Chapter summary: Whatever happened to Grace Park? You know, that happens to somebody in your school, right? One day she's there, and the next day she's just ... gone. Nobody knows her name anymore. Nobody remembers her. So, what happened with Grace Park? Lemme tell you.


Let me tell you a story.

The funny thing about this story? It's all true.

Hi. My name's Rebekah Isaac. I go to Annandale High School, not TJ like my asshole-genius brother, Da5id (yes, that's his name) (don't ask, it only encourages him), and I have my own sex-slave.

Her name is Grace.

Let me tell you a secret. I am a hard-ass on her. I'm her worst fucking nightmare, ... well, daymare, too, actually.

That's not the secret.

The secret is, and I will never tell her this in her life, is that I love her.

I love me my little Grace Park.

How did I get me a high school senior sex slave when I was just starting out my frosh year?

Well, she, literally, fell into my lap.

Let me tell you a story. Let's start at the beginning.

...

Okay, so, there's me, a little Jew-girl starting out at Annandale High School and with how many Jews at school? Never mind school ... how many Jews in the county? We had to, like, drive out way West to Fairfax city to 'be among our People.' And like we ever did that?

We weren't exactly 'practicing' Jews, whatever that means. We celebrated Christmas, just like everybody else, we didn't go to whatever Bible Church that everybody else went to. We kept our heads down and our noses clean. We were well-off, but we didn't flaunt it.

Oh, and, like a lot of other families, our parents were getting divorced.

Yeah. That.

I think the only reason why my parents stayed together was because of Da5id. I mean, he was full-on ADD/Aspbergers. He was, like, okay, he was going to Thomas Jefferson but he was impressing people there. He was on the Math Team, and probably going to end up at MIT. Brilliant-smart. Scary-smart. bb, that's what I call him, 'bb' for 'big brother,' was a bit unhinged. I think he needed to get away from his comics collection and get laid, you know? Get outside for once in his life and actually talk to people.

Otherwise he'd end up as a newspaper article, you know? Like what happened at Virginia Tech, and now other places, too, where the nerd obsesses over a girl, gets all weird about it...

Then goes through the school with loaded automatic weapons.

I'd pity him, if I didn't hate him so much.

Da5id was the star child. He could do no wrong, and I was the invisible child, and I could do nothing that Da5id didn't already do, and way better than I ever could, and didn't he just strut into the house every quarter when he got his report card.

I did good at school. Great, in fact. All A's. An occasional B. I was near the top of my class in elementary.

But who cares? In eleventh grade, Da5id was taking college courses. Not 'college prep courses,' he was actually taking honest-to-G-d college courses.

And acing them. Of course. And didn't Dear-old-Dad have to announce that every time at the supper table when he was home from work.

Dad's a lawyer. Mom's a doctor. I'm surprised they even know each other's names anymore.

I'd be surprised if they knew my name.

Do you remember my name, by the way?

... yeah, didn't think so. Thanks for that.

So, there's this ... Grrl at school, her name's Latricia, and she's on the football team.

Yes, you just read that right. Latricia is one of the few black girls at school, and she was the only girl, white or black, on the football team. Did she get teased?

Oh, no, she did not. You wanted to tease Latricia if you wanted your face punched through your locker.

Shoot. What was my combination again?

A frosh's worse nightmare: forgetting where her locker is, and then forgetting her combination.

And then being late to class.

And showing up in only her bra and panties.

And being scolded by the teacher and made to sit in the front row of desks in front of everybody with everybody staring at you and laughing at you behind your back.

Worst. Nightmare. Ever!

You see, though, Latricia was one tough motherfucker, and she played football, and the boys from the other team didn't hold back, thinking they could make a nice little hole in the defense, right through Latricia.

That was before the first tackle. Then it was Latricia barreling through you, over you, her cleats on your face, and then offering you a hand up, saying 'Good hit!' as she pulled your face up from the dirt.

And that is how a girl hits.

People didn't tease Latricia. They feared her.

Well, it went around school that Latricia and Grace were a thing, and if you can think of the exact opposite of Latricia, then you think Grace. Grace was a good, kind, sweet girl, shy and quiet. Nerdy. Straight-As. Smart, but not scary-smart, like Da5id. I mean, Da5id could skip a grade — Hell, he could skip two grades, pack up and go to college, and leave me alone, please, o G-d — and he wouldn't even notice nor care. For others there'd be catching up, for Da5id the only catching up he'd need to do is catching up on his sleep, as always. For others, there'd be the readjustment of the loss of your old friends and trying to make new ones in your new grade. Da5id, though?

