Sixteen

A story about being 16

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1. Two sides of the same coin/ birthday girl

My chest tightened as the bus slowed to a stop, I can't do this. I looked down at my shaking hands, I can't do this... 
My hands curled into fists. No. You will not panic. Not today. I squeezed the hand rail in front of me, momentarily forgiving its sanitary short comings for the sake of its support. You can do this. I repeated it like a mantra to suppress the anxiety rising up inside me. I needed to keep it together, just until I was out of the bus and left with no other option but to then go to school... Or to spend three hours walking home, which honestly is an option I've taken before.
Not today though. You haven't come this far just to fall victim to your own self sabotage again. Your strong. You can do this. I don't remember how I got from my seat in the bus to the entrance of the school, either my memory had blocked it out as a self defence mechanism, or I'd managed to get this far completely on auto pilot. Either option was a win to me. However now I was completely conscious of what I was doing and an invisible wall rose from the ground cutting off the entrance of the school. I could get round it and I could get through it. Slowly the wall got closer and closer, wrapping itself around my body like a second skin. I couldn't move an inch. I was frozen of the spot. I stayed put even as the bell rung and I witnessed the corridors flood with students. You can't do it. Tears stung my eyes. You've failed again.

I heard a male cough behind me, clearly trying to signal my attention. Shocked and crippled with embarrassment, I rushed through the doors to hell without looking back, swimming through hoards of students as quickly as possible to reach my room. Everyone I passed was whispering about me, I could feel their attention chasing me down the corridor like fire spreading through a burning house. Corridor after corridor, I held my breath and tried to not focus on what I was doing. Otherwise I would just end up overanalysing how I was moving and turn into a robotic freak, or worse get confused and trip over my own feet in front of everybody. One more right turn, one more flight of stairs, one more form room to pass, one more student to avoid eye contact with and then I was there... Door closed, room empty, my seat tucked away at the back, with a single large window, high enough to only show me the sky outside and not the students below it. Heaven. I made it. I held my own shaky hand under the table and smiled a little. I did it on my own. Not that at the on my own part was surprising of course... Considering I don't have any friends at this school. But still, I made it all the way here without stopping to cry in any of the three toilets I passed to get here. A record for this month. I'd now gotten over the hardest part, throughout the day my anxiety would gradually subside to depression and then I could just feel numb instead of this terrifying panic. Which is Survivable... Until I get home and I'm alone and then depression become just as terrifying of course. But I usually avoid going home for as long as possible any way, so it's ok. I sunk back into the seat and waited for my breathing to return to a state which I was capable to cope with during lesson time. I probably wouldn't make my first two lessons ago but I felt confident I would make it for third period.
-------/

This was a good day for me. I don't remember how it got to be like this. But this isn't how it's always been. At my old school I was always relatively popular, I wasn't in the popular group but I was friends with them and went to the same parties as them. I used to enjoy school. Maybe this was pay back for having five years of happiness, getting the best of both worlds by having my close family-like friendship group and popularity. And now I was cursed to have neither and to be completely and utterly alone. 

This only applied to sixth form though, outside of sixth form I still had friends, although even they were becoming fewer and fewer. The more belittled I felt by my school the more rebellious I became outside of school. Recently I'd seen Liv my old arch nemesis, way more than I'd seen any of my old best friends. She just seemed to understand me better now. Yes, she was still a bitch, yes, she was still nasty and judgemental but she understood what it was like to want the world to disappear, understood why I'd been doing the things Id been doing. No one else did. 

I saw her almost every day now. She picked me up in her car from school, usually before it actually ends, we would drive to Michaels and spend the rest of the evening with the guys unless their was a party to go to, which their usually was. On the nights where their wasn't however, we would come with the boys to do drop offs and finish off whatever was left over in the den afterwards. Surprisingly Michael wasn't actually short of money himself, his house was private residential, ten times the size of my house  and included an outside "den" separate from the house with was twice the size of my living room and included an upstairs sleeping area which me and Ben frequently visited. I'd also been up there with Michael when Ben hadn't been around but he was yet to find out about that. I had no idea why I'd never seen Michaels parent or if they even lived with him... But I didn't really care honestly. I only stayed there for free drugs and company to distract me until morning. Sex just seemed to happen during that time frame. It didn't motivate me to go there but it didn't bother me either. It seemed like a fair trade and made me feel like less of a free loader. 

-----/ 

I was ten minutes from finishing my fourth period lesson when I face timed Liv, I had my ear phones in and my phone propped up behind someone else's text book, so everyone behind me could witness the conversation. Even just calling her gave me a boost of confidence. See. I thought, I'm not below you, I have friends. Friends that are cooler than any of you. So don't even try to pity me. 

The first thing I saw when the call connected was Ben sitting on the bed shirtless, holding the phone far enough away to show off his body. "Why don't you FaceTime me, I have a car too you know" 
"Because she doesn't want to be seen outside with you, that's so bait"  the microphone barely picked up Liv's voice but it still managed to sound cold and ridiculing. "Don't want to be seen with these bad boys?" Ben flexed his biceps and I was glad that people behind me were watching. Even though I didn't have any feelings for Ben, he was definitely good looking and I liked letting other people know he was mine. I rolled my eyes and put my finger on my lips to indicate that I couldn't speak. "So can I pick you up?" 
I shook my head "If I put a shirt on?" I shook my head "If I take some canisters with me" I shrugged. It would be nice to zone out a little on the journey back and even though I knew I was just an excuse to touch me whilst I was out of it, I didn't really care. Excited, Ben dropped the phone on the bed, "oi, lads I'm out," I ended the FaceTime so I wasn't left staring at the ceiling waiting like a dick head for someone to pick the phone up. Shows over I thought to the people behind me. Time to concentrate on your own boring lives again.

"Ok everyone can leave now, the homework is due next Wednesday, if you don't have it, don't bother turning up to class," ... Looks like I wasn't going to class next Wednesday. I waited for the classroom to empty before I left, because no matter what sort of front I put on I was struggling to not fall apart on the inside. The teacher was one of the first to leave so I also managed to avoid the "your throwing your life away" lecture. I packed my bag as slowly as possible so I would avoid all the crowds when I left. My phone rung just as I was picking it up to put in my back pocket and Ben came up as the caller ID so I ignored the call and waited a little longer. What's the fun in having him if I can't treat him like shit for my own amusement? Eventually I got bored of mugging him off and went to his car. "Canister now," He ignored me and drove round to a secluded car park near to the school. "Now," he obliged to my command and handed one over. As I breathed in and out of the balloon and my ears started buzzing I could feel his hand snake between my thighs and his lips on my neck. It felt more tingly when we did it like this and less like it was an actual person doing it. "Happy birthday baby" He moaned into my ear. 

Happy Birthday to me

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