Dad left this morning and no one found out I snuck out last night, Tucker had dropped me
off so early in the morning, it was still dark and I knew neither Dad nor Nate would be
awake. The only person that woke up really early was Mom and she wakes everyone up,
now that she’s gone, we set an alarm and if not, we sleep in.
I’m so excited on our drive to school; I actually keep up conversation with Nate. When we
get to Sophie’s, they’re both waiting for us in the driveway as usual. From the moment we
pick Sophie till we’re parked in Roosevelt High, all Sophie has been talking about is
“Lila actually asked me to be her king but I was like eh…” Nate’s saying when we’re getting
out of the car.
“Chelsea asked me too, are girls in this school really that desperate? I miss the good old
days when guys ask out girls, it made more sense.” Jake waves us and disappears into the
crowd. I’d totally forgotten about last night till I see Tucker standing by my locker.
“Cute guy alert.” Sophie teases and I can’t help this little weird feeling of excitement that I
get when I see him, like he’s mine. He’s gorgeous and he’s mine.
“I’ll save you a seat in homeroom, hurry and talk to him.” She links hands with Freya and
they walk off.
“Hey,” I couldn’t help smiling. I guess I was smiling like an idiot,
“Hey babe.” Did he just call me babe? Okay, now I’m blushing. When I get close to him, I
reach out and hug him as tight as I could, I wanted to and I didn’t care who was watching.
Henry, the only other guy I dated wasn’t at Roosevelt High so I’d never experiencedwalking into school to see your boyfriend standing by your locker, smiling.
“People are watching,” Tucker whispers
“So? Who cares if they’re watching?”
He shakes his head, “That would defeat the whole loner thing.” He removes my hand from
his shoulder but doesn’t drop it. He holds it instead.
“Screw the loner thing Tucker, I’m your girlfriend now and I want to be treated like one”
When he notices I’m getting upset, he takes my hand and leads me to a corner. “Don’t be
mad, I just…we’ve taken this loner thing for a while and I don’t want to blow it up now.”
“Because, when I put my mind on something, I like to finish it. There were many things I
could have done Natalie, things that’d make me happy but I haven’t because I need this
loner thing to work.”
What is he even talking about? “Well, what exactly are you saying, you’re the one that asked
“I know,” he grabs my shoulders “and I don’t regret that but we have to be low-key, please, I
know it’s much to ask but I really like you and I wouldn’t have asked you to be my girl if I
“Fine, I can do low-key,”
“I really really like you Natalie and I wish I could kiss you right now but…” his phone starts
to ring. “Wait a sec,” he brings it out from his pocket, check the caller, frowns and hang up
He shrugs it off, “Sure, I’ll see you at lunch.” He walks off and I watch him disappear into the
crowd of students. Before I turn to walk away, someone taps behind me, it’s a freshman
that I don’t recognize
“Was that guy your boyfriend?”
“Y’all just look really cute together.”
“Thanks but he’s not my boyfriend,” I didn’t want him announcing to his friends about us,
Tucker doesn’t want us to be public and I had to make it work for him.
“Just who I was looking for,” Chelsea had a way of blocking people as she’s standing in front
of me, blocking my passage. I give the most defeated sigh I could ever come up with, “Hi
“I just heard Sophie’s running for homecoming queen,”
“You did?” I try to act like I was interested, but to be honest, I didn’t really care
“Yes, I did and guess what, I’m running too,”
“Really? ” She was obviously wasting my time with irrelevant things and right now and I
needed her out of my way, so I ask, “What do you want from me Chelsea?”
“I want you to be my campaign manager,”
“Me? Everybody hates me, if I’m your campaign manager, no one would vote for you.”
“I don’t care about that Natalie, I just know that when Sophie finds out you’re my campaignmanager, she’ll get really mad and probably back out.”
“And everyone would hate me times two. Seriously Chelsea, good advice, try to win fair and
square, that way nobody get hurts and it all ends well. Now please, you’re on my way and I
need to get to class.”
“Please Natalie,” her face gets all sad, “Everyone is on Sophie’s side, they all like her but I
know you don’t, you’re the only person who doesn’t so please, help me. With your mother’s
death, we can get pity votes”
She did not just bring up my mother. I have an urge to hit her but I keep my hands firmly in
the pocket of my jeans. “I can’t deal with this right now Chelsea, I’m sorry but I can’t. I’m
not campaign manager material, I’m sorry. Now please, you’re on my way.” I should turn
back and go round
“I’ll pay you if I have to, I have money, a lot.”
