Love...Hate...What's the difference, really?

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

by: Zoebird
I sighed and buried my face against the soft, velvety head of my polar bear stuffie. Yeah, I know how dumb it is that I'm seventeen but still have stuffed animals. But no, I don't care, because I ''love'' my stuffies-they are the one creatures on this planet I can say anything to, and they accept and love me just the way I am. Unconditionally.
Things had not gone well when dad had taken me home.
~One hour ago~
Mom was in the living room, waiting, hands on her hips and one toe tapping. Lucky me. She eyed me with disapproval, possibly even disgust.
"Sit down, dear," she said, pointing one red talon-uh, ''finger,''-at the cream-colored couch. I cringed, then moaned internally as I sat on the edge of my seat. Mom strode forward gracefully, eyeing me narrowly-from my bloody, tattered hair and outfit, to my bruised, pale face.
Then she started yelling-telling me how I was a failure, how I was ruining the future she worked so hard to build for me, how I was a disgrace to the family name. When she got to that, I snorted quietly-like anybody knew the family name?
Mom's eyes narrowed and-before I could even brace myself-she slapped me. My head screamed in protest, my cheek burned, and I felt a warm trail slip down my cheek as my eyes overflowed. I placed my palm against my face and bowed my head, refusing to give her the satisfaction of seeing me cry. I gritted my teeth.
"Look at you!" she said mockingly, in tones of disgust. "You're so weak. It's pathetic! I can't believe you're my daughter. I'm ashamed to be in your presence." Her lip curled, and I felt anger spark through me, chasing the tears away. My fists clenched, my muscles all tensed.
"Get out of my sight, filth," she ordered, turning her back on me dismissively. Once she wasn't looking, I flipped her the bird, then hurriedly scrambled to my room, slammed the door, and locked it behind me. Then I buried my face in my polar bear's fur and gave in, for a time, to tears.
I heaved a sigh and wiped my puffy-feeling eyes, sniffling hard through my stuffy nose. I sat up straight, then pulled out my homework and started applying my mind to the problems at hand. I was done in about an hour, with several more hours before it'd be acceptable for me to go to bed.
I got up, wincing as my stiff muscles all protested. I happened to glance in the mirror, and groaned loudly-I was a mess! My hair was tangled and matted with blood. My clothes were bloody and ruined-I would have to trash them. But the worst part was my skin-I was covered in scrapes and bruises, lumps and bumps; I looked like I'd just been through a war.
I felt like it, too. My head pounded hard with my heart, and every movement caused agony to spear through a different part of me. My side protested every time I breathed, making me feel like I was being stabbed in the side. I winced, then brushed away the last of the tears. Then I straightened my spine-no way was I going to let that bitch scare me into hiding in my room!
Moving swiftly, I grabbed a fresh change of clothes, opened my door, and peered both ways down the hallway. Once I determined it was all clear, I scuttled down to the bathroom, locking the door behind me. Once I was locked in, I stripped down quickly, yanking my ruined blouse and jeans off, wincing as I ached and throbbed all over, and cramming them in the tiny garbage can.
After that, I turned the shower on and showered quickly, scrubbing until all traces of blood were gone from my hair and skin. I would tend to the bruises in the morning-a little cover-up, and I'd be fine.
At least, I would ''look'' fine, and that's what mattered. Because nobody could know about my situation. If they ever knew...
A shiver of what may have been premonition tingled down my spine, tightening my muscles and making my stomach roll.
I took a deep breath, then scrambled back to my room, locking the door. I pulled out my homework, letting my mind focus on the mundane task ahead of me, dulling my senses.
I don't really recall falling asleep. But the next thing I knew, my alarm was blaring at me. I sat up and squinted, then groaned-6:37. Great-I slept in! Wasn't that just ''brilliant'' of me? I scrambled out of bed, pulling on black nike shorts and a navy tank top with a flowered pattern along the neckline, wearing a black button-up top and a navy jacket, unzipped, over it.
I yanked a brush through my hair until it was smooth and shiny, then crammed all my books and homework into my bag before slinging it over my shoulder and racing down the stairs.
I heard noise in the kitchen, so I called out "I'm running late, slept in, no time for breakfast, gotta go BYE!" before slamming the door and running to my car. I jerked the door open, tossed my bag in the passenger seat, and gunning the engine of my cute little honda civic and peeling out of the driveway.
I floored it then, driving to school as fast as speed laws would allow. I squealed to a halt in my usual space, then yanked my keys out and grabbed my bag. Once I was out of the car, I was sprinting for all I was worth. I glanced at my watch...and uttered a word that, if dad had ever heard me say it, would have bleached my mouth.
I got into my first period-Italian-just as the bell was ringing.
"Uh, Mi dispiace tanto, ho fatto tardi, la signora Key-ho dormito, giuro che non succederà più," I said nervously (if you don't get it, use Google Translate or something). Mrs. Key nodded at me, then said a boggling flurry of words while gesturing at my seat, which I took to mean I was supposed to take my seat (hey, you try taking Italian-it's confusing!).
I rushed to my seat, ignoring the snickers of my classmates. I knew I looked frazzled-no duh, I'd gotten ready in five minutes! I was just glad my shoes matched.
So far, the outlook for today: not so good.

