“Your shorts are too short,” Big Lady said. I froze.
“Oh? I’m sorry.”
“Let me see your ID.” I fumbled with it to flip it over. “Mm. Go to room R3. That’s the AC room. Call your parents there and see if they can bring you a change of clothes.”
“Uh, yes ma’am.” Numbly I paced to my friends and alerted them. I got Mikayla to talk to my dad and tell him to bring me some pants since I broke the dress code. I’m so freaked out I forgot to go to the room the lady told me.
In journalism, I thought I could get away with it because Mr. Dibley doesn’t care. We went down to a computer lab and presented the rest of our projects over a specific journalist he assigned us to.
Right when it was my turn, right when it was my turn, that lady walked in. I didn’t dare look back at Miranda. All I could feel was fire creeping to my face and spreading throughout my whole body. She had to know I was here. She got my name and checked in with the AC people and found I wasn’t there.
Petrified, I got up in my short shorts and mumbled, “I’m going to change right after this.”
Very quickly I portrayed my project over Robert S. Abbott and stumbled over words, reading too quickly, failing to make eye contact. Probably going to get a bad grade on this.
The lady handed me the pink restroom pass as soon as I grabbed my other shorts that came in a little before I got up and rushed to the bathroom. So, so, so embarrassed. I redid my braid while I was in there too. Everything is just messed up today.
She was still in there when I got back. Stared at me as if I was going to change again. Like I’m going to do that in front of upperclassmen. I had the ugliest shorts on though. They were very large jeans that I had outgrown last year.
When class was dismissed, Miranda and I were overlapping in frantic outbursts.
“I can’t believe she came in.”
“And I thought I could get away with it!”
“She gotta know you were here. Normally she goes around every class just to inspect the teacher’s class and such, but to randomly pop in here is highly unlikely.”
“Evil Lady is her new name. I’m gonna call her that every time I see her.”
“It’s so unfair, though. Half the school wears the same shorts as I did.”
“They must’ve stayed away from her.”
“Perhaps. Ugh, I’m so mad!” We reached her class. “Bye, Miranda.”
Practically stomping to theater, I counted twenty-seven girls that were wearing my shorts. They pass Evil Lady all the time, so I don’t get why she doesn’t call on them. And they’re the ones that literally go up about five inches off the knee. Mine was like, three. Huge difference.
The story was passed on to Alex.
“That’s not right!” he protested at our desks.
“I know! It’s so frustrating.”
“Aw. She’s gone now, though. Don’t worry about it anymore.”
Mrs. V ordered for us to work on our skit in the hall. “Twenty minutes until performance,” she notified.
“So, how are we gonna do this?” I asked.
“Okay, you’ll be pacing and doing all the actions that a nervous bride would do before the wedding. I’ll be doing the same. Then, we both walk, you stay at the front of the audience, and I’ll switch to being the ring bearer and pretend to drop the ring. I’ll look around in fright, trying to find the darn ring -why do rings have to be so tiny?-“ I giggled. “and switch back to being the groom. You get angry and look also. Eventually we’ll find it underneath the chair. Sounds good?”
“More like sounds someone did their homework,” I nudged. The procedures are actually quite easy to do.
Twenty minutes passed, and then another fifteen for us to go. People laughed at how confused Alex was in finding the ring. We ended in success.
Nothing really happened in Spanish and math. I was too eager to go to auditions. Once that last bell rang, I went and changed my shorts again. Ah. Now I feel so much cooler, in both ways.
No one I knew was in the theater, so I sat by myself. I waited somewhat impatiently for the show to start.
A boy and a girl introduced themselves as the captains of the improv team, both seniors. They discussed how the trial will go and split us into three groups.
“This game is called, ‘Two items walked into a bar’. We give you an item and you have to say a punch line after. First off, two sheets of paper.”
After three people I went up.
“Two sheets of paper walked into a bar and the bartender said, ‘Sorry, we don’t serve your kind here.’ The papers said, ‘Ouch, that was a paper cut.’” A few people got the joke. I’m a little dissatisfied with the outcome though.
Another game came up. I remembered it from last year but I never tried it because I wasn’t really good with it.
“Two people will be in the center and you have a setting. In this case, it’s Grandma’s house.” The head girl picked me to be first and some boy named Dylan. We both looked at each other for help.
“Now, granddaughter, it’s time for lotion!” he croaked.
“Uh…” I wasn’t planning on going in this direction at all.
“Can you do my feet first? They’re really dry,” The crowd cracked up.
“Sure,” Someone else said freeze, the magic word. Finally!
Unfortunately, Chandler Clamp took Dylan’s place. Dylan had his arms wide open and Chandler replaced it to being dragged by a lawnmower that wouldn’t stop running. I chased after him to cut it off but whatever I did didn’t work. Even more laughter. Then Emma shouted freeze and I was relieved to go.
At the end, the list was announced. I sat on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear who made it.
My name was never called.
It wasn’t called.
It. Wasn’t. Called.
I wanted to run out of there. I picked up my stuff and left slowly though, my body not able to function easily. The hallways have never seemed so long.
By the time I finally got outside, all thoughts of crying have diminished. A darker thought replaced it.
Since I was walking to Dad’s house, I stayed close to the brink of the sidewalk, hoping some car would hit me. When I crossed the street I lingered, hoping some car would hit me. Please, any car can hit me. I don’t care what speed, just hit me.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d fail at life if I didn’t make it. Obviously I’m not funny to these people, which means I’m not funny to anyone. I just want to die already. I’m such a huge disappointment. I don’t deserve to live.
