The pain showing in her face was something he had never wished to see. Her hands were clammy and cold, almost lifeless. He had always heard the saying that 'life is just a series of rooms', and what really shaped your future were the people you got stuck inside of those rooms with. This cold delivery room had now become their personal hell, this singular room that would shape their future and send it on some downward spiral neither of them could control.
At the moment they received the news, he was thinking “We'll get through this. I love her, she loves me. Somehow we'll find a way.” She was thinking, “Why am I being punished? What is wrong with my body? How much worse can things get?” Yet neither knew, that at exactly the same moment, both of them would think, “Where do you go from here?”
Being a 17 year old high-school girl isn't all butterflies and unicorns as the older generation would like to have you think. No, being a 17 year old high-school girl comes at a price. The price of your dignity, any shred of pride you might have had before walking through those school doors, and most of all, your morality.
Hailey Meyers knew this better than anything. She knew it better than how sorry she should have been to wear her favorite flip-flops to school (sooo 90's). She knew it better than how regretful she should have been of keeping her hair short and jagged (dyke!). And she knew it most of all, at how ashamed she should have been not to just keep her mouth shut, and her opinions to herself (annoying bitch). Yes, Hailey Meyers knew the ins-and-outs of the decaying social stigma that was Holy Rosary High, but the difference with her was, she couldn't have cared less.
“Fuck you Meyers. You wonder why you haven't been laid yet? Newsflash! Learn to keep your fucking trap shut you ugly lesbo.”
“Music to my ears Quinn! Music to my ears!”
Hailey was enjoying her daily berating from the school slut, Quinn Silvas, on her way to advanced Calc. Apparently nowadays it was forbidden to accidentally step on someone's (brand new you whore) Uggs and walk away unscathed. Hailey knew she had trouble keeping her temper, but could she really be blamed with such prime candidates for misdirected anger?
“Let it go Hales, bitch not worth it!” came the sing-song voice of Hailey's one and only friend. Miranda Blowitz was about the most unusual sight you could see at this school. Even Hailey with her jet-black Kelly Osbourne cut, and (mostly) laid-back Janis Joplin attitude, could not in a thousand years hold a candle to the hot mess that was Miranda Blowitz.
You could already assume that, by her name, she was, what Hailey liked to call it anyway, an 'extremist Jew'. Her nappy hair was firetruck red, and fell in billows around her beige turtleneck sweater. There weren't enough people in the city to count the amount of freckles on her face, or the dark hairs in her brows; and the most prominent feature of all, was her hotdog-length nose that held up a pair of ridiculously thick prescription glasses. It also didn't help that her last name was the epitome of tease-able offenses.
Yes Miranda was neither fun to look at nor fun to protect, as Hailey (and even Miranda herself most of the time) couldn't really disagree with most of the foul taunts thrown her way. Regardless, she was Hailey's only refuge from becoming a total pariah at school, and she was honest, straight-forward, and funny; just how Hailey liked 'em.
“Yeah I know, but sometimes I just wanna-”
“Shove a spork up her nose?”
“God, you just get me.”
Thankfully, (and yet somehow less surprisingly) Miranda was as much as a nerd as Hailey was, and followed her along to advanced Calc. They had taken advantage of this, and positioned themselves just so in the class, out of direct sight of Mr. Halloway. This gave them ample time for catching up everyday.
“Ok so, you'll never guess what happened at Temple yesterday!” Miranda whispered loudly in Hailey's direction while simultaneously shoving their workbooks to the side of a shared desk.
“Oh, oh, you sacrificed a goat!” Hailey replied with heavy sarcasm. She could see the creases in Miranda's brow start to furrow. Miranda didn't much appreciate Hailey's total lack of enthusiasm or knowledge in her weekly Menorah or whatever the fuck it was.
“Haha oh yes, and next weekend we have to sacrifice a virgin. I said you'd be happy to do it.” Miranda grinned devilishly in response to Hailey's unamused glower. “But seriously, Jonah was there.”
Jonah Adelman had been the eye of Miranda's affection since pre-school. He was another 'extremist Jew', and chose to wear his Yamaka and Rabbi-braids everyday to school. It was a match made in Jewish Jesus-less heaven.
“That's nice.” Hailey offered, her eyes averting to the floor. Miranda knew this sort of behavior well. She had grown up with it since pre-school, and knew exactly what was coming.
“Something wrong Hales?” Miranda pried.
