Published 9 years ago
Bethanne was bored with school.
She was sitting in history class, convinced all the excitement was going on RIGHT THIS SECOND, outside the school walls. And she wanted to be part of it. She was itching to be part of it.
The school walls felt like a prison,and she was being held prisoner against her will. Simply because she was fourteen. That was her only crime.
The air in the classroom seemed stale. Suddenly, Bethanne felt like she could hardly breath. She was starving for some fresh air...literally, starving.
Who cared about the dumb old Pioneers, anyway? What relevance did they have to her life in 2011?
They didn't even have computers back then! Bethanne complained to herself.
It was all too boring for Bethanne to waste her brain cells contemplating.
Bethanne knew what she needed to do. She needed to break out of this drab building of death and head out towards the excitement.
She had never cut a single class, before. Bethanne had always wanted to try it, but she didn't want to get caught. She was such a goody-goody.
But she was tired of being a goody goody! It was boring. And Bethanne didn't think she could take any more boringness in her life.
What life? Bethanne asked herself, wryly. I don't even have a life.
So when the end-of-class bell rang, Bethanne simply stashed her books in her locker, and headed towards the door.
"BETHANNE! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?" Bethanne's best friend Diane called out.
Diane came running up to Bethanne. She was wearing the same outfit she always wore. A pair of jeans and some sort of striped top.
BORING! Bethanne screamed in her head.
"Guess what I'm doing?" Bethanne said in a sneaky voice, like she was a bad guy in a movie.
"Uh...walking down the hallway?" Diane said. "You look really serious, like you're on some kind of mission."
"I am!" Bethanne exclaimed.
Then Bethanne stopped and said the next part in a loud whisper.
"I'm cutting! Right now! Blowing this place....want to come?" Bethanne whispered.
Diane's baby blue eyes opened wide.
"Why?" she asked.
"Just because..." she said. "I feel like it. I'm sooo bored!"
Diane looked disapproving.
"I have a meeting after eighth period," Diane said. "I don't want to miss it."
Ever since Diane joined the school newspaper, she'd become so super boring. The newspaper was all Diane cared about. She tried to get Bethanne to join, but Bethanne wasn't interested.
"But you're such a good photographer!" Diane always pointed out.
That was true. Bethanne loved taking pictures. But of other things besides school. INTERESTING things, like herself wearing sparkly purple eye-shadow. Not boring school things. So Bethanne always turned Diane's offer down.
"Suit yourself!" Bethanne said.
"What should I tell people?" Diane asked.
"I don't know..." Bethanne said, marching boldly out the thick double doors. "Just tell them....I won the lottery! Or...I came down with the Swine flu! Anything you want! See ya!"
Bethanne left Diane standing there with her mouth hanging open.
Good! thought Bethanne.
Bethanne walked passed all the kids who liked to hang out by the door; the kind of kids who always got in trouble. They didn't even pay any attention to Bethanne in her pink plaid Old Navy dress, and her neat brown ponytail.
They probably thought she had permission to leave. After all, Bethanne wasn't the sort of girl who would leave school without permission.
That was too easy! Bethanne thought to herself, as she walked through the neighborhood outside the school. I'll just write a dummy note to bring in tomorrow with a fake signature. They won't even question me, probably.
She didn't have to worry about the school calling home, either. Since Bethanne's parents switched to Sprint, they'd gotten a new phone number. Bethanne had never bothered giving the new number to the school office.
Maybe I'm not such a goody-goody, after all, Bethanne thought to herself. I guess I had this planned, all along!
The neighborhood felt weird in the middle of a school day. The sun seemed too bright, and the streets were too quiet.
Bethanne felt very noticable. But nobody seemed to care. A few cars passed by. It wouldn't be anyone she knew, since she lived in the opposite direction of the school.
The air seemed so fresh...so invigorating. Bethanne took a deep breath. The feeling of freedom was almost inxtoxicating. Her cotton Old Navy dress fluttered gently in the early spring breeze.
Bethanne felt In charge of her life. She was making this thing happen. Her. Bethanne! That was a powerful feeling.
Where should she go? She had hours to herself. HOURS and HOURS of NOBODY knowing where she was.
