My walk to school was fairly uneventful on most days save up for the days the local bully would show up. She never bothered me probably because I never had any money. My family was very poor, and the only thing I had worth stealing would only have been appealing to vegetarians… my lunch.
Being poor wasn’t a crime, but being from the hippie commune and home-schooled for most of my life was a crime in the eyes of our small, southern town. We kept to ourselves preferring the company of other commune residents. So, when a local sports hero of the high school offered me a ride to school, I was disinclined to accept. What were his motives? Why me? I’m not popular. I’m not even especially pretty.
“C’mon… it’s 5 miles to school. That’s a really long walk,” he enticed. His eyes were a deep blue contrasting against his dark hair. We shared Chemistry class together, and he seemed like a really nice guy who always cracking jokes. I’d even seen him stand up for the class nerd, but something about his offer seemed a little off.
I smiled at the ground as I replied, “Oh, that’s okay. I like walking. It clears my head.”
He opened the passenger door from the driver’s seat. “I’ve got air-conditioning, and you can’t tell me you aren’t hot,” he continued.
What would really be the harm of taking a ride from this nice guy? It was hot, and I was wearing jeans to hide the fact my legs were unshaven. Having hippies for parents was a bitch in high school. So, I climbed in the car.
I had my book-bag in my lap when he reached over, took my bag, and put it in the floorboard area. “I thought it was can have to kidnap you or something!” He joked. “Hey, relax. It’s just a ride to school,” he continued to joke as we drove down the back country road. “Hey, do you like history?” He glanced over me. My 15-year-old heart was eating up the attention.
“Yes,” I said shyly, “I have Mrs. Somersby fifth period. She’s really nice.” Why is he asking me about history? He’s a senior. I must sound like an idiot.
“There’s an unmarked historical landmark just over that ridge. You’ve just got to see it,” he said with excitement.
I’ve never heard of it. I wonder why. “It won’t take long, will it? I don’t want to be late.” Something seemed off. I’ve never had a tardy and don’t want one.
“Nah! Who do you have for first period?” he inquired.
“Coach Dawson. Algebra II,” I answered. God, I must seem like a total nerd and a half!
“You’ll be fine. I’ll walk you to class, just in case…” he said conspiratorially as if we were sharing some secret. It was so flattering to have this totally NORMAL, all-american boy taking an interest in me. He could have asked me to get a tattoo, and I would have done it against my parents’ wishes at this point.
He chattered on about his friends as if they were my friends and would be so excited to know we were hanging out. I just did the only thing I could do. Smile.
“Ah! Here we are!” he exclaimed as he shut off the car. It was an abandoned, run-down barn. I looked around slightly confused.Was there a civil war skirmish here or something? He got out of the car, and I followed him figuring he knew the way around better than I did.
“Um, what’s so special about this place?” I quietly asked. It seems sad here. Even the grass is dead. “We aren’t trespassing, are we?”
“Nah! We’re not trespassing. The special part is inside,” he stated as he climbed through two slats of wood that once protected whatever had been inside from the elements. “Come inside and see, Indira.”
I climbed through snagging the hem of my jeans on a jagged piece of wood that gave way due to it’s rotten state. The sun was filtering through the clouds and partially gone roof. There was just enough light to see beer cans and other litter. Why would someone treat a historical spot this way? I don’t always understand people my age.
“Indira, over here!” he shouted. I followed his voice to a darker part of the barn. “Boo!”
I didn’t see him standing behind a weathered, wooden pillar until the last second and stumbled over my own two feet and onto my ass. I laughed nervously.
“Oh, shit! I’m sorry! Here, lemme help you up,” he offered with his hand stretched out toward me. I took it and levered myself up with his help. We were standing just inches from each other. It was the closest I’d ever been to a boy that I liked. I’d never even kissed a boy. He reached out and tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear. “You’re really pretty, you know?” The way he said it seemed wrong. My heart began to race and not in a be-still-my-beating-heart kind of way.
“Um, I think we should get to school, now,” I whispered nervously. His hand was still in my hair which he used to jerk my head forcing me to look at him.
“Look at me. You like me, right? Why don’t we have some fun before school?” No longer was he the friendly guy who initially offered me a ride earlier. He was someone else – someone to be afraid of. He had one arm wrapped around my waist and the other wrapped within my hair.
I’m so stupid. Tears were leaking from my eyes, and there was nothing I could do about it. “Please…” I begged. “Please, don’t do this. I promise I won’t say anything.”
He grinned like a shark. That’s what he was – a predator. I was his prey.