Status: Starting over



The next two weeks of school were a blur, hopefully that meant that high school would be over sooner than I thought and I’d be able to leave this boarding school for good. Tonight I was meeting my mother at her apartment after school. I haven’t seen her since school started, she was always busy during the school year. At times it was hard to even say hello to her, I was used to not speaking to her for weeks or sometimes even months on end. I wish I could say I had a better relationship with my mother, but it costs to have a busy hard working single parent.

Today I went from class to class dreading going back home after weeks of not seeing my mom. I knew I had to love her since she was my parent, but sometimes it was just so hard to.

I walk into my last class of the day, greeting Angel and sitting next to her. “Ready to see mommy dearest today?” She smiles at me and chuckles at her own joke. I wouldn’t say my mom is nearly as bad as Joan Crawford was portrayed, but she wasn’t the best. And every girl needs her mother.

I groaned and laughed quietly at Angel. The bell rang for class to start, the teacher stood up from her seat and began the lesson for the day. I was drifting in and out of daydreaming and writing down the important notes of class as the teacher talked about art history. Suddenly she was saying something that brought me back to reality and not copying note after note like a robot. We had end of the year projects due, the caseload for these projects were typically huge and she wanted us to work in teams.

“Alright guys, I’m going to split you up into groups myself.” Mrs. Greene looks down her nose at Angel and me, “We wouldn’t want an unequal pair of rowdy teenagers working together.” Angel and I look at eachother and laugh, we were never good at group projects. Mrs. Greene calls out names in groups of three for the projects, it’s hard to hear her as students get out their seats and meet up with their partners for the rest of the year.

Angel groans when she hears that she’s in a group with some rugby jocks who are friends with Gavin. “Talk about unequal pairs,” she stands to meet the two boys throwing a paper ball around.

Finally the teacher gets to my group, “Shannon Matthews, Trevor Diamond, and Rachel Sullivan.” My head snaps up and glares at the teacher, but she’s already turned around and passing out the guidelines for our projects. Trevor and Rachel walk toward me to form our group, Rachel makes a screeching noise with her metal chair trying to move it closer to sit next to Trevor.

When Mrs. Greene comes to our table to hand our assignment to us I start insisting that I be put in another group, “Mrs. Greene, I don’t think I’d be suited for this group. Is it possible that you can switch me with someone else. I don’t want to be with Angel, it's just that,” I’m cut off by Rachel as she shoves her seat legs between Trevor and me.

“Stop worrying Shannon, I’m going to be nice. It’s alright Mrs. Greene, Shannon is just a little paranoid worry wart. We’ll be the best group of the year,” Rachel said sitting down between Trevor and me. I looked up at the strawberry blonde girl, wishing that my glare would just melt her in her place. I take the assignment from Mrs. Greene and hold it out between us so we could all see the packet.

I let it go, it’s only for the year. Maybe I should take my therapist's advice and let bygones be bygones, bury the past in the past, forgive and forget, some shit like that. I let out a long sigh, “Well, it looks like we’re going to be doing a fifteen page paper on the Romantic Era.”

“Oh, the Romantic Era. How fitting,” Rachel says, smiling at Trevor. Yeah, a fifteen page paper is so romantic. “Speaking of such, I was wondering Trevor, would you like to eat lunch with me today?” It was no surprise that Rachel was still trying to reel Trevor into her grasp, but I knew he was smarter than that to fall for her dumb tricks.

Trevor looks at me and points, “I’m sitting with Shay and her friends today. I quite like my seat and spending time with them at lunch. I’m sorry, Rachel,” I smile and silently laugh at Rachel’s defeat.

Rachel pouts, “Oh no, well how about we hang out tomorrow. Please don’t tell me you can’t, I’d love to get to know you.” I roll my eyes, she’s never going to stop till she gets what she wants. She acted so desperate when she got everything she ever wanted and more.

Trevor smiles at her, “Alright, you’ve drawn me in Rachel. Tomorrow we can hang out.” Rachel squeals and persuades them to exchange numbers as well. My mouth hangs open in awe, of course, all she has to do is bat those pretty lashes and she gets everything she wants. I thought Trevor was smarter than that, fraternizing with the enemy.

While they talk about plans I look down at the assignment given to us, trying to clear my head till the end of class. Once the bell rings I rush to meet Angel by the door. I lean closer to her, “Trevor just accepted a date with Rachel.” I roll my eyes. Angel’s mouth drops to the floor, then she mouths ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ I shake my head. I wish I were.

Trevor meets us by the door, ready to go to lunch. As we start walking toward the dining hall Trevor starts to speak, “I thought she would never shut up.” He laughs nervously and looks over at us.

“All Rachel ever does is talk about herself,” Angel says, “Shay told me that you agreed to a date with the wicked bitch?” My friends and I had many names we used on Rachel, but that one by far was always my favorite.

