Friday, December 30, 2016

I wore red.


I wore red: a pristine red dress with velvet trim and a matching bow. They told me I was pretty.

I wore red: a softball uniform with stains that would never quite come out. I felt like a badass.

I wore red: a bikini that was bigger than what my friends all wore. They shoved me into the pool.

I wore red: a camp counselor T-shirt marked with sweat. She kissed me and I felt different.

I wore red: a sweater that clung tightly to my curves. He taunted me and poked at me.

I wore red: shoes that squeaked through the halls. They called me a geek and laughed.

I wore red: a notebook that I clutched tightly to my chest. I felt the anxiety washing away.

I wore red: a blouse that was too big in places and too tight in others. They didn’t notice me.

I wore red: alcohol that stained my lips and tongue. They said I was more fun.

I wore red: a Halloween costume as I sipped my drink. He assaulted me.

I wore red: a hoodie as I navigated the snowy campus. They applauded when I crossed the stage.

I wore red: an embroidered top that matched my skirt. He fell in love with me.

I wore red: a blazer that echoed my professionalism. They told me how efficient I was.

I wore red: colorful confetti that landed all around me. He asked me to marry him.

I wore red: a striped pencil skirt and black tights. He harassed me.

I wore red: lipstick that I had never worn before. I said I do.

I wore red: crazy socks that came up to my knees. They said how fun and cool I was.

I wore red: a plaid shirt as we walked around the store. They all wanted to touch my stomach.

I wore red: my blood as my daughter came into this world. I told her how pretty she was.

I wore red: my hair, the same hair I had all my life, the same as hers. I told her I would protect her.


I wore red.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Clarity

It’s weird how one minute you can have something forced so deep down inside of you yet the next it’s slipping out nonchalantly as if it were never a secret. Today that happened to me. In a conversation on twitter about the insane notions of “Survivor Privilege” (words uttered by George Will claiming that there are certain privileges that go along with being a survivor of sexual assault and that’s it’s almost like a merit badge for women), it slipped out that I had been sexually assaulted when I was in college.

It came out as easily as breathing and I stepped back from the computer for a second to make sure that I really just typed that. Long ago I had come to terms with my experience; it was at a stage in my life where I was insecure, had low self-esteem, and was riddled with anxiety to begin with. The thought of reporting my assault to anyone seemed like the worst thing. This thought was perpetuated by a few who told me that there was no point in reporting it, and another who simply thought I was making it up.

The anxiety I had after that pretty much took over my life and blossomed into something else completely. I was able to escape into my writing and pretend that it never happened. It was only when I started dating Grant that I actually had to confront what had happened to me. The fact was I was almost raped. I was drunk, he was drunk but there was no denying or forgetting what happened. It started out with me actually confiding in him that I was attracted to girls. The rest of the night he pursued me, trying to “set me straight” that I should be with men. Eventually I found myself pinned up against a wall, my throat in his one hand while the other started to remove my clothes and touch me in inappropriate places.

Thankfully not only was he drunk to the point where he was weaker, but I happen to be pretty strong. I was able to get away and ran into the arms of a friend who stayed with me for the rest of the night. After that I just tried to ignore it and went on with business as usual. There isn’t a day that goes by that I wish I had said something.

The point of this post is not to have you all offer your sympathies to me. If you are a decent human being I assume that you think what happened to me was awful. What I’m trying to prove with this is that when things like this happen, it takes a long time to heal and some people never heal. On the flipside, if we open up discussions about this then we can acknowledge that they are happening and start a dialogue of how we can STOP it from happening again.

When I opened up on twitter I was actually floored by how many women (and a few men) who privately messaged me that they too have had similar experiences. It sickened me and just fueled the fact this is happening. It’s not something that is just made up; it is a problem that needs to be talked about because unlike what I thought when I was in college, this isn’t going to go away.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Running Away Pt. 2



