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Fireflies in the Dark

Chapter One

Photo by Neil Rosenstech on Unsplash

Did you ever catch fireflies when you were younger? Put them in a jar to watch them glow? Did you remember to poke holes in the lid? Did you put them in your room like a nightlight? Until, one by one they fall to the bottom and go out. Did someone tell you to let them go or they would die? Did you keep them anyway?

Present Day...

Have you ever seen The Corpse Bride? It’s a great movie, a classic Tim Burton stop motion flick. Well, throughout the movie, we discover how Elizabeth was planning to elope with her fiancé, who had convinced her to steal her family’s money. Turns out the guy was planning to double cross her the whole time. He ended up killing her and taking her money. Ah, young love. Well this has pretty much happened to every girl with at least one brain cell in Crosse High school. Except instead of taking girl’s money and murdering them, this particular jerk steals hearts and gets his homework done. With the exception of me. Aren’t I lucky? My name is Tara Rain Connors. I am a reclusive book nerd who likes terrible music and am currently trying to keep the school idiot at bay. So far I have been able to keep him at bay. I am pretty average myself, but it’s a small school, and he is running out of girls to con. He has made a few half-hearted passes at me before, but always seems to move on to easier prey. I tend to hide in the library or any dark corner with headphones in my ears and my nose in a good book.

What jerk do I speak of? None other than Jared Fowler, the attractive yet repulsively egotistical star quarterback of Crosse High School. I know, the stereotype in itself is nauseating. This boy has destroyed friendships, relationships, and probably most of his liver in his high school career. This is his senior year, as well as mine. I am gearing and ready to get the heck out of dodge. That is if I can make it through this year without garnering the attention of Jared. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love socializing with people. Well, trying to anyway. I had a best friend, her name is Lauren Smalls. We were inseparable, practically joined at the hip. Until, Jared asked her out. I tried to talk her out of it, told her how he treated his exes. Alas, it did not work. She was infatuated, he sweet-talked her right into a nice crisp GPA booster for the semester. Then, one day she came to me angrier than I had ever seen her. Jared told her that I came onto him, that I was in love with him and that I was trying to break them apart to have him to myself. Of course, he immediately turned me down. I lost her that day, and she wouldn’t speak to me for over a year. That was sophomore year. Even after she caught him with some big busted, tiny skirted chick and dumped him. Now, we talk but our friendship has never been the same. Jared is definitely a few coins short of a bank, but he knows how to play the girls. He was at least smart enough to realize that football was the only thing that would get him anywhere, and he has to pass his classes to play. He probably could have bothered to crack open a book every once in a while, but I haven’t seen it happen yet. Honestly, I think he enjoys it just a little bit. There’s always a sick gleam in his eye that makes me shudder when he turns it on me.

I don’t even think the football part is natural honestly. He often walks around school with a glazed over expression, and I know he definitely parties hard. Unlucky for me, he has about run out of girls to charm. Very few were stupid enough to trust him twice, and he is always looking for fresh meat. I am attempting to graduate early, I have one honors credit left that I am taking online. However, they still make me show up to school, some ridiculous policy or another. So they made me pick some electives, some blow-off classes that don’t give homework. Basically just show up. Naturally, having all this free time gives Jared ample chance to find me. Usually I could brush him off, but today he had other plans.

It felt like he had been hanging over my shoulder like a dead goose for weeks. Today, as I rushed out of my Forensics class, I ran headfirst into the one roadblock I was desperately trying to avoid. As I stumbled backward away from him, he grabbed me by the waist to steady me. Despite my immediate stiffness, his hands lingered longer than they should have.

“Oh, Tara, didn’t expect to see you here.” Jared smirked at me.

Not one to play the fool, I responded in kind, “Yea right you creepy stalker. Don’t you have anything better to be doing?” Maybe if I am a total b*tch to him, he’ll leave me alone. Sound logic right?

I shove his hands away from me, and attempt to maneuver around him. While I was successful, I knew he was following. I could practically feel his eyes on me. The halls were clearing quickly, and before I knew it, the bell rang. Great, now I was late and alone.

“You know, we should ditch, go to my place and hang out for a bit,” Jared said with an Oscar-worthy smile.

So, the jock was not to be deterred easily. Marvelous.

“No. Not ever. Never in a billion years. Stop. Go away.” I threw back at him over my shoulder.

“Great,” he replied, “let’s go.”

Since he obviously did not hear a word I said, I ignored him and walked faster. He moved so fast I don’t even know how it happened. One second I am walking, the next I am pinned against the lockers behind me. I am no helpless little girl. My father was the chief of police for the town, and he did not raise a princess. The problem was, I was pinned and couldn’t move. My pepper-spray (police grade of course) was in the front of my backpack, that was now pinned between me and the lockers. I now noticed the strange glazed look in his eyes, and almost gagged at the smell of alcohol on his breath. He was drunk, really drunk. I was surprised he could even walk straight. His hands ran down my sides as I squirmed. Then they were playing with the hem of my shirt, his fingertips brushing the skin there. My stomach turned, and I felt very nauseous. I struggled until I finally had a leg free enough to bring up between his legs. He immediately stumbled backwards, and was dazed long enough for me to reach my pepper-spray. I aimed at his face and sprayed. He crumbled and started screaming and rubbing viciously at his eyes. I ran as fast as I could out the doors, even though I had half the day of school left. I ran like hell was on my heels, and didn’t look back…