Three months later…
Since leaving St. Margaret’s my aunt made good on her promise.
I was now leading the life I would have had if she had not given me the opportunity to attend such a prestigious school. My new accomodations were courtesy of McComb’s Boarding School for Girls, a run-down piece of crap that was more like a house than an actual school. After I had left St. Margaret’s I was quickly transferred to McComb’s and started that very next week. My aunt couldn’t wait to get me out of her house.
So many things were different about my new living arrangements. I had to get used to sharing a room with four other girls for one. Even though McComb’s student body was much smaller than St. Margaret’s, there wasn’t enough space for every girl to have her own room. My roommates names were Lucy, Sharon, Anna and Susie. Sharon and Susie were alright, they were pretty nice. Anna was a little quirky with her thick, round glasses and blunt, dark bangs. I didn’t like Lucy at all. She was always really nosy and talked all the time, even in her sleep. She had to know everyone’s business and couldn’t keep anything to herself. We all tried to avoid her but it’s not easy to do when you share a room with her.
I also had to get used to the fact that any ideas of going to a big fancy college were completely out the window. Girls who attended McComb’s were just the rubbish that the best colleges didn’t want on their campuses. The best I could hope for now was a state college.
I quickly got used to my new lot in life and tried to make the best of things, at least I could start over. At least no one here knew that I was damaged goods. All of that would change though, because the worst was yet to come.
The school’s annual Spring trip was coming up and it was the students’ job to raise the money, can’t get something for nothing. That year the school decided to host a community picnic. Each of us was given a job. My job was in charge of admissions. I got to stand at the entrance and didn’t get to eat until everyone had shown up.
The day of the picnic the house was chaotic. We all had to prepare a dish and get the house cleaned up in case we had to move the picnic inside. A few of the girls tried to hide and leave the rest of us to do the work. Lucy complained of a hurt wrist and couldn’t lift so much as a duster.
“It just hurts so bad. I need to rest it.” she complained as she propped herself up on her bed and balanced a magazine on her knees. I rolled my eyes and continued tidying my part of the room. I was just ready for this day to be over. Anna decided to take it upon herself to help Lucy by cleaning her part of the room as well as her own.
“You don’t have to do that.” I told her.
“It’s okay.” she said, “I don’t mind helping her.” she smiled, exposing the unusual amount of metal in her mouth that only added to her peculiar appearance.
That evening everyone was in a rush finishing up their chores as guests started to arrive. I stood at the front gate and welcomed everyone charging $5 a head. I was curious how much this would actually bring in considering how much we spent on groceries. In addition to an admission fee, guests were encouraged to make donations to our humble little school. The picnic started pretty immediately but it took over an hour for everyone to show up. I watched as all the food dwindled away wondering if there would be anything left by the time I could get over there. Just as I was closing the gate I noticed a couple of guys who looked to be about my age riding by on bicycles. I watched them for a minute trying to remember the last time I had ridden one when I realized that one of them looked really familiar. The other had his hood up so I couldn’t see his face. They rode away before I could get a better look so I shrugged it off and walked inside. The rest of the evening was unremarkable.
The next day we all found out that we had successfully raised enough money for our trip. A week from then we would be on our way to Hermosa Beach for three days of fun in the sun. I was really looking forward to it, it would be my first trip to the beach ever. We celebrated by finishing lessons early that day to plan what we all wanted to do while we were there.
That evening after dinner it was my turn to take the trash out. I gathered it all and hauled it out the door. I piled it into the trash cans and pulled them to the front to be dumped the next morning by the city trash crew. Once I got the heavy bins to the curb I stopped to catch my breath and looked up and down the street to catch any last minute evening activity. The boys riding their bikes from the night before were making their rounds again. This time they both had their hoods up. I watched them for a minute when I realized they were coming towards me. In a split second I noticed something shiny in one of the boys’ hand. As they got closer I realized it was a gun. They rode closer and closer. I slowly backed up towards the house. The boys pulled up to the yard and dropped their bikes. They walked towards me, they both had a gun in their hands. I turned and ran into the house screaming.