"Friends? What's that?" he'd ask.

Loser. With a capital-'L.'

Grace wasn't like that. She was a nice person, so far as I could tell, a frosh looking at a senior, and she kept to herself and her studies, but she wasn't asocial nor antisocial. She was even on the cheerleading squad. A thin kid like her, not too tall? She was perfect as a flyer.

And that's how Latricia noticed her.

One day, nothing unusual, the next day, after a long weekend where Grace was helping Latricia study, and they were ... a thing.

Nothing official, but now Grace followed Latricia wherever she went, before, during, and after school, even though they took different classes. Way different. Latricia wasn't stupid, by any stretch, but she wasn't a genius, by any stretch, either. Grace was smart and in all the AP classes, lined up to go to University of Virginia with a scholarship and everything.

Which was good. She's Korean. Her family's Korean, and the Koreans swept into Annandale, the armpit of Northern Virginia and transformed it into Korea-town ten years ago or so, and what used to be derelict lots where now Sheila bakeries and Cricket phone outlets and Kumon learning centers and lime-green Froyo shops and H-mart and Lotte supermarkets and ... well, everything. Annandale was scary before, empty, and now it was vibrant and alive and bustling, all thanks to the Koreans.

But that didn't mean all the Koreans were rich. Some of them, a lot of them, lived in the poorer apartment buildings in town, not far from AHS, like on Americana drive or behind the H-Mart. Not all the Koreans had a palatial house on Hummer drive.

Case in point: the Parks.

So, college, with a scholarship, for Grace, and she'd get to be a doctor.

Just like my mom. Joy.

But what can you do? Our family's well-off, but I never see my parents. My brother's more a parent to me than my parents, and please don't remind me of that, thanks.

Grace sees her family, but they're poor. Her, being a doctor?

Wouldn't that just make her parents die of happiness and relief? 'Our daughter's a doctor. We don't live the American dream, but we sacrificed so that she could.'

It was written all over their faces, what I saw of them, making sure she did well in school, her father so proud and so aloof, her mother so ... well, proud and aloof, too. Both so proud their daughter was doing well in school.

I wonder what they thought of Latricia?

I wonder if they knew about Latricia?

Somehow, I think they didn't.

Well, I was in the cheerleading squad, too, and that just was the be-all and end-all for me. Here's something that I could do that no way in hell my brother could do nor even understand. And here was my chance to start to make friends and actually have a social life. Being a cheerleader? That, by definition, made you one of the cool kids, and the team was fiercely loyal to their own. They looked out for you.

I felt I belonged.

I was also getting noticed. By boys. And that was ... nice.

No, it wasn't 'nice.' It was a relief.

It was a relief that I wasn't going to turn out to be all weirded out like my brother. It was a relief that I could talk with other girls and hang out and not feel like an outsider anymore.

That feeling? Being in? and not an outsider?

Once you feel that, you don't go back to being on the fringe. It's not cool to be a loner or a hater or a nerd. It fucking sucks. High school was my fresh start, and I was seizing that bull by both horns, and not letting go, and not looking back.

No way in hell was I going to end up like my brother.

Boys noticed me now. Girls? Notice my brother? Only if they wanted to cheat on a test.

But more than just boys noticed me, the frosh cheerleader.

One night, after cheerleader practice, Grace came up to me, which was, okay, weird, because why would a Senior want to talk to a frosh?

"H-hey, Becca," Grace said.

Everything in her posture said she was scared to death of something.

"Hey," I said carefully.

"Hey," Grace said.

We just looked at each other.

I blinked.

"So, ..." Grace tried again. "Latricia was, like ... wondering if you'd like to hang out at her place ... a-after this ... or something. S-she, ..." she swallowed. "Her mom's got the night shift, 'n-'nd, you know, so ... we could ... study. And stuff. And ..."

Grace looked around quickly to see if anyone else was listening into our conversation. Everybody else had already filed out of the locker room to go home. "And, you know. Alcohol. If you want."

Grace went white. "Or not."

She looked like she was about to run away. Or puke. Or both.

"Um," I said, thinking.

Grace.

And Latricia.

'Hang' with them.

Like that's not weird.

But ... to hang out with Seniors? They could study. And I could study. And I could have a drink. If I wanted.

And my parents didn't get home until late from their respective jobs, so they wouldn't notice if I came home late from cheerleading practice. They wouldn't even be home yet.