Trevor shrugged, “If I didn’t say yes she’d just bug me about it till the end of the year. Plus, I think it could be fun.” He was right, he would bug her until she got her little claws all over him. Yet, I still pitied him for being added to the list of Rachel’s prospects.

“Yeah, if you’re into getting a disease,” I mumble. Angel laughs, “But it’s never a good idea to be associated with Rachel, she’s not the best person to be around. She’s vindictive and manipulative,” and hateful, I added to myself, as one of the words Julie loved to describe her.

I didn’t want to get into specifics about why I hated her so much, and I guessed that Trevor sensed that. But teenagers were nosy and wanted to know all the gossip. “Why do you guys hate her so much anyway?” Trevor asks, dodging people as we enter the courtyard.

“She’s just a terrible person,” Angel inquires, “and her and Shay have some very rocky history. It got nasty, we don’t talk about it, but we also don’t associate with her. Maybe one day we’ll tell you all her messed up ways, but for now, just trust us.”

We enter the cafeteria and head around the buffet area to grab our food, “She doesn’t seem that bad. Rachel’s just the typical mean girl. It’ll be fun, don’t worry, I won’t let her take advantage of me.”

I force a smile at Trevor and tell him that I’ve got all the food I want and start to head to the table. I hear Angel rushing behind me, “Just let it go Shay, he can take care of himself. He’ll figure out what kind of person she really is.” I nod and take in her advice, she’s right. Why should I care about what New Kid and Rachel do? It’s not my place to interfere.

“Besides,” Angel says sitting down at her seat next to Emma, “why are you so worried about Trevor anyway? You barely know the kid, let him do whatever.”

I groan and nod again, I knew that I obviously shouldn’t care. I don’t know why I did though, Rachel was the enemy and Trevor was beginning to be our friend. I was only protecting him from the constant trouble she caused, and I always protected my friends. It was up to Trevor if he wanted to be associated with trash like her.

“Shay, are you excited to see your mom?” Julie asks, breaking the tension at the table. I shrug my shoulders. Julie was the mothering type of friend, she always knew how to make me smile, even it was just a big hug.

I started to eat the vegetables on my plate, “I’m never too ecstatic to see my mother. Don’t be surprised if I leave home early this weekend to come back.” My mother always knew how to push my buttons and make me upset. Whenever I visited home I instantly wanted to come back to school. However, I still visited home and hoped things would get better each weekend, but they never did. I couldn’t fix everything myself.

The boys join the table with plates filled to the brim. “A little hungry?” Angel asks when Xavier takes his seat next to her. Gavin and Xavier nod as they start to eat the food on their plates. I never understood how the boys could eat so much even when they were going to eat again an hour or two later.

Xavier picked up the greasy pizza from his plate, pointing it in the direction of the side of the table where us girls were sitting at, “Growing boys need their energy to play football, pick up chicks...”

Angel interrupted Xavier before he could go on, knowing where the words were going to end up, “And being a pain in our asses.” Emma and Julie tried covering their laughs but failed horribly when one spat food across the table at the boys and then laughed even harder at their reactions.

Jameson scuffed, “Straight boys are so disgusting, I will never understand how I’m attracted to the same sex.” Emma nodded with him, continuing on a tirade that had them both arguing with Xavier.

I continued to eat my lunch in silence, glancing up at my friends occasionally to make sure they didn’t claw eachothers eyes out. With the approach of senior year and my high school years coming to an end I became more reclusive, mostly keeping to myself in public settings, unless I was in a comfortable situation with my friends. It was hard to decipher if I was withdrawing from everyone because of my awful junior year or because I was afraid that the only stability and happiness that was my friend group was destined to fall apart after high school. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t wait to leave high school, but I didn’t want to leave my friends.

Gavin noticed my silence and bumped my shoulder, “Hey darling, whatcha thinking about?” Sometimes it was so hard to ignore Gavin and his not so subtle hints at flirting. There was never anything between us, except his own crush. I never wanted to hurt Gavin, especially since he was one of my closest friends, but I know I did whenever I rejected him.

I sighed, “You know the usual, shoes, clothes, boys,” I winked at him. He smiled back and shook his head, knowing I was joking, however he still blushed. I coughed a bit, “So, do you think you can drive me up to the loft tonight? I don’t want to take my car and I don’t want to take the drive alone.”

Gavin’s smile brightened his face and I could see the bit of food that was at the corner of his mouth, “Of course, Shan! You know I always love to spend time with you,” I smiled back at him and thanked him.

I stood up from the table, grabbing my tray that was still half filled with food, “Alright, I’m going to go pack for the weekend. While I’m gone please do not kill each other,” I said looking at Xavier and Angel, “and don’t exceed your limit on your credit card, again.” This time I looked between Julie, Emma, and Jameson. They sheepishly looked down at their trays and stifled a giggle.

