Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chapter 2/1st Draft

          Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech, my alarm clock buzzes. I turn it up, my eardrums feel like they will burst from the wailing noise. Third day of school, great. Yesterday was just brilliant. Britch and her buddies tried to get me to talk. Britch and her buddies tried to hang out with me. Britch and her buddies tried to ignore me, finally, but they couldn't. THrow on my clothes...just like every other day...and race out the door, grabbing a bagel as I go.


            I get into first period on time, sulking to my back seat, avoiding stares and dodging the "popular crew" and their feet, out to trip me. Boom. Drop my books flat on my desk. It makes heads turn, and eyes, they stay, staring at my newfound, orange streak of hair amidst the black. They whisper...I ignore...Same old, same old.
            "Ahem," Mrs. Rochantzik...our ?English? teacher, startles us into attention. "Today, we are starting a new project," she says. "It is a group project," excited murmurs resound throughout the room, "and I will choose your groups!" Only Mrs. R is excited about that. The nerds give each other sympathetic looks, each saying, Sorry, hope you don't get an idiot. The popular crew moans and the girls all whine. Same with the jocks. Or maybe the jocks just don't care. All those sporty people care about is their sport. Duh. As for me, I stay sullen. Always disconnected. Too easy.


            Sometimes Mom asks me why: "Why don't you go to the movies with Amber anymore? Why don't you have any friends over anymore? What happened to Amber? Was she mean to you? Did she not include you? Why don't you make new friends? Why don't you meet a new friend every day and tell me about them when you get home from school? Why ... Why? Why? Why? Why don't you wear something colorful? I never knew you had so many black things..." It goes on and on. Well, really, she doesn't do that anymore. She used to. No one really says much to me anymore. That was back when my mom was actually interested in my life.
            And why don't I wear something nice and colorful? Because you blend into the shadows a whole lot easier when you dress to fade. Put a bubbly, tall, athletic, cheerleader blonde and a dark, shorter, non-athletic, Goth girl together, and who does everybody look at? Everyone looks at the Blondie. Popular Blondie. She's the one that all the guys want to make out with. She's the one that all the girls want to be in with. She's the one trailed by the wannabees; the one who can silence a whole hallway by just being; the one that all the jockies raise their eyebrows at.
                                                                                    It makes me sick.
            I, on the other hand-being the Goth-live in the darkness. She lives in the light. I, am trailed by nothing, the shadows cover me everywhere I go; life continues on all around me as if I don't exist; sometimes I wonder if I'm even alive; no one knows me, no one wants to be with me; I don't want to be with anyone else. Every friend I thought I had left me when I killed Kassandy. I just realized this morning that I must have killed her. How else would she have gone away? And why else would everyone hate me so much? The shadows consume me, suffocating and punishing me, because I killed Kassandy. But I'm still mad at her.


