Authors: Dewayne Haslett
I take deep breaths, calming myself; my mind gripping the image of Taylor before the pain got any worse and distracted me. Suddenly, the pain starts to fade and the volume of the sounds begin to lower. I stand back up and continue to breathe quietly. The first thing I hear are the cars; driving past with the sound of wheels scrapping the pavement, the snowy reception of radios, and the rattle of the exh
aust pipes as it spews smoke.
I close my focus on the cars, and in that moment I hear Brad snoring inside the house, and after that, the crackling sound of swinging branches.
In an attempt to push my limits, I clear my mind of everything, flinching myself in preparation. But nothing happens as I’d expected. All the sounds come together again, but instead of pain, there was peace and clarity.
Relief spreads across my body as the external sounds absorb my mind, gracefully moving against each other like leaves floating in the cold autumn air.
As I now lay on the comfortable grass, curling up against the earthy surface while the angelic sounds pull me under, my eyes close, and a smile extends across my face, symbolizing my success.
The blazing beams of the sun awaken me. I get up from the damp grass, wiping off as much dirt from my clothes as I could, and stretch. After that, I check my watch. As soon as I found the hand touching five, I immediately head inside the house, running upstairs to my room, and putting myself into bed before Brad w
oke up and realized I was gone.
When the time came for me to actually get up, I hop out of bed, take a shower and change into a fresh pair of clothes.
As I walk down to the kitchen, my mind tries to put together what kind of cereal I would eat as a result of the punishment Brad would surely enforce, but instead I pause, find him cooking breakfast as usual.
"Morning," he says, his joyful greeting a little outputting, as if he’d forgotten the events of last night’s conversation.
"Morning to you, too," I say, playing along.
"So, you excited for school today?"
I didn’t answer him. At first, I wanted to curse myself for falling into Brad’s trap, buttering me up, having me believe everything was fine until he brings up the fight. But then I thought about Taylor and actually considered the feelings of returning to school.
I really wanted to see her, but a part of me tells me not to. What if she was freaked out by what happened yesterday? I know she was. Probably everyone was. If I run into her, I'm not sure what I'll say to her or what she'll say to me. But there’s one thing that I’m sure of. If we do talk, it wasn't going to be a particularly normal conversation.
I didn't want Brad to drive me to school today. He asks me why, and I tell him that I was expecting a
ride from a friend. I could tell from his reaction that it was hard to believe, but he decided not to discuss it further with me. Instead he agreed, and because he didn’t have to wait
for me, he left for work early.
I wait for a while after he leaves. As soon as the coast was clear, I grab my backpack from the couch and head outside.
A cold breeze hits my skin as I close the door behind me. I take a deep breath, calming myself down for a few seconds, and then start to jog. After a while, I start to run and everything freezes. I turn around and find myself miles away the house, though I’d only left it a few seconds ago. The same things happen as yesterday, the cars and everything become a blur, and I navigate around them as they pass. I don't know why I did that, but it was just so fun, I couldn’t help myself. Somehow, the running didn’t seem to bother me anymore. Instead I felt comfortable with it. I didn't know if that was a good thing or not, but either way, I sure am enjoying the hell out of it.
I reach the school within a matter of minutes. As my sprint slowly turns back into a jog, the speed returns to normal, and a puff of air shoots into my mouth. It wasn't as much as befor
e, so it was easier to handle.
As I cough, I consider the idea of running right into the front door, avoiding the commotion that my presence would spark. But there were people outside and I didn't want to freak them out any more than I already had, so I decide to go with the easier option, and endure.
As I walk up to the building, I notice the students turning around to look at me; the Goths, nerds, and worse of all, the jocks, whispering amongst themselves as they gaze upon me. The jocks seem to have the most effect on me. From there, I see Rick's
girlfriend glaring at me, along with everyone else on the football
Fear washes over me, hoping there weren’t any plots of revenge for what I did to their leader being set in motion. I didn't want any more problems arising.
Before I can even notice him, Jack walks up to me.
"Troy!" he shouts. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm good," I say, nodding my head. "A bad headache, that’s all. Rick was just getting on my nerves."
He nods. "That's good." He glances towards the jocks for a moment, then faces me again and continues to talk, his voice changing into a reducing tone as he shakes his head. "'Cause Rick's not."
"What do you mean?" I ask, hoping that he was okay, and only suffered just one tiny scar.
Jack stammers. "You…you almost shattered all of his ribs."
I was speechless, my mouth unable to open as I tried to ask him if he was kidding or not.
"Are you okay?" he asks, noticing the appalled expression on my face.
"Yeah," I reply, shaking away my emotions. "Is he okay?"
Jack shrugs. "I know the doctors fixed him before any damage was done, but other than that, I'm not sure."
I was so relieved that Rick would be okay. He got an injury—which in some ways is still close to a scar—and he didn't die, so that was a good thing. Maybe I wouldn't get in too much trouble after all.
"That must be some kick you got there," Jack laughs. "We need someone like you on the football team."
