• A Little Like Faith

    Nicole and I have known each other since we were in kindergarten. At first she would come over and steal my letter blocks when I had my back turned. I caught on after a while and began to keep a very sharp eye on my precious toys. The blocks were my favorite and I wasn’t about to let someone else take them from me. Even as a child she had long, straight brown hair down to her shoulders. She had these hauntingly green eyes that always made it seem like she was staring at you. After I began to watch over my toys, she would just sit there with her coloring books and watch me. My blocks were barely legible and the edges were becoming more round than sharp but I refused to give them up and get something new. To me there was no reason to get rid of them if you could still use them. I loved those blocks. Nicole had no interest in them other than the fact that she didn’t like that I was the one that was playing with them all of the time. She seemed to be jealous clear to her core. One winter day I was playing with my same old toys when Nicole actually walked over to me and sat down.
    “Why do you only play with the same toys all the time?” She asks me curiously.
    Being a young child, I had never really sat and thought about it before. I thought about it for a second, but in the end I had nothing to say, something that would become a very familiar trait of mine in later years.
    “Umm…well, I guess, I don’t know…” I stammered, embarrassed.
    She just looked at me, something like determination in her eyes.
    “Well that’s dumb,” She said.
    I had no idea what to say to that, but I didn’t need to say anything. Nicole had taken this exchange of dialogue as a welcome invitation and she attached herself to my hip for the next 14 years, my ever-present friend, always outshining me.
    At eighteen years old, Nicole is still as determined and stubborn as ever.
    “Tell me again why we’re going to this party?” She asks me, swiping a layer of red paint over her big toe.
    She’s only asked me this question about 10 times in the past two days. Bryce, the town geek, is throwing a party on Friday, claiming it will be the biggest thing around for months. He can only hope so. This will either live up to its’ boasts, or crash and burn into the biggest joke in our high school’s history. For Bryce, I really hope it works out.
    “Because, Bryce is a nice guy and deserves an audience for his social debut. Plus, since when did you start questioning whether or not you wanted to go to a party? You go to like, all of them,” I stated as matter-of-fact as I could.
    Nicole just snorts, sending the piece of hair in her face back to where it rightfully belongs. I stare at my computer screen; waiting for any new IM’s to pop up, the ping of it so friendly and familiar. It’s only Monday, so the next few days until the party are going to take forever. I’m not a big party girl, but my life just seems so boring lately that I’m dying for something, anything to do.

    Monday morning I walk into school and head to my locker. Nicole is waiting for me there like she does every morning.
    “Hey, have you seen the new guy yet?” She asks me.
    “No, I didn’t even know there was a new guy,” I reply.
    “Well you’re totally missing out then, because he is definitely fresh meat if I ever saw it.”
    Nicole has a not-so-subtle reputation for dating guys that looked like they had low self esteem, like the ones that were really quiet and kept to themselves, or the ones that sat alone at lunch or really any guy for that matter. And I mean really, who wouldn’t want to date Nicole? She’s completely gorgeous and has a bubbly personality to boot. She’s not promiscuous or anything, she just likes all the boys to know her name. I’m just her quiet shadow. I’m used to her getting all the attention. I can’t lie and say that it doesn’t bother me sometimes though.
    “Well, I’m sure you’ll get him in no time. You always do,” I say.
    “I’ll just take that as a compliment,” She sings as she begins to walk away.
    “I’ll talk to you later Nic. Just text me,”
    I feel bad because I secretly hope this guy is really a jerk and the type that won’t give her the time of day. It’s not because I want the attention, and believe me sometimes I do, it’s just that I’d like to see her head deflate a little for once. I shut my locker door and head for my first class, P.E. It sucks having gym first, but I like getting it out of the way. The only really bad part is that I don’t know anyone that well in my class, so team sports are always awkward. I dial the combination on my gym locker and pull out the bag I keep my clothes in. A ratty t-shirt and some black sweats are my usual uniform. I don’t exactly dress to impress for gym.
    We all file out into the gym and get into our designated spots. My last name starts with a W, so at least I get to be in the back during our warm-ups. Our teacher walks to the front to read off names for attendance. It’s the same old faces, same old names. I hear one name though that is unfamiliar to me; Jeremiah Kromwell.
    “I wonder if that’s the new guy that Nicole was talking about earlier…” I think to myself.