“I don’t need your stupid money and you know what, that’s kind of insulting. I’m not
“Of course you’re not.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Whatever, you’re a lost cause anyway, I just wanted to help you regain your popularity but
screw it bitch!” she says to my face and I couldn’t help it, my grip on my pocket looses and I
reach out and punch her really hard on her face, right there with everyone watching.
So, I’m sitting in the Principal’s office and I remember how I was here during the Henry
issue, it wasn’t pretty. I hate being called to Principal Higgins. Chelsea was beside me, fake
crying. What a bitch she was
“Remind me again what happened,” Higgins takes off his glasses and look from Chelsea to
“She frickin’ slapped me.” Chelsea cries
“She called me a bitch”
“Calm down girls.” Higgins instructed then turn to me “Miss Rivers, don’t you think it’s too
soon to be hitting someone? Your mother just died, I expect a sense of soberness from you.”
That shuts me up; he did not just remind me of that. I hate him, I always have and I always
will, I couldn’t help the tears flowing down my cheeks and now, Higgins had two crying
You know what, screw this, I stand up and face Higgins properly, “you know what Higgins,
you’re not allowed to talk to me about my mother okay? You’re not allowed to use her as a
reference point. You didn’t even know her and you don’t know me either but you know
what I’m sure about, she would’ve wanted me to stand up for myself which is exactly what I
did. This school is everything wrong with the world. There are bullies but those bullies
have younger ones who can’t be bullied, and there’s the bullied, hiding out in the halls
every day, trying to be invisible. Everything you see on TV, happens right here in Roosevelt
High. So if you think you’ve got this perfect school going on, you’re so wrong.” Where had
that come from?
They’re both staring at me, Higgins and Chelsea. She’d stopped crying and they were both
looking at me like I was crazy and they felt sorry for me. I couldn’t take it anymore; I pick
up my backpack and hurried out of the office. In the waiting room, Nate, Sophie, Jake and
Tucker are all there. Sophie runs to me, “are you okay? Oh my God, you’re crying.”
“I just need to be alone right now okay? I need to be alone.” I say it so that all of them can
hear, including Tucker.
I didn’t exactly have any direction when I left school so I kept walking till I came across this
bar and my instinct and a little reminder of old habits made me walk in. maybe I could
drink to forget the pain, it used to work then, after Henry’s issue.
When I enter the dimly lit bar that was a little full even though it was Tuesday afternoon, I
make a beeline for the bar table where a guy was handing out shots and I drag a long stool
over and sit. “Give me anything strong,”
“I’m going to need some I.Ds,” The bar guy looks me down
“No, she’s with me, bring her a drink,” Henry winks at the bar guy, then to me, “Hello there
I can’t say I’m surprised to see him here, he was a scumbag and this is where they all hung
out, “I really wish you’d drop dead Henry.”
He draws another bar stool beside mine, “Now don’t be like that sexy, I know you just miss
“Get lost,” The bar guy serves me a shot and I down it within seconds, I used to have
drinking games with Nate, I always won. “More,” I push the glass and the guy refills it
“Getting drunk are we?”
I really wish Henry would get out of my hair. “What do you think?”
The bar guy refills and refills and my head start to feel woozy
“I like it when you’re drunk. Mark, pass me a shot now, will you?”
I down three more shots and my head is really spinning now, “You know what, I challenge
you to a drinking game,” Where the hell did that come from, what was I doing? No, Natalie,
get control of yourself.
“What’s the price?” he takes off his jacket and so do I, I let my hair down and got ready to
“Well, if I win, you tell the whole world everything that happened, my school and your
“And if you lose?”
“How about this, if you lose, we’re going to have sex, right there on that pool table,”
I think I regain consciousness a little, “What?”
“You scared? Come on, you used to be really crazy.”
“I’m not scared asshole,” I had to do it, everybody needs to know what happened, “Fine,let’s do it. First one to puke or pass out, losses.”
Everybody in the bar gather around us and the girls are cheering me while the guys are
cheering Henry. The bar guy, fills the first glass and Henry downs it and I follow suit.
There’s a cheer behind my back and I couldn’t help it but I felt really great. We down the
second and the third and before we know it, we finished the frickin’ bottle! Everybody’s
cheering when the bar guy brings out another bottle.
“Now be careful, this one is pretty strong.” The guy pours the drink and hands us both our
glasses. Henry downs his and his face is scrunched up but he smiles afterward, “take that!”
The girls are yelling behind me, “Drink up! Drink up!”
