In the scientific world, the North side of a magnet is attracted to the South side of another magnet. When thrown together, a magnetic force is created between the two; a force so irrefutably strong that it cannot be stopped. In layman’s terms, opposites attract.
This phrase not only applies in science, but in relationships. Considering relationships are generally based off common interests, its mind boggling to think that love interests can actually form between two completely and erratically different personalities. Following examples: Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria, and even Danny and Sandy.
How is this even possible? The less two people have in common, the less they will be able to relate to each other, thus resulting in a weak relationship. How is it that a preppy, goody two shoes and a reckless delinquent come together, despite their inability to relate and connect?
The answer: Love.
Although there is no love in the scientific world, it can be treated as an experiment, subjected to interfering variables and human error.
Love is the ultimate test. It’s up to the lovers to correctly perform the procedure and magnetize themselves to the fullest degree, or else the experiment will blow up in their faces.
Living in a small town entailed going to a small high school. Going to a small high school implied that everyone knew everyone. Everyone knowing everyone meant endless drama, and no privacy.
Most residing families didn’t move out of Oxford, Connecticut due to their love and contentment of the colonial town. The taxes were high, but the schools were strong. However, that meant that the majority of the student body had spent all of their education in the same public school system. Spending eleven years with the same group of people was exhausting.
By junior year, we had all had our embarrassing reputations exposed. Each person was defined not by his or her current achievements, but by their past mistakes. No one got a fresh start, and no one was safe from his or her previous horrors.
For example, in 9th grade, one of our varsity linebackers thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was the President of the United States, when he actually was only the Governor of California. While it was a stupid mistake, he was instantly labeled as an “unintelligent meat head.” That reputation followed him for years, despite how many times he consecutively made the principal’s honor roll.
As for me, I was never able to break out of the “preppy, smart, bound-for-Harvard League” shell. In 4th grade, I won the class spelling bee. In 7th grade, I had more books than friends. In 9th grade, I was elected class president.
But believe me, school wasn’t my life.
Honestly, I’d rather be out with my friends or my boyfriend, Blake Salato, than studying at home. I’d rather wear comfortable converse and jeans, instead of my usual attire consisting of blazers and ballet flats.
Nevertheless, after years of struggling with who I was as a person, Blake “persuaded” me to accept my label as “Riley Jennings: Top of the Class; Candidate for Valedictorian; and Future Successful Business Woman.” And so, I did – it was just easier that way.
Nevertheless, this past-lingering, secret-exposing, drama-causing, label-creating, pathetic excuse for a high school had me begging on my knees for the day I went to college. There I could be anyone I wanted to be, I could be the person I truly was - not the person people wanted me to be. I just needed to survive two more years of high school.
However, that was easier said than done.
Escaping the cold, late November wind, I walked into school through the main entrance doors expecting another regular day of school, no different than any other. But the moment I walked into the lobby, I knew things were different. Instead of the too-loud-to-think atmosphere, the open area was as quiet as a cemetery, as people talked in hushed tones.
As I passed the clusters of people, I tried catching tidbits of the most recent gossip. However, years of blasting my iPod too loudly prevented me to do so.
The whispers continued all the way to class. Even as I took my front seat in chemistry – my first period class – a group of people was huddled in the back, conversing in low voices. Fighting the desire to eavesdrop, I pulled out my notebook and started working on some calculus homework.
“You will not believe what I just heard,” exclaimed my best friend, Lucy Wilde, as she smacked her backpack down next to me in excitement. “Apparently, we have a new juvenile delinquent transferring to our school. He’s been kicked out of six schools, robbed two banks, and stabbed one guy.”
That would explain all the hushed gossip.
“Are you sure? That sounds like a load of bull crap,” I said, challenging the rumors.
“I don’t know,” she replied, shaking her head. “I guess we’ll have to find out.”
Lucy was fabulous. She was everything I wasn’t: beautiful, confident, energetic, full of life. We had been inseparable for years and she was my rock. I never understood why someone like her chose to be friends with someone like me but I didn’t dare question it.
As my best friend, Lucy was the one person I trusted most. She saw my good and bad side; she saw me at my best and worst. When I needed someone to dry my tears and ice my wounds, she was there for me.
Once the second bell rang, everyone put their rumor spreading agendas on halt. Our dry and utterly dimwitted teacher, Mr. Richards, pulled up a PowerPoint presentation and began to ramble on.
Lucky for us, somebody interrupted the droning presentation.
A dark, mysterious boy strutted in. A leather jacket, tight jeans, and black combat boots covered his tall, lean body. Dark, untamed hair framed his strong-featured face. Sure, he was good-looking, but Blake’s face flashed through my mind, warning me to keep my distance.
