If you knew me, you'd know that I'm afraid of the dark because...I couldn't say that.
If you knew me...
Such a simple phrase of four words, I thought as I contemplated it over in front of the group consisting of five junior class students of 2018. It is expected to be the challenge of being open to trust, accepting people to keep to themselves the raw truth of your past. The blow above all, those people aged seventeen years old.
It wasn't the mistrust in the faces in front of me, it was just trust in general. The world isn't always right for a stone diva as myself. Yes, Stone Diva, my crowned name; the mark I would leave behind at Bloomfield Gymnasium. It was how things were at Bloomfield Gym, once someone had given you a name, it would remain forever. Imagine the cruelty for people who weren't that lucky to have received such, what was considered an honoree reputation claim.
I wasn't always as stone cold as everyone described me as, it was the chills of the world that brought me terror during every night. At twelve, the world had already taught me many things and if they knew me, they would know my eight biggest struggles but I wasn't about to confess them.
Three days of student building and a bunch of "if you knew me's" and activities that everyone would rather ignore -it was Valentine's month. It was clear principal Johnson was newer than me, he obviously wasn't sharp on matters amongst the students. Highschool was hard but to most -trying to stay alive was even harder. He had probably thought his actions good and sensible and I guess in some ways it was.
School started at eighth o'clock sharp, the first bell rang at ten minutes to seven -scattering everyone to their lockers in preparation for first period. I was always late. It was a choice Stacey Frasher and Carissa George had made on my behalf, in hopes we'd be cool enough to attract Alexa Drew's attention.
She was what a classic chic flick would describe as the queen bee of highschool fame. I didn't know much about her, I was a military brat whom never stayed around long enough to have an actual friendship or a boyfriend. Despite it leading to a lack in social enjoyment -it sat well by me. I liked having a friend as just a passing phase, it meant I got to be whatever I wanted without them knowing all the details of my life before them. I wasn't sure I trusted anybody much, it wasn't anything personal, just my cautious nature.
Alexa Drew was the type of girl I probably wouldn't directly talk to if it wasn't for the sake of participating in principal Johnson's self righteous act, my mom finally settling for the housewife life and my dad accepting his place with his family. They decided for us to give the domestic lifestyle a chance and that meant no moving ever again. All to my overprotective brother, Wiley's advantage. He wasn't so open to the life my parents had previously dragged us through; he made sure everyone knew how happy he was that they finally decided to buy an actual house we now refer to as home.
Home, friends, trying to impress the most popular girl in school -all new entities in my life -all of which I had to grow with. It meant one single place would see my first boyfriend and insensible teenage heartbreak which meant I had to settle for myself. I had to be open to trust and perhaps principal Johnson had executed this MTV-inspired exercise for that exact purpose.
That morning started late -I overslept. Wiley woke me up -he too had the theory as my friends, to never be on time although not for the same purposes. Unlike us, Wiley didn't have to impress anyone to gain himself a honorable social position -he fit like a glove. On our first day of school, his brand new model Volkswagen Tiguan our dad had purchased for him; had spoken his fate. He was tall and not too muscular, just enough to get him noticed. He was, at once by Jae Starling, the star athlete of the schools basketball team, the BG Jaguars. Surprisingly he didn't date Alexa Drew and had never before. He was alright, someone wise enough to not start something with a military brat like Wiley who'd so obviously punch him lights out if he had to. Their friendship started with a simple, "Hey man, nice ride. You're new...Burchart, right?"
-and somehow, the way he had pronounced our surname sounded humorless when addressed to Wiley. I've worn the burden of the typical teenage mockery regarding our surname. Wiley owned Burchart, it didn't own him. I, on the other hand, was a girl and Bloomfield Gymnasium didn't have an easy pass if you weren't something striking enough.
They became inseparable since than and within the second week of adjusting to the domestic lifestyle -since, I ignored them gradually. I had simple guidelines -keep to myself, ignore the popular kids, stay away from the cafeteria at all cost, never interact with any of my brother's friends and never fall for any guy. Jae was both popular and my brother's friend -he was always nice to me and by not returning the good moral, he'd crowned me the Stone Diva -making it the first time I actually laughed at any notion he made.
My guidelines became hard to follow -Carissa introduced herself to me in History on the last day of my first week, where I sat next to Graeme Yorkley -a boy considered a big no by my now, self entitled bestfriends. Carissa invited me to lunch on the following Monday and Wiley forced me to sit with him and his jock friends if I didn't open myself up to any friendship -so I accepted Carissa's offer.
I met Stacey, the lesser version of Carissa, whom was all over the place; constantly talking about boys; always planning on how to spend their remaining highschool years alongside Alexa.