And like they checked on me when they did get home at 10 pm, or 11 pm, or ... midnight, 1, 2, 3 am, or even not at all when Dad had a big case he was prosecuting (when wasn't he?) or when Mom was up all night delivering another baby for a mom-to-be that wanted to go natural?

"How do I get home?" I asked.

I didn't know where Latricia lived. Couldn't be far, but walk home in the dark? Or beg bb to come and pick me up?

Ick.

"Uhm ..." Grace said. "I guess Latricia could bring you home. I guess."

Latricia brought Grace to and from school recently, I had noticed. Everybody had noticed.

Latricia carried Grace's books.

Now that was hard not to notice. In fact, it kinda two-by-foured you in the face, and you'd have to have been hiding under a rock or be my brother not to notice.

"Huh," I said. "Okay."

"'Okay'?" Grace asked, surprised at my easy agreement. Was she expecting a fight? "I mean: great! Thanks!"

She ran off to her locker, stripped and was in the showers before you could say. "Um, what?"

Okay. Why was she thanking me for going over to her ... 'friend's' house.

Yeah. Latricia. Her ... 'friend.'

Whatever. To each her own.

This was going to be an interesting night, I thought, as I prepared, myself, for the shower.

I was shy of my body, not that I was too big, or too little, too fair or too plain, or too anything. I was ... nothing, really, just average. The 'girl next door' look? That was me. A brunette, as plain and ordinary as you could get, with one exception, my family has hazel eyes, but I got lucky: my eyes are sea green. I was Daddy's little girl for a while with them, when he was home. People tell me they look into my eyes and get lost in them. I mean, I have people come up to me and say, 'Wow! You have beautiful eyes!' and they're staring right into my eyes as they're saying this, like they were the only thing they saw, they only thing that mattered to them, but ...

But that's one of the reasons why I was glad to be in the cheerleader squad, too. I mean, Grace was taller than me, and elfin, living up to her namesake, graceful, lithe, but girls were always comparing themselves to each other, some had bigger boobs, some had bigger butts, some had longer hair, or straighter, or redder (or way redder! Case in point: Julie), or whatever, and a thing I envied in another girl, that very thing that girl hated in herself. Nobody was perfect, even if they were thought super-pretty.

A girl could really hate herself, hate her body, just because she wanted to, but ...

But I could so easily fall into that trap. Grace was so beautiful, but she hated the fact that she was Korean, not white, and I was like ... what? She made boys scared of her, she was so pretty, but she just didn't see herself that way, and was shy about herself.

I wasn't a knock-out, I didn't have C-cup boobs, I ...

'I-this,' and 'I-that,' I could like or hate my bits and pieces, the parts that made up my body, and go look for ways to beat myself up, or I could just look at me as just another girl, of about fifty percent of all the people who populated this planet, just another cheerleader, and be fine with it, fine with me.

And I was. I didn't need to stress over my body, like a lot of people did, I had what I had, I tried to make what I had, better, sure, but otherwise...

Otherwise, eh, what's the point of wasting time and energy over something in me that wasn't going to change? I was cute, I wasn't all that tall, or have smoldering eyes, or whatever, but I was fine with that. And being in the cheerleaders did that for me, I was shy of myself, but I had to just get over me, get on the court or the field, do my thing with the other girls, head to the locker room, then strip, get in the shower, and go home after smiling and saying 'goodnight' to the other girls, my teammates. They didn't care if I were shy, they had to shower, too, or stink to high hell, so it wasn't that they didn't care, really, it was just that we all had to do what we had to do, and there was no time for nerving about me-me-me when you're on a team.

I hopped in a shower, not too near Grace, I hoped. I didn't want to appear too eager, you know: the I-so-excited-I-could-wet-myself look, but I didn't want to be aloof or ungrateful. It was a balancing act, and you had to get it just right to be cool.

The thing with Grace, though? She was totally not being cool. She tried to ignore me, like I didn't exist, and she cringed into herself, like she wanted to pretend that she didn't exist, like she wanted to be washed down the drain like soap-scum.

And I just didn't get that. Why was she shy around me?

Latricia came into the locker room. You couldn't miss her. She was the only girl on the football team, and you had to kinda look to know she was a girl, even, because that girl was built! and under all that padding, she looked like one of the guys, one of the badass guys. When you did look, it was obvious, but if you didn't ...

She was some heavy firepower on the AHS football team, I tell you what. Girl, no girl, the guys on our team were glad she was on our team, and not the other High school teams we played against.