    A few people look over and stare at the new guy, like he doesn’t have eyes or something. And yet at the same time I wonder, his glasses are so thick I can see the lenses clear from my corner. He looks back in my direction and I quickly look away. The teacher blows her whistle, signaling for us to begin our stretches. The student leaders up front start counting, bending forward to stretch out our legs.
    We have to play softball today, which is great, because it’s like my least favorite sport in the entire sporting universe. Not to mention I really suck at it. There’s a ball diamond out back behind the school where we all go and line up to be split into teams. I end up on the team that’s batting first. I fidget my way to the back of the line, hoping that maybe everyone will get out before I have a chance to go. The other team breaks off into positions. I notice that the new guy gets stuck being the pitcher. I wonder if he plays baseball or something.
    A bit of good luck actually hits me, and I get to avoid being up to bat for this round. Our teams switch, and once on the field, we discuss who will go where. Guess who got stuck being the catcher?
    My first day of gym at this school and we get to play my favorite sport in the entire sporting universe, well, at least a P.E. version of it. I volunteer to be pitcher, that being my position in reality. It sucks having to toss underhand, but I’ll take it over nothing. I toss the ball around in my hand getting a good feeling for it. I bring it up to my chest and then crank my arm back like a catapult. I whip it forward with as much intensity as if I were playing in a real softball game.
    The other team strikes out fairly quickly, and we switch sides. The other team stands at the home plate deciding who will do what. They all disperse, leaving a very nervous looking girl to be the catcher.
    “What were they thinking?” I think to myself.
    There’s no way this will end well. I can tell just by looking at her. She’s this scrawny girl with long blonde hair and her eyes give away that she’s terrified. Everyone on my team is watching the batter, the girl standing entirely too close to him. She shuffles backwards a little and I turn and head towards the dugout.
    I regret it not seconds later when I hear the sickening sound of a metal bat cracking against someone’s skull. I spin back around, running back out towards the field. The girl is laying on the ground, completely out cold, her classmates murmuring around her. I push my way through them and kneel next to her.
    “Can you hear me?” I ask.
    This has happened a few times before with a few of the guys from my ball league, and I knew she had a concussion. I pick her up in my arms, cradling her tiny body against mine. The gym teacher rushes over from where she was in the far outfield.
    “I’ll carry her Ms. Watson,” I say calmly.
    The both of us rush off back towards the school, and I really hoped that she woke up sometime soon. It’s bad enough that it knocked her out at all, but to stay out was a really bad sign. The guy batting must have really wailed on her. I can’t help but wonder why nobody thought to tell her to back up? I feel guilty that I didn’t, but I saw her scoot back. I just figured that she had moved out of the way.
    I’m about two doors away from the nurses’ office when she finally begins to stir a little. I look down and am greeted by the most brilliant blue eyes I have ever seen. They are beautiful really. My face flushes and I look away, pretending to be focused on getting to the nurse’s office. I feel her relax again in my arms, letting me carry her. Once I get in to the office, I lay her down on the bed and inform the nurse about what happened. She immediately goes to the phone and dials for an ambulance. Ms. Watson puts her hand on my shoulder.
    “You should go back to gym now, there’s a teacher sitting in for me at the moment. I’ll watch over Maggie for now. Thank you for your help,” She said.
    So her name was Maggie, what a cute name. I look over to where she was laying, her eyes half shut, off in some distant place. Her head has this huge goose-egg on it. She’s still pretty though. I turn around and head back down the hall towards the boy’s locker room. I wasn’t in the mood for gym anymore. I’m pretty sure that I missed most of the rest of class anyway.
    I open the lock on my locker door and pull out my gym bag with my clothes in it. I grab my t-shirt and pull it over my head. What a strange first day I’ve had here so far. Not just with this, but some strange girl was hitting on me earlier. I mean, it was really obvious too. She was really loud and had too much perfume on. Don’t get me wrong, she was completely gorgeous but I don’t know if she’s the kind of girl who would even know how to have a decent conversation with me. My mind wanders back to Maggie. I hope I see her again.


    I open my eyes and notice that I am back in my room. My head is throbbing. I sit up slowly, my head swirling and feeling like it weighs a thousand pounds. I put my hand up to my head and feel a huge knot.
    “Oh right,” I say.
    “What time is it?” I think.
    I look over at my alarm clock. It’s eight at night.
    “Man. I must have really been out of it,”
    I move my blanket off of me and sit on the edge of my bed. I rack my brain for the details of this morning. Everything’s a little fuzzy still. I remember playing softball…and having to play catcher, much to my refusal trust me. I remember moving back because I was too close. I guess I didn’t move back far enough. Leave it to me to get a concussion in gym. I also remember some guy carrying me to the nurse. It was that new guy. I really should thank him I guess. That was pretty nice of him to do that for someone he doesn’t even know. He’s probably wondering what kind of freak school he just transferred to.
