Just Because You Don't Love Me.

Chaney





Never the picture perfect model, Helga Pataki spent most of her time idolizing things she considered perfect. After having a crush on the same boy for five years, it took the culture shock of going on to Middle School to help her move on. Watching her father say the same lies to a city full of naive people made her plain angry. When she arrived in her first 6th grade class, the room was decorated with posters of local sponsors trying to sell their cheap, "Made in China" products. She was so sick of her whole life knowing nothing but money grubbing manufacturers. She saw all her classmates trying to impress each other and never understood why. She wore the same outfit all the time.



Helga took her seat and saw some of her old PS 118 classmates sit down. Some had moved away, some had gotten other teachers. Her best friend, Phoebe, moved away. The school was so different from her elementary school. She couldn't throw spit balls, she couldn't tease. All the new rules meant she could get suspended for practically anything. She had given up on those ways, though. As Helga grew, she began to expand her mind. She read all the time and that gave her a sense of "maturity." She had been given a rare insight into the adult world now that her reading level was that of an 11th grader. Arnold, the boy she had liked so long, sat down in front of her. She watched him with loving eyes as he went through his bag gathering supplies. He had almost never been mean to her, and she couldn't really catagorize him into being a "prep" or a "jock" because those stereotypes were meant for mean children.



After about a month of the same old things, Helga rented a movie. Normally, this isn't any big deal. But this time, she rented "Hackers." For those of you who have yet to see "Hackers," it is a movie based on freakish computers hackers resisting a hateful society. Helga wasn't really interested in computers, but the whole concept was intriguing to her. She was exposed to new ways of presenting herself. She began to get sick of seeing the same name brand clothes that all looked alike. She dressed in baggy jeans and hooded jackets. After a few searches at the local mall, she got some new jewelry she had fallen in love with. Spikes and chains on chokers and bracelets became her trademark. She noticed some her friends drifting away from her during her "change."



A while after all this happened, she met a boy. A new student entered her school from Chicago, Illinois. This boy, Rob, had spiked hair and wore the same spike jewels she adorned. This was how Helga got over Arnold. Rob was really cute, and just as nice as Arnold. Although she didn't really want to have a boyfriend anymore, she loved to hang out with Rob. The two went everywhere. Every week they would visit the local bean scene shop and get their caffeine fix. They drew closer and her obsession with Arnold became less extreme until the one-time fighting elementary kids called each others existence unpretentious.



Helga's physical science teacher, Mr. McCartey, was pairing up people for their next extra curricular assignment. It was very obvious who the friends in class were, because no one hung out with people from other crowds. Mr. McC, as he was called, decided to do an interactive study of the city's relation ships. How does the butcher provide for the housewives? How do the housewives provide for the community? How does the community provide for the butcher? Things like that. Because the assignment was focused on relationships between things not often paired together, Mr. McC did the same with the students. People from all cliques were grouped. Arnold and Helga were paired together. Rob and a girl named Lila were paired. They hadn't talked all year.



"Hi, Helga," the blond boy stated.



"Hey," she replied.



"So...what do you want to do for the project? We could always do how the boarding house helps the beeper salesmen," mused Arnold.



Helga tried to laugh, but then spoke, "Why don't we do ours on the relationship between punks and preps? It relates to every community and isn't widely spoken about."



Startled at this suggestion, he merely nodded. "I'll go online when I get home and try to find some stuff on it."



"Where's that going to get you?" She replied. "Most of the information you will find is either stereotypical or from wannabe's. If you want to get cold, hard facts, we have to go downtown. There are a couple of coffee shops we can go to for the punk scene and we could always check the mall for some preps."



"Well, um...ok. We can meet at the mall on Saturday at one, I guess." Arnold said.



