High School Soap Opera
It’s funny how the socks I totally don’t feel like wearing one day become the socks I can’t live without the next. Not funny like you’re actually going to laugh out loud about it, but funny like, how the heck does that even happen? Like, okay, these socks I’m wearing today are a dark maroon-y red, with a thick, dark, navy blue stripe going down each side. Yesterday when I was getting dressed, I saw them and thought they were the ugliest god-awful socks I have ever seen. Like, ever. I put on my white socks with hot pink cherries and neon green stems and leaves instead. And then today? Today when I saw them I was like, I HAVE to wear these socks! They’re still ugly, but that’s okay today. Today I’m wearing them in an ironic way. “These socks are ugly, but I’m still going to wear them.”
Does that sound crazy? In my head it sounds crazy. In my head, sometimes I feel like I’m just one outburst away from being put in a mental institution. Like if I just tell someone what I really think about them, I’ll be locked away for good. Because I’ve done that, really let someone have it. Said everything that I was thinking about her, how fake she was and how nobody really wanted to be her friend, they just pretended so she wouldn’t go all Mean Girls on them. I was in ninth grade and she was a cheerleader, so it wasn’t my best move. Boy, did I get in trouble for that! She cried and ran to tell the principal, and I had to go see the school shrink for two whole months.
It didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t say anything. Nobody said I had to say anything, I just had to go and sit there in his office for a half hour every Monday and Thursday. At first he tried to make me talk, but I refused. After two weeks he stopped trying. I would sit there and do my homework, and he would get on Facebook and play Candy Crush, only I wasn’t supposed to know. He wanted me to think he was doing actual work, but I saw the reflection of the game in his glasses, and he kept trying not to swear when he lost a life. After two months he said that since I had been behaving I didn’t need counseling anymore, but I think he just wanted his lunch break back.
That doesn’t mean I’m crazy. I mean, I just told that girl what everybody else was thinking but was too afraid to say to her face. Everybody hated her. It couldn’t have been a surprise, right? The surprise came six months later when she ODed on Tylenol, because she was too stupid to take stuff that could actually kill her. Or maybe she didn’t want to kill herself, maybe she took the Tylenol just to get attention. Her parents thought she was serious, though, and she was in the hospital for a while to recover. Now she’s at a fancy boarding school, where I’m sure she’s tormenting a whole new class of innocents… but that’s not my fault. I didn’t put the pills in her mouth and force her to swallow them. I hadn’t even said a word to her since that one time.
I’m actually completely normal. I wake up, I brush my teeth, and I pick out my school clothes. Actually, I don’t have much choice. I go to a private school, all girls, and we have uniforms. Navy skirt, white collared shirt, plaid vest, navy tie… How stupid is that – a vest and tie? I shudder just to mention it. The only thing that I get to pick out is what socks I want to wear. And that’s only because instead of wearing stupid Mary Janes I wear ankle boots, which are barely allowed but as long as the top of my socks are short enough that they can’t be seen, I can’t get in trouble for not wearing the boring white socks that we’re all supposed to wear.
My best friend Josette thinks I’m crazy, but in that best friends kind of way that doesn’t mean institutional, just fun and weird. She wears Mary Janes with her uniform, and the white socks. She says that one of these days someone is going to tell me I can’t wear my boots anymore, and then I’ll get detention for a week for not wearing the right kind of socks. But she’s not going to snitch. And I couldn’t care less about detention. Sometimes I go to detention after school out of boredom anyway.
That’s where I met Talie. She wears thick black eyeliner and one time she lifted her shirt to show me a tattoo on her hip that her parents don’t even know about. Talie practically lives in detention. She did something in October that got her sentenced to a whole year, which means that she’ll start her senior year with another six weeks left to serve. She won’t tell anyone what it was that got her in trouble, but the rumors were flying when it happened. It’s January now, so people aren’t talking about it obsessively like they used to. Still, sometimes somebody comes up with a new theory that spreads and mutates until it’s grown to legendary proportions.
A freshman whispers that she heard Talie tell her bio teacher she refused to dissect a frog, and by the time it hits the seniors it was a twenty minute soap box speech on why it’s morally wrong to use animals for scientific research, followed by the marching band coming in and playing “Born Free.” I don’t even know how that one got started – if the marching band was involved, everyone would have heard it. If it was in front of a class at all, there would have been twenty-five students corroborating the same story. It’s ludicrous. But I guess that’s what happens in high school. People believe insane rumors because they can’t admit that their lives are just boring.
I mean it, high school is full of drama. Josette always tells me that high school is a soap opera. If that’s true, than I wish I was the head writer because I’m sure I could come up with better stories than what we’ve been through this year. There’s a whole cast of characters to choose from. I’ve been going to school with these girls for years, and I probably know them better than they realize. Teachers too- they don’t know how easy it is to listen in on their conversations in the main office, when I’m sitting there forging my mom’s signature on a late note. Or between classes, when I’m at my locker and they’re just standing there in the doorway of the classroom that’s three feet away. Or at basketball games, which I hate but I go to support Josette, who plays forward, and teachers are there to support the school but don’t even watch because they’re talking about their personal lives.
Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Talking about me. My name is Jenna and I’m 17. I’m a junior at Ruth Jacobs Preparatory Academy, which is in the Middle of Nowhere, USA. I guess you could say I’m pretty, though the cheerleaders would disagree. They still blame me for Marnie’s “incident,” as they call it. My hair is straight and brown, and my eyes are hazel, and I’m 5’10. Josette says that I should play basketball too, but I hate when everyone assumes that I play basketball just because I’m tall.
