenly his mouth was close to my cheek and I had to suppress the urge to gag at the whiskey and cigarettes on his breath.
“You can still make it up to us Liza.” He whispered, and I knew exactly what he meant. But I would rather have him beat me to death than what he had in mind.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! didn’t mean to hurt her feelings! I swear!” I cried, trying my hardest to sound sincere even though I had no reason to apologize. Over the years I got used to lying, my life depended on it, and sadly I got very good at it. Sometimes I even fooled myself.
Jason threw me to the ground like a rag doll. “If I ever hear about you flirting with one of Maddie’s boyfriends again, you know what will happen.” He threatened.
I frantically nodded but he wasn’t satisfied with the beating tonight, so he started kicking at my stomach and back.
Then, dropping to his knees in front of me, he punched me in the face a couple times and walked away when he was satisfied with the damage.
When I was sure he was gone I scurried to the basement where he kept me when I wasn’t cooking, cleaning, or at school.
I flopped down onto my dirty old mattress and winced as the bruises from last night made contact with the bed.
I curled up into a small ball and fought back the tears that threatened to fall from my eyes. I hadn’t cried in years, once I realized crying wouldn’t stop Jason, I found it pointless. But sometimes I still wanted to cry myself to sleep.
I looked around the familiar dark, damp room to distract myself from the pain I was in. My eyes scanned the water stains all over the cement walls, the mold growing in the corner close to the stairs, and finally the red spots that stained the dirty carpet.
Memories flashed before my eyes as I clearly remembered how each drop got there.
As I tried to push the memories away my hand absentmindedly found its way to the necklace my mom and dad gave me only a week before they died. It was a silver heart shaped locket with a family picture safely inside. The only thing I had left of them.
I grew tired as I tried to remember my parents and soon my eyelids got heavy and darkness drifted over me as I slipped into a restless, dreamless sleep.
I woke with a start when I realize Jason was yelling my name.
I looked over at the small alarm clock beside my mattress and it read 7:00.
Crap, if I didn’t hurry up I’d be late for the first day at Emerald Lake High School.
I quickly hopped out of bed, wincing when my body ached in protest, and ran to the dingy old bathroom that was connected to my room.
Since I woke up late I didn’t have time for a shower so I threw on a pair of dark skinny jeans, a navy hoody, and a pair of black sneakers.
Then I took out my liquid foundation to cover all the exposed bruises on my face and neck and used more than normal on a stubborn dark bruise that took up most of my right cheek.
Finally, after what felt like a lifetime of putting makeup on, I brushed my wavy blonde hair to finish getting ready for the day.
“Liza get your ass up here now!” Jason yelled, becoming more enraged the longer I took.
I rushed upstairs before he got any angrier, and almost bumped into Madison when I reached the main floor.
Today she wore a pair of white skinny jeans, a tight black tank top with an off white leather jacket over top, and a pair of black pumps.
She easily towered over me at 5′7 while I was only around 5′3, and she used that to intimidate me every chance she got.
“Watch where you’re going. You could have got your horrible stench all over me!” She hissed, tossing her curly brown hair over her shoulder as she glared down at me, making her brown eyes look ugly.
“Sorry.” I quickly muttered, never meeting her eyes. I hated apologizing but I didn’t want to get a beating this morning.
Thankfully she didn’t want to make a scene, and soon Jason was driving us to school.
No one spoke the whole time and the fifteen minute car ride felt awkward. Hatred filled the air and no one knew how to deal with it.
Jason only broke the thick silence once we got to school, “Remember Liza, you and Maddie don’t know each other at school, she doesn’t want to be embarrassed by you. Am I understood?”
“Yes Jason.” I was quick to reply, and the truth was that I had no problem pretending I didn’t know Madison. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was connected to her in any way. And it wasn’t like anyone took the time to get to know me enough to connect me to her. I never made friends, I just sat at the back of the classroom and tried my hardest to make myself invisible.
As we got out of the car Madison shoved me, causing me to fall to the ground and scrape my palms which took most of the impact.
