I’m sitting on the back porch, in the swing, and Matt is with me. He’s sitting there, looking so warm and cuddly, with his glasses on and perfectly kissable lips. He looks like Matt, so secure and safe. I take hold of his hand, twisting it over and over, making sure its there, rubbings my fingers on his palm. Taking a breath of relief that this is real, I lean back into the swing cushions and stare at him.
“Now that you’re dead, what are you going to do with your life?” I asked him, quoting his favorite movie. He turned around to look me in the eyes, his face pale and lips blue, and eyes drained of life. He opened his lips, just to the size of a penny and a croaking noise came out, I screamed and jumped off the swing, and stood in front of him, in shock, with my own lips wide open. He sat there, looking so cold, and then he turned to bone, and then… ashes.
“Lucy,” I heard my father say sternly, making me stir in my sleep, raising my head a few inches high to see him standing in the doorway, holding the door open, letting in the dim lights of the hallway into my dark, almost blue-ish room. “Wake up, it’s time for school.”
Music to my ears.
I let my head fall back onto my bed, and I was hoping to get back to sleep, but my dad didn’t close my door, so I stood up and went to the door, ready to close it, to say no to the entire world, but right across from my room, on the wall right next to the bathroom door, is a picture of me. My yearbook photo from sophomore year hanging in a frame, god, he really knows his ways.
I close the door, and lean against it for a while, letting my eyes rest.
Then I wake up for my day.
Downstairs, I make myself a Pop Tart and a glass of orange juice as I sit down at the table, earning a short glare from Cameron and noticing that Jessie’s not here.
“Where else but her bed room,” Cameron said, which surprises me, it’s the first thing he’s said to me since the fuse.
“Is she sick?”
“Kind of,” he says and sips his coffee. He drinks coffee. He is drinking coffee, and looks up at me again, another glare in his eyes. “What the fuck?” He demands, and makes me shrink back into the chair. We finish our food in silence, and we grab our coats and I grab my small, thin, practically weightless old book bag and Cameron still has that look in his eyes.
“Oh, fuck off,” I tell him and he raises one eyebrow, making me flick him off with initial instincts.
“Alright, Lucy,” dad said, walking into the hallway, fixing the collar of his shirt as he’s walking. “Cameron knows the way, he’ll direct you on the way to school,” dad said, slipping into his jacket.
“What? Why can’t I drive?” Cameron protested.
“Because what? Lucy’s license probably isn’t valid anyway, anywhere,” Cameron protested, a bit of a southern accent escaping his lips. Wow.
“It’s not,” I tell them, looking down, and then I look dad in the eyes. “I can’t – I shouldn’t drive. Cameron should do it,” and for a while it sinks in, and I don’t know if Cameron is tensing or relaxing next to me, but I can feel it from dad, the control slipping out of his hands, and the fear of losing it in his eyes.
“Alright, then,” dad says and moves past us to get out of the house, and I look to Cam, giving him a hopeful smile, but he just shrugs and walks off.
This is going to be fun.
The car ride to school is silent, and without music, too, so I just sit there and stare at the window, praying to every saint I know of that I’ll die before I get where I’m going. Abraham Lincoln High School, home to the lower and middle class of Iridian. Van Delm and Quinton, both private schools are for the upper class brats, and the amazing Antimony is for the especially lower class, see how nice and segregated we are. Everyone calls Antimony Ant Hill, even those who go there.
Cameron practically bolts from the car after parking, leaving me in the dust of this new school, because that’s what it is, it’s no longer routine for me to come here, hell, it’s no longer legal, I could go to court, and probably lose with still some hope of never having to do stupid geometry again. Ugh, fuck.
I don’t think I can go back, and just standing here, at the back of the car, staring at this place, I have no clue what to do? Which foot goes first? Breathe. No, not that way.
“Hey, Lucy,” a soft, deep voice says, making me turn around and see Jack behind me.
