The back row of the shuttle was different from the other rows. The rows ahead sat four people, two on either side of the shuttle which were separated by the aisle. The back row was one long row of five and didn’t have any space for one to retreat into. I took the seat next to a girl by the window, not that I had a choice. I knew there was a guy behind me and he would have to get the row’s middle seat. I sat so closely to next to him, I could feel his leg hair through my leggings.
The driver went over several speed bumps. The people I was squeezed between made sure to stay within their own non-existent spaces. The guy took special care to ensure his body only moved forward and didn’t slam back into my shoulder.
When we finally reached the other campus, my body moved as the shuttle came to a stop. Since I was in the last row, I still wasn’t getting off for another minute or so. The guy seemed eager to leave as well. Before the first person even stepped off the bus, his body hung forward and he tightly gripped the straps of his backpack.
Stepping off the shuttle felt like a breath of fresh air. Then he spoke to me.
“I’m sorry about that, ya know, my leg was all over ya.”
“No, it’s okay. It wasn’t your fault.”
And that was the day I met Jeremy, on that awkward and bumpy ride. The moment that initiated the chain of events that led me here, hands cuffed behind my back, sitting in front of the relentless, flashing red-and-blue lights, wondering when I’d be able to wash the dried blood off my hands.
A few weeks had gone by since meeting Jeremy. Not too much had happened yet, but we were making moves. I told no one, not even my best friend Jenna. She was always preoccupied with boy drama of her own. Part of me was afraid to tell her because Jeremy was exactly her type. He was tall and dark-skinned with a physique like that of a Greek sculpture.
One day, she randomly suggested we get makeovers. She cut her waist length jet-black hair to her shoulders. I started wearing my natural hair more often and wore clothing that more closely matched my style. Jenna’s change was less dramatic and quite frankly, unnecessary. Everyone already knew who she was and I remained in her shadow. Surprisingly, after our so-called make overs, people started to notice me more. Jenna didn’t like that. After our makeovers, it wasn’t long until Jeremy and I began to move things forward.
He always came to me late at night, through my first-floor window, when my whole house was asleep. Without ever explicitly stating it, I knew that we would never progress past mutually beneficial. Every time he came over, I hoped that something would change, but it never did. It’s not unheard of to fall for a friend, but I tripped and fell real hard for him.
After a while, I told Jenna. I needed someone to talk to and I thought I shouldn’t be afraid to tell my best friend. We talked about everything, in excruciating detail. She even asked me if he looked like a Greek sculpture in every way.
“Well, not in every way,” I giggled as I told her.
He was my first, so he meant more to me than I could ever let him know, but I told Jenna everything I wanted to say to him. She tried to reassure me. She told me I deserved better and I should kick him to the curb. So I did, or at least that’s what I told her. It’s hard to say no to him. I wasn’t used to receiving any attention from guys. Even though it was always given behind closed doors, I deluded myself into thinking he was too afraid to show he actually cared.
Our relationship was strange. He talked to me more like a best friend than Jenna did sometimes. He told me about who he liked and who liked him, pretty much solidifying our fuckbuddy status. In all the times we messed around, he never kissed me. I told myself he was afraid he’d feel something for me, but let’s be real, this isn’t Pretty Women. He’d probably never even seen it.
Jeremy began to pull away from me. He started coming over less and less. When he did, he did what he had to do and left immediately after. I tried to talk to Jenna about it, but she was preoccupied as usual. She said she had also met someone, but she refused to tell me who. She thought it was more fun this way. I didn’t understand how keeping me in the dark was fun for either one of us.
Eventually, Jeremy stopped coming over. Jenna was always busy. Suddenly the two people I cared the most about had no time for me. I decided to confront them about it, Jeremy first. I knew he frequently went the coffee shop with his friends before class, so I waited for him there. He was there, standing around one of those tall tables with a few friends. I tried to talk to him, but he waved me off to finish what he was saying to someone else. His phone was lying face up on the table. It was on silent, but the screen still lit up when she called. The name read “BAE” and the picture looked familiar. He was so into his conversation he didn’t notice me leaning in to get a better look. When I saw who it was, I quickly left before he had a chance to turn back to me.
