High School Again? Ugh! Ch. 01


I looked at all of the students in the hallway and suddenly felt claustrophobic. No, not really claustrophobic, just overwhelmed. The reality of what had happened was starting to sink it.

"At least it's not freshman year," I mumbled to myself. That would have been too much to handle! "Like this is much better?" I could almost see Tyche laughing at me. "Bitch!"

An underclassman girl walking by glanced at me and frowned. She looked twelve although I knew she had to at least be fourteen. It didn't matter. Unlike the senior in Mr. Hargrove's class, this girl did nothing to me. She was simply too young. At least that's what I kept telling myself, but my damn young body kept reacting to almost anything with a skirt!

"There you are!"

The voice sent a chill up my spine. I turned and there was Tiffany, my high school girlfriend. The woman I fell in love with and married, the woman who cheated on me with one of my best friends and the woman who broke my heart.

"You were supposed to meet me at my locker," Tiffany pouted. She was as stunning as I remembered with her blond hair and green eyes.

"Sorry, I forgot," I nearly stuttered.

"That's okay," she shrugged, and then smiling, added, "You can make it up by buying me ice cream tonight." It was too much for me to cope with. I needed to get away from Tiffany now!

"Tiffany, I've got to go," I said, and quickly made my way down the hall.

"Hey!" she cried in surprise and annoyance. I ignored her. I needed to get out of the school as quickly as possible and go somewhere to figure things out. I nearly sprinted to the school's side door. I was almost out of it when someone grabbed my arm and stopped me. I thought it was Tiffany, but when I turned around it was a guy a barely remembered.

"You don't want to go out there yet," he said.

"Why not?" I asked with a frown as the guy's name came to me. He was John. He was one of the burnouts, or druggies or whatever the students who got high often in high school were called these days.

"Because the vice principal likes to take a walk out side right about now," he answered. "It will be safe in a couple of minutes." I knew John from grammar school. He was a decent guy back then, but I really didn't talk to him much in high school. I noticed the vice principal walked past the door a few moments later.

"You have his schedule down pat," I grinned. "Thanks." John nodded.

"It pays to be prepared," he replied. "How come you're trying to slip out? I don't remember you ever skipping school before."

"I just need some fresh air," I sighed. "To think." John looked at me and nodded.

"Cool," he said. "Let's go."

I let John lead me. He seemed to know the safest way off of the school grounds. I caught myself sighing in relief once we arrived at a nearby park.

"Thanks, John," I said.

"No problem," he shrugged, and then after a moment of hesitation added, "I'm going to get wasted. You're welcome to come if you want." I hesitated and then shrugged.

"Why not?" I asked rhetorically. "It might just be what I need." A part of me tried to remind the rest of me that getting wasted was what got me into this situation to begin with, but I didn't care. The reality here was just too much. I needed to get drunk badly.

"Cool," he said and started walking. I had no idea where we were going, but it didn't matter. We walked in silence for a long time. John seemed to understand that I needed some space.

"Plan this or just a spur of the moment thing?" I eventually asked as we started walking through the woods.

"A little of both," he laughed. "It's the first day of school. A couple of friends of mine and I always seem to meet up at the same place today."

"Friends?" I asked, and then grinned and added, "And here I thought I was saving you from drinking alone."

"Hardly!" he laughed and pointed. I followed his finger and frowned.

There wasn't a huge amount of people sitting in a circle around the fire in the distance, but still more than I expected.

"Don't tell me they all cut school today?" I asked.

"No, just me, Tara, Janey and a couple of the guys," he replied. "And you. The rest go to Bayside and they don't start till next week."

"No way!" one of the girls cried as we walked up. She was looking at me. I frowned, but I didn't recognize her. I guessed that she was Janey because since she recognized me then she probably went to my school. She couldn't be Tara. I remembered Tara.

"A bit of a surprise, isn't he?" John laughed as he say down next to Janey and put his arm around her. "I caught him walking out of school and thought he might like to join us."

"Actually saved me from getting caught by the vice principal," I smiled. A few people laughed. One guy handed me a bottle of cheap beer. I nodded in thanks and took a seat.

There were fifteen to twenty people in the area. Seven of us were sitting around the fire. A couple of conversations were going on, but no one hassled me. They let me sit in peace for a bit.