“SOMEONE’S COMING AND THEY HAVE GUNS!!!” Some of the girls heard me and scattered. I grabbed a couple of the younger girls and dragged them into the nearest room and locked the door. I heard the front door swing open, hitting the wall. Then the sound of a gunshot. I could hear screaming and running, more gunshots. I held the two girls I had while we sat under a table sobbing and shaking, hoping to God they didn’t find us. The gunshots became more muffled as the boys got deeper into the house. I was suddenly struck with an idea, albeit a stupid one. I left the girls under the table telling them to stay where they were, I slipped over to the door and quietly opened it. I peeked out to see if any of the gunmen were in sight. I didn’t see any and I figured I could make it to the front door. Maybe I could slip out and call for help.
“Lock the door as soon as I leave. I’m going to try to get help.” The younger of the girls nodded to me and did as she was told. I ran to the front door as quietly as I could praying to not be discovered. My heart pounding, I made it out and headed straight for the neighbors. I heard a gunshot ring out as I knocked on the door of the closest neighbor. There was no answer. I knocked and knocked but no one came to the door. I ran to the neighbor on the other side and knocked on their door. They stood in the entry shaking their head.
“Go away!” She yelled. She was an older lady and she looked scared to death. “I don’t want any trouble, just please go away!”
“WE NEED HELP!” I screamed. “Please call the cops!” She continued to shake her head and backed away out of sight. I ran to the next house and it was dark, no one was home. I felt completely helpless. How many of my classmates had been shot by now? Why was this happening? I didn’t know what I was going to do next but thankfully I heard sirens. I saw the emergency vehicles zip by and I ran back to my school. They stopped and police officers jumped out to handle the situation. It only took a few minutes but one of the guys had been apprehended, the other had gotten away.
One of my teachers, Mrs. Reno saw me and yelled, “There she is!” I looked around confused. She ran over to me and pulled me into her arms. “We couldn’t find you, we didn’t know what happened to you.” She was crying, there was blood on her shirt.
“I ran to get help.” was all I could say. She walked me over to the house and we stood there as they pulled five bodies out on stretchers. Only two were still living.
“Who are they?” I asked.
“Amanda Giles, Jenna Kline and Anna Roland.” Anna. To know that such a sweet girl was dead just broke me. I started sobbing and I couldn’t stop. Mrs. Reno just held me and cried with me.
That evening no one slept. We couldn’t shake the feeling of being unsafe in our home. Some of the girls continued to cry, others sat in complete silence replaying the event in their heads, including me. To think that before this I was worried about something as trivial as not getting to go to a fancy college. Amanda, Jenna and Anna would never even get to go to college or do anything else ever again. They were dead. Just gone. The weight of that just pulled me farther and farther down into myself, drowning me in emptiness. I wondered if those girls had any family to mourn them. Would my aunt had been sad if I had been the one to get shot?
It turned out that one of the neighbors had heard the gunshots and called the cops. I wondered which one.
The next day we all went up to the hospital to see the two girls who had been injured in the attack. Maggie had taken a shot to her left leg, Chrissy her left shoulder. They would survive and as soon as they recovered they would be transferred to other schools. We were later told that the boy who had been taken into custody was Brent Langston, the boy who was going to capture my humiliation on film. He confessed to aiding his friend Jake Samuels in taking revenge against a student at McComb’s for getting him expelled. None of the other girls knew which one of us it was but I knew. It would take the authorities two weeks to track Jake Samuels down but to no avail, because before they could get to him he had taken his own life. He left behind a note that contained just two words: I’m sorry. I still wonder who he meant it for.
Knowing that those girls lost their lives because of me still haunts me to this day, because I take all the blame. Even though I didn’t hold the gun I put it all into motion. If I had just suffered alone no one would have had to die.
I graduated from McComb’s and went on to become a school counselor. I guess I thought I could redeem myself for all the wrong I caused. I know that none of it was my fault but that doesn’t stop the nightmares and the guilt. My work helps. As long as I’m helping students it keeps the pain at bay. I wake up every morning ready to shake off the gloom and try to set things right. I feel better for at least a little while. Maybe one day I’ll get over it. Maybe a day will go by and I won’t think about it. Until that day I will be here, hopefully preventing another wrong. Until then I will lay in bed at night and hate myself until the sun comes up and a new day begins.
The inspiration for this story came from a dream I had, a very intense dream. This is the very first short story I have ever put out there for people to read. I hope you enjoyed it.
Since Independence Day is just a couple of days away I thought I’d talk about what being an American has meant to me.
I honestly don’t even know where to start. Every time I try to write something I delete it. I don’t know what I can say about being American that won’t offend someone.