“Is this Chemistry with Richards?” The deep-voiced boy asked, checking the schedule in his hand.
“Right it is,” Mr. Richards exclaimed enthusiastically. His voice was shriller than it had been all period. “Take a seat, Mister . . .”
“Marks,” the husky voice answered. “Dean Marks.”
All eyes were on Dean Marks as he gracefully slid into the empty chair at the end of the front row. Casually, he took his leather jacket off, hung it on the back of his chair, and rolled up his flannel sleeves, exposing tattooed forearms.
Despite the distraction, Mr. Richards began teaching again. With all my willpower, I continued to follow the presentation slides and take detailed notes. As most of the girls fawned over Dean, most of the boys fumed with jealousy, leaving me to be one of the few students to actually pay attention.
Class ended, but the usual barricade to the door did not exist today. Many of the girls lingered around, hoping to snag a moment of conversation with the new kid. Only the school flirt, Penelope Ruth, was bold enough to approach him and ask if he needed directions.
“Yeah,” he nodded, as he slipped out his schedule. “Where is the English department?”
“Oh, I can show you,” she offered, smacking her gum and twisting a lock of fiery red hair.
“Uh actually.” His eyes darted around the room. “I’m all set, thanks,” he finally replied, obviously not fooled by her seductive tricks.
After he left, the crowd of girls fled after him, leaving me alone to ask Mr. Richards my question on what we had just learned about Planck’s theory. Although I had a free period, I knew I had to hurry because Blake would be waiting for me.
Once I understood the concept, I sloppily packed my bag and ran down the stairwell, through the hallways, across the outside crosswalk and into the junior parking lot. Despite my rushing efforts, I was not fast enough.
Leaning against the side of his pickup truck, Blake was already waiting. He had parked in the last row of the parking lot, next to the shivering trees naked from winter’s brutality. His blue eyes were filled with rage as his lips were curled into a bitter scowl. Chills ran up through my back as I approached him.
The parking lot was empty for the most part. Almost everyone had class, and those who had free periods like us usually went to the library rather than venturing out into the cold. It was just Blake and I as far as the eye could see.
“Where were you?” He asked, forcing a calm voice.
I tried to catch my breath and looked down at my black leather wrist watch. I was more than 15 minutes late. In Blake’s world, 15 minutes might as well have been 15 hours.
“I was just asking my teacher a question,” I replied, meekly. My knees weakened as my back arched, but I forced myself to stand tall.
“Oh really?” He tested, his voice growing harsher. The November wind was blowing through his blond hair, making him look even more menacing.
“Yeah, we just learned about Planck’s theory and I was just clearing some confusion up,” I explained, hoping he would understand.
But deep down, I knew better than that. It didn’t matter if he understood or believed me, even when it was the honest to God truth. If he was upset about something, anything . . . it was automatically my fault. That’s just the way it was with him.
As he yanked on my ponytail with great force, Blake spat, “You better not be lying to me.”
I winced through the pain but tried my best to steady my voice. “I’m not, I swear! I would never lie to you!”
With all of his football-trained strength, he pushed me onto the cold pavement. “You know, you’re full of shit. A smart girl like you doesn’t need extra help, you’re too good for that.”
On my knees, shaking from the cold, I snapped inside. “I’m not the smart girl that everyone thinks I am! You’re the one who wants me to be like this!”
He slapped me across the face. “How dare you talk back to me? Yeah, I do want you like this, because that’s all your good for. It’s all you have going for you, because let’s face it; you’re nothing special.” He paused to catch his breath and kicked the back bumper of somebody else’s car. “God, I can’t even look at you.”
Leaving me on the ground, sobbing, Blake turned on his heel, got in his truck and slammed the door shut. With quick acceleration, the car screamed as he sped off.
The thing about an abusive relationship is you can’t walk away. Most people don't get that. The threats, the fear; it all prevents you from saying no and ending it all once and for good. You’re afraid of what the person will do to you if you reject them. When you’ve been beaten down enough times, you lose all the strength you once had. You become the person that your abuser wants you to be.
Fear consumes you, both physically and mentally, and you lose yourself. Eventually, you become nothing; not a person, not a human being, just a crying voice that gets lost in the wind.
By this point in our relationship, I couldn’t hide, because he would find me. A few months ago, I tried ending things with Blake after one of his bloodiest beatings. That didn’t work out too well. Blake came to my house after I got back from the hospital, apologized, and said he never hurt me again. Of course, that turned out to be just another lie. After that, I never tried ending it again, because I knew what he was capable of . . . ending my life.