By the time I woke up, Silas was gone and I can’t help but endure a sinking feeling in my chest. I guess it would make sense for him to be out of sight. I can’t imagine what my mom would think if she were to walk in on us lying in bed together.
Still, it felt alright when he was here. I’ve managed to memorize his scent and every time I close my eyes, I could see the contours of his neck, as that was the view I managed to get as I rested my head on his chest. His smile wasn’t bad either, but I couldn’t think of him now.
Then I suddenly remember what had happened the day before. It makes me feel uneasy.
I try to suppress the flashes of memory that force their way into my mind as I shower in burning water. I use my loofah and try to scrub away Jeff’s touch, but the flashes are unrelenting, and I end up repeatedly ramming my head into the wall. The pain takes it away momentarily. Just a little bit, though.
I grumble my answers as my mom asks me why I chose this particular outfit. Under the seat belt, I look like a piece of dough that someone wrapped ribbon around tightly. A pair of skinny jeans and my baggiest sweater, which I had only bought with the intention of sleeping in it. I had chosen to wear a thin tank top under, knowing how heated I would get from this thick layer of cotton.
As I walk down the hallway, I feel myself cringing at every sound. Every motion makes me twitch. Every locker slam results in a flinch. It’s time I admit it to myself.
What happened yesterday has really shaken me up.
Being in Silas’s arms had shielded me from myself but I never considered how I could cope being on my own. After all, it wasn’t like Silas was fully mine. He’s the school playboy and I might just be a number on his list.
No. I can’t think like that. His eyes said otherwise when he looked at me.
The longer I walk down the hallway, the more I am aware of the presence of Karen and Wendy behind me. They speak in hushed voices and I suddenly feel even more vulnerable than when they used to shove me. Still, I brace myself for an attack, but as they walk past me, they turn their faces away, and as they look back at me, I find their eyes hooded in shame.
When I finally reach my locker, I find Vinh and Scarlett standing on either side of it, holding hands and speaking quietly. I rush to hug Scar, whom I realized I hadn’t been able to check up on. Because she stepped up as the victim, her parents were informed of the incident and what had been happening before.
“How did your parents take it,” I ask her with my eyebrows almost meeting in the center.
“They said they don’t want me to ever be alone. So I guess from now on, I’m going to have Vinh around all the time.” She seems calm.
“That’s right, baby! Prepare to be annoyed by the king of sass!” Vinh squeezes her hand and she laughs. It seems everything has worked out for the two of them.
“So,” Scar starts quietly as Vinh makes his quick morning bathroom visit, “Are you feeling weird, too?”
I don’t hesitate to assume what she means. “I get bad flashbacks about it.”
“Yeah. And I freak out everytime I hear a locker slam,” she adds and I nod along.
“It’ll go away after a while, once you get a better grip of yourself.” I feel my throat go dry. Someone slams their locker down the hall and we both flinch, then give each other understanding smiles. It’s somehow comforting to know I wasn’t alone on this feeling. None of the others would get it. Not Silas or Damon or even Vinh. They can try to feel bad for us, but it’s hard to know the fear unless you’ve suffered under it.
“Okay, feeling refreshed,” Vinh wedged back into conversation, “Oh my god, did you hear what happened to Natasha?”
Scar’s eyes widen, as if only now remembering my bullying ex-best friend. I guess she’s heard the news.
“The office got a picture of her buy drugs,” Vinh continues in his dramatic gossiping voice, “So they searched her locker and found a dimebag full of ecstasy.”
I gasp. Surely, this can’t be what Silas did for me?
“She even got her piss tested and bitch got her smug face snatched,” he’s starting to get all riled up. “Her mom found some in her room, too.”
In her room? Did Silas break and enter? Oh, god. I’ve created a monster.
The bell rings, and I walk off to class. As I reach the narrow hallway, I see Silas about to enter class. He spots me and I run to him. He opens his arms, ready for a hug but I slap his arm. He grabs it, rubbing it as if I had slapped him that hard. What a baby…
“Ow! What was that for?” He pouts and I resist the urge to kiss him.
“You!,” I yell, but realize that people could hear, so I lower my voice, “You used drugs on Natasha?”