“Hey,” I breathe, and sucking in the air through my mouth. I need water. A lake full. “How’s – How – Wha –“ I’m just completeing giving up on speaking now, because I don’t know what to say, and instead of looking him in the eyes, I look at the ground, and Jack steps closer, and gives me a hug, and it feels nice, to hug someone, and to get hugged back, without any tears or expectations, just a nice and simple hug, and not even a welcoming hug, just I’m Glad You’re Alive And I Can Still Hold You hug.
A hug I would want to give to Matt right now.
We don’t really say anything, nothing really needs to be said, because Jack is kind of shy, not quiet, once you get through to him, he never stops talking, and he’s so cute, always talking non stop about gossip and everything, and I cant tell if I have to break through with him again, because it was Chloe who did it, or if he just knows that I don’t feel like talking. He’s sensitive like that.
Once we’re in the building, this massive, huge, air sucking building, we get swallowed up by crowds of people, people who I’ve seen before, other’s who I am guessing are as new as I am. I’m new again, a freshie, this sucks. Closing my eyes, I lick my lips and broaden my shoulders. I’m not a freshie, I’m no freshie, I’m not starting over again, I’m going right back to where I was before… or not. I don’t know if I want that, if I want those friends, but I don’t want to be alone, but at the same time, alone feels really good while all of these people push up against me, pushing me and go in a hurry, and I feel horrible, sick to my stomach and throat, just standing here, near the front entrance of the school, because it’s a school, not a concentration camp.
The people dwindle, they all go to their places, some walk right out of the building, some run and rush to class. I can feel their touches against me, pushing and pulling me in all different directions, some curse words and shit aimed at me for just standing here, not doing anything, with my eyes closed, and my headphones in.
The first bell rings, and school has started, and I feel like taking out my headphones, but I don’t, because I’m not whipped, I’m not a student here, I’m just for testing.
Taking a breath, I turn on my heel and walk to the door, and I’m pushing through the door when I hear my name.
“Miss Carlisle?” Someone behind me asks, and it’s a man, I can tell that much, and turning around, with the door still slightly pushed open behind me, I look at him. He doesn’t look familiar, about five ten, with short brown hair that is combed and neat, he looks like a teacher, once was surfer could be father with his beer gut. “If you don’t mind putting your iPod away,” he tells me, and so I take my headphones off, but I do mind, and I don’t. I just don’t care anymore, but I have this nagging feeling inside me screaming that this is wrong and unjustified.
“And come with me, please,” and I want Chloe and J.J. here to laugh and make jokes out of his choice of words, Ethan, too, even. He walks down the hallway in the freshmen corridor, to the left of the front doors, and I reluctantly follow. This reminds me of the seventh grade, of Devina, who was, sure, older than me, but telling me a story that followed the same rhythym.
“Ally – she chose my entire life for me, she made a road, and I followed it,” I remember her saying. I remember water dripping from her curls and her big brown eyes following Michelle Dios ass as she walked by. “She told my parents I was gay for her in the seventh grade,” she said as she followed Michelle’s butt. “Ever since, it’s like I haven’t had a choice,” and she turned back to me to answer my question. “That’s why being a lesbian for me is such turmoil.”
I had no idea what turmoil was.
He walks into the room, so small, with such few desks, with no one in there but a kid in a wheelchair who looked high out of her mind, and a kid I know, Brian, who is mentally retarded, who I know is obsessed with breasts. He looks up at me and looks displeased.
“Wait here for a second, miss,” he says and I turn to see him turning to leave. “Take a seat and we’ll have your test ready for you,” and I take my seat and think to myself, it’s not ready. Wow, I really do need help, so I lean back and close my eyes, letting my hair reside on the sides of my face.
When I wake up, it’s two hours later, and the test is right in front of me. Oops. My bad. I take a pencil out of my bag, and raise to go sharpen it, and then notice a coffee cup sitting on the desk, and I go around the disposable wall that is crinkled to the middle of the room and ogle at the coffee for a second.