I pick up the glass and take a sip, it’s so disgusting, I spit it out and then it comes; vomit.
Everyone starts screaming as Henry climbs the table and pumps his fist while I clean my
mouth with my jacket. After praising himself, Henry jumps down, “now, my price.” I’m
staggering as he leads me to the pool table. To be honest, I feel dead.
“Everybody, stop!” when I look up, I see Jake. I start to feel weird, is Jake really here or am I
so drunk that I’m seeing things? Suddenly, someone grabs my hand and leads me out of the
bar where I start to throw up again. The person holds up my hair as I vomit and hands me a
water bottle afterwards, “Thanks…Tucker?”
It was Tucker, I was pretty wasted but it was him. From the corner of my eye, I see Henry
follow Jake out, “that girl owes me”
“How much, I’ll pay you.” Jake opens up his wallet
“No, we were going to have sex on that pool table.”
Tucker grabs my hand, “You’re so not coming near her again,” he leads me to his car and lay
me in the backseat and that’s where it’s all blurry and I black out.
When I wake up the next morning in my room, as expected there’s a pounding on my head.
God! I hate hangovers
“Here, drink this” Sophie gives me her secret concoction and it actually works. Minutes
later, I feel better and I’m up on my feet.
“You’ve got to teach me how to make those,”
“Nope, it’s a secret. Now baby girl, you have a lot of yelling coming your way.”
“I know but can I shower first, please?” I hit the showers and pick something up to wear
“Was Tucker really there yesterday at the bar? I dunno, I think I saw him but I was drunk”
“He was and he’s mad at you. I’m mad at you too; everyone is. Drinking with Henry? What
were you thinking?”
I put on shorts and a tank top and sit by Sophie on the bed, “I know but in my defense,
Henry was there, it’s not like I called him, I don’t even have his number anymore.”
“Well, you shouldn’t have made that stupid deal with him.”
“I know. Where’s Nate and Jake?”
“They’re in school, Higgins called your dad last night and thinks you need therapy. Nate and
Jake are trying to convince him that you’re okay.”
Sigh, “I really screwed up.”
“Well, I guess you’re finally letting it out. Your mom died and you were there, strong for
your dad and Nate, I think you’re finally getting it.”
“I was just so mad at Chelsea and Higgins yesterday, the way he made my mom the subject
of the issue was just so upsetting, that’s what everyone does, I’m that girl that lost her Mom
and the girl that slept with the enemy, I hate it, I just hate it. I hate everything, I want my
mom back.” I feel my voice breaking and I wipe at the threatening tear.
Sophie pulls me in for a hug, “it’s going to be okay Lee, and you’re going to be fine, really.”
“Thanks Soph, I’m kind of hungry.”
“Let’s go find you something to eat.”
I try calling Tucker but it keeps going straight to voicemail, I guess he must be really mad
“Hey Tucker, it’s me again. I know you’re mad, I went drinking with my ex but it’s really not
like that, it’s not what you think please just …” the beep goes, “pick my call” I finish.
I beg Sophie to let me out for a little walk and I’m surprised that she agrees, “Just don’t
wander far okay? I’d come with you but I’ve got things to put up for homecoming.”
Stepping out of the house, my legs led me to exactly where I needed to be; the cemetery.
The walk there was long but it got me thinking about a lot of things and by the time I got to
the cemetery I was already feeling sad. I located Mom’s grave, sat by it and wept. I cried, I
just let out all the watery fluids in my eye.
“I can’t do it mom, I thought I could but I can’t. I can’t go on without you, I can’t be the
strong girl you want me to be, I can’t take care of Nate or dad, I can’t go back to school too,
everybody hates me, they hate me but they pity me too, I don’t get it mom, I don’t get
anything.” I say to her headstone as hot tears that stung my cheek pour out of my eyes. I
continue, “I’m not so strong you know, I’m not strong at all and I started drinking again, I
was so rotten at the bar yesterday, I disgust myself and I know I disgust you too. I’m sorry,”
I hug her headstone and lay my head on the thick stone, “it’s just, it’s just not fair. You
shouldn’t have left like that, there was that one month warning but it was still sudden. I
hate cancer, I hate hate hate it!” I’m hitting at the head stone and my knuckles are going
red. My hands keep hitting on it till I see blood, tears escaped me again and I hug the
headstone, “Mom, I miss you. I need you, everything is falling apart. I’ve lost Tucker and I
probably made dad worry, I let down everyone. I need you, you always took my side.” I take
off my flip flops and lie in front of the headstone and I didn’t know when I dozed off.