I’m into pop punk music like Yellowcard and New Found Glory, even though (maybe because?) it’s not mainstream. I download a lot of it, and I make my own playlists on my ipod. I have a playlist to listen to when I’m running, I have one for when I’m in an “I hate my parents” mood, and I have one for when I’m just hanging out in my room after school, bored because Josette is at basketball practice and I don’t have any other close friends to spend time with.
I drive a used minivan because I don’t want to get a job to pay for a new one. I baby-sit my neighbor’s eight year old daughter on Saturday nights when her parents have Date Night, and that’s enough money to cover gas and lunch at school. Once the last bell rings at school, I get in the back of my car and change into jeans and a vintage t-shirt. I like to shop at thrift shops for unique clothes so I won’t look like every other teen girl out there. I don’t care for most makeup, but I do have to admit that I’m addicted to flavored lip gloss… so I guess I’m not as different as I try to be.
I don’t have a boyfriend, which is not hard to believe considering I go to an all-girls school. Josette had one last year for a while. She met him at another school when she went for a basketball game. She jumped to knock the ball into the hoop and came down wrong and got a big bruise on her thigh. She was out for the rest of the game, but she continued to play the season. Anyway, while she was icing her injury in the boys’ locker room, she met Thomas, who didn’t know she was there. He had just finished using the weight room and had come to take a shower, but when he saw her he went and introduced himself and asked to take a look at it. The school was an hour from ours, so it was a long-distance relationship. They lasted a month, which is long for high school, and then he said he needed a girlfriend who wasn’t so far away, which translates to him wanting to get daily blow jobs from a girl at his own school. Josette cried, because he was her first boyfriend, and I told her she deserved better and that she shouldn’t waste her time on a guy she didn’t even see every weekend in that month.
I guess you could say I don’t really buy into the usual high school stuff? I don’t play sports, I don’t want to try out for cheerleading, I have no interest in band or choir or being on the yearbook staff, or really any extra-curricular activity. My parents worry that I won’t get into college if I don’t join anything, but they don’t make me. They think if they try to force me into something I’ll just rebel, and they’re hoping to avoid that. I just don’t see the point in joining a club just to get into college. Either you want me to go to your school or you don’t – if my lack of extra-curriculars means you don’t want me, that’s your loss.
I don’t even want a boyfriend. How many high school relationships actually last? Sure, you hear about lucky couples who were high school sweethearts and went on to get married. But from where I stand? Most high school relationships last about a week. Then the guy breaks up with the girl, and she cries like he just drove his car over her kitten, and then in a few days she has a new boyfriend who she likes “so much more than my ex, this is the real thing.” I’d rather focus on enjoying my life as a teenager. There will be plenty of time for boys when I’m in college, or maybe after I get my degree.
When I talk about this stuff with Josette she doesn’t get it. I’ve known Josette for four years, and we’ve been best friends for two, but sometimes I wonder why we’re still friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to pieces. When we were freshmen, we were in four classes together, and we sat next to each other and passed notes back and forth talking about our teachers or other students, or about whatever shows we had watched on television the night before, even though we had been texting each other while we watched anyway. This year it just feels like things have been… well, like we’ve been drifting apart. She has more in common with her teammates, and she’s so busy with practice and games that we don’t spend as much time together as we used to.
Talie gets it, though. I don’t stay after school with her for detention every day, just once or twice a week, and never on Fridays. But I’ve been doing this since the middle of November, when I actually had to go to detention for three days because I didn’t know my math teacher was behind me when I told someone she was a bitch. I got to detention first, and when Talie got there she sat next to me. At first she said I was in her seat, but she didn’t make me move. Since school was officially over for the day the rules weren’t so strict about our uniforms. I had taken off my tie and vest, and I unbuttoned my shirt to reveal the purple tank top I wore underneath. I saw her smirk.
She didn’t talk to me that first day, but the second day she asked me if I had an extra pencil. She had leant hers to Laura Jeffrey in her last period class, and Laura never gave it back. I gave her one, and she said thanks, and then I saw that she was drawing in a sketchpad. I asked her what it was, and she showed me. It was a tiger cub lying lifeless in a pool of blood, which had been done with a red colored pencil, and she was working on a lion standing over the cub. The lion had a big mane but no face. I didn’t ask her for an explanation, and she didn’t offer one. I don’t know if it has a hidden meaning or if it’s just something random from her imagination. I once talked to a quiet girl who wrote poems about things that she had never experienced, and she said that if anybody read them and thought they were true, they would think she had serious problems. I figured it was probably the same thing with Talie.
I like Talie because she doesn’t care that she has detention for a year, she just sits there and does her homework, which is weird and awesome. It’s almost like she wants to be there every afternoon. Everyone else that’s there is pissed and stares at the clock waiting for it to be 3:20 so they can leave and catch the 3:30 bus home. Not Talie. She looks tough, but I think that’s just for show. There’s something she’s not telling anyone, and I don’t just mean why she’s in detention. There’s a story there, and I intend to find out what it is.
I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway.
Loved it! The variety of characters you’ve introduced are really interesting. Jenna is really cool and I’m dying to know all of Talie’s secrets.