I hooked up with Daniel last night. It was the second time with him. He sent me a text and I squeezed out my window to meet him at the corner. He parked his car in the lot outside a preschool.
“You know this is nothing, right?” he said before we started anything.
“Yeah. That’s fine,” I said. But I wanted it to be more. I wanted him to love me.
Why couldn’t anyone love me?
After he was done with me, he said “Thanks, girl. I’ll text ya’ real soon.”
He didn’t know my name. Probably sent out a mass text.
“I need somebody. Need time. Meet me?” it said.
And I’m the stupid one who wrote back. I hate myself. But I can’t say no.
I have to get myself ready for school. My mom’s in the kitchen, making coffee. Why don’t I have the kind of mom I can talk to? The one all my friends think is cool and are jealous of? Instead I get the mom that freaks out over everything. If I told her about all the hook ups she’d smack me around, tell me how worthless I am.
But what she doesn’t know, what she’ll never know, is that I do this because I’m so empty. For just a minute with the boys I feel like I’m worth something. And there’s a chance that I’ll win one of them over. It’s a small chance. But I might happen. Maybe one of them will love me.
My step-dad’s sitting at the table. He’s hung over. I don’t even have to look at him to know that. He’s always either drunk or hung over. The good thing about that is he won’t talk to me. He leaves me alone.
“You going to school?” my mom asks.
“Yeah.” I know that I roll my eyes, but I don’t mean to. It just happens sometimes.
“What’s your problem?” She’s in one of her moods. “I just asked you a question.”
“Nothing.” But everything! Every single thing in my life is wrong. “See ya’.”
At school there’s a note stuck on my locker. My name’s on it. And a lot of other names and words and bad things that make me feel so small and dirty.
Daniel told people about last night. Or Alex told them about last week. Or…or…any of them did it. I can’t even remember how many anymore. Too many. And I wanted each of them to love me. But none of them ever would.
“Aw, baby. You know how this works. No strings attached, right?”
“This don’t mean nothing to me. It’s just something to do.”
“We talked about this. No feelings. This isn’t a relationship. It’s just a hook up.”
But every time I got that text, I’d come sneaking out. Just in case this time it was different.
“Hey,” a boy says, passing me in the hall. “I got your number. I’ll be getting with you.”
“Who are you?” I ask.
A girl walks by and snarls her lip up at me.
“What’s your problem?” I say.
“You think you can get with my boy? Best watch yourself.” Her friends all glare at me.
And it goes on like that all day. I’m not going to school tomorrow. I’m never coming back.
My phone buzzes. A text. Great. I check it, knowing if it’s from a boy that I’ll have to go with him.
“Hey, Sweetie. I’m picking you up.” My grandma.
I spot her purple convertible in the parking lot. A huge sigh explodes from my chest. No hook ups. No nasty words. Just my grandma.
“Too bad. You’re too skinny. We’re getting some ice cream.”
I get in the car and she speeds away. The wind rushes over me. It feels like freedom. What I wish I could feel like that all the time.
We sit at a picnic table outside the little ice cream place.
“What’s going on, Mandi?” she asks.
“Just stuff.” I have to figure out what she knows before I tell her too much.
For some dumb reason, the one person who wants to love me is the only person I’m afraid to really let in.
“Well, I looked at your Facebook today.” Her eyes are sad. “It’s not good, honey.”
“Just people saying stupid things. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“I’m not going to ask what you’ve been up to. I think I can figure that out.”
“It’s not what you think.”
“Well, that would be nice. But I’m going to be realistic.” She reaches across the table. “Mandi, you deserve so much more.”
“No. Not really.”
“You are beautiful. You don’t need to do that with them. Life isn’t all about getting used and tossed aside.”
“It’s nothing anyone’s doing to me. I’m doing it to myself.”
“That’s partly true.”
My phone buzzes. More and more texts. I look at the screen. 10 in the last few minutes.
“Tonight, girl. Dan says you’re good.” “Been thinkin’ about you all day.” “You’re so ugly. I hope you die.”
Disgusting and mean and thoughtless.
“Give me that phone.” My grandma reaches out for it. “Just put it in my hand.”
“You don’t want me to see what they’re saying?”
“Then I won’t look.”
But it’s my link to the world. It’s how I meet friends and find what I think might be love. I can’t go a minute without checking it.
It’s my life. It’s killing me.
“Mandi, give it here.”
I put the phone in her hand. She pulls the back off, takes out the battery. She smashes it into her ice cream.
“What are you doing?” I ask, shocked.
Tonight I’m going to sleep. I won’t get any calls or texts. It feels like the convertible wind is running over my heart.