“Hey, she was tangled in that stuff before I even got involved.” He puts both his hands in the air defensively.
I’m still upset, so I stomp into class and drop into my seat with hot air shooting out of my nose.
Halfway through class, I receive a note that flies onto my desk. I unfold it to reveal a little drawing of a girl hugging a boy. A speech bubble is attached to the girl, saying “Oh, Superman, I like you so much, especially since you got college ruled paper!”
I roll my eyes but feel a smile creeping on my lips.
Next to the little drawing, I try to imitate his art style. Lois Lane will be choking Superman. From his mouth, there will be a mushroom cloud and a speech bubble will be attached to Lois saying, “Drugs are bad, you dick!”
I throw the note back at him and hear him snickering. He leans forward, so that his lips would press against my ear as he whispers, “I promise, no more drugs.”
“Are we interrupting something?” Mrs. Francis clears her throat and glares at us. I swallow as I hear Silas respond.
“No, ma’am. Just asking her a question about the lesson.” I snap my head around to look at him with low lids. He beams at me. I roll my eyes as I turn back around.
“Anyway,” Francis continues, “I’ve assigned you all a partner for this presentation, which will be due this Friday. It’s a small presentation so it shouldn’t take long to create. The pairs have been posted in the back of the classroom.”
We all rush to crowd around a piece of paper stapled to the wall. I quickly spot my name, which sits next to Matthew Nicolaus. I’ve never spoken to the guy, so I guess this could be interesting.
Silas stands next to me, about to hold my hand since I could feel his fingers run along the back of my hand.
“So Silas,” says a sweet voice attached to an overwhelmingly sweet vanilla scent, “I guess it’s you and me again. I can’t wait.” I watch in dismay as Catherine reaches up to grab his arm and flutter her false lashes at him. Today, she was wearing a pair of shorts two sizes too tight, a flowy tank top that hints at her curves, and a pair of boots that reach her knees with a 3 inch heel. Her hair is layered and flips around with every movement she makes.
I look down at my sweatshirt and jeans. I didn’t even bother brushing my hair this morning, only because it usually ends up straight anyway. I realize now, that the knots make my locks look dull and lifeless. I frown at myself.
Silas is still holding a surprised expression as I walk off to my desk, take off my sweatshirt to show a revealing tank top, and grab my stuff to stand by the door. Fortunately, at that moment, the bell rings, so I just head out of class. I hear Silas call me from afar, but I don’t like turning back when I’m trying to make a dramatic exit.
Throughout the day, I avoid Silas, only to make it clear that I don’t condone anything involving drugs, even if it was against Natasha. I just don’t want him in trouble for something he did for me. I just want him to be okay.
After school, I decide to stay and wait for Damon’s offer for a ride. He told me he was a bit confused with his study guide, so I guess we’re back on our old tutoring deal.
“What’s wrong?” Damon sits next to me as I snap out of my thoughts.
“Nothing,” I sigh.
“Just because we’re not dating doesn’t mean we’re not friends, Tammy. What’s wrong?” He pauses and then, “What did Silas do? I swear I’ll punch his nuts so hard for you.”
I laugh and I could see the relief in his eyes. “He did something for me, and it’s something really risky. I just don’t want him to play with fire for me if there’s a chance I’m left with ashes.”
To my surprise, he laughs loudly and I give him a look of bewilderment.
“So that’s why you were deep in your thoughts when I sat down. How long did it take you to come up with that 2008-Myspace-emo analogy,” he holds his stomach as he laughs, his dirty blond hair swinging along with the wind.
I roll my eyes, but laugh along with him.
“As long as he did it for you. Just tell me when he makes you sad. I didn’t give up just to have him do that.” He probably meant for that to sound like a joke, but I know full well that he meant it. It seems that I had been oblivious to the way he looked at me before, or maybe I just ignored it because I didn’t think anyone would want someone like me. After all, I wasn’t noticeably popular and I definitely wasn’t rich enough to buy friends. I was just me.
We continue to talk and joke around on the drive home, but the moment we park, I could feel my muscles tense up as I spot the wet paint that covered my front window. In bold red letters, “BITCH” is still dripping toward the harsh pull of gravity. I slowly get out of the car and walk up to my front door.
I guess I was noticeable enough to have enemies.