It was a whole week before I could talk to either Erin or Deirdre.
I wandered the school like my body was on autopilot. I went to class, nibbled at my food and attended prayers all with the smallest of effort. Several times Erin tried to get me to explain what happened but I wouldn’t answer her. I wouldn’t even look at her. What was the point in telling anyone what had happened to me if nothing was going to be done about it? Finally one day Deirdre approached me and put her hand on my arm.
“Are you Okay, Hazel?” she asked. I turned and looked at her. She had the most concerned look on her face, one that seemed genuine enough to break the dam that was holding back all my emotions. I started crying and I couldn’t stop. She hugged me tight and whispered soothing noises in my ear. “It’s alright, you don’t have to tell me anything.” She continued to hold me like that until I was able to stop crying. I gave her a brief description of what happened, intentionally avoiding certain words and actions that were too hard to admit out loud. She just listened and didn’t interrupt. After it was all out she hugged me again.
“I know that was really hard for you to tell me, but you need to tell Sister Elaine.” she said.
“Weren’t you listening?!” I screeched, my voice strained from all the crying. “No one can do anything about it, and I’ll just get expelled. I can’t do that. Please don’t tell anyone about this. It will only make things worse.” I looked down at my hands and let the defeat wash over me. Deirdre put her hand on my shoulder.
“I’ll go with you. You have to tell someone, they can’t get away with this. It needs to come out so that other girls can’t get hurt. Those guys are monsters and they will do it again.” Deirdre started rubbing my shoulder. “Please, Hazel. Don’t let them get away with this.” I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. I just wanted to forget that the whole thing had even happened. I was so angry at myself for letting Erin talk me into going in the first place. I knew I shouldn’t have gone, if I had stayed in bed none of this would have happened to me.
“It’s my own fault anyway. I never should have let you guys talk me into going.”
“It is not your fault, Hazel. Those guys forced you to take your clothes off. They shouldn’t have touched you at all.” Deirdre was not giving up. “Please, Hazel. Tell someone who can do something about this.”
“Just leave me alone.” I got up and walked away from her. She didn’t understand. My life depended on my education at St. Margaret’s. If I got kicked out of this school that was it for me. My aunt would not be sympathetic, no matter what it was.
As time went on I tried to forget what happened but every time I saw Deirdre or Erin it would all come flooding back to me. I didn’t know how to stop it. You know how to stop it, I thought to myself. No! I can’t do it. This self torture went on for a few more weeks until Erin demanded that I talk to her.
“Why won’t you talk to me? What the hell happened to you?” Erin had cornered me outside my doom room.
“Erin just leave me alone. Please.” I tried to push past her.
“Not until you talk to me.” She stood her ground. I pulled her into my room and proceeded to tell her the whole thing.
“You’re not thinking about going and telling Sister Elaine, are you?” Erin asked.
“Not until a few days ago.” I answered. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Don’t say anything! If you tell her what happened it won’t just be you who gets expelled, Deirdre and I were out there to.”
“Where were you when I was almost forced to give that jerk head? Huh? Oh that’s right, you abandoned me! It was your stupid idea and you guys just left me there to fend for myself!” I started to cry again. “Aren’t you even sorry?”
“Look, I’m sorry that that happened to you. I didn’t know that they would react that way. But it’s not my fault that they did that to you. So I shouldn’t be punished because they’re a bunch of assholes.” She gave me a warning look.
“Well you deserve something.” I brooded.
“You didn’t have to come with us. You could have just said no.”
“I did! You wouldn’t take no for an answer.” Erin looked at me like I was the one being ridiculous. I was about to lose my mind. “You know what, it didn’t happen to you so you have no say in what I decide to do. Get out of my room.”
“Fine!” Erin exclaimed. “Just remember that you were the only one that was seen that night so if you try to drag Deirdre and me into this I will deny everything.” And with that she slammed the door behind her.
The following morning Deirdre was at my door. “Can I come in?” She asked.
“Yeah.” Deirdre came in and sat next to me on my bed.
“Erin told me you were thinking about going to tell Sister Elaine what happened.”
“Yeah.” was all I could say. I looked at her cautiously.
“If you think you’re going to hurt my feelings by telling them I was there, you won’t.” She looked me straight in the eyes as she said this. “It will not bother me if I get expelled. I shouldn’t have gone either. That is on me. Don’t let what happens to me or Erin affect your decision. You need to do what’s best for you.” I couldn’t believe she was willing to sacrifice something for me to feel better.
“Why are you okay with this?” I asked.
“Because I never told anyone what happened to me and the guy who hurt me hurt other girls. I knew if I had said something those girls wouldn’t have had to experience what I did. Don’t let that sit on your conscious to.” She started to tear up but quickly pushed it back.
