“Kat, can you explain to me why you're here?” Principal Schuyler asked the girl sitting across from her.
The girl looked down, her sandy blonde hair falling over her eyes has she fidgeted in her seat, interlocking her hands repeatedly.
“Stupid Tyler keeps beating me up.” She mumbled, Schuyler leaning in to hear her voice, which was barely a whisper.
“Oh. Do I need to have a talk with Mr. Tyler Coffey?”
Kay furiously shook her head. “No! He’ll just beat me up more!”
“Is that so? Alright then,” The principal said, standing up. “You can go back to your class now, Kat.”
The teenager rushed out of the room, relieved that she could leave. Despite it just being a few questions, she found that so stressful. Why can't I just stand up for myself?
She stepped into her class where she had left her things when principal Schuyler had called her down. The teacher was up front, speaking about the thermohaline circulation, simple review from eighth grade.
“Kat. Glad you can join us.” The teacher said.
She quickly slid into her seat. Why’d he have to bring attention to me?
Kat went through the rest of her classes of the day, sitting alone at lunch. I just want to be at home.
Finally, finally, the bell rang. She put her stuff into her backpack and slung it over her shoulder and began to walk out the front doors.
She was about a block from school when she sensed someone behind her. Oh no…
“Hey kitty, wanna play?”
She stiffened. Leave me alone. Please.
He shoved me from behind. She tried to stop herself from stumbling but failed, her face hitting hard on the cement. Her nose began to spurt blood and small tears trickled down her cheeks. “That's what you get for snitching on me,” Tyler said, kicking her. “Better watch your back, kitty.”
She could hear him begin to walk the other way, but she stayed pressed to the ground, in the middle of the sidewalk, for another fifteen minutes to make sure he was gone.
Slowly getting back up, she continued the walk to her house, still four blocks away.
She pushed the door open to her house and began walking to her room.
“Hello, honey!” Her mom shouted from the kitchen. “How was your day?” No answer from Kat, who kept walking to her room. “Katrina Louis? What’s wrong?” She walked down the hall and into her daughter’s room, horrified at what she saw. “Katrina! What happened?”
“If you fell, you probably would have caught yourself and you wouldn't be so scraped up. What really happened?”
“Tyler beat me up again…” she replied quietly. “I don't want to go to school tomorrow.”
“How about we just tell the school what’s going on?”
“They already know. That’s why he beat me up. Because I told principal Schuyler that he’s been picking on me.”
“Oh, honey...listen, I'll call the school. You finish your homework and then rest, do whatever you need to, okay?”
Homework took over an hour.
Stupid math homework. Stupid Tyler. Stupid school. I hate this. Why can't I stand up for myself?
Finishing her homework, she flopped onto her bed and let herself drift off into a deep sleep.
This is a weird dream. She thought, walking around in the bizarre garden of pastel colors. Large flowers swayed in a sweet smelling breeze.
“Hello!” A small girl wearing a dress of orange flower petals walked up. “My name is Lily! Welcome to the dream realm.”
“This is just a dream, isn't it?”
“It's more than just a dream. It's a dream world that anyone around the world can enter, depending on what they want. If their life is perfect, it's very difficult for them to enter. This is more for people who need someone to talk to.”
“Oh,” Kat replied, trying to wrap her head around that.
“Now, your name is Katrina Louis, yes?”
“Yeah. How'd you-”
“Once someone enters, their name automatically appears on our list. Now, what do you want your name to be while you're in here? We change the names for identification safety. And, of course, your appearance changes too. You'll get to see what you look like soon.”
“A new name?”
Wow, that's a big choice...what to choose, what to choose? “Can my name be Dehlia?”
“Ooh, unique! I like it! Now, follow me to your house.”
“I get a house?”
“Of course! While you're in the realm, no one can wake you up, and your body essentially “dies” while you're here to conserve energy.”
“Basically, yes. But don't worry, you can choose to wake up. You're not permanently dead.”
“Yes, that assures me so much.”
“Look, I'm going to show you your house, and then you can wake up. You can come back at any time.”
They continued walking, and eventually showed up at a small log cabin. “Here you are! I suggest you go in first before you leave, or you’ll end up at some random place when you come back.”
“Okay, thank you Lily.” Kat walked into the house and to her room, where there was a large bed. She sat down. Let me go home.
She could feel cold air on her skin. “She’s awake!” Someone shouted.
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