It was almost...surreal...like she was in a dream.
She knew where she would go. She would go to the Watchung Reservation. When she was little, she used to walk there on trails through the woods with her family. She knew older teenagers liked to hang out there. It was the perfect destination! Sure, it was a bit of a hike; but she was up for it. Her shoes were flat and comfy. Good for walking.
Forty minutes later, Bethanne arrived at the Watchung Reservation.
"Ha! I'd be in Spanish class right now!" Bethanne said out loud, checking her pink watch.
Bethanne pictured herself sitting at her desk conjugating verbs. It was so weird to be in the woods, instead.
She headed off on one of the familiar trails she used to walk with her family. The woods looked so pretty with the sun filtering through the leaves. She hiked on through, past the little pond where her family used to stop, so she could look for fishies. She got a little spooked when she heard a noise. But it was just a deer.
When Bethanne got to the open "park part," there were groups of older kids hanging out, like usual. Except there were no families, like on the weekend. She saw motorcycles and smoking...smoking WHAT she wasn't sure.
Bethanne found a rock to sit on. Suddenly, she felt sort of "disconnected." It was strange being here without her family. Her stomach growled. She thought of meeting Diane for lunch. It was Wednesday, Tony's Pizza Day at school.
I sure could go for a slice of Tony's pizza right now! Bethanne thought.
She tried to look cool sitting there. After all, this was the excitement she had craved while sitting in history class, right?
"Hey, you there, on the rock!" a voice said. A voice that was coming from right next to Bethanne's ear.
Bethanne jumped, startled. The voice laughed.
Bethanne turned her head and saw a guy. An older guy. He looked like he was in his early twenties. His hair was dark, shaggy, and long. He did have a cute face. But his cute face had a smirk on it, like he enjoyed scaring younger girls.
"I'm Mitch," he said, holding out his hand and still smirking.
"Oh!" Bethanne said. She wasn't sure if she should give him her real name.
"Uh...I'm uh...Janelle," Bethanne said.
Janelle was her favorite fake name.
"How old are you?" Mitch asked, studying Bethanne's face. "You look like you should be in school."
"Oh! Yea! Everyone says that!" Bethanne said, with a nervous twitter. "I'm uh...nineteen!"
"Yea, right!" said Mitch, laughing.
"Well how old are you?" Bethanne asked.
She didn't appreciate being laughed at.
"Twenty," he said.
Twenty! To Bethanne's fourteen, that sounded ancient.
"Is there room on that rock for two?" Mitch asked.
"Um...sure..." Bethanne said, scooting over.
She felt nervous. She had no experience with boys. That's because she was such a goody-goody. She knew she wasn't bad looking. Sometimes, when she put on pink lip-stick and pink blush and sparkly eye-shadow, she thought she looked really pretty.
It's just that boys made her feel...nervous. And this wasn't even a boy. This was a man. A full grown man!
Mitch sat down on the rock next to Bethanne. Then he put his arm around her.
Bethanne blushed and put her head down.
"You're cute, nineteen year old Janelle!" Mitch said. "I like you! C'mere!"
Mitch pulled Bethanne closer to him, so she was touching the whole side of his body. It felt hot and frightening. Then he started nibbling on her right ear lobe.
Bethanne looked around. A girl with super long curly black hair was laughing too loud. A guy covered in tattoos threw a beer bottle on the ground. Bethanne felt panicky.
What was she doing here?
She had wanted to be cool. She had wanted to experience excitement; life outside the school walls. Now all she wanted to do was go back to what was safe and familiar.
"Here. A gift from me!" Mitch said, handing Bethanne an empty beer bottle with wild daisies in it.
"Thanks," said Bethanne, taking the bottle, becuse she didn't know what else to do.
"Now what are you going to give me, Janelle?" Mitch asked, smirking at her. His face was way too close.
Suddenly Bethanne felt like she wanted to scream, I'M FOURTEEN! LEAVE ME ALONE!
Instead, she jumped up, and started running. Mitch came after her, laughing in a demented way.
"OH! YOU WANT TO PLAY HIDE AND SEEK?" he shouted."WELL, YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE,19 YEAR OLD JANELLE!"
