Back to Taylor.
She and I weren’t so different, and that’s what had been eating away at me for so long.
It was natural that we’d find each other. We were both considered outsiders and, as such, subject to the harsher treatment of the townsfolk.
For me, it was my mother. She was from out of town, and the whole community was in an uproar when my father married her. She wasn’t even from nearby – she was from about six states away, and heaven knows why the hell she chose to move out to the middle of Bumfuck, Minnesota, but she had, and so here I was. I couldn’t have missed the sneers and suspicious glares if I’d wanted to. And I didn’t want to. It was safer, to know that this wasn’t my home, this wasn’t a place I was welcome, only a place that I was forced to occupy until I could escape.
Taylor’s story was different, but the same in all the ways that mattered. Her family had moved into the community, living in what was little more than a shack on the outskirts of town. Her father was a laborer, worked a lot with his hands, which were always caked with dirt. Her mother sewed her own clothing from worn old scraps of fabric. Taylor’s clothing consisted of much the same, and the few times I went to her house I was able to tell that her nicest dress was cut from the same fabric as the drapes on the kitchen window.
Two little outside girls, living in a cold and quiet hellscape. It’s no wonder that we found each other. It’s no wonder that we hid from everyone else.
She moved to our town in the second grade. She and I found each other almost immediately. There was some sameness inside us that drew us to each other. I remember thinking that I could see it in her eyes, some kind of light that sparked when she glanced at me. Her eyes were my favorite. They were so comforting, big, beautiful. They were green, I remember, how could I forget? I only felt noticed, felt alive, when they were looking at me.
Of course, I also felt watched.
We became fast friends on her very first day in class. I knew it was something special from the moment she introduced herself to all the students and I found that I COULDN’T forget her name, not even if I tried. She was already inside my head, not by trying, simply by existing. That’s how I knew we were meant for each other.
Of course, sometimes these connections can bring as much misery as they can bring happiness.
As we grew older, the town hated us more and more. Of course they did – why would they hold any love for outsiders like us? My own extended family treated me with a strange distance that I had learned to understand at a young age. Sure, we wanted to be accepted, loved… but that could never happen. We had to find that love within ourselves. Within each other.
That meant, however, that we directed our hatred towards THEM.
It’s not that they didn’t deserve it. Anyone remotely different who grew up in a small town can assure you that the bastards deserve the hatred they receive. But the thing about hatred is that it’s a double-edged sword. It hurts the wielder as much as the victim.
Their hatred poisoned us, and it poisoned the love we had for each other. We held on to each other with a vise-like grip and, soon, began to feel strong enough to change something. To change THEM.
We continued down our little hole of madness. By the time I was in high school, I was severely depressed and barely spoke to anyone who wasn’t Taylor. Taylor wasn’t much better, although her family didn’t really notice what she had become. We could find comfort in each other, though. A twisted form of comfort that I can’t describe, even now.
Things changed one day halfway through our freshman year.