"Miss Burchart!?" The guidance counselor, Ms. Donahue spoke.
Only in that moment did I realize the piece of paper inside my hand was blank. There were so much I could have said, so much I longed for someone other than my family to know. My eyes darted around the circle, five bodies whom if considered socially -had nothing in common, nervous to share an actual piece of information about themselves they didn't tell anyone else. As soon as they did, they would become that person and the image they had worked hard to contain, would vanish forever. I understood that, so I did as my reputation proclaimed -I stood up and left the gym, staring ahead of myself and ignoring Ms. Donahue's indistinct calling.
I immediately became alarmed by the footsteps behind me and turned my head. I was surprised to see Graeme follow me. We didn't acknowledge each other at first than principal Johnson's voice echoed through the hall. Graeme had took me gently by the arm and shoved me, even more gently into the janitor's supply closet.
Usually, I would probably go into self defense mode and use the tactics my dad taught me but somehow I couldn't. He smelled like English Blazer and his breath like cannabis, it made my skin crawl -the good kind of crawl.
We didn't speak, our breathing being the only audible thing inside the cluttered, dark space. I wondered if he knew me and if he heard about my cold reputation. It felt strange wanting a boy to know my name and even more so, somewhat betrayed by my own teenage hormones.
The peculiarity of my stomach's butterflies twisting brought the realization that I was attracted to Graeme Yorkley.
Strung high on the moment and the hot space lingering between our skin, suddenly brought Carissa's horrific scream if ever she was to know of that very moment. I cleared my throat, principal Johnson had already passed the closet and we had both heard it clearly and I guess, just like me, Graeme wanted to keep that awkward position for much longer.
Than, all of a sudden he pushed the door open and continued ahead. I knew my cheeks were red, I wasn't sure if he felt it all too but I wished he would acknowledge me in History the following week. I don't know if it was the dominating air of Valentine's month that made me develop this urgent feeling of interest in him but I knew it could only bring demise.
All I could think of was Carissa and Stacey, forbidding any attraction towards Graeme and myself being the main reason why it would never work if ever he would know.
Than, it dawned on me that I went for longer than three minutes into a dark room without it sending me into complete insanity. Any hormonal feeling I had towards Graeme was gone and I could only remember the strong hands of my dad's friends reaching in between my thighs and forcing them open.
That Friday, I locked myself in my room immediately when I got home, despite the fact that I was alone. My mom was out, having girl time with her new friends. I don't know much about what they were doing but if it was anything like the housewife shows Stacey watched, my mom would probably die or accidentally kill one of her new required friends. She had no patients for such matters and dismissed every relationship Wiley ever had, if she felt the girl too materialistic.
Wiley got home later than usual and when he returned, I had learned that he was already training for next season. He was a footballer; he enjoyed it as much as my dad who never missed a single game even for just a few minutes -considering his former tied down job, he still made effort.
I tried to be a cheerleader once at Grass Hills Private School. It was only for the satisfaction of my brother, who thought it'd be cool to have a cheerleader for a sister. He soon after learned I didn't like it and so I remained sorely a gymnastic athlete.
My dad was real proud and my mom made sure, I had the best training.
It wasn't long before Wiley knocked vigorously on my door. I shouted to him that I was still alive on the other side of the room but he continued nonetheless, so I stood up and opened it.
"You okay?" He questioned, my mind only focusing on the indistinct chatter downstairs.
"Yeah." I nodded.
My brother hadn't always been like this. His life hadn't been so greyish - for a eighteen year old he was stiff in comparison to the personality he had before. I felt like he thought he had some kind of obligation towards me, not being able to enjoy himself much without constantly worrying about me.
"I got some friends over. Come join us." His words sounding more of a command than a choice. I knew he wouldn't leave me alone but I wasn't really feeling like sitting amongst a crowd I wouldn't acknowledge the next day.
A text message beeped on my cellphone. The thought of it being either Carissa or Stacey made me feel irritated, I considered the fact that hanging with a bunch of popular kids -my brother's friends would be better than having to talk about Alexa Drew the entire time. I assumed it was one of them, so threw my phone on my bed and followed my brother downstairs.
I was surprised to not find a bunch of jocks in our den, I was only invited by the Jae and a face I would recognize any day. How was it possible to ever miss Alexa Drew? Her muscular gymnastic legs exposed by her tennis practice uniform. I was confused to why she was in our house, with my brother and his friend whom had no romantic relations towards her. If Carissa and Stacey knew I had blown off their text to hang out with Alexa, they would be obsessed and pressure me to introduce them.
