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chapter fourteen

Maureen's grounding was over. After much discussion, (she gathered) her mother and Jim had settled on grounding her for a week and instigating a curfew of midnight. It sucked, but at least she wasn't grounded anymore. Not being grounded should have made her happy, but it didn't, because her life was basically destroyed.

Trevor hated her. She couldn't blame him, but it still hurt. He wouldn't even speak to her. Not that she had much of a chance to speak to him. He was cutting class a lot and wasn't actually at school all that often anyway. Jared seemed to hate her too. He wasn't speaking to her either. Maureen felt like an idiot. Jared had used her. She could see that now. She didn't know exactly what he'd used her for. She guessed it could be as simple as sex. It wasn't unheard of for boys to sleep with girls and then never speak to them again. The fact that it was common did nothing to help her feel better. She felt worthless. She felt guilty. She felt like she didn't deserve to be alive.

She retreated into her mass murderer files. She typed all of her entries and bought clear plastic folders for her clippings. She added her personal feelings to the ends of the entries. Some guys she felt were just insane. Others she felt were pushed to do what they did. But when she was finished, and there was nothing else to do to the files, she felt just as empty as ever. Within a very short time, she'd gone from being a virgin to being a slut. She'd gone from being a depressed outcast to a happy girl with a boyfriend and back to a depressed outcast again. Life seemed very bleak for Maureen.

She'd had sex. Big deal. Sex sucked. It didn't feel good. If it didn't hurt, it felt like nothing. All the hoopla about it was a big conspiracy by advertisers. Or maybe there was something wrong with her. Her body was malformed or something. She hadn't expected to have orgasms right away. She knew that that took time. But she'd expected to enjoy it. She hadn't. Maybe she needed surgical help. Maybe it was a condition that doctors could diagnose, and they could give her pills for it. No one had ever told her it would be like this, and there was no one she could talk to about it either.

After Trevor had broken up with her, Frances had been easily accessible for a few days. She'd been concerned and helpful and sweet. Then, suddenly, Frances disappeared. She stopped answering phone calls and barely showed up for class. She didn't speak to Maureen in the halls and wasn't at lunch anymore. Maureen would have been angry, but the way things were going now it wasn't surprising that Frances would stop hanging out with her. The world had apparently decided that she was to be alone and miserable. And there was nothing she could do about it. So, she didn't try. Instead, she wallowed and felt sorry for herself.

So not being grounded wasn't much of a consolation prize for Maureen. It was nice that her mother stopped driving her to school and picking her up right after the last bell. It was nice to have her cell phone back. But the cell phone kind of didn't matter. She didn't have anyone to call. The day started out like any other, except she took the bus to school. It was vaguely embarrassing to be a senior in high school and have to take the bus, but it was less embarrassing than being driven there by her mother. Before the whole debacle of her life had begun, she'd occasionally caught rides with Frances to and from school, but her house was out of the way for Frances, so riding the bus was just something she dealt with. It didn't really matter anyway. She was an outcast. She had no one to impress.

She got to school early, since the bus dropped off the high school students first and then picked up more kids before going to the elementary and middle schools. She sat alone until class started, working on some homework that wasn't due for days. She went to her morning classes and struggled to keep her mind on the lectures. She couldn't help going over the past few weeks in her mind. She'd been doing it for days. How could she have stopped this from happening? What could she have done differently?

Eventually, it was time for lunch. She settled down in a corner with her turkey sandwich. It didn't taste very good. Maureen had noticed recently that she'd lost a lot of interest in food. She set down the sandwich and looked out at the cafeteria. She couldn't believe her eyes. Frances was in the cafeteria, and she was sitting with Trevor. Why would the two of them be sitting together?

Then, the unthinkable happened. Trevor leaned over and kissed Frances. On the lips. With tongue.

Maureen didn't think, she moved. She was on her feet, sandwich in hand, striding across the cafeteria before she was aware of what she was doing.

When she got to their table, they were still kissing.

"Hey," she said.

Trevor looked up, saw her, and pulled away from Frances. Frances turned slowly to face her, a nasty smile playing on her lips.

Maureen took her turkey sandwich and rubbed it into Frances' face. "How could you?" she growled.