            “Something wrong?” the man asked as a gasp left Emma’s lips.
            “Um…” she said not knowing what to say as the boy wagged his finger as if scolding her, “No,” she swallowed hard trying to regain her composure, “Not really, just… just a headache, sorry.”
            “Well we’ll be in Austin in about an hour,” he smiled as they continued down the road.
            For the next half an hour Emma didn’t know what to do; it wasn’t as if she could exorcise the demon right here in the car, but she couldn’t let the demon just stay in him. She had to talk to the parents in private. The boy, well really the demon in him, kept smiling at her.
            “I never got your name,” the man said, almost causing Emma to jump as he looked at her in the rear view mirror.
            “It’s Emma, Emma Johnson,” she wasn’t taking her eyes off the boy.
            “Well Emma I’m Jack, this is my wife Deborah, and that’s my son Tyler.”
            “It’s nice to meet all of you and I can’t thank you enough for letting me ride with you I’m pretty much broke and couldn’t afford to take another bus.”
            “Where do you live?” Deborah asked.
            “New York,” she said the first state that came to her mind.
            “Wow, you’re a long way from home then,” she smiled, obviously trying to improve Emma’s mood.
            “Yeah…” Emma said still staring at the boy.
            She hated the fact that most likely inside that cute little boy’s body was his soul fighting against the demon. Emma thought that this demon was sinking even lower than the usual demon. It was one thing to posses a person, but a little boy? Emma wondered what this demon’s end game was.
            About 20 minutes later they pulled into a driveway and Jack cut the engine to the car, “So this is our house, I’ll let my family get out then I can take you to the nearest bus station.”
            “Do you think that I could use the telephone to let my brother know that I’m going to be later than I planned?” she asked, undoing her seatbelt, eyes still glued on the demon.
            “Sure thing, then I can take you,” he paused for a second, “Not to be forward, but I thought it was your brother’s funeral you were going to…”
            “I have two brothers. My older one was the one who died, in the… line of duty,” lying was like breathing to her.
            “Oh, I’m sorry for your loss,” they all got out of the car and trudged towards the house, Emma’s eyes still transfixed on Tyler or rather what was in Tyler.
            “Thank you,” she said quietly.
            The four of them went into the normal suburban house the likes of which Emma pictured were in every white picket fence community. The furniture was all very beige, there were flowers in almost every room that she could see, and there was a light smell of air freshener in the air. As Emma gazed back onto Tyler, he was just staring at her with his bright green eyes. If none were the wiser he looked like a normal child, until a pure evil smile had spread across his face.
            “The phone’s in the kitchen,” Deborah said smiling.
            “Thanks,” she walked into the kitchen. Tyler’s eyes continued to follow her as she went; they even turned black for a split second.
            Emma picked up the phone and was about to press a number, but then stopped. Who was she going to call? At the moment she didn’t want to talk to her older brother Ethan, who would be the first person she’d call. In reality she didn’t have any intention of calling anyone; she just wanted to get into the house to somehow perform an exorcism on Tyler. She had to let her brothers know that she was okay at least but she was in no mood to talk about the miscarriage on the phone. She sighed and dialed James’ number; she hoped that he wouldn’t say anything about the miscarriage and would just be happy that she was fine.
The phone rang and he picked up on the third ring, “Hello?”
            “James it’s me…” she exhaled, tears threatening to fall from her eyes.
            “Emma!” he exclaimed. She could hear Ethan in the background say something, but she couldn’t make out what, “Are you okay? Where are you?”
            “I’m… fine,” her bottom lip started to tremble but she fought it, “I lost the baby…”
            “Emma I’m so sorry,” James’ voice was full of concern, “How are you doing?”
            “Not good, but I don’t want to talk about that now… are you two okay? The police didn’t find you or anything? You got away?”
            “Yeah, yeah we’re fine,” he said hurriedly, “Where are you calling from?”
            “Austin. Look I’ve got a situation here,” she took a breath and changing the tone of her voice, “I was on a bus but the man sitting next to me just so happened to be a detective - who just so happen to be following me to you two. So I got off the bus and got a ride with this couple and their son. But it turns out that their son just so happens to be possessed.”
            “That’s a pretty big coincidence don’t you think? That you just so happen to get into a car with a possessed kid in it?”
            “That’s why I don’t think it was a coincidence; I think that whatever is in that kid is because of me.”
            “Unfortunately I think you’re right. Look Ethan and I…” there was a click and the phone went dead.
            “James,” she said into the phone, “James.”
            She looked at the phone and then hung it up; she went to put it back on the cradle and when she saw Tyler standing there. He held a pair of scissors in one hand and the phone cord in the other. Slowly, she set the phone down on the kitchen table and went into her purse for something.
            “Nice try,” the demon said, “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing: trying to get all the Carmichaels together to perform some kind of excorsism on me.”
            “Hate to break it to you, whoever you are, but I don’t need my brothers’ help to perform an excorsism. And how dare you use a little boy to get to me.”
            “We just wanted to see if the rumors were true,” it smiled.
            “What rumors and who’s we?” she gripped the crucifix in her hand.
            “Like you really don’t know who ‘we’ are,” it laughed a horrible laugh, “There were rumors that you were no longer pregnant… guess they were true…”
            “You son of a bitch…” she took the crucifix and pushed it against the edge of the boy’s face.
            The demon screamed out in anguish, falling backwards, and flinging Emma across the room into the refrigerator. Tyler’s parents then came running into the kitchen and looked at the two of them: Emma standing up from being thrown into the fridge, and Tyler with a burn in the shape of a cross of his face.
            “What in God’s name is going on?” Jack yelled as Tyler flinched at the name of God.
            “Tyler!” Deborah cried.
            “Stay away from him!” Emma yelled holding the crucifix in front of her, “He’s possessed!”
            “What the hell are you talking about?” Jack exclaimed.
            “I first noticed when we were in the car. His eyes went black, and his hands were clawed against the seat. All which are signs of demonic possession.”
            “You’re crazy!” Deborah exclaimed going over to her son.
            “Mommy…” it cried.
            “Stay away from him Deborah he’ll kill you!”
            “I want you out of my house right now! And I swear if you hurt my son again!” Jack yelled.
            “I’m not going anywhere until that son of a bitch is out of your son! Deborah stay away from him! Look I’m not crazy! If he wasn’t possessed then why did this…” she held up the crucifix, “burn him? Look at him he’s possessed!”