America is supposed to be the land of the free and home of the brave but it doesn’t seem like those two can go hand in hand. It’s definitely home of the brave, people who are brave enough to openly hate other people just because of cultural or religious differences. People think that freedom is something you fight for from the outside world but they forget that it’s also something fought for in this very country; the freedom to be heard or to openly be who you are without judgement. The freedom to walk to your car at night without the fear of being attacked or to walk alone on the sidewalk without being harassed. The freedom to go to school every day without wondering if you’re going to get shot.
People in America get so caught up in what’s right and what’s wrong with this country that they forget that the most important thing is the fact that we are one country. We divide ourselves by arguing about how issues should be solved that the ones who are suffering just fall through the cracks and are forgotten. We go round and round about who’s rights are more important instead of actually dealing with the issue at hand. I feel that sometimes we go too far in trying to make our point that we lose sight of how our actions affect other people, innocent people. The fact that we covet material things and maintaining a certain status more than the quality of life for everyone in this country.
America is a place where some of our ancestors came to get away from being told what was right and what was wrong. They wanted the freedom to make their own choices free from oppression. Why is it that we have now come full circle? Why do we feel so entitled to our opinions that we feel like we have the right to push them on other people?
This country was also founded on religious freedom. I think people forget this one a lot, either that or they refuse to acknowledge it. So many people in this country think that their actions are justified because it’s done in the name of their god; hateful actions that seem to do more harm than “good”.
People often forget that they are incredibly fortunate to be born in a country where they have the freedom to speak their mind and stand up for what they believe in. They take for granted the actual good they could do with their words.
We are a strong country and we have the ability to help one another. We have the means to make things better for each other. Instead of being proud of how well you can argue your point, how about taking the time to understand where another person is coming from. This country is made up of all kinds of people from different walks of life. We may all have different cultural backgrounds and customs and ideas but we are all a part of this country. We are all human.
America is diversity. Being American means being a part of something bigger than yourself. Being American means we show the world we are made up of all the best parts of it. We can stop dividing ourselves and be what we are, the United States of America. Please be kind and stand behind your fellow American.
“When at first I learned to speak, I used all my words to fight. With him and her and you and me, but it’s just a waste of time. It’s just a waste of time.” –I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers
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.
I wanted to do something a little more introductory today, to let you guys get to know me better. Plus I just wanted to do something more fun. So here are 10 things most people don’t know about me.
1. I was homeschooled.
So when I was in the fifth grade my parents decided to pull me and my siblings out of public school and start homeschooling us. My parents were pretty conservative (still kind of are) and they were not quite happy with the way the school was being ran. There were stories of kids in my grade who were having sex in the bathrooms or doing other sexual acts, they didn’t like that religion was starting to not be allowed in schools and they didn’t like how kids were being shoved along because of the ‘no child left behind act’. My father was also planning to start a new career, one that would have him traveling all the time so they thought it would be easier if we were homeschooled so we could go visit him whenever we wanted and just take our work with us. I ended up getting my GED when I was 17 and that’s the end of that.
2. I have been married twice.
When I was 16 I started my first job. About a year into it I met my first husband. We dated for two years before tying the knot. I was 19 when we got married and had no idea what I was doing. If someone who was 19 asked me if getting married at that age is a good idea I would not hesitate to say no. It was a shit show to say the least. We were not compatible at all. I wasn’t mature enough to handle something like that and he was so scared of losing me that he held on way too tightly, resulting in pushing me away. His lack of self confidence and controlling attitude literally pushed me away from him. I was not happy and I knew it would only get worse. So I left and it was the best decision I had ever made because now I’m remarried to an amazing man who I love more than anything and he has given me the best babies.
3. My favorite type of music is Bluegrass.
I love music, I mean who doesn’t? I love all kinds of music, but I will say that Bluegrass holds a special place in my heart. I know to some people it just sounds like hillbilly noise but there is a real skill to it. Those musicians are amazingly talented and I admire their dedication to their craft. My Nana was the one who introduced me to Bluegrass and every time I listen to it I get a feeling of home. It warms and soothes my soul. If I ever just need a minute to chill out or get in a better mood I’ll put on Gillian Welch, Punch Brothers, or The SteelDrivers. It’s just my thing.
