I sigh in frustration while surveying my limited options again. Stomach filled with lead as I fight off the surge of panic. Mom would say I'm being over dramatic, but I beg to differ. My pulse quickens at the thought of tomorrow, though the first day of second semester shouldn't seem like a monumental occasion.
Trying to cling to the small joy of being a day closer to the end of the hell that is my small town high school, but this offers me little comfort as I search for what to wear. I barely made it through the first half of senior year, mainly by keeping my mouth shut and trying to be invisible. I hate my school and about 99% of my peers.
My closet is small, and only half of the hangers have dark clothing haphazardly strung. I'm in desperate need of new clothes since most of my stuff is fading and starting to shrink from too many washes. I'd been hoping to get some for Christmas, but unfortunately money is tight.
The newest item in my closet is a shirt from my birthday in September. Emma had bought it online from our favorite store and it quickly became my most prized possesion. I hold it up to inspect and notice a hole burned along the hem. Damn it. This shouldn't be surprising, Emma is constantly burning me with cigarettes as we walk to school. Lucas and Jade are always yelling at us to quit, but we never listen. At least I'm not as bad as her.
We could take the bus, but all live in town within a close vicinity, so we started walking last year. It sucks when the weather is gross, but at least we can avoid dealing with people for an extra hour. I glance out the window to see if it's still snowing, though getting enough for a school cancellation rarely ever happens. A dismal amount is coming down, so I will keep praying for a blizzard.
Most of our classmates have their own cars to drive, but my family is lucky enough that mom's junker is clinging to life. That beast is older than me. My goal for winter break was to get a job, but it's been difficult due lack of support. Even though we need the money, mom doesn't want me to start working and have the stress on top of school. My friends are in similar situations, hence why we are the last four remaining seniors to be walking to school.
I pilfer through my few other shirts, which are in worse shape. It looks like a holey shirt and jeans are my only option. Sighing, I close the door trying to not see my reflection in the ridiculously oversized mirror hanging there. Mom was so happy when she brought it home from the thrift store that I couldn't argue, it's not like I wanted to have a conversation about my odd relationship with mirrors. I don't always hate how I look, but it's close. Sometimes I will catch a glimpse of myself and think I'm decent, but later on I will wonder how delusional I am to have even considered it. It's much easier to avoid my reflection all together.
Standing at 5'7, I'm not exactly tall, but not short either. I have long, curly black hair that never, ever cooperates. My pale skin and large dark eyes used to make grandma say I was beautiful, but I think it just makes my random acne stand out more. Overall nothing remarkable, besides for being fat. Which isn't remarkable, but tends to make me stand out in a crowd, not in a good way. According to the doctor my mom drug me to the last time we had insurance, it's nothing too concerning. He said I'm overweight, but with diet and excerise I can be back on track.
The whole visit was awkward and I hated it, from the gag worthy positive posters on the wall, to the too personal questions the doctor insisted on asking with my mother not three feet away. I had thought about asking her to sit in the lobby, but didn't want to hurt her feelings. I know she was trying to be supportive, but her comments on my size are starting to become more frequent. It's frustrating to sit here and act like I appreciate her advice.
I glance at the old clock on my nightstand that's been thrown into the wall a few too many times. The cracked screen blinks back 12:05. Only a few hours and I will be back at school, dealing with people I have nothing in common with and yet am forced to spend eight hours imprisoned.
My friends Emma, Jade and Lucas make it bearable, but this year we only have art class together. By some sick twist of fate we even have separate lunch hours. I hate the idea of going to the cafeteria alone, having no one to sit by. I always get anxious in social settings, and not having them there will make it worse. I don't want to say I need them as an emotional crutch, but I need them as an emotional crutch. They are gifted at making me feel less weird and alone.
I like to think fate brought us together. That and a mutual hatred of our 9th grade gym teacher, Mr. Louis. It had been the first week of school, and I had hated myself for deciding to get my physical education credit out of the way. Big fucking mistake. I was just not built for athletic things and hated organized sports, not to mention I sweat like a pig at the first time of physical exertion. Not all lady like and dainty, but full on head to toe sweat. Especially my face, which turns into a tomato. Or so I have been told.
Mr. Louis is probably in his early sixties, has only a small tuft of white hair left and a kind face. That old bastard is the worst, and not just because he made us perform parts of the physical fitness test in front of the whole class. No, that wasn't shudder inducing enough, he also picked the teams for any sports we played. In theory this could be good because then no one was obviously being left out or picked last, right? Wrong.
He had a knack for pairing all the athletic, coordinated types against us weaker ones, like a twisted game of survival of the fittest. Our first unit was dodgeball, of course. All of us ended up on the same team. It took two minutes for me to get wacked in the face with a ball at close range and my nose to decide to imitate a faucet. Blood spewed down the ugly white and yellow uniform. Go Bumble Bees.
Emma was the one who volunteered to lead me to the office and wait with me while the nurse tried to fix my face. In hindsight, I think it was to get out of the game because she is as coordinated as me, but after that we became friends. Later that day, Lucas and Jade came to join us at lunch and we bonded over talking crap on all things physical education related. Three years later, we are still close. If it wasn't for them, I would be a complete outcast and not have anyone.
Along with her lovely so-called pep talks, mom is always trying to get me to come out of my comfort zone, be more social like I used to be. Act more like her. She thinks my three friends aren't enough. She's constantly talking about her glory days of high school and how it's the best years of my life, blah blah blah. Mom forgets how middle school was for me, she should be thankful I haven't abandoned school altogether. I'm sure when I get home tomorrow I will get the usual inquisition on if I made any new friends. Or worse, she will ask about boys. Kill me now.
I have always felt too large in my body, like I take up too much space. Instead of looking like my beautiful mom, I take more after my dad's side. Large, loud and crazy. When I was younger, I had tons of friends and was always talking. Like never shut the fuck up, loud as hell all the time, outgoing to the extreme kind of kid. I was a model student and well liked by my teachers. That was when it was still cute that I was chubby, it was considered baby fat that I would soon lose. Sadness was once a minor emotion, only popping up randomly. Then I grew, and grew and grew.
My clothes didn't fit right and I hated how I didn't look like the other girl's in class. Where they were pretty and delicate, I weighed more than the guys. Unable to escape my body, I started dreading going to school, feeling anxious to be around others. I felt awkward, like I was always out of place and never where I belong. When I get like this I don't want to talk to anyone, it's almost too exhausting to function. My mom thinks expressing yourself is healthy, I need to try to talk about my emotions, explain them. She says that I just need to try to be happy. Positive thoughts and all that. How do you try to be happy?
She's always yelling at me to smile. It just makes my mouth hurt.
In middle school, I still tried to hang out with all the other girls, chasing after them and yelling for them to wait up for me. I craved for someone to understand how I was feeling, tell me it's okay. Someone to talk to about all these things I am bottling up inside. I didn't understand why they didn't want to talk to me anymore, could they tell my smiles weren't real? I would shout so loud, but none of them would turn.
I wasn't worth acknowledment. Throughout the years I became the reject, always spending time alone. I stopped answering when the teachers called on me, and started spending most of the class hour doodling instead of listening. I stopped trying to fit in, and instead concentrated on fading into the background.
In 8th grade a new girl moved to town and joined our class. Natasha was from a larger city, and therefore instantly deemed popular. I don't know what I did in a past life to make her hate me so much, but she started teasing me all the time. I didn't know how to respond since I was used to most of my classmates ignoring me at that point. In the beginning it was whispered insults, before the names hurled loudly with laughter echoing after.
I became a punchline. I hadn't realized the silent treatment would be better than the attention, the hateful words.