            Sure enough Tyler’s eyes were rapidly changing from black to green, “Oh God,” Tyler flinched again, as Deborah said it.
            “Stop saying his fucking name!” Tyler yelled in a less than human voice.
            “Tyler,” Jack paled.
            “If you really want proof…”  Emma took out a flask filled with holy water.
            Tyler then started to walk backwards away from Emma, clutching his cheek with his hand, “Stay away from me bitch!” Emma then splashed about a quarter of the flask onto him. He started to scream and steam rose off of him in droves. Emma stepped back as he fell through the doorway and into the living room.
            “Tyler!” Deborah yelled starting after him, but her husband held her back.
            “Okay, okay! We believe you. But why Tyler? Why is he possessed?”
            “I don’t know, but I do know how we can get rid of the demon… this just so happens to be my specialty.”
            “Who the hell are you really?” Deborah demanded.
            “Someone who can help your son, and that’s all you should be worried about now.”
            “What do we do?” Jack asked.
            “First we need to contain him… put him in his room or somewhere. Do you have any salt?”
            “Salt?” Deborah asked.
            “Salt will keep demons out or in this case in. Do you have any?” she asked digging through her bag for the notebook where she had written down some information for occasions just like this.
            “I think we have some in the cupboard,” she said.
            “Good, get some of that and meet us in Tyler’s room. Jack come with me…” she then started into the living room, with the excorsism she had just found.
            She set her bag down on the couch and started towards the hallway, “Which room is Tyler’s?”
            “The last one of the right,” he said as they made their way towards it.
            The door was halfway open, and Tyler was sitting on the floor with his toys, playing as if he was a normal child. He looked up at them as they came into the room; Emma didn’t know what it was playing at by going back and forth from innocent to evil.
            “Jack, get him on the bed,” she said edging around Tyler against he wall.
            “Are we playing a game?” Tyler asked as his father placed him on the bed.
            “Yes Ty, but to play you have to sit still,” Jack said and Emma could tell he was very uncomfortable with this situation.
            Deborah came back into the room with a container of salt. She handed it to Emma, and then Emma instructed Jack to hold Tyler down. Tyler started to squirm around as she started to pour a thick ring of salt around the bed.
            “Just keep holding him down Jack, and when I tell you, jump off of him and outside the circle.”
            “Okay,” he said pushing his son down as he tried to claw him.
            Emma quickly finished the ring of salt and stepped back, “Now Jack!”
            Jack then practically leapt off of Tyler and onto the other side of the ring of salt. Tyler then sat up straight and was smiling at them.
            “So what are you going to exorcise me or something?” it laughed again.
            Deborah whimpered next to Emma, “Deborah you might want to leave, this could get very ugly.”
            “Regnatare, contate diem solute domino preferte sivercheim trivulte velchutem de…” Emma started to read off the paper in Latin, as both Jack and Deborah stayed put in the room.
            “You know we knew what was going to happen!” it yelled, “We knew that you weren’t going to be pregnant long!”
            Emma stopped for a second, tears came to her eyes, but she kept on reading, “Exhorte samuste omnise de spritus satanica potestus omiso cusuro inferno e versale ad omnis cerualtio et septa…”
            “You’ll never win!” it screamed and writhed over the bed in pain. Its face contorted while Emma made sure not to look at the parents’ apparent looks of horror, “More of us will come and hunt you down! We’ll kill you all! Remember we were able to kill the rest of your family; don’t think you aren’t far behind!”
            Emma tried her best to ignore the words of the demon, but it was very hard. Tears were now falling down her face; they were tears of sadness and complete hate. She continued to read, “Ereo, regulare mano omnis spritus propinare vade satana invente regugiste omnino maste humanes hures familiare potenta in abucate nove sanctum tobibule nominee.”
            Wind started to blow all around the room but no windows or doors were open in the house. Emma knew that this was usually a sign that the spell was working the way it was supposed to. The spell was almost done; there was just one more part to it.
            “Quem in fare tremos obusines diabuli liberas nost domine en sucirum tibie imortate sebire gamus audinus in vinidicus sactume!” she yelled the last part of the excorsism.
            Then Tyler lay down flat on his back, flopping around like a fish out of water. He started to yell as the room dropped to about 20 degrees and the windows flew open. Suddenly, the wind then died down, the temperature returned to normal, and Tyler sat straight up, “Mom…” he said softly.
            Emma then nodded at Deborah who crossed the salt line and went to hug her son. Emma wiped her face of tears and walked back into the living room. Jack followed her.
            “What just happened in there?” Jack asked as he followed her to her bag.
            “That was an excorsism, of a demon,” she saw the look of horror on his face, “What never seen a demon before?”
            “No can’t say that I have; never believed in them before…”
            “Well now you have proof, sorry about that.”
            “Sorry? You saved my son, even though I didn’t know he needed to be saved in the first place.”
            “Thanks isn’t needed,” she said, still teary eyed.
            “Now that this is over,” he said as she picked up her bag and put the papers back into it, “Who are you? And where are you really going?”
            “Look, my name is really Emma, Emma Carmichael. And no my older brother isn’t really dead, he happens to be alive and running from the law at the moment with my younger brother. See the thing that happened to your son, well it’s partly my fault.”
            “Whoa hold on… you just come out with everything at once don’t you? How is my son being possessed your fault? And how the hell did he get possessed in the first place?”
            “It’s my fault, because the demon that possessed your son was spying on me, you heard what it said in there about me being pregnant? Well it was making sure I wasn’t anymore…” she said somberly, “And your son happened to get possessed at the gas station when the demon saw me.”
            “So I’m guessing the grief part is real? You’re just morning the loss of your baby and not of your brother?”
            “Right,” she sighed, already over this conversation, “Look I’m sorry I lied to you, but I really didn’t think you were going to believe that I wasn’t really headed anywhere. I just needed to get away.”
            “So how come you know how to perform an excorsism?”
            “It’s what I do; my job is to help people who are in trouble. Knowing how to perform excorsism happens to be part of the job description,” she forced a smile and headed out of the house and into the growing darkness of the early evening.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Running Away Pt. 1