“Can I help you?” A woman asks, and I look up to see a teacher there, or whatever she is. She’s pretty, and I sense she’s a lesbian, but then again, I knew three lesbians in Detroit, and all of them were naturally red heads with highlights or lowlights underneath.
“Um,” I wonder, can she? Has anyone ever slept through a test before? Okay, I have, and I’m sure some stoners here have, or hell, even Ethan, but what can she do? Tell me the clock is two hours fast? “Coffee?” I ask, pointing to her cup.
She smiles, and it’s…. sweet. Very welcoming, like with the movement of her lips is just an instant instinct to hug her, to jump into her arms and lay your head on her chest.
“Sure,” she says and gets up out of her chair, and I notice she’s dressed well, in nice, fitting light blue jeans and a low v-neck long sleeved shirt. She pours me a cup of coffee in the other room, which I can barely make out with the door half opened. “You doze off or something during your test?” She asks.
Oh god, she doesn’t know, and man is that more embarrassing, well, for her, and there’s no way in hell I’m saying anything.
“Yeah, I’ve barely gotten anything done so far,” I tell her.
“Well, it is English,” she says and walks toward me with a warm cup in her hands. “Reading that while dreaming about Robert Downey Jr. can be distracting,” oh, I guess my gaydar is wrong. I probably forgot to flick it on today. Ugh, stupid red heads.
“Or Kurt Cobain,” I say and sip the coffee. Oh, that’s the good stuff.
“Touche,” she says, and now I realize she is definitely not gay, and I turn the other way to my guess and thank her. I’m guessing she’s not a natural red head. Just a blond in disguise. Only a blond – with the exception of me and Chloe – wants to bang the big RDJ.
I stretch and drink my coffee as I take the test, and almost spill the deliciousness twice, and get a little coffee dot on the paper, but that’s okay. I’m over with it within the hour or so, when a teacher, one that I sort of recognize, and only by the mole in his eyebrow, comes in and takes it, only to replace it with math.
See what happens to me? I’m living proof of corporate punishment, or maybe, just too much English and reading comprehension, coffee and Björk. I knew not to import that CD Chloe had made me, but it was just so sweet of her to make a welcome home mix for me, but… ugh. Björk, Runaways, Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow, Space Mtn., it’s like having two copies of the Tank Girl soundtrack.
All I want to do is sleep, but of course, they don’t let me. I’m ordered to go get some food, and even though I tell them I don’t have any money, they give me some! I say, I’m anorexic, but no…. they just want me out of here so they can start smoking, tripping or fucking the intern. Predictable, I leave the room with my book bag on, and walk out of there, and look at the clock that’s down the hallway on the left, but it’s far away and I can barely make it out, and even then I can’t remember the bell schedule.
I hear snickers and whispers from behind me and turn to see what’s going on, two girls, both in jeans and Abercrombie apparel, are looking at me, with little smirks on their faces. As if they can even think, I Know What You Did Last Summer, is original. They probably think I’ve spent the past eight months sucking off dick and lying in my own pool of vomit and sleeping on the streets, but no, I sucked dick, laid next to the love of my life and slept in his arms most nights.
One of three, and I say they still fail. I walk into the cafeteria, and it’s packed, and I see those two girls take a seat at the nearest round table, and I can feel all of their eyes sinking into my skin, like anchors that are destined to drown me. I stand there, and see people look up and see me, and I see J.J. on the other side of the room, far from the chatter, but it’ll get to her. She’s sitting at a table that I know is filled with basketball players of both genders, but mostly of one race, and girls who like to call themselves pom poms but everyone else labels as hookers.
J.J. looks up at me for a second, and I can see her eyes smiling, and her lips turned upwards for once in her life since I’ve come back, and almost immediately she gets depressed, and I can see her eyes darken and lips turn straight.
Maybe it’s better if I’m not in her life, I think as she turns her head and starts talking to her other friends. As if we’re friends anymore….
I want to walk, I do.
I want to get out of here, desperately, I want to.