4. I believe in ghosts.
I love a good ghost story. Any time someone says they’ve had a ghostly experience they have my full attention. I have had a few encounters myself. I have never seen any ghosts, unfortunately but I have experienced a presence. Let me tell you: I used to live in a house that had been built in 1910, it was over a hundred years old so I knew there was some history there. Well the first year we lived there the spirits got stirred up with the new people in the house (us). The first experience I had was pretty creepy. It was around 6:30 in the morning and my husband had already left for work. I was home alone. I was in bed and I turned over, waking up as I did so, and just as I got settled in my new sleeping position I heard as clear as day a man’s voice say, “Good morning.” I turned so fast to see who said it but there was no one in the room. It was so clear and it sounded like he was literally standing at the foot of the bed. I couldn’t go back to sleep after that.
The next experience was the scariest though. Again, it was around 6:30-7:00 in the morning and I was home alone. I woke up to the sound of things being moved around in my kitchen. I looked around my room and noticed all three of my cats were in the room with me so I knew they weren’t making the noise. I listened and I could hear drawers being opened and rifled through and then I heard whispering. It sounded like a woman and she sounded angry. I started shaking. I thought there was a crazy woman in my house trying to steal stuff. I grabbed the only weapon we had in the house, which was my husband’s knife that he kept by the bed and quietly walked to the kitchen. I know, why would I do that? Those dumb white girls in horror movies are based off of real life dumb white girls. Anyway I got into the kitchen and there was no one there. I searched the whole house, turned on every light and opened every door. There was no one there. I guess that particular spirit was looking for something and I must not have had all my things arranged the way she did and she was probably mad that she didn’t know where anything was.
The last experience I had was pretty mild. I walked through my dining room one day and the whole room smelled like cigarette smoke. Neither I nor my husband smoke so that smell should not have been there. When I walked back through a few minutes later it was gone.
5. My go to karaoke song is “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks
I don’t sing karaoke, but if I did it would be “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks.
6. I once owned over $5000 worth of makeup.
How is that possible you ask? I’m just a little obsessed with makeup. But I also did have a bunch of Mary Kay makeup because I used to sell it. So if you add up my personal collection and all my Mary Kay stock I had a lot of freaking makeup. I didn’t make much off the Mary Kay stuff so I stopped selling it. I now have downsized quite a bit on my personal stash. I still have more makeup than one person needs but I’m set for life.
7. My favorite food is seafood.
If I were to be stranded on a deserted island and had to live off of sea creatures for the rest of my life that would be just fine.
8. I have the most common white girl middle name.
It’s Nacole. With an A.
9. I have had 19 jobs since I was 16.
I am 27 and I have had 19 jobs. I get bored really easily. If I feel like I’ve learned everything there is to learn about the job or it’s not challenging enough or if I just don’t like it anymore I leave. There have been a couple that I stayed at for a while but for some reason or another I stopped working there. Some people would call that flaky I guess but I’m not the kind of person to just settle. If it doesn’t make me happy or if it doesn’t work for me I don’t do it anymore. ‘Nuff said.
10. I’m from Texas.
So this one might be more well known than the others. I’m pretty proud to be from Texas. I live in Oklahoma now so I didn’t wander too far from home. It’s kind of a long story how I ended up in Oklahoma, but that’s a story for another day. All my family, except my mom and stepdad, live in Texas and I miss them all the time. I wish I could visit them more often or that they would visit me at all… It would be nice for my kids and my cousins kids to get to know one another. Maybe one day.
Well this list was harder than I thought it would be. Now you know 10 things about me that not many other people do. I hope you found it interesting.
When I became a mom I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn’t make any kind of decision on what my life’s work would be. I got married and we both had jobs and we did stuff on the weekend but I felt like something was missing. I had this feeling of ‘what’s the point?’ We got into a routine and nothing exciting was going on. We had always planned to have kids but we didn’t quite know when that would be.
We had our first son right before our second anniversary. He was perfect and we couldn’t have been happier. He gave our life meaning. Suddenly I understood what I was meant to do. As crazy as it sounds, my life would literally be nothing without my boys. I can’t even remember what my life was like before they came along. Watching them grow and learn new things is the best feeling in the world. Yes they drive me crazy sometimes but those times don’t stick in your head. The only things that stay are the times they first learn how to dance or learn the words to a song and sing it really loud while you’re walking around Target. I could go on and on about how wonderful my two boys are but I’ll get to my point.
- Having my sons is what gave me the drive to find what it is I want to do with my life.
