Her name is Maddie. She is my best friend. We have been inseparable since the first time we met in second grade. I will always remember that day.
She was new to my school. Like every new student, she barely said a word when she first arrived. During recess, she just stood against the red brick wall of the school. I remember how well her red sundress matched the wall. Her skin and hair betrayed her camouflage, though. She had long, black hair and milky white skin. She reminded me of a beautiful china doll that my mom had but would not let me touch. That's how I felt about Maddie at first, like she was precious and fragile, just like that china doll.
She probably would have stayed against that wall for the full fifteen minutes, scuffing her new black shoes as she nudged rocks around in a circle. Our teacher wanted to make sure she wasn't left out so she convinced Maddie to join our dodge ball game.
It seemed that we were destined to be together that day. Maddie took up an open spot across from me. I threw my blue foam ball and it hit her square in the face. The funny thing is, I wasn't even aiming for her.
She fell backwards, hitting her head on the hard blacktop. Everybody stopped where they were and looked at her. The teacher, noticing the quietness coming from our area, ran to the fallen girl. She sat up slowly with help from the teacher, touching a finger to the red, sticky goo leaking from her nose. Looking at her bloody fingers, she screamed and started crying. Everybody else started backing away, giving them space.
I just stared at them, my jaw hanging loose, feet unable to move. The teacher looked around and motioned for me to come closer. I didn't know if I was in trouble or if I was just the closest kid.
"Jessie, take Maddie to the nurse and stay with her until recess is over. She could use a friend."
The teacher helped Maddie to her feet. I was to take over from there. I led Maddie inside and through the maze of hallways to the nurse's office. Nothing was said on the journey there.
When we finally reached the office, the nurse put on her concerned face. "Oh dear. Come now, let's get you patched up." As she led Maddie towards the bathroom, she said to me, "You can go back now."
"Mrs. Murphey said I have to stay with her. She's new."
"Well, have a seat then."
So I sat down on the light blue hospital cot and waited. I heard small talk coming from the bathroom. After a few minutes, they emerged. Maddie's face was no longer covered in blood and, besides the red, puffy eyes, she looked better. The nurse gave her an ice pack for her head and sent us both back outside for the remaining two minutes of recess.
I looked at Maddie as we walked. "I'm sorry I hit you."
She looked at me and smiled. I could have melted right there.
"It's okay. What's your name again?"
At first I couldn't answer. My throat suddenly felt like I had swallowed a cup of sand.
"Jessie," I finally managed.
She giggled and grabbed my hand. "Well Jessie, let's be friends."
All I could do was smile and nod.
I fell in love with her that day and my love never wavered. She has no idea about my feelings for her.
She was the first person that I came out as a lesbian to in eighth grade. She has supported me and still supports me. When I decided to get my hair cut short, she went with me to the barber. She feels totally comfortable with me.
Lately, Maddie's innocence has faded away. To cope with her depression and feelings of insecurity, she has begun drinking heavily and sleeping with a lot of guys.
The local badass jock has taken a liking to her. His name is Alec and he's tall, lean, and blonde with a killer smile. He introduced Maddie to partying and she brought me into it.
There are two other guys we usually hang out with. Ben, an average sized guy who smoked a lot of pot and had shaggy brown hair, and Robbie, short and muscular with a fauxhawk and a habit of cheating on his girlfriend. I got along pretty well with Ben but Alec and Robbie seemed to think I was more of a burden. After all, I was only there because of Maddie.
I sometimes feel like I'm Maddie's security blanket but I know that I am the one person who truly cares about her.
We had the whole summer ahead of us before senior year of high school. Maddie and Alec had turned eighteen earlier that year and I had just turned eighteen. We were young adults in a small Wisconsin town. What else was there to do but party?
The noise finally pulled me out of sleep, interrupting my dream. I rolled over and stared at the clock, my eyes unable to focus as I glared at the blue numbers. 1:27 A.M. I struggled to remember what drove me from my sleep when it happened again.
I sat up, grabbed my glasses off the nightstand, and swung my legs over the edge of the bed, staring at the window. I cautiously tip-toed around the piles of clothes and pulled the curtains back an inch, peering out into the starless night.
Standing in the middle of my dark lawn was Maddie, Alec, Ben, and Robbie. Maddie was tossing pebbles at my window but wasn't exactly hitting her target. Thump. She hit the siding.
