Defiance by astra888 (hattori-hanzo) via www.DeviantArt.com
Jennie stood in the middle of a gaggle of High School graduates watching her classmates. They were hugging their parents, getting photos taken; many of the girls had plastic wrapped bouquets in hand. Her white cap slid from her head in the warm June breeze. She unzipped her gown and took it off. No one was going to take her picture and it was too hot anyway.
Her Celtic dragon tattoo glowed green and gold in the sunlight. Missy Chamber’s mom scowled when she saw it over Missy’s shoulder as they hugged. Little did she know Missy had a tat on her left butt cheek, a tiny pair of pursed lips. “So my Mom can kiss my ass,” she told Jennie the night she got it. That was during winter break, right after Jennie had the dragon done.
“What about your parents, aren’t they going to be mad?”
“What do I care,” Missy hiccupped. They were drinking Colt 45 from brown paper bags in the park in the center of town. Jennie had hooked them out of the fridge. Her parents had been drinking since mid-afternoon, they’d never miss the two beers.
As she walked to the door of the school, she passed Carl Chu. His parents had given him a new Porsche for graduation. He winked at her as she passed by. They’d dated briefly last year, a fling on the wrong side of the tracks for him. He’d invited her to his house a few times, his parents watching her every second, afraid she’d steal something. It didn’t matter. As soon as she’d put out a few times the challenge was gone and he’d dropped her over summer vacation.
Her father had backhanded her across the room when he found out. Her mother took her to the clinic to have the baby aborted. She complained to every nurse and doctor about how Jennie was a big disappointment. On the way home her mother told her, “Don’t come begging for a second chance. This was it. Next time get the bum who got you knocked-up to pay for the clinic.”
Jennie kept quiet. You’re no prize either. But she held her tongue. Her mother could hit like a line backer.
In the hallway leading to the classroom where they were to drop off the caps and gowns, she passed a clot of girls surrounding Emily Little. She’d just gotten her acceptance letter to Brown. Jennie remembered going to grade school with Emily. They played together on the playground; Emily too shy to play with anyone else. She was smart then, Jennie remembered. No wonder she’s the class Valedictorian.
Emily nodded to her so she nodded back. Jennie was barely past the group when the whispering began. “Her parents didn’t come.” “Did you know her parents are drunk every night?” “My Dad had her father as a client in a domestic violence case.”
Jennie stood up straighter. She knew the girl’s lawyer father. He tried to pick her up every Saturday night at the diner where she waitressed. What would she think if she knew about her perv father.
She turned in the cap and gown, taking the tassel off and tucking it into her short shorts pocket. At least she’d graduated. That was a miracle in itself. Her parents called her stupid, looser, waste of space, every day of her life. Jennie ground her teeth together. Two years ago she’d retorted, “Takes one to know one.” Her father knocked her across the room and broke her arm and three ribs. Since then she’d said as little to them as possible and stayed out of the house as much as she could.
Andy Coulter stopped her in the hall as she neared the exit. “Hi, Jennie.”
Angry about the girls and her parents, she almost blew by him. She knew he had a crush on her, after all, she was pretty good looking, why shouldn’t he? So she stopped. “Andy.”
He blushed. “Uh, you going to a party or anything?”
“Nah,” she stuck her hands in the pockets and shot out her left hip. “Too lame.”
“Yeah,” he stuttered. “Lame.” His eyes darted around the now bare hallway; all of the posters and announcement sheets had already been removed by the janitors. “You going to college in the fall?”
Jennie stood up. “No.” She swallowed. “Couldn’t decide where to go.”
“Oh,” his face fell. “I got accepted to Ridgeway. Maybe get a degree in electrical engineering.”
“I heard Ridgeway’s good.” Jennie was glad for him but it ticked her off that she would be staying in this dead end town, working for crap wages and tips.
His face brightened. “Maybe you can go to the Community College. It would give you the basics while you figure out where you want to go.”
Jennie dug her fingernails into her palms. “Maybe. Look, I gotta go home and get ready for work.”
“Sure, Jennie. See ya.”
She moved past him to the door. “Yeah, see ya.”
She fumed all the way home. Community College, wh’s gonna pay for that? Not her. Not unless she got a better job. When she came in the front door her parents were in their recliners, beers in hand and cans on the floor watching a movie they’d seen a million times.
Her father called out. “So, you’re graduated?”
“Yeah.” She inched toward the stairs to go to her bedroom.
“Don’t go thinkin’ you’re better’n us. You’re still a stupid twit who’ll never amount to shit.”
She raced up the stairs. Oh, yeah? Andy’s comment about the Community College leapt to mind. I’ll see about that. She threw on her diner uniform and left the house. She had just enough time to run over to the college before work.
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