When you have kids you start to realize how expensive everything is and what it takes to comfortably take care of them and raise them. That means you have to have a well-paying, steady job. This is common knowledge, but as I have said before, I was never content with just working to make a paycheck. It is important to teach your kids that sometimes you have to do what you need to do because people are depending on you, but I believe it’s just as important to teach them to do what they are feeling compelled to do. Yes I have a job and yes I write on the side while maintaining a household and raising children. My children are the ones who inspired me to not give up on what I really want to do. Without them I wouldn’t even have the drive to make my life any better. My hope is that I in return inspire them to pursue their own dreams and to not let life dictate what they think they have to do. I work harder than I ever have in my life to make things a reality for not just me, but for my sons as well.
2. Knowing my limits.
Yes it can be overwhelming sometimes. I suffer pretty badly from anxiety and one of the things that is a huge trigger for me is not being able to achieve all the goals I have. I get an idea in my head and the second it doesn’t go as planned I give up. There are good days where I get all the laundry done, the dishes done, take the kids to the park, write a blog post and have dinner on the table right before I go to my job for the evening. Then there are bad days, when both boys are being needy and I can’t get either of them to calm down and I have appointments to make or play dates to attend and I don’t write a single thing. With the help of some good old fashioned therapy I have been able to stop getting mad at myself. I don’t beat myself up on those days because I know that if I try to do everything at once I’m just going to stress myself out. I write when I can and I take care of my boys first. At the end of the day they are only little for so long and one day they will be so self sufficient it will sadden me to realize they’ll never be babies again. While I am in a sort of limbo with two little people who rely on me for everything, I know that it won’t be like this forever and I need to appreciate the time I have with them now. I take the weekends off as well so that I have time to spend with my husband and kids together. While I have the need to write every day I make myself take breaks and it’s really nice.
3. I feel more in control of my life.
This is a big one. I have never felt in control of my life, hence the anxiety. Now that I have proven to myself that I can handle being a parent, I can handle anything. My boys have given me a confidence I didn’t know I had. My decision making skills have soared, and I found out I work great under pressure. Having kids can really put things into perspective and your brain just gets to a point where it can more easily process what’s most important over what doesn’t even matter anymore. I learned that being scared to do something, like put my work on the internet, isn’t even something to worry about. People are going to take the way they’re going to take it. I have more important things to worry about. I have a clearer idea of what makes me happy and what I don’t care about anymore.
As I sit here typing all this up my oldest is watching a movie and my youngest is rolling around in his walker babbling as loud as he possibly can. It can get pretty chaotic around her but it’s a chaos I can handle. Even if I have to stop typing a thousand times to tend to one or the other I will get this done. Where do you think my boys get their persistence from?
It was all Erin’s Idea.
“How funny would it be if we snuck over there and just played a little prank on Dave and his friends?” Dave just happened to be the flavor of the week for Erin and he and his friends currently attended Pasadena Prep just a mile down the road from us.
“Well it wouldn’t be funny if we got expelled, which is exactly what would happen if we got caught.” I wasn’t too keen on the idea. I was never one to do anything even slightly outside of the rules. When you lived in an all girls Catholic boarding school you knew there was zero tolerance for bad behavior. My aunt, who was my last living relative, spent a lot of money on my education and I would be the worst niece ever if I did anything to disappoint her, getting expelled from said expensive school tops the list.
“We won’t get caught, it’ll just be a harmless little prank. Even they’ll think it’s funny and we’ll all have a good laugh. What do you think, Deirdre?” Erin looked over at our third companion. Deirdre was busy reading a book.
“Sounds like fun. What do you have in mind?”
“Nothing!” I said. “Please don’t encourage her, Dierdre.” I was about to smack them both.
“Oh calm down, Hazel. You’re such an old lady, I swear. Anyway, this is what I’m thinking: We wait ‘til tonight, then sneak into their dorm. Dave showed me a secret way to get in, he says it’s how they sneak out past curfew. We sneak in there and, I don’t know, just put their hands in warm water or something.” Erin looked at us for help.
“You are an evil genius.” Deirdre deadpanned. “I’m not helping you make those guys wet their beds.”
“Well what do you think we should do?” Erin was getting annoyed at our lack of enthusiasm.
“What if we drew penises on their faces with permanent marker?” Deirdre suggested.
“Oh that would be funny.” I said, “They’re having family day tomorrow, everyone’s families will be there!”
“Perfect!” Erin cheered. “Ok so after lights out let’s all meet downstairs. We’ll go out through Dierdre’s window since you’re on the first floor.”