With a sigh and a roll of my eyes, I drew the curtains back and opened the window. Just as I stuck my head out, Maddie threw one last rock, pelting me in the forehead.
"Oh shit," she said as they all broke out into giggles. Alec was holding a large square bottle and Ben was smoking a joint.
I rubbed the spot where I was hit. "What's up? And keep it down, parents are sleeping."
"Come out and play, Jessie!" Dan said in an exaggerated whisper, blowing out smoke as he spoke.
"Yes! 'Tis a beautiful night!" Maddie said loudly, resulting in various shh's from the guys.
"Okay, okay. I'll be down in a few minutes. Just be quiet, okay?" I didn't even wait for a reply as I shut the window. Wouldn't have mattered anyways. They were so out of it. I'm surprised that they even came to get me.
But I was awake now so there was no point in not going.
After changing clothes, I tiptoed into the hallway, slowly shutting my door behind me. I crept down the stairs, pausing every time one creaked. I put on my black Converse high tops and went out the front door.
Maddie was twirling around, her white sundress trailing after her. The others where on the ground grinning stupidly. When I came outside, Maddie ran at me and jumped into the air, throwing her arms and legs around me. I automatically put my hands on her thighs. Good thing she was drunk and it was dark since I'm sure I was red in the face.
"Jessie! I've missed you!" She said, planting a wet, sloppy kiss on my cheek.
"That's great. Can you get off me now?"
She smiled and let go. She staggered and fell, giggling as she hit the ground.
I pulled her up and helped her towards the guys. "So what's going on?"
The only response I got was a half-empty bottle shoved at my abdomen. I grabbed it by the neck and took a long swig, wincing slightly as the amber liquid went down.
Alec and Robbie both stood up.
"My ma's probably passed the fuck out. I gots more shit at my place so les go," Alec slurred, throwing his arm up. He dropped his arm around my shoulders and we led the way down the street to his house. We passed the bottle around as we walked and eventually finished the rest. When we reached Alec's house, Alec took the empty bottle and threw it down the street. Crash!
We all piled into the front door of Alec's house, not really caring about the noise. As we tumbled noisily down the stairs into the basement, Alec put a finger to his mouth. "Shhh! Parents are sleeping. We can't let them wake up and and be grumpy now can we?" He said in a mocking voice.
By this time I was fairly tipsy so I didn't even care that he was making fun of me.
Ben and Robbie were sprawled out on the white leather couch in the middle, I was on a matching recliner on the left, and Alec was getting close to an uncomfortable looking Maddie directly in front of me on the love seat. He had his arm slung around her shoulders, his hand dangerously close to her right breast. She just kept her eyes on the floor.
I could feel the anger heat up my insides. I knew that Maddie and Alec slept together a few times. They weren't dating but that didn't make me feel better. Alec used her to fulfill his lustful urges. At first, I suspected Maddie did the same but sometimes she seemed afraid of Alec.
I felt a bump on my arm and looked over to see Robbie handing me a glass pipe and a lighter. I brought the mouth piece to my lips and lit the bowl, closing my eyes as I inhaled. I leaned over and passed the pipe to Alec, blowing smoke out as I did so. He removed his arm from Maddie to light up. After three selfish hits, he handed the pipe to Maddie.
Licking her lips, she brought the pipe to her mouth, blue eyes holding my green eyes. I felt a fresher kind of heat rush down my stomach to linger between my legs. My heart began beating faster and my face flushed. I knew this feeling well for it was the same one I felt when she kissed my check, when she flirted jokingly with me, and on the first day we met. It felt so good and yet it was painful for it reminded me that I was still in love with her.
Ben's giggles broke the connection and my feeling. His laughter was contagious and we all burst out into our own stoner giggle.
"What are we laughing at?" I managed after a few minutes.
"Dude, I was thinking about Sponge Bob," Ben said, suddenly getting very serious. His seriousness made us geek out even more.
After about an hour of talking, laughing, and some more pot, Alec started up again with Maddie. He put his hand on her leg, slyly inching her dress up to caress her bare thigh. Swallowing hard, I looked away, just barely missing the lust filled look he gave Maddie. Silently, they stood and walked towards the back of the basement where Alec's room was. I looked up to see Alec walking with a drunken strut. Maddie walked solemnly behind him.
