I hated getting older. As soon as my friends entered high school I had been seeing less and less of them. And now that Michael, Pete, and Henrietta were in college I barely got to see them at all. Granted, they went to the local community college so we could still be close, but because of their classes, we still didn’t get to see each other. I hated being younger than them. Sometimes I felt like I was holding them back simply by being five years younger.
I tried to coordinate my schedule to theirs. I often went to the college to work when my friends were in between classes. Pete and Michael actually moved out of their parents’ houses and had a dorm room together. Henrietta was too cheap, so she was still living at home. I wish I had the luxury of even choosing where I could live.
Unfortunately, life at home had become unbearable for me. It would be one thing if my parents just bugged me like normal. But when I turned nine, they decided to have another kid. One they could mold into whatever shape they wanted. I guess when they realized I was staying goth they wanted to start over with a new kid.
Only instead of one kid, my mother gave birth to twins. And they are evil. I am convinced Timmy and Tammy were sent to this Earth for the sole purpose of tormenting me. I’m sixteen now, so for seven years of my life those two have tortured me. They’re always getting me in trouble and because mom and dad like them more than me they always take their side. I could be sitting in my room all day and they would still somehow manage to blame something on me.
But probably the most irritating thing about my life right now was the football team. For some reason they just insisted making my life a living hell. And not the good kind of hell. I have no idea why, either. Henrietta suggested it’s because I keep saying they’re the group of closeted homosexuals collectively known as the football team, but what else am I supposed to call them when they keep whipping their dicks out all the time?
“It probably doesn’t help that you keep making fun of them to their faces,” Pete pointed out. We were sitting outside at one café tables at the community college as I lamented to my friends my recent troubles.
“Well maybe they should stop being overly sensitive man babies,” I scoffed, “They’re all going out with cheerleaders, you’d think they would be more secure in their manhood.”
“Apparently not,” Michael snickered.
I sighed and rested my head on my hand. “So, how have you guys been?” I asked my friends. I had been focusing a lot on myself recently, I had no idea what was going on with their lives. “How are your classes going?”
“Eh, boring,” Henrietta replied, “I wish we didn’t have to take a bunch of useless mandatory classes like math and history. Why would we ever need math in writing?”
“Well at least you’re getting them out of the way now,” I said encouragingly, “Instead of putting them off for when you really don’t want to do them. Plus, if you transfer to another school you won’t have to take them again.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Henrietta muttered, “Doesn’t make them any less boring, though.”
I let out a soft laugh while fingering the black crystal that hung around my neck. When Michael, Pete, and Henrietta first went to high school, they had all chipped in and bought me a necklace with a black crystal pendant to wear. They told me it was their way of staying close to me, even while we were in different schools. I know it’s corny, cliché, and a bit conformist, but I thought it was sweet of them, and it really helped me through some tough times. Whenever I was feeling particularly lonely, I would just touch the crystal and remember my friends, and it would make me feel better.
“So, how about you, Firkle?” Michael asked, “Besides the football team giving you a hard time, anything else going on in your life?”
“I think you mean besides the football team, their cheerleader girlfriends, my stupid younger siblings, and my parents giving me a hard time,” I corrected, in a slightly annoyed tone. I thought for a moment. “My stalker is back,” I told them.
“Oh fun,” Pete said sarcastically.
A couple of years ago someone, I don’t know who, started following me around. They would leave me encouraging notes, and put treats in my locker, but most concerning was that I’m pretty sure this person got me out of a jam once or twice. Sometimes if I was in real trouble and my friends couldn’t help me, some seeming miracle would happen to help me out. Only it wasn’t a miracle, it was my stalker.
“Do you have any clue who it might be?” Henrietta wondered.
I sighed loudly. “Nope,” I replied, annoyed, “I don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl.”
“Hopefully it’s not the quarter back’s cheerleader girlfriend,” Michael said, “You know, the one that thinks you’re hot and has a crush on you?”
“Oh God, I hope not,” I muttered, “That bitch is ruining my life.”
Pete gave me a pitiful look before looking at his watch. “Well, sorry to cut this short, Firkle, but we have a class in two minutes,” he explained, “We’ve gotta go.”
I tried not to look too disappointed as they got up and said their good-byes. With a heavy sigh, I picked up my shoulder bag and shoved my homework into it. Then I started walking back towards home.
The walk from the college to my house wasn’t too long or bad, but I always felt especially lonely on the way back. I was separating from my friends in another reminder of our age difference. Sometimes I felt like I was holding them back. I knew they could go onto better things, but they stayed behind because of me. And when I finally reached college, would they wait for me to finish community college so we could transfer to a better college together? Or would they not want to wait that long? My grades had started slipping recently for various reasons, so if I wanted to get into a good college I would either have to work harder to get my grades back up or do community college and transfer.
I was so distracted by my thoughts, I didn’t even realize that there was someone walking beside me until I felt them brush against me. Gasping, I nearly jumped out of my skin and leaped sideways at the touch as I was startled half to death. Ike Broflovski blinked in surprise at me.