            This girl comes up to me...I have no idea who she is. We walk in silence for about five minutes and then I realize that she's been talking for the last "five minutes of silence". I look at her, questionably when she stops, "What??" she looks at me. "Did you not hear what I just said? Is that a bad idea you think? What are your ideas?" she's so worrisome, I just stare at her. Did I miss something? And this, is where she freaks, "Did you miss something??? Really? Have you even been listening to me? Do you have any idea??? Do you even know that we have a 100 pt. project in class that's due in a month??? You are despicable!" And she leaves me there, trying to figure out what the heck she was talking about...and I realized...
            When I saw her face next period, in the hallway, I saw just a flash--she passed me in such a huff. Em.... Em.... oh it starts with an "E"....Em...Emma. It was Emma. She--she's in my grade. Of course. Yes. I look around, wondering whom else I never notice. Who else is there that I don't realize is in my grade? My mind shifts suddenly when I realize that she was talking about a project. A project? 100 points??? What??!!??
            I shift through my memories, my thoughts, everything somebody has said to me in the past 24 hours. A project that we have in History; a project that is due; a project that we were told about today, in first period; a project that is a group project. A group of pairs. Aw, what fun. I'm paired up with Emma Jane Rose. Great fun. Brilliant. This should be interesting. I'm so submersed in my thoughts that I actually decide to walk up to Britch and her groupie.
            They don't seem to hate me, which is a plus. I mean, not like I care or anything. I don't give s*** for any of them. I know they don't for me. Britch tries, but she really doesn't care about me at all. She knows she doesn't. She just feels sorry for me. Well I don't want your d*** pity. I don't want your welfare-care or your empathetic charities.
            "You just suck! All of you! You all suck!" I exclaim as we walk through a crowd. It's way too quiet. Heads turn, and I give them the evil-eye. Suddenly a hand comes out from behind and stops me. No, there's two hands. They're resting on my shoulder. "What the---? Get off of me creep!" Britch turns around and stares. The crowd around us rushes past. Who has the nerve to continue their hold on me like this? They better watch it...I can make life miserable for whoever it is...
            "Hey..." Britch warily starts towards me and my captor then falters back. I am like stone under these hard hands. Man, they're big. This can't be some, fruity, blonde, sugar girl. Too skinny. These hands are like slabs of beef. And then it hits me so hard that I almost turn around.
            "Britch! You...you...planned this! You...I bet you're paying this freak to get in my personal space! You...that's why you didn't protest when I decided to walk with you! ...You've been planning this all along!" I can't believe I feel so used. I can't believe I'm thinking of her as a traitor. I'm not supposed to grow that...bond...with people. They always disappoint you.
            "No!" Britch's eyes flash with a feeling that I cannot read. But does it look like I care? No, I do not.
            "Look, I'm going to turn around in 15 seconds. I swear, I'm gonna punch you freak behind me in the face. You are going to rue the day you were born." Britch's eyes grow bigger. "Ok, Here goes ! 15...14...13..." I hear a dangerously low laugh behind me as the hands slide down to my waist.
            Oh, crap.
Okay, so this is just great. I freeze; I don't count; I don't move; I don't think I breathe. I may not know much about Britch, but by the look on her face, she's as freaked out as I am. Some small part of me is whispering that she has nothing at all to do with this. If things weren't frozen already, they froze when I heard the rough whisper in my ear,
            "Hey. Don't be afraid of me. You think you’re all that don't you? Too cool for the world. Who needs you? Who do you need??" I breathe in sharply as he squeezes my hips. "Well, let me show you what you're missing. You stay with me, you see the world."
            "EW! Get off her you f***ing freak!" I’m surprised. I’ve never heard Britch say that dirty of a word. But don’t look at me; I’m not that dirty either.
"...F***ing freak? Yes, I guess I am," I feel my insides strangle themselves into a knot. I feel vulnerable. I do not like feeling vulnerable. Vulnerable is the feeling you get when you’ve given up. I haven’t given up. Don’t you count on it.
            A take another sharp breathe in. “Who the hell are you and what do you freaking want from me?” I say this quietly, but with a strong, deep tone that I think both Britch and me were surprised to hear at this point. Really, the most I expected myself to utter was a squeak softer than a mouse.
            “Me? I’m your worst nightmare, baby,” eeeewwww. What. The. Heck? Who does he think he is? But he continues, whether I want him to or not, “Huh. What do I want from you?” I could feel his eyes boring into my skull. “Look babe,” I cringed. “I’ve been held back in this d*** school and I started late. I should be in my sophomore year of high school. Whereas, I’m only in 8th grade,” his words were like spitfire on the back of my neck. “I’m just looking for a bit of fun in my life. I see you. You don’t think anyone sees you. But I see you. And don’t think I’m the only one. I’m not. You think you can hide in the shadows and escape the world. But let me tell you one thing, you can’t. I know you can’t. You try that and the world’s gonna backfire on you. Like me. You are so full of it. You think the world is just gonna work just right for you. Well it’s d*** not. It’s I-swear-to-freaking-hell not going to just bow down to you. And there’s just gotta be somebody to set the sick people like you straight, right? Why doesn’t it be me?”
            There were more to those last five words than seen on the surface. I decided right then, subconsciously, that it was my turn out.
            I stepped backwards. He chuckled. “Do you really think that’s going to hurt me?” I didn’t let up; I remained on his feet. Now he was mad, “Get off my f***in’ feet!” I couldn’t help but giggle. Think about it. I hate to say it, but think about it. How weird does that sound? I think he was shocked as I was about my giggling, so I took this as an opportunity to attempt a twist free of his grip. I turned around and punched him. This was a mistake, since he still had his hands around my waist. He pushed me away, and sent me sprawling on the ground. Well, at least I was free. We had that taken care of. But now he looked mad, angry, deranged. He was coming at me and he might as well have been holding three flaming pitchforks for all I knew. He was as angry a red as the sun, and I knew for sure, that if his rays so much as touched me, they’d leave there a deep, red, burn.
So I ran.

