Cast of Thousands, Chapter 32
Jessica kept on walking as if nothing had happened. She turned away from the offices, out to her bike, and left. She biked home wholeheartedly, pumping her legs wildly and soaring violently along the patches of greenbelt between school and her house. Jess ran upstairs and flung herself into the depths of her beanbag chair.
She wanted to pretend it didn't bother her. In reality, it hurt her more because she knew they didn't mean it than anything else.
Jessicas knew they hadn't called her a lez because they thought she liked girls or knew she had two moms. Even if they did, it was clear to her that it had just been a casual cut, the way some kids asked if an outfit was too gay or said their teachers were lame. It came from a general idea that those things were unattractive, weak, undesirable, disgusting. If they had actually called her a lesbian, she could have held her head up high and taken it as a compliment, confusing them. But she knew that they really meant the sly meanings hidden behind the word instead.
She burned inside. Their scorn ate away at her long after they had probably forgotten what they had said. It fed on her fear that she was somehow irrevocably different, freakish, that she would be trapped in their mockingly normal world forever.
She pulled her favorite doll to her: a stuffed Strawberry Shortcake toy that had originally belonged to Kitten. Curling up around the doll, she sighed and stared off into space until she heard her parents come home. She chewed a little on the edge of Strawberry Shortcake's hand as she used to when she was a baby. Should she go downstairs and talk to them about what happened in Chorus?
"What do you think?" she asked the inside of her head.
"They would just get all freaked out over nothing. They would probably want to call the girls' parents or something."
"But maybe they would be nice."
"And it's not like I even know those girls' names. And probably they wouldn't go call anyone cause they know that wouldn't help anyway."
"Yeah the girls would just be meaner if they got in trouble for it. Nobody can actually stop them. I should just drop out of the class."
"But then they'd win!"
"What would they win? They'd lose cause they wouldn't have anyone to kick around anymore."
"So they'd just find someone new."
"That wouldn't be fair to everyone else there."
"But it's not my job to protect everyone in the class and be their whipping-person or whatever. They can take care of themselves... right?"
"But it's still not FAIR!"
"Life isn't fair. Right? That's what everyone always says."
"Yeah but they say that to justify mean things happening. Not to say that we should just be as mean as we want and it's ok cause life isn't fair."
"But then ... but it's not mean. It's obsessing about what the girls MIGHT do and being a total martyr about it. It's not your job to be there so they can have someone to pick on."
Jessica mulled this over, drumming her toes on the floor anxiously. "Then whose job is it?"
"It's not anybody's job! Nobody should be there for them to do that! And maybe if you do something about it even if it's just leaving then the next person they pick on will have the sense to do something to stop it too!"
"Yeah. You're like the Rosa Parks of nerdy kids everywhere."
"Was that sarcasm? Cause that's really wrong."
Jessica tried to stop thinking about it but the thoughts kept coming, unbidden. "The whole question was whether to tell Mom and Moms anyway, not what else to do about it."
"They'd just worry."
"But that's that whole martyr thing again. They would want to know."
"They might know what to do about it."
"They'd be really pissed off at those girls."
"They'd probably be pissed off at the whole school."
"It's not like they won't be able to tell that something's wrong."
Jessica grumbled to herself. She hated when this happened. She should be able to make it quiet in her own brain, for pete's sake. Couldn't other people do it? Maybe that's why more people didn't meditate. She could never make it quiet enough in there to meditate; it was just a rain of thoughts on a million different topics all the time when she tried. Reluctantly, she got up and headed downstairs. She could just see if they noticed, she told herself, and let the ball be in their court. At least if she gave in to that impulse she might be distracted from her own inner bickering for a while.