TRIGGER WARNING!!! (Derogatory slurs, physical/sexual assault, suicide, violence)
I didn’t end up going to the party. Not only because Jean warned me not to, but because my dad would never let me. Instead, I spent my weekend getting a new pair of glasses, a definite upgrade from the thick and ugly ones that I had before, at least these ones were much smaller and suited my face better.
I sit on my bedroom floor finishing my art project when my father passes by, dropping a bag at my feet.
“You say you need bras, así que encontré algunos en Goodwill.”
Opening up the plastic bag I look inside to see two bras, one bra very obviously too small for me, and the other four times my chest size.
“Dad this isn’t- nevermind, thank you dad,” I said giving up, pick and choose your battles Angeline, pick and choose ’em.
Monday morning, after brushing my teeth, I try making the smaller bra at least work, but I end up just giving up on that completely too. It did absolutely nothing to contain them, I didn’t even bother with the bigger bra, I’d just end up looking ridiculous with it on.
Triple layers of shirts and sweaters it is then.
Arriving to school, I don’t expect improvement at all from Friday, but at least I can handle being ignored, yea it’s lonely but I rather that than being singled out and picked on by Keenan and his friends.
I’ll just apologize to Vivienne for not being able to come to her party and all would be swell... I hope.
I’m putting my books in my locker when I feel a tap on my shoulder.
Turning around, I’m surprised to see that it’s Sam standing behind me, Sam being Jean’s tablemate.
“Oh. Hi Sam,” well this was mildly peculiar. Sammy was mostly quiet at lunch, and out of all them, she seemed the most hesitant towards me.
“Hey Angeline,” she greeted. “Mr. Howard wanted me to get you, he’s in the east gym. The one by the pool.”
“Mr. Howard the PE teacher?”
That’s strange, “do you know what he wants?”
“Oh, I just think he wants to talk to you about the new unit since you came later and all.”
“Oh, but I’ll be late to first period.”
“He’ll write you a late pass. Here, I’ll show you the way.”
She leads me through the halls and I can barely keep up with her speed. She seems in a hurry and almost fidgety. Weaving our way through the crowd, she leads me towards the east wing of the school, where the halls clear almost completely as the students rush to get into their homeroom. We stop in front of two black double doors.
“Okay we’re here, just go through that corridor there and you’ll be in the gym.” She said, and just like she was in a hurry to bring me here, she was in a hurry to leave too.
“Thanks for showing me the way Sam.”
“Yea you’re welcome,” she answered, from basically down the hall already.
As I make my way through the doors, I can’t stop or help the feeling in the pit of my stomach that something isn’t right. What teacher can’t wait to pull a student during class? Why so early in the morning before first period even started? Once I’m in the gymnasium I see that the lights aren’t even on, the gym is dark and there’s no one in sight.
I turn back around, maybe Sam was mistaken, I freeze when I see multiple silhouettes standing in the doorway. I can’t see their faces to know who they are.
I cringe and shut my eyes when suddenly the gym is engulfed in brightness.
“Vivienne?” Now that I can see more clearly I realize that Savannah, Carla, and Tanner are all here too.
“You didn’t come to my party. Why?” Vivienne glared at me.
“Um, I wanted to but I just couldn’t come.” I stammered, they stood in spots that now had me surrounded by all four of them.
“Well that’s a shame, you missed your big surprise, a surprise I spent a lot of time planning and just hoping you’d get to experience.” She said almost cheerily. Her voice sounded so false that warning bells went off in my head and I clutched onto my bookbag straps tighter.
“Um, I’ll come to the next one. I promise.”
“Oh there’s no need, it’s not a big deal, we can just reenact it now.” She said and gave Tanner behind me a look, then a nod of her head.
“What’re you-,” suddenly I feel giant arms envelop me and lift me off the ground.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! PUT ME DOWN!!!” I screech, kicking out my legs and scratching at his arms, but he’s not even phased.
He carries me across the gym while I kick and scream bloody murder the whole way. We pass through a door when I get a huge whiff of chlorine, and that’s when I know we’re in the pool room. I hear them all following close behind us, the massive pool in our view. Tanner stops at the edge of the pool.
“And away she goes,” Vivienne sang.
I feel a rush of air and then coldness as the water completely engulfs me. I swallow a bunch of water and for a split second I make no movement, unable to process that this was really happening, these things were only supposed to happen in the movies.
Finally, I break through to the surface. I’m not the strongest swimmer and my muscles are sore, still healing from my painful episodes from Friday night. Quickly I swim to the ledge and pull myself out of the water, I lay on the floor coughing violently and sputtering out all the water I just swallowed. Pulling out my wet inhaler, I take mouthful puffs, while all of them stand around, watching and laughing.
“You have a lot of nerve thinking I’d ever befriend someone like you.”
I try not to cower when I see Vivienne standing a foot from me, “that’s for trying to get at my boyfriend KNOWING he has a girlfriend you piece of vermin shit. I’m shocked you even tried it, looking like a cow and all. What made you think he’d ever be interested in you?”
