For some reason, her smug dismissal gets to me. There’s something afoot and I don’t know what it is, but she does. And she knows it. It pushes my anger over the edge and I erupt as I storm over and push her, causing her to careen into her friends, but she doesn’t fall to the ground unfortunately.
She’s not as brave as her friends think she is and her push back at me has no effort behind it. It’s more of a defensive move than an offensive one, and I can tell she doesn’t want to get physical. She just screeches at me and what she says stops me in my tracks.
“It’s not me you should be mad at.” She yells so everyone can hear. “Where’s your boyfriend, goth girl? He’s the one I’d be worried about.”
I look around me at all the strange faces, but no one will make eye contact with me. Even the jocks look the other way and it’s then that I know. I pray for it not to be true, but it’s been there in the back of my head the whole time. The nagging doubt, the fear that it’s all too good to be true. I feel the panic well up in my chest and I run towards the feed and seed store, not caring about the whispers behind me and the overly loud thumping music.
Please God don’t let it be true, I plead.
I hear Dylan before I can see them. He’s never been a quiet moaner and now is no different. His moans are loud and echo around the hallway. There are others in the shadows sucking and groaning, but he’s the loudest of them all. No one pays attention to me as I stumble down the hallway zeroing in on the sounds my boyfriend normally makes for me, for my body and my hands. Each moan slices through my chest, another piece of my heart cleaved away. There is no doubt what’s going on and everyone knows it. Even me.
I come to the last door on the right and push it open slowly. I don’t want to, I want to run as far as possible from the door, but I know I can’t. Everybody knows. I can’t pretend like it’s not happening. I push the door a little harder and it swings up in one giant long squeak just like in a horror movie.
I cover my hand over my mouth to keep from sobbing. Cassie is on her knees in front of Dylan, her head pumping in time with each one of his thrusts. His hands are gripped in her hair and his head is tilted back, his eyes shut as if he’s concentrating. He’s so caught up in Cassie blowing him that he doesn’t even register that I’m there. And then it’s like an out of body experience for the next few seconds.
I rush in and grab Cassie by whatever hair I can grasp and pull her to the ground. I am on top of her and punching her as she tries to defend herself. There is no feeling now, no sadness, no remorse. Just pure white hatred. I rip an earring out of her ear and she howls and shrieks but it’s not good enough. I want her to scream more, I want it to hurt like nothing has ever hurt before. I want her pain to be like mine, but a million times worse.
It’s Dylan who pulls me off her. I am biting and scratching and spitting, but he doesn’t let go. Cassie scuttles back from me, blood pouring from her nose and her ear. She doesn’t yell at me or try to fight me. She’s petrified. She scrambles to her feet, wiping her arm across her mouth before darting out the door. I can hear the commotion out in the yard, but I don’t care. I don’t care about anything anymore. I feel dead inside . . . almost.
I turn and look at Dylan, the fury barely concealed beneath the surface. My heart is dying, but it’s nothing compared to this moment. Dylan is pale and shaken; the last few minutes have sobered him up. He rubs his hands across his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose before he tries to reach out for me, but I push him away. He doesn’t know where to begin. He looks at me and starts to speak then stops, but there is nothing he can say that will make this okay.
“It’s not what you think,” Dylan begins.
Why do they always say that?
“So that bitch didn’t have your dick in her mouth?” I ask, the rage bubbling up in my throat.
“I sold her some pot and she didn’t have any money. It’s payment. It doesn’t mean anything,” he replies coolly. When he says it, it doesn’t even sound like him, not like my sweet Dylan. It’s someone else. Someone distant and uncaring.
Sweet Jesus. Betrayed over a dime bag. Is this really fucking happening?
“You fucking destroyed what we had for some God damn drugs?” I want to cry now. It seems so cruel – something so stupid and insignificant could have such disastrous effects. I have lost everything over something that would be smoked and discarded, ancient history, by the time the sun comes up. Just like that.
But I will not cry. Not now. Not until it’s all over.
“Holly, seriously it wasn’t anything. I’m not into her.” Dylan tries to cross the space in between us, but I back up, swallowing the unshed tears and the pain. “Please,” he pleads. “It doesn’t change anything. I want you, not her. We’re getting out of here.”
Something inside me breaks. It’s not my heart. My heart was broken the moment I opened the creaking door. No, this is something more profound, something more complex. It is like I have broken through some glass ceiling and I am floating up where no one can hurt me. I have become detached from my body and I don’t care. I don’t care about myself, or the people outside or even Dylan anymore. It all seems so pointless. Nothing matters. There is no reason left for living . . . except for the rage, that is. The rage keeps me tethered to the here and now. Even if I wanted to let go, I can’t. The rage won’t let me. It gives me strength and resolve.
My voice is unbelievably calm when I finally speak. It’s so much easier when you let go of caring, and there is no purpose other than the rage. The rage is the comfort, the reason for staying . . . for now at least.
“We’re never leaving this town,” I say to Dylan letting the cheery tight smile creep onto my face. I hardly feel it. “Thank you for making me see that now.”
He looks at me like I’ve gone crazy, but he doesn’t try to touch me this time. It’s like he knows something has broken inside of me, too. I don’t say another word as I turn and walk out the door.
We’d be back at school soon enough.