I trudged through the rest of first and all of second period-science-without paying attention to what I was doing or saying. Actually, I wasn't sure if I said much of anything at all. I stumbled into third period and sat at my desk, pulling out my notebook and doodling absently from memory.
I was just putting on the finer details when notebooks slammed next to me. I jumped, then looked around in confusion-had class already started? I hadn't heard the bell... Jeesh, I must really be out of it today. I rubbed my head and struggled to focus as Mrs. Horn droned on and on about contrapositives and biconditionals, but my head just wasn't in the game again.
I gritted my teeth and forced my bleary brain to focus-if I wasn't careful, I would end up failing this class, and then I would never get into a good college, and then I'd never escape this hell hole I was forced to call home!
Paper rustling around me jolted me back to awareness, making me realize that while I'd been mentally berating myself, Mrs. Horn had given us our assignment, and I had no clue what it was. I chewed my lip as I considered my options. Becka-who sat behind me-was the first person I'd usually ask, but she was absent. That left Adryanne (ugh!), Jason(eek!), or risking asking Mrs. Horn and getting the lecture of the century.
I hesitated, then sighed and leaned over to Jason while Mrs. Horn turned her back on the class. "Hey," I murmured, "what was the assignment? I missed it." He sneered at me but tilted his paper so I could hastily scribble down the assignment on the back of my sketch. I nodded my thanks at him, then ripped a new piece of paper out of my notebook and starting on the assignment, pushing my doodle to the edge of my desk so I'd have more room to work.
That was my big mistake. But at the moment, I gave it not thought.
Already my head was pounding, but I forced myself to focus on the problems. I was done in class, with ten minutes to spare. I glanced around the room; everyone else was still working. I shrugged and grabbed my doodle, adding finer touches to the picture to make it look more realistic and less cartoony.
I had just finished the curve of the mouth-tilted up in a genuine smile, for once, instead of the sarcastic cockiness it usually held-when the paper disappeared from under my desk.
"''Hey!''" I whispered fiercely, scorching Jason with my eyes and trying to snatch my drawing back. He tugged it out of my reach, then examined it, his eyebrows rising incredulously.
"Give it back!" I snarled under my breath, lunging for it. This time he released it, but he was looking at me with wide, shocked eyes. I felt heat rising to my face as I stashed the drawing in my binder. Then I met his flabbergasted gaze with a challenging glare of my own, my chin lifting. "What?" I muttered to him. "You didn't know I drew? Or are you just shocked I actually have talent?" I flipped my hair haughtily, sneering down my nose at him.
"I...I just...didn't know..." he stammered.
"Didn't know ''what?'' God, just spit it out!" I snapped under my breath, glaring at him icily. He flinched, then looked away, his eyes still wide.
"Nothing..." he mumbled, eyes darting to my contemptous air and away again. I snorted, then snatched my things up and walked swiftly out of there to get to my next class.
The rest of my day followed the pattern of my first 2 classes: a blurry haze of nonawareness, feeling almost catatonic as I stumbled around campus. The sixth period bell finally rang, and although I wasn't particularly enjoying the school day, I didn't particularly want to go home either.
Instead of going straight home, I sat in my car for a while, just idling while my peers dribbled out, wondering how I could kill time without getting in trouble...
Tap tap tap
I jumped, then glanced at my window in confusion. Then I groaned as I rolled down the window, glaring.
"What do you want, Jason?" I asked coldly.

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