Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Red Flags



*TRIGGER ALERT*
***

It's extremely flattering to be noticed. We all try, on some level, to look nice, sound smart, be funny--somehow stick out from the crowd as someone who is special. When someone singles you out, as that one that makes them blind to anyone else when you're around, it feels incredible.

I come from a home that was above anything else, protective of me. I grew up without a father, and that made my mother, grandmother, and my brothers live in overdrive when it came to making sure I was safe. If I was going to be out somewhere, late, my mother would send my brothers to walk me home so I wouldn't be alone at night. I was told ways to be aware and how to never let my guard down. I was a street-smart one, and I knew what to watch for out there and the ways to reduce the risk of danger.

As added assurance, my mother sent me to a small, private all-girl high school. It was a world of uniforms, nuns, and no males. I was a made-to-order student and you could find my face in the yearbook under student council, Honor Society, and Spanish Club. My days at school were uneventful, but if there ever were anything there to put me in harm's way, my sixth sense that was always on full-alert mode would pick it up.

I knew how to be safe.

My sophomore year, I started Driver's Ed classes. They were held at the public high school that was only a block away, but they were at at night, so my two brothers walked me there and then back home. These classes were open to all area teens, which means we were a mixed bunch of boys, girls, and me: someone who spent her days in a plaid-skirted all-female environment.

The Wednesday night classes became the highlight of my week, being the one time that I'd be able to dress in something other than the blue and green skirt and white blouse of my uniform. I'd run home from school, and spend the two hours before class going over every detail: the right jeans, the peasant top, the Frye boots. I would smooth my hair, put on two thick coats of navy blue mascara, and rosy up my cheeks with Bonne Bell's Angelfire. In the way that all sixteen-year-old girls look to everyone else in the world except to themselves, I was so sweetly pretty.

Our Wednesday night Driver's Ed class was packed, the instructor we had was casual and I remember thinking how young he was. He'd joke with us, and the classes felt more like a social night than required curriculum. The confident kids sat up front, and the quiet ones--like me--always found a seat in the back, in the corner, where we could disappear and not get called on. We went around the room, quickly said our names, where we went to school, and what we wanted to do when we finally got our licenses.

There was a group of swarthy boys that always came to class late. They moved together, a band of tough looking guys who seemed much older than 16 years; intimidating in the way they'd saunter in, not even quieting their steps. They'd find their desks in the back and let their bodies fall into the chairs, legs draping over desk tops, or feet resting on the chair in front of them. Our instructor never said anything to them about what time they walked in, or where they'd place their legs.

From the first night I saw them, I could hear the red flags popping up in my head. I would sit in the back of the room, and though I stared straight ahead, believe me--I was well aware of who was sitting in the chairs around me. I wanted no part of them--they were danger. And yet, after the third week of classes, when the leader of these toughies threw a folded-up paper note on my desk, I felt my heart race.

I was 16-years-old, a wallflower of a girl who wasn't on any A-list and especially not a part of any popular girl cliques at my school. But somehow the evil of the world I had been warned about had come looking for unnoticeable me. My grandmother's voice whispered in my head to ignore the note, place it back on his desk; at the very least, just leave it sitting there--in its 50 little folds--unopened.

You know what it feels like when you find out you took first place in a poetry contest?  Or you hear that you made the cast after you audition? How you can't believe it's you? That's what attention feels like to a shy, skinny teen-age girl.

So I reached for the white paper package, with my pink-tipped fingernails that I had freshly polished only 30 minutes before class. I picked it up and carefully nestled it in the bottom of my flowered purse.

I knew he was watching me because I felt it. I saw him lean his head over to his friend and whisper something. As soon as the class was over, I grabbed my book and purse and rushed past him, embarrassing myself by bumping into his desk in my hurry. I didn't want him to talk to me, not with my brothers waiting outside.

I knew the trouble that would happen if they saw me walk out with a boy who looked 19.

I took the stairs out of the school two at a time, never turning around once to look behind me.  

***

Tomorrow:  Part II The Note

**reading the comments here: so sorry to have had to make this into a TBC, but the story is much TOO IMPORTANT to rush through and tell at one sitting.  Thanks for your caring, and patience--you're all so kind.





