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Then he felt her shoving him away and though the strength of her push couldn’t move him at all, if he didn’t want it to, the anger and hurt on her face most definitely could.

            “What is the matter with you all,” she asked?  Her voice was so full of rage and pain that he recoiled inside himself at the idea that he’d caused it.  He truly hadn’t meant to. 

            Then she was hefting her book bag further up her shoulder and shoving pass him to head down the hallway and away from him. 

 

  

 Jasmine

            I left Cross High in a brain fog.  I was feeling so many things at once that I hardly knew what to focus on. 

            Vile!  I wished … oh God.  I wished that I was strong enough to kick their asses myself!  That’s what they deserved.  But I wasn’t, and they’d been able to hem me up in the hallway, calling me all kinds of names and saying disgusting things that they wanted to do to me. 

            I shivered a little at the memory.  I was furious, but they’d frightened me, too.  Their hot breath and broad bodies, blocking my view, limiting my ability to move, to go, to get out of there.  It all came back to me as though I were still trapped in that hallway.  The boys had tried to act as though they were playing, but they weren’t.  And I could tell right away that they weren’t.  They were dangerous and I could feel it. 

            And then Greg Hoover showed up.  He seemed to come out of nowhere.  By the time he showed up I couldn’t see beyond the boys.  But suddenly he was there.  Large, angry, and definitely threatening.  He was like the incarnation of the vengeance that I’d wanted to wreck upon those butt-holes.  He had been nothing less than … perfect.  Until he kissed me.  Then he was …. 

            He … was … something … else.  My brain paused between each word, wondering where to go next.  

            Was I upset, really?  Or did I actually feel something else?  I wasn’t entirely sure.  I thought about it as I hit the cold March air and made my way to my car parked in the student parking lot across the street from the school. 

            Actually, I liked the kiss.  A lot.        

            What I didn’t like was the assumption.  He barely knew me.  We’d never had a conversation.  And somehow he just assumed that he could kiss me like that.  And I knew why, too.  Because everyone thought that they knew me, thought they knew what I was about. 

            I felt repulsed and angry and frustrated, all at the same time.  I was trying to reinvent myself.  But nobody seemed to notice, not even a boy who cared enough to rescue me from a small pack of jackasses. 

            I paused long enough in all my angry and frustrated feelings to recall what his lips had felt like.  They were very tender.  He was not attacking me, I admitted thoughtfully, unlocking and opening my car door.  As I sank into the driver’s seat and started the engine, I saw his eyes again when our lips had parted and what I remembered was that they were gentle and searching.  My heart skipped a beat, hung on the seductive pull of the memory of his eyes, then started back again. 

            Then I had what seemed like the weirdest thought.  It came to me as clearly as a newspaper headline:  He Could Love Me.  How strange, I thought.  He could love me.  I had never had that thought before.

            I hope he loves me.

            I want him to love me.

            Why doesn’t he love me?

            All of these thoughts had kept me company over the last few years of my life whenever I liked a boy or thought that he liked me.  But never, he could love me.  Why did I think it this now?

            Then I shook my head decisively, suddenly more confident and sure.  No, he couldn’t, wouldn’t love me.   All I had to do was remember the pictures, the rumors, the truths, the stories that circulated about me and then I knew that Greg Hoover couldn’t, perhaps no boy, could really love me. 

            From all reports, I had become unloveable.