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Authors: Tiffany King

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Suicide

Miss Me Not (23 page)

BOOK: Miss Me Not
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"Madison?" she asked, raising her eyebrows at Dean.

"Dean was just dropping me off," I said with dread, wishing Dean would leave before she said something that I didn't want him to know.

"I'm Dean," he said, sticking out his hand for her to shake.

Donna studied him for a moment before replying.

"Donna," she said, shaking his hand limply. "Madison isn't allowed to have company over when I'm not home," she added, shooting a look in my direction.

"Oh, yes ma'am. I just came in to search the house since I don't feel comfortable dropping her off in a house at night, all by
herself,
" Dean said, emphasizing the alone part.

"I see," Donna said, making it clear she didn't care about his excuse as she headed off to her room without another word.

"Sorry," I said, walking Dean to the door. "It's not you, it's me," I said, trying to explain her behavior.

"No, actually it's not you, it's her," he answered, looking troubled.

"She has her reasons," I said, defending her.

"No reason justifies that," he said, placing a kiss on my lips. "I'll be here in the morning," he said, stepping outside. I knew he would be waiting for me to lock the door behind him.

Chapter nineteen

 

 

Dean showed up as promised to pick me up the next morning with homemade biscuit sandwiches. "My mom sent me bearing gifts," he said, holding the napkin-wrapped sandwich for me. "So are we walking or driving?" he asked, shouldering my backpack for me.

"Driving," I answered, taking a bite of my sandwich. "Mmm, this is good," I said, taking a bigger bite.

"They're my favorite, for sure," he said, pulling into a parking spot in the student lot.

"Can't we walk in together tomorrow?" I asked in a last-ditch attempt as I watched our classmates pile out of their vehicles.

"Not a chance. I let you keep our friendship secret over the last few weeks. Now that were dating, I want people to know."

"They're going to hate it. Your reputation will be in tatters."

"You're wrong, but I don’t care," he said, taking my hand as we left his vehicle behind.

Conversations stopped as we made our way down the halls, hand in hand. I could hear snide remarks and incredulous comments as Dean first walked me to my locker. I kept my eyes averted from his. I may have foreseen this kind of reaction, but it didn’t make it any easier.

Twirling the dial on my locker, I finally looked up at Dean as I reached for my backpack that he still carried. My eyes meet his, and I wanted to hurt someone when I saw the pain reflected in his eyes. His jaw was clenched, and I could see his knuckles were white where he gripped my backpack strap. Anger welled up inside of me. Hurting me was one thing, but hurting someone as decent as Dean was just wrong.

"Fuck them," I said, smoothing my hand over his tense jaw. Whether it was my statement or my rare touch, the tension seemed to evaporate inside him.

"Fuck them," he repeated, dropping his lips to mine for a quick possessive kiss. If there was any shadow of a doubt in anyone's mind that we were together, the kiss we shared made our relationship abundantly clear.

"Let's get you to Whore Cat's class before the tardy bell rings," Dean said with a grin. All my worries drifted away at his smile. Who cared what everyone said? I'd ridden the wave of gossip before, I could ride it again.

"I'll see you at lunch," Dean said, dropping a last kiss on my lips.

I nodded before heading into the room and claiming my seat.

The whispers from the hallway followed me into the room, although the octave level of them seemed to have risen.

"Once a slut, always a slut," floated toward me. I kept my eyes down, not giving anyone the satisfaction of responding.

"Wonder how many lives she'll ruin this time?" a distinctive voice asked from the back of the room.

I didn’t cringe and I didn’t turn to look at the voice that belonged to my friend from long ago. As a rule, I hadn’t acknowledged Katie's presence since I discovered we were
both in the same world history class. I never looked at her or showed any sign that I knew she was there. I knew my indifference drove her nuts, which is why she had chosen to ignore me the last four years. The note thrown at my head a few weeks ago was unmistakably her handiwork.

Ms. Jones started the class as soon as the bell rang.

"We only have three weeks before Christmas break begins to cover the material for the next grading module. All of your projects will be due on the twentieth and will count for eighty percent of your grade," she droned on, writing the criteria on the whiteboard for all of us to see.

I was not enthused about the end-of-term project. Projects blew. For one thing, they were way too time-consuming, and the fact that you had to present them in front of the class was like being thrown in a field with a bunch of starving zombies. I had opted out of projects that had been assigned since I entered high school. I always took the much lesser grade by opting to write a paper instead.

Listening to Whore Cat with half an ear, I considered actually participating in this one. I'd bet my life on the fact that Dean was a pro at projects, and I was pretty sure he'd have no problem helping me with mine.

I was in the middle of jotting down the criteria for the project when the first crumpled up ball hit me in the head. I watched as it rolled to a rest by my foot, taunting me to pick it up. I wanted to see what insults were being thrown at me now that their golden boy was mine. I could practically hear the rolled-up ball calling my name, but I resisted picking it up. It was time to let the past go. I didn’t need to see what the note said. It no longer mattered. Dean was interested in me, despite it all.

Resuming my note taking, I wasn’t surprised when another paper ball hit me in the head. This time I didn’t even look up.

I could hear snickering behind me as a third and fourth paper ball hit me in the head in quick sequence. Obviously, everyone was enjoying the show that seemed oblivious to Ms. Jones as she continued to write out the instructions for our big project on the board.

"Dean must be a glutton for punishment," I heard Katie say loudly. "Obviously, he must not care about catching any diseases," she added to whoever would listen.