    I creep down the hall towards the kitchen in search of my mother. The light above the island in the center of the room is on so I know she’s in there. She always sits there when she’s trying to concentrate on something.
    “Mom?” I ask.
    “Oh honey you’re awake. How are you feeling?” She asks me as she walks over to me, her hair up in her usual messy bun. My mom is the kind of woman who looks like a crazy artist sometimes, her hair all over the place and her clothes are always some bright color. When you got to know her though you learned that she was actually very normal and very organized.
    “Well, I feel okay… my head just hurts a little,”
    “Here, let me get you some aspirin,” She says.
    “Thanks mom,” I reply.
    She walks over to the cabinet and grabs me some Tylenol. I go to the fridge and grab some apple juice. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow this stuff. I drink it all the time. I swallow my medicine and pad my way back into my room.
    “Oh sweetie, I was told by the doctor to wake you up every two hours throughout the night, just to make sure you’re okay. So don’t be alarmed if there’s a person in your room,” My mom informs me.
    Every two hours? Just how many times had she woke me up so far? How could I not remember any of that? I must have really been hit hard. I roll my eyes at myself and lay back down on my bed. I close my eyes and drift back off to sleep.
    I spend the next day in bed, drifting in and out of sleep. My mother comes in to check on me several times throughout the day. She brings me my favorite foods and some aspirin. It’s a long day and I’m anxious to get back to school for once in my life.
    That evening I venture over to my computer and get on chat. I browse the list of my online friends and find that Nicole is online. It doesn’t take long before I hear that ping and a message from Nicole comes up in a new window.

    I trudge my way into school, feeling extremely self conscious about my huge forehead. Nicole rushes over to me as soon as she sees me.
    “Holy heck Maggie!” She exclaims loudly.
    “Hi Nicole. And yes, I’m fine,” I tell her.
    “Well jeez I’d hope so! That’s a freakin' huge knot on your head! Doesn’t that hurt?” She asks.
    “Yes, it does actually and your yelling isn’t helping,” I say.
    She smiles and says softly, “Sorry!”
    “It’s alright, just saying,” I say.
    “Are we still game for the party tomorrow night?”
    Shoot. I had forgotten about that… There’s no way that Nicole will really let me get out of it, not after I spent that much time trying to get her to go in the first place. I was just going to have to grin and bear it for her, with or without looking like an alien.
    “Yeah, we’re still game,” I hesitantly say.
    “Ah! Yay! Okay, I will make it worth your while!” She says.
    “Wait, what does that mean?” I ask, but she is already dancing her way down the hall, leaving me there without an answer.
    That’s just like her. She’s going to do what she always does. She finds a guy that she wants to flirt with and so she sticks me with the friend or something so that her target won’t be distracted. I’m used to it by now. Most of the people she sticks me with actually aren’t that bad. Their usually really nice guys that just seem to get the bad end of the deal much like me.

    Friday after school I go over to Nicole’s house to get ready for the party that night.
    “Okay, so I totally think you need to wear this,” Nicole says to me.
    She holds up a sparkly red tank top.
    “Oh! And you should really wear it with these!” She happily says.
    She digs out a pair of black skinny jeans and a pair of black patent, pointy-toed heels.
    “Don’t you think that’s a little bit much?” I ask her.
    “Of course not! I think it’s hot!” She laughs. “Besides, don’t you want to meet a cute boy?”
    I scoff at her and take the clothes. I know her well enough to know that she wasn’t going to go anywhere until I succumbed to her desires. I skulked over to her bathroom to change. I took my purse with me. When I changed, I took the Converse that I was wearing and shoved them into my bag. I refuse to wear these heels all night, or at all. What she doesn’t know won’t kill her.
    I walk back in to Nicole’s room, not quite feeling like myself. Maybe it was my avoiding any mirrors for the past two days that did it. She looks at me a big grin on her face.
    “Like I said, you look hot!” She says.
    “Yeah, but you forgot to pick out clothes for my visitor,” I said pointing to my forehead.
    “Oh you’ll be fine! Here, I’ll do your makeup and no one will bother to even look at your forehead, they’ll be too busy staring at your beautiful face,” She says, doing her best to make me feel better.
