As I sat buckled into my muddy grave I was left to think about my life. I went back mentally to the face of my dear mother and her sympathetic looks as my stepfather berated me with accusations of thievery and insubordination. All the while I took the abuse. Whenever I pleaded with my stepfather that it wasn't I who took his cigarettes the side of my face met headlong with his high school state championship ring. Heaven forbid that I point out to him that in his drunken stupor he had tossed the carton behind the refrigerator, and all he need would be to enlist the help of a coat hanger or such tool with which he could reach behind and retrieve the cigarettes. Surely that would have been a dire mistake. My only recourse was to accept the punish that came my way and hope that he tired himself quickly. After the tyrant was out of physical steam he resorted to the verbal before retiring to his Laz-E-Boy. "Pansy!" This was just one of many feminine epithet to which I was attributed. Would stare up blankly at my mother who would shrug, struggling to fight back tears and rage. But it wasn't sympathy that I required of the woman who bore me. As I studied the plains animals in Africa for my middle school ecology class I was envious of the lion cubs and even the prehatched snakes. The natural instinct of their mothers was to put themselves in danger for the sake of their young. A mother cheetah, when faced with a pack of hyennas would not run, as they would certainly be able to outrun the lot, but would stand her post in a show of power amid a powerful foe.
I would rise and trod past my maternal life giver, giving close attention to give eye contact. If I neglected to force my glance I would not be able to look her in the eye. With a tight clenched jaw upon my upper lip I slunk into my bedroom, resigned to face this scenario again before the week was through.
As I made my way into the upper levels of my education I slowly became all but a recluse. My routine consisted of a bus ride to school where I buried myself in the backs of classrooms wearing subdued colors as to not draw attention to myself. Not a word spoken for fear that someone might hear me and want to respond. I was on constant alert for anything that might act as the key that would unlock my chest of sorrow. In adolescence the most feared thing for a typical student is vulnerability, but for me vulnerability was more than just fears and self-doubt. It was inherit self-loathing. I was convinced that it was not so much I who was condemned to live a life of pain and anguish, but yet my entire lineage was cursed and doomed to a life of subversive meekness and low status and abilities. Generations upon generations of my family could amount to nothing and this is what had been passed on to me and I will to my children pass on even greater woe and suffering.
Just when I had convinced myself, however, that I would never know happiness she entered the classroom in which I slouched. She was wearing black clothes and did not paint her face the way that other girls did, but she had a pale face that shown through her jet black hair like a single burst of sunlight, piercing through a crack in my cell of isolation. She did not smile or look up as the teacher read from her schedule card. "We have a new student, her name is Jasmine." Jasmine! Oh, appropriate names, have thee no finer specimen! "There is a seat next to this....gentleman. I assure you, you will not be bothered here." As the others snickered at Mrs. Frank's accidental jab I sank into a new kind of despair. I was immediately smitten with Jasmine, but Mrs. Frank's inability to recall my name highlighted a major setback if I were to ever attempt to pursue her: I've never said a word in front of any of these people and before I can make the leap at courting a lady I must first speak. Such a drastic turn of events would surely cause pause in a group of misfits whom I had successfully staved off for the better part of 10 years. As we all know as soon as young man or woman notices anything out of the ordinary he or she finds that it is his or her inherit right and duty to point it out for all to see. This is customarily followed by ridicule and scoffing of said perpetrator of the unusual act. This may be a consequence that I was willing to take.
Coming soon: Part 2 of Part 4.