by Olivia Wisse
They say that highschool is supposed to be the best four years of life. A time to make friends, find yourself, and have fun. I beg to differ with these claims. To me, highschool is glorified hell. I have to worry about punctuality, and handle a relentless workload. But the worst part is trudging through the overcrowded hallways feeling utterly alone. I am that strange girl that sits alone in the back of the classrooms, negligible as a particle of dust. The girl without a clique, a voice, and a name. The girl without an identity.
The first day of sophomore year, I wander into my English class and do a quick scan of the dusty, outdated classroom. I am not pleased with what I notice, a bunch of my peers who will never bother to socialize with someone like me. I take my trademark seat in the back. The stench of old wood and moth infested textbooks overwhelming me.
The sweaty and expressionless teacher gives the class a writing prompt. I spend the first five minutes of allotted time carefully writing each scrawny word. I utilize the last remaining five minutes to rethink my work, scribble out the entire thing, and quickly rewrite it. The final result is a page stained with ink and a few barely legible sentences scrawled underneath.
“Ok class I will call on a few of you to share,” my teacher states.
His beady eyes scan the room, and come to a halt on me. He consults his class roster and states my name, demanding that I present first.
A massive tidal wave of anxiety consumes me. I feel my cheeks flush as all eyes fall onto me. Their judgemental eyes boring holes into my flesh. They can see into me, they can see every flaw, they know I am nothing but a loser. In this moment, I want nothing more than to be invisible. My vision wavers, and I am transported back to a day seven years ago.
A sharp ear- splitting blaring recognizable by any student: the school bell. On this typical day of third grade, this sound arouses excitement within my naive mind. The bell signals freedom. Hundreds of kids excitedly crowd in packs from the stuffy cafeteria to the open air of the playground. I finally make my way through the mass of children. Although the sun is prevalent, my face is slashed by the bitter fall breeze. I ignore the frigid air as I spot my friends and eagerly head over.
Of the people I talked to, there were two girls whom I considered to be my best friends. We had been a trio for the majority of the year. The first of my friends was more athletically built. With long strands of auburn curls spilling over the top of her head. The second friend of mine had long, straight black hair and glasses propped against the bridge of her nose. Once the three of us had convened, we opted to playing our usual pastime. Together, we headed over to the grassy area of the playground’s territory.
Within minutes, the fire in my lungs spread as I sprinted through the vibrant green grass. The exertion of energy kept me invulnerable to the cold from the inside out. My sneakers flattening each erect blade of grass with every heavy step I took. Risking a glance over my shoulder, I noticed that I no longer had a pursuer. Confused, I scanned the playground for the faces of my friends.
I discover the two have dispersed. I stand abandoned in the middle of the grass. I spot my jet- black haired friend sulking and looking dejected in the corner of the field. I set out towards her, determined to comfort her as any good friend would. I made the mistake of approaching her in a frivolous manner, making light of whatever had set her off. I had no knowledge of what had casted her overcast mood. I still do not know what caused her to harvest such anger on that day.
My benevolent actions were met with scowls and angry glares from my friend with the jet- black hair. Finally, she let me have it.
She motioned over to our curly- topped friend.
“You see her- people think of her as the popular one,” she said.
I could not disagree. Our friend was liked by many. I watched her playing around with some people in our grade for a few moments. I was envious of the way she dashed about the grass barely heaving a breath.
“Me,” my ebony- haired friend continued, “people think of me as the smart one,” she finished.
I shifted my attention back on her. She straightened the spectacles against her face and stood up straighter, smiling with an aura of pride. I could not argue with that either, she was a lot smarter than me in class.
“And you,” she said.
The anticipation arose inside of me. I pondered what she was going to say. All of a sudden craving to know what it was people saw when they thought of me.
“People think of you as the lame one,” she stated bitterly.
Suddenly, the air felt brutally cold and smothering. The lame one? The words echoed through my mind. My friend had whipped around and stormed off to the other end of the playground. Although she was gone, her words never left me.
Back in my chair in english class, I realize there is no escape. At first, my disquiet does the talking for me. My voice coming out weak and rushed. But with each word, I feel myself grow stronger. I am slowly dragging myself out from the safe hiding spot below the radar. When I am finished, I look nervously into the eyes of my proudly stunned teacher.
“That was excellent! And your word choice was lovely!” he says.
He continues to praise my writing, pointing out the specific things he liked. When he finishes talking, there is a brief silence where I pick up on the whisper of one of my classmates.
“I was going to use that word too, but I erased it last minute,” the girl says to her friend.
The attention of the class swiftly shifts from me. But I can not stop smiling to myself for the remainder of the period. I am filled with a powerful sense of self love I had not known for a long time. Maybe I am not that pathetic after all. Perhaps all scars are made to heal, and all invisibility spells eventually wear off.