I looked around. People were drinking, smoking and laughing. They looked to be honestly having a good time. There were quite a few attractive girls if you didn't mind some of the makeup they were wearing. Again my body reacted.

'What the fuck?' I grumbled silently. I knew most teenage guys were horny as hell all the time, but knowing and remembering were far different than living it again! It wasn't that I couldn't control myself, but every sight of a girl seemed to get to me. It didn't help that these girls were so damn young and made me feel like a dirty old man.

'I need to get laid,' I thought to myself with a laugh.

"What's so funny?" John asked. I shrugged and he went back to talking to Janey.

I knew John from grammar school. The only other person at this impromptu gathering I remembered at all was Tara. Hell, even she was a bit of a mystery to me. I only knew Tara because she was one of those girls who went from beauty queen to burnout when she went from middle school to high school. The funny part is that I barely said two words to her despite the number of years we went to the same school. At first because I was intimidated by her looks, but later because we just didn't hang out with the same crowds.

'Yeah, right!' I thought. 'Different crowds.' I snorted to myself. The truth was that Tara had cut her hair really short and started wearing weird shit. She was the talk of our freshman class for almost an entire two weeks. Most of her 'friends' dumped her that first day. I didn't, but then again, probably only because we'd never been friends to start with.

I took a closer look at her and realized that she was different than I remembered. Although her hair was still not as long as was in style, it had grown out a bit. She also wasn't wearing half the makeup she did earlier. Oh, don't get me wrong, she wasn't turning back into the beauty queen again, but clearly she'd gotten past the down right rebellious phase.

"Are you done looking?" she asked suddenly, obviously annoyed. I hadn't realized I was staring.

"Sorry," I smiled and shrugged.

"Have a thing for Tara, do you?" John laughed.

"I did," I replied honestly.

"Let me guess," She put in. "Middle school, right?"

"Of course," I laughed. I finished my beer and surprised her by adding, "And through most of high school."

"And yet," she frowned. "This is the first real conversation we've ever had."

"I'm shy," I offered.

"Then why admit it now?" a girl I didn't know asked.

"I'm drunk," I shrugged.

"From one beer?" Tara asked in disbelief. I noticed one guy shifting toward her. He was obviously her boyfriend, or at least wished he were.

"Light weight," I offered, causing some of the others to laugh. Someone handed me another beer.

"Please!" Janey put in. "Half the guys on the football team are well on their way to being alcoholics!"

"You play football," one of the other guys asked.

"I guess I do," I frowned. It had been so long since I'd been on a football field that it actually felt like a lie to claim I played.

"You're not sure?" a different guy asked, causing more laughter.

"Right now, I'm not sure of a lot of things," I frowned. I was surprised to see some of them nod in understanding.

I glanced around the group and wondered about each of their stories. Clearly, they all had one.

"So Barry," John said to the guy who asked about football. "Doing anything special for your birthday next week?" I knew he was just being kind by changing the subject.

"Getting drunk," Barry shrugged.

"So, same old, same old," John teased. Everyone laughed, including Barry.

"You the oldest here?" I found myself asking. Age was clearly on my mind. I wondered why? Yeah, right.

"No," Tara surprised me by answering.

"When was your birthday?" I asked.

"November," she said and then laughed at my confused look. "My parents held me back a year in kindergarten. I'll be nineteen."

"How old are you?" Barry asked. I paused, causing him to laugh. "Not sure?"

"Eighteen," I finally replied, another true statement that felt like a lie. "My birthday was last week."

"You going vote this year?" one of the other girls asked, surprising me yet again.

"Probably," I answered.

"Who for?" she asked.

"Be careful!" Janey laughed. "Judy is passionate about her politics. She's also a die-hard democrat!"

"Of course I am!" Judy replied. "But what person with a brain isn't?"

The topic focused on politics for a while. I sat quietly listening. Two things quickly became apparent to me. First, some of these kids were wicked smart. I didn't remember having these types of conversations when I was in high school!

The second thing that hit me was just how innocent they were. Okay, maybe innocent wasn't the right word. Maybe inexperienced is a better one. Listening to them, I felt old. What made it worse was the way my body was reacting to the girls.

"I've got to be going," I said during a lull in the conversation. "John, thanks for inviting me. Everyone, thanks for the beer and company."

