"Meg? I know you're going through a tough time, but keeping yourself closed isn't going to help." She puts a hand on my knee. "I'm here for you. I'm here to help."
I look at her, at her hand on my knee, and hear the unspoken words, it's my job. I feel like sighing but know she'd pounce at the least little thing. What else were guidance counsellors for?
"I'm fine, okay? Can I go now?"
"Oh, Meg. You know you can't. I can't let you leave until you've talked to me, your mother's and the principal's orders." She smiles, as if she hasn't just squashed my hopes of getting out of here alive. "Talk to me. I want to know how you're doing."
Everyone wanted to know "how I was doing". They always do after a public and humiliating break up. I mean, we really caused a scene. Enough so that the principal had had to get involved. And over what? I resisted the urge to grit my teeth in frustration.
Dom always had his quirks. He never gave up on his acrobatics, listened to the weirdest indie rock (along with all his classic rock) and would occasionally dress in clothing from another era. I loved all of his oddities, all except for one. He had an impossible dream. He wanted to be himself, be unique, and still fit into the crowd.
The fight originally started because Dom had been pushed around. Dom was a big guy, 6'3", and generally popular, especially with the girls, as much as that annoyed me. So the idea of someone wanting to make trouble with him... well, it was a little absurd. But then, that's high school. Make the wrong choice and you're social fish bait. The land mine he'd missed was turning down a football spot to join the soccer team.
Dominic had gotten battered around a little, never struck back, and decided everything would be okay once the captain had released his anger.
A week later, he was invited to a party that the football team was holding. And without telling me, he went. They threw everything they had at him. They didn't beat him up, not with their fists, but they wanted to make it a night he'd regret, high school style. Cheerleaders, pushed into service by their jock boyfriends, tried to make out with him or seduce him in various ways, drinks were splashed on him, bathrooms taken, food crushed on his back. Someone even vomited on his shoes, though I'm pretty sure that, out of all of it, was an accident. But everything stayed in the awkward and petty zone until someone, maybe the quarterback, maybe one of his knucklehead friends, spiked Dom's drink. He ended by in the hospital. The worst part? He didn't tell me. My friend Kate, currently the girlfriend of a benched receiver, had called me up the next morning babbling about how sorry she was.
We fought in the hallway on Monday. I, who had a hard time taking crap from my peers or my mother, was appalled he would put himself in such a position, have things like that done to him and just shrug it off.
I was trying to protect him, this big, easygoing boyfriend of mine who was the sweetest thing and who would do something with his life if a high school quarterback didn't kill me first, and he freaked out at me. Told me I was too judgemental. When I continued to reason with him he got loud and angry. Enough to attract attention and scorn as he yelled things at me that made no sense to his character, things no girlfriend wants screamed at them in a crowded hallway.
I don't know if the pieces of my heart will ever fit back together again after that. The initial shock still lingers and I don't know when the pain will go away. I wish I knew how to leave people alone, how to forget, how to only look after myself and Michael. I never got Michael's ability to mediate.
I turn back to the guidance counsellor.
"I'm done here. I don't feel like staying and listening to your crap. I have math homework to finish."
I got up and left.