On my last day of freshman year, I asked for a girl’s number.

It was a great day to go to school, the last day before summer vacation. I learned a lot that year. The main thing I learned was that under no circumstance should you ever write an overly sexual note to a girl, even as a joke. I also learned that it was possible to fail art class, along with most of my other classes. I learned that I smelled badly in public. And, on that last day of school, I learned I could approach a girl, and ask for her number.

I stood in the hallway in front of my home room class, waiting for the bell to ring. I happened to be lucky enough to be near two girls who were chatting away. I say lucky because I love eavesdropping on people. Plus, I had no one to talk to because my friends were all in other home rooms. So, I stood there listening to the two girls talking, being the voyeur I am.

They were going on about some last day of school party someone was throwing. I didn’t know the person, and I wasn’t a high school girl, so I wasn’t invited. The girls were ecstatic as only teenage girls can be. Then suddenly one of the girls ran off down the hallway. There I stood, alone with a cute girl with nothing to say.

“Are you going to the party today?” The remaining girl asked me to my surprise.

“Uh, no…I didn’t hear about it. Are you?” I asked, as if I hadn’t secretly heard the entire conversation she was having.

“You should go it should be amazing! I am ditching next period to get there early. You should too. ” she gushed.

“I might, but I don’t know where it is.”

She then rattled off the address, and the time. Apparently, this summer blow out party couldn’t wait; it was starting around the same time as second period. I noticed as she was talking that this girl had an English accent. I might have only been a high school freshman, but I had been an Anglophile since I was ten years old. I blame the genius humor of Benny Hill.

I was instantly attracted to this girl. She was cute, but the accent pushed it over the edge. I couldn’t let her escape. I was going to a different high school next year, and I might never see her again. The chance of finding a cute English girl in Indiana was too rare. So, I introduced myself. We exchanged names, and she seemed to enjoy my company even if it had only been a few minutes. She asked me at least a dozen questions in the span of five minutes.

I think it was her charismatic personality that gave me the courage to do it. I kept looking at the clock because I knew that bell would ring any minute and the moment would be gone. My English girl would be just another victory for my shyness if I didn’t make a move. So I told her I would go, but I needed to know how to get a hold of her to find the place. Also, I added the fact we could maybe get together over summer break, since I would be at different school. She said the idea was “Brilliant!” As she was writing her number down for me the bell rang angrily. It was as if I had foiled its plan to keep me from getting this girl’s number.

She quickly handed me the paper, and ran down the hall towards her class yelling, “Call me!” as she went. I was in a daze. It was one of the first times I had the courage to overcome my shyness. I slowly walked into my class as if I were in a dream. The whole day proceeded like that. I kept pulling the number from my pocket, and staring at it.

I was not brave when it came to ditching class and going to the party though. It would still be going by 3pm, so I could party & not get in trouble, win-win. I couldn’t wait to get to this party to see her. I didn’t think I had a chance with her, but I liked how cheerful she was, it made me feel cheerful. In my head, I felt as if this day was the real beginning of my high school life. Of course, it was the last day, but I was a late bloomer.

When I walked out of school for the last time that year, I was vibrating with excitement because of the party, but mostly it was the girl. As I stood on the steps of the school I took a second to soak in how amazing I felt. That was when the car horn blared, and I was pulled from my dream-like state. I was back in my sober & dreary life, which was definitely not a dream.

There in front of me was Mom, sitting in the car smiling at me. I was instantly angry. She worked until 5pm, but here she was early. She explained after I had gotten into the car that she got off early, and wanted to surprise me. Oh, I was surprised alright. I saw the English girl slipping further from my grasp as we drove. I sulked the entire time, but I was a teenager so no one noticed.

I was very upset. Until suddenly, I remembered I had her actual number! This changed everything. I was a phone call away from explaining how much parents timing sucked, and making plans with her to meet up. I told myself I had to call her the next day, before all my bravery was gone. I went to sleep that night, smiling to myself.

The next day I called. No answer. I called again. No answer. The following day I called. No answer and I left a message. The day after that I called again. No answer, no message. I gave up. My bravery was all spent. So, I returned to my routine of eating, TV watching, and sleeping.

The day after I had given up on calling the English girl, I sat watching the news. I was only partially paying attention, when I glanced up I saw her picture on the television. It was then I started listening to the news story. As I sat there listening the color sort of seeped out of my world.

Apparently, the last day of school there was a blowout party that’s started around noon. There was smoking, and drinking. There was a girl who went to the party that day. Her parents had just moved here from England. The girl didn’t come home from the party. For the first couple days, everyone was searching for her. The police questioned friends, family, and people from the party. No one knew where she could be at. Then, on the day I gave up on calling her phone number, they found her.

A guy at the party tried to have sex with her. He got really angry when she refused; so he grabbed her, and forced her into the bushes. Then he raped her, while he choked her to death. She lay dead behind bushes while the party continued, uninterrupted.

I only knew her for fifteen minutes, but each one of those minutes she treated me as if I wasn’t fat…or shy…or beneath her. She made me feel good about myself. She invited me to my first party ever. She gave me her number when I nervously asked her, without hesitation. She was beautiful to the core, even a self-absorbed teenager like me could spot it. She deserved so much better than lying lifeless & destroyed in the bushes, just feet away from people celebrating.

 

For a while after, I would pull the crumpled paper with her number on it out of my pocket and trace the swirls & loops of her handwriting. To this day, I can see the blue ink in my mind’s eye. I blamed my lack of courage as the reason for her murder. If I had snuck out of school I would have been there. Of course, I understand that there were a lot of people at the party, but I thought maybe I would have hovered close enough to her praying she would notice me…that maybe it wouldn’t have happened, or I might’ve eavesdropped at the right time to hear her protest her killer’s unwanted advances.

I learned a lot that year. I learned that asking for a girl’s phone number teaches you things, even the things you never want to learn.

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