Authors: Kathryn Perez
Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance
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Copyright © 2014 by Kathryn Perez
Cover Design by © Okay Creations
Editing by Megan Ward
Formatting by JT Formatting
Lyrics used with permission
Bird with Broken Wings ©2012 by Tyler Lenius
All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Table of Contents
The words on the pages within this book are solely
dedicated to victims of bullying, those that ever have or still do suffer from depression, mental illness,
and the struggles that accompany it.
You are brave.
You are strong.
You are smart.
You are beautiful.
You are worth it.
If you are living with depression or are self-harming like Jessica and countless others, please reach out for help. You can get help by calling any of the following hotlines:
Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT
You can also text CTL to 741741 to reach trained and compassionate listeners who are there to help you at any time.
The Crisis Text Line is a toll-free text service available 24/7 nationwide.
People who want to help and are ready to listen are waiting for your call. You are stronger than you know.
“The small words hurt the most.”
GRIPPING MY JOURNAL, I flip through the pages of my written pain. Putting pen to paper is comforting to me; my journal is the only place I can really be myself, the only place I can release my demons and voice my fears. Trying to forget summer break, I push away the thoughts of Brian and the other guys that used me for sex these past couple of months. The heartache they caused is nothing compared to the pain I’ll face today.
Senior year. My last year of hell on earth is upon me. This morning I have to step inside the hallways of my own personal nightmare. The fear I feel is almost tangible. Writing will help ease it, but I know it won’t be enough. I place my hand over my lower stomach and run my fingers across my scars. I focus on the blank page before me and start to write.
Trapped within these walls
Laughter filling the halls
Not much longer
It will soon end
Can’t let them know
Circling all around
Block it out
Push it down
Keep building these defenses
Brick by brick
My emotions bound
Seeing a stranger
When I look in the mirror
Lost and alone
My soul pleading
Desperate to find a home
I sit in my car, staring at the front steps of Jenson High School as dread washes over me. The drive here was nothing but minutes filled with anxiety.
Only one more year. I can do this. Just one more year and I’ll be free of this hell on earth forever.
The past three years were nearly unbearable, and I can’t imagine this year will be any different. I grab my backpack and push my car door open. The parking lot’s filled with people milling around, chattering about senior year, eyeballing each other’s outfits, and sizing each other up. One clique bleeds into another clique, and so on. Keeping a low profile is important to me, so I’ve chosen to wear a plain pair of skinny jeans and a simple white T-shirt; I don’t belong to any of the cliques.
Because I’m invisible.
I barely exist.
A loud engine rumbles as a huge truck pulls up in the parking spot beside mine, startling me. I look over to see that it’s none other than Jace Collins, superstar athlete and megapopular boyfriend to my worst enemy. His door opens and he jumps out, throwing his backpack over his broad shoulder. He might be with the biggest bitch in school, but God, the guy is like a huge magnetic force made up of sexual tension and dimples. By the time I realize I’m staring, it’s too late; he’s noticed me ogling him. A small grin stretches across his face and I blush, snapping my eyes away. I turn and start walking toward the school when I hear her.
“Oh look, it’s Jenson High’s school slut. How lovely!” Elizabeth shouts, loud enough to draw attention my way.
I clench my backpack strap, keeping my gaze forward. I can feel her eyes gunning a hole through the back of my head. This is the only time of day when I’m visible. When I’m in the cross-hairs of Elizabeth Brant’s clique of mean girls, I’m a huge blaring bull’s-eye. Engaging with her is pointless. She never gives in or lets up. Now, everyone within earshot stares and laughs at me. Taking in a deep breath, I try blocking it all out. I can hear her spitting more venom my way as she gets closer, and her sidekick Hailey joins in the taunts.
“How was your summer, Jessssssica? How many guys did you add to your list, huh?”
Their laughter fills the air around me, and then I hear him. Jace. He’s been stepping in for the past couple of years to shut them up when they talk shit to me. The first time he did it, I was stunned. Why would he care what they said to me?
I’m no one.
I barely exist.
“Okay, enough of that bullshit. It’s the first day of school. Do you both have to be such assholes?”
I don’t turn around or acknowledge his act of kindness. I’m thankful, but I can never tell him that. If she saw me talking to him, it would be a disaster. I don’t know why, but every time I make eye contact with him I get butterflies in my stomach. Of course, he’s never flirted with me like so many of the other guys do. I know why they do it, and so does everyone else, but Jace has never treated me like a slut or piece of trash. He’s as close to a gentleman as a teenage guy can be.
Last year, when we were paired together in chemistry class, Elizabeth was pissed off. She pinned me down with her stare for the entire hour, but Jace ignored her and rolled his eyes. When class was over, he got up and gave me a small smile before walking away. It was the one time that I hadn’t felt like a nobody. For that one hour I’d felt present and not so closed down. It was easier to breathe—it felt like what I assumed school should feel like.
Jace remains a mystery to me. I have no idea why he treats me like a normal girl, but every time he does, my heart beats a little stronger and a little faster. I hope one day I have the opportunity to thank him. Until then, I’ll keep my gratitude safely tucked away.