I stare at her in complete shock, is this what she thinks? Is this why she hates me? “This must be a misunderstanding! I didn’t! I w-would never do that!” I stutter through my broken words
“I know just the thing to teach you a lesson, If you’re gonna come up in my school and act like a desperate skank, then I’m going to make sure everyone knows it.”
She held her hand out and Savannah hands her a small rectangular object.
“Let’s take some more before and after pics.”
The flash blinds me for a moment and Savannah and Carla take that time to seize my arms. They each grasped an arm of my sweatshirt and pulled.
My sweatshirt, sweatshirt is torn clean off my body like it was a piece of flimsy fabric. All I had on underneath was a soaked tank top that stuck to my skin.
In the background, I hear Tanner’s booming laughter.
Tears blur my vision, I start screaming and thrashing again when I feel hands pulling at my tank top.
“No! Stop! Please stop!”
The fabric gives way and tears right off my body. I freeze, this can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. My first instinct is to cover my chest but my arms are being restrained.
I scream, “stop! Please! Stop! I’m sorry!”
“Damn Vermin. Who knew that underneath all that were some big tits.” He bellowed and cupped one. I choked on a sob.
“Tanner stop. That’s disgusting.” Vivienne chastised him. “Now hold her down,” she commanded.
They held me down on the floor, Tanner’s massive hands pushing down on my shoulders while Savannah has my legs, and Carla my arms. Vivienne is crouched above me with scissors in her hands.
My chest tightens and my breathing quickens as I hyperventilate. I feel like I’m dying. I wish I was dying.
She savagely pulls at my hair and is only able to clip a few strands of hair when she is abruptly interrupted.
“What the fuck are you guys doing!?”
I’m gonna pass out.
“What’s wrong with you guys!? Get off her!” I immediately recognize it to be Jean’s voice.
Vivienne quickly gets up and faces off with Jean.
“Who the hell do you think you are commanding me, you worthless omega!”
“Oh shut the hell up Vivienne, your greatest accomplishment was getting Keenan in between your legs. That doesn’t make you my alpha, that doesn’t make you my luna, that doesn’t make you shit. You aren’t even mates.”
Audible gasps could be heard from everyone in the room. The shock was enough for them to momentarily forget about me and loosen their hold. I use this opportunity to roll to my side and cover myself with my arms, silently sobbing.
“What the fuck did you just say to me!?”
“I’ll be telling the Alpha and Luna about what you’ve just done. We can’t harm hu-people, you know that!”
“You wouldn’t fucking dare!”
“I would. Try me.”
“No, you won’t.” Suddenly a new voice joined the mix. A voice that through my panic, made my breathing a notch clearer.
“You aren’t going to tell anyone anything,” he said.
“That’s a command.” I flinched at his voice of steel.
“Y-Yes Keenan,” Jean said after a brief pause.
“She defended the Vermin and I know she’s been secretly talking to her too after being specifically commanded not to! She disobeyed a command, she needs to be punished!”
What the heck is wrong with these people?! Command? Punish? What is an alpha anyway?
“I’ll deal with her later, but what are you doing to... her?”
“Nothing she didn’t deserve. I was showing her her place in this school Babe. She won’t fuck with what’s mine ever again. Isn’t that right?′
“Y-yes,” I whimpered out.
Keenan snorted, “pathetic.”
I’ve never felt so disgusting, so dirty, that I just wanted to shrink into the ground and disappear. I don’t want to show my face to anyone ever again.
“Just leave her here,” he commanded, his voice drowned out by my poorly stifled crying.
“Okay baby, just one more picture.”
The second I feel them leave, I could no longer hold back my sobs. I felt a piece of cloth be draped over me and even with my blurred vision, I knew it was Jean. Through the sounds of her own sniffling, I know she is crying with me.
Jean gave me her PE clothes to switch into.
“How did you know where to find me?”
“I saw Sammy acting weird, then I saw her coming from the east gym, she smelled of- she was just acting weird.”
“I can’t believe Sam would do that. I didn’t know she disliked me that much.”
“She was probably blackmailed or coerced, you know Vivienne has a knack for things like that.”
I shook my head and dropped it down to my hands, covering my face.
“They took pictures of me Jean. Pictures! What do I do now!?”
“You can try talking with the principal about it, maybe he can make them delete it.” Even Jean’s voice sounded just as hopeless as mine.
“Thanks for sticking up for me. I know you have more to lose than gain by doing that. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. What they did- it wasn’t right. It was downright disgusting and cruel. I think that’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen Vivienne do, and that’s saying something.”
Jean walks me to the principal’s office. My hair is still soaking wet and it’s still the middle of February. She also let me borrow her jacket, she said I needed it more than she did.
“Can I speak to Principal Anderson please?” I sniffled.
The receptionist gave me a look and took in my ragged wet appearance.
“It’ll be a minute.” She said curtly.
I waited 45 minutes for the principal to be free.
As I take a seat, his eyes narrow in on my odd attire and I see judgment written across his face.
Now I feel doubtful, should I even continue with this?
“How can I help you?”
“I-I’m being harassed by a couple of students. They threw me in the pool, try to cut some of my hair, and then took pictures of me.”
