Another late September day, another
nightmare. Listening to Bullet For My Valentine on full blast
through my headphones, squishing through the hallways packed with
sweaty, hormonal teenagers all scrambling to get to class on
time. Girls with long flowing hair, shining eyes and confident
posture. Boys with shaggy haircuts, zits, and muscles. And then
there was me...Plain, hair chopped short and jagged, dyed black
and blue, thin black sweater hanging off me, covering my arms and
wrists from prying eyes, ripped jeans, and headphones plugged
into my ears to shield me from reality. People bumped and shoved
me out of the way, not apologizing, not even realizing I existed.
That's mostly because in their eyes I didn't. I was a nobody, a
ghost, a shadow that attended classes and never spoke, never made
friends, never laughed or smiled. If anyone ever came up to them
and asked 'Who is Ranielle Bailey?' they would reply 'Who?'
walked into my English class and trudged to my back corner. The
students whose desks where normally around me had hovered away
over time, almost afraid to be near me. That left me with the
only free desk in the class sitting right beside me, which I used
for my backpack and books. We started the lesson with a class
reading of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", which I didn't
participate in considering I had read the play multiple times
already and didn't need the teacher to translate every word for
me. Five minutes in there was a knock on the door. The teacher
stopped short of her line and stood from her perch, straightening
her skirt and going to open the door. There was a boy, carrying
his bag on one black clad shoulder. His black hair hung over one
side of his face, and his arms were covered by a tight long
sleeve shirt that showed off his muscles. "Can I help you young
man?" My English teacher -what was her name?- was never one to
The boy searched the back pocket of
his skinny jeans and pulled out a piece of white paper. "I'm a
new student, sorry I'm late, I got a little lost."
She took the note from him, read it,
and nodded, "Yes well tardiness is not acceptable in this class.
I will excuse you this once but don't let it happen again. Why
don't you find yourself a seat." She handed him a copy of the
book and sent him on his way, and his path led him straight to
me. I kept my head stuck in Ellen Hopkins 'Burned' while moving
my things from the desk beside me, discretely pushing it a few
inches away. He sat in the seat and looked around for a moment.
He looked sort of like me, but different, more...confident. He
scooted his desk closer and leaned over, "Hi, I'm Adrian."
I looked up and nodded solemnly,
returning to my book. He cleared his throat briefly, "Um, do you
know what page we're on?" I rolled my eyes and grabbed his book,
opening it to the right page and pointing to the line they had
just finished. He smiled at me, "Thanks, uh...What was your
about to answer when the teacher shouted, "Ranielle! Where is
your book? Why are you two talking?" I looked down
and closed my book, snatching up my copy of 'Romeo and Juliet'
and turning to the page. She straightened her glasses and said
with a huff, "Since you two are so keen on speaking why don't you
read the next scene?" There were whispers around us, all the
students chirping with curiosity to hear the outcast Ranielle
over, "If you say so Miss." He cleared his throat.
"He jests at scars that never felt a wound.
But, soft! what light through yonder window
It is the east, and Juliet is the
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious
Who is already sick and pale with
That thou her maid art far more fair than
Be not her maid, since she is
Her vestal livery is but sick and
And none but fools do wear it; cast it
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing: what of
Her eye discourses; I will answer
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she
Two of the fairest stars in all the
Having some business, do entreat her
To twinkle in their spheres till they
What if her eyes were there, they in her
The brightness of her cheek would shame those
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in
Would through the airy region stream so
That birds would sing and think it were not
See, how she leans her cheek upon her
O, that I were a glove upon that
That I might touch that cheek!"
cleared my throat and read aloud, "Ay me!"
corners of his lips pulled up in a smile, "She speaks:
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou
As glorious to this night, being o'er my
As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wondering
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing
And sails upon the bosom of the air."
took a breath, getting ready to say more than I have said in a
long time, not having to say more than 'fine' or
"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou
Deny thy father and refuse thy
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my
And I'll no longer be a Capulet."
Adrian looked straight into my
eyes, "Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at
"'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other
Belonging to a man. O, be some other
What's in a name? that which we call a
By any other name would smell as
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo
Retain that dear perfection which he
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy
And for that name which is no part of
Take all myself."
"I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I'll be new
baptized;Henceforth I never will be Romeo."