Emma sat in her seat on the bus staring out the window with bloodshot eyes. Every once in a while she would shift in the cloth seat in an attempt to get more comfortable but it was a moot point. Comfortable was a word that she hadn’t known for a long time. Being on this packed bus with people she didn’t know was the last place she wanted to be but it was necessary.
The man next to her remained silent for the ride, glancing at her every once in a while. She refused to meet his eyes with hers. Instead, she just watched the rolling hills change to flat desert out the bus window. An audible sigh slipped out which caused the man to finally speak up.
            “Are you okay?” he asked and she rolled her eyes still looking out the window.
            “What was that?” she asked turning to look at him despite her instincts.
            “I asked if you were okay… you don’t look like you’re okay…” he genuinely seemed concerned with her well being.
            “I’m not…” she said flatly then turned back to the window.
            “I know you probably don’t want to share what’s wrong with a complete stranger, but I’m actually a very good listener.”
            “You’re right I don’t want to share,” they pulled into a rest stop.
            “Well it just so happens that I haven’t had the best existence either, so I might know what you’re going through,” he started to get up off the bus.
            “I severely doubt it…” she got up, following the rest of the people off the bus and into the rest stop.
            “Well if you change your mind I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee.”
            Emma couldn’t help but roll her eyes again and walked into the rest stop. Once in line to get a coffee, she checked her purse to see how much money she had. There was very little left and she couldn’t use her credit card yet. She wasn’t far enough away from the police station; they still could be following her. Sucking up her pride, she turned to the man who was now behind her in the line.
            “I guess I’ll have that coffee,” she said determined not to look into his eyes.
            “Gladly,” he smiled stepping in front of her in the line as she adjusted her bag on her shoulder.
            He then bought them both coffees and she was then compelled to sit with him. For about 3 minutes they didn’t talk, they didn’t even exchange names, until he finally spoke up, “I’m Matt by the way,” he smiled and extended his hand.
            “Emma,” she said pitifully sipping her coffee, not moving her hand forward to shake his.
            “So you’re not going to tell me anything are you?”
            “Nope, I don’t know you, and I don’t like to share my personal problems with strangers…” she said looking away, wondering if this coffee was worth putting up with this Matt guy.
            “So where are you going? Visiting family?”
            “You could say that…” there was a growing feeling in the pit of her stomach that told her something was off about him.
            “Is that why you’re so down? Don’t get along with your family?”
            “Listen, Matt… I don’t know you and you don’t know me so let’s quit with the 20 questions,” she stood up from the table flinging her bag back onto her shoulder.
            “Just trying to make conversation,” he said standing up with her, “I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable. I’ll stop; we can talk about something else.”
            “You’re good,” her lips curled into a smirk.
            “What?” he asked, “What do you mean I’m good?”
            “Nice try; you know exactly what I mean. You think I don’t know who you are?” she said backing slowly away from the table, “Your belt has a dent in it,” she gestured to the indentation in his brown belt, “From a gun holster.”
            “Look I don’t know what…”
            “Cut the bullshit… You also have a back up gun around your ankle; I can see the outline of the strap. And last, no guy who was trying to hit on me would want to talk about her family right away. If that’s your strategy with women, I’m guessing you don’t usually get past first base do you… detective?”
            “Talk about good…” he said smiling, walking around the table, “You’re incredibly observant Ms. Carmichael.”
            “Either that or you’re incredibly bad at your job.”
            “I think it was the first one,” he smiled, “Now you’re not under arrest, we just want to know where your brothers are.”
            “Sorry to disappoint you but I really don’t know where they are. I don’t even know how the whole thing went down. I left before the end…” she said swallowing hard to keep from getting emotional.
            “Yeah I know, and I don’t want to put you through anymore grief than you have to. You are pretty much innocent in all this as far as we can tell. The other hostages said you were with them the whole time and that your brother got you out of there as soon as you started to bleed…”
            “Yeah he did,” she said quickly stopping him, “And that was the last time I heard from him. So I’m sorry but I really can’t help you.”
            “Well if you really don’t know then where are you going?” he asked raising an eyebrow.
            “Like I said before I don’t like to share my personal life with random strangers, especially when they’re pumping me for information. Now if you don’t mind I’d like to use the rest room before we get back onto the bus.”
            “Of course, but if I do find out that you’re withholding any information from the police, you will be arrested for obstruction of justice.”
            “Really?” she asked sarcastically, starting to the bathroom, “I’ll see you back on the bus in a little bit.”
            He then smiled at her and she walked over to the bathroom. It was cleaner than she expected with four bathroom stalls, two sinks, and the thing she was looking for most: a window. A few tears fell from her eyes but she quickly wiped them away. Her boyfriend’s words echoed in her head, how he actually thought that it was her fault. More than anything she wanted his voice out of her head. Despite the echoing, she shook her head, slung her bag across her shoulder, opened the window, and jumped up onto the radiator. She then shimmied through the window, fairly easily since she was no longer carrying the baby weight.
 Once she was out of the window, she made sure she pulled it shut.            She looked out to the back of the rest stop where she saw a huge hill that seemed to go off into nowhere. She remembered seeing a sign right before the rest stop, which stated the next town was only 3 miles. If anything, she figured she would walk there and catch a ride from someone. She couldn’t risk being followed again; she needed to make sure she was vigilant which was something she had been lacking as of late.
            Emma ended up walking for what seemed like hours, but really it wasn’t more than about an hour. She walked into the small town and saw that there was a gas station. As she walked into the gas station store she looked around vigilantly making for sure that she wasn’t being followed. A couple with a small child was buying gas; they looked as if they were passing thru. All the pain and sadness was pushed aside as she put on one of her many lying faces and walked over.
            “Excuse me,” she said talking to the couple, “I don’t mean to bother you, but my bus left without me and I was wondering if you were heading out of town.”
            “Well we are but…” the woman said looking at her husband.
            “Look I’m trying to get to my brother’s funeral in Phoenix,” she lied, “But I understand if you don’t want me in your car, especially with your child. I realize it’s not very easy to trust strangers.”
            Emma feigned defeat and walked off towards the gas station exit. Before she could reach the store, just as she planned, the husband called after her, “Miss wait.”
            She turned around to face the man, a look of despair on her face that was not faked at all. He was about to say something, but he couldn’t get the words out. It was as if he was second guessing himself with his choice of words.
            “Look, we live right outside of Austin, Texas so I guess we can take you that far,” the man said smiling.
            “That would be wonderful,” she forced a smile, “Thank you so much you have no idea what this means to me.”
            “No problem,” the woman said, who had obviously been the one to convince her husband to take Emma in the first place, pulling the small child towards her.
            Emma noticed the child was squirming around in his mother’s grasp, struggling to go back towards the candy aisle. Tears started to well up in Emma’s eyes at the sight of the child but she choked them back. The couple led Emma out to their car, where she got into the backseat with the boy.
            The car started and with that started the extremely silent car ride to Austin. Emma noticed the boy kept looking at her and smiling. The bubbled in her stomach that she felt when she had met Matt returned but were even worse. She noticed the boys hand clenched upon the seat like a claw, and concern mingled in with the unsettling feeling. As soon as she looked up into the boy’s eyes his smile curled into a sneer and his eyes rolled back into his head turning as black as night. Emma stifled a gasp and turned to look back out the window at the growing darkness.
           