“I’m sorry that happened to you.” I said as I grabbed her hand.
“I’m sorry that happened to you to.”
That afternoon I found myself standing outside Sister Elaine’s office. I couldn’t make myself go in. Everything inside me was screaming just walk away, but I remembered Deirdre’s face and knew that she was right. I knocked on the door.
“Come in.” Sister Elaine’s muffled voice called. I slowly walked into the room, trying to give myself time to mentally prepare for what I was about to do. Sister Elaine looked up from her paperwork when I came into view. “Miss Edwards. How can I help you?”
“I have something I need to tell you.” My voice was shaking and I couldn’t meet her eyes.
“What’s wrong? Sit down and tell me.” Sister Elaine grabbed a few tissues and handed them to me as I took my seat.
“This is not easy to say but I feel as if I need to say it.” I commenced to telling her everything. I didn’t leave a single thing out. Except one thing.
“And you did this all on your own?” Sister Elaine looked at me questioningly.
“Yes. I was dared to go by some of the other girls and I did it all on my own.”
“Who dared you to do this?” I thought about mentioning Erin.
“I’d rather not say. It wasn’t their fault that I acted on the dare.”
“Very commendable of you, Miss Edwards.” Sister Elaine sighed. “Well it is my duty to report any harmful activity on my students’ behalf. I will need to consult with my superiors about this matter. I will make sure that this Jake Samuels is rightfully punished. As for your fate it remains to be seen. I will let you know what is decided as soon as I know. I hope you have a good rest of your day.” At that I stood to leave. Right before I left the room Sister Elaine called, “Hazel,” I turned to look at her, she had the most forlorn look on her face. “I’m so sorry.”
It took three whole weeks before I heard back from Sister Elaine. Apparently nothing like this had ever happened at St. Margaret’s before. I was already becoming very popular, but not in a good way. Girls would be whispering in the halls and as I would approach they’d stop talking. I got so many shameful looks anywhere I went. One brave soul put a note in my locker telling me I was a slut and that I was going to hell. I was finally summoned to her office.
“After consulting with Father Pearce and the directors of Pasadena Preparatory school I can gladly say that Jacob Samuels has been expelled. Apparently he has a history of violent acts towards other girls and also some of his former classmates.” I couldn’t help but smile, my eyes tearing up to know that my assailant had been punished. “However,” Sister Elaine continued. “Because you confessed to breaking the rules and blatantly snuck into an all boys school, regardless of your intentions, we cannot condone this behavior in the slightest.”
My face fell. I knew this could happened but I had hoped that they would have taken pity on me.
“I’m sorry to say Miss Edwards that you are expelled from St. Margaret’s Catholic Girls school.” She did not look happy to say this. I couldn’t move, it had hit me harder than I thought it would. “Your aunt will be here later this afternoon to get you. I would suggest you start packing now.” I barely registered what she was saying. How had it come to this? What was I going to do now? “Miss Edwards? Did you hear me?”
“Yes.” I whispered. I snapped to reality as the word escaped my mouth and I rushed out of the room without uttering a goodbye. I ran to my room ignoring anyone who tried to ask me what happened. When I got to my room I slammed the rest of the school out, sank to the floor and cried with my head in my hands.
I had all my belongings packed up and ready to leave. I sat on my bed as I waited for my aunt to arrive. I hadn’t spoken to anyone. I refused to let anyone in or answer anyone’s questions. I just wanted it all to be over.
My aunt arrived at 4:00 sharp. She came into my room and looked at my barren walls. She had a disgusted look on her face.
“What have you done?” Was all she said.
“I’m sorry Aunt Delia.” I said, not meeting her eyes.
“What is wrong with you? Why would you even think about sneaking into a boys school? This is the thanks I get for giving you this amazing opportunity? What would your mother have thought?” I couldn’t look at her. She was right. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have gone. Now I was going to spend the rest of my life making it up to her.
“What’s going to happen now?” I asked.
“I don’t even know what to do with you. You obviously don’t appreciate things that are given to you. Maybe you need to see what it’s like to live a life you would’ve had if I hadn’t have taken you in. Now grab your stuff and let’s go, the embarrassment is too much to take.” She turned and walked out the door. I grabbed all my things and followed her slowly out to her car. I loaded it all in her trunk and got into the back seat. As she drove away I gave one last look to the school that had been my home for the past six years. I knew I would never see it again and the finality of that realization scared me. I had no idea what would happen to me now or where my life was headed. I just knew that everything I had planned had been wiped away with all the tears I had shed over the last month. I rode into the unknown as the sun set on my last day at St. Margaret’s.