Britch pulled me to my feet, “What are you sitting there for? Get up!” We banged out the front door of the middle school. We ran and ran and ran all the way up to the next building. There, we stood to catch our breath.
            “What a freak…” she finished the sentence with something that sounded along the lines of “song of a b****, I just hate that guy,” she looks at me, and continues. “He really was held back…and he started school later than everyone else.”
            “I can’t believe he hasn’t been kicked out!” I exclaimed, fiery, surprising Britch and myself, once again with my outburst.
            “Well, as you saw, that guy sure is darn sneaky. And everyone’s afraid of him too,” she nodded as she stuck a piece of gum in her mouth. “Except you,” her eyes sparkled as she turned towards me. “You’re definitely the first person I’ve ever heard stand up to him like that. Once word gets around--and word will get around,” she softly adds. “that you stood up to him…wow. You will be the hero of every one he’s ever picked on.” She pointed another stick of blue gum at me, then she glanced at the gum. “Want one?” I flicked her off. Don’t ask me why, I just did. She ignored me nonetheless, “Alrighty then. Too bad for you. More for me,” and with that she popped her 4th piece of gum in her mouth and chewed slowly.
            We stood in silence outside the doorway. I bet we looked like a couple of bums just laying in wait for some unknowing idiot to come along. Oh no, not me. That would be the freaky dude that totally sabotaged my personal space earlier. I hide waiting for everyone to go away. So why was I out in the sun? Too lazy to go inside, I guess. But it definitely wasn’t because of Britch. Nope, definitely not. No way, so don’t you think it was because of Britch. I mean it.

            It wasn’t.


