"You had better change, and fast."
Haley Ross sat quietly in the back seat of the car behind her parents, preparing for another one of her father’s lectures. They never seemed to end these days. Ever since last year’s incident, her father has been very strict with her. They had also grown apart over the last few months. Their father-daughter relationship had deteriorated to the point that they hardly spoke to each other. Every conversation was just a cluster of muttered words, spoken with bowed heads because neither of them could bear to look the other in the eye. They were still dealing with the pain that lingered from those terrible days in June. Haley hated herself now, knowing that she had completely lost the trust of her parents, who couldn’t even look in her direction anymore. Her "friends" and family had abandoned her, and those lonely summer months had been hard to endure. Her father’s feelings were different. He was dealing with the shame and miserable sense of failure; her perfect, straight-A daughter seemed to be becoming more of a whore with each passing day.
"You better listen to me Haley." he continued. His eyes were straight ahead staring through the windshield, hands clamped tight around the steering wheel. "I don’t want that happening again...anything like that at all. I’ve warned you before, but this is my last warning. If I ever hear you did that again— If I ever hear you so much as touched another boy...If you ever make me go through that again...I will no longer call you my daughter."
"Dad, I..." Haley stopped. Yet again, she was unable to go on, as if her voice had been ripped out of her throat.
"Did you hear what I said? If you even dare to try this again, you’re going face the consequences, and you’re going to go through it alone. We won’t be there to bail you out again."
"Dad, I’ve already told you...I’ve changed!" She tried desperately to convince them. Hadn’t they seen how hard she tried. She made sure that she would never be that girl again. "I told you that I’m not out of control anymore, and I’m not going to be sleeping with anymore boys! Why can’t you just believe me when I tell you—,"
"Believe you?! After what you did!? You can’t honestly expect us to–," He fell silent as her mother grabbed his arm, as if to say Stop. Don’t go there.
Haley sat there, biting back tears as she realized that it really was that bad. Her father was fuming again, and her mother remained silent, never turning back to look at her. Haley knew she managed to do the worse thing possible. Now she was a criminal in their eyes.
"Bye," She muttered, rushing out the car door and running up the front lawn towards the school doors.
"Where did we go wrong?" Her father said. "We gave her everything. She’s from a good family, Straight A student, beautiful girl! How could she have...my little girl..."
"Don’t worry," Her mother replied. "She’s not happy about it either you know. She’s taking this much harder than we are. Can you imagine how hard it must be for her to walk into that school right now? She says she’ll change, and we should have faith in her."
"Do you honestly believe that? You think she’ll change that easily? That boy even said she was like that for years. I don’t have enough faith to hope that she’ll go back to the way she was. Do you?"
She was silent, unable to argue with his comment, and refusing to say what she really thought.
* * *
Haley walked slowly and silently through the crowded hallways of the high school. She bowed her head, trying to hide her face with her dark brown hair. She could feel their eyes on her. They were all staring at her, and exchanging whispers behind cupped hands. They all knew who she was. Haley Ross. The whore. The girl who’d been with practically every senior guy last year. But what happened to her? Why did she look so...different?
She quickened her pace. The piercing eyes of the students was beginning to be overwhelming. She was at her locker when she heard them calling her.
She spun around to see them standing there. Jennifer Coleman, her first friend from Freshman year, stood playing with her auburn hair, and greeting her with a warm smile. Her soft blue eyes gazed at her, looking for any signs of misery or anger on her face. Shaun Hernandez, her childhood friend, stood beside Jenny, smiling sympathetically.
"So, how is it? Being back and everything?" He asked. He always seemed to know what was on her mind. He knew her better than anyone else. He was her confidante and closest friend.
"It’s...god did you see them staring at me?"
"They still are," Jenny said pointedly, looking around at the students who were still staring at Haley.
"Don’t worry about it," Shaun told her, "It’ll get better. It always does. And it shouldn’t be a problem, now that you’re a changed woman right?" He smiled. Haley couldn’t help smiling back. Suddenly she was feeling much more optimistic about it all. She wasn’t surprised; Shaun’s charm always did work on her, after all. The three of them began walking down the hallways again, and with them beside her, Haley found it much easier to endure those piercing eyes. She knew she would change things for herself, and never allow herself to be called a whore again.
But then she saw him. Sitting there alone on the stair case. He was dressed in all black, with his black hair spiked with gel and his eyes painted with black eye liner. With his baggy clothes, earrings, wristbands, and black nail polish, he looked very Goth– possibly Emo. Despite the devastating change, she’d know him anywhere. Logan Martin. Her Ex-Boyfriend.
He was back?! Haley remembered seeing him driven off by his parents after all that happened between them last year. Now he was back in school again, and was glaring menacingly at her from the stair case. Haley couldn’t help but shutter under his gaze. She had feared more than anything coming back and having to face him. What was he going to say? What was he going to do?