“Cool with me.” Deirdre said.
“I’m not going with you guys, I don’t want any chance of getting in trouble.” I crossed my arms in indignation.
“You should have seen how excited you looked when we came up with the plan.” Erin said.
“You mean when I came up with it.” Deirdre corrected.
“Whatever. I promise we won’t get caught. And if they happen to see us I will take full responsibility. Please? Have some fun, Granny!” I looked at Erin’s pleading face. “Come on, I’ll do your cleaning duties for a week.”
“Alright fine.” I conceded.
“Yus! Alright, I’ll see you girls later tonight. I gotta go practice drawing penises.” Erin waved and hurried out the door.
“It’s not like they’re that hard to draw.” I said.
“You know Erin, she can’t even draw stick people.” Deirdre had gone back to her book.
“Well I guess I’ll go finish my homework and get ready for tonight.” I said as I stood up to leave.
“What is there to prepare for? It’s not like we’re robbing a bank.” Deirdre looked at me like I was being ridiculous.
“Well this is my first offense, I wanna make sure I’m mentally prepared.”
“Well good luck with that”
I closed the door behind me. Walking to my room I did admit to myself that I was pretty excited about the prank. Little did I know it was going to be one of the worst nights of my life.
After the sisters sent everyone to bed and I was sure they had all gone to bed to, I got out of my bed and changed out of my pajamas into jeans and a t-shirt. I put on my tennis shoes and quietly snuck out my door into the dark hallway. The place was silent. I had only ever been in the other parts of the dorm building at night one other time. That was because my appendix had ruptured and I had to find Sister Elaine to take me to the hospital. I successfully made it down the stairs and over to Deirdre’s room when someone grabbed me by my arm and I almost screamed out.
“Shhhh! It’s just me!” Erin whisper yelled.
“Don’t sneak up on me like that!” I whisper yelled back. We quietly knocked on the door. It slowly opened and Deirdre peeked out. “What’s the password?” she whispered.
“Let us in.” Erin said.
“Sorry, that’s not it.”
“Come on, Deirdre we’re sitting ducks out here. Quit dicking around.” I said.
“Nice choice of words, considering what our mission is tonight.” Deirdre said approvingly as she opened the door wider for us to enter.
“Yeah, yeah. Let’s go!” Erin was already pulling the window open. I followed her out with Deirdre right behind me. The night was mild without a breeze. We made our walk with little difficulty.
“It’s nice out here.” I commented. “We should go on nighttime walks more often.”
“Says the future nun.” Erin said with a grin.
“Ha ha.” I retorted. We walked in silence the rest of the way.
When we came upon the boys’ prep school we stopped and the thing we were about to do really started to sink in. “Do we still want to do this?” I asked.
“Yes.” is all Erin said and she led the way. We followed her to the back of the building where there were four small basement windows sitting on the ground. She went to the second from the left and easily pried it open. “We’re in ladies.” She turned and smiled at us. She climbed in first, followed by Deirdre and then me. Once inside we stood there for a minute to let our eyes adjust to the darkness. “Let’s go.” Erin whispered to my right.
We found the stairs that led to the main floor and headed up. According to Erin, Dave’s dorm was on the third floor. He shared a room with his friend Jake. His other friends, the ones we were targeting that night, all conveniently had the rooms just next door and across the hall. We got to the third floor and found their rooms.
“Ok you two stand watch while I go in and draw.” Erin instructed. So we did. It only took her a few minutes then she came out snickering. “Ok who wants to go next?”
“I will.” Deirdre volunteered. She took the marker and made her way to the dorm next door and slipped inside. Erin and I waited silently outside. Once Deirdre was finished she came out and handed the marker to me. “It’s all you, Hazel. Go give Brent and Warren their face tats and let’s get out of here.” I took the marker. My hands started to sweat. I went across the hall and slowly opened the dorm door.
As I slipped inside I could hear Erin and Deirdre snickering to each other. I walked over to Brent first and shakily drew my first penis. After the third one I thought that was enough so I made my way over to Warren. I had just finished the first one when I heard Brent start to stir. I froze and watched him. Suddenly, Erin poked her head in and said urgently, “Someone’s coming. Come on!” and then she was gone. The sound of her voice woke Brent completely. He saw me immediately.
“Warren!” Brent yelled. Warren jerked awake and looked right up at me, startled at first then angry when he saw the marker in my hand.