By this time we were both
looking into each other's eyes, all the other students focused on
I could feel his gaze seeping
through me, pulsing through my shield in a way that I wasn't sure
I felt comfortable with, but didn't want to stop. I felt uneasy
and looked down at my page and in a quiet voice said,
"I...uh...lost my place."
The teacher stood and nodded
to us signaling that we had finished. Through the rest of class I
pretended to follow along and avoided looking at Adrian. When the
bell finally rang I rushed out of the room, but not fast enough.
"Hey!" Adrian called out from behind me and I slowed, defeated.
He came to walk beside me and smiled, "So...Ranielle...Pretty
name." I rolled my eyes and didn't respond. He sighed, "Look I'm
just trying to make conversation. You seem like a pretty cool
girl, better than all the losers around here." That made me stop
in my tracks. It shocked me to think that someone wanted to be
with me more than someone else. I was the outcast, the nobody, no
one likes a nobody. "I was hoping maybe we could have lunch
together, maybe get to know each other better?"
I turned to him and looked in
his eyes, seeing nothing but truth. I bit my lip and thought a
moment before nodding and seeing a smile light up his face.
"Great, I'll see you at lunch" He turned to walk away and then
turned back, "Um, where's room 207?" I cracked a small, almost
unnoticeable smile, which I'm almost certain he noticed, and
pointed him in the right direction before heading off to my own
At lunch we talked, well...he
talked, I listened. Sometimes he would ask me questions and I
would find a way to answer without using my voice. We hung out at
lunch everyday for the next month. He told me about his parents
being divorced and his brother dying, his father taking custody
and moving him out here. He didn't mind so much, it wasn't so
much moving away, it was changing, losing familiarity. He said he
thought that it was going to be hard here, and then he walked
into class and met me and everything was suddenly not so
frightening. For some reason, that made me blush. After a while I
still hadn't said anything else, not after reading out loud to
the entire class. He asked me one day if he could come over to my
house to study. I normally would have shook my head no but from
some reason, maybe it was the look in his eye, I said yes. He
followed me home like a puppy, it was only a twenty minute walk
in the crisp October air. Once there we plopped our bags on the
floor and sat on the couch. He scooted closer and took my hand,
"Ranielle would you...Do you...Will you be my girlfriend? I feel
like I know you, like we've connected, and I really like you." I
stared, shocked, and blinked. He cleared his throat and pulled
his hand away, "I'm sorry, forget I asked." I grabbed his hand
and pulled it back. He looked at me and smiled, "Is that a yes?"
I nodded. He caressed my cheek and I leaned into his touch, "Why
don't you talk? I've only ever heard you speak once." I shrugged
and turned away. He wrapped his arms around me and for a moment I
flinched away, but then relaxed into his arms, "Would you talk to
me? If I asked?" I shrugged in response. His hold tightened
slightly, not enough to hurt me, just make me feel more secure as
he whispered in my ear, "Please?"
I sighed and closed my eyes,
"I...I guess. If it's just us..."
He smiled and kissed my
cheek, "Thank you. Now there's only one more thing I ask."
I pulled out of his embrace
and turned to face him, looking up questioningly. When he didn't
respond to my body language I asked, "What's that?"
He grinned and ran his thumb
over my lips gently, "Smile." I pulled away and shook my head,
but when he met my eyes he could tell I was smiling on the
inside. "No? Well I know a way to make you smile no matter what."
I raised my eyebrow, and shook my head. "You don't believe me?
Okay, I guess I'll have to show you." He suddenly pounced on me,
fingers finding my sides and tickling them furiously. I screamed
and fell backwards on the couch as he continued his
laughing the whole time.
"Adrian! Stop!" Was all
I could say, I hadn't smiled this much for as long as I could
remember, and I hadn't laughed for even longer than that. Finally
he stopped and I caught my breath.
He grinned, "Told you."
I glared and folded my
arms over my chest, pouting. His response was to lean down and
kiss me. Right then. Right there. For no reason at all. I didn't
know what to do, I just sat still. He pulled away, "Ranielle? Are
you okay? What's wrong?"
I shook my head, "I'm
He frowned, "I'm sorry,
it was too sudden, that was my fault."
I shook my head
furiously, "No! No that's not it, it's just..." He waited for me
to continue, "It's just that no ones ever ki-kissed me before...I
didn't know how to react..."