I faintly heard her say “Oops” in a very fake voice as I got up and ran toward the school, but I didn’t pay any attention to it. I couldn’t let petty stuff like that get to me.
I was just about to push the front doors of the school open when I got the feeling someone was watching me.
I scanned the parking lot to see if my suspicions were correct and my eyes immediately landed on a group of seven, maybe eight people, that were all staring back at me. It was unnerving and all I wanted to do was march over to them and tell them to stop looking at me, but instead I brought my attention back to the doors and shoved them open.
Once inside the school I made my way to the office, which was easy enough because there where signs telling me exactly where to go. Soon I was standing in front of a pretty, middle-aged receptionist who’s name tag read Mrs. Montana.
She didn’t seem to notice I was there so I cleared my throat and her head snapped up to look at me.
She gave me a small smile and pushed back her red hair. “Oh you must be one of the new students. Liza Johnson?” She said.
I nodded but didn’t say anything.
She handed me my schedule and locker number, along with a lock, and sent me on my way, muttering a quick ‘welcome to Emerald Lake High School’.
I looked down at my schedule as I exited the office.
Period 1 - AP English
Period 2 - AP Biology
Period 3 - AP Calculus
Period 4 - American History
Period 5 - Gym
Period 6 - Photography
I was disappointed when I saw that I had calculus, biology, and English at the same time, but I couldn’t do anything about it.
I was surprised when I made my way to my locker and the bell still hadn’t rung, I expected class to start by now considering we were running late this morning.
Once I memorized where my locker was I decided to head straight to English class because I wasn’t sure where it was or how much time I had before class started, and that’s when I accidentally ran into someone.
Papers went flying everywhere and I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. It looked like a scene out of a movie.
When I heard another chuckle join in I looked up at the person I collided with and pretty brunette was grinning back at me. She had shoulder length hair and ocean blue eyes the sparkled with humour. She found the situation just as funny as me.
I knelt down with her to help pick up her papers and she sent a grateful smile my way. “Thanks!”
“No problem.” I replied, scooping up the last of her papers and handing them over to her.
“I’m Becca, by the way.” She introduced herself as we stood up.
“I’m Liza.” I told her, a hopeful feeling blooming in my heart. I didn’t know much about friends, but this first encounter felt like it could turn into a friendship.
“What classes are you in?” She asked, snatching the schedule out of my hand before I could reply.
“We have almost every class together! But I’m not in biology or calculus.” She told me, and then added “C’mon, I’ll walk to class with you.” and started running down the hallway with me following close behind.
As we ran to class she shot one question after another at me, without even giving me a chance to answer any of them, and then warning bell rang which meant we really had to run to get there on time.
We stepped into class, completely out of breath, just as the final bell sounded.
Becca found us seats as the teacher walked up to me, and I braced myself to get yelled at for almost being late.
“I’m assuming you’re the new student Liza Johnson? I’m Mrs. Willson.” She introduced herself, and I let out a sigh of relief. I wasn’t in trouble.
“It’s nice to meet you.” I replied politely, scanning the class to familiarize myself with my classmates.
All eyes were on me, I hated it.
“Class this is our new student Liza Johnson. I expect you to welcome her with open arms.” Mrs. Wilson said in a stern voice.
It was pretty embarrassing, but at least she didn’t make me introduce myself.
I gave everyone a shy smile and then quickly walked to the second last row of desks and sat down at the empty one beside Becca.
Throughout the period we talked and laughed as she told me about some of the other students. Despite the fact that English was one of my least favourite classes, I was having fun.
Becca was about to tell me a story about some guy named Andy when the door flung open and someone walked in.
I wasn’t interested in looking up to see who it was but I felt their eyes on me so I reluctantly lifted my head and gazed into hypnotic blue eyes. They seemed to suck me in. We stared into each other’s eyes for what felt like a lifetime but was probably only a few seconds.
Time just seemed to slow down. But then the moment ended and we were snapped back to reality by Mrs. Wilson.