East Side Academy

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Chapter 46 - Not Afraid

“I’m not afraid (I’m not afraid) / To take a stand (to take a stand) / Everybody (everybody) / Come take my hand (come take my hand) / We’ll walk this road together, through the storm / Whatever weather, cold or warm / Just letting you know that you’re not alone / Holler if you feel like you’ve been down the same road (same road)” – Not Afraid, Eminem

Arya

“The game is this Tuesday, James,” I say into the phone, sitting at my desk late on a Saturday night, “how are you feeling?”

“It’ll be fine,” James says confidently, “I am very confident that both East Side teams will win.”

“You sound sure of yourself,” I say.

“West Side just barely beat us, both in your game and mine,” James says, “and that was when we were underperforming. There’s no way they can beat us now.”

“Everyone’s going to be out there.” I say, “West Side vs. East Side in the championships? They’re going to let out the entire school for it.”

“Well, you are fortunate that you will play on the home field and have the school cheering for you.” James says, “I’m the one that will have to play at West Side with their fans.”

“I wish I could be there to watch and cheer you on,” I say.

“I wish I could watch you play as well,” James says, “I told you to lose so you could finally watch me play soccer!” I laugh and he does as well. After a moment of silence, he asks, “Does your dad still hate me?”

“As much as any dad hates the guy their teenage daughter is dating,” I say to try and lighten the mood, but James is silent on the other end. “He just wants what’s best for me, James.”

“And I’m not it,” James says.

“You are,” I say, “if it takes my dad a little longer to realize it, that’s fine. He will.”

“I don’t know what to do to prove it to him,” James says.

“Just be the guy I know you are,” I say.

“A broke East Sider who has a thing for soccer chicks?” James says and I know he is smiling.

“Chicks?”

“Chick,” James corrects himself. “Singular.”

“Good.”

I hear a knock on my door and turn to see my sister opening the door slightly to poke her head through.

“James,” I say into the phone, “I have a gremlin in my room right now, I’ll see you Monday.”

“Gremlin?” James asks but I hang up on him and put the phone on my desk face down.

Mia comes into the room and sits on my bed. I come and sit next to her, knowing that there is something big on her mind. “What is it, Mia?” I ask, brushing my hand through her hair lovingly.

“It’s time,” Mia says.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“It’s time for people to know,” Mia says, “they need to know the truth.”

“What are you suggesting exactly?” I ask.

My sister wanted to create a video to tell her truth. To expose everything that Henri did and explain her feelings and her side of the story.

It was time she said. We couldn’t charge Henri, but we could make sure that everyone knew what he did and have them come to their own conclusions. The fresh start wasn’t enough. Not when all the bad came back to follow us. She won’t say it, but I know my sister can’t stand how people have treated me and how they look at me. I tried to brush it off, especially now since my friends and James know the truth, but Mia doesn’t want that for me anymore. But there would be repercussions. Henri’s father wouldn’t take a scandal like this connected to his name sitting down. He had threatened our father’s dentist practice. I reminded Mia of this.

“You know what he’s capable of,” I say to Mia.

“I know,” Mia says, “I think it’s time to stop hiding from everyone. Time to ask for help and stop running from the past.”

“I thought a fresh start would be best,” I say, “I didn’t mean for it to go so horribly wrong.”

“It was best, Arya,” Mia says, “at the time. But now it’s time to tell the truth.”

“Dad needs to know, Mia,” I say.

“I know,” Mia says, “Everyone has to know, and we need to tell Mom and Dad first before sharing any sort of video.”

So we did. We told them everything the next day, from the rape to the graffiti to the threats. Obviously, my parents were upset. Obviously, they wished we had come to them earlier. It took a lot of convincing to get them not to call the police then and there.

“It will only make things worse,” I say.

“He needs to pay for what he did,” Dad says.

“And that’s what we are trying to do!” I say back. “You know if we go to the police that it will just backfire on us.” I look at my dad, trying to get him to understand the pain that Mia would have to go through with a route that does not guarantee a good outcome.

It then takes even more convincing to keep my dad in the house instead of driving up to Henri’s house and seeking his own justice, like I had done.

“Steve,” my mom says, “you know you can’t do that. See what happened to your oldest daughter when she tried to ‘seek her own justice’.”

“I’m sorry Mom,” I say to her.

“Don’t apologize, Arya,” Mom says, “I know that sisters are known for keeping secrets, but you both must understand now how extreme this one was. This isn’t something you should keep from us.” Mia and I both nod. I know what my mom says is true, but it’s very hard to reveal something like this to anyone, let alone a parent. It’d be easier to say a guy was stalking you or, or someone stole from you, but being raped is different. Other crimes are more clear-cut, but rape isn’t and the trauma from it is much worse than a stolen purse. I think my mom understands why we kept it a secret from them, it’s just that she felt hurt that she didn’t know how much her daughters were hurting underneath her own roof.

Despite everything, they were kind. They were supportive. I emphasized the threat Mr. Young made to my dad. Dad knows what Mr. Young is capable of. My dad is the one that told me all the stories about him.

“I’ll take care of it,” Dad says.

“Dad.”

“Don’t worry, Arya,” Dad says, “you do what you have to do, and I’ll do what I have to do.”

That night, I would help my sister create a video of herself. A video where she explained everything that Henri did, exposing him as the real monster he is. Most importantly, expressing how she felt, what the experience did to her.

But there was something I had to do before Mia made the video. Before the truth came out for everyone to see. I phone him again like I have for the past week with no success.

“What’s wrong?” Mia asks me.

“Nothing,” I say.

“It’s not nothing,” Mia says.

“I’ve tried to call him so many times, but he’s ignoring me,” I say. “Not that I blame him, but I want to talk to him before the video is in cyberspace.”

“Then do something he can’t ignore,” Mia says as if it’s obvious.

I give her a sheepish smile and then call someone that can help me out. He picks up on the second ring. “George!” I say into the phone. “I need to ask you something.”

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