Interim
Author:S. Walden

She pulled her stick-straight hair in a ponytail high atop her head—a few crinkled purple strands spilling out. He didn’t know what that was about, but he liked it. She looked like a punk rock chick, the way she dressed up her chocolate eyes with purple hues. They were so dark that they looked almost black—big, round cave pools. He thought if he got close to them, they wouldn’t reflect his image but show him, instead, the fantasy of what if. What if she let him hold her hand? Kiss her lips?

 

Pretty eyes. Pretty face. Full lips. Unfair lips, really. No teenage guy could look at those lips and not think the basest thoughts. It was impossible. Typically, he’d feel like a skeeze for ogling her like a piece of meat. After all, Regan usually stood on a pedestal, but today, with that outfit and that weird, badass earring thing curving up and around her ear, he couldn’t help forcing her into the dirtiest part of his mind, down on her knees, and coaxing her to do the most obscene things to him.

 

“You like that?”

 

He jerked his head in the direction of the voice.

 

“You like that, don’t you?” Brandon asked, draping his arm casually over Jeremy’s shoulder, like the two were best buds.

 

Jeremy tensed but didn’t pull away.

 

“Even if she does look ridiculous,” Brandon added.

 

Jeremy grew bold. “I think she looks cool.”

 

Brandon tightened his grip, threatening a full-on headlock.

 

“Oh, I know you do,” he growled. “You probably wish you could get a peek at what’s under that shirt.”

 

Jeremy said nothing.

 

“It’s a handful, man. A handful,” Brandon chuckled, lifting his palm. He popped the side of Jeremy’s face in fast succession—a mock friendly gesture—then leaned in. “Look all you want, Scarface,” he cooed in Jeremy’s ear, “as long as you don’t touch.”

 

He sauntered away in no particular hurry. Jeremy watched him sidle up to Regan and slip his slimy arm around her waist. She let him kiss her cheek, but when he tried for her mouth, she resisted. Ouch. Rejected hard.

 

Jeremy smirked and turned his head.

 

“What a fucking douchebag,” he snickered.

 

The episode provided him a measure of satisfaction, but he couldn’t help touching the scar, anyway. As always, even after years of the same insults, they hurt. They hurt less now, but they still hurt.

 

The humor in watching Brandon get rejected disappeared in an instant. Fantasies of payback took its place. Jeremy traced the line of the scar cradling his left eye—the reason for everything. The reason for his loneliness. The reason for years of bullying. The reason for his resolution. Brandon was Public Enemy No. 1. That asshole deserved a medal for staying in the number one spot all these years. And Jeremy intended to give him one.

 

He closed his locker and glanced over his shoulder. Regan was still there, chatting with her friend. He willed her to look his way—give him a full view of her face—but she turned her back on him instead and headed down the hall.

 

 

 

 

 

~

 

I can’t hate her for not liking me, you know? We like who we like. Some of us simply like the wrong ones—the ones who can’t show us love in return. I understand that. I’m not a fucking moron. I get it. But that guy? Seriously? That guy? If she knew all the shit he’s done to me, said to me. But she does! She’s seen it. She can’t pretend he’s not evil.

 

God, he’s like a caricature of the ‘bad guy.’ I mean, he’s the walking stereotype you see in a B-rated horror movie. No one’s that one-dimensional, are they? God’s gotta be better than that. He’s not wasting his time creating full-on asswipes without a shred of redemptive qualities. Why do that? What’s the point? Does he just like the idea of watching good versus evil play out on earth? His version of really bad reality TV? Is it to make me a better person? Fuck that. I don’t need an asshole beating the shit out of me to build my character. If that’s the case, then God’s an asshole, too, and I don’t need him either.

 

~

 

 

 

 

 

Regan flew into her room that afternoon and slammed the door. Too many thoughts raced through her mind, and she feared her fingers would lag behind. She grabbed her laptop off the nightstand and flipped it open. A little too fast. The screen remained black. One very inconvenient glitch.

 

“Oh, no you don’t,” she growled. “I don’t have time for your games today.”

 

She slapped the computer closed and counted to five. Then she opened it again. Slowly. Still nothing.

 

“I need a new computer!” she yelled, expecting no one would hear her through the closed door.

 

“Start saving!” came her mother’s faint reply.

 

Regan grunted and closed the laptop a second time. She stroked the slippery top, trying to coax the machine to life. Everything about the process was excruciating because she worried she’d forget a thought. And she had to remember all of them because it was the most bizarre, wonderful, confusing day she’d had in years.

 

She opened the laptop a third time. A picture of last year’s girls’ soccer team flashed onto the screen. Yes! She was front and center. No smile. Looking like a total badass.

 

She grinned from ear to ear, opened her journal, and began typing.