I stood out in front of the building and hugged my arms to my chest. It was cold, and I just couldn't get warm… I thought that if I maybe took my mind off the cold, I'd regain some feeling in my fingers. I slowly tilted my head and minutely stared at the barren trees in the distance, swaying in the quiet wind.
“Oh! Hi, Megan,” I said shocked. “You frightened me…”
“You need to get your head out of the clouds!”
“I know,” I said shamefully.
“Well, what’s got you so spaced out?”
“Don’t tell me it’s that dark-haired, mysterious fella’,” she said with a giggle.
“Well, maybe just a little…”
“I told you, it’s useless,” she twittered again. “Won’t be long before we‘re together.”
I bit my tongue… Though I knew that she was just joking, there were thousands of things I had wanted to say. But, I just couldn’t. I pulled my coat closer; the cool damp air nipped at my ears and nose.
“Don’t you have practice soon?” I asked uninterestedly.
“Yea, I just figured I’d wait out here with you for a while. No one’s there yet anyway,” Megan said. “They’re never on time… And since it’s cold today, most of them might not even show up.”
“Oh… I see. Well, wha--”
“What are you two girls talking about out here, all huddled together?”
I blushed hard… It was Jesse, cutting through the thick of words. He stood closely behind me, and when seeing me pull my collar up to my ears, he wrapped his arms around me.
The mere feel of his touch made me warm all over. I glanced over, and Megan wasn’t pleased…
“We were just--”
“I was just heading to practice…”
“But, I thought you were gonna just hang out for a while?”
“No,” Megan said, a light shade of pink streaking across her white cheeks, “I just thought of something I need to do…”
Jesse smiled at her. I could feel his cheeks tighten when he leaned his chin against my face.
“Oh, and by the way,” Megan said, “congrats on that, Jen…”
Megan whipped her head around quickly, nearly swatting me with her hair. She was scorned and very disappointed.
“Ready to go?” Jesse said, pulling me closer, brushing my hair behind my neck.
When did he get so friendly in public? Was he staking a claim on me in front of the others? Was he putting his feelings for me on display to keep the other guys away? Whatever the reason, I enjoyed it… But the excitement, the rush, the feel of his hands upon me was overwhelming.
“I don’t know…” I said, clutching his hands. “Megan’s really upset…”
“Well, she seemed fine before I came over.”
“Well, that’s just it,” I said. “She’s upset because of us…”
After a few minutes of explaining the situation, Jesse said, “Well… I can’t help that… Maybe you should‘ve told her that we were interested in each other.”
I sighed. “Maybe I should have, but everything just came at me so fast…” I said, releasing Jesse’s hand. “I think I’m gonna go find her… I need to talk to her…”
“Alright, I’ll go with you--”
“Maybe it’s best if you didn’t…”
“At least let me walk you inside,” he said, taking my hand.
“Alright… but, no further than the main hall.”
After leaving Jesse at the lockers, I turned the corner and headed straight down the hall. I passed the main office and the cafeteria… and soon, I was standing at the gymnasium door. I took a deep breath, opened the door, and stepped inside.
“Megan?” I called out into the darkness, but no one answered.
I heard faint voices, but I wasn’t sure if they were real or if my mind was playing tricks on me. I never really liked dim lighting in large places… It spooked me for some reason. I expected ghouls and other grotesque creatures to be lurking around each obscure corner. But, I stood firm. I followed the voices I thought I heard, and found myself standing at the locker room door.
I could hear the voices louder now… One voice belonged to Megan, for sure, But the other voice, I couldn’t quite make out.
“I thought that you were done with me?”
“I’m not sure what I want right now,” Megan responded.
“So, what does that mean?”
“Well, right now that means--that means that I want you…”
The voices trailed off and became a lot more muddled… There were faint sounds here and there, but I couldn’t really make out what they were.
I tipped further down the corridor of the locker room and… I heard a familiar noise. One that I hadn’t been very familiar with before this week. It was quite sexual, I think… but, it couldn’t be Megan who made the sound… could it?
I reached the end of the corridor and peered around the corner. At first, I was confused at what I was seeing… Then I quickly became mortified. Megan was standing dangerously close to Coach Bayne, the football coach at our high school. He had a hand upon her face, and it seemed as if he was trying to console her. But, I quickly realized that a more sinister plot would soon be carried out.
I glanced down… and he had his hand underneath her skirt. And Megan, once staring up into his wiry, blue eyes, bit her bottom lip and closed her troubled eyes. Did she want this? Was she a victim or was she participating?
It was hard to tell whether she was being forced or whether she was enjoying what was happening to her. I wanted badly to step in and begin yelling, “Step away from her, you creep!” But the frightened child within me refused to move forward, not even an inch.
He retracted his hand and placed it against her shoulder. He kissed Megan, lightly; and suddenly, he pushed her into the lockers. The force of her body slamming against the cold, metal doors created a sound so disgustingly loud, so deafening that it filled the locker room and reverberated through the small corridor in which I was standing.
Megan cried out shrilly, but Coach Bayne quickly kissed her to mute some of the sound. He placed his massive hand underneath her thigh and lifted her leg. He pulled her tiny frame towards his colossal body and lifted her other thigh, pulling both legs around his waist.
Megan didn’t seem to fight back… She… was…allowing this thing--this sickening thing--to happen to her. She was enjoying the feel of this giant, rugged, older man pressed up against her fragile body.
I couldn’t--I couldn’t watch anymore. I turned around and walked out of there as fast as I could. And by the time I reached the end of the corridor, I heard Megan scream out again… At that time, I began to run. I ran as fast as my legs would take me. I jetted out of the corridor, through the dark gym, and out of the door into the hallway.
I ran through the school, stopping for nothing and no one… I darted past Jesse and out of the front door of the school. When I got outside, I slowed to a jog, and then, to a quickened walking pace. By the time I reached the street corner, Jesse had caught up with me. He grabbed my arm and yanked me back towards him.
“Wait a minute--Calm down!”
“No, Jesse I have to--I have to go home. I have to--I have to… Damn it! What do I have to do?!”
I collapsed into his arms and began to cry.
“What happened? Did you two get into a fight?”
“I wish it was that…” I said, sobbing into his chest. “My God, how I wish that was what it was…!”
“Jen, look at me… Look up at me,” Jesse said, tilting my chin upward. “Tell me what happened…”
“She--Megan, she--I… I can’t! I can’t!”
“Jen,” Jesse said, “Calm down, alright?”
I nodded my head, and a cool, November wind found its way through the trees and chilled my very soul. I wrapped my arms around Jesse’s lean waist and clutched his jacket in my fists. The cotton of his shirt warmed my face.
“I just… I can’t talk about it right now… Just, give me some time.”
“Alright… Let me walk you home.”
I took his hand and started down the street. With each slight breeze, one or a few leaves found their way to the ground. It was quiet… Our footsteps resounded against the frozen pavement. The day faded into gray, and the sharp branches of the barren trees jutted dangerously into the sky above.
We walked through the gate and up the driveway; mom was home. Her gray car disappeared into the mist alongside the house.
“I guess this is where we part…” Jesse said, reluctantly releasing my hand.
“Yes… I guess so…”
He pulled me close, and kissed me once, very gently upon the forehead. He looked down into my face with understanding eyes and brushed his thumb across my bottom lip.
"Guess I'll see you later--"