"Fuck," Dan sighed. "That was awkward."
Robbie was already passed out with a bottle between his legs. He slumped against Dan, who groaned in protest and shoved him towards the floor. He landed with a soft thud and let out a loud snore.
"I don't know bout you, but I'm goin to bed. Fuck this, and fuck them."
Dan nodded and leaned his head back. "I hate when they do this. Leave us here, half-dazed and whatnot."
I barely heard him before my mind when dark.
I woke up to blinding light and the sound of a woman yelling upstairs. And I was drooling.
Groaning, I wiped my cheek of the excess spit and squinted around the bright basement. Robbie was still on the floor, Dan was stretched out on the couch, and there was no sign of Maddie or Alec.
I stood up, felt queasy and plopped back down. Too soon for movement. My head was thumping, mouth was dry, and I just generally felt like shit. It also seemed I was the first one awake, besides the banshee upstairs.
From what I could hear, Alec's mother was having a screaming match with his father over the phone. Once all was quiet upstairs, I stood up successfully and made my way up the stairs and into the kitchen.
Alec's mom sitting at the counter, blond head resting on her arms. She didn't look up when I walked in so I just crept to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water.
I hated being alone with her. She would give me this certain look that I couldn't read. It made me feel very uneasy. The fact that I was totally attracted to her also didn't help.
I heard movement and turned to see her looking at me.
"Good morning, Jessie," she said with a weak smile.
"Mornin', Mrs. Masters."
She shook her head and the smile got bigger. "How many times have I told you? Call me Barbie."
The name Barbie suited her well. She was a total MILF, the trophy wife of a rich executive. She use to be a model and as a result she had a perfectly toned body, perfect white teeth, and perfect natural tits. She was also addicted to sleeping pills. From what Maddie had told me, things were not well between Barbie and her husband, Jack. I had never met him because he did a lot of business and pleasure travel. From what I had heard, he loved hookers and cocaine and had major trust issues because of it. The Masters use to live in Boston but Jack believed Barbie was cheating on him with everybody so he moved them to a small Wisconsin town.
Barbie stood up and went to a cabinet. She pulled out a bottle of aspirin and handed two pills to me. I took them and gave her a forced smile. "Thanks."
She nodded and sat back down. "You seemed like you needed it. Rough night?"
I leaned against the counter and nodded while giving her a quick look over. She was wearing a white stretchy tank top, pajama bottoms with ducks on them, and clearly no bra. Not that she needed one, her boobs were incredibly perky.
I looked down at the water bottle in my hands and when I looked back at her, she was giving me that look. It was the sort of look that made my heart beat faster and caused my mouth to go dry. She was biting her lower lip and looking at me with a sort of fiery hunger in her eyes. She looked away quickly but her expression was forever in my memory.
I was starting to get the feeling that maybe Barbie wanted me. "Thanks for the aspirin. I'm going to check if any of the others are awake." I headed for the basement without waiting for a reply. I paused for a moment in the stairwell to close my eyes and catch my breath. Crazy, I was going crazy! I had never been looked at like a piece of meat before but the thought of the lust in Barbie's eyes sent shivers down my spine.
Maddie was sitting in the recliner waiting for me. Alec was no where in sight and the other two boys were still asleep. She looked up at me and gave me the same weak smile that Barbie had given me.
"Hey," she whispered.
"Umm...will you walk me home?"
I nodded and led the way back upstairs. Barbie was gone so we let ourselves out. We walked in silence, passing my water bottle back and forth.
"So, did I miss anything?" She said after a while.
I shook my head. "Nah, we all fell asleep once you guys left."
She reached over and took my hand. I told myself it was just a friend thing. I had seen her do it with her other girl friends so it was nothing out of the ordinary. But that didn't ease the fire burning inside me. I looked at her and smiled. She smiled back, her tired eyes lighting up. It was a genuine smile.
I walked her around the back of her house so she could sneak in.
"Hey Jessie?" Maddie asked as we stood there.
"Are you mad at me for walking out on you guys?"
"No, why would I be mad?"
She smiled again. "Just wanted to make sure. I'll call you later ok?"