            Sooo…now, now I’ve got this English project. How exciting. How daring. How primitive. No, just kidding. But Emma Jane Rose is superbly good at being annoying. She should write a book on how to be annoying. Actually, on the other hand, she really shouldn’t. I think that would make me cry. And let me tell you, not very many things make me cry. I am The Shadow, remember? And last time I checked, shadows don’t cry.
            This really stupid song came on: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie. I should change it to “Shadows Don’t Cry” by The Shadow. But I’ve really never been such a big fan of music, so I guess not. Plus, the more I listen to the song, the more I’m utterly revolted. I’m not even going to say any more. I’ll just end up cussing…so…So much for that idea. Like I was going to follow through with it anyway. I don’t even know where that brain blast came from. I immediately turn off the radio.
Haha. I almost laughed. I think that you were thinking that I of all people listen to the radio. Guffaw. Snort. Chuckle. Oh, yes, I am laughing my guts out at this very moment… Or…not. Really, yes, I guess I do listen to the radio. But The Shadow does things abnormally. The Shadow looks for the stations that only come in as static. I listen to it occasionally if I’ve had an overly depressing day or any other time when I need to feel numb. Numbness is a virtue. That’s my Creed. And that’s what I tell Emma Jane Rose on Wednesday. I tell her that and she gets really shocked or something. But do I care? Nopers. It was almost kind of entertaining in a way.
I walk into English class on Wednesday to be warmly welcomed by the open arms of Emma Jane Rose. Yes, very much so if to be warmly welcomed by the open arms of Emma Jane Rose is to be scowled at and grunted at and frowned upon. Yes, I know, really? Grunted? She really truly grunted at me. No friendly hello? What is it that I see you do when you see your friends? Oh … yeah… you hug them. I guess I don’t blame her. She must realize that if she ever hugged me that she’d be beaten up black and blue, have a broken, bloody nose, and hopefully--hopefully--have puss coming out her eyeballs. I’m not exactly sure how I would manage to do that…but I could probably find it on the Internet. Plus, going on the Internet for prolonged periods of time gives me these major bags under my eyes. All the better to disguise myself my dear.
Yay. Morning. … Whatever. I slap my snooze button off, go through the morning routine, grab my jeans that I’ve been wearing for the past two days, and throw on a random shirt plus my hoodie. I go downstairs…and voila! My dear mother is in the kitchen, sitting on the tiled floor playing patty-cake with the cat. … Well…I wish that’s what she was doing. She’s actually trying to make breakfast, and utterly failing.
“Mom!” I rushed over and turned the stove off, pulled the eggbeater out of her hands and poured the soiled remains of biscuits and eggs down the drain. Stainless Steel, it says…Oh, how pretty you are now with gunky food like throw up plastered all around you. It’s gorgeous. Believe me. … Or not. When Mom sees the food--she must have been up for two hours to make this big of a mess!--go down the drain, she sits down on floor, and starts to cry. I bend down to her level and try to comfort her. I try to show her that, yes, I’m okay, I’m not crying, and I’m definitely not bawling. I try to show her that I’m okay. See? I’m getting a bagel out of the pantry. I’m shoving it into my mouth. I look at the clock…”Oh crap.” I’m going to be late. I run out the door, with my backpack slung over one shoulder.
When I get to school, I realize that I forgot to lock the door on my way out. I walk through the door and nobody’s around. Sh**. It better not be the weekend.
“Mind your language, dearest,” Mrs. Fruntoun comes up behind me. Shit! I talked out loud! “Yes, dearest, you are talking out loud. If you do that again, I will have to write you up.” I hold my tongue until she slips around the corner. I’ve got to work on not talking out loud. It’s hard for me not to speak my mind. It’s always been like that. But now, I guess, I just don’t notice it as much. Once she’s gone and far down the hall, I let it fly. Crap. Sh**. D***…I’m freaking late! My mom is probably going to walk out the door and get run over by a car! I’m on Fruntoun’s Watch List! Everyone’s going to stare at me when I walk into first period! …Or maybe I should just skip. I hear footsteps behind me. Crud. Another teacher? Or maybe…
“Jodi. Are you alright?” Crud. It is another teacher. Double crud. It’s the school counselor. Triple crud. I’ve been avoiding her all year. Let’s just pretend I’m not here. It works with everyone else.
She leans her back up against the lockers. Okay, then. If I spoke out loud, she ignored it. “Look, Jodi,” she turned her head towards me. “I haven’t got a chance to speak with you. If you ever need anything, you come to me alright?” I just look at her. Yeah, right. Sure, thing. “Just call me Miss June,” she just looks at me. “Jodi…hmmm…that’s interesting, we have the same initials.” Great. I have the same initials as the school counselor. I can’t flick her off. I can’t cuss her out. I’m not stupid, you know. She stands up straight and turns completely towards me. “Jodi. The world isn’t always going to let you crawl in a corner and wait to die. Step out. Wake up! You don’t have to bend over and smell the roses, but at least get somewhere! Whether you have potential or not, doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do about it. If you sit in the corner and die, it’s going to be a lot worse for you. And it will hurt other people along the way as well. You might end up hurting other people more than you hurt yourself.” She pulls a piece of paper out of her pocket and hands it to me. “Take this note. Don’t expect another one. I expect you to get to school on time whether anyone else does or not. I also expect you to get at least and A- on your project with Emma.”
And with that, she walks away. All I can do is stand there and gape. I had been about to cry a few minutes before. But when she started talking, I forgot about it. I forgot about it all. Nobody--nobody--had ever talked to me the way she did. Everyone always says, “Oh Jodi, it’s going to be okay. Everything’s going to be all right. It’ll all work out. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, I’ll be here.” Seriously, somebody actually said that to me once. Who says, “I need a shoulder to cry on?” And what if it’s not going to be okay? What if it’s never going to work out? What if I know that nobody cares? To heck with you all. That’s what I want to say. I actually want to say more, but I don’t think anybody would like that. As if I care what people like. And each person talks to me as if they know what I’m going through! Which they don’t! They talk to me in a little baby voice that should only be legal to use with babies and pets, if that. Sometimes, people talk really slowly as if I can’t understand them. As if I’m mentally ill. Nope. That’s my mom you’re confusing me with.
And she wants me to call her by her first name?  Call her Miss June? I’m not going to talk to her, let alone call her Miss June. That’s crazy. Does she really think that I’m going to ask for help that I obviously don’t need? She needs help! Everyone else needs help--not me. I don’t need help. I swear I don’t need help. Why would I need help? My life is just fine how it is. I dwell in the darkness.
But for some reason, Miss June’s words keep flowing through my head. I don’t understand it. There was one more thing she said as she turned the corner. I may have made it up. As she turned the corner, I could almost swear that she stopped for a split second and said: “And Jodi, I may surprise you. I may know more than you think I do.”
I close my locker door and glance at the clock. Five minutes until the bell rings. Almost in a trance, I pick my books up, and walk into first period. I don’t even notice all the stares as I give the teacher a note and walk to my desk. I almost don’t notice all the whispers and points and stares. I almost ignore it.
But I don’t.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


let me know if....there's a misspelling...or if I forgot to block out a bad word
or if you want me to block out a bad word that I didn't block out

'cause as much as I want to write this to its fullest extent, I also don't want people to think I cuss...I really don't. This is the most I've ever cussed LOL. The first time I've ever said any of these words.

