"Nikki? You should get up, dear. You'll be late for school," my mom said. She was sitting on the edge of my bed. I could tell she was still upset, but I didn't really care... I was mad at her for last night, and all the other nights.
I sat up and clapped on my light, blinking several times.
"So, who was that boy? I came up to check on you and he'd said you two were talking last night on the fire escape, but you'd fallen asleep. He didn't want to leave you out there so he brought you inside. I thought that was very nice of him." She told me. That caught me off guard, and I stared blankly at the window, realizing that the stranger had been in my room last night.
"His name is Sam. He's new in town," I replied without thinking.
"Oh... He's kind of cute." She tried to sound nonchalant about it, but she was a terrible actor. I rolled my eyes and got up.
I put eye drops in my eyes to wet my contacts after accidentally falling asleep in them. After throwing my hair up in a pony tail and changing my shirt, I was ready for school.
"Nikki!" I heard my name and turned around. Anger pulsed through my veins at the sight of the boy. I was planning on turning and walking away, but he caught up to me too quickly. "Nikki, we need to talk," he said.
"Gill, I don't have time for this right now. I need to get to class. If I'm late one more time I'll have In-School Suspension."
He didn't seem to hear me, because he went on. "You've been avoiding me, and I'm sick of it. Why won't you talk to me?" he demanded,. He advanced towards me, and I was forced to retreat until my back was pressed against the wall.
"Gill, we're broken up. You can't boss me around anymore. Now get out of my way, I need to go."
"No, not until you answer my question!" He smacked the wall on either side of my head. I flinched.
"Leave me alone, Gill!" He backhanded me, leaving a sting I would feel for hours. I looked him in the eye, forcing myself not to look scared. His dark hair was a matted mess, he had dark circles under his eyes; his breath smelled of alcohol, and I knew he'd been hitting the bottle again. The smell curled up inside my nostrils, and I wanted to gag.
"Hey! Leave her alone!" Someone shouted. Gill ignored the boy, and a tear rolled down my cheek. I would've wiped it away, but now he had a firm grip on my wrists and had them pinned at my sides. I stared at the floor as he continued to shout at me.
"I said, 'Leave her alone.'" I looked up to see Sam standing like a rock behind Gill... He had to have been at least a head taller. He was quite intimidating, and I swear his eyes could have ignited, he was so angry.
"Sam, go. This isn't your fight," I mumbled, ashamed.
"Yeah, Sammy-boy. Run along now, and mind your own business," Gill purred patronizingly.
"You first" was Sam's only reply. I could tell he didn't like being called Sammy-boy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I made a note to never call him that.
Gill turned around and sized up his opponent. I could feel the testosterone radiating around the hallway. Or maybe it was just Gill's appalling odor. "You should've left when you had the chance," he said. Before I knew what was happening, Gill drew back his arm and aimed a punch at Sam's face. I shrieked as someone's arm slammed into me, knocking me onto the floor. A group of kids crowded around in a circle to watch.
"Stop it! STOP IT!" I yelled.
Shouts and yelling sounded from down the hallway as teachers ran to break up the fight. The next few minutes were a blur for me.
Mr. Caro looked at me expectantly as he waited for my reply. I was sitting in the principle's office for the first time in all my two years of high school.
"Nikki," he repeated. "Did Gilligan Davis hit you or not?"
I nodded, staring at the floor. My cheek still stung, and I wondered if there was a hand print.
"Thanks, Nikki. Your mom is on her way to get you, and you'll be excused from the rest of your classes for the day," he explained.
"Mr. Caro, I don't need to go home. I'd prefer not to, if I can help it."
He looked at me with pity in his eyes, and suddenly I wanted to yell and scream and throw things. I wasn't a child anymore; everyone could stop feeling sorry for me.
"You'll have to take that up with your mother."
I remained seated, lost somewhere in thought. "What'll happen to Sam? He was only sticking up for me. Gill threw the first punch. Sam shouldn't get punished. He won't, will he?"
Before Mr. Caro could answer, the clerk stepped in, announcing that my mom was here. I left the office with a sinking heart.
My mom stood in the doorway, glaring at Gill; meanwhile, he fiddled with his shoe laces, very interested in the individual stains. He looked dejected, and I wanted to spit in his face. He wouldn't look at me, and I knew he felt terrible.
Good, I thought. He deserves whatever punishment he gets.
Sam sat against the opposite wall, his expression blank. As much as I appreciated him, I was mad that he'd gotten involved in this whole mess.
"Nicole, are you okay?" My mom asked me. She was still galring at Gill.
"Mom, I'm fine. I don't need to go home, though. I--" no one ever seems to let me finish a sentence anymore.
"You're coming home whether you like it or not. Besides, I need to talk to you. Grab your purse, let's go."
My mom herded me out of the main office like it was an infirmary full of patients infected with the plague. I was utterly mortified, but I was kind of glad to be away from this school. Too bad that feeling wouldn't last much longer.