"No problem," Barry smiled.

"I should be going too," Tara said, surprising me.

"Don't you live on Scranton?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"That's only a few blocks over from my house," I shrugged. "We can walk together if you want." She shrugged, but didn't turn me down.

"I'll walk you home," the guy who clearly liked her offered quickly.

"No," she replied. "I'll be fine with him."

'Down boy!' I said with a shake of my head, but another part of me grinned and replied, 'At least she's not jailbait!' Of course, it still felt wrong. She was eighteen for Christ's sake! For a guy my age, that should be jailbait!

"You two look good together," Janey said as we walked away. I could hear the laughter of the others. We walked in silence for a while.

"You still dating Tiffany?" Tara asked, seemingly out of the blue.

"For the moment," I answered.

"Not going well?" she asked.

"Fine," I replied. "I guess."

"You two dated all last year," she said. "I thought there were wedding bells in your future for sure."

"It wouldn't work out in the end," I shrugged.

"Why?" Tara asked.

"She's a cheating slut!" I snapped, with surprising anger.

"Really?" she asked, a bit taken back by my reaction. I shrugged. I didn't want to talk about Tiffany.

"Was that guy your boyfriend?" I asked, changing the subject.

"No," she replied.

"He wants to be," I added.

"Not my type," she said.

"And what is that?" I asked.

"I don't have one," she replied. "I don't date men anymore."

"Any women?" I teased.

"Not anymore," she replied. I looked at her in surprise. She refused to look away, although she did blush.

"Which do you prefer?" I asked. I think my acceptance surprised her. The look she gave me prepared me a bit for her answer. She was obviously going to try and shock me.

"For love or sex?" she asked.

"Sex," I answered, refusing to be ruffled.

"I'm leaning toward women," she replied. "I've only been with one member of each and it was a lot better with her."

"Love?" I asked.

"I don't know," she replied. "I don't like men much, but I don't think I could fall in love with a girl."

"You tried," I said knowingly. She didn't bother to answer. We walked in silence for a while.

"You're not what I expected," she said suddenly.

"People seldom are," I replied.

"You know," she said softly. "You're not the only one who had a thing for someone back in middle school."

"Really?" I asked in surprise.

"Really," she replied.

"I wish you'd said something back then!" I laughed.

"Why?" She asked. "Is the jock too cool to date a burnout now?" I stopped walking and looked at her. She looked back nervously.

"You know," I said, beginning to walk again. "Whoever hurt you was an ass, but don't let him win by being miserable."

"What?" she asked.

"Come on Tara," I said. "Something big happened between eighth grade and high school. I don't know what it was and it's definitely none of my business, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen."

"Nothing happened!" she snapped.

"Sure," I snorted. "Everyone goes from beauty queen to burnout for no reason at all!"

"I can walk the rest of the way on my own!" she cried.

"Your choice," I shrugged. "Although we are both going the same way." She looked at me. I ignored her for the moment and walked. The blocks passed in silence.

"You know," she said after a while, clearly a lot calmer. "You never did answer my question."

"Which?" I frowned.

"Is the jock to cool to date a burnout now?" she asked again.

"Oh, that," I sighed.


"Tara, are you asking me out?" I asked.

"No!" she cried. "I was just wondering what kind of a guy your really are."

"That's a good question," I shrugged. "I'm not sure."

"You're not sure if you would date a burn out?" she asked. "That's bull! Answer the question!"

"You misunderstood," I smiled. "I'm not sure what kind of a guy I am."

"Oh," she said. "Well then?"

"Tara, I would date someone I was interested in," I replied. "I don't care which click she was in. What does burnout really mean? Jock? I never much liked stereotyping."

"Definitely not what I expected," she said with a shake of her head.

"Well, if it's any consolation," I grinned. "You're not what I expected either."

"Is that a good thing?" she snorted.

"I don't know," I teased. "The jury is still out."

"Ass!" she cried, causing us both to laugh.

We talked a bit more, but not about anything special. The conversation was both surreal and very real at the same time. The surreal part was what we talked about. It was just so weird! The topics went from things only eighteen year olds cared about to things that were the past to me, but the future to her. We even touched upon politics. I knew who won the coming election. That made the conversation extremely difficult at times.

