Julienne was happy for her mother when she landed the job she wanted last month, she was happy again for her when she became good friends with one of her co-workers. She wasn’t happy when she found out that co-worker was the mother of Michael Gregory and they were coming over for dinner that week.
The thought of having him in her home scared her right to her core. It wasn’t an overly dramatic reaction, oh no, he terrified her and she had good reason for it.
He had been bullying her for the last two years, since the first day she stepped foot into that high school. When it came to bullying she could deal with the teasing, whispers behind her back, and the occasional prank, she had been dealing with it most of her life. Except Michael took it to a whole new level. He was blunt with his dislike for her. And why did he dislike her? Simply because she was different. She was the girl that liked to blend in and hope no one noticed her. He made sure she didn’t get her wish every moment of every weekday.
He spread vile rumors, laughed in her face and more times than not made sure she felt his dislike physically on top of mentally when he’d not too kindly bump into her or stuck his foot out to make sure she fell flat on her face.
She hated him but she hated herself more. She hated that she couldn’t stand up for herself, that she was a terrified little girl who didn’t know how to stand up on her own.
Her mother tried to help over the years but Julienne Teller was a lost cause after all and a coward. She couldn’t even muster up enough strength to tell her own mother about Michael and how it’d kill her to spend an evening with him. She was an only child and from what she knew so was he, at dinner they’d be expected to entertain each other.
She cried for hours when the dreaded night finally arrived. She continued to cry as she put on the dress her mother beg she wear. She wanted to make a good impression on Patricia Gregory and her family.
Julienne combed her normally unkempt, long, dark hair and refused to do anything more. It was her curtain to hide behind and it was a lifeline she couldn’t give up. Her legs were actually in pain with every step she took away from her room and into the hell awaiting.
“Julie, come on.” Her mother motioned with her hand for her to hurry as the doorbell rang for a second time. “Have you been crying?”
She stared blankly at her mother and said nothing; she never said anything during incredibly tense moments. It was normal for her to go days without speaking. Knowing this, her mother continued to usher her to the door. “Hi!” she greeted the Gregory’s with her biggest smile. “Come in, come in.”
Before Julienne took refuge in staring at the carpeted floor she noticed the look of pure disgust that over took Michael’s face. He must’ve not realized where his parents were dragging him off to that night.
Her mother continued completely oblivious, she worked well like that. “This is my daughter Julienne, sweetie this is Patricia.”
Julienne forced her grey eyes up and smiled unsteadily at the woman as she shook her hand. The older woman’s expression turned into what looked like pity but she said nothing on the subject and went on to introduce her husband and son. She boasted about how well Michael did in school and how he was on the soccer team.
Hearing how she gushed about him made Julienne want to cry again. Yeah he was the perfect junior student, sure he was, she thought bitterly while wishing she could take all the anger bubbling in her chest and use it to tarnish Michael’s perfect exterior.
The parents went into the kitchen where dinner was still being cooked while the ‘children’ stayed in the living room. Julienne never prayed harder for the world to open up and end her misery.
“This was a surprise.” Michael commented while she kept her eyes down on the carpet. “Not a pleasant one though. The last place I ever wanted to step foot was in your place. It’s nicer than I thought, the way you carry your self I thought you lived in some rat hole.”
Julienne said nothing and waited for his offensive observations to worsen.
“What’s with the dress?” at the mention of it she tightened her sweater tighter around her chest. “Your mom forced you into it.” he stated. “She must really want to impress my folks. Geezus you don’t even speak in your own home? You are a bigger freak than I thought and trust me that shouldn’t even be possible.” He walked up to her and bent to see her eyes, when he couldn’t he used his hand to tilt her chin up.