Michael was the most popular boy in middle school. He was tall with dark, curly hair and greenish eyes. All the girls liked him, including me. I kicked myself for it, but he was boyishly handsome. And me? I was the kid dressed in all black, constantly snacking and hiding away from all the other students.
I liked rock music and nerdy things like space, biology, and anime. I would straighten my hair to be “pretty” and put on black eyeliner and lipstick at school. I had to hide the makeup from my mom, who once caught me painting my nails black and told me she’d cut off all my fingers if I didn’t choose a different color.
My whole family had convinced her of my evil. But perhaps I was grieving in the wake of my dead sister. Or perhaps I didn’t know how to grieve. I realized at that time there was no God; or else he would have spared me the pain and granted me death as I had prayed for (with very understandable reasons) since the age of seven.
Everyone thought I was Satan’s whore or something. I was just a kid trying to find my own place to fit in, which definitely didn’t seem to be among the normal students of my middle school. I did have friends, but I kept them down to three or four.
Nicki was my best friend, then there was Shanya who live across the from me, we biked together every morning, and there Brittany who made me laugh every day. Lastly, there was Devyn, who I think hung around because she hadn’t made up with her other friends yet.
There was Dennis—and then there wasn’t. I was friends with Dennis since elementary but in middle school he suddenly hated me. He ignored me and acted like I didn’t exist. I didn’t understand. Maybe he just grew to hate girls. Whatever it was, it was a huge blow to my confidence. It was the first inklings of being rejected by people who were supposed to be there for me. I had made new friends though and I was just fine hanging with Nicki and the other girls.
But back to Michael. I ended up getting his number from a girl that had class with us both. This was when we all still had home lines. So, in the evening, I’d call him. His mom would pick up and surprisingly she handed him the phone and we talked about school and shit. I thought it was amazing at the time, although a bit weird that I called him, I was happy with the progress.
I didn’t once believe Michael could actually like me though. There were so many pretty girls and like Cheyanne said, “I had a unibrow.” This happened earlier in the year. I used to like this guy named Chris and Cheyanne figured it out pretty fast. She was a lesbian. Maybe that’s why she did what she did. She called me out on my crush in class, including Chris and said he wouldn’t like a girl with a unibrow.
Everyone laughed. Chris laughed too. The night I had tried to shave with my mom’s razor in secret and took off half my goddamn eyebrow. This did not go unnoticed the next day and Cheyanne was on top of her game.
“Oh my god, you tried to shave! You really tried to shave.”
I denied this. “No, my brother wanted to test his new shaver on me and I coughed. He messed up.”
Everyone could smell the bullshit.
They laughed and Chris never talked to me again after that. No one wanted to be seen with a clown.
I had shitty luck with love. After Chris there was Anthony. I crushed hard till I told Shanya, who told the rest of the girls, who all in turn kept saying he was gay. I didn’t see it but they found it amusing that I picked someone who was gay.
I felt like the joke once again, though I never confirmed he was gay, I didn’t want to risk confessing to him or having Cheyanne find out. So, on to Michael a year later. Michael was mixed, black and white but his skin was pretty pale. He reminded me of a boy named Josh in Elementary. I was even younger and more stupid, but a lot more honest then. He was my first rejection.
Josh was white, blonde, and blue eyed. I’m surprised he hung around with me. I thought he was too cool for nerdy me who was way too into aliens back then. I told him I liked him and he said it was gross for a black person to like a white person.
That stung. What stung worse was when he fell for my friend Rachel who was white. Awesome. At this point I was “O” for three. So, this is why my hope wasn’t too high when I approached Michael. He was with his stupid friend Quashawn who was the shortest boy in school. The tallest boy and the shortest boy were the best of friends.
I wasn’t planning to confess or anything that day, I just wanted to chat with Michael but Quashawn felt the need to share his disgust for girls who dressed Goth. He thought I looked ready for a funeral and that I probably murdered cats in my free time. I tried to get past his jokes, laugh along with them but maybe they smelled my fear. It must have been my fear that egged them own. Just behind my eyes they could tell how much I cringed. I just wanted to be brave.
“You shouldn’t wear that lipstick,” Michael said.
I wanted to retaliate, tell him how it was actually cool and how I was chill and not scary at all but Quashawn opened his mouth again.
“That’s not lipstick. That’s ink. I bet she eats pens,” he said. “Go away ink eater.”
And they laughed as though it was the funniest thing. They laughed right in my face and wouldn’t stop. I can’t get his face out of my head; Michael’s beautiful angel face in an uproar at my expense.
I think this was the day I truly began to hate Humanity—Humans in general. A brooding misanthropy began to build in my heart. And it wasn’t just these few incidents. I had never had good luck.
One day at school, Shanya, I asked to see under my tongue. It was weird. I wanted to know why. She says, “Because you can tell if someone has sucked dick if they got ticklebiesters.”
“What are ‘ticklebiesters?’”
“Bumps under the tongue from doing blowjobs,” she said. “Let me see, or are you scared?”