    I walk over to her desk chair and have a seat, a little reluctant about letting Nicole anywhere near my face with that stuff, but willing to do anything to make her happy. When she finishes I dare to look in a mirror at myself. My eyes are smokey and mysterious, and I do admit that I look good. I still noticed the lump on my head though. I sigh, and give in to it.
    We decide that we are going to go get some food before we head to the party. We always ate before going anywhere like this. You never know if the food will suck or not. I feel like an idiot walking around in this outfit. People stare at me and I feel like they are judging me. Nicole however, hardly notices. If she does, she’s definitely taking it all in. We get our food and sit outside like always. Some guys walk by and smile at us. My face burns but Nicole waves at them and says hi. This night was going to be a long one.

    I have no idea how I got stuck going to this party. This guy I met yesterday, Alex, invited me to go, saying that it would be a good chance for me to meet some chicks or something like that. I could really care less about that. I don’t really see myself becoming very good friends with Alex, but I guess this will give me something to do.
    I go home first after school, but I don’t change or anything. There’s no reason to act like something I’m not. I’m not really into the party scene. I look at myself in the mirror. It’s not like I’m anything special anyway. My thick glasses are enough to chase any girl away. I used to get teased when I was younger. The other kids would take my glasses and then laugh as they watched me scramble around. I can hardly see without them. It stopped once we got older, but by then people just left me alone.
    Alex came and picked me up around seven and we headed over to the party.
    “Dude, this is gonna be sweet. Everyone’s going to be there, mostly because they want to see if Bryce’s party flops or not, but either way there are going to be girls!” Alex says.
    “Oh…yeah, right. Girls,” I say, not paying him any attention.
    “I know all of the girls at school, so I’m gonna hook you up with a real babe Jeremiah!” He says.
    I just sigh. He’s not paying any attention to what I want at all. So far my impression of Alex is pretty bad. He seems like a real meathead. All he thinks about is getting some action. He’s the kind of guy that gives the rest of us a bad name.
    “Oh look, we’re here. I’ll just park down there,” He says.
    We park way down the street there are so many cars. We walk up the sidewalk towards Bryce’s house.
    “Oh man, I’m so pumped for this! I am so getting lucky tonight,” Alex says a little too loudly.
    When we get inside I see all kinds of people. I mean, this house is jam-packed. Alex drags me over to where the drinks are and grabs two. I assume he’s giving one to me, but I’m proven wrong as he chugs one and then starts on the other. Wow, what a douche bag. The music is so loud that I can’t even hear myself think, although I must admit that I like what’s playing. I leave Alex at the drinks and head off to find somewhere to sit down. There’s a couch over in the living room that actually has no one sitting on it, so I head for that. I just sit and watch everybody, all of them too absorbed in their own lives and drama to even notice I’m sitting here.
    The door opens, and two girls walk in, one being that loud girl that was flirting with me the other day. I look over to other one and start. It’s her. It’s Maggie. She’s friends with someone like that? I didn’t understand it. Maggie was wearing some red top and jeans. She looked like she was ready for a party, but then I noticed that she was wearing Converse, which threw me off. What kind of girl is this anyway? Her friend walks in confidently ahead of her, leaving Maggie to trail in behind like a lost puppy. The other girl turns to tell Maggie something and takes off, leaving her standing there. She looks around, very uncomfortable, and shuffles over this way. She sees me sitting on the couch and looks a little surprised. I can’t believe it; she’s actually coming over here!
    I’m looking around for somewhere less obvious to go and I notice an open space on the couch. There’s a guy sitting there with thick glasses, and I instantly remember who he is, even though I don’t remember his name. He’s pretty cute actually, now that I see him up close without being halfway unconscious. He has this thick brown hair that’s all over the place and these huge brown eyes. I feel like I need to go over there and thank him, so I muster up some courage and walk over.
    “Um, is anyone sitting here?” I ask.
    His face is bright red, which I find adorable, and he looks over and gives me this sweet little smile and says,
    “Looks like you are.”
    I smile in return and sit down.
    “So, I guess, um, I just wanted to thank you for the other day,” I stammer.
    He looks a little surprised.
    “Oh, well, that was no problem. How are you feeling by the way?” He asks, looking at me intently.
    I’m instantly self-conscious about my forehead again. I unknowingly put my hand up to my lump.
    “I feel a lot better actually. It looks a lot worse than it is,” I say.
    “Good. I’m glad,” He says, giving me an even bigger smile.