But I can’t seem to shake this feeling – of utter despair, of my knees weakening and my head hurting, and I want to close my eyes, and I feel like if I do, that’s it, that’s all that needs to be done, and I’ll be grateful for the end. Grateful for the dead. Grateful Dead reference there.
“Lucy!” I hear ecstatically, and my eyes flutter up, and I see Jack in front of me, with a huge, goofy grin on his adorable face and his eyes twinkling. “Come on, I’ve got something for you!” He yells, giving me the courage to step further, and farther away from my initial destination.
“It better be another great big hug,” I tell him and knowingly, he wraps one arm around my waist and side hugs me as we walk, and gives me a kiss on the side of my head as well.
“That and so much more,” Jack promised as I walked with him to his lunch table, where a group of cute, some acne scorn freshies, or now, sophomores were. “Rodney, Dennis and Taylor, this is Lucy, she’s amazing, we met on yearbook,” he says. “Sammie and Lacey, this is Lucy, Lucy, Sammie and Lacey,” he added and I just nodded with a smile.
“Hey, you’re that girl who ran away,” one of his friends said, his fork pointing at me while he rested his chin on his knuckles. I don’t know why, but he uncomfortably squirms in his seat and looks away, jumping into the conversation with the guys next to him.
“Nice death glare,” Jack whispers into my ear, making me smile for the second time all day.
It’s my second day at this place, and feels like my hundredth, probably because it is, but I don’t know. I don’t even know how many days or hours are in a school year – let alone a year, all I knew is that it feels like one, waiting for Mrs. Kirschbaum to come back into her office. She better be bringing coffee, I had to deal with Connor again today, the ice king in the car as he listened to rap on the radio. Ugh, why does she make me wait? My head rolls back, and I feel tired. Tired like no other, not even like my social studies teacher in the seventh grade who would fall asleep on his desk during a movie.
“Well, hello, Miss Carlisle,” she says, snapping my head up, but my brain is still in la la land. Ha ha, la la land. “Sorry, did I wake you?” I get the impression she didn’t have many friends in high school, that she’s been the same weight, height and shoe size since she was fifteen, which is five four, a hundred and fifty or forty, and a size ten. This girl should not be wearing floral.
“Yeah, you did,” I tell her, letting my cheek rest in my palm as my arm rests on the chair. I’ve been testing for half of the day, as well as waiting in anticipation of getting this meeting over with.
“Well, isn’t that a burden,” she really dislikes me. Is it because I’m a natural blond, and someone here… isn’t? God, am I cranky when I’m tired. She smiles, but it’s a deceiving, lying smile. A see through smile. “You should see this as a blessing, Lucy,” she tells me. “You’re on a short leash here, and you’re lucky your mother is one of the –“
“Top lawyers in the state,” I mumble to myself, dozing off.
She slaps her hand on her desk, jerking my head up because of it.
“What the fuck?”
“Language,” she orders sternly. “Miss Carlisle –“
“My name is Lucy – Looh Cee. Like Looney, only with sanity,” I tell her, hoping she and everyone else will get it right.
“Well, if you want to be treated like an adult, you better get used to it.”
“Who says I want to be treated like an adult?” I ask her, where does she get these incredulous ideas. She looks baffelled, and I wonder, does she have a stutter? Because she makes this weird, pissed off expression where her mouth goes wide and she stares off into the ceiling before she starts talking again.
“You did! When you went gallivanting –“
“Don’t say that word! I fucking hate that word – and that wasn’t what I was trying to say when I left, I wasn’t trying to say anything! What, are we in some goddamn English class all day? No, we’re in real life, where people just want to live, not to have others live for them, or watch the world pass on without an invitation. I’m human, just like every fucking else, I wanted a connection to the world, to someone else, to something, so fuck off, you know you’ve felt that same desire once before,” I say and lean back into the chair. “No matter how dried up you’ve gotten since,” and she makes another face, a face that poufs up her entire face into shock and stands up, and leaves.
Until the principal arrives.
Alright, I got high.