THE ATHEIST - EPISODE FOUR
Copyright © Ufuomaee
The scent of lavender filled the air, bringing with it the nostalgic memory of Rachel, my very first crush. She had the longest, golden, wavy hair that dropped down to her butt, and thick, long, dark lashes. I closed my eyes as the scent grew stronger. She was nearby.
I opened them and searched for her. There she was, under the oak tree, where she usually sat with the other foreign exchange students from Europe. She and her friend, Isabella, were from France and had met here. They stuck together like glue, but Rachel had made it clear when I'd presumed on their relationship, that they weren't best friends, because she still had her best friend back at home.
I looked about, wondering where I was. I was nowhere in sight, so I wondered what this scene could have been about. Still, I continued to watch her as she spoke fluent French with her friend. Beautiful. Perfection. Why didn't we ever get together, I wondered?
Then I saw him, Marcus. He was the only black guy in our school. And he wasn't a foreign exchange student. Apparently, he was born and raised in the States, though his parents were originally from Ghana.
He wasn't rich. He wasn't part of the popular kids. He wasn't even exceptionally brilliant. But when he came near to Rachel, she visibly went mush for him. And here I was getting a front row seat to the special phenomenon. What was it about that guy?!
I hated him after that. I hated all black guys to be honest. I couldn't understand why so many young girls and women became spastic at the sight of their dark skin and wild hair.
I listened as Marcus asked Rachel, in front of her friends, if she'd like to be his date to the homecoming dance. Just a couple of days prior, I'd asked her, with sweaty hands in my pants, despite the chilly weather, and her response had been:
"Sorry, I don't do dance..."
I even thought she didn't really understand my question.
"We don't have to dance..." I'd pushed on, looking into her eyes, hoping to see a light of interest. Nothing.
"I don't do dance..."
But the same young girl was beaming, as Marcus asked her, and could barely keep her squeal after he left. I hadn't observed this exchange before. I'd only heard the rumour that Marcus was bringing the hottest babe to the Junior School Dance. And when I saw that it was the babe that had played dumb with me, I wasn't too happy about it.
Somehow, a rumour spread about Marcus being queer. I can't remember what I'd said now, but...
"He's queer!" I suddenly heard myself shout into my date's ears. It seemed we'd transported to the night of the prom. I didn't have the leisure of misremembering anything.
Stacey had always been hot for me. It was expected that I'd take her to the prom. But I didn't very much like her. She loved to spread gossip and looked down on everyone who wasn't considered cool. Even among the cool kids, she distinguished the rich kids and snubbed the rest. Except me. For some reason, she liked me.
"No way!" she squealed back.
I nodded back at her, with that expression on my face that showed that, not only was I dead serious, but that my source was so legit that she could take me to court to testify. She didn't doubt me. And before the night was over, I saw Isabelle whisper the rumour into Rachel's ears. And the look on her face was reward enough for me.
I covered my face in shame, as the scene played out before my eyes. It wasn't my proudest moment. But when I looked at myself - my embittered, jealous and hardened self, I didn't recognise who I'd become. I'd gone over to Rachel, when I saw her standing around waiting for Isabelle, I suppose so they could leave, after she'd broken up with Marcus.
"I thought you don't do dance..." I'd said, with a little giggle.
"That's what you said... What, you don't like me?"
"I don't know what you talking about..."
"Hmmm..." Perhaps it had been a misunderstanding, I'd thought. I decided to try again. "Want to dance?" I'd thought I could try a different angle.
She looked at me, square in the eyes, as she shouted over the loud music, "I don't do dance!"
The shock on my face was laughable if I didn't know first hand how much that hurt. She didn't look amused either. Only slightly irritated. I'd turned around then, resigned that for some reason, Rachel didn't like me, or maybe she just didn't fancy me.
"What's the point of this?" I turned to Samuel.
"I don't think you ever got over this rejection. You were so afraid of being rejected, you never showed your real self. And if they rejected that, at least you could say it's because they didn't really know you..."
"If this was really me, I can't say I liked myself either..."
"Well, if you really like yourself, you wouldn't care whether others do or not. The problem is you never really liked yourself, and you never tried."
"And you never forgave yourself for this. You didn't give yourself the opportunity to redeem yourself. Rather, you accepted this person as who you are, instead of what you did, and basically tried to be someone you were not. Things spiraled downwards from here..."
I watched as I reached Stacey's side. She'd been watching me talking to Rachel, and it looked like she was putting two and two together. When I reached her, I'd pulled her into my arms for a snog. We'd left the dance together after that.
Samuel and I didn't follow the pair, my sixteen year-old self and Stacey Whitmore, out of the dance hall. But I knew where we went and what we did that night. That was the night I lost my virginity. I remember feeling really deflated, like it wasn't all I'd imagined it to be. But I think I was really disappointed that it wasn't with someone I really fancied or cared about. And I think Stacey knew, because she never talked to me again after that.
To be continued...
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