The Austin Tattoo
I didn't really know Him until He was dead.
It's all people talk about now. You would be silly to think they'd let me carry on with my life-not constantly mentioning how I watched the most beautiful creature to tip toe this earth just . . . die. Do they actually think I'm alright with retracing every memory? Letting every obnoxious moment of that horrid day three months ago play in a montage before my eyes. . . .
And I'm about to learn all about him. My life is about to truly start.
"Come on, Violet. School starts soon!" She shakes me violently.
I grumble something unintelligible and pull my comforter over my head.
"Get up." I can't see her, but I know she puts her hands on her hips as she bosses me around. "You have 45 minutes to get ready." She claps her hands metrically.
I mumble again. "Can't I stay home? Please, Mom?" my teeny voice squeaks.
"No, you cannot!" She pulls the comforter off me. "Violet, get up this moment. I will get your father if I must."
I sit up and shake my head. I stutter, "I can't."
"You can." She sits next to me and fingers my hair. "I know you can, Violet."
"I can't. So, why even try?"
"You weren't like this before."
"I'm aware of that," I reply matter-of-factly.
All I have been telling her are little snippets here and there, and she has been trying to get me fess up about what fully happened. Yeah. Right. I'm not about to tell my mother, the biggest blabbermouth ever, my darkest secret. I'm not even going to tell anyone. Not even Lilly, though she has probably noticed that.
I shake my head no.
My mom sighs. "Get up. Get dressed. Get to school."
She stands up. "You can, and you will." She walks out of my room and down stairs as if she has accomplished something.
I look over at Dougal, my cat, who is lying at the foot of my bed. I pick him up and nuzzle my head in his orange fur. I cradle him in my arms while talking to him. "Why is she making me go to school? It seems like it would just be easier to have me stay home. Once I am there, everyone will notice what a freak I am and ostracize me. I'll be such a disgrace to Middleton High that the principal will send me home in shame."
I set him down and stroke his fluffy neck. "Thanks for the support, Dougal. I don't know what I would do without you."
My mom yells up the stairs, "I don't hear teeth being brushed!"
I folded my arms and rolled my eyes the whole car ride. My hands were shaking and my heart was palpitating. I thought I might die.
And, when I go into the classroom, I wish I had.
Everyone is paired up with somebody else. A tall blonde, clearly wearing a water bra, flips her hair and bats her eyelashes off at a boy with luscious brown hair.
If Barbie is so popular, why must her boyfriend be bought?
Another girl with heavy black make up on and dark clothes smacks gum in her seat while listening to Breathe Carolina. One girl is babbling on about vampires while her friend fixes her makeup and tells her that Taylor Lautner is so out.
I wonder when he was ever in.
Two girls to the right of the room scream songs together. The music sounds like Katy Perry's songs. Maybe Ke$ha I get closer to listen. Yep, it is Katy Perry. One boy drums on the desk with drumsticks. He sucks. Another girl and boy tell him that he rocks and that they will be at his show on Saturday. He is playing at the Rowlock Café.
With nothing else to do, I take a sit in the middle of the room, fetch a pen from my bag, and draw a rose on my left forearm and contemplate on how glue doesn't stick to the inside of the bottle. Then I sigh. Mondays. For some insane reason, I just don't like them very much. But, much like rumors, they come around.
I don't like this town. To be honest though, I didn't really like the other one either. Keasby, Colorado. Just sounds boring. I like the sound of Tampa Bay, Florida better. I used to live in Florida with my mom while she worked, and my brothers stayed here, in Colorado, with my father. I spent every other weekend at my Dad's. Just when my dad was about to move in with my mom and me, she was transferred back to Keasby. And people change after three and a half years apart, so I have lost all of my friends. I wish we had not have moved, but at the same exact time, I am glad we did.
He sits in front of me. He glances back with milky eyes. His face is sad. His mouth open; words come out. "Feeling the guilt down in your bones yet?" He asks. He chuckles wholly with an evil wink. "Shamefulness? Fear?" He whispers now. I want Him gone. "Do you know I watch you as you dream little nightmares every dark hour?"
The teacher enters the room. After chilling me to the bone, He disappears. The teacher writes his name on the whiteboard. Mr. McLaren. Sounds a little sketchy, if you ask me. I don't think I will like him.
He tells us to introduce ourselves.
My heart beat reverberates loudly in my ears. Thud, thud, thud. Why can't it leave me alone; get out of my head; quiet down?
"Who wants to go first?" Mr. McLaren asks from atop his desk.
Nobody answers. I stare at my desktop intensely. I wonder if I can burn a ring of fire through it. After all, we only use 10% of our brain. I think some people only use 3%.
"Must I pick?"
Threats? This shouldn't be allowed.
"Everyone will go at one time or another, guys."
Everybody readjusts uncomfortably. Send us home already.
I stiffen. Did he point to me? I look up quickly. No, he pointed to one of the Katy Perry Twins. She stands and begins to talk. She talks fast. She's from California. Her name is Morgan and she has two kittens, Leila and Monica. Her brother is 17 and named Dave. I don't like the name Dave. My ears throw up at the sound.