"Good, good. See you then." The two former enemies parted and went on to their next class.



~~~



The two had a little bit of laughter while working on their project through the following week, and soon the winter festival was approaching for their school. Even though they were only in 6th grade, Mr. McC pulled some strings to let them attend the dance as a "special project." Subsequent to their project, everyone was to go to the highly popularized social function with their partner and write a report of their experience. This meant Helga would be able to fulfill her fantasies in elementary school by dancing with Arnold. The only problem with the plan was that Helga didn't like Arnold anymore, and Arnold tried to keep distance from Helga socially ever since she had gotten "weird."



Unfortunately, Helga was proud of her 3.8 grade point average so far that year and did not want to fail simply because of an almost platonic relationship with a past crush of hers. She decided she might as well go nicely, considering she never wanted to go to a dance unless she was forced. She went to the hairdresser and got purple highlights put into her hair, and had it curled on top of her head. She bought a cheap, black dress from Salvation Army and put streaks down it using stylishly cut duct tape.



When the day of the dance arrived, Helga simply met Arnold at the dance. No need to go to extra trouble picking her up as if were a real date. She and Rob walked from the neighborhood the block over. No one talked to her at the dance, she had become an outcast. She went to the restroom only to find it stuffed with overactive cheerleader type girls excited about their boyfriend of the week. She looked at them and then looked at herself. She wasn't really thin and she never wore makeup...she had contacts but preferred to wear her glasses. She was a punk and everyone else was "the girl next door."



Helga overheard some eighth grade girls, lead by a attractive one wearing a perfectly curved sky blue, ball dress with matching makeup start talking about her.



"Look what we have here, girls. Must be one of the sixth grade rats who crawled their way into our dance."



"What's wrong with her hair?"



"Where in the world did she get _that_? Is it a curtain?"



The girls laughed and went back out to the dance. Arnold had been waiting for her outside. The two had to be seen at the dance together and they had yet to go into the main room. As soon as they entered Arnold pulled Helga to the side.



"Listen, Helga, there's not offense meant to you, but I really can't dance with you. It's-it's not that I wouldn't, but, well, you and I really don't click. I'd rather be with some of my own friends...so, I'll see you around, ok?" He didn't wait for an answer as he walked to a crowd of giggling girls. Helga's face was plain as her reaction to his speech left her dumb. She threw her hands up as if she wasn't sure what to do, but any person close enough could see the shine in her eyes as tears threatened her after the unusual, but still harsh, rejection. Rob walked over to her and the two of them talked a while. He had gotten the same blow-off. The they decided to leave early.



The next Monday in class the students had to present their essays on the dance. Most of the people who went before Helga had reports following the standard "we had fun. I learned a lot" routine. Then Arnold stood up.



"I had much fun at the dance. My partner and I..." Helga scowled at the word "partner." By using that, he wasn't completely lying about who he was there with. "...And I danced the whole night. It was enjoyable and taught me about social interaction." He sat down.



Mr. McC called Helga up for her report. She noticed Arnold's expression. He was willing hers to be the same kind of lame lyrics as his. She began.





"At the dance I noticed the stares. I heard the whispering. The assignment was to be seen at the dance with your _partner_, and Arnold and I fulfilled that requirement, as did everyone in the class. But I watched as every one of the groupings broke off back into their own cliques as soon as the first ghetto rap song came on.



I stayed in a corner with my only friend and we observed. We saw the hateful glances at girls with better dresses. We saw the stupid competitions to impress others with their unique dance skills just like everyone else. I wanted to stand and shout "here I am!" just so they would know I was still a student who wanted to enjoy a nice evening. Just because you don't love me does not mean I am not beautiful. I may not rule the cheer squad and I'm not a bully anymore, but I did not fall off the edge of the earth. Everyone was just too caught up in their dates to care. What I noticed at the dance was that we are a typical, American, middle school, where it's not what's on the inside that counts."



The bell rang as she ended and the students filed away. Mr. McC gave her and A, per normal, and she walked out of class with her only friend, Rob.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, I took a new approach with this one. It's mostly narration and less talking. I know it's "OOC" but that's the point. It's a future fiction.

Chaney