Zachery was a lazy boy who didn’t have the decency to ask a girl he saw almost every day at school out in person. His conversational skills were lackluster at best and he was clingy beyond reason. It’s no surprise that, after a month of dating, I was done with the relationship.
If I could go back in time, this is the moment I would have changed. In that one month of dating, I had gone through a huge personal transition. When I first agreed to the label of girlfriend over MSN, I was thinking this might be my last shot. I had thought for the longest time that no one would ever show interest in me. History told me men would gladly use me for my body, but would any actually want a relationship with me? I figured Zachery was my last shot. It was him, or a life of loneliness.
A month into the relationship with Zachery, I had figured out I’d be much happier alone than I would be settling. I was done tripping over his feet when he held me so close we looked like we were in a three-legged race down the hallway. More than anything else, I was done with the non-conversations. I quickly realized he wasn’t contributing to any of our conversations and worked hard to give him opportunities to tell me something about himself. Our typical conversations turned into this:
TK: Hey! How was your day?
(pause while I wait in vain to see if there’s more)
TK: What did you do?
(pause while I wait in vain to see if there’s more)
TK: What are you doing tonight?
Zachery: I don’t know
(pause and eventually give up on talking all together)
I wanted to pull my hair out and scream in his face. Why don’t you talk to me!? Seriously, aren’t there any thoughts banging around in that head of yours that deserve a voice? That would have been rude and inconsiderate, however. For better or for worse, I kept on with the idea that he should be able to tell, through my silence and body language, that something was wrong. More than anything else, he was his refusal to acknowledge what I thought were clear signs that motivated me to cut it off.
If I would have cut it off, this would be a much shorter story, but as you well know, that’s not what happened.
My best friend was dating Zachery’s younger brother. Everything Zachery didn’t tell me was conveyed through her. When my relationship with Zachery had just started, we would joke about the possibility we could become sister-in-laws. It was in a conversation with my dear friend that I would find a reason to carry on the relationship far past its prime.
Zachery had bought me a birthday present.
It wasn’t quiet April yet (my birthday is in the beginning of April) and he had already spent money on me! I didn’t want his money to be spent in vain, so I decided I had to wait until after my birthday. Unfortunately, if I broke things off right after my birthday, I’d look greedy. Two weeks after my birthday would have worked well, except two weeks after my birthday was two weeks before prom.
I was aware that Zachery, who was a senior, hadn’t gone to prom as a junior because he had no date. Prom was something I thought everyone should experience and I certainly didn’t want to end things just two weeks prior to the dance. So, I decided, way back at the end of March, that I would carry on in this relationship until two weeks after prom.
That right there is the brilliant logic of a 16-year-old mind. Oh how ignorant my young self was.
I spent the next week or so before my birthday using my same failed tactic. Our conversations were short, as I started answering his rare inquires with words like ‘fine’ and ‘okay.’ The lack of conversation frustrated me to know end. More disturbing than that, however, was his increased handsyness.
Trying to be cute one night, I discovered that Zachery was ticklish in his sides. Upon this revelation, he decided it would be appropriate to grab my breast. Having already experienced unwanted groping, I told him to stop. He, however, seemed to think this was an appropriate reaction, even in public. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have your breast grabbed in the middle of a high school hallway? The panic that overcomes you for a few slow seconds as you wonder if anyone saw? Zachery did not understand the word ‘no.’ While I wouldn’t try to tickle him again, he would keep finding excuses to touch me.
I started to ignore him most weekends, making up excuses so we wouldn’t have to hang out. Zachery would get a little shaky and get this angry glare in his eyes when I told him no. He was starting to scare me and I didn’t know what to do. Jokes about bringing guns to school and his swerving attempts to run over wildlife on the highway had me petrified. What would he do to me if I said no? Would he turn his anger on me, on a friend or on himself?
I was in more trouble than I could understand at the time and I didn’t know how to get out. Oh, and that birthday present I mentioned? He gave me a sharpened oak rod and called it a sword.
At least he remembered I liked swords. Too bad a sharpened stick – with no semblance of a hilt or decoration – doesn’t qualify as a sword.
Have you ever been afraid of the person you were dating? What sort of fears keep people in these dangerous relationships? Would your high school – self have waited for your birthday if you heard the man you wanted to break up with had already bought you a gift? What do you think of the present I ended up getting?