Colorblocks of sunrise mark the clouds out the window on the bus to Cherry Hill High School. The buzz and din of my classmates engulf me as I try to read the novel in my lap. I am, “Hey you!” I am, “Hey, nerd!” They are ignored.
Cherry Hill High School is a square building made of salmon-colored brick and windows that only open half-way. Rusted picnic benches line the concrete walkway leading to the doors that read ENTER. Sometimes we are allowed to eat lunch out here, but more often than not we are punished for some discrepancy and banished inside.
We mill about before first bell. I haul my heavy backpack higher on my shoulders and clutch my book to my chest. A hand brushes mine and then holds on, pulling, pulling me towards a shadowed corner and the fringe of high school society—the baggy clothes and the colored hair and the metal through skin. Modeled after miscreants. My long-time boyfriend, Aaron, is their king.
Aaron smiles down at me with straight, white teeth. A mouth full of past money spent. He kisses me on the forehead and I remove my hand from his grasp to regain my grip on the novel pressed into my chest. They chat and harass one another. Aaron, Darren, Drew, Clara, Stephen. I am, “Hey, sweetheart.” I am, “Hey, Aaron’s girlfriend.”
The bell rings.
We split up and I head to my AP History class. Early as usual, I read my book until the final bell goes off. Carved into the fake wood on my desk is an expletive and a crude rendering of a penis. Jenny, a smart-but-popular girl barely makes it through the door. Christopher is tardy. Mrs. Davidson begins the lecture on Greek culture. She asks us to separate into groups for a project. Dread. I am, “Hey, aren’t you Aaron Singer’s girlfriend?”
Hey, you. Nerd. Sweetheart. Aaron’s girl. Is that all that I am?
We are cutting up magazines for our project, my scissors slip and blood wells to the surface of my thumb. I glance around. No one is watching. The teacher is absorbed in papers at her desk. My classmates are absorbed in each other. I open the scissors and begin to carve into the soft fake wood by the word “fuck”.
I am Anne.
originally published at Tipsy Lit 2014.