“They’re bastards – every last one of them,” Taylor said.
I mumbled an agreement. We were sitting in my room, playing video games, trying to forget the awful day of school we’d had – we’d been attacked walking to my house, not that unusual but I’d sustained a pretty hard hit to my midsection and it was going to be difficult to hide the pain from my parents once they got home.
“There’s nothing we could do to them that they wouldn’t deserve,” she said.
And that caught my attention. “Like… what?”
Taylor turned those eyes on me and they pinned me in place, our game left forgotten on the screen. “Think for a moment. Think about what they’ve done to us. All these years, they’ve tortured us, and they’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Haven’t they?”
It was true. It hurt, but it was true. “What of it?” I knew better than to think that we could fight back – I’d learned the hard way that we didn’t hold any power, and only the ones in power got to cause pain.
“Your father has a gun,” she said in a low voice.
That was the moment that everything changed. The moment I knew, the moment I made the decision…
That was the real moment I betrayed her.
Less than a week later, I had started at a new school a few towns over. No one knew me and the town was big enough that no one cared. They were kind. I was a bit strange but eventually I fit in.
None of us – my family and myself included – ever spoke her name again.
That was where my recollection ended. As I pulled onto the exit ramp for our little town, I firmly put a stop to the end of the story. No, it had been over ten years since I’d made my decision. One that I knew Taylor could never forgive. I wasn’t going to replay it in my head again, not today, or at least not yet. I was sure that she’d remind me when I saw her, anyway, so why torture myself now?
Once I turned onto the highway leading into town, I was met with an escort. Two of the town’s police cars preceded me as we headed for the school.
That goddamn school.
It had been years since I’d been back, but if I closed my eyes, I could see everything as clear as day. The blue lockers lining the hallway, the cold linoleum floors, the front office with its glass windows that surveyed everything. I’d hoped that I’d never have to see it again anywhere other than my worse nightmares, but here I was. In less than an hour, probably, I’d be seeing it all over again.
She knew that this was hell for me. That’s why she did it.
Once we reached the school, I saw every cop car from the five closest counties lined up outside. Police dotted the area in multitudes but none of them seemed to quite know what to do – it was almost as though they were waiting for something. The parents standing outside were angry about it, too. Some of them, the ones that weren’t crying and having mental breakdowns, were screaming at the cops to fucking DO something already, Jesus Christ our KIDS are in there!
They didn’t know that the cops were waiting for me.