To Remain Upright: Chapter 3Mature

So…I’m going to school.

            It’s Monday. I was released from the hospital yesterday morning. I haven’t slept and hardly eaten, so it would be pointless to stay home since I likely won’t be sleeping any time soon. Plus I’d have to be with my mother, who decided that she was going to take a couple days off of work to get back on her feet. Right.

            School has never been my favorite place in the world, but neither is home. I’m…I guess, a little different from everyone else. People call me a freak because I have certain opinions and views and I act a certain way.

            And also because I am, what they call, a tattletale.

            About a year ago, sophomore year, I heard a rumor that kids were getting drugs, like ecstasy, cocaine, and meth. Bad ones. I didn’t like that much because my friend Tanya’s boyfriend was buying and selling them. Tanya told me that her boyfriend,Troy, never actually did any of that, he was just selling it. She said he wanted money for a new car. She was wrong. He didn’t sell it. He used it. I saw him high on numerous occasions. I told Tanya a thousand times before she decided we weren’t friends anymore because I was “all up in business that didn’t concern me”.

            Then, I did what any good tattletale does. I told a trusted adult. My father.

            My dad told that he’d tell the police (since this was a smaller matter, not of national importance), then I offered to help catch them in the act. I knew the druggies were pretty good about hiding the drugs, but they also didn’t know that I was spying on them the majority of the time. I know that probably sounds really creepy, but I was really worried that Tanya would start using. At any rate, I’d walk near them and they would do nothing to hide it. The police decided to give me a miniature camera and a wire tap so I could get the evidence (they would have done it themselves of course, but they knew my dad, and know that I was dying for some glory in law enforcement).

            One day I went up to the junkies hiding in their empty alleyway around the school. I asked them how much they were selling for. They said that it wasn’t for sale, and that they didn’t believe that I actually did drugs. I told them that I’d give them more money to buy even more drugs, and they’d only have to give me a little. I said that things were bad at home and that I was dying for a taste of ecstasy.

            They wanted the money upfront but I told them I didn’t have it. They agreed to meet me in the same spot the next day, when I’d have the money. The meeting never took place. I took the camera and the wire tap to the police and they made arrests. Some of the criminals in question were old enough and had enough to go to prison. Some went to jail and rehab. Some went to juvie and are still there.

            Needless to say, all of the junkies in school hate me. They wince when they see my face, and get jumpy if I pass them in the hallway, as if I’m out to get every single one of them. They spread rumors that I was a tattletale lesbian and made fun of me. I ignored them and the rumors, but it surprises me that people actually believe the words that come out of people who are high, since they’re ya know, HIGH.

            Most of the others in schoolstillbelieve the rumors and just give me strange looks. I hear them all whisper about me as I pass. I feel their suspicious eyes on the back of my neck as if I’m planning some kind of conspiracy against every “normal” person. I can only imagine what they’ll whisper about me now…

            I walk through the doors of school now bracing myself for the impact of gossip. Freak. Lesbian. Nerd…Killer. I swallow but there’s still a lump in my throat that has made it nearly impossible to eat anything of substance.  A bunch of freshmen race ahead of me, thinking they were going to be late to class. I would laugh under better circumstances. We’ve had the same amount of time to get to class since the beginning of the year (it’s May) and they still seem to believe that they are going to be late. They race down the halls with their backpacks and books until they get to class and realize that they made record time in getting there and still have three minutes left.

            I don’t worry about being late. Instead, I force myself to look up rather than at my feet and I make my way to my locker. People look as I pass. The news has spread. They see me with one arm. My brain still foggy, it takes me a couple minutes to remember my combination. My head starts to pound. I rub my temples. All I wanted was my combination…

            “Eryn.”

            I open my eyes and find my outcast best friend, Neil. He is dressed in his staple colored skinny jeans, today lime green, a black sweater vest, white button down under, and a lime green tie to match. He’s wearing his lime green converse as well. He has a pair of every color. He’s wearing big square, you guessed it, lime green rimmed glasses and his hair is spiked in its usual fashion. He looked at me with such worry that I thought about sobbing into his shoulder. He had been out of town this weekend, camping with his father. I called him on Saturday, but at least I didn’t have to see how his face looked. It makes it difficult to remain in control, which is something I need to do.

            “Are you okay?” he asks.

            “I’m fine,“ I say a little too quickly.

            “I don’t believe you.”

            “Of course you don’t.”

            “Because you’re not okay.”

            “It’s fine, Neil. I’m here now. I have to be okay.” I want him to drop it. I don’t want to talk about my dad, the accident, me killing him, nothing.

            “Yeah, why exactly are you here?”

            “I have no reason to stay home.” I know he wants more of an explanation but I just want to talk about something else.

            “Sweetie, you shouldn’t be here.” He touches my hair with his fingers. He’s afraid to look at my stub, I can tell. He’s trying to focus on something else.

            “I need to be, Neil. Hiding won’t do any good.”

            He pulls me into a hug, squeezing me tightly. I put my arm around him. I try to embrace tightly as well to show my gratitude, but my one arm can only do so much.

            He pulls away. “We’re hanging out later you know. Sometime this week. You need to talk to someone, it might as well be your best friend.”

            “I’m not talking about it, Neil. Let’s get to class.”

            “We have five minutes.”

            “I said I’m not talking about it! I’m going to class whether you come with me or not. Bye.” I walk away from him, but he follows me. He says nothing for awhile, but he catches up to me in his stride.

            “No ascot today, queer bag?” Kyle Jacobson snickers as we pass him in the hall.

            Neil’s face doesn’t change, he doesn’t even blink. He is never fazed by Kyle’s words, at least on the outside. He’s been facing these comments since I could remember. Since he came out about being gay and I suppose even before that. “I wanted something more formal, dickhead.” He chuckles at Kyle and I join in, halfheartedly. Under normal circumstances, I would be laughing my ass off, considering Neil and I always support each other. As much as I try to do that, it’s just not possible right now.  Kyle’s mouth is open, like Neil had never said anything like this before, which he has.

            “Where’s the arm, Ingvar?”

            I ignore him and walk into class. I immediately regret it.

            23 eyes all look up and narrow to the spot where my right arm should be. Whispers get louder until they are ringing in my ears, an annoying buzzing sound that I cannot get rid of. I stare everyone down and take my seat, longing for this day to be over.

The End

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