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Bad Reputation

1
            “So new town, new school… seems like a trend for us,” Emma sighed.
            “Think you can behave in this one?” Ethan laughed as the two of them walked into the school.
            “Behave, whatever you mean?” she laughed.
            “You just have a habit of stirring things up…” Ethan said, “Or rather let things get stirred up around with you… you know how close you were to getting kicked out of that last school…”
            “What like Dad even cares… if he has his way we wouldn’t be going to school…”
            “He wants us to learn other things besides…” Ethan said lowering his voice, “Killing things…”
            “Yeah, yeah… so what’s your first class?” Emma asked as she looked at her schedule.
            “Junior English… awesome,” Ethan said, “You know I’m seriously thinking about dropping out and just getting my GED, it’s not like I need this crap…”
            “Weirdly enough some classes I actually like… first period gym class though is not one of them…” she sighed as she stuffed her schedule in her bag, “You know it’s just all the other stuff that I hate about high school. Freaking football players and pep rallies, cheerleaders and drama geeks... the whole lot of it just makes me nauseous frankly… I’d rather be traveling around on back country roads fighting monsters. High school is so much worse…”
            “Yeah… well have fun in gym class… try not to cause too much trouble your first day,” Ethan said as he walked towards his classroom.
            “Can’t promise you anything, you know these things just sort of happen… I mean you aren’t Mr. Authority on the subject… try not to hit on anyone today…”
            “Can’t promise you anything…” Ethan said as he walked into his classroom.
            Emma laughed and shook her head as she walked to the gym where the gym class took place. Of course she didn’t bother looking at her schedule before she came to school today so she wasn’t exactly dressed for class. Right now she was wearing tight blue jeans and a ACDC black tank top which over it she wore her favorite leather jacket. As she walked into the gym she could feel all eyes on her as she walked up to the teacher and handed him her schedule.
            “So you’re the new girl huh? You’re late…” he said.
            “Sorry, don’t know this place yet, got a little lost,” she said even though that was a lie.
            “And you’re not dressed,” he said handing her schedule back to her as he looked her up and down.
            “Sorry, didn’t get my schedule until today,” another lie.
            “Well we’re playing dodge ball,” he said, “You can play in that right?”
            “Yeah it’s fine,” she said.
            “Good Ms. Carmichael, so put your things down and join the team on the right…” he said.           
            She nodded and then went and put her things down on the bleachers and took off her jacket so that her tank top was showing, along with the skin between her pants and some cleavage. Not the most practical for sports, but it would do. She saw a most of the guys in the class looking at her as she pulled her wavy light brown hair up into a ponytail. She took her place on the right team and then the game commenced.
            She actually lasted pretty long, not that she had much practice with dodge ball, but she was good at dodging other things. The whole dodge ball thing during gym class she thought was so clich├ęd but it was obvious that this was the one thing that the gym teacher didn’t have to put that much effort into. The class went by fast and she noticed quickly that the boys were all paying her attention and talking to her while the girls were all whispering about her and giving her snide looks. Well there went that good first impression, she thought was they all wrapped up the games and headed off to the locker rooms.
            “Hey, it’s Emma right?” a boy suddenly said behind her.
            “Yeah… how’d you know that?” she asked.
            “Saw your name on your schedule…” he said as he handed it to her, “You dropped it.”
            “Thanks… and here I thought you were just stalking me,” she laughed.
            “No, not exactly the stalking type,” he said, “I’m Rick by the way…”
            “Well Rick it was nice to meet you… but I have to get to my next class. Don’t want to be late.”
            “Something tells me you don’t care if you’re late…”
            “Wow maybe you are stalking me Rick…” she smiled as she turned and walked away. She could feel his eyes on her as she walked.
            Emma then walked out of the gym and back into the hallway thinking about how that first class wasn’t so bad, despite making a sort of a spectacle out of herself. She hoped the next classes and the rest of the day would go well too. It suddenly changed when she was stopped by a girl in the hallway who was wearing a cheerleading uniform.
            “Carmichael  huh?” the girl said standing in front of Emma.
            “Yeah… I’m Emma,” she said standing there, “And you are?”
            “Julie… you were in my gym class… do you need me to show you around?” she asked in an almost condescending tone.
            “I think I can probably manage… just heading to physics lab now…” Emma said.
            “Well I’m heading that way I’ll show you…” she said as she took Emma’s arm and Emma took all her might not to bat her away.
            “Fine…” Emma said putting on a fake smile.
            Of all the people to be friendly with or at least fake friendly she didn’t want to be friends with this cheerleader. Emma was also pretty sure that this was one of those girls that was whispering about her and giving her snide looks.
            “So where are you from Emma?” Julie asked.
            “All around really…”
            “And why are you starting in October?” she asked.
            Emma sighed, “We move around a lot because of my Dad’s job… this was just when we got here…”
            “Okay… so what’s your deal? What do you like to do for fun? Play any sports or anything?” Julie asked.
            “No… no sports or clubs… I tend to move around a lot so there’s really not time for me to get into things. More of a stay away from school activities kind of person…” she sighed, “We’re getting close aren’t we?”
            “Yeah right up here…”
            “So you’re a sophomore right?”
            “Yeah… and you?” Emma said trying to be friendly.
            “Junior… and I’m very involved… cheerleader as you can see, and I heard you met my boyfriend already?” Julie said and now Emma understood why Julie was talking to her.
            “Oh… Rick right? Yeah I dropped my schedule and he picked it up for me… he seems nice,” Emma smiled.
            “Yeah he is, and he has a soft spot for new kids…” Julie said her hand tightening on Emma’s arm, “Started last year himself, his Dad’s in the army…”
            “Well then we have something in common, our Dad’s moving around a lot,” Emma said, “So this is my class I think… it was nice meeting you Julie,” Emma said smiling a real smile now.
            “Likewise…” she said as she walked off, “Oh and Emma a word of advice next time you come to gym class and you’re gonna be jumping around, don’t wear something so skimpy…”
            “Well thanks for the advice,” Emma said sarcastically, “I’ll remember that for next time…”
            “Yeah you do that Carmichael ,” Julie said giving her that same snide look from earlier.
            Emma sighed as she walked into the physics lab as the bell rang. She sat down in the back, not wanting to talk to anyone really, but of course some boy sat himself down at her table. She spent the class like most of her past classes, not paying attention. Instead she was thinking about how she had somehow already made an enemy. She knew Julie’s type; her type was the reason she almost got kicked out of the last school. She knew that Julie was going to try to make her life a living hell. She also knew that she wasn’t going to stand for it and she already knew how to press Julie’s buttons.