Next up is The Girl Wearing the Water Bra. She rolls her eyes and begins to talk. She tells us her name is Samantha. I like The Girl Wearing the Water Bra better; it is easier to remember. She flips her hair sexily. She sits down dramatically, showing off her butt. I do not like The Girl Wearing the Water Bra.
Mr. McLaren calls on a boy next. He's name is Bryson. He's cute. He's stupid though. He says "um" every other word; he says his dad is from Turkey. He then adds that he prefers chicken. The class giggles. I roll my eyes subtly.
Mr. McLaren points to me next.
I panic. My palms sweat like a fat man in Arizona heat. My breathing quickens. My eyes get misty. My stomach tightens. I shake my head.
I shake it again.
"You can say anything you wish."
I wish to say, "I have nothing to tell." I shake my head harder. This would be easier if I could explain. That's the catch though: There is no way to explain it.
I walk up to the front of the room, all eyes on me. I take a piece of paper and pen from his desk and scribble out a little note to him. I tell him my name, and I tell him why I should be exculpated. Mr. McLaren peruses it.
When most people-especially woman-read it, they get rather emotional. "Such a shame, you're pretty," they all say empathetically.
Mr. McLaren just nods and allows me to sit down, excusing me from the activity. Everyone asks what is so wrong with me that I am exempt from the exercise. I duck my head and let my hair fall over my eyes. I can't see anything but the boy in front of me. I hear him mumble to his friend, "Why is he favoring her?"
The kid replies, "I wonder if they hooked up."
I try to scream. I try to yell at them. If only they knew! I jump to my feet and try to shout at them, but the words don't come. I look at everyone staring at me. He reappears, perching on the teacher's desk, beside Mr. McLaren. He laughs at me.
"Yes, Ms. Lewis?" Mr. McLaren looks at me.
My heart explodes. I think I might throw up.
"Will you share now?"
I shake my head, which is all I can do. My feet are frozen in place; I am glued to the stupid blue carpet. I will never like this history classroom ever again.
He licks His lips. He smiles. He says dirty words that dice my heart and shatter my soul. What does He want from me!
Everyone in the room stares at me. The Girl Wearing the Water Bra says, "Whatafreak," very loudly.
Except, I don't. I run. My feet defrost from the ground and I run to the nurse's office and cry. She checks my temperature: 99 degrees.
"Not enough to go home," she tells me. She's old, but nice. She reminds me of my grandma, Marina.
I sigh, my sobs growing weaker. "I'm okay," I manage to say.
"You don't look it." She pulls up a seat and sits next to the cot. "Would you like to talk? What is your name?"
Would you like to talk? The voice in my head laughs. Of course I would, I think. OBVIOUSLY!
I struggle out, "Violet Lewis." Crying makes it hard to talk, I hadn't realized.
"Who did this?"
I cry harder. I think about that time. I sob and sob. Then I stop. I realize that it is time for second period: geometry. There should be no talking there. I've realized that math teachers are rarely wordy.
I gather myself, my emotions on my back, and go to my locker. I get my textbook and drop it accidently.
A girl skips to me and picks the book up. "Ew. Geometry," she says. She hands it to me. She's carrying a handful of Hello, my name is . . . nametags and a black sharpie. She is wearing a knit headband, covering a portion of her light blonde hair. Her eyes are green like freshly cut grass. She smiles. "I have to bring these to my next class; theatre. It's next door to Mr. Speer's geometry room. Want to walk with me?"
I shake my head and show her my schedule, which is hanging in my locker. I have Mrs. Frenchmen for geometry.
"Oh," she says. "Well, anyway. Hi. I'm Charlotte Dreary."
"Hey," some kid pokes her shoulder. He's cute. He's gorgeous. Brown hair, gray eyes, cute smile. Perfection is he. "I'll see you at lunch?" he asks her.
She nods. "Oh, yeah! This is . . ." she looks at me. "Well, I don't know."
"Hey. I'm Crew," he waves.
I don't do anything back. I don't smile. That shows your teeth, which frightens animals. We are all animals. So, why smile? I turn the corners of my lips up a tiny bit. But that's only because I still have Frosted Flakes stuck in between my teeth from breakfast, and I'm trying to get it out with my tongue ingeniously.
He frowns at me. Whatafreak, I'm sure he thinks. He tells Charlotte he'll catch her later and walks off.
"Don't melt in a hot guy's presence!" Charlotte advises me. "That only shows weakness, which isn't hot, Hun."
I nod as if to say shamefully, "Oh . . ."
"Can you say yes or no?" she asks me. Very blunt girl.
"I'll take that as a negative," she mutters.
I take a nametag from her and write something on it. I stick it to my shirt.
"Oh," she says. "Okay. Well, um . . ." she hesitates. "I'll see you around. Maybe we can eat lunch together. Okay, well, class starts soon. Bye!" She trots away after she finishes talking.
She leaves me in the hallway with the stupid sticker on my shirt.
Hello, my name is . . . MUTE.