The Beast

The only thing I have ever been afraid of is pain. Some people see pain as a powerful weapon to use to their advantage, but pain is something that breaks you down farther than you ever thought you could go. Today I ran away from home. I only went down one block, but I wanted to go more. I wanted to take refuge in an older version of myself where I was finally rid of everything that weighed me down.

A person’s actions are never from just one incident. They are a build-up of human inflicted hurt from every possible angle, leaving the feeling of having nowhere else to turn. Can you really blame them for acting out? For me, everything began with waking up in the morning.

As I looked in my closet, I remembered the sacred rules of Terrier Burke High school. Wearing shorts during 60-degree weather meant I was a slut, but not wearing shorts in 65-degree weather meant I wasn’t bold enough to show some skin. Too many jeans meant I was a lesbian, but too many leggings meant I was a basic white girl. Heels attracted too much attention and made me a target, but in flats, everyone could glare me down if I had other fashion mishaps.

After agonizing over my outfit, I pulled on my blue tie dye t-shirt and black lululemon leggings with boots. Then I slipped out the back door to avoid my family. Once I arrived at school, I was a different person. If I was punished here, there was a rationale behind it. It was because I had done something wrong, not because of how drunk my father got. It wasn’t great, but it was an escape, and that’s what I needed to be okay for now.

As I walked through the halls of my school, a couple of my friends waved at me. I waved back, but I was scanning the halls for the one person who made me feel better than okay, Dylan Ramirez. How I longed for his hands to be on my waist and his lips to say my name like it meant more than it did. Right at that moment, I felt a hand grab mine. It was him.

“Hey,” he said sheepishly. It felt like the whole world revolved around what I would say next.

“Hey. What’s up,” I asked, trying not to blush.

“I was just about to go to the gym. Do you wanna come with? We can… talk there,” he said. I didn’t want to do anything with a guy I barely knew, but the average age for a first kiss is fifteen. In another month, I would fall behind.

“Sure,” I said. When we arrived, he grabbed my hand and shoved me into a locker room. He wasted no time. He swept his hands through my dark curls and whispered my name.

“Raina, I want you,” he said. I didn’t object, so he put his lips on mine. I felt like I was sucking on a marshmallow since it was so soft and tender. Then, he started to go harder and harder, and the marshmallow began to burn my lips. This wasn’t right. I pulled back, but he kept coming towards me and bound my hands behind my back.

“No,” I whispered. It seems like a cliché, but once I looked into his eyes, I knew what he wanted. Not love, not a relationship, not even me. As I tried harder to pull back, he rammed my head against a wall and my pain became mental, emotional, and physical. I kneed him as hard as I could with my scrawny legs, which gave me just enough time to open the door and run out to the main gym.

I scanned the gym, and that’s when I saw them; the “popular girls”. They eyed my untidy appearance, and saw Dylan coming out of the locker room, looking like a predator who’s prey slipped through his paws. A beast inhabited him, and I knew I had to escape it. I slid into the crowded hallway and tried to find my class.

As soon as I arrived with my unkempt hair and goopy make-up, everyone was staring at me. It was as if the high school queens had spread the rumor as effortlessly as they flipped their golden locks. I sat with my head down, waiting for everything to be over. I couldn’t report him. Everyone would know I got the golden boy in trouble and then three more Dylans would take his place.

“Hey, some girl named Raina Shapiro did it with Dylan Ramirez,” said a girl behind me in the hallway.

“Doesn’t Dylan have an STD?” gasped the other. Simultaneously, they all grabbed their phones out of their pockets and let their fingers fly over it. With every one of their clicks, I felt like I was taking a step into an open sea when I didn’t know how to swim. My heart pounded, and the back of my head was throbbing. I knew I could turn to my friends, but their words could not repair the damage other people's actions had caused. Maybe it was better if I wasn’t part of this world.

Usually, my school was my safe haven from home, but now even with my screwed up family, the situation was reversed. I walked home, dragging my boots through puddles of murky water for what seemed like an eternity.

When I finally arrived at my porch, I fixed my posture, dusted off my make-up, and put on an oversized sweater. What else could I do but deny everything that happened and fool myself into thinking none of it mattered. I pretended that once I walked through the doors, all my troubles from school stayed outside; however, it did not change the fact that when I walked in, my biggest fear was sitting on the couch with a pile of tissues over his beer-belly.

“Hello, dad,” I said cheerily. “Would you like me to get you anything?” I said trying to mimic my mother’s sweet and sympathetic voice.

“No,” he said coldly. Tears started trickling down my cheeks. I couldn't hold it in anymore, so I ran upstairs to my bed and cried.

The thing I love about myself is I