2
            “Hey Carmichael over here!” Julie called as Emma walked into the cafeteria, which where of course her and Ethan had different lunch periods.
            She didn’t want to sit with the cheerleaders but it was either that or sit by herself or buffalo herself onto a table with stranger which she could easily do. Against her better judgment though she went and sat down next to Julie and the other cheerleaders.
            “So what’s with the uniforms?” Emma asked.
            “Pep Rally during 7th period today; there’s a big game tomorrow night against our rivals… you should come with us to the game… I mean obviously we’ll be cheering…”
            “Yeah like I said earlier school spirit isn’t really my thing,” she said as she took a sip of her Pepsi.
            “So what’s your ‘thing’ then?” Julie asked as some of the other girls chuckled.
            Emma sighed she knew that this was a bad idea. She looked over at Rick who was smiling at her giving her an apologetic look, “Well I don’t have just one ‘thing’ I like to listen to music and love drive in movies…”
            “So you don’t have any talents or anything?” one of the other cheerleaders asked.
            “I can think of some talents that you probably have,” one of who she guessed was a football player said smiling and then one of the others gave him a high five.
            “Eww… don’t be a pervert Jeff…” Julie said.
            “So what do you do then? Just hang out with your friends? Or do you not have any friends?” Julie asked turning up her nose.
            “Well yeah I just kind of ‘hang out’ mostly with my brother… obviously I don’t have any friends yet since I just came here… and unlike some people it’s not like I have to money to go out and do whatever I want…” she said bitterly.
            “Yeah I can see that by what you’re wearing… I mean that jacket where the hell did you get it?”
            “Vintage shop down in Alabama…” Emma said smiling, she was proud of the jacket.
            “I think it’s cool… retro stuff always is,” Rick smiled.
            “Shut up Rick,” Julie said.
            “You know I’m getting the feeling this little lunch is more of a ‘let’s make fun of the new girl’ thing… and I’m sorry to say that my feeling don’t get hurt that easily so if you’re trying to drive me away it’s not going to work,” Emma said smiling as she sipped more of her soda.
            “And why would we make fun of you Carmichael? I mean you fit in so well around here don’t you?” Julie laughed.
            “Well I mean haven’t had much time to fit in do I? Plus who cares… it’s high school,” Emma laughed as she decided to stand up.
            “Where are you going?” Julie asked.
            “What, you think I’m going to sit here at your table of conceited rich kids and take you making fun of me?” Emma laughed.
            “Oh come on it’s all in good fun… plus better to sit at our table and have us pick on you than to be outside our table and have you being picked on by everyone…” Julie laughed.
            “Who cares,” Emma laughed, “What don’t you get about that? I don’t care about all this shit… high school is four years! Four fucking years of our extremely long lives where everyone wants to label you to throw you into some category and force you to do all these things that you hate. Well not me. I don’t care what people think of me…”
            “Carmichael you are making a big mistake. You might not care what people think of you, but everyone else does. They will eat you alive out there… the way you are…”
            “The way I am?” Emma laughed as now a good majority of the cafeteria was listening to their conversation, “And what way would that be?”
            “Come on Emma,” Julie laughed, “I mean look at you… you’re so much different than everyone…”
            “And since when is being different a bad thing? If we were all the same things would be boring… I mean look at you lot…” Emma laughed.
            “Well at least we’re not freaks…” Julie said smiling and there was a silence that fell over the cafeteria and the ‘ohs” started.
            “Listen, I’d rather be me any day than be a bitch like you,” Emma said as she turned to leave.
            “Freak!” Julie yelled than Emma felt something hit her back.
            She turned around to see a plate of fries on the ground, ketchup now on her leather jacket. Emma shut her eyes a willed herself not to straight out punch Julie in the face. She brushed off the fries and what ketchup she could.
            “You know bitch that was a really bad move,” Emma said, “Just watch yourself…”
            Emma then stormed out of the cafeteria, her first day at school taking a turn for the worst. She stormed over to her locker and shed her leather coat to see the ketchup on the back. She quickly took out a rag that she had in her locker and wiped all the ketchup off of it that she could. She then put the jacket in her locker chilly now that she was only wearing a tank top.
            “Dammit…” she said as she rubbed her hands on her shoulders.
            Suddenly she felt a presence behind her and a hand that reached out with a flannel shirt in its hand. She turned to see Rick standing there holding a shirt as well as that same apologetic look on his face.
            “What you didn’t want to revel in your girlfriend’s act upon me,” she said crossing her arms.
            “Hey, waving the white flag here… Julie can be a bitch sometimes I know… she’s just threatened by you that’s all. A hot new girl comes in and takes all the attention off of her… she goes into defensive mode, “Now here I know you’re cold…”
            “Thanks,” Emma sighed as she pulled on his flannel shirt, “Won’t Julie be pisssed that you’re fraternizing with the enemy?”
            “Eh what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her… plus I’m not a little dog that follows her around all the time. I Might be one of those boring ‘rich kids’ you were talking about but I do have a heart and I can see that you could maybe use a friend right now.”
            “Well thanks Rick, but I meant what I said… I really don’t care what people think of me and I don’t need to have all these friends. I have my brother and me and him we stick up for each other…”
            “Well your brother can’t always be there… and maybe you don’t want a friend but I have your back if you need it… so that you don’t have to have ketchup thrown on you again… which by the way I’ll have paid to be dry cleaned…”
            “You don’t have to…”
            “Well I want to,” he smiled, “And I don’t want this whole thing to deter you from eating in the cafeteria or coming to the Pep Rally this afternoon…”
            “Well I don’t get scared away that easily Rick…” she smiled, “I think you would’ve realized that by now… though you should be happy that I didn’t punch her in the face for trying to ruin my jacket.”
            “Yeah I saw that look in your eyes… and I know you could’ve easily knocked her out, you could probably take me as well…” he smiled.
            “Well anytime you want to fight me just let me know,” she smiled.
            “So you’re still going to the Pep Rally right?”
            “Well I was under the impression that it was mandatory otherwise I’d skip it…” she sighed, “Not my scene at all…”
            “I’d like to see you there though… don’t think of going for you. Think about going there to see me…” he smiled.
            “Well then I guess I have to go then… I mean you did give me your shirt so I don’t freeze my ass of… these halls are freaking cold!”
            “Yeah, they don’t turn on the heat until like November,” he smiled, “By the way keep it, it looks good on you…”
            “And your girlfriend doesn’t mind you giving me your clothes?”
            “Once again I’m not just defined by my girlfriend, and second she doesn’t have to know,” he said as he walked away, “So see you at the Pep Rally?”