The real part of our talk was downright frightening to me. I wasn't a kid, despite what I looked like. I knew when I was attracted to someone. I also knew it was crazy, but that didn't stop the feelings from coming, and in my young body, they were harder to control. Thank God I had the mind of an experienced old man who knew better than to fall for someone like Tara.

'It's just hormones and confusion,' I said to myself.

I knew it was the truth, but I was surprise how comfortable it was to talk to Tara. She seemed a lot worldlier than I thought eighteen year olds should be. Frankly, I felt more drawn to her than I had been to any woman since Tiffany and it scared the hell out of me.

"Thanks for walking me home," Tara said. I glanced up and realized we were at her house. I didn't remember much of the trip other than our conversation.

"No problem," I said, forcing my thoughts back to the moment. "I'll see you at school tomorrow. That is, assuming you don't plan on skipping again."

"You too," she laughed.

"I make no promises," I replied. "I just don't think I can take another year of Mr. Hargrove."

"Count your blessings!" she snorted. "I've got Bennett for history!"

"Hmm, that is worse," I admitted. Whereas Mr. Hargrove was boring, Ms. Bennett was down right mean. "Later."

"Later," she said and took a step toward her house, but then she stopped, quickly stepped back and kissed me briefly.

"What was that for?" I asked in surprise.

"Two reasons," she replied. "First, I haven't kissed a guy in a long time and I was curious how it would feel after all this time."

"And second?" I asked. She smiled when I didn't react to her first reason. We were still standing pretty close. I knew the right thing was to step back and move away, but it wasn't going to happen, at least not yet.

"Well," she answered. "Like I said, I had a crush on you in middle school. I've always been curious if you were a good kisser."

"So you thought steeling a kiss right here in front of your house would help you satisfy your curiosity on both accounts?" I asked, shaking my head.

"Yes," she grinned. "Do you want to know the results?" I looked at her. She was young. She was also beautiful and her kiss had gotten to me badly, despite its briefness. I decided to forget my age for the moment.

"No," I replied, taking her head in both hands and pulling her toward me. She came willingly. Her eyes grew slightly bigger. "It wouldn't be fair to judge on such a brief kiss."

It was my turn to initiate a kissed, only I refused to rush it. Tara was stiff at first, but slowly relaxed and wrapped her arms around my neck. I dropped one hand from her head to the small of her back. My body reacted about the way you would expect. What surprised me was that so did the rest of me. Tara was a very good kisser.

"Wow!" she said, when we finally pulled apart. "You're right. It wouldn't have been fair."

"Well?" I grinned. Tara looked at me and laughed. She also stepped back.

"I'll let you know," she said, moving toward her house.

"When?" I laughed. She stopped at her front door, turned the knob and looked back at me.

"The day after you break up with Tiffany," she replied, and slipped into her house.

"Tiffany," I sighed to myself, and suddenly I felt old again. I thought about what had just happened and shook my head. "Dirty old man!"

I started walking down the street. My house wasn't far, but I was having problems getting Tara off my mind. I knew that part of the problem was that really did need to get laid. The real me was way overdue before getting thrown into this eighteen year old, constantly horny body. I felt ready to burst.

"Oh grow up!" I snapped out loud. I also reminded myself that my budding feelings for Tara were due to the stress of the moment, not any true connection. It helped a little, until I remembered how good the kiss felt.

My house was just as I remembered it. The sight of it cleared my mind of all sexual tension for the moment. It looked small, but oddly comforting. The lawn needed to be cut. There was nothing new there. I walked up to the driveway, but instead of going in, I found myself rushing past.

'I'm not ready to face my mother!' I thought. I really hadn't thought about this part since the whole crazy situation occurred.

My mom lived in a nursing home. I dropped by once a month, spent an hour and left. Afterward, I'd be depressed for the rest of the day, sometimes a lot longer. That was the mom I knew. This woman would be different. This was before pop died, before she stopped taking care of herself and before the Alzheimer's kicked in. I so very much wanted to see my mom like this, but I was also scared to death!

"I need more alcohol," I said aloud as I left my block, but I knew it wouldn't help. I was deep in thought as I moved. I walked for maybe ten minutes.

"Hey there handsome!"

I looked up and saw who had spoken. I couldn't help it, I grinned. It was Mrs. Cognetta. She was the only one who ever called me that. I hadn't thought about her in years.

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