“What the fuck are you doing?!” Warren yelled at me.
“Grab her!” Brent exclaimed. Warren did as he was told. I was frozen to the spot, I couldn’t have gotten away if I wanted to. Warren had me pinned to the wall as Brent went to look in the mirror to check if I had gotten him to. He would not be disappointed, well maybe, depending on how you looked at it. He swung around with an angry expression on his face. “You little bitch! Why the fuck would you do this?” he started trying to rub the ink off his face.
“It was just a prank,” I whimpered. “It was Erin’s Idea!”
“Erin who? Are you talking about that scrawny girl who’s been following Dave around lately?” Warren asked me. “You might want to go check and see if she got them to.” Brent left the room.
“I’m sorry. It was just a harmless prank.” Tears started to well up in my eyes. At that moment Brent had come back with Dave and Jake right behind him.
“Well now we’re going to ‘prank’ you.” Warren said. “What should we do to her, guys?”
“I’d say strip her down and make her run up and down the hallway screaming so everybody gets a look.” Jake said maliciously.
“Sounds good to me,” Warren said and he started pulling off jeans. I tried to pull away but he was too strong. Brent and Jake came over to hold me down while Warren pulled the rest of my clothes off. They let me go. I laid there completely naked, trying to cover myself with my arms and had, tears streaming down my face.
“Nice.” Jake said approvingly, then to me, “Get up.” I couldn’t move. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I couldn’t stop crying. “I said get up!” Jake grabbed my arm and pulled me up. I couldn’t stand, my legs wouldn’t hold my weight. I just sat with my legs folded under me, my face in my hands.
“We should just let her go, I think she’s suffered enough.” Dave looked embarrassed for me but he also wouldn’t look away. “I’m going back to bed.” Then he left. Jake kept his eyes on me.
“Before you go, and since you’re on your knees, why don’t you suck my dick. Since you seem to like them so much.” Brent and Warren just chuckled.
“Please,” I sobbed, “Please just let me go. I’m sorry, I didn’t want to do this. Just let me go.”
“After you suck my dick.” Jake responded. I looked up at him to see if he was being serious. He was. His hands went to his pajama pants drawstring and he started to untie them. Brent started laughing.
“Dude,” Warren said, “Seriously?”
“Why don’t you chill out?” Jake said with a look at Warren. Warren shrugged and plopped down on his bed looking away but also snatching glances at me. Brent had grabbed his phone. Jake got closer to me as he pulled down his pants, his hard penis staring me straight in the face. “Suck it.” he demanded. I pulled away but he grabbed the back of my head and pulled it towards him. Just as my face was about to be smashed into his boner the door opened and an older man walked in. Everyone froze.
“What is going on in here?” The older man ask. He took in the scene in front of him. Warren intently watching as Jake stood in front of a naked, weeping girl with his dick in her face, Brent with his phone out recording it all. “Jake Samuels, what are you doing?” Jake quickly pulled his pants up and moved away from me.
“Nothing she didn’t ask for, Mr. Aldridge.” Jake stared at his headmaster unabashed. Mr. Aldridge looked at me and grabbed a blanket off one of the beds and wrapped me in it. I stood and he led me out of the room. He turned just before closing the door, “I’ll deal with you idiots later.”
It was 2:00 in the morning and I’m sitting in the headmaster’s office as he tries to calm me down and ask me what happened. I told him about the prank and everything that went wrong. He listened intently, not saying anything until I was finished. Once I was finished he continued to study me closely.
“Am I correct in thinking that you attend St. Margaret’s?” he asked quietly.
“Yes I do.”
“That’s a very fine school. Not an easy one to get into. It would be a shame if your instructors found out that you snuck out after dark to enter a boy’s preparatory school.” I must have had a shocked look on my face because he continued with this: “I know that it would be enough to expel you, however, I am willing to keep your presence here a secret if you agree to never say a word about what happened to you here tonight.” He gave me a look that said, ‘do I make myself clear?’ I knew exactly what he meant.
“So you’re not going to do anything about how those monsters treated me?” I asked incredulously.
“Let’s not get hysterical. All I saw was a young girl in a boy’s dormitory with her clothes off about to commit a sexual act for that boy.”
“They pulled my clothes off of me! He was going to force his dick into my mouth!”