            “Guess so,” she sighed as he walked backwards down the hall then smiled as he turned and walked forward.
            Emma touched the shirt that she was wearing and then suddenly got an idea of how to get Julie back. It was obvious that Rick was starting to have a crush on Emma and she was going to use that to her advantage. She wasn’t going to wait though to use the advantage. If Julie was going to embarrass her in front of everyone than she was going to embarrass her in front of everyone and where better to do it? The Pep Rally of course.
3
            Emma sat on the edge of the bleacher close to the door of the gym that was on the far left. She sat on the end and there were people next to her that were all spirited out and what not. She sat there still in Rick’s shirt with her tank top underneath. As they announced the players from the different sports teams she just sat there impatiently waiting for her turn to pull her little stunt.
            She gripped the edge of the bleachers with her hands that were half covered by the shirt that was too big. At one point she was Julie’s eyes on her as Julie cheered on with the rest of the cheerleaders. Ethan was nowhere to be found and she figured that he had probably just decided not to go. She hadn’t made much effort to go find Ethan though for what she was planning to do. She smiled to herself as she thought about it, as the football team was now introduced.
            She sat there teetering back and forth as the other team members were announced and one by one ran out of the door by which she was sitting near. At last the captains were announced along with Rick who then came out and Julie and the cheerleaders cheered for him the longest. Emma then stood up as he was standing right near her. He smiled at her and she smiled back.
            Julie and the other girls stopped cheering right as Emma suddenly kissed Rick on the lips. To her surprise Rick actually kissed her back for a second before she got off of him. Only half of the gym could see what was going on, but the whole gym fell silent except for the other football players chuckling.
            “Um…” Rick said as he looked at her.
            “Go on…” she smiled as she waved him on to the go onto the court with other members of the team.
            Emma then looked over at Julie whose face was now beat red and she looked like she was about to cry. Emma just waved at her and then headed out of the gym laughing to herself. She half expected Julie to follow her as she walked out but she knew that for Julie reputation was everything and if she would never allow herself to make a big scene that made herself look bad. Emma was still surprised that Rick had actually kissed her back she had expected him to push her away to cause from making a bigger scene than necessary.
            One thing was for sure, she sure did make an interesting impression on the student body on her first day of school. Emma was walking to her locker to get out her things when the Pep Rally let out and people streamed into the halls. She could feel the stares on her as people past by her, but she knew this would all die down eventually just like things always did in high school. It was so worth it to get Julie back for what she did in the cafeteria at lunch.
            Of course who came up to her in the hallway though as she stood there, Rick who had a confused look on his face, “So… what was that exactly?” he asked.
            “Well I was under the impression that, that was a kiss…” she said, “Why are you here, don’t you have practice or something?”
            “Yeah but I have a minute to kill until I have to be on the field,” he said, “Look Julie and I are together okay, and I’m guessing you don’t care about that…”
            “Oh I care,” she said closing her locker, “That’s why I did it…”
            “Wait what...” he said confused as the cheerleaders including Julie started walking down the hall.
            “Look sorry I dragged you into this but the way to getting Julie back for all the crap that she did to me was to get her where it hurts…” she said as she pulled her bag over her shoulder.
            “So you used…” he started to say but didn’t get to finish as Julie stomped over to them.
            “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Julie asked as she pushed Emma against the locker.
            “So violence is the next stage then?” Emma laughed as she easily pushed Julie off of her.
            “That’s my boyfriend whose throat you just had your tongue down!” Julie yelled.
            Emma shrugged, “He didn’t seem to mind…”
            “Julie look stop this…” Rick said.
            “No! I won’t have her try to seduce you!” Julie said as she stopped and saw the shirt that Emma was wearing, “Why the fuck is she wearing your shirt?”
            “Well see your boyfriend is actually a decent person so after you defaced my jacket he gave me this to wear so I wasn’t cold…” Emma said.
            “Take it off!” Julie said as she then pulled on it and it ripped.
            “Now look what you’ve done,” Emma said smirking, “You’ve gone and ruined a perfectly good shirt… you’re boyfriend’s shirt no less.”
            “Julie please, we can deal with this later…” Rick said.
            “Yeah Julie please…” Emma said in a mocking tone.
            “You bitch! You fucking whore! You can’t just come in and steal people’s boyfriends!” Julie yelled.
            “Are we done with the name calling? Cause I have places to be,” Emma said starting walk off but Julie then slapped her in the face.
            There was a silence that now filled the now crowded hall because everyone had just heard that smack. Rick held his breath as Emma rounded on Julie the torn shirt now on the crook of her arms.
            “Bad, bad move,” Emma said as she couldn’t take it any longer and punched Julie in the face and she went down to the ground.
            Emma then pulled the shirt back up and adjusted her bag as she then turned and walked down the hallway as both Rick and the cheerleaders bent down to make sure that Julie was okay. Luckily for Julie Emma didn’t her that hard. As she walked outside people stepped away from her. So not only had she labeled herself as an apparent boyfriend stealer but she was also labeled violent.
4
            “So I saw your little spectacle…” Ethan said as he came into the living room where she was watching the Twilight Zone.
            “You know they never seem to get anything right on this show…” Emma sighed as Ethan stood behind her, “I mean werewolves don’t turn into wolves those are skinwalkers… gosh…”
            “Emma… don’t avoid the subject,” Ethan said.
            “I’m not… just making an observation,” Emma smiled, “So which spectacle are we talking about?”
            “The one when you made out with a football player in front of practically the whole school,” Ethan sighed crossing his arms.
            “Oh that… don’t worry I don’t like him or anything… just getting back at his girlfriend,” she shrugged, “Wow you were actually at the Pep Rally…”
            “Yeah some cheerleader I met told me to come… but that’s beside the point… so you kissed this guy, who is taken to get back at his girlfriend? Is this by any chance the girl that poured a plate of fries on you during lunch?”
            “Yatzee,” she said as she flipped through the channels, “She made a fool out of me in front of everyone so I wanted to do the same to her…”
            “Well so much for making a good first impression…” Ethan said, “By the way whose shirt is that?”
            “Rick’s… forgot that I was wearing it,” she said looking down.
            “Who’s Rick?”
            “The football player… Julie’s boyfriend, he was nice enough to give it to me after my jacket got covered in ketchup,” she said nonchalantly.
            “Nice Em, real nice… so not only are you making an enemy you’re screwing with a guy who’s actually being nice to you,” Ethan said.
