.Truth. (1st draft of part 1 for my upcoming series <Hu/rt3 )
Truth. Everyone is afraid of it, yet for some reason we can’t stand to see the absence of it in others. pointing out the “fakes” and the “liars” allows us to take a stance. It’s like we’re standing out and screaming to the world “You can’t hide your shallow falsities and you’ll never be true enough to know mine!” While the world takes its stand one by one, I just sit back watching. From where I sit, all this blind masturbation for their egos seems as stable as a house of cards. Every joker that decides to gamble with the game of life will sooner or later watch as another person side swipes their house of cards. Whether it’s friends who realise that they never saw each other on equal ground or a boss who finally understands that the respect he gets from co-workers is only as valid as the title he holds. To them the world is black and white. To them I am a freak for living in a shade of gray. The interests and feelings that those standing people have are foreign to me. It’s not all bad though, it’s really quite comfortable where I sit.
“Chh, she acts like that desk is a throne.”
“Her posture does seem very queen-like now that you mention it.”
Of all the seats in class I have the awkwardly sized one. It was made for someone taller than me. It also doesn’t help that my chair is the only the one colored red among the sea of blue chairs. I don’t hate it though. Actually, I find the irony to be a little bit funny.
“Look at her, she’s even snickering to herself. If I was crazy like that I’d at least hold a book or something so people could figure that I’m just laughing at the content.”
“Haha Yeah. That reminds me, you won’t believe what my brother was watching this morning.”
Mornings are when I feel the freshest. Oddly enough the period from around 6:00 am to noon is the time I hate the most. The awkward atmosphere of the hallways and the classrooms everyday is thickest in the morning. It’s a suffocating haze. Everyone shuffles into school trying to see through the haze to find someone they recognize. Someone they feel comfortable with. Maybe that’s why I have glasses. I tried too hard and too long to find someone that never showed their face. The strain became too much and I just stopped looking.
“She’s probably snickering about us. Girls like that hate girls like us.”
“Gee Marla, I sit with you girls every morning but I didn’t think that made me one.”
“Carter, you know I wasn’t referring to you.”
Those kids are laughing again. It’s the same every morning. The same kids diverge into their same groups. The topics are always different but the conversation is dry all the same. I’m no different really. I sit here watching them with my thermos of coffee. If someone looks at me I’ll take a sip. It always burns my tongue but it’s better than burning with anxiety every time someone stares at me. I think it is time for a sip of coffee, that girl next to Carter keeps looking back at me.
“You think she even knows our names?”
“Who knows, I can’t really say that I’ve heard her talk yet.”
“Talking with her would be super awkward anyways. I bet she’s into really creepy stuff like ravens and skulls and stuff.”
“Only one way to find out.”
The girls who were gossiping a few desks away collectively donned puzzled expressions. The center of attention for their group, Carter Painter, rose from his usual seat. He lightly brushed some specks from his dark khaki pants and started moving. Moving towards me. I tried not to make eye contact as he weaved through the desks approaching mine. He was wearing one of those Nike shirts that has an inspirational phrase on it. It’s a must have for douchebags. Especially the athletic ones. He positioned the seat that was in front of my desk backwards and sat down. I hate when people do things like that to try and emphasize how cool they are.
My thermos was halfway to my lips when he spoke. I have two options. I could ignore him and continue drinking or I could say hello. For the first time since the school year began someone actually took the initiative to greet me... Maybe this is a chance to make a friend.
I bring the thermos up to my mouth and savor the coffee as it slowly trickles down my throat. He just sits there unphased by how I’m ignoring him.
“That must be good coffee; Starbucks or from home?”
I lower the thermos slowly and place it silently on my desk. Our eyes make direct contact for the first time ever. I wasn’t prepared for anyone to bother me this morning. My mouth puckers as I fold my arms and cross my legs. Classic defensive body language. His response? A quote from yesterdays history class in a playful tone.
"Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you."
His quote was from a dinner party that President Calvin Coolidge attended. This was no extension of friendship. It was amusement. I guess even people like Carter get bored of living through the same type of morning ritual. Today he decided to try something new and talk to the quiet girl. I might as well humor him and give the correct response.
A few kids in the classroom chuckled at our little roleplay. Everyone was paying attention. I am apparently interesting to them now. I extended my hand from beneath the desk to reach for my thermos but I stopped myself halfway.
“And my name isn’t Mr. Coolidge.”