My feet were guiding me before I even realized were I was going. I stormed into the middle of an ongoing lecture and stood right in front of her.
“Why Jeremy? Of all the guys you could have possibly had, why Jeremy?” I was sobbing, but not because I was sad. I was outraged and could hardly contain myself.
“Young lady, you need to leave right now,” the professor called out from behind her desk.
“Answer me right now, Jenna!” I was shouting now.
“Can we do this when I’m not in the middle of class?” Jenna whispered to me. Words were coming out of her mouth, but they were not what I wanted to hear.
“Did you think I’d never find out?”
“Of course not, sweetie. You guys were only friends. You told me it was over.”
“But you hid it from me, so you knew it was wrong.” Before she could answer, the professor threatened to call security. I left before she had a chance to call. That was the last time I spoke to Jenna.
After that, they became public. I saw them all the time. I tried to pretend I didn’t see them, but it was impossible. Every time I saw them, I thought of all the things I wanted to tell them about themselves. I wanted to tell Jeremy that he was a disgusting pig. After the classroom incident, at least two other girls told me I was so brave for confronting my best friend. Apparently, they’d slept with Jeremy too. They had even known about each other, but they couldn’t stay away either.
My first instinct was to warn Jenna. He may have never been interested in dating me, but we still talked. He told me things about how he truly felt. He revealed to me the kind of person he really was. He wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. A stronger part of me just watched. I wanted it to crash and burn epically and publicly. Little did I know it would, just not between Jenna and Jeremy.
Weeks went by and they were still going out together. I didn’t know that I was capable of feeling so much outrage. It scared me. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I let it all out, but I knew it wouldn’t be good. Still, I held it all in. It was better than being sad and feeling sorry for myself. So, I watched in silence. I let the brooding grow until today. Today it all finally came out.
It all happened so fast, every moment was so vivid. Jenna was walking across the grass to her building. She kept her head down to hide that she was crying. I could have warned her that they would have never lasted, but this was much sweeter. She made eye contact with me and suddenly sadness turned to complete rage.
“It was you, wasn’t it?” Jenna shouted at me before she reached the table I was sitting at.
I had no idea why she was so angry, but I could guess. She was probably upset because Jeremy had cheated on her and she betrayed her best friend, so there was no one she could talk to about it. She was probably aiming her anger at me since I was the one she took him from. My mind didn’t want to fight, but my body begged for it. We were both out of control. There was not going to be any way to stop the coming storm.
Jenna yanked me out of my chair head first. She wouldn’t let go of my hair so I pushed her over. She fell on her back, never letting go of my hair. I was on top of her, pounding the pain away. My fists flew uncontrollably. Every time I connected with her face, I became less afraid to hit harder. I could feel her hands go limp in my hair, but I didn’t stop. I kept going and going with part of me thinking someone should stop me. My vision went red and I kept on going.
A crowd grew around me, but none of it registered. One pair of hands on me became two, two became three, three became four, until I was yanked away and pushed to the ground. My face was pressed against the pavement. I screamed out in a fit of frustration, but the bodies pinning me down wouldn’t let me up. I was sobbing hysterically. I cried until I could barely keep my eyes open. I slipped into unconsciousness where I only relived the pain that led me there.
When I woke, I was slumped over sitting on the curb. I could feel the cold air through my jacket. Goosebumps ran all along my arms. My fingers were crusted together. My head was throbbing. I wasn’t sure how long I was sitting out here, but it had to be awhile. I remember very strong hands gripping my arms from behind. In the moment, it didn’t phase me. Now I could feel the pressure from where those hands were. I remember a lot of yelling, some chanting, others desperately trying to get us to stop.
“Good. You’re up,” the police officer said, beginning to speak to me. He knelt in front of me and started reading me my rights. I didn’t understand why he was doing this. I didn’t even understand why I needed to be cuffed until I saw her. Jenna was being raised into an ambulance on a stretcher. I started with the hysterics again. The cop tried to get me to calm down but it was no use. The last thing I remember seeing was Jeremy. He hopped into the back of the ambulance. He was leaning so close over Jenna, I’m sure she’d feel his arm hair through her long-sleeved shirt.