As much as I tried not to laugh, I couldn't help it. It was just so funny. It was cool of Jack, to try and make a joke when he knew I was upset. That said a lot about him.
Suddenly, my mind goes into another place. A place I wanted to be, but wasn't sure if I could go.
"Do you know what happened with Taylor?" I ask.
Jack shakes his head. "I'm sorry, but I haven’t seen her."
I wasn't disappointed. I knew that Jack wouldn't know, or if anyone knew, for that matter. The only way I would know what was going on with Taylor was by actually confronting her face to face.
After Jack tells me about people's reaction to yesterday—some were good, others were bad—the bell rings. I cringe at the sound, unprepared to go in, knowing that Taylor was somewhere inside. But I walk nonetheless, figuring that I'll just have to rip off the bandage and get it over with.
I head to History very quickly, wanting to get there as early as I could. That way when Taylor came in, she could say whatever she wanted to say, and leave me alone with my thoughts of possible ways to commit suicide.
I enter the class first, sitting in my desk, tapping my fingers against it with impatience. A few kids come in and I start to relax a little. None of them were her. Maybe she’s probably sick or something, or maybe she decided to skip school and not show up at all.
But just when I was thought she wasn't going to arrive, she did, right before the
bell rang. Lucky her, I guess.
At first, when she walks through the classroom she seems content. But when she sees me, she stops, her expression shifting into a suspicious look.
She starts walking again and takes her seat next to mine, like she had the day before. I was confused. Why would she feel so uncomfortable around me, yet wants to be near me?
"Hi," I say.
"Hey," she mumbles, looking down at her shoes.
I wasn't sure of what else to say. I could tell it was awkward for her, but she was the one making it that way. Why wouldn't she move if I was making her feel like this? Not that I wanted this, but something had to be done if it were to make her happy.
The class starts, but like always, I couldn't focus on the lesson. We were taking notes for a while, so I thought that I would at least say something to Taylor.
"Listen, Taylor," I say. She turns around to face me. "About yesterday-"
"You really freaked everyone out," she interrupts. "What's going on with you?"
I couldn't look her in the eyes, knowing that seeing them would bring me to tears. I thought about telling her. I really wanted to. But if she was already scared of me, I didn’t want to make things any worse.
"I just had a bad headache," I lie. "I tried to leave, but Rick just kept pushing my buttons and wouldn't leave me alone."
"I know you're lying," she insists. "A headache can't cause someone to kick a person an entire yard and shatter their ribs."
I could tell from the look on her face that she was angry, and it wasn’t exactly what I prepared for. I really didn't know how to make her believe me.
"Okay," I say, my voice in a low growl, "if you think I'm lying, then why don’t you tell me what you
"I don't know, but what you did was unlike anything I've ever seen. I couldn't see you; it was almost as if you were a huge blur. You kicked Rick before he even had a chance to hit you, and now he's in the hospital."
I stare at her in disbelief, amazed at how much she had seen.
"So you think I turned into a blur and super-kicked Rick at some abnormally fast speed?" I ask sarcastically.
She nods her head.
"You know people will think you're insane if you tell them that."
The anger that floods throughout her face suddenly turns into a calming expression. It only took her a moment to answer me, and when she did, she spoke each word slowly and carefully.
"Who said I was going to tell anyone?"
I could tell she was serious. I see it in her eyes. She wanted to know my secret, and even more surprising, she would try to keep it.
The response almost makes me give it away, but I still wasn't buying it. I needed more convincing.
"Why does it matter to you so much?" I ask. "Is this for an article or something?"
"No, it's not," she declares. "I just need to know the truth, that's all. I won't tell anyone, I swear."
I couldn't tell her. No matter how much she wanted me to trust her, I couldn't. I could barely understand
what was going on myself, so I knew it would be just as hard for her,
regardless of what she thought.
I wasn’t going to take any chances. I'd rather she didn't know and keep her guessing, than me actually having to tell her and d
ealing with the consequences.
"Can you just drop it?" I ask, my voice growing with frustration.
She doesn't say anything. She just stares at me, looking into my eyes, though it was useless because there was nothing to find.
"You're not going to, are you?"
She shakes her head. "No."
I nod my head and shrug my shoulders, facing forward as I try to pretend as if this situation wasn’t a big deal. "Fine by me," I say.
She scowls at me for a moment, then sighs and returns to taking her notes. "Unbelievable," she says.
I was confused by what Taylor was saying. What was unbelievable? The fact that I wouldn't tell her my secret, or was it just me in particular? I'm guessing it was the former. And if it was, she certainly wasn't lying.
As soon as I go back to writing my notes, the door opens and a man walks in.
"I'm so sorry to interrupt your class, Mr. Martin," he says, "but can I have Troy Connor for a moment?"
I wasn't surprised by this. The day was already filled with so many twists and turns that it was almost impossible not to expect them anymore.
"Of course," Mr. Martin says.
I didn't turn to see Taylor's reaction as I stood up to grab my bag. I didn't want to witness her anger and sadness anymore than I already had. So I just left the class, and walked away without saying a word.