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Madeline’s Story: No High School “Sweet” Heart

Every so often you run into a couple who is happily married and loves to tell the story of how they were “high school sweethearts”. I abhor these couples, primarily because my “high school sweetheart” turned out to be an egotistical jerk.

That’s the nicest way to put it – I’ve phrased it much more colorfully in the past. It’s really a shame – Connor and I started out so well, I really thought that we had some sort of future. He’s quite good at that, convincing people that he’s worth their time. But really, for the better part of two years, everything was beautiful. We were in love, two young adults content to spend every minute together. I went to his lacrosse games, he visited me at work. We went to China with our choir together, and we went to graduation together. He took me to every dance, and I took him to every party. We even had a special place, a deserted sports field in my town, where he would take me every time something important was going on between us.

So after we graduated, I imagined that we’d stay together, that everything would be wonderful forever. Alas, I was young and stupid. I suppose the first red flag appeared one night after having a quickie in his car – cliche, I know, but we were young and hormones were raging. Long story short, the condom let us down. Naturally, I panicked. He soothed me, explaining that this is what Planned Parenthood was for, and that once I took the morning-after pill, everything would be fine. He dropped me off in front of my house and kissed me on the head. Then he reached into his wallet and handed me 80 bucks – “This should cover it,” he said. I stared after him as he drove away, mouth gaping like a fool.

He didn’t take me to the clinic; one of my girlfriends did. Clearly he had never intended to. Yet I trusted our relationship, and although I could feel resentment beginning to build up in me, I did my best to ignore it and kept quiet. I wasn’t pregnant, so what was the point in being angry about it? It was in the past. To celebrate our graduation and the beginning of our adult lives, 10 of my friends and I retreated to the Jersey Shore for the weekend, along with Connor and the rest of 2008’s high school graduates. It was the infamous Senior Week exodus and all sorts of debauchery ensued.

Unfortunately, Connor and I had begun to fight incessantly and living in close quarters and drinking excessively didn’t help. We made it through the first two nights by staying out of each other’s way, but on the third night, all hell broke loose. Connor was drunk and I was not. I was sitting in my bed with one of my best friends, when he stumbled in and announced that he wanted to sleep. Irritated at the way he had behaved, I told him he was welcome to join us but we weren’t moving. As expected, an argument followed, and soon we were screaming with full force. It was all coming out, the feeling of how he didn’t care, his constant need for attention, and how he always thought he was right. After several minutes of yelling, he left the room and I followed.

Once in the hallway, he turned and looked at me. “What, Connor?” I asked him. Rather than answer, he yelled in frustration and threw out his fist, punching a hole in the wall inches from my face. As I stared at him, shocked, I heard my friend inhale sharply and move behind the door. At that moment, as we stared at each other, I knew it was over.

“I think you should go home,” I told him, “and I don’t think we should talk for a while”. He gripped his fist, wincing, but looked at me. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, it’s just – ” but I cut him off. “No.” I turned and retreated into the room, shutting the door behind me. My friend closed me into the hug I so desperately needed, but I didn’t cry, I just breathed. Relief hit me like his fist had hit the wall, and I knew that I would never be one of those people who end up with their high school boyfriends. But I would also never be that close to my high school boyfriend’s clenched fist, and that was a trade-off I was more than happy to make.

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