            “I’m not screwing with him, just with Julie… he’s better off without her anyways,” Emma said.
            “So you like this Rick guy?”
            “No… I mean he’s nice, we could be friends…”
            “Yeah I doubt he wants to be friend with you after this,” Ethan said, “And how did the shirt get ripped and why do you have a mark on your face?”
            “Ethan are we playing 20 questions here or something?” she asked finally turning to him.
            “Emma… did you get into a fight?”
            “Yep… but don’t worry she’s alive…” Emma said, “I punched her in the face and didn’t use all the strength that I could’ve…”
            “And you wonder why people don’t like you Em…” he said shaking his head.
            “Hey I did nothing to Julie or any of her little cheerbitches okay? I was nothing but nice and honest and somehow that deserved me being called a freak and a slut and a bitch. Then made me look like a complete loser because I didn’t want to sit with them as they called me names and made fun of the way I dress? Yeah all my fault…”
            “You didn’t have to retaliate…” he said.
            “Yeah right, this coming from you? You’ve been in more fights than I have… by the way how did your first day go?” Emma asked, “Cause I heard a rumor about a mysterious new guy who was making out with a cheerleader in the janitor’s closet…”
“Yeah well at least I wasn’t making out with someone in front of the whole school…”
“Face it Ethan, we’re not the good ones okay? We don’t follow rules we can’t lie low or
blend in…”
            “Hey don’t label me in with you,” he said, “I don’t make a spectacle out of myself…”
            “Whatever, it’s high school Ethan, things happen then people get over them and we all move on until there’s another scandal…” Emma said, “I’m not worried I’ll be back to being the freak who keeps to herself in no time…”
            “Since when do you keep to yourself? I wish you would sometimes…” he sighed.
            “Whatever at least thing with me are never boring.”
            “That’s true but your idea of not boring is fighting and throwing yourself at guys…” Ethan said rolling his eyes.
            “Ethan you realize there is a reason that we will never fit in with these people right? We’re not like them… we don’t care about the latest styles or about getting good grades or about the freaking football season. We’re too busy making sure that all their asses are safe to care about that stuff. And yeah maybe I don’t handle things as well as I should but all of it is so fucking trivial…”
            “You know I agree with you, but can you just tone it down please? I don’t need to deal with people talking about you. I know you don’t care what people say about you, but I do,” he sighed.
            “Well thanks for caring Ethan but I can take care of myself and you’re right I don’t care what people think of me. But don’t worry I’ll tone it down. I already showed everyone what I’m capable of so I don’t think they’ll mess with me anymore,” she said but she really had no idea how wrong she was.
5
            “Can we talk?” Rick said as she walked up to her locker where he was waiting for her at lunch.
            “What about?” she asked as she took some books out of her bag and put them into her locker.
            “Like you don’t know… come on I know a place we can go,” he said as he gestured for her to follow him.
            She sighed as she closed her locker and followed him as they walked down the pretty empty halls. They ended up going to the woodshop classroom which was also deserted. He sat down at one of the tables and motioned for her to sit down.
            “You know I’m really not one for these long serious talks… look I’m sorry if you felt that I used you…” she sighed.
            “Well Emma you did use me…” he said, “And to think that I actually liked you…”
            “Rick come on, you barely know me,” she sighed her worst fear coming true; she didn’t want this guy falling for her.
            “And yet you already have me interested in you… took Julie two years,” he said.
            “Why are you with her?” she asked.
            “Cause it’s the way things go right? Head captain of the football team dates the Head cheerleader right?” he half chuckled.
“And she’s hot…”
“Well that too… and honestly she’s not that bad of a person…” he said though smirked,
“Though I thought you weren’t a bad person and yet here we are…”
            “I’m not a bad person… I just don’t let people walk all over me. Like I said high school is one part of our lives, one little part and it shouldn’t define you as a person…” she said.
            “Yeah well sticking your tongue down my throat in front of the whole school is pretty bad…”
            “You didn’t seem to mind,” she laughed.
            “Hot girl like you kisses me of course I’m gonna kiss you back,” he laughed, “But still I’m with Julie… well for now anyways… haven’t talked to her since after you punched her… which by the way I convinced her not to go to the principal on.”
            “I don’t need you to help me,” she said taken back, “And she started this whole thing anyhow…”
            “Was she in class this morning?”
            “Yeah she was but she brought some bogus note saying that she could sit out… I barely even hit her she’s so dramatic… but her mission was accomplished cause all the cheerleaders hate me now… along with a lot of the school…”
            “And that doesn’t bother you?” he asked.
            “Not really… I don’t know any of the people here why should I care what they’re whispering about me behind me back?” she shrugged.
            “Oh if only I could be like you,” he sighed, “I care what people think, hence why I kind of need to ask you to stay away from me okay?”
            “Yeah I get it, don’t want people to think we’re sleeping together while you’re with Julie…” she said.
            “Though how long me and Julie are going to stay together I don’t know… she was pretty pissed at me too after the whole incident. Plus I heard she was crying in a bathroom stall in the locker room this morning…”
            “Well looks like my plan worked than,” she smiled and he gave her a look, “Sorry… do you want me to lie to you and say that I’m sorry that I did it to her?”
            “No… but I’m serious about us not talking anymore okay? You might not care if people talk about you behind your back but I do and I have enough on my plate with the season winding down and school’s giving me offers… I don’t need drama…”
            “Hey drama just kind of follows me okay? I mean you saw Julie was the one who started this whole thing…”
            “Well I’m warning you Julie doesn’t let up, you just made yourself the enemy of the most popular girl in school…”
            “Sweet, well I’ll cross that off my bucket list,” she said rolling her eyes, “Well go on then get out of here, go back to being the golden boy. I promise I’ll just act like nothing ever happened okay?”
            “Good… that’s good,” he said, “Then maybe after football season we’ll see where we both are…”
            “Yeah, sure…” she said knowing that she had no interest of dating this guy, “Well I guess I won’t be seeing you around then?”
            “Uh huh,” he said as he started towards the door, “Just be careful Emma okay?”
            “But being careful is so boring,” she smiled.
            “Yeah and I guess we know you’re not boring,” he said smiling as he walked out of the wood shop room.
            Emma sighed, she could say all she wanted about how all this didn’t faze her, that she didn’t care what people thought about her and everything but it didn’t change anything. She was here less than two days and she already made an enemy with the most socially powerful girl in school and alienated herself from the most influential guy. This broke all her records at the last schools by a mile.
            “Well shouldn’t this be an interesting school year,” she sighed as she waited until Rick had walked all the way down the hall and then she headed out as well.