So, just remember that I write a lot differently than the way I speak.

Chapter 1/1st Draft

Judith (Jodi) Alaska Taylor

I don't like to write my whole name out together. Not even when I don't use Judith. Ick--I hate that name. I hate Jodi too, but it's my name and I'm stuck with it until I turn 18. I can't wait. I'll finally be free of everything and everyone. I'll be free of my depressed mother and I'll be free of my dad, who doesn't even remember me. And I'll be free of this whole place. But lonely, yes, I will always be lonely. Being lonely is my safe haven. Sort of like what my mother's bed is for her, only she still doesn't shut up...ever. But when I am lonely, no one bothers me, except myself. It's the place where I can feel the most numb. It's where I remind myself that I'm not special and that nothing I say matters, because no one ever listens. It's where I used to cry myself to sleep, but I don't anymore, except on rare occassions, because I'm too old to cry. Being lonely is the place where I know I'll never grow up to become the beautiful young woman my mother doesn't tell me I'll be. She used to. But I know it was all a lie now.
            I know those kids who said they were my friends in Kindergarten through 4th grade were lying, too. Especially Kassandra, because if Kassandra had really been my friend, she never would have left me all alone. She was everything you would think a good friend would be; bubbly, positive, happy, like sunshine day in and day out, never a dull, sad moment. But of course, that's what I hate now. I can't stand bubbly, happy-go-lucky people. It's not fair that they feel so special that they can have a smile on their face all the time and I don't. They don't care about me. No one cares about me. I used to love Kassandra having that happiness all the time, but now...that she has left me...I hate it. I hate it in anyone else. I hate it in her, but of course, there is no reason to hate it in her because she is never coming back. She left me at the beginning of 5th grade--last year.
            It was that bright, sunny day, a few weeks into 5th grade--the first day that I cursed the sun-- I had just called Kassandra the night before. She had a fever. But she was still coming to school the next day. She promised. Now, I know better than to believe that people will keep their promises. She hadn't shown up to class and we were already through with our 45 minutes of English, moving on to math. I kept glancing to the door, wondering, frantically, where she was. Then, our teacher stopped the class. I didn't know why, I was too busy watching for Kassandra, because people kept coming in and out of our room. The small, frail-looking, old woman who worked in the front office came and went about ten times, and every time she opened the door, I looked expectantly up, looking only for Kassandra's bright eyes. Kassie's eyes were not merely a sky blue, but a deep, deep, royal blue. And they pulled out the happiest part of you on the worst days.
            But each time, it was the same frail old lady, shuffling her small feet along the carpet, and each time she had our teacher bend down so she could whisper something in his ear. And as time went on, and the lady came and went, Mr. Mort's face grew darker and darker, and grimmer and grimmer, and the kids in the front row leaned forward to listen. When they did, a few of them caught what was being said and immediately, a wave of shock spread across each face. As their neighbors poked and prodded them for answers about why we were just sitting there...they would just shake their head "no", or just stare blankly into space, oblivious to everything except their own worries. Now, what they were so worried about, I really didn't care. I was just wondering where Kassandra was, and I was starting to get mad.
            We were all sent home before lunchtime that day, and I just couldn't sit still on the way home. I had to call Kassandra, and ask her why she hadn't been to school. Plus, I needed to remind her that she had promised she would be there that day, and that she was always so good at keeping her promises, so why quit now? When we got home, my mom opened the door and sat down on the couch. "Jodi, dear, come here a second." My mother looked traumatized, just like the rest of the people in my class.
I don't know why everyone had suddenly started crying. A few of Kassandra's close guyfriends, I noticed, had cried a little too. How strange, I had thought, because I wasn't even crying and I thought there was some sort of rule that guys aren't allowed to cry. I didn't really investigate the cause of this crying any further.
            Once I heard the teacher start talking, I blocked it out and started wondering again, why she wasn't here yet. I had to work hard to ignore the tiny voice in the back of my head saying, "She's never going to come. She's never going to come." But once my mom sat me down on the couch, she asked, "Honey, you didn't say a word all the way home and you were fiddling the whole time. Do you want to talk? Honey, I'm sorry. I am so sorry. Kassandra and you--" she choked out the words, stroking my long hair back,. "You two were such great friends, and for something like this to happen just a few weeks into your last year before Middle School...I hate that. And I'm here for you, you hear? I'm always here for you no matter what." I had started to cry, without realizing. I just couldn't block it out anymore. And she pulled me close whispering meaningless words. Nothing mattered right then. It had finally broken through my barrier. And it shattered my world into a million pieces.
            My mom had assured me that it would be okay; everything would be okay. But I knew nothing would be ok, ever again. Kassandra, my best friend, was gone, forever, and she wasn't coming back. The rest of that year was a blur. My mom sent me to a shrink multiple times. I yelled at that shrink when I wasn't brooding quietly or talking to myself. I ignored every word that shrink said. And I learned how to block everything out really well. I didn't look at that shrink--ever. Not even the first day,, or the last day. Geez, I don't even know if that shrink was a boy or a girl. But I don't have to deal with that anymore, my mother quit taking me because it cost too much and I wasn't "getting anything out of it". Boy, was she wrong, I learned how to be lonely all the time during those hours. And I learned how to block the world out, even when the world is really angry and yelling at you. I can still block it out. And the world always gives up, but I don't, not since that day, I never give up. Plus, blocking everything out is too easy for me now. I can't stop, not that I want to. It protects me and makes me powerful.
            But here I am, the night before the first day of 6th grade.
            "Thanks for deserting me Kassandy." I say to her picture from the 5th grade yearbook, calling her by that nickname she hated. It makes me feel good inside that somewhere, I’m making her mad. "You deserve it." I say, throwing the book across my room so that it hits the wall and knocks a picture down to the floor. But sadly, it doesn't shatter the glass. I get up from my bed, and the wave of grief hits me again like it did that first day. I pull my right arm back and punch the same spot in the wall that I punched that day she left. There, the silver paint is peeling just like the scabs on my knuckles-not ever getting a chance to heal-, where I've punched it every day since.


