I wasn’t always on my own.
I had some friends during primary and middle school.
We’d hang out sometimes after school, or on weekends we’d have sleepovers.
It was a little difficult since they didn’t really understand what hearing loss was. All they knew was that they had to be careful to face me, and enunciate their words well so I could make out what they were saying. Back then I wasn’t an expert lip reader; sometimes I just pretended I knew what they were saying.
Still, I tried my hardest to be just as normal as they were. I watched movies with them- without captions- even though I didn’t know what was going on more than half the time. I went to the mall with them or to fast food places. I went to the beach with them even though half the time I had cotton stuffed in my ears, and had to stay out of the water. I nodded along to their girl talk even though I couldn’t even make out most of it. I did everything I could to fit in with my friends, yet did it ever really make a difference?
Once the bullying started all my friendships seemed to become secret. We’d hangout, but I wasn’t allowed around the group during school hours. I also wasn’t allowed to tell any of the other kids that I was friends with them.
Eventually I stopped being invited to sleepovers and movie nights. There were no more invitations to go anywhere. I wasn’t part of their girl talk any longer. Yet, like a fool I still tried to be friends wit them. I tried my hardest, because I didn’t want to be left on my own.
I even allowed myself to be bossed around and made fun of, just so the people who I had thought were my friends would talk to me again.
That all stopped though during the first week of my seventh year of school.
We all had our own little paper encouragement bags the teacher had made with each students name on them. Students could anonymously write compliments or encouragements, and stick them in each others bags. Each weekend we were allowed to take our bags home and read through them.
That first week of school I had been excited about the whole encouragement bag thing. That was something I needed. Especially after the bullying and the drifting friendships.
When that first Friday of the school year came I was so happy when the teacher handed me my bag.
The first thing I did when I got home was go through my bag. I had seven folded pieces of paper. Even though it didn’t seem like much, to me it was still something that I had been waiting all week for.
My enthusiasm wasn’t worth the outcome.
All seven notes said the same exact thing scrawled all in different handwriting styles:
“No one likes you”
It’s safe to assume that after that I stopped making any effort to try to connect or be friends with my peers. I couldn’t trust any of them, since not a single one of them ever gave a damn about me.
I wasn’t “one of them”.
No matter how hard I tried to edge my way into belonging, I just couldn’t. It was like trying to jam a corner piece right in the center of a almost finished puzzle.
I promised myself to never make the same mistake again.
It isn’t worth the pain.
I don’t need friends.
After the awkward crying and hugging session I had with Skyler, I asked to go home which he obliged with no protests.
Since then it has been two days since I’ve seen him. All two of those day, I have purposely avoided him.
Remembering what happened last time I saw him has made it too much for me to handle seeing him again. It is embarrassing. It is really, really embarrassing.
There is something about him that seems to bring out the worst in me. Or maybe it's the best in me? I’m not entirely sure yet.
Either way it scares me.
I don’t have the courage to face him after having drenched his shirt with my tears, snot, and saliva, from all the hysterical crying I did.
Today I even wake up early and got to school before first period even starts, which is rare for me. I just want to be able to successfully get through today without being harassed, or without seeing Skyler and recounting how I acted like an emotional basket case in front of him. I want to carry onto my weekend in peace.
I succeed in both making it to my first period class before the bell rings, and without being detected by anyone I don’t want to see.
By last period I have easily avoided Skyler, the three bitches, anyone else who would do harm to my “get through Friday and on to the weekend without any problems” mood, and even Demetri.
I go to art class feeling quite accomplished with my stealth abilities. For the first time in a long time I really feel lucky.
Yet that little bit of accomplishment and luck still doesn’t help me with the “tell your story” art project. I fumble around as I have previously. I'm having trouble finding an inspiration. Just to get something down on paper, I sketch a little hoping an idea will just flow through me. Still nothing seems right. Even the quick self portrait I try to roughly sketch only seem dull and lifeless.
“You’re killing yourself.”
Those words won’t leave my mind. Maybe Skyler really was on to something? Still I'm not ready to face him.
After class I'm late to clean up, purposely. I figure I’d let people clear out if I want to really make it through without bumping into anyone.
After the coast is clear, I walk to the office to retrieve my skateboard.
Once I walk out of the office, someone immediately grabs my arm and tugs me to the side.
I look up into Demetri’s angry dark brown eyes.
It becomes clear that luck still isn’t on my side.
“You skipped English, you didn’t met me at my car, and you didn’t take your normal route through the hallway. What gives, Risa? Are you avoiding me? Is this because of...” His mouth moves quickly that I didn’t catch the last part of what he says.
“Huh?” I reply as I tap my right ear. “Come again? Is this because of, what?”
Demetri’s face twists up in frustration before he appears to sigh. “Right, I forgot that you’re fucking useless.” He responds, purposely moving his lips slowly.
I’m fucking useless? Really? Really? Did those words really just come out of his mouth?
I glare at him as I take a step back. “Excuse me?” I say. “Why are you like this? What gives you the right to talk to me like that?” I snap out. “You have no right to call me useless when you’re the one who treats me like shit all the time, because you’re so damn scared of what people would say about you dating the ‘deaf’ girl.” I can't control my anger towards him.
He grabs both my arms harshly, tugging me closer to him. “You better not try to piss me off, Risa. I’m in a real bad mood.” He says, his eyes are wild with rage. It make me feel as if I'm not even looking at a human right now. “Now tell me, why the fuck are you avoiding me?” He seethes out.
I’ve felt many different emotions towards Demetri, but this isn’t the first time I ever truly felt afraid of him. However, this is the first time that I'm afraid to the point that I can't even answer him.
He shakes me roughly. “Answer me!”
I close my eyes tightly, not wanting to read those angry lips anymore.
Next thing I know, I'm being yanked out of the angry grasp and pulled behind someone.
For the second time this week I open my eyes to find that I'm safely behind strong broad shoulders and familiar shaggy blonde hair.