“Sorry,” Ike muttered, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I stared in mild shock at Ike, breathing a little heavily, and wondering where the fuck he came from. I hadn’t seen him at all, it’s as if he came out of nowhere.
“What are you doing here?” I asked him with slight hostility.
“Er, I just saw you walking from the college and I thought I’d join you,” he explained, “Can’t two friends just walk beside each other?”
I scoffed at him. “We’re not friends,” I pointed out, “At best I barely tolerate you.”
“Fine. Can’t two classmates just walk beside each other?” he corrected. I let out a breath of air in annoyance.
“If you must,” I replied, “Don’t expect me to acknowledge your existence, though.” Ike nodded and I continued down the street. He quickened his stride to catch up with me and kept bumping his arm against mine.
One thing you have to know about me is I am asexual. Dating anyone, even other goths, did not appeal to me in the slightest. And I don’t know what it’s like for other people who are asexual, but unless you’re being really freaking obvious, I’m not going to realize when someone is hitting on me.
I bring this up now because there are certain things my companion beside me did, a quick sideways glance at me, a light brushing of our hands, that to nearly anyone else would lead them to conclude that Ike was up to something but was completely lost on me. The only thing I noted was how annoying it was that Ike seemed to keep trying to grab my hand.
I guess the silence must’ve gotten to him, because even though I told him I was going to ignore him, Ike decided to speak. “So, um, how are your friends?” he asked.
“Fine,” I replied bluntly.
“Are they, uh, doing well in their classes?” he wondered.
“I guess so,” I said. I shoved my hands in my pockets so he couldn’t touch me anymore.
Ike looked at me from the corner of his eye. I could tell he wanted to ask something but was too cowardly to say it. I rolled my eyes.
“What?” I snapped at him.
“How are your grades doing?” he questioned, not looking directly at me.
I stopped in my tracks and glared at him. Ike quickly stopped and looked at me, blushing slightly. He averted his gaze and looked down at the ground.
“What gives you any right to ask?” I hissed at him.
“Well, the truth is the principal and your teachers have been concerned about your slipping grades,” he explained, “And the principal wanted me to tutor you to help you do better.”
I couldn’t help but let out a bitter laugh. “Since when did the principal give two shits about me?” I asked.
“She cares about all of her students,” Ike insisted, though I didn’t really believe him, “You started out the year doing so well, but at this rate if you don’t get your grades up you won’t graduate to Junior year.”
I hissed with annoyance and looked away. I felt him suddenly put a hand on my shoulder and I flinched slightly. I really didn’t like people touching me. I also felt it unnecessary when he took a step closer to me.
“Look, let me help you,” he said, “I have all the same subjects as you and I’m in most of your classes. I can help you get your grades back up and then you don’t have to worry about being left behind.”
It was scary how much it seemed like he was reading my mind. How did he know about my fears? I folded my arms and refused to look at him.
“Fine,” I muttered, “This doesn’t mean we’re friends or anything, though. And we’re only studying where I want. Mostly in my room. I don’t want to be seen in public with you. Got it?” Ike nodded.
He started to separate from me, probably to head for his own home, but I nudged him in the back. “Where are you going?” I asked.
Ike gave me a baffled look. “Um, home?” he replied, slightly confused.
“Uh-Uh! I’ve got homework tonight!” I told him, “If you’re going to do this tutoring thing, you’re starting now, and coming home with me!”
I swore I saw a shudder run through his body as he nodded again. He walked back to rejoin me and I’m pretty sure he was standing a little closer than he was before. We started walking again, and it suddenly dawned on me that Ike would be the first person besides my friends whoever saw the inside of my house.
My family lived on the edge of town, right near the woods, and the house we lived in was way too small for the six of us. It was only one-story high with an attic which I had made into my room ever since the twins were born. We didn’t even have a basement. There was a reason my friends and I only ever met at Henrietta’s house or occasionally Michael’s before they went to college.
I tried to be as quiet as possible when Ike and I got to my house. I didn’t want Timmy and Tammy knowing I was home and bugging me. But it’s like the little bitch and bastard have super hearing, because no sooner had I set foot in the door were they in front of me like a pair of buzzing mosquitoes.
“Hey Georgie!” Tammy exclaimed in her annoying high-pitched voice, “Mom and dad says they’re mad that you’re home so late again!”
“Yeah, well fuck mom and dad,” I growled at her. One of the things the twins did that annoyed me the most was constantly call me by my real name. The moment they began speaking and I realized that they didn’t like me I had given up trying to get them to call me Firkle.
“Who’s that, Georgie?” Timmy asked, pointing at Ike, “Is he your boyfriend? Or are you paying him to be your friend ‘cuz you have none no more?”
“Why don’t you little tyrants get into dad’s Playboys again and leave me alone?” I hissed, kicking at him. He stuck his tongue out at me before he and his stupid twin raced off. I turned to Ike, who was blushing for some reason.
“Come on,” I muttered, “Let’s go up to my room. I have a lock on the door so they can’t bother us.” Ike silently nodded as he followed me to my room.