As I walked home, my mind was focused on that look she had given me in the basement. I couldn't make heads or tails of it. Maybe she noticed me staring? Maybe she wanted somebody to save her? Maybe she wasn't even looking at me but just beyond me? Maybe she wants me?
I thought that one through and shook my head. No. She's straight so she wouldn't be interested in me. I let out a sigh before quietly opening my front door. Thankfully, my parents were already at work. I made my way up to my room and threw myself onto my bed, falling asleep almost instantly.
A few hours later, I woke up to the inability to move my legs. And more drool. Gross.
Looking down, I noticed I had somehow managed to get tangled in my sheets and that I still had my shoes on.
My dad was fine with my sexuality. He grew up in California and his parents were hippies. People tell me that we are a lot alike. Same dirty blond hair, same smile, same taste in music. He was more laid back. I'm also pretty sure he smokes pot. We get along perfectly. My mother, on the other hand, grew up in the Wisconsin in a Catholic home. Her parents were homophobic, racist, and sexist. They were also wealthy and spoiled their children.
I never understood why my parents are together.
Tonight the topic of conversation for dinner was my "lifestyle."
"Jessica, I don't see why you wear boy clothing. You have all those pretty dresses and skirts I bought for you. Why can't you wear those? Do you really want to be like this when you go to college next year?"
I rolled my eyes and shoved more green beans into my mouth.
"Honey," my dad said in between bites of his steak. "Just let her be. She's unique. We should embrace that."
My mother sighed. "It just isn't right. A young lady dressing like a boy. When will you grow your hair out? You had such beautiful hair. But now you keep it short. When will you grow out of this phase?"
I stared at her in disbelief. "Phase? You think that this is a phase?"
"Yes and it's all because of the media. When I was younger, you never heard about gays because there were none."
My dad looked up at my mother with wide eyes, mouth open in shock.
I threw my fork down and glared at her. "First of all, you are so close minded and uninformed and secondly, I am who I am and I am fucking proud of it!"
"Proud to be a freak?" She scoffed.
I could feel the acid building up in my eyes. "That's great. Call your own daughter a freak." I pushed back my chair and stomped outside, slamming the door behind me.
I sat down under a big oak tree with my back against the cool bark, knees against my chest, head down. My body ached from lack of good sleep and too much drinking. I was already feeling depressed due to my confusion over Maddie and Barbie but the freak comment really crushed me. I wasn't sure what I would do. I didn't want to go back inside any time soon. She always disapproved of anything I did. Because of her, I second-guessed my entire life.
But what mother would call her own daughter a freak?
I could feel the warmth of the tears through my jeans but I couldn't stop crying. My mind was racing with everything: contempt for Alec, love and confusion for Maddie, the depression that follows a night of drinking and smoking, the feelings of hopelessness.
Alec. Why did she have to start hanging out with him? He was the biggest asshole in our school and most of it was directed at me. During our freshman year, when he had moved here, he would ram into me, knock my books down, throw things at me. The next year, he eased up a little but he would stare at me in class with this menacing smirk. Half way through the year, he started getting close to Maddie. Eventually, she intertwined my friendship with his and we all started hanging out together. Sometimes I felt like he resented my presence but he also knew that I came with the package.
I remember Maddie said to me once that she didn't believe in getting really drunk. She thought it was totally pointless to not be able to remember what happened the night before. It wasn't until her parents got divorced that she started partying. That's when she met Alec and they started hanging out.
I never quite understood why they started hanging out in the first place. Alec was the a jock. He bought his clothes from the preppy stores, drove a BMW, and was into heavy partying. Maddie, on the other hand, did not fit into any category. She loved nature and animals. She would wear anything from long, flowing skirts to baggie purple jeans with a zip-up hoodie to tight jeans and a black tank top. No matter what she wore, she looked good.
I don't like drinking but I get pressured into it. I thought the same as Maddie, that it was pointless to drink excessively so sometimes I opt for just weed.
I will never forget the first time I drank with Alec. He shoved a bottle of vodka at me with a daring grin. I took one sip and coughed while Alec laughed, calling me a pussy.
They tell you in school what to do about peer pressure. Just say no is the big one. Not only does that not work but they don't tell you how to handle the curiosity that comes with the pressure. I wanted to try it. Hell, if other people are doing it, what's the harm? If I don't like it, I can stop but I will never know until I try. That's what life is about right? Adventures and trying new things.