Prologue / Sam: September 13th
This is an unedited, not cleaned up scene which will probably make into the novel I’ve been working on for the last year or so. Would love your feedback !
The last time I saw Brenna was her sixteenth birthday, September 14, two years ago.
The day before her birthday was a Friday. I’ll never forget the cool of the winter to come; it was merely a hint in the breeze as I stepped out of the school. I took a look down the covered walkway, slung my back-back over my shoulder and began walking toward the parking lot where Brenna and I were meeting up. I had stayed late for extra help in chemistry. She’d stayed late for the drama club.
I barely had a second to see Jake Fennel and his underdeveloped sidekick Matt, before Jake slapped me upside the face in a attack that was as sudden as it was unexpected. Jake was an oversized boy with a pea-sized brain: always a little red in the face, always quick with a harsh word for anyone who didn’t fit his idea of the acceptable. I’d known him since elementary school, and I can close my eyes now and hear his sarcastic, harsh voice calling me bitch or faggot or any one of a thousand cruelties.
“Hey, little bitch!” Jake said.
I tried to pull away, and Jake roughly shoved me against the wall again, grabbing the front of my shirt. Real hate peered from those half lowered lids, and he whispered, “What do you think you’re doing telling Mrs. Read I was bothering you? You must have a fucking death-wish, huh?”
Matt, his sidekick, spit on the ground, and said, “Bitch is right.”
“I ought to kick your ass,” Jake said.
Tears were way too close to the surface. I just wanted to run, or sink into the ground and disappear. I’d tried to be invisible in the three weeks since high school had started. Not so much luck. I’d hoped high school would be better than middle school had been. Maybe the people who had made middle school miserable for me would find someone else to bother, or they would mature, or the lessons of a hundred seminars on bullying would sink in and they’d embrace brotherhood with people who were different than they.
Failing that, I’d be invisible.
Brenna was never, ever invisible. At that moment, she burst out of the doors of the gym, saw me thrown up against the wall, and marched over toward us. Her body was tense with anger the moment she saw Jake and Matt.
She didn’t say much, just walked over to Jack and Matt, then slapped Jake across the back of his head. “Let go, little jerk.”
A flash of fear crossed Jake’s face, reinforced most likely by the biker chain Brenna had hanging from her belt, the combat boots, and the crazy purple spiked hair. A deep, almost blue green jewel pierced her right nostril, almost the same color as her eyes.
She leaned a little to match Jake’s height, and whispered, “I’m going to jam my boot right up your ass if you don’t run away right now.”
Jake let go, pushing me one last time against the wall. He backed away, saying, “You won’t always be around to protect the little freak, you bitch.”
For once, I can say Jake Fennel was right. Brenna wouldn’t always be around to protect me. Not anymore. But I didn’t know that then, and when she turned to me after Jake and Matt’s retreat, I just hugged her. “Thank you,” I said.
She didn’t reply at first, nor did she return the hug. I stepped back, and that’s when I saw she was shaking. She whispered, “What are you going to do when I’m gone? Don’t you think it’s time you learned to stand up for yourself a little?”
“Gone?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”
She averted her eyes. “Never mind. Let’s go.”
I didn’t like the answer, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. We walked out to the parking lot. Mom was there, sitting behind the wheel of her green Dodge Caravan, reading a paperback while waisting for us.
“Hey guys,” she said when we got in the van, Brenna in the front seat, me in the middle. “How was your day?”
“Okay,” Brenna said.
“Fine,” I replied.
She shook her head and gave a wry smile. “I should know better than to ask teenagers anything.”