“Nah, just tired of hearing about Jonah.” was Hailey's unconvincing response.”
“Yeah, yeah. What did he do this time?”
“I don't know what you mean.”
Six months ago, Miranda found out through continuous nagging, about the sudden dysfunctional life Hailey had begun to lead at home. Her father worked constantly, and both Miranda and Hailey had the inkling that he pretended to work even when there was no work left to be done. The atmosphere at her house had become sullen and awkward ever since her mother died. Cancer, inoperable, six months ago. It had been the toughest time for Hailey, and it left her relationship with her father in disarray.
Just as Hailey sometimes misdirected her anger towards Miranda, her father did the same to her. Ever unappreciative, ever apathetic and mostly out-of-tune with what was going on in her life. She had grown accustomed to it now, and a silent 'pretend as if he doesn't exist' routine had become the norm. Miranda knew this, so she knew what would come next.
“Don't lie to me.” Miranda stated matter-of-factly.
“I'm not... lying.” Hailey knew that Miranda knew better, and finally conceded.
“He hasn't come home in three days. I'm just worried, that's it.”
Miranda tried hard to find the right expression to give. She was simultaneously empathetic, and angry. “Don't worry about him. He doesn't give a shit, so you shouldn't either.”
She was right, Hailey thought. She knew she was right, but it didn't stop the emotions from welling up in the corner of her eyes.
“Shit.” she muttered while wiping the tears away vigorously.
“You know what we need?” Miranda chimed in hopes of changing the subject a bit. “Girl's night in!” She clapped her hands together at the end of this brilliant idea to emphasize its finality. Hailey rolled her eyes, burying her head deep within the confines of her arms. Perhaps if she pretended to sleep, Miranda would give up.
She hadn't. It was 8:00PM Monday night, and Miranda was lounging on the loveseat watching a rerun of Hogan's Heroes, while Hailey tried to liven up the sleepover in any way imaginable.
“Spin the bottle hot lesbian edition.”
“I'm flattered but I forgot my chapstick.”
“Well fuck me.”
“No, I forgot my double-sided dil-”
“Ok, ok, ok! Geez Randi, I just want to do something other than sit here and watch TV shows that should be reserved for people who take dumps in their adult diapers.”
“Hey! There's nothing wrong with the classics, okay? Better than fuckin' SpongeBob.”
Hailey quickly realized that her efforts were futile, and conceded to the large full-length window facing out onto the quiet street of Amber Knoll Ave. She hated this town. How could it seem so lifeless with a population of over two-hundred thousand people?
While zoning out, staring into her vacant future, Hailey saw a light flicker on momentarily. It had a weird green hue, and was coming from across the road at a neighbor's. She could vaguely see the figure of a person walking back and forth behind closed curtains, pacing. She stared for a bit longer before seeing the figure holding up some sort of object then violently tossing it down. A loud crack echoed from beyond the window, and the green light suddenly flickered off.
“Hey Randi, come see.” Hailey beckoned.
“No this is the good part.” came the retort.
“Just get your ginger ass over here.”
In seconds Miranda's head popped over Hailey's shoulder who was a good two feet taller. “What am I supposed to be seeing?”
“Just shut up and look.” Nothing happened. The street was as quiet as it had been before.
“Ok, Hales... I know you don't like Hogan's Heroes, but you don't have to make up stories to get me to stop watching.”
“No, no. I just saw a green light come on across the street at Rachel's house. Then like... I saw someone in the window throw something, then there was a loud noise and the light went off.”
“Ok... first of all, who the fuck is Rachel? Second of all, if the noise was so loud how come I didn't hear it?”
“Stop asking so many questions. I just thought it was freaky. She's an old family friend, lives by herself, no kids, no pets. I don't even think she has family. She always comes around for block parties and shit, used to babysit me sometimes when my parents went out. She's pretty cool.”
“Well next time you're at a block party with her, ask her the recipe for her witch's brew.”
“Shut up and go watch your granny cartoons.”
Hailey didn't let Miranda on to just how curious she was about Rachel Hollis's strange activities. The truth was, when her mom was still alive, Hailey used to visit Rachel almost everyday after school. They had been closer than even Hailey could explain. After her mom's death things had become a little more awkward, and the relationship became one you'd expect between formal acquaintances. Of course they still shared a passing greeting, and the occasional small talk, but Hailey missed the afternoons they used to spend together.
And unknown to Hailey, Rachel did too.