He smiled and gently
kissed the top of my head, "You'll get the hang of it." He pulled
me into his arms and we just sat there. I breathed in his scent,
sweet and familiar. "Do you want to take off your sweater? It's
kinda hot in here." I shook my head and buried it in his chest.
"Okay." The tone of his voice made me feel like he knew
something, but I let it go. We reviewed our English notes and
talked about the different views on the play until it was dark.
He noted how well I
knew the book and I shrugged, "I read this a lot when I was
He nodded, "I can see
that. I don't read much though."
I smirked, "Clearly."
He pretended to be offended and attacked my sides again. I
laughed and fell sideways onto the couch, curling up into a ball
to protect myself. He stopped after a moment and propped himself
up on his elbow, leaving one arm wrapped around me as I laid flat
on my back.
He traced my lips and
smiled softly, "It's beautiful, you should do that more often."
I looked at him
confused, "Do what?"
He grinned, "Smile." I
blushed and turned away. Just then there was a slam as the front
door was shoved open and smacked against the wall. I jumped up
and grabbed my books, pulling Adrian up with me. We opened our
notes and sat back just in time for my dad to walk in, beer in
hand, and see us.
He glared at Adrian,
"Who are you?"
I cleared my throat,
"Dad this is-"
"I didn't ask you! What
did I say about talking when I'm around?" He snapped, spit
dribbling out from the corner of his mouth. I looked down and
nodded. Dad turned back to Adrian, "Now, who are you and what are
you doing in my house?"
Adrian cleared his
throat, "I'm a friend of Ranielle's, we're studying for an
"A friend?" Dad
exclaimed, "Since when did Ranielle have friends?" He turned to
me, "Did you drag him here against his will? That's the only way
I see someone hanging out with you."
I looked down. Adrian
spoke up, "She didn't drag me here sir, I asked if I could come
over and study with her."
My dad looked
dumbstruck, "Well why in the hell would you do that? I sure there
are smarter, prettier girls in that class, I doubt Ranielle is
the only girl there."
"None of the other
students know the material anywhere near as much as your daughter
"Yeah well you can just
get up on outta my house kid. Ranielle I'm going upstairs and
when I come back down he better be gone and you better be
sleeping." I nodded and watched as he walked up the stairs,
tripping and catching himself drunkenly. I picked up Adrian's
books and shoved them in his bag, dragging him to the door. He
gave me a quick kiss goodnight before leaving. I sprinted to my
room and locked the door, starting to cry silently. Why did my
dad have to come home that early? Why did Adrian have to see
that? He wont want to be with me anymore. I took the blade out of
my bag and took off my sweater, staring down at my ugly wrists.
He wouldn't want to be with me anyways, once he saw them...so
what was the point?
I walked to school the
next morning, head down, music blasting. The moment I looked up I
saw Adrian walking towards me. I wanted to walk to him, ask him
if he still wanted to be with me, but before I could a girl
intercepted. She was tall, curvy, with long flowing blonde
She walked up to him
and smiled flirtingly, "Hi there!"
Adrian barely glanced
at her and smiled politely, "Oh, hi. Sorry I'm kind of in a
He tried to walk off
but she grabbed his arm, "Couldn't you just spare a minute for a
girl like me? I'm Sharon Evansin, you've probably heard my name
circulating around school."
He shrugged, "Sorry,
She huffed and turned
on her charm, "Look, there's a dance on Friday. It's a school
dance so it's going to be lame, but it's ladies choice so I was
thinking maybe I could take you."
Adrian blinked and for
a moment I thought he was going to say yes, but then her answered
sweetly, "Sorry...what was it? Sharon? But I'm already taken."
And with that he walked off in my direction Sharon watched him
go, watched him go to me, put his arm around my waist, and kiss
the top of my head. I could almost see the steam coming out of
her ears as she stomped off. I took out one of my headphones
and smiled shyly. Adrian chuckled, "Good morning." I gave a
little wave and looked down. He frowned, "Are you okay?" I nodded
in response. He took me off to the side and leaned my back
against a wall, "Tell me the truth. Somethings bothering
I shook my head and
whispered, "I'm fine."
He frowned, "Is it
about last night?" I shook my head but he caught my chin and made
me look into his eyes. I sighed and nodded, giving in. "Is he
always like that?"