I could see she was ready to make fun. She wouldn’t call me a slut but that’s what I would be if I refused. So, I agreed. I showed her and she exclaimed that I had them.
“Have you really done that?” she asked.
“No, of course not. It must be wrong.”
But I lied. I had gone through a year of therapy after being orally raped by a family member multiple times. So, she was right. I had ticklebiesters. And the fact that she could tell I had been wronged burned me more than Michael and Quashawn’s teasing. I felt ashamed and embarrassed but forced a chuckle and a smile. This was the true reason why no one liked me; I was dirty and used and they could feel it. I was something unwanted.
It made me hate everyone and everything.
Even my family was against me. They convinced my mother my attire and choice of music was wrong. So, she took my favorite CD, Evanescence, and on my cousins’ behalf, an insistence that Amy Lee was the devil’s advocate, she snapped it in front of me.
Naturally, my love for Michael faded as quickly as it had come with the revelation that he was a complete asshole. I withdrew socially. I turned to metal. I needed something heavier than Linkin Park and Disturbed to drown out the anger building within me. I stayed close to Nicki and my friend, and tried to channel my energy into creative things like drawing and writing.
Around this time came Leo.
Leo was Shanya’s crush. She said she liked him because they were like the only half black and Puerto Rican people in the school. I thought that was cool and I rooted for her. If I couldn’t be loved then she surely could. So, I would help her. I hung around them and Leo constantly played pranks. Sometimes, Shanya would go to Leo’s ball games and we would watch him play. I told her she should confess because he seemed into her but she was so shy. She asked me to do it for her, to scope him out.
So, one day when hanging out in the gym, I asked Leo what he thought about Shanya and he said she was okay. Just okay. I didn’t understand. I said, “I thought you liked her?”
“No, I like the one named Shanya…isn’t that you?”
I was so shocked. For once, a boy liked me. But, I didn’t like him, or at least I couldn’t. If anything, I was loyal. So, I corrected him.
“Oh…so, your friend likes me…”
I felt like he wasn’t thrilled. He fell for the wrong girl. Life was weird like that. After our conversation, Leo came around less and less. I told Shanya what happened and at first, she was pissed but eventually forgave me. I was grateful for that. She saw my loyalty and I felt we grew closer for it. Years later, I would find out that Leo went on to get into drugs and would overdose and die before the age of twenty-five.
After Shanya’s short lived fling and my own debacle, Courtney appeared. I first saw him when I was walking home with Shanya. He was a heavyset black guy with green eyes and a shaved head. He told me what he felt right away.
“I’ve seen you walk this way a lot. I don’t go to your school but I like you. You single?”
“Well, you’re my girlfriend now.”
I didn’t argue. I allowed it because I didn’t care at this point. I didn’t care about myself or what I wanted. I felt like it was weird but whatever. I was unibrow girl.
Courtney was a few years older than me, so while I was in my last year of middle school, he was in high school. I had no idea which high school he went to, and even now, I think perhaps he was a drop out. Courtney was a chronic liar, that much I knew. He would say the most ridiculous things like, “I’m in the army” or “I switched to the Marines and the Sargent took my phone so I couldn’t text you.” I remember he stood me up after taking my ipod. I wanted it back but he didn’t show. I waited hours and cried till Brittany found me and walked me home. I thought he wanted to steal my stuff this whole time. Little did I know, it was worse than that.
Courtney wanted sex, and a week from my birthday he said my present would be him. He wanted my virginity. I think he expected me to be happy but I wasn’t. I was repulsed and scared. I didn’t like him, I barely knew him, but I felt I had no choice. Just like when I was younger, my voice seemed to have been stolen.
My birthday came and a few days later Courtney showed up at my house. That night, while my mom was out with my cousins, he tried to have sex with me. I laid on the bed, unsure of what to do. He said, “Just lay there.”
He climbed on top of me. I felt stiff and cold. I turned my head and stared at the wall while he put his condom on and tried to enter me. He swore and said I was too tight. I hadn’t been violated in that way yet and was glad for it, but would this be the moment life took that one small victory from me?
Courtney stopped. He was frustrated and I was happy. I got away with my virginity intact though for the next few years he would continue to try.
High school came and with that new friends, though the same ones hadn’t totally left my life. I would have a few more crushes but would never utter a word to them. I would give them codenames and stare from afar. I would learn the schedules just to get a glimpse of them. I was harmless but I knew my honesty caused pain and bad things to happen so I was silent. I would never tell them thus I would never get hurt or laughed at again.
I broke up with Courtney and I rebelled. I was a full blown angsty teenager and my constant misanthropy had grown into a dissonance with the very order of life. I rooted for disaster and begged for an early ending.
I had grown callused and mean. I wrote poetry about vengeance and studied famous killers. I had friends that seemed to be outcasts from the world just as I was and together, we would all go down in a blaze of glory.
This was just a small beginning to my story.
I was setting myself up like a game of Chess and this time, I would make the first move.