I wanted to continue to ignore her, but something inside me snapped. Years of abuse at her hands had never made anger boil up inside me like it did at that moment. Maybe it was just the idea that my mind was done with it all, but I knew it was actually my heart that spurred my reaction.

Without even considering my actions, I seized my heavy world history book in my hand and threw it at Katie without missing a beat. The distance between us slowed the book down, but it still hit her square in the face. Blood spurted out of her nose and spattered across her desk and down her shirt.

Crying out in pain, she cupped her nose, looking at me with hatred. "You bitch, you broke my nose," she shrieked, standing up and advancing on me.

"Next time, I'll break your fucking face if you ever talk about him like that again! You got me? I'll put up with your shit, but it'll be a cold day in hell before I allow you to trash him!" I said, stepping close to her so she wouldn't mistake the seriousness on my face.

"What is going on in here?" Whore Cat asked, stepping between us. "Madison, you can't throw a textbook at people," she said, clearly shocked at my actions. "Go to the office," she added, clearly shaken over my outburst.

"Right, because textbooks hurt," I said, making a point of looking at the crumpled up notes on the floor.

"Jill, will you take Katie to the clinic while I call the office?" I heard her say as I stalked out of the room with my bag.

I was more than halfway to the office when the ramifications of my actions dawned on me. My pace slowed and I closed my eyes briefly in dismay. I was bound to be suspended, which meant a call to Donna, which meant trade school for me. I was screwed.

The principal's secretary was expecting me when I arrived. "He's waiting for you in his office," she said unsympathetically.

Keeping my chin up, I made my way to Douche Bag's office and knocked on the door.

"Come in."

Opening the door, I stepped into the one room of the school that I had hoped to avoid.

He was sitting behind his desk with his fingers stapled together on a folder atop his desk.

"Ms. Hanson, am I to understand you initiated a fight in the middle of first period?"

Words of denial sprang forward to attempt to save me, but I held them back. This was all just a formality. I had already been found guilty and convicted. Nothing I could say would change anything. They saw what they wanted to see. Believed what they wanted to believe. So, I sat there, in stoic silence.

"Remaining silent will not help your situation, young lady," he said in the condescending tone that had earned him the nickname I had deemed him with. "I want to know why you would think you could get away with initiating a fight in one of my classes with an innocent student."

I literally bit my tongue at his words, so I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of an answer. I could taste the copper of my blood in my mouth, but I remained silent.

"Fine, we can play your silent game, but you will not leave my office until I know why you threw a book at a fellow student," he said in a clearly aggravated voice.

I balked at his words. Spending the day in his office was as enticing as wrapping myself in barbed wire. I could say anything. Take my punishment, and then I would at least be free of this god-awful place. Looking at his smug face, though, kept me silent as I sat there with my arms folded across my chest.

The minutes slowly ticked by as we sat there in silence. Eventually, he stopped glaring at me and went on with his work. I kept my eyes on him, unwilling to show my weakness by looking down. First period ended with the ringing of the bell and still I sat. My butt eventually went numb at the end of second period and yet, I didn’t move. I remained rigid, not showing any sign of giving in.

By the time fourth period ended, I was in agony. My legs and back ached from my stationary posture while all feeling had left my ass hours ago.

Douche Bag's lunch was delivered to him at the end of fourth period, and my eyes never strayed from his as he slowly
unwrapped
his deli sandwich.

The sudden buzz of his intercom startled me, making me jump slightly.

"Yes?" he said, holding the button down on his phone.

"Ms. Jones is here to see you."

"I'm in a meeting," he said, looking at me.

"She says she has something urgent to discuss with you."

"Fine.
I'll meet her in the conference room," he said, clearly aggravated as he stood up from behind his desk. "I'll be right across the hall," he warned, exiting his office, but leaving the door open.

Once he was out of sight, I slumped in my seat, trying to appease my aches.
What the hell was I doing?
I couldn’t help thinking. I was only delaying the inevitable.

I could hear their muted voices from across the hall, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

A few minutes later, the door across the hall was thrown open and Douche Bag stalked back into his office, seething. Whore Cat followed behind him, smiling at me slightly before closing the door behind her.

Studying me critically, Douche Bag sat back down behind his desk, clutching a stack of crumpled papers in his hand. "Ms. Hanson, it has come to my attention that perhaps, though your actions were wrong, you may have been provoked. Do you recognize these notes in my hand?" he asked, holding them up.

Not sure where he was going with his new strategy of questioning, I looked at Whore Cat for clarification.

"
It's
okay, Madison, you can tell us," she said with kindness that had been absent before.

I wasn't sure what they expected from me, but I took a deep breath and finally answered him. "Yeah, they were meant for me."

"Do you know who they were from?" he asked.

"Yes, I have a box filled with them at home," I answered, relieved to be finally telling someone one of my biggest secrets. I didn’t even care that it was them who I told. It was just a relief to get it out.

"I see. Well, this changes things significantly. Throwing textbooks is obviously not allowed, but neither is bullying. Ms. Jones has pointed out to me that although your grades are not stellar, your behavior over the last four years has been. She also pointed out that sometimes, faced with continuous torment, eventually anyone would snap."

I looked at him confused as a small ray of hope unfurled inside of me. Was it possible that they wouldn’t suspend me, and that Donna would never know?

"Do you know what these notes say?" he asked, indicating the stack again.

"I have a rough idea. They all pretty much say the same thing," I answered.

"I will admit I am appalled at what is written on these sheets of paper. It gives me no pleasure knowing students at my school behave like this," he said, slamming his fist down on the notes. "Bullying will not be tolerated."

BOOK: Miss Me Not
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