            Some girls try their clothes out, and put their makeup on, and put their hair up the night before the first day of school. Heck, I know girls who do that just about every day. I don't understand it. They just take it all off again, so there is no point in getting all dressed up in the first place. Then, get this, the next morning, they spend at least two more hours making more adjustments. But I guess you probably know that. I can't be the only one with annoying blond girly girls in my school. And the wannabees! Don't get me started on the wannabees! They want everyone to look at them--and guess what?--that's what they get. They just try too hard. I'd rather not be noticed.

            But don't you dare call me a wallflower. I hate that term. I am no flower. I am a shadow. I am The Shadow. I am The Shadow of the school. At first, that's what people called me, then they just quit acknowledging that I was there at all. I think I like it that way much better.


            I grab my black shirt, the one with gray paint splattered on it; my jeans, the ones with the dark-as-night patches and an open knee; and my dark gray hoodie. I splash water on my face; four quick strokes brush my uneven, generally shoulder-length hair (which I chopped off this summer, with my mom’s old, blunt sewing scissors, all by myself, uneven is definitely my type of hair); and I start on my makeup. I just throw my makeup on, I don't believe in the blonde-y way:
            Brush, apply, stroke, stare, compare, wash off. Brush, apply, stroke, stare, compare, wash off. Brush, apply, stroke, stare, compare, wash off. Brush, apply, stroke, stare, compare, wash off. Brush, apply, stroke, stare, compare, wash off.
            And it continues on and on for hours--so annoying.
            I have my own way, yes, my own certain way. I take pride in my morning routine. It's all I have left. ... After...but I push those thoughts out of my mind. My morning distracts me, and lets me start my day off real good and numb. So for my face, my mask, I put on the same black eyeliner, mascara, and the same smoky gray eye shadow, all in that order. Every day. Then, depending on my mood, I either put on dark red lipstick, dark purple lipgloss, or just go. It's sophisticated, in a way that I don't care how it looks, as long as I get it on there. If it smears, that’s even better. It hides my face.
            My mom got mad at me the first time I did this and kept doing it. She said, "You're gonna hide your beautiful face!" ...well, actually, she yelled that. And was like, "Sure, that's what I want." which made her even more mad.
            "And your hair!" she shrieked in horror. "Your beautiful, brilliant, blonde hair! What did you do?"
            "Mom, I colored it. Black. Duh. And just fyi, I'm going to color a streak every so often."
            "What color?" she. Was. Horrified.
            "Oh, whatever I feel like, you know, maybe pink one day...purple...maroon...but never yellow,” I added thoughtfully.
            "But I thought yellow was your favorite color!"
            "Not anymore," I looked at her with my dark eyes, and I guess she saw right through me. She knew, obviously, what all that had been about. I expected her to open her arms and let me cry on her shoulder, like any good mother would do. I expected her to treat me like Kassandra's mother had when I fell on my knee and scraped all the skin off at their house. But I was sorely disappointed. She picked up the phone and called in for my first appointment with that shrink.


