Horrible Kids: Ashley's Song
By Allison Ziegler
When I first met Ashley, I thought it was love at first sight. I regarded her as an angel on Earth, my diamond girl. She must have had me hypnotized, for I was so blinded by my own infatuation with her that I didn't become aware of her true colors until it was far too late.
Ashley and I started dating towards the beginning of our junior year of high school, but I had harbored a crush on her since we were freshmen. It had taken forever for me to work up the courage to ask her out, but when I finally did, she said yes right off the bat.
I was ecstatic.
For the first month or so, I couldn't have been happier. I suppose I should have been suspicious of the fact that a popular, prom queen-material girl like Ashley had agreed to date a veritable nobody like me. At the time, however, I could not have cared less. For a while, everything was perfect.
Then, perfection decided it didn't like me that much. Soon, I noticed Ashley gradually starting to change. It was little things at first, like asking me to buy her something despite the fact she and her immediate family had more money on-hand than my whole family tree was even worth. She would also walk by me in the hallway without so much as a glance in my direction despite the fact that we were dating. As time went on, however, she would outright beg me for things and twist the situation so that I was the jerk if I refused, and she would completely lose it and snap at me if I said anything that she didn't like.
As the spell I seemed to be under wore off, I began to realize that she wasn't the saint I thought she was. We began to argue constantly and I found that Ashley was the most spoiled, immature brat I have ever met. She used me like a crutch; whenever she was upset, she'd beg for my support, but never offer any in return. The increasingly apparent duality of the personality she wore in public and the personality that reared its head behind closed doors bothered me, and wanted nothing more than to just end it and move on with my life.
Unfortunately for me, Ashley didn't seem to know how to accept a breakup.
"But Cody..." she would whine, making sure that as many of her friends as possible were in earshot, "I love you so much...please don't leave me, please!"
So what could I do? Ashley didn't want to lose her plaything, and I didn't want everyone to end up viewing me as the bad guy. I tried telling people about my struggles with her, but only a few of my friends actually believed me. The rest said I was "crazy", "ungrateful", or even just "mean". Evidently, I wasn't the only one who had viewed Ashley as some kind of Aphrodite-in-training; she had practically the whole school convinced she was sugar-sweet and undeniably innocent.
I was stuck with her.
A few times, I attempted to talk to her about how I didn't like the way I was being treated. Unfortunately, all I was met with were plastic promises, as in her flippantly telling me, "Oh I'm sorry, I'll change, I promise." Did she? Hell no.
I suffered for another month or so before my saving grace arrived; our school was putting on a talent show of sorts. I realize my saying this doesn’t make much sense, but bear with me, I promise it’s relevant.
I had long considered myself something of a singer/songwriter. Music was my passion, a way for me to just get away from the hell Ashley had made my life. In fact, the only reason I wasn't in a band yet was that, between homework and my unfortunate preoccupation with Ashley, I simply didn't have the time.
When the talent show was announced, Ashley decided to take advantage of my love for music and asked me to write a song for her and perform it onstage. I agreed to do it, but only if she would come up to the stage with me so I could sing it to her directly. Needless to say, she liked the idea of being the center of attention and happily complied.
Unbeknownst to her, however, I had a plan.
Yes, I would write her a song, but not the kind of sappy, generic love song she probably expected. No, I would write a song explaining how I actually felt about her and break it off with her in the process.
Maybe it was a bit cruel of me, but this girl had been taking advantage of me and looking down on me for the past six months. I was at my wit's end. Besides, I figured that, once I left her, it wouldn't be right to refrain from warning everyone else about her, just in case another poor sucker like me were to come along and fall for her deceptive charm. And who knew? Maybe the humiliation would knock Ashley off her high horse and bring her overly-inflated ego down a few pegs. It'd be better for her to see that, in the real world, she can't just play people like the pawn and expect to be well-liked, so why worry about it?
Either way, I decided to go through with my idea. After getting a few friends in on it to help me with the instrumental portions, I crafted a song that I felt perfectly described my current emotions towards my "lovely girlfriend". Ashley tried getting some information about the song out of me, but my lips were sealed. I only told her the title, which I had decided would be "Ashley's Song".
During the writing process, my friends would ask me, "Cody, are you sure about this?" They always said it with a small smile on their faces, so I could tell they weren't really trying to discourage me from carrying out my idea, but my answer was always sincere.
"I'd rather drown than have to put up with her for any longer."
Soon, the song was complete, and I was happier than I had been in a long time. My excitement for the talent show was borderline uncontainable, but somehow, I managed to keep my secret from everyone. And now, here I am, standing on the stage with a microphone at my lips, Ashley beaming at my side as I stare out across the audience.
This is it, I think, taking a deep breath that's audible to every student and faculty member in the auditorium. Time for a swan song to remember.
I wait for the announcement of my name and act to conclude.
Breathe in, breathe out.
I turn to Ashley and smile, then face the audience once more.
Breathe in, breathe out.
As the music begins to play, I open my mouth and start to sing.
"Who knew that immaturity was an anthem?
A song that you sing when you lose your way,
Nothing to do,
Well let's argue if it passes time it must be okay..."
"And so it was the boy and girl went on to live different lives!
To part from one another they would soon decide.
Through time and loneliness the boy found clarity,
Which he chose to release on the world through insanity..." ~Ashley's Song, by Set it Off (Album: Horrible Kids)