On the front cover, written in the girliest possible handwriting was a guy’s name. Frank Iero.
In a matter of minutes, Riley found herself sitting in a wooden chair in the guidance office. A strand of black hair fell into her eyes, but she made no effort to blow it away into the red and blonde mess of the rest of her tresses. She kept her mouth locked into a tight scowl as she glared into the expectant blue eyes of the aging man in front of her. Her eyes soon wandered to the rest of him. Paul Wassermann’s wrinkly cheeks sagged so low that they might fall off. His clothes were outdated by a century, which was even worse than what Riley could do. On his desk leaned a dozen photo frames, each showing off a different set of males and females. There were probably four different generations held in those pictures. She looked back up at “Paul” (as the plaque on his desk read) and wondered why he was in charge of helping teenage kids deal with their problems. He looked old enough to be rotting in a coffin beneath the ground.
After a few more minutes of silence, Riley was simply out of her mind with impatience. The guy seemed to be lost in his own world, while she sat there unable to leave the room and run home. The respect that she had to feel towards all adults kept her from cursing him out. Instead of making a big fuss, she pushed her chair back and rose to her feet. When Paul didn’t seem to protest, she walked casually to the door.
His raspy voice halted her, “Miss Tibbits...take a seat, please.”
She spun around with an audible groan. She plopped down and leaned against the arm of the chair, wearing a bored expression. She hoped this wouldn’t take too long. Paul smiled, revealing more teeth than Riley expected. He reached over for a drawer to his right and pulled out a giant jar of pretzels. He took the lid off and offered it to Riley. She shook her head firmly. She wasn’t about to get bribed. He set the jar down on the table, nodding to himself.
“Riley, were those two girls hurting you in any way?” the old man asked.
The question surprised her. Of course, she expected some sort of a reference to Chrissie and giggly-girl. However, she thought she would be the one being accused of wrongdoing. Yet, Paul somehow seemed to know the truth. She wondered if he had mind reading powers, and could sense exactly what was going through her mind. Upon thinking that, she nearly slapped herself. This was the reason why people refused to sit with her at lunch. Her gaze fell to her beaten-up Chuck’s. She wished she wasn’t so fucked up. Maybe if she just obeyed society’s rules and dyed her hair back to its original brown color, she could manage to get home as quick as she wanted to. Paul’s eyes were still on her when she looked up. He obviously awaited some sort of response from her.
“Chrissie stuffed me in a locker,” she mumbled honestly, unable to think of a lie at the moment.
Paul leaned forward with an almost excited look in his eyes, “How did that make you feel?”
“Oh it made me feel like a million bucks, especially since I’m a claustrophobe. I had the time of my life in there. My books and I partied our heads off,” she replied sarcastically.
The guidance counselor laughed, “Okay, dumb question. But when I found you, you seemed to be the one harassing them. What happened?”
Riley sighed. Why was this guy so curious to know? It wasn’t like he could do anything by finding this out. Everyone at school would call her a wimp and a snitch if she actually told him about what happened; about what had been happening. But...something against her throat was urging her to spill the beans. She felt like she was meant to tell this creepy old guy all of her problems. For some reason, she felt as if God (or whoever was that all-powerful superhuman dude up above in heaven) was asking her to. A quiet curse left her breath. There went that crazy Riley mind again. Why couldn’t she just think like a normal human being? God probably had better things to do than bother with some sixteen-year old lunatic. Whatever was in her throat bounced up and down like a little kid on a pogo stick. It was annoying the shit out of her. She knew she had to let her mouth run, for the sake of what remained of her sanity.
“ShehatesmeandshekickedmeandithurtandIwantedtobeattheshitouttaherbuticouldnt,” she said very quickly before taking a breath, “I was mad.”
Paul simply nodded, as if he understood. Riley felt sudden hatred towards him. How would he know what she was feeling? He was just some stupid old geezer who wouldn’t retire like he needed to. He had no idea how it felt to be her; to know that every single thing she ever did was ridiculed; how every action she took was wrong. He didn’t have a clue how it felt to know that no one in the entire planet shared her views about anything. They all just laughed because they didn’t understand. Paul was slightly better, since no taunting giggles left his chapped lips. But she thought he was supposed to help her, not just bob his head like an idiot. Once again, she pushed her chair back and stood.
“When you’re mad, what do you usually do?” Paul inquired before she could turn around.
Her shoulders tensed, annoyance filling every inch of her. Some people just didn’t know what questions to ask. A hurricane of rude phrases edged against her slowly parting mouth. Off-white teeth bit against her lip, a fort against the raging storm. What did he think she did? Smile and say ‘thank you’? Without replying, she gave him a mirror shattering grimace.
He laughed at her expression, “Okay, so you won’t tell me. In that case, you should keep a diary. Whenever you’re angry, write down what happened. It’ll help you handle the situation.”
Riley now realized that he was the psychopath, not her, “Why the fuck would I keep a diary?”
He gave her a stern look, “Watch your language, please. If you write things down, it will help you organize your thoughts and realize that you don’t need to act out in order to fix your problems. Sit, you can try right now.”
Riley narrowed her large eyes, considering this for a (brief) moment, “Uh, no. I’m leaving...bye, Paul.”
“Miss Tibbits, I strongly suggest—“
She cut him off, “Well I’m not taking your suggestion.”
His tone sharpened, “Then you’re not leaving.”
Her jaw dropped, with surprise. He wouldn’t keep her here against her will, he couldn’t. It was most probably against the law. Anyway, there was no way he could catch her if she simply ran out. However, something about his tone, the way he looked at her, that frightened her beyond what words could say. With glued lips, she fell onto the chair. Paul smiled triumphantly. She shook her head so that the hair fell in front of her face, hiding her from two sapphire eyes.
“I don’t have anything to write on,” she mumbled in a defeated tone.
She heard the shuffle of papers and books as Paul forged through his messy desk. After a moment, she peered through her hair to see a green notebook and a pen being held out in her direction. She snatched them from him, being sure to give him a dirty look before doing so.
“That notebook belonged to one of my old students,” he informed, as if she’d care, “I’ve stapled the used pages together...you can start right after those...He was actually a lot like you. I wish I was allowed to...”
Riley managed to drone Paul out by concentrating on the notebook. On the front cover, written in the girliest possible handwriting was a guy’s name. Frank Iero. It set off a thousand chimes in her brain, ringing loudly enough to cause an avalanche. Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to figure out where she’d heard the name before. She was drawing a blank. There were endless possibilities as to who it could be. Reconsidering the name, and just the way her mind worked, she decided it had been the cute blonde waiter she’d seen at Chevy’s the other night.
“Riley, are you going to begin writing any time soon?” Paul asked.
Her head snapped up to flick the hair out of her face. She flipped open the book and brought the pen to the paper. Scratching was the only sound that filled the room for the next few minutes. Riley was extremely distracted. The stuff pouring out of the pen had no thoughts from her mind brought into it. The staples at the sides of the page were whining, in those annoying little voices of theirs, for Riley to pick them open. She felt again, that it was fate that wanted her to read what this Frank kid had written, even if he was just a random waiter. Slowly, her devious little mind began creating a plan to get out of the guidance counselor’s office with Frank Iero’s diary in hand.