* * *

Frances wiped her face with a napkin and watched Maureen walk away from their table. "Bitch," she muttered.

"I told you we shouldn't come into the cafeteria for lunch," said Trevor. "I knew she'd see us."

Frances glared at him. "What do you care if she sees us? She cheated on you, remember?"

Trevor had an unhealthy obsession with his ex-girlfriend, and it pissed Frances off. She was dating Trevor, which had been her fondest wish, but all he ever talked about was Maureen. Frances hated that.

"It was just cruel," said Trevor. "That's all. We didn't need to rub it in her face."

Frances raised her eyebrows. "She just rubbed something in my face."

"She just seems so sad," said Trevor.

God. Would he stop with that? "She should be sad," said Frances. "She deserves to be sad."

Trevor shrugged. "Maybe."

Frances vaguely remembered that a week or so ago, she'd felt very sorry for Maureen. She also remembered that around that time, she hadn't wanted to take the pills Jared gave her. She remembered both things, but she couldn't understand why she'd felt that way. Maureen was a bitch. She certainly didn't deserve pity. And the pills kept her thin. She loved the pills.

If she hadn't lost weight, she'd never have gotten Trevor. And she was very glad to have Trevor, even if he was mentally unstable.

"Maybe I should go talk to her," said Trevor.

"Don't be stupid," Frances countered. "I have to go wash my face. Promise not to do anything ridiculous like go after Maureen."

"I promise," Trevor said.

Frances got up. He seemed so docile now, but he wasn't. The boy was like a time bomb. He'd be quiet and agreeable, and then he'd explode. It wasn't just the weird sex stuff that Jared had told her to do, although she wasn't particularly fond of being strangled or bitten or scratched. That was bad enough. Trevor really liked that. But sometimes, he'd get really angry. Especially with his parents. She heard Trevor yelling at them sometimes when she was talking to him on the phone. It wasn't just regular yell-at-your-parents kind of stuff either. It was obscenities and threats. She was almost frightened of him sometimes.

But he was hers. He wasn't Maureen's anymore. He was hers. And she planned to keep it that way.

She rounded the corner to the west wing bathroom and turned the knob. It was locked. Damn it! She knocked on the door.

"Occupied," yelled a voice from inside, thick with tears.

Frances knew that voice. It was Maureen. She was crying. She felt proud of herself. She'd made Maureen cry. Too cool.

* * *

Trevor had heard his parents talking about him in hushed tones that morning before he left for school. They were worried about him. He'd caught that. He'd also heard Robert's name a few times. Trevor was angry. His parents didn't have the right to control his life. Maybe when he turned eighteen, he'd just move out. He hated them. They didn't understand him, and they didn't care about him. Even though they were telling themselves they were worried about him, what they really meant was that they were afraid of him. They didn't want him to do anything. They just wished he'd disappear. All he was to them was an inconvenience. He'd torn out of there fast. He didn't want to go home either.

Frances was waiting for him at the door of the school. She was still gloating about how she'd made Maureen cry. Trevor wished she'd shut up. She got on his fucking nerves. When she kept going on, he told her exactly that. "Shut up, you're getting on my nerves."

She shot him a hurt, frightened look, but she shut up. Good. He hated Frances too. She was fun to fuck, but that was about it. God, she was dumb.

The thing was, no one understood Trevor. Maybe Maureen had, but that didn't really matter anymore, did it?

Frances suggested they cut first period. Trevor wasn't in the mood to go to class, but he wasn't in the mood to be around Frances either. He told her he was going to the bathroom and to wait for him. He walked off and didn't go back. She could think whatever she wanted. He'd probably go to class anyway. The substitute was letting them watch the movie of Othello, and Trevor kind of wanted to know what happened next.

He'd had a dream the night before about Ms. Trask. In the dream, he'd been waiting to talk to her about Jared, but this time, he went into the classroom before he heard the shot. Ms. Trask was sitting at her desk with her blouse unbuttoned. She was trying to button it back up, but she couldn't do it.

"Trevor," she'd said, "Can you help me, please?"

Then Trevor had realized he had a shotgun in his hand. He'd leveled it and blown Ms. Trask's head off.