            When I got downstairs on the morning of the first day of 6th grade, I was the only one up.
            Geez, What does it take to get people up around here? I thought to myself. I glanced at the clock from under my dark bangs, starting when I saw what time it was. I grabbed a random cereal box out of the pantry, poured some in my mouth--without knowing what it was--, threw it back in, slammed the door shut, and chugged a bottle of milk as I shouldered my backpack and raced out the door. Once outside, I threw the bottle down next to the garage. If someone wanted to pick it up while I was at school, then good for them. I wasn't going to stay around and wait for them. I'm not going to run to school though, who cares if I'm late? I can say that my mom is sick. Which is actually true in a way. She’s mentally ill. She won't pick up the phone. She's probably in her bedroom, crying. Not my problem. My problem is getting to school.
            I wasn't really worried about getting to school, after all, I live just three blocks away. So even though I walked, I arrived on time. Now for my zone. I bet there were groups all lined up outside the school: popular, geeky, shy, jocks, punk/goth. I stop in my tracks, and this guy--who looks a little lost and out if it--runs into me. He pauses, "Sorry." I must have just glared at him, because his face fell, and he got all awkward, and finally decided to walk away. Looked like a kid who couldn't fit in real well...I know how that feels, but still, it's not my problem.
            One of the girls from the goth groupie sees me and makes her way over. A guy, maybe her boyfriend, follows her; slouching, hands in his pockets, green eyes glowing underneath bright blue hair. He sees me eyeing him, gives me a once over, and shrugs. Then he walks away. I almost let myself go. But I stayed numb.
            "Don't mind him," the girl glances over her shoulder, black lips pursed, eyeliner caking her squinting eyes. "He's not really into your type. Try to work on those googly eyes, or you'll never get a chance of a dream." I just glare at her. I. Was. Not. Making. Googly. Eyes. I. Do. Not. Make. Googly. Eyes. I step towards her, "I don't understand what the freaking heck you mean by googly eyes. I don't give a crap for that blue-haired bastard." At first I think she'll get defensive, but instead, she steps back, looks at me again, and smiles, "I'm liking you already. Wanna come over and hang?"
            "No," I scoff, twirling my streak of purple. "I don't need a groupie," I glance over her shoulder at the blob of black and bright, and roll my eyes, "I work alone."
            "Well, okay," she seemed slightly insulted, but she covered it well. "Your prob, but that "blue-eyed bastard" would be pretty impressed by you. I'll havta tell him what you said. Or do you want to take it back?" she raised one triple-pierced eyebrow in a challenge.
            Sure, challenge, whatever. One word. Lame. Brilliant, make fun of the 6th grader. Like I can't take care of myself and kick her whole groupie's butt at the same time. "I don't think so. I said what I said, would you like me to repeat it? I could elaborate on it. You know, tell you what I think about that other girl over there. You know, the one making out with your boyfriend." Her eyes grew wide and she jerked her head, looking frantically over towards the shadows. At this point, I walked away. Smiling to myself. Brilliant, overprotective, gullible to an extent, up for a challenge, this could be fun.
            Bring it on.