My suicidal thoughts are back. It all started yesterday when I revealed to my leadership class that I was- and maybe still is- suicidal. There’s nothing to live for anymore. I’m just let down time after time with everyone. I can never be happy. Life clearly sucks.
Desperate for sleep, I plunged on my bed and escaped from the reality.
The football game was currently boring Alex, so his eyes was glued to his phone. A vibration occurred.
“Alex, this is an emergency. You need to see Michelle right away,” Mikayla texted.
“She didn’t make improv. Did she tell you about that?”
“No. She would’ve told me, though. Is she okay?”
“I don’t think so. She said she’s depressed again.” Mikayla forwarded a message Michelle sent her. He never responded.
He has to see her. No matter what, he’s going to see her. She can’t afford depression again.
“Trevor, can you give me a ride really quick?” Alex poked him.
“Where to?” Trevor pulled out his keys and they hopped in the car.
“There’s the entrance.” His fingers fiddling anxiously, he looked out the window to his right and saw a girl on a row of hay bales. “Wait, just drop me off here. Thanks,”
“Good luck!” Alex ran to her. As he neared, he yelled her name, but she never turned. Then he noticed headphones in her ears. Figures. He jumped up, scaring her, but at least she was alive.
He grabbed her.
“Michelle! Michelle, please don’t kill yourself. I can’t live without you.” He started crying.
“Alex, I wouldn’t do that.”
“Don’t lie to me. I know what you said.” He showed her his phone.
“Oh,” Her eyes followed to the dark birds flying overhead. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s just selfish to kill yourself. You know how many people will be upset over your death? Surely your mom and Mikayla. Definitely me. So don’t even try it. I’m daring you to stay alive and-”
“Save the speech, Alex. I already promised Mikayla I wouldn’t several months ago. Don’t worry about me.”
“I have to, Michelle. As your boyfriend, I have to make sure you’re safe. Clearly, you’re not safe from death. If I haven’t come here right now, what would you have done?” He waited for her answer.
“Nothing, really. I realized it was stupid to even think that. I remembered my promise and so I stuck with it. Plus, the rain earlier helped me feel better. Reminded me of home.”
“Please, don’t think that way again. You really scared me.” He held her tighter, so glad he’s breathing in sweet berries and not the cold scent of fatality. He’s so happy that she’s alive and in one piece. For a second, he wanted to check her body for any cuts, but he recalled a time last February where she told him she doesn’t believe in cutting herself.
“Why didn’t you tell me you tried out for improv?” he murmured into her neck.
“I don’t know. I guess I kept it to myself,” her voice shuddered. They shouldn’t be talking about this.
“Mm. Where’s Mikayla?”
“In Colleyville. One of her riding friends is having a birthday party. If she didn’t have a sleepover to go to she’d be here and you’d be at the game having fun with Whitney,” she quivered bitterly.
“Whitney? She’s always on the other end of the stadium. I never see her.”
“Oh. Last week she said she was hanging out with you-”
“No, no. I didn’t go to that game. I went to I-Hop with the sophomores instead. Ignore her. She’s still disturbed by us dating. It’ll be a while before she backs off.”
“Thanks for the warning.” A light drizzle cascaded down, but neither of them moved. There’s no reason to.
“Look, a rainbow.” Michelle pointed north. The colors are very strong, very precise. He’s never seen such an intense ray before. He’s surprised it came out, since there’s no sun at all. Just gray clouds and dull sky.
She snuggled up to him, her hand in his; assuring him that she won’t go anywhere. It comforted him, knowing she had already sworn she won’t commit suicide. They sat there, watching the cars pass by in silence, the dreary evening fading away, the drizzle turning into a soft shower.
The gray transformed to black. They headed back slowly, still in no rush. He kissed her goodbye and reminded her that he loved her when Jake came to pick him up. In the car, he told his brother about what happened.
“She needs help,” Jake advised.
“I know. She won’t let me, though. She’s very stubborn. But she’s not going to try anything, that’s for sure. And if she does, I’ll be the first person to see her.”
“You’re very committed,” he noticed. Alex nodded.
“I’ve loved her for about four years now. Of course I’m committed. I don’t want anything to happen to her. She’s all I have,” He paused. “The fight for her was all I’ve ever known. Once she’s gone, I’m gone. Nothing else to it.”
“Alex, you can’t get too attached. One day she may fall out love. You might too. She’ll find someone else and you’re stuck alone. And when you guys graduate, she’s going to move. I’ve heard from her brother many times how much she hates it here, and he agrees with her. That’s why he’s in Colorado instead of going to a community college like me. Are you willing to go with her, thousands of miles away from your first home? Where your family and friends are? You need to give this a lot of time before you figure it out.”
“I certainly know what I’m going to do. Believing we’re still together by graduation, I’ll go wherever she goes. I don’t care where it is. I only care that I’m with her.” The car pulled in the garage. “Because I love her.”
“Yes, but what if she doesn’t want you to go with her?”
“She…” He actually never thought of that. “She has to. I’ll be the only one she has left. She’s already leaving behind her best friend and her family. If I’m left behind…” No, it won’t be true. “She’ll take me.”
“Whatever floats your boat.” Alex hates that phrase. “Goodnight.”
Seeing it’s almost twelve, he should’ve collapsed into bed, but he was still galvanized by the fact that Michelle would even consider suicide. It’s the most selfish thing a person could do. It doesn’t just affect one person; it affects a whole crew of people. Even if you think no one will miss you, someone most definitely will. He desired she wouldn’t have ever gone through all that dark stuff.
Really quickly he’d check his Facebook to see what’s new. A red square popped up in the message category. He clicked on it and wished he never opened it.