    There’s this moment of silence, both of us just staring at the other. I look at him, thinking that maybe by staring at him; I can learn more about him. This boy is completely taking up all of my brain power right now. There’s something about him that makes me want to know more. All of a sudden, I’m very glad I came to this party.
    I can’t believe it. I got my wish. She’s really talking to me. We’ve been talking for a pretty long while now. She looks completely gorgeous, that red shirt looks really good on her. She keeps looking up, quick enough that I barely notice it at first. I know she’s looking at her head. Girls are so weird like that sometimes. They get so caught up in how they look they forget that there are actually guys out there that don’t even notice a blemish like that. I think she’s still pretty anyway.
    I look past her and see Alex still at the drink table, chatting up Maggie’s friend. You can tell she’s totally eating this up. She laughs entirely too loud at something he says and I bet you a hundred bucks it wasn’t even funny. She looks over here and grabs Alex’s arm, dragging him over here. This couldn’t lead to anything great.
    “Heyyyy guyyyyysss…” She slurs at us.
    She puts a hand, and all of her weight, on Maggie’s shoulder.
    “Oh. Hey Nicole,” She says.
    “I wasjus…talking to Alex here…and he says…that there’s more food upstairs,” Nicole says.
    “Well, um… do you want something from up there?” Maggie asks.
    “Yeah, I don’t...think I can get up there…the room’s spinning too much!” Nicole laughs.
    Maggie runs her fingers through her hair and begins to get up.
    “I’ll be right back,” She tells me.
    Nicole continues to laugh and falls off the arm of the couch into the spot where Maggie was sitting just seconds before.
    “I think…I drank too much,” She says, clawing her way over to me.
    This can’t be good. Alex turns and walks away. Nicole looks at me like I’m her prey or something. She puts her hands in my hair and puts her face right up to mine.
    “You’re pretty cute you know…” She says.
    Okay, this was beginning to get uncomfortable.
    “You know my friend Maggie? Yeah, I wouldn’t bother with her…she’s…she’s a very…..mean girl. She steals boyfriends you knowwhatimean?”
    She takes my face in her hands and puts her forehead against mine.
    “I think your glasses are…sexy…” She breathes on me.
    The next thing I know she’s straddling me, sitting on my lap. I am extremely uncomfortable right now. Her hands are running up and down my chest, her eyes off in some alcohol-infused place. I need her to stop, now. Where is Alex? And Maggie? She’s been gone entirely too long for just getting some food.
    “I, um…I need to go…to the bathroom,” I say the first thing I could think of and I throw her off of me.
    I searched and searched for the food Nicole was talking about but I didn’t see anything. I’m checking the last door when a dark figure comes up behind me. I turn around and see Alex. I have no time to react. His huge hands grab me, covering my mouth.
    “Just be quiet and it will be over soon.”
    He opens the door to the room I was getting ready to check and slams it behind us. I try to scream but his hand only presses harder over my mouth.
    “Shut up! I’ll make this painless I promise,” He breathes into my face, the smell of alcohol overwhelming me.
    I kick and thrash around, trying to break free. He slams me up against the back wall, his hand still over my mouth. This guy is huge and fear breaks over me. There’s no way that I can get away from his grip, he’s too strong. Tears begin to escape from my eyes and I begin to quietly cry. His other hand begins to feel around. He runs his hand up my thigh and under my shirt. Oh God why me? His hands reach for my pants and he undoes the button. This was it. He was going to rape me and no one would ever know about it. Everyone’s too busy downstairs, most of them too wasted to remember or notice anything like this.
    He begins to feel around more and my crying becomes more of a sob. I’m so scared. I’m so scared. I see the doorknob jiggle a little and I begin to try to move around again. I kick and I move around so that maybe whoever is at the door will hear me.
    “Help me,” I beg.
    I grab Alex’s arms and dig my fingernails into them.
    “Ow! Stupid slut!” He yells.
    He raises his hand and hits me in the face, letting go with his other hand. I drop to my knees, sobbing uncontrollably. He isn’t about to let me go that easily though. Alex drops down to the floor with me and pushes me down onto my back. He lifts his right leg and straddles me. Both of his hands are holding my arms down. I can’t move at all and I am completely at his mercy. His head comes down to my neck and he begins to kiss me. I feel so disgusting I could just die. His mouth travels down to my chest and he kisses me there too. He puts his hands all over me, running his hands down my thighs and my legs. He cracks a smile. He’s actually smiling about this. That in itself makes me feel so nasty I could puke.
    The doorknob twists and the door opens...