Updated: Nov 27, 2017
It was tiresome having to take the long way to the student parking lot. Being in a constant state of heightened awareness must be doing a number on my heart rate. As soon as the final bell rings I am on my feet and out the door. I take in every inch of space as far as my eyes can see. I’m ready to divert my path if it means I can avoid him. Well, them. It wasn’t just Henry I’ve been avoiding, it’s his testosterone fueled posse that scares me. Independence High’s own group of White Male Privileged Elite. A collection of members of the school’s varsity teams. Henry was the newest addition, in his Junior year, looking to prove himself. What was his challenge? “Fuck the dyke.”
Henry had been a childhood friend. Our parents were convinced we would be high school sweethearts, until I came out. That changed a lot of things. Especially our friendship. Even more so when I cut off all of my hair and traded skirts and dresses for joggers and Vans. When he became distant, I thought it was the pressure from his father to champion high school basketball. I thought he was just busy. I thought we were just growing apart. Then, he invited me to a party at a friend’s place. One of his friends. He had barely murmured a hello to me all year and suddenly there was this invitation via text. “A great chance to catch up he said.”
He said the party was too loud. We found a quiet room upstairs. I sat on the bed. He sat next to me. Too close for comfort. The next thing I knew his wet salmon lips were planting themselves on mine. He smelled like sweat and Axe. I wanted to gag as I shoved him off and onto the floor. I ran out the room. I heard him scrambling. Whether he meant to come after me or not I don’t know because I was out of the house fast.
It’s been three days since the party and I’ve successfully avoided him. But leaving school was the hardest because they somehow always found each other and left the campus as a pack if they didn’t have practice to go to. Today was one of those days, and they’ll hang out in the parking lot until the security guard comes along to herd them out.
The hot sun had made me sweaty as I hurried past the other students. I could see my old black Toyota Camry waiting for me, with its plethora of stickers. Almost home. As I cross through the first row of cars in the dirt lot, made to be a parking lot, I hear them.
“Hey Henry, there she is.” It’s Chad, the ring leader. He didn’t sound like an 18-year-old ready to go out into the world. He sounded more like a boy who just shot his first BB gun.
I put my head down and make a sharp left turn, heading away from the pack, but further away from the safety of my Camry. I am clenching the straps of my navy blue backpack, littered with patches that make me a beacon.
“She’s getting away.” Someone else’s voice. He was laughing. I hear heavy footsteps running my way.
“Laney wait.” It’s Henry. I feel sick. I keep walking, pretending not to hear him.
“Laney I know you hear me. Laney Please.” We’re out of ear shot but I can still hear their laughter in the distance. Why are boys like this? I’m clenching my straps tight. My nails dig into my palms. Tears are burning my eyes. My teeth are clenched.
Henry finally catches up and grabs my shoulder, I recoil and swing my arm back making a fist which I propel right in to the center of his face. The impact shoots a pain up my arm. I feel his nose crush from the pressure and I watch him fly back stunned. Everything slowed down. His eyes rolled back. I imagined in that moment he could see the full spectrum of color as he fell back into the dirt. Red for my rage, orange for the warmth I showed him when he was my friend, yellow for the trust he had and lost, green for the childhood memories that mean nothing now, indigo for the cold distance he created between us, and a dark violet for the vision he’s probably losing from that hit.
“Fuck you Henry.” I yell through tears.
Other students took notice. I could hear the Elites laughing in the distance. Let them come pick him up. He was their problem now. I move quickly to my car before security notices. Once I’m safe in my car. I start the engine and let the AC blow over me. I sit there for a moment before pulling out. As I drive by a still stunned Henry, I look only at the road ahead of me. You don’t fuck with this dyke.
(Photo Source: Unknown)