And that's exactly what Bethanne did. She ran - as fast as she could. Luckily, she was in great shape. She had started jogging every evening with her dad, and it was really paying off. Mitch's crazy laughter followed her.
Bethanne ran on through the woods; past the place where the deer had been; past the little pond with the fishies, all the way through, not looking back once. She held onto the neck of the beer bottle tightly,figuring she could bash Mitch's head in with it if she had to.
After a while, she no longer heard Mitch's crazy laugh.
Only when she made it to the other side, did she look back. Mitch was nowhere to be seen.
"Whew!" said Bethanne.
Bethanne thought that was probably the scariest thing that ever happened to her.
She was still clutching the beer bottle with the daisies in it. She hiked all the way back to her town. She made it back to her school at 3:30. Not bad. Then she walked home, feeling guilty and scared that somehow the school had gotten in touch with her mother.
When Bethanne walked through the door of house, her mom was washing dishes. Her mom turned off the water and smiled at Bethanne.
Bethanne breathed a big sigh of relief. She could tell by her mom's face that her mom didn't know what she'd done.
"These darn dishes!" Bethanne's Mom said as a greeting. "I don't know where they all come from. How was your day?"
"Good!" said Bethanne, a bit too cheerily. "I'm thinking of joining the school paper!"
Bethanne had no clue where that came from.
"That's great, honey!" Bethanne's Mom exclaimed. "What on earth are you holding?"
Bethanne gasped. She had forgotten all about the beer bottle with the daisies!
"Oh...I found it on my way home," she lied. "Someone littered. So..I made a gift out of it...for you."
LAME! Bethanne screamed in her head.
But her mom was thrilled.
"I am so proud of you for caring about the environment, Bethanne!" Bethanne's Mom exclaimed. "And the daisies...that's such a cute touch, I have to admit. Thank you, honey!"
My mom is so trusting, Bethanne thought to herself, feeling a fresh stab of guilt.
But it made a difference to Bethanne. Bethanne decided she wanted to live up to her mom's trust in her. And that's exactly what she was going to do.
She had no plans to cut school in the near future. Yes, she made that dummy note. But that was the last bit of lying she planned to do for awhile. She even gave her full attention in history class.
Her history teacher, Mr. Glenn, was playing some movie about this Pioneer family. The little girl in the family had been bitten by a racoon and the family was afraid she might have rabies. Without modern medicine, the little girl would die a horrible death. Luckily, she was okay. The amazing thing, was that Bethanne actually found the movie...interesting.
Even conjugating Spanish verbs was okay with her. Especially when her teacher, Miss Flores, announced they would be having a class party with tacos and enchiladas!
Bethanne felt good being where she belonged. She remembered that weird disconnected feeling she'd had at the Watchung Reservation. In school, she felt connected...like she had a purpose...like she was part of something. Bethanne really enjoyed eating lunch with Diane. And yes, she did decide to join the school newspaper.
"YAY!" Diane said when Bethanne told her.
"I'll blow them away with my amazing photography!" Bethanne said, pleased that she had made her friend so happy.
"So where did you go yesterday?" Diane asked.
Bethanne shrugged. She didn't want to talk about it.
"Just somewhere...boring," she said.
Bethanne discovered that when she changed her attitude, she no longer felt like a prisoner. And school no longer felt like a drab building of death. It felt more like an interesting building of possibilities.
Sure, there was probably plenty of excitement "out there"...waiting....but Bethanne wanted to be ready for it. It would come.
But if she wasn't ready for it, it didn't feel exciting. It just felt wrong. And creepy. Like Mitch.
"Ready to go to the meeting?" Diane asked Bethanne, after eighth period.
"Yup!" Bethanne exclaimed, grabbing her camera out of her locker.
"There's this guy I want you to meet named Josh Washington," Diane was saying. "He's so hot...."
"Really?" said Bethanne.
Bethanne was amazed to discover that she felt sort of...excited!
The air in the school suddenly seemed fresh...almost invigorating. Not stale at all.
Bethanne breathed in deeply. It felt like a whole new beginning.