43 comments:

  1. I'm with "middle child"!!!! *biting fingernails* - Darling, you always have such a magical way of retelling a moment in time. I'm there. It's me with that note in my bag and I'm dying to sneak a moment all to myself to reveal what it offers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NINJA KITTY!!!!!!!

      I am so very happy to see you, beautiful.

      xo

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    2. The feeling is so very mutual!!!!! And thank you.... you quite simply remain my muse :)

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  2. Part 2 tomorrow?? No! Can I get a sneak peak? ;) Love, love, love the way you tell a story.

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    Replies
    1. You're always so kind and encouraging to me, Thank you.

      Delete
  3. Oh, no! A cliffhanger. Is it tomorrow yet?

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  4. Dun dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuun (I clearly heard the cliffhanger music at the end of the day's Y&R episode).

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  5. So mean to leave us hanging! What does the note say? I must know!

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  6. I cannot wait to hear what happens next. Also, I'm on the edge of my seat worried.

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    Replies
    1. Megan: I clicked on your name, but it takes me to a "dead" blogger info. page. Can you let me know who you are?? Thank you!

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  7. Ooh, juicy! I feel like there's an 80s music video about to break out! Can't wait for Part II...

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  9. Aaaaaahhhh what??? To be continued?? No fairs! Warn people before writing something that compelling in a two-parter! I'm blue-ball{point pen}ing over here...

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  10. I'm shaking my fist at you! As I read this, I was already looking forward to telling you how great a storyteller you are. I love the cadence and setup. But now I'm pissed at you. I'll be back...

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    Replies
    1. Ha! You made me laugh.

      Sorry about the suspense, it's a story that needs to be told this month.

      I hope to see you tomorrow, when you'll understand more.

      Thank you for the high praise--it means so much.

      Delete
  11. oh...a part 2 dang it...just when this was getting good...you have set us up well...kinda scary too in the grand scheme of things...esp these days...

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  12. Oh, everyone: I am so very sorry to have made this into a To Be Continued: but the message is much too important to smash and box into one post.

    Thank you for your care, and patience.

    xo

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  13. Can't wait to read the rest!!

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  14. I want more.now! (Although the whole red,flags part of this story makes me think it's not going to be a nice ending). But you have me interested and waiting xo

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    Replies
    1. Like anything in life, we learn from it.

      xo

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  15. omg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  16. I am ok with the suspense! Gives me more time to let my imagination run ;-)

    As always I can relate so well, as the quiet skinny immigrant girl who like to hide in back rows. I had my temptation and brush with a dangerous guy too, so am eager to know which path you chose. Can't wait!!

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  17. Leave 'me wanting more! You're good! ;). Can't wait to read part two. Hopefully with my morning coffee? No pressure!

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  18. Can't wait to read tomorrow. I love how you explained the guys falling into their chairs. so real.

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  19. Cliffhanger much?

    :)

    Looking forward to part duex !

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  20. Okay, I'm on the edge of my seat and then, part two tomorrow???
    Pray I can hang.

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  21. No, no, no. This goes either to painful or horrible. Either way, I can't stew until tomorrow. What time does it post?

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  22. Do I know this story? Is it the one I think it's about?

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    Replies
    1. I don't know if I ever told you, let me email you.

      I'll tell the rest of it tomorrow on here.

      xo

      Delete
  23. Aaaaack! I cannot believe you "to be continued" us...luckily I am a day behind so maybe it will only be an hour or so...maybe I will sit here and wait...ugh! What did it say?!?!

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  24. NO FAIR! I want to the know the rest of the story, like, RIGHT NOW!

    Dear Empress, you're such a tease!

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  25. Leaving me hanging! Nooo! my reader said this was put up 22 hours ago. You have two more hours. That's an order. I'll be back after lunch ; )

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  26. Gulp. Goosebumps. How dare you leave me hanging?

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  27. great attention to detail--I feel like I am there. now tell me the rest of the story damn it!

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  28. Alexandra, I'm on pins and needles! You have such attention to your surroundings/emotions/detail that this piece really zings! Can't wait to find out what happens.

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  29. I'm so glad I read this when I don't have to wait for Part 2. Because I want Part 2!

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