I was lost deep in thought while I stood on the curb waiting for the school bus to arrive. I had so many emotions as I kept replaying the recent occurrences in my head, causing me to be in my own little world. When the bus pulled in, I barely took note of my new surroundings. Putting one foot in front of the other, I stepped onto the bus and kept my gaze down until I came to an empty seat. I slid into the cushions and pulled my hood down, trying to hide my face.
Laughter erupted around me from other students on the bus. Their faces, showing varying emotions, silently revealed hidden stories. I briefly sighed before reverting back into my inner thoughts. Someone sat down beside me and uttered, “What’s with you?”
I couldn’t help but glare as I grumbled, “Nothing.”
He grinned and poked my arm teasingly, “Liar!”
“I’m not—” I argued.
“Whatever, Lexie!” he teased playfully. “Keep telling yourself that.”
“Ian,” I growled, “If you treasure your life, then I kindly suggest that you leave me alone!”
Ian chuckled as he continuously poked my arm, “Aw, did someone miss their morning coffee?”
Narrowing my eyes to thin slits, I voiced lowly while slapping his hand away, “Ian. I’m. Not. In. The. Mood.”
At this, his face fell as he leaned forward, holding my gaze. For the next eight seconds, we didn’t move or utter a single word. Starting to shift uncomfortably, I quickly turned away, unable to look at him anymore.
“Lexie, please,” Ian spoke softly, “Don’t do this. Don’t shut me out.”
Ignoring him, I distanced myself even further. I couldn’t bring myself to explain. Even though this was important to me, it might seem pointless to others.
Ian sighed. “Lexie,” he mumbled as he leaned forward to see my face. When our eyes met, I could see concern clouding his visage.
“Look—” I started to say, biting my upper lip. “He wouldn’t understand! So why tell him?” a voice seemed to whisper throughout my thoughts.
My mind was made up as I shook my head, unwilling to face him. “I’m sorry… It’s just—It’s just that my dad invited my mom to go to church with him, and she agreed to go.”
Wanting to watch his reaction closely, I paused and sent a glance his way. But before he was able to voice a word, I suddenly blurted out, “Um, never mind. Just forget it.” With my cheeks tinged pink, I abruptly turned away from Ian yet again.
“Lexie,” he voiced gently, “please look at me.” Seconds ticked by before I slowly dragged my eyes to meet his. “Look, I don’t exactly understand how you feel, but what’s the harm with just giving your mom’s offer a shot?”
That caught my attention! He has to be joking, right? He’s my best friend, and he is telling me that I should give all this God stuff a chance?
“Ian! I’m not sure that you’re truly grasping my situation! You know what? Forget it! You simply don’t understand where I’m coming from!”
“NO! Ian, listen! Just leave me alone,” I whispered as a feeling of exhaustion suddenly swept over me. And with that, I lowered my hood over my eyes and slid further into the seat. Staring into space, shutting everything and everybody out. I leaned my head against the steel edge of the bus and closed my eyes.
“She’s guilty! Guilty!” my inner voice screamed. My eyes flew open as my breathing turned ragged. Feeling anxious, I forced myself to take deeper breaths. As Ian tapped my shoulder, trying to gain my attention, I swiveled my head in his direction. But I quickly turned away again and stared at the floor, all the while muttering, “I’m fine, Ian. Just leave me alone.”
Ian observed me closely, “Lexie…” he whispered. He placed a comforting hand on my forearm as he said softly, “I will never abandon you. And neither will God.”
It was during last period when I finally excused myself from the classroom, pleading a headache. However, in truth, I just could not stand the thought of being in that enclosed room one more second. At that moment, everything was putting me on edge: from the teachers’ useless rantings to the classmate behind me who was constantly tapping a pencil on his desk. Two simple words can clearly describe how I felt—utterly annoyed.
Now I found myself aimlessly roaming the narrow hallways, the sound of my footsteps bouncing off the walls. With each step I took, I drifted a little bit further into my own little world, growing more and more confused. It seemed as though all I could think of were those last words Ian had uttered to me earlier, “I will never abandon you…and neither will God.” To say the least, as soon as those words had registered in my mind, I had instantly felt more abandoned and quite alone. After that, it was only a short time before I had completely shut down Ian, closing off all contact. Now I was trying to avoid him at all cost. I had decided that if by chance we met anytime in the future, I would simply act as if I had never, ever known him. First it was my dad, then my mom; and now my best friend, Ian, was just admitting that he too believed in God!
With my jaw muscles tensing, I gripped my backpack’s straps more tightly, trying to still my shaking hands. “Why am I feeling like this?” I whispered, “Why?” It was then that I broke free from these troubling thoughts as a nearby door slammed shut and heavy footsteps echoed off the walls behind me. “Lexie!” he called out, but I ignored him and quickly picked up my pace, focusing on the nearest exit. “Will you wait up for a sec?” he pleaded.
“Almost there! Just a few more steps,” I thought as my hand was just a few inches away from touching the door handle. “Just a few—”
“Lexie, stop!” Ian growled through clenched teeth. He yanked me to a complete stop. Facing me completely, he murmured lowly, “I thought I told you to stop…”
Okay, if he wanted to play that card, then fine. I narrowed my eyes and said in a too sweet voice, “And I thought that I told you earlier to leave me alone. Clearly you didn’t get the message!” At my response, Ian furrowed his eyebrows and exploded with, “For Pete’s sake! What is wrong with you? You have been acting like this all day!”
“Nothing is wrong with me!” I cried.
At that, he looked me dead in the eye, not believing a single word I had just spoken, “You’re fine?” he said as if it were a joke.
I hesitated slightly before answering softly as I stared hard at the floor, “Yes.”
“Then why have you been avoiding me all day? Was it something that I said? Something I did?” he exclaimed in an exasperated tone.
I opened my mouth to speak, but I struggled for the words, “I…I…”
Ringgggggg. The last bell sounded just as the classroom doors swung open and crowds of students came pouring out. I let a sigh of relief escape through my lips as the hallway quickly filled with students scurrying all around us, trying to navigate to an exit or their lockers. I yelled above the crowd, “I have to go.”
With one last glance toward Ian, I disappeared into the crowd and slipped out the door only to be welcomed by a cold blast of air hitting my face. With my heart heavy, I started the long trek home, longing for someone to understand, to listen. But there was no one…no one.
Written by Hannah Schweinschaupt. This article was published in the Summer and Fall 2013 editions of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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