Jae stood up and had become so accustomed to our home, that he took it upon himself to retrieve snacks from one of the den's cupboard. I watched him eagerly, more to ignore having to talk to Alexa.
"So, you think principal Johnson's full of it?" She addressed me, although I hadn't known it at first. "Bold move walking out like that."
"It's not like everyone will all of a sudden become one if we tell each other a bunch of personal stuff. My baggage is mine, nobody else's business." I said, taking the sofa opposite of her.
"What are you in for?"
"-mostly." Stated Wiley. "She does it all, really -very good at it as well."
He seated himself next to Alexa and I immediately understood why she was there. My brother was different, cute, almost, I thought and realized it had been Alexa who made him this way. I liked this side of him, he wasn't territorial over her but his face explained he was actually into her, perhaps more than he'd let on.
She watched him intently, as he continued to render on about my achievements as an artistic gymnast. I was sure the feeling my brother tried to suppress was mutual, only a girl in love could be so invested in a conversation where a boy bragged about his sister. He was so relaxed next to her and the image Carissa and Stacey had depicted of Alexa was so far different from the person sitting in front of me.
Jae seated himself on one of the beanbag couches, a respectable distance away from me. He smiled at me than continued to pour us juice. I was in the company of both the most popular boy and girl in school, to some perhaps, it would be the prime of highschool life. There was no feeling of neither achievement nor excitement from me. I guess that's why Alexa said.
"We should grab a bite sometime, I can show you some cool spots."
That notion took me aback. I wondered if maybe she was only trying to get closer to Wiley by suggesting it, although she didn't seem like the pretentious type.
Wiley nodded yes, I knew it was only for his own selfish purpose.
"I'm not the sushi and salad type of athlete." She said again when she saw my hesitation.
"Sure." I said, even though I knew I really didn't want to go. I didn't want to talk about boys or girl stuff. I preferred to rather stay in my room, secluded from the world.
"Cool. I was hoping I'd be fit enough to be in the company of the stone diva." I knew she was joking at the notion of stone diva but it showed clearly that she was truly surprised that I would say yes.
The subject rested there, without setting an official date and time. I didn't care, I really wished she would rather forget about it. Jae told us all about his sailing skills and offered to take us all on his grandpa's boat. I was really impress and intrigued by it. I imagined how wonderful the open water air would whisk against my skin in the Summed daze and I actually looked forward to it.
"I'll make better snacks than cheese curls and cherry coke, something that could actually fill my stomach." I said.
Alexa looked surprised. "I can help, I' have real good cookie recipes form my grandma." She stared at my brother and I could now clearly tell that she really liked him, she was trying to impress him.
Jae and I briefly minded them when Alexa had said she had to go. She told me she'd tell me when she's free for that bite. I really wished she had forgotten, I know I had. I enjoyed her company, she was nothing like people thought she was but day's events included more social interaction for a few days.
Wiley walked Alexa to her car. I cant remember how long they'd been as I was lost in Jae Starling's conversation. He'd told me about a program in Asia for high school graduate's who'd wish to become doctor's. I hadn't thought there was more to Jae Starling than basketball and good looks, but, I was astounded to learn he aspired to help children all over the world. He had such big dreams for himself and I had learned that he'd officially decided to apply for the program. His senior year would determine his acceptance status and wanted him to get it as much he did for himself.
I suddenly considered something like it for myself, after senior year. I know my parents would never approve of me wanting to go halfway around the world without any degree, if not for gymnastics.
I liked all the adventures Jae told me of him, with both his grandad and father. I found Jae Starling quite interesting.
That night, when Wiley went off to night training with dad and my mom and I were completely alone, I slipped into my room and enjoyed the comforting silence.
Mom suddenly had dreams too, I liked them. She was highly considering building an orphanage outside of Bloomfield, in the Village of Craypher -and already went through the process of meeting with town mayors and their counsels, in perks of both her and dads military history and connections.
I was impressed to learn mom such an intelligent business mind, and more to know she had invested her money over the years and had her own some fortune. It wasn't only granddad's inheritance.
I remembered about the text I had received that afternoon and I know I had to face them some time. I unlocked the screen, expecting to find a dozen message from Carissa and Stacey. Instead I was met with.
"Hey." From no one other than Graeme Yorkley.
I didn't want to but I couldn't prevent myself from getting excited, that he had texted me. I wanted to punch myself for going downstairs with my brother.
I didn't reply to his text at all. I knew I wasn't the type of girl that could date a boy. It was too personal.
I deleted Graeme's message and went to bed not knowing how I would face him on Monday.