Then he woke up. He had an erection. Usually, a dream like that would have bothered him, but not anymore. It really hadn't bothered him at all. Par for the course. The dreams were all part of the bigger buzz�the thing that was going to happen, whatever it was. Trevor still didn't know what it was, but Jared had told him when it was. Friday night. Tomorrow night. At least, Trevor thought Jared had told him. Maybe he'd dreamed that too... Sometimes, he couldn't remember what was a dream and what wasn't. Everything seemed to buzz so loudly nowadays. Trevor liked the buzzing. It blocked everything out, and he didn't find himself liking much of anything recently.

Trevor wandered into the gym. Students were already dressing for first period phys. ed. class. He could see them going into the locker rooms. He watched two girls come out of the locker room in their gym clothes. Short shorts, smooth legs. Trevor smiled at them and thought of blood. That would have bothered him before too. Now it didn't bother him. It felt right. When he thought about blood, it buzzed louder. It was like having an orchestra of bees in his head. Trevor smiled wider. Maybe today would be a good day.

Then he saw Maureen emerge from the locker room. She was wearing gym clothes, but she didn't have on short shorts. Instead, she wore a baggy t-shirt and jogging pants. Just the sight of her, and the bees in his head stopped buzzing. He felt... bad, suddenly. Hurt. Sad. He went to her.

She saw him coming and tried to duck back into the locker room, but he caught her just in time. He grabbed her arm and pulled her away.

She turned her face to look at him. "Let go of me," she said.

"No," he said. "I want to talk to you."

"Okay," she said slowly. "Just let go of me, okay?"

"You won't run away if I let go?"

"Why would I do that?"

"I don't know." He really didn't. But he'd been sure a minute ago that she would. It seemed like the normal way for a person to react to him. To run from him. He let go of her arm.

Maureen backed up a few steps, but she didn't run.

Trevor felt like the world had gone silent. He hadn't realized how much he was used to the buzzing.

"Well?" said Maureen.

"Huh?"

"What did you want to talk to me about?"

"Oh." Right. He wanted to talk to her. "Maureen, there are these bees in my head and they keep buzzing, but when I'm around you, they shut up." That made him sound crazy, didn't it? He laughed. "I mean... No. Never mind that."

Maureen looked deeply concerned. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," said Trevor. "Really. I'm fine. It's just... I miss you."

"You do?" Her voice was very small.

"Yes."

"But you're with Frances now."

"That just kind of happened. It's been hard to think recently. I didn't really mean..."

"I don't know, Trevor. You were really angry with me. You said�"

"Forget what I said."

"What about what happened? What I did?"

Oh. Yeah. She'd cheated on him. He could still remember every detail of the picture in the e-mail. Crystal clear. "You were a bitch," he said.

"Okay, conversation over," said Maureen. She started to move away from him.

Trevor blocked her. "No. No, wait. I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. Listen, if you could just stay close to me. When I'm around you, I can think again. The rest of the time, it's too noisy." That sounded crazy again, didn't it?

"Trevor, you're not making sense. Did you ever start taking those pills again? Because if not, you really should." She tried to push past him again.

"Stop," Trevor said. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved her against the wall. "Just... don't move for a couple minutes. I just need you to stay right here."

Above them, the ringing of the first period bell erupted into the air.

Maureen's eyes darted back and forth. "Go to class."

"In a minute."

"Trevor, you've got to let go of me and go to class."

"No. You've got to listen to me." Students were pouring out of the locker rooms and into the locker rooms. The traffic pushed Trevor and Maureen closer together, trapping them against the wall. "Maureen, something very bad is going to happen. I don't know what it is yet, but I know it happens tomorrow. I need your help. You're the only one�"

"I'm going to scream," Maureen said. "Let me go, or I'm going to scream."

"Please," Trevor said. He looked at her, remembering the way they'd looked at each other after their very first kiss. There had been adoration in her eyes. Now, there was just fear. Maureen was afraid of him. "I don't want to be with Frances. I want to be with you. I bet Jared forced you. Did Jared force you?"

Maureen screamed.

Her piercing shriek brought teachers. Trevor backed away, into the crowd of students. Into the buzzing.

chapter fifteen >>

Copyright (c) 2010 Valerie Chambers