She threw her helmet onto the floor and stripped off her uniform with tired, efficient moves, throwing her pads and shit onto the locker room floor in a big, sweaty pile.

She almost staggered into the showers, grabbing a stall between me and Grace and turning the water on warm and full blast.

She hung onto the overhead shower nozzle like it was the only thing keeping her standing, and she soaked up the water in silence for a while.

If Grace were quiet and scared before, she was now ... preternaturally calm, washing herself with automatic movements, not saying a word, not even thinking a thought.

Latricia heaved a huge sigh. "Fuck!" she barked through a tired yawn, causing Grace to flinch. Latricia stretched, owning her spot, then observed: "Practice today was a bitch."

She was quiet for a while more, just hanging there, her head resting against the wall. Then she said quietly to Grace. "What did she say?"

"Yes," Grace said. "She said, 'yes.'"

Latricia was quiet for a bit more, then she opened one eye, scrutinizing me. "Good," she said, finally, and added: "Cool."

Latricia gave herself the once-over with the soap and was done with her shower just like that.

"Well," she said addressing Grace curtly, "don't take all day," grabbed her towel and headed to her locker.

"O-okay," Grace said meekly to Latricia's back, and finished up quickly.

...

Latricia drove us home. Grace sat in front. They held hands as Latricia drove.

That was ... okay, I guess. I mean ... I don't know what that was. I guess, you know, boyfriend-girlfriend, you hold hands when you're driving somewhere, so it was natural, I suppose for Grace and Latricia to hold hands, too, right? They were girlfriend-girlfriend, right?

But what seemed different is that they weren't lovey-dovey about it. You know, the 'I love you so much!'-look that made everybody else want to gag. No, this was, like, Latricia held out her hand, and Grace was expected to put hers into it. And that was that.

We drove to Latricia's place in silence.

Latricia's family wasn't rich, either, it turned out. She drove a beater, and she drove it to the apartments on Little River Turnpike just inside the beltway, right near the Safeway across the only Wendy's in town. The only place the Koreans hadn't gotten to transforming into the shiny, new Little Korea: the Latino part of town.

This looked ... safe.

Yeah.

I scrunched down in the back seat a little bit more.


A/N:

Dear Ms. Muse,

Thank you for giving me so much inspiration recently, and all at once. Thank you for filling my head with these dreams that I just have to write down so I can get banned from ffn and can't even publish on literotica. I really appreciate it.

Yeah.

And I so love that these are all about frosh year of high school, the worst year of my life. I'm really happy about that. What next? Dreams about my first year of college when I got pregnant and then lost my baby, too? That'd be ... great!

Anybody know where I can go to get a cheap lobotomy so these dreams can... just... stop?

ps: Rebekah in no way, shape, or form resembles me in looks, demeanor, overshadow(...ment?) by a genius brother, or anything.

And I didn't have a Grace in High school, either, so that just proves it, and fml.

I had me a Julie, redheaded, freckled Julie, and she left me to marry Mr. Right.

So there's that, too.

pps: And I so didn't go to Annandale High School where we had one black girl on our football team who was totally kick-ass, fer realz, and my brother so didn't go to TJ (because he was too fucking good for fucking TJ. And, no, I'm not bitter), so there's that, too, as well. So there.

love, `phfina

... okay, one more ps:

So, I was tickled pink when I saw that But I'm a Cheerleader was a category for me to pick with this story. This story is not a But I'm a Cheerleader story in that it doesn't have the same characters, the same parents, the same scenarios, but it is a But I'm a Cheerleader story in that the same kind of self-discovery occurs. These girls don't carry labels on them saying 'I'm a lesbian' or 'I'm out proud' or anything like that. They aren't their labels. They are girls, they are growing, they are finding out about themselves, some things they like, maybe, some things they hate about themselves, for sure, and in others.

Just like in But I'm a Cheerleader. Megan wasn't a 'Lesbian' at the beginning of the movie. She didn't even know what one was nor even care until she was forced to confront it by her own family. These girls aren't 'Lesbians.' They aren't carrying any torches. They are human, so, by definition, they make stupid, conceited mistakes.

Sounds like anyone you know, `phfina?

`phfina raises her hand, blushing.

So, don't read this story, expecting anything neat and tidy and labeled here, okay? Don't expect anything, and please don't carry any torches for our girls here.

They have enough burdens, already, just being themselves, and trying to figure out what that is, actually.