“I know, I know.” He said with a joking grin. “You’re Sojourner Truth, right?”
Yes, my name is Sojourner but I am by no means the 1840s black abolitionist that he is referring to. This joke wasn’t funny the first time I heard it so you can imagine how tasteless it became throughout the sixteen years I had to deal with it.
“Ellins actually,” I replied, followed by a sigh. “I’m Sojourner Ellins. If you keep calling me Sojourner Truth i’ll report you for bigotry. Now is there anything I can do for you this morning?”
My skin is a light brown but it is dark enough for me to play the race card. My skin is probably the reason they keep using that nickname. Nobody would nickname a white girl Sojourner Truth even if she had a similar name.
I don’t intend to actually report Carter but if I do not make it clear that I am someone who’s better left alone than this might happen again. I do not want to deal with Carter or the others every morning. I’ll make him aware that this conversation is pointless. I’m sure he just came by in hopes that I’ll say something interesting that he can laugh about with his friends later. I’ll let him realise things will not go that way. Maybe then he’ll leave and let things become comfortably awkward again.
“Ok, I’ll stray away from the nicknames from now on. Note taken. Unless of course there’s a nickname you prefer?”
I paused. I’ll admit I was caught off guard. He didn’t show anger or annoyance from my threat. Sure it was just a petty one but nonetheless there should have been some reaction besides that! He must be trying to play with me. He thinks he’s so much better than me that he doesn’t even acknowledge my comebacks.
“...Why would you need my nickname, it isn’t like we’re going to talk again.”
“Well who decided that? It’s only the second week of our Sophomore year. We have plenty of time to get acquainted. I’ve never known a goth before, this’ll be fun.”
I could feel something bottled up inside. Some hidden emotion that decided to poke its face out now. I swear I’ll kill the first person who says it’s love. Far from it actually, I feel almost...angry?
“Her face is turning red.” One girl pointed out. I paid her no attention. My thoughts are split between dealing with Carter and figuring out what he wants from all this. He has about half the build of an NFL player but there’s more to him than your average muscle head. Am I thinking too much? Maybe I’m giving him too much credit. If this is a legitimate attempt at friendship, should I take it?
“I don’t need you as a friend. No, that’s wrong, I don’t want you as a friend.
Carters face finally showed that I was getting to him. Seeing him crack like that, seing his facade fall down, it gave me a rush.
“I’ve been in all of your god damn classes for five years now! Not once did you say hello. Not once did you ask how my coffee was then and not once did you give a shit what my name was.”
I can feel myself getting hotter. My face is burning. This isn’t anxiety. It’s something more. It feels like something is turning within me. No, that’s not right. It is more like something in me is...is...
“I’ve watched you clown around with your douchebag friends for years and not once have any of you approached me. Not a single fucking one of you!!!”
His face was no longer cool and collected. His facial features were locked in sheer surprise along with the rest of the class. I’m burning up inside. I need an outlet. I need something to vent out all of this- this whatever it is. IT NEEDS TO GET OUT.
The classroom stared at me, unblinking. My arm was outstretched. My body was awkwardly positioned like that of a baseball pitcher who just released the ball. A shriek of pain came from a girl across the room as her knees buckled to the ground. My thermos was missing from the table. I noticed it lying next to the girl. I also noticed the scalding coffee all over her body. Her white skin was scorched red. A dozen kids ran over to the girl. Rhetorically repeating “Are you hurt? Are you alright?”
My body slid back into upright position. I’m shocked just as much as the others are. Everything is spinning. I’m not sure what just happened. My legs feel light and weightless as if someone replaced my muscles with feathers. I made a dash for the door though the desks slowed my progress. It was more of an impatient walk.
“The fuck is wrong with you!” A girl hissed at me. She grabbed my arm as she said it. I kept walking forward shaking off her grasp. I didn’t look back. The light feeling had made its way to my arms now. Opening the door felt heavier than before. With one foot placed in the hallway I heard something that made my ears ring. Among all of the pain-filled whimpers, among all of the are you hurt’s and the are you alright’s I heard Carters parting words to me.
“You know, you could have been the one to approach us.”
I stumbled through the halls until I found my way into the bathroom. I need to calm down. I need to get a hold of myself. The blue and white tiled wall was cold against my back as I gripped the wall. My body won’t stop panting for air. My brain hurts. I don’t know what’s going on anymore. The most puzzling symptom of all is this cold teardrop running down my face. Why...why am I crying?