I shook my head, "No,
not always. I didn't want you to see that, he's normally out
later." I looked down again.
He nodded knowingly and
took my hand, "And now you think I wont to get involved with
you." It wasn't a question but I nodded anyway. He lifted my chin
and placed a gentle kiss on my lips. "I don't care about what
your dad is like, I only care about you." I blushed as the bell
rang. He pulled me out and towards the class, ignoring the fact
that every student still left in the hallway was staring at
At lunch I waited for
Adrian to get out of class. It normally took him longer to get
there since his second period class was on the opposite side of
the school as his locker and the same side as the lunchroom.
Before I knew it Sharon was walking straight in my general
direction, straight for me. "Hey you!" She stood right in front
of me, "What was your name again? Ran-something? Whatever. So I
hear you're dating that Adrian kid." I nodded, trying not to look
like a deer caught in the headlights. "Yeah well that's gonna
have to stop." I raised my eyebrows and stared at her
dumbfounded. "See it's not like it's gonna last anyway. Once your
big secret is out no one is gonna want to date you. Adrian is
like all other boys on the inside, he doesn't really want a girl
like you." I rolled my eyes and focused on the lunchroom door,
hoping that Adrian would walk in soon. "I mean, who wants to date
a self mutilating girl like you. Cutting yourself for attention
is just sick." My eyes snapped to her face and I felt my stomach
drop like a stone. "What?" Sharon laughed, "You think we didn't
know? Everyone can see it. You're doing this for attention, the
look, the way you never talk, and now you're using it to
manipulate that poor boy into pitying you." I sighed and shook my
head, getting up to go look for him. As I rounded the table he
grabbed my arm, "Where are you going? Off to the washroom to cut
your wrists open again?" I tried pulling my arm away but she
yanked me back. "What's wrong? Can't handle hearing the truth?
Why don't you show us? We already know what we'll find." She
tugged at my sleeve and I pulled away, trying to force my way
through the crowd that had assembled all around me, only to be
pushed back. She grabbed my sweater and tore at it, "Come on
Ranielle! Show what we all want to see!"
Seeing her grip my
sweater, trying to reveal my secret in front of everyone, made me
snap, "Stop being such a bitch!" I jerked my arm away and was
rewarded with the sound of ripping fabric as my arm exposed
itself to prying eyes. Everything stopped and all I saw was
Adrian, standing in the doorway, staring at my arm. I felt my
whole world come crashing down as I pulled my arm away and raced
out of the lunchroom. Adrian ran after me only stopping when he
hit the door of the girls washroom.
"Ranielle?" He called
through the door, "Ranielle, answer me please?" I ignored him,
sitting in the far corner with my knees pulled up to my chest. He
ran a hand through his hair, "Look is anyone in there with you?"
He waited a moment and after no answer shook his head, "What the
hell." He opened the door and ran in after me, locking it on his
way in. He found me in the corner crying and crouched in front of
me, "Hey, shhhh it's okay I'm here."
He tried pulling me
into him but I kicked him away, "Get of me! Go away!"
Adrian ignored my screams and
attempts to throw him off until I finally stopped struggling and
just cried. He ran his fingers through my hair, rubbed my back
and tried to calm me down. "I'ts okay, I'm here. They can't hurt
I only cried harder, "I don't
care about them!"
He sat back against the wall
and pulled me into his lap, "I know. Ranielle you know no matter
what I love you. I don't care what other people think and I'm not
going to blow you off over this." I just shook my head and buried
my face in my hands. He sighed, "I'm gonna show you something,
but you can't tell anyone okay?" I nodded and looked up. I
watched as he pulled up his sleeve and held out his wrist. At
first I saw nothing and thought he was making fun of me but then
I saw the faint scars and gasped. He nodded, "Yeah, I used to cut
too." He took my hand and traced the ugly lines around my wrist,
"We're not that different, you and I. I think that's why we
connected so well. If you can live with me and my past problems,
I'm sure I can help you get past yours." He brought his lips to
my wrist and kissed them scars and suddenly all the pain went
away. "I love you Ranielle."
I looked into his eyes and
spoke, clear as day, "I love you Adrian." I reached out and
kissed him. It was different than before, I felt more confident,
more in control, and I knew that though my secret was out it
wasn't the end of my world.