“Oh,” his expression turns to one of surprise and concern. “This behavior is not tolerated or accepted, I’m gonna need to know the name of these students.”
“Okay, their names are Keenan Hallins, Vivienne Stroke, Tanner Warmwell, Savannah Richardson, and Carla Dupree.”
Principal Anderson just stood still and stared blankly at me.
“Um, are you sure it was... Keenan Hallins?”
“Maybe you’re confused. Maybe it was someone that looked like him?”
“No... no, it was him, and Vivienne, and Tanner.”
“What did you do that would make him act this way towards you?”
“I-I don’t know. I didn’t do anything.”
“Are you absolutely sure? Maybe think a little harder on why you think he would be doing this.”
“I really don’t know. I haven’t done anything to him.”
“Tell you what, whatever it is, stop doing it... or apologize to him for doing it. Alright?”
He stood up and gave me a very tight-lipped smile. “Okay now, on you go, wouldn’t want you to miss your next class.”
“That’s-that’s it? That’s all you’re gonna do? But they have pictures of me! They held me down! They hit me! They ripped my clothes off! They tried to cut my hair!”
“And I’ll speak to them, but as of now I’m advising you to stay away from them.”
“Let me change my classes then.”
“Hmm, I’m afraid I can’t do that, all other classes are full. And the period of changing classes has long been over.”
“But they’re not gonna stop.”
“Nonsense, I know Keenan, he’s a bright reasonable young man, I’m sure this is all just a big misunderstanding.”
Hopeless. It was hopeless.
Jean gave me a ride home in her car.
“What do I do now Jean? The principal just blamed everything on me. Would the police even be any help?”
Jean gave me another sympathetic look. “The Hallin’s have everyone in their back pocket in this town.”
I felt utterly drained.
“What did I do wrong!?” I cried, “they’re going to ruin my life!”
“Listen to me! You’re not the problem here! They are! It’s not your fault! This is just the kind of people they are! But they’ll get what’s coming to them, especially Keenan.”
I appreciated the conviction in her voice, but even I knew that would never happen.
I spent the remainder of school hours at home, so technically skipping class, now I’ve never skipped a class in my life but I couldn’t bring myself to go back after what happened. I’ll take all the detentions if I have to.
I lay my wet books all around my floor to dry. The drawing of the wolf I’ve worked all week on was badly damaged and torn, there was no salvaging that either.
Frankly, I didn’t have the energy or motivation to do anything but cry myself to sleep. All I could do was replay what happened over and over in my head like a broken record. Thinking of actions I could’ve taken, things I shouldn’t have done, words I should’ve spoken, all in hopes of a different outcome.
But something told me it didn’t matter if it was today, or at the party, or even tomorrow. They had it out for me and would’ve gotten their hands on me, regardless of when, where, and how. I couldn’t have escaped them even if I wanted to.
I can’t ever go back, I’ll ask my dad to transfer me or let me be homeschooled, but I can’t ever go back. Everyone will know. I can see it play out perfectly in my head like some crappy lifetime movie, all the halls and lockers will be littered with pictures of me topless and everyone will point and laugh.
Now I feel like I truly understood the extent of Keenan Hallin’s influence, and why everyone was so afraid of him. He could literally murder me in front of the whole school in cold blood and they’d find a way to cover it up for him. This meant I was without a doubt, wholeheartedly, and undeniably facing them all entirely alone.
The heaviness in my chest came back tenfold and I had to take a couple inhales from my inhaler to stop going into a full-blown anxiety attack.
And what did they even mean when they said that Julia should be punished for disobeying a command!? WHAT?? What kind of freak town is this?
It’s a cult, that’s my only explanation for everyone’s strange behavior. It’s a brainwashing cult and they’re probably planning to sacrifice me.
With this last thought, I finally fell into a restless sleep.
I didn’t realize how loud I was being until I see my dad barging in with a frantic look on his face, staring down at me on the floor crouched into a ball of pain. Sometime during the night, a painful episode woke me up from my sleep, if I had seen it coming I could’ve hidden it a lot better, but I was caught completely off guard.
I repeatedly drift in and out of consciousness.
When I opened my eyes again, I see that I’m in a hospital bed and my dad’s speaking with the doctor. They speak in hushed tones but the doctor had a skeptical look on his face.
I want to listen to there conversations but my heavy lids won’t allow me to stay awake long enough.
I’ve woken up to that awful feeling again. I look at the clock, and see that it’s only 2:30 am. I don’t know if they’re getting worse or if my already nonexistent tolerance has worn thin but this episode was particularly bad tonight. I was not physically or even mentally prepared for them tonight.
Once the doctor sees that I’m awake he starts asking me a bunch of questions, like when did the pain start, where was the pain, how long did it last, etc. After taking many tests and staying in the hospital for a whole day, the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me. Everything came up normal and I just told them I was fine and that I don’t feel anything anymore. They prescribed me some pain medication, then sent me home.
I guess the one good thing out of this was that my dad wouldn’t let me go back to school for the rest of the week. Which meant I wouldn’t have to face them just yet.