Chapter 2:


Emma stepped inside her front door, brushing her hair out of her eyes. As usual, the house remained empty. The long halls in the large home were cold and foreign. This was how Emma felt when she stepped into the home everyday. Her parents were often absent. Even when they were in the house, they did not speak to her, did not acknowledge her being there.

And yet, she preferred their silence. Her life was far more than seeking approval from her parents. Actually, her life was far more than anyone could know. It was more than school, than friends, and much more than boyfriends. Emma’s life was a search for something beyond normalcy, something that would move the Earth in its truth. Sometimes, she felt as if she could almost feel her goal in music. Music meant more to Emma than anything else.

Tonight Emma felt like being uplifted. She tuned her music player to a light rock song. She closed her eyes, recounting her journey from the record store to her house. Her head still ached from the incident with Michael Davis. How the boy had not seen her was a mystery, and it annoyed her.

Her thoughts wandered. Michael Davis was a mystery to her. She knew nothing about him, even though she paid a visit to his mother’s record store at least once a day. He was an enigma. He spent all of his time at the park. Emma saw him there whenever she wanted to get out of the house and take a walk. The town was small enough, and the park was located in the center. If she wanted to go anywhere in the town, she would have to pass by the park. And every single time she passed by, he was playing basketball. It was as if he didn’t have anything better to do. He was good at it too. It made her wonder why he never joined the team at school.

Emma knew why Michael bothered her so much. It wasn’t his habit of playing at the park everyday, and it wasn’t even the fact that he had collided with her today. What bothered Emma was that Michael could be completely okay in a world outside of high school. Emma’s world consisted of school, a social life, and music. Michael’s world, it seemed, consisted only of playing in the park. He didn’t care about what people thought of him, or about how much money his family had. Emma wanted that, and was afraid that she wanted that.

When in school, Emma found herself with a group of people whom she had known her entire life. She knew them, not because she grew up with them, but because their families were part of the same social circles. Her friends were jocks and cheerleaders and perfectionists. They only cared about what everyone else thought, felt, or talked about. They did everything for themselves. Even the nice things were because they wanted people to say nice things about them. Compassion and grace didn’t exist in Emma’s world. It seemed that they existed in Michael’s. Emma wanted to know why.

A knock on the door snapped Emma out of her thoughts. She looked up, once more brushing the long blonde hair out of her face, and pushed back the curls of her hair so they wouldn’t bother her.

“Come in!” she shouted at the door so the person knocking would hear her. The door slid open, revealing the silhouette of Paul Williams, Emma’s boyfriend.

“Practice ended early,” Paul said, shutting the door behind him.

“So you thought you’d stop by, and tell me how pretty I am and hope I’d forgive you for being a completely moron lately?” Emma said in a cold voice. She focused her attention on her text book, not wanting to let Paul waste her time anymore.

“Well, if you’d stop having PMS on me and just chill out, we wouldn’t have a problem!” Paul exclaimed.

Emma was beyond mad now. “So you blow me off for the third night in a row, completely ignore me at school, and then try and make up for it by taking me on a nice romantic date where you only talked about yourself for the entire time. And after all this, I still manage to forgive you. Then you totally leave me at that dinner with your parents to go drink with your buddies. Somehow, through all of this, YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO SAY I HAVE PMS!!!?”

Paul paused a moment, appearing to ponder on this a moment, then, “You’re right, I’m a jerk, I’m sorry. Now, please move over so we can make out?”

With a sigh, Emma slid over on the couch. She had not intentions of letting him get anywhere near her lips, but he’d at least calm down and stop accusing her. He knew he wasn’t going to win the fight, and she would tolerate him for tonight.

Toleration was the operative word when it came to Paul and Emma. Emma tolerated his immaturity only because he had moments when he wasn’t a jerk. He was capable of being a good person, when the time called for it. He remembered the anniversaries; he remembered to call when he needed to. And, with Paul as a boyfriend, no other guys in the school dared to pursue Emma without him intimidating them. It was a relationship of convenience more than romance. Emma was completely satisfied with it, so long as Paul didn’t cross the line. This time, he had come close, but she would mull it over before tomorrow.

“Coach isn’t giving the players an easy time. We practice for two extra hours every day in the week. Today is the first time I’ve been able to get out early for a month.” Paul said, staring at the ceiling.

As usual, Paul only wanted to talk about himself. Emma simply pulled her headphones over her ears, and drowned him out with a loud rock song. Paul honestly didn’t care whether Emma listened or not. He enjoyed talking about himself as much as people hearing him talk about himself. All Emma wanted was for him to get her, just for a moment. Yet all he wanted was to get more of him.

Emma fidgeted with her fingers, unable to really focus on anything. She was at her limit of patience. Abruptly, she stood, facing Paul.

“I think it’s time for you to go,” she said, pointing towards the door. Paul was just like every other guy. He wasn’t worth her time anymore, and she couldn’t
even find solace in music anymore. She was done.

Paul got to his feet slowly, looking incredulously at Emma.

“Didn’t think it would take long for the mood swings to hit. Hope you’re in a better mood tomorrow.”

“Don’t count on it.” Emma said sternly, turning her face down and away from him. She didn’t even want to see his face anymore.

“Fine. I’ve got other options anyway,” he retorted.

Paul walked out of the room. Emma heard him start his car, and tires squealed down the street.

Emma paced around the room, venting her frustration in activity. She never kept her eyes on a single place in the room. Her thoughts shifted from moment after moment with Paul. At first, he was a nice guy. He had even bought her flowers on their first date. He tried for months to convince Emma to say yes. Once she did, after severe encouragement from her friends, he was ecstatic. That was the height of their relationship. As high school continued, he grew more distant and harsh. Now Paul wasn’t anything like the boy who had held her hand at the movies, or remembered to give her chocolate whenever her parents hadn’t given her the time of day.

Emma let out a loud sighed at the thought of her parents. A corporate executive as a father and a mother who loved to take various trips around the world did not make for an attentive home life. As far as Emma was concerned, she didn’t need her parents. It was when they were home and tried to impose their rules on her that she detested them. They were not allowed to be gone twenty days out of the month and expect her to submit to their authority for the remaining ten days. When they were here, Emma spent most of her time at the record store, or with the cheerleading squad.

Once she was calmed down, Emma relaxed on the sofa. Her thoughts wandered once more to Michael Davis. Was he like Paul? Was every guy like Paul? Could Paul have been like Michael? What if they were in each other’s shoes?

At this last question, she thought on what it would be like to be in the world of Michael Davis. She wondered if she could find a happier path than the one she was on now. Her life lately had become a repetitive routine of gossip, appearances, and vanity. The thought of living outside of it was so foreign to her that she immediately pulled on her headphones. While listening to a fast-paced song, she soon forgot the world and drifted to sleep.