Angel got up to catch up with me, I could hear her boots clicking hurriedly behind me as she put her empty tray on top of the trash can with mine. “Stop walking so fast, goodness girl you’re going to give me heart palpitations. Gavin’s taking you to mommie?” I nodded, I haven’t asked him to take me in a long time, usually I rode by myself or had Angel take me.

I quickly looked at her and saw the hurt in her eyes, “Sweetie, don’t be mad. I just want to talk to him, and that’ll leave some time for you and Xavier for you two to you know, whatever,” I laughed as I nudged her. I also didn’t want to burden her with my problems and crying fits all the time, but I didn’t tell her that because she’d just be paranoid that I no longer confided in her.

She grabbed my hand as we made our way across the courtyard and through the shortcut to the girls dorms ahead of us, “You know, you can always talk to me, about anything. Even if it’ll piss me off and make me want to chew you out. I just want you to depend on me, like you used to.” I really wanted to be able to depend on her like I used to, it was just easier to talk about it with someone who was on the outside of it all.

I nodded with a smile as I opened the door to our dorm with my free hand. “I know,” I said reaching up on my toes to kiss the top of her head like a sister would, then I closed the door behind us. “I’ll talk to you, it's just hard sometimes. You know I don’t want to be all ugly crying in front of you.”

“Oh my goodness, Shay you can never look ugly!” She screamed at me as I started to pack my essentials for the weekend, such as toiletries and clothes that I didn’t already have at my moms. “You are literally the most beautiful crier I’ve ever seen. If I looked that good while I cried then maybe I’d actually cry.”

I laughed at her as I packed my homework in the same bag, “Yeah, my beautiful crying is being red faced with snot falling down my nose. Angel you’re the most elegant cryer. Just a tear down your face and you look like a crying some type of old school actress.” Angel and I laughed, and started mocking each others cries when Gavin quickly knocked on the door and opened it right after.

“Aw, look at my girls, having fun,” Xavier said, peeking behind Gavin’s large bicep. I zipped up my bag and before I could even turn to Gavin he took the bag from me and put it over his shoulder. “Now Shannon, don’t you go killing your mom this weekend. We do not need a principal headmaster change during our last year. I want to be able to get away with as much as I can,” Xavier lifted his eyebrows up and down in a suggesting manner.

I motioned a puking gesture and turned to Gavin. “Ready to go?” I asked. He nodded and opened the door for me and lead the way down the hall and into the parking lot. I followed Gavin to his faded red pickup truck that looked more like a orange rusting color now as the years of riding did damage to it. The door squeaked as I got in, I took in the familiar scent of oil and dust.

Gavin started up the car and pulled out in the direction of my mother’s loft apartment. “What are you thinking about over there Shannon? You’re doing that weird thing with your brows where you look angry and you’re deep in thought.” Gavin looked over at me and smiled sweetly.

I laughed at him and relaxed my face, “I’m just thinking about last year,” my voice choked on the last few words. I coughed, “It’s just hard to go through you know, and with Rachel prancing around throwing everything in my face, acting like everything is fine and dandy. It doesn’t make it any easier.”

Gavin nodded in agreement, “It’s definitely hard, and I’m not going to pretend like I know what you’re going through. Hell, I’d go crazy if it was you who committed suicide, I don’t think I’d be able to live if I lost you Shannon.” I wouldn’t be able to live without him either, but I wouldn’t say that in risk of him believing that I felt anything more from him than a strong friendship.

I looked out the window as the other cars passed us in the fast lanes on the highway. It wasn’t even a year ago when I lost my then boyfriend to Rachel. Then it wasn’t even six months ago when he took his own life jumping off a bridge. It was harder to deal with everyday, I tried to forget everything that happened during last year. However, scenes kept playing in my head on replay, while I was daydreaming and while I was sleeping. I’d never be able to get away from the painful memories.

Gavin brought me out of my thinking, “But you have to get over it. You chose life, so you have to live it. It’s hard but you can’t let what Brian did control your life. You can’t let that slut Rachel control your life either.”

I sighed, “It’s harder than it sounds. You try losing your first love, twice.” Once to a girl who took joy in ruining my life and again into Death’s sweet arms.

“I’m going to if you don’t stop withdrawing yourself and pushing me away,” Gavin came to a stop light and looked at me with tears threatening to spill over his eyes. It broke my heart to see him this sad, I didn’t want to hurt him more than I already had in the past. I knew I had to get myself together to keep my friends together.

