By: Cambria Hebert


I always said I wanted to write a “trashy” novel. Guess I can check that off the bucket list.


“My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.”

—Steve Maraboli



High school…

The distinct sound of bowling balls cracking against pins reverberated through the entire building, echoing out the door and into the parking lot. We stood by a row of cars while a couple people in our group smoked the last of their cigarettes before going in to claim our lane.

I lived in a small town; most people probably didn’t even know it was on the map. It was surrounded by mountains and had just as many bars as it did churches. The economy here sucked, and it seemed like the general population was aging. The young people could be broken down into two groups:

1) Those who got stuck here and never left


2) Those who got out and never came back

The unfortunate people who fell into group one usually worked in jobs they hated for too little pay and grew more bitter as they aged.

I planned on being in group two and getting the hell out of here as soon as I could. Like right after high school. There had to be more out there than this.

I’d worked hard to keep up my grades. I’d kept my nose clean and stayed away from drugs. Two more years and I could bid this town good-bye and start over, hopefully somewhere warmer.

“Can we go in?” I said. “It’s freezing out here.”

January in a tiny town in Maryland was one reason I would never smoke. Who wanted to stand outside in the freezing cold just to get a fix?

“Hey, we’re going in!” Lena yelled out, and we started up the little ramp that led inside. Lena and I had been best friends since middle school when we were randomly sat at the same table. She was outgoing and didn’t seem to mind I wasn’t. We became fast friends, and she introduced me to her circle, who, in turn, became my friends too.

Lena was the pretty one. The one who always got sidelong glances from the guys in the hallway. When a school dance was held, she always had offers, always had a date.

I was sort of invisible beside her.

Okay, people saw me. It wasn’t as if I were a ghost. But I wasn’t really the main attraction. No guy ever looked at me just a little too long because I’d caught his eye. Every guy I’d ever crushed on thought of me like a sister or didn’t even know I existed. I’d never been to a school dance because no one ever asked me.

Yeah, I could go alone.

How pathetic would that be?

I pretended I didn’t want to go. I pretended school dances just weren’t my thing. But they were my thing. And every time the sweetheart dance or homecoming dance would roll around, something inside me would shrink just a little, because no one thought I would make a good date.

I liked to think that I was waiting, that no other guy would matter until the right one came along. That the guy who noticed me first, the one who stared just a little too long… he was the one who mattered. He was the one who deserved my heart.

Besides, falling in love in this town would just make my plan of getting the hell out even harder. I wanted love. I wanted to see that look in someone’s eye; you know, the look where you are their entire world.

But I wanted out of here more.

Inside, the center was packed. If we hadn’t reserved a lane for cyber bowling, we wouldn’t have gotten one. Cyber bowling was one of the town’s only things to do here on the weekend, besides getting drunk and partying at someone’s house whose parents weren’t home.

And we did plenty of that.

But sometimes we wanted to get out. To see and be seen.

Bowling at midnight on a Friday, with nothing but black lights, flashing strobes, and a blaring jukebox, was the way to do it.

Yes. I found it extremely ironic that we went out to see and be seen where they shut off all the lights.

There used to be a club, a teen club, just fifteen minutes up the road. It was the kind of place we couldn’t go to without our male friends, because a group of girls there alone was ripe for the picking. Your ass got grabbed; you got propositioned; you got leered at. One time I got hauled onto the dance floor by some drunk guy (who likely was not a teenager) who locked his arms around me and refused to let go.