I’m at my mailbox, tearing into a letter I’ve been expecting when I turn and find Molly Martinez standing in the road like she’d been expecting it too.
It’s funny but not so funny. Because I kind of blame Molly for my predicament here. I mean, if I hadn’t walked into that lab that day…if there was no Molly Martinez, then, well, there would have been no assault on a teacher. Even though maybe Mr. Meyers would have just picked another girl.
I almost say, “What do you want?” but instead go with “Hey Molly.”
I’ve seen Molly a few times since school ended, which for me was two weeks before everyone else. She’s walks by my house like the world’s most sullen stalker. Now she stares at the road. “I never said thanks, so, thanks.”
It sounds forced. And you know what, it’s late. It’s been what, almost two months now? I shrug, swallow down my frustration. I try to pretend I’m in a hurry to go inside my house and face my drunk mother.
“It’s cool. You’re welcome, I guess.”
I manage to skim the letter from the school board, seeing how they will recommend my expulsion and blah blah. Assaulting a teacher is not only a crime, but carries a mandatory expulsion, blah. It’s what I figured would happen. What Coach thought would happen. It will mean I’m off the basketball team. It means I have no way of paying for college. Blah.
Apparently, Molly is not finished here. She looks at me full on now, her dark eyes like liquid. A car comes speeding down the road and she moves towards me and we stand there, the six-foot five white guy and the tiny Hispanic girl, studying our feet.
When the car passes she glances at the envelope, torn open for the world to see. “Is that, are you going to get in trouble?”
I lower my head to look at her, to see if she’s making a joke. “Are you serious? My life is over.”
Molly is a rising junior—a year behind me. But it’s like nothing I say makes a dent even though I know she understands me. Molly is smart, at least in Chemistry class she was. I try again. “How long had…I mean, had that happened before?”
She turns to me, eyes harsh. I don’t care. She wants to talk, we’ll talk. She looks down again, scraping her sandal on a rock. “He always made sure we were alone. At first it was just touching my hand, then my back, then lower and he started trying to kiss me.”
“Why didn’t you tell anyone, Molly?”
This time when she looks at me and I can feel her eyes swimming in mine, as she shakes her head, almost willing me to understand something. “I can’t.”
An idea hits. “Yes you can.” I shake the letter at her. “Actually, if you really want to thank me, you could come to this hearing and tell them that—”
She gasps. Her hands tremble until she ties her fingers together. I’m confused, considering I’m the one who rolled the teacher who was all over her and I’m the one who’s screwed, I’m not sure why she’s freaking out.
I run a hand through my hair, take a breath. Seeing her like this, again, I feel like an asshole. I’m so much bigger than her and yelling like that. Another breath. I lower my voice. “Hey, Molly? Why won’t you help me?”
She covers her mouth, tears rolling over her hand. I shake my head, saying forget it, I’m sorry but she wipes her face and her voice spills out in a wet whisper. She tells me she wants to help me but has no social security number.
I’m not sure what to say. What can I say? But I don’t think Molly is used to getting answers when it comes to this, and so she’s not expecting much as a gust of wind causes the letter to flutter in my hand. A car passes and we stand there, studying our feet.
What can we say?