Breathing in as much air as my lungs could handle I calmed myself as we made it into the parking garage of the building. I nodded and grabbed my bag from the floor of the truck, “Okay, I’ll try harder.” I smiled at him and said bye before getting out the car. I hurried into the building and passed the front desk into the elevator before anyone can stop me. Once the elevator doors closed I leaned against the cold metal of the walls and held back the tears and burning sensation at the back of my throat.

“Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Do. Not. Cry.” I took several deep breaths and tried to center myself. Brian was gone, Rachel’s a bitch, and I had to keep myself together for my friends. I had to keep myself together for me. I had to take control of my life and stop letting past mistakes dictate it.

The elevator to the top suite rang and I stepped out the elevator with a sniffle. I took out my keys from my pocket and opened the door to the loft. It was quiet inside besides the usual soft music coming from my mother’s office. I walked by the living room and dining room, making a right between the two rooms before coming to a hallway. Down the left of the hallway I heard my mom typing on her computer in her office, I turned to my right and opened the door at the end of the hall to my room.

Throwing my bags on my bed I looked around at my childhood home. Everything outside this door was so neat, pristine, and a little too uptight for my taste. My room had the memories of a thirteen year old, the walls were painted a soft pastel lavender, the bed had a thick white comforter with silver stars printed on it, my walls were covered in pictures of friends and cute celebrities. My closet still had clothes that were three sizes too small, the bookshelf had some of my old favorites and a few knickknacks, and my desk was adorned with middle school trophies and awards.

I bent down to look at myself in the vanity mirror I had, my cheeks were splotchy and a little deep red showed through my light caramel complexion. I took one more deep breath, putting whatever remaining thoughts I had behind me. I walked into my bathroom and shoved back the Seaworld decorated shower curtain.

I took off my clothes and put them in the basket near the door, I quickly stepped in the shower and let the hot water fall on my face. Letting all the negative energy leave my body, it was crazy how a good shower made everything just a little better. I showered quickly, making sure to pay extra attention to my curls. I turned off the water and put the towel around my body that was hanging on the rack.

I wiped away the fog that lingered on the mirror. I did look slightly better, but the haunting look of sadness and tinge of red remained in my eyes. Fingering through my curls I put some product in it and walked out the bathroom. I started to rummage through my dressers to find comfortable clothes to stay around the house in.

A knock echoed from my door and without an answer my mom came in, “I ordered Chinese, it’s out in the dining room.” I nodded to her as I put my shirt over my head. I followed my mom out my room and down into the dining room. We sat at the glass table, and without another word between us my mom handed me a pair of chopsticks and my two favorite dishes.

“How are things? I feel like I haven’t seen you since school started,” Mom said between bites of orange chicken. I chewed on my noodles and shrugged, even though we didn’t spend much time together, it’s not like she wasn’t a good mom. She just put her career first, I respected that enormously, but I’d always wished I had a mom who was also my best friend.

I didn’t have much of a father, my mom wanted to be a strong empowered woman in the 80’s and got inseminated, or some shit like that. I knew who he was, I had a file on him tucked away in my room. I knew that he was of Jamaican descent, giving me my tan skin and curly hair, that he was a gynecologist, and last I heard he was living in New Hampshire.

He didn’t want to be apart of my life, hence the whole sperm donor thing, and I never tried to make him apart of mine. Not like I didn’t want to, I wanted to meet him, but I didn’t want anymore added drama to my life. For now he was just a file tucked away in my room.

I shrugged again, “Things are fine. Therapy is going great, my friends are good. Oh, and were kind of hanging out with the new kid Trevor.” I mentioned absently, giving her the typical play by play.

Mom stopped eating and set down her chopsticks, “Shannon, I don’t want you hanging out with Trevor too much. He’s trouble, he caused a lot of fuss at his old school. He got into fights with other kids, talked back, he doesn’t seem right. But I can’t refuse education to a child who clearly needs it, just promise not to get too involved?”

Trevor definitely didn’t seem like the type to cause trouble, my mom was making it seem like he was worse than Xavier. I didn’t listen to what my mom told me all the time, but this time I knew I had to listen to her. Besides, I didn’t want to go further than just being an acquaintance to him, especially if he was going to be spending his time with Rachel.

“Yeah, I will. He just doesn’t seem like the Xavier/Angel type of bad kid,” I tried to pry more information out of her.

“Just listen to your mother for once,” with her harsh tone she gave me a sincere soft look right after, forcing her facial features to soften. “Hey, I finished work early today, did you want to watch a movie. I also got some dessert when I ordered.” She pulled out another box from the Chinese bag and opened it to the warm smell of cookies and other pastries.

Taken aback by her friendliness I paused, but without another thought I nodded and smiled at my mom. We took the rest of the Chinese food to the living room, putting our feet on the table and turning on the television.

For the rest of the night my mother and I sat in awkward but peaceful silence, finally spending a mother daughter moment together that I’d always remember.