“Language, Miss Edwards.” he reprimanded. “Now either way, it doesn’t sound good for either of your reputations so I suggest you keep it to yourself. Now you should head back to your school before it’s too late. Goodnight Miss Edwards.” He gave me a look that said I was dismissed. I was shaking I was so angry. I got up and left. I walked the mile long stretch back to St. Margaret’s and was able to sneak back in through a kitchen window. I went straight to my room and fell on my bed without bothering to take my shoes off. I wept until the sun came up.
When I was a kid people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I used to reply, “I want to be a teacher. I want to teach English.” I’ve always loved everything about the subject of English: the grammar rules, the process of writing an essay, even the research that went into crafting a well written paper. I was a complete nerd about it. My goal was to get other people to love it and to possibly help those who didn’t quite get it. I wanted to teach others the importance of why everyone needs to have the ability to write effectively. I had such good intentions. Now that I’m an adult and I’ve seen how teachers in this country are getting the short end of the stick, (and how good intentions don’t pay the bills) I didn’t know what to do with myself. I literally felt lost, all my plans went right down the drain. As awful as it sounds I just didn’t see the point in going to college for 4-6 years just to make $35,000 a year, working in an environment that didn’t have enough supplies or resources to do my job effectively. (In case you’re wondering, I live in Oklahoma).
I went through an erratic phase of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. There were times I wanted to give up on the whole college thing thinking ‘what’s the point?’ I thought I could be a cosmetologist, a legal secretary, a yoga instructor, a billing and coding specialist. The list goes on and on. While all of those jobs are all great ones they were never meant to be for me. I was trying to find the quickest way to just have a career and be done with it. I went from job to job (which is an unfortunate habit of mine, I get bored easily.) Nothing seemed worth doing. Then I had my kids and I felt like I HAD to find something quick. That lead to being constantly overwhelmed and disappointed in myself for not knowing sooner what to do with my life. I finally had to just sit down and really think about what would make me happy. I’ve never been the type of person to be content with just working and making lots of money regardless of what the job was, as long as I made enough money to sustain the lifestyle I wanted. I knew from a young age that I would never be rich, that I would have to work my whole life. When I think about all the years that I would spend working why wouldn’t I do something that made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile?
I finally decided that writing was the number one thing that made me happy. The creative process of telling a story, of giving people something to think about, to express myself in the best way possible, it sounded like heaven. I always felt like writing just came naturally to me and I don’t know why it took me so long to just do it. I got in my own head and told myself it was impossible. That no one would care or think it was any good but then I realized I wasn’t even giving them a chance. So I got tired of dismissing myself and my work and just said, well you know.
I’m excited to say that my imagination took off from there and I have so many ideas for novels and short stories that are currently in the works. I hope to post some on this blog very soon for all of you to read and critique.
As for the future I do plan on getting back into college to study English and improve my skills and knowledge. I’m excited to expand my horizons and just keep getting better. My goal is to one day become a bestselling author and to maybe even teach others how to write. The thing about life is you have to be ready for anything. You can’t always control the way things are going to work out but sometimes that could be for your benefit. Sometimes things don’t work out because the Universe has something better planned for you and you just have to go where it leads you. I hope you all have a great day!
Starting this blog is definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done. First off, it’s hard for me to start any kind of writing. I always get excited to start a new writing project, I’d have all these ideas and outlines, but I would sit down to write and then my brain would go foggy. My self doubt always got in the way. There is a line in a song by The Avett Brothers that says, “Kill the doubt that strangles my self worth.” I really need to get that tattooed on my arm or something. Anyway, that phrase really resonates with me because I have known for many years how it feels to have all these dreams and ideas but never have the courage to overcome the self doubt. Well that ends today. With this blog.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to write. It’s just something I have always taken pride in, but writing is a very vulnerable process. There are so many people in the world who love to judge and comment, but what I have learned from this is that those people are more than enough of a challenge to meet. Why should I get in my own way when I know that I am not a bad writer? It’s me against the world, so why add my own doubts to the fire? Another thing I have learned from others’ contrasting opinions is that without them I can’t push myself to prove them wrong. Their judgement will only make me work harder to become better, and that’s the purpose of this blog. It is my first real step to putting my work out there for people to read. This is for me to have an open communication with my potential readers. I will share some of my own stories that I have written myself, some personal experiences, stories from those who have given their permission for me to share and whatever else comes to mind. I am an aspiring author and this blog is the start of my journey. I hope you’ll join me.