            Right before my free period, which is directly before my lunch period, I opened my locker and a folded, red note fell out. I picked it up, unfolded it, and read the scribbled handwriting, “By the way, my name is Britch.” How funny. I wonder if some people call her the b-word behind her back. Suddenly, my finger slips, and I get a paper cut.
            Stupid paper. I think to myself. Stupid Britch. I crumple the paper into a ball; it bites into my newfound cut. I throw it over my shoulder, into the hallway; grab my gray iPod and black earbuds; plug them in; and turn it up as loud as I possibly can as I walk out of the building, notebook in hand, attitude in mind.
            As I walk out the door, that kid runs into me again.
            “Geez, what the heck is your problem?” I say to him. “Get a life! Run into someone who you actually have a chance with,” I probably screamed that, because my music is up so loud. And if somebody is staring, then good for them, I don’t care. All the better, they’ll know to watch their back around me.
            I get outside, and I start walking to the library, when Britch and her groupie catches up with me. The girl I tricked Britch into thinking was making out with her “boyfriend” fell into stride beside me. She raised her eyebrows at me. This is my cue to talk, and ask the question that I’ve been curious about.
            “So,” I start, looking at the two girls. “Which one of you is going out with Mr. Blue Sky?” I ask, looking pointedly at the blue-haired guy. Britch pratically chokes on her gum and the other girl--a strawberry blonde with bright green streaks--rolls her eyes.
            "I'm single, thanks. And I plan to stay that way," he walks away on his long, lanky legs. Strawberry gapes at him as he goes by, and Britch snorts.
            "Hear that Fal? Single. He's planning to stay single," she starts to crack up.
            "Shut up," the girl--I guess her name is Fal--snaps. "You just shut up. You don't have a chance with him either," she shoves past us as well. "Come on Prayjer," she beckons to the scrawny guy that I just now noticed. "Unless you want your big behind kicked by the jockies," she nodded over to the football players coming towards us. And Fal glares at me, "You better watch your back blondie."
            It took all my willpower not to run, screaming to the girl's bathroom. Is my hair showing? I could have sworn that this very morning, it was black with one solitary purple streak. "That was lame," Britch says from beside me. "Anybody can see that your hair is darker than night."
            At the end of the day, as I'm leaving to walk home from school, Britch runs to catch up with me, "Hey do you not have a ride home? I could take you home." I just stare at her. "What?" she asks. This girl is starting to get on my nerves. Too happy. Apparently, she's not as goth-chick as I thought.
            "No." I say hotly. She puts a hand on my shoulder, but I shrug it off and keep on walking. Suddenly, Britch is in front of me. "Look twerp, I don't want anymore of your b.s., I just want to know what the crap your problem is. All we've done is be nice to you today! And you're a freakin 6th grader! "
            "Nice. You have only been nice to me?" it's a question. I can't believe this girl. Before she can say anything, I add, "No freaking duh, you've been nice to me. Yeah, sure, if being nice to me all day means calling me blondie and totally ignoring me."
            Britch looks hurt and mad and exasperated. "Look, it's your problem that you just sit there at lunch. You don't give anything to anything we do! NO effort! Period."
            "But the question is, do I really want to give the effort?"
            "Ugh! You. Are. Absolutely. Unbelievable. What do you do all day? Sit in a corner and gripe and moan? If you've done anything today, it's be miserable! Why?" I ignore her question, "So it's alright for you to call me blondie, but it's not alright for me to sit and brood?"
            "What the heck?!? I don't call you blondie! That's only Fal! Now, if you want me to, maybe I will, just to get you to say something. I'm so freaking mad at you right now, that I want to call you any old d*** name I can!"
            "I have one more question," I add, flatly, as if we weren't in the middle of a heated argument, but instead, that our conversation was coming to an end. "Are you punk or goth?"
            "Goth? You mean like, emo? H***, no. But--"
            "Well, I am. But not emo. Get it right. Just 'cause I'm goth doesn't mean I cut myself." Her face suddenly changes to an emotion I cannot read. I guess she gets it now.
            "OH. Are you that girl...I mean, there's only been really vague rumors...but I remember it being in the news..." of course it was in the news. Of course there's rumors about the blondie gone gothie. And I pull myself together to do what I've been planning to do if someone brings it up. "Was it you...I mean, you don't have to talk if you don't want--and don't think I'll always be like this, but going through something like that...it must be really tough--but...were you the girl who's best friend died last year?" she looks at me, with that fake sencerity in her eyes. Everyone had it after the accident, whatever that stupid accident was, I still don't know. No one will tell me. I raise my shaking hand and her eyes grow wide. It's the first time I've ever flicked someone off other than myself in my own mirror. Lucky her, maybe she'll spread the word and people will get off my back, and even better, some will never get on. We've stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, my house is just around the corner, and there's not a soul around. I don't live in a neighborhood, luckily.
            "So," I say, looking her in the eyes, with a fiery red expression, "Why don't you just f*** off and get lost?"
            I for sure thought she'd be speechless.
            "Alright," she said, giving me her own fiery look without a single twitch, "If that's how it is, don't expect me or anyone else hanging around. But you need us, or at least me, I'm here. I know how it is."
            I flick her off again, "NO, You. Don't." No one knows how this feels. No one can help me. I don't need help. I don't want help. "Get lost." And I don't stay around to watch her walk away. Her fiery, orange hair swishing across her back in the wind. Her back held high and her strides long. I didn't watch her until I couldn't see her from around the corner. I didn't.