Writer’s note: I found this in my archives while looking for inspiration. It’s from all the way back in freshman year, and my stomach actually hurts to read it. It’s so obvious who I was writing about, though I changed the names, and the situations are so familiar that I can barely stand it. It’s a lot like “Burden of Proof” in that way; I had to stop writing it for fear of major depression.
“Shit,” I muttered. There it was again. That feeling of terror right before I have another minor panic-attack. The familiar sensation of not being able to breathe bubbled up in my throat, causing me to wheeze for breath. What breathing I could do sped up considerably. I glanced frantically around the room. Thankfully, no one had noticed me yet. Not that they noticed me all that much anyways.
Slowly, I made my way up to the teacher’s desk carefully. “Can I go get a drink?” I gasped, clutching for air, hoping I looked like my mouth was dry or something less alarming than a panic attack.
Good thing today’s public school teachers aren’t chosen for their education, but for their cheap services. She just nodded and gestured towards the pass without taking her eyes off of her solitaire game on the computer.
“Thanks” I managed to mumble. My best friend, Mason, finally looked up with alarm, and a look of recognition flickered across his face as he saw the familiar expression of pain on mine. Before he could say anything, I rushed out of the door, knocking into a desk with my slightly-too-large hips.
As I half-ran to the nearest bathroom -ironically at the other end of the hallway- I tried to concentrate on familiar landmarks in my high school: A broken pop dispenser with a ‘use at your own risk’ sign taped on it in a bizarre fashion, various signs for various events that had happened almost a month ago, a couple sneaking a make-out session. The last observation made me slightly depressed, but I wasn’t in a state to feel completely into the emotion.
Finally, I turned the corner into the bathrooms. The girls and boys signs were bolted to the walls because of frequent offenses concerning them. I didn’t have time to laugh at the idiocy of it.
Dropping the pass on the floor and positioning myself with both hands on either side the sink, I closed my eyes and practiced breathing. Maybe it was time to slip into Life Number Two.
As soon as I felt the familiar panic building up inside of me, I turned quickly to my close friend and secret crush, Mason, and gripped his arm meaningfully. He understood immediately. After a quick conference with the teacher, -I only caught the words “not feeling well” and “to the nurse”- he came back, and as gingerly as he could, guided me out of the room.
Once we were out of site, Mason wove his arms around me and held me close, pressing his flawless skin into my hair. “It’s going to be alright, Val, just breathe.”
After I got myself somewhat under control, I turned my face up to him -only three inches taller than myself- and he kissed me, slowly at first, but then with more passion. We stood there in our embrace for a moment, our lips locked in an epic and daring advancement in our relationship. When he let me go, I sighed, he sighed, and, holding hands, we went back to class, where the teacher handed back my latest quiz results- three 100 percents in a row.
I opened my eyes. Good. My breathing was better.
Life Number Two had saved me again. What started out as a way for a seven-year-old to get to sleep turned into an epic adventure I looked to as much as possible. In it, I could be as thin, talented, and beautiful as I wanted to. I could be super-athletic, super-smart, super-charming, and, best of all, I could have any boy I wanted. It seemed to help me through rough times in my hormonal teenage-girl life.
At fifteen, and in my first year of high school, I was normal in most ways. Of course, my test scores were higher and I was in more advanced classes, I was an avid reader and excellent creative writer, and I usually got As on everything, I procrastinated with the best of them. As intelligent as I was, my laziness out shined it by far. It was sick. So my grades started to slip a bit during middle school, although I kept them reasonably high. Most of my homework was done either late at night after everyone had gone to bed or in the morning in the library before school started.
I closed my eyes again, then leaned in closer to the mirror. Opening them, I examined myself, frowning.
I thought I was passable- not hideously deformed but a far way from exceptionally beautiful. I had thick, curly chestnut colored hair that stuck out from my head like a yield sign if I didn’t use ten pounds of gel or take an hour to straighten it. My eyes were an unidentifiable color; upon being asked, most people responded with “greenish-bluish-grayish”. I fancied them green, though.
Being Italian, or at least part Italian, I had inherited a large nose that protruded from my face like a shapeless lump of cheese. I had also acquired the pale, olive skin and light eyes.
I turned my head slightly, then back again, grimacing. My eyeliner was smeared. I took a wet paper towel and wiped it off, silently wishing I had brought more to re-apply. I suppose my tomboy past prevented me from allowing such behavior, subconsciously.
Sighing, I slowly walked back to class. After handing the bright yellow clipboard back to Ms. Jackson-best know as “Ms. J”- who didn’t even acknowledge me, I sat back down in my cold plastic chair and turned my thoughts back to the scatter plot worksheet in front of me.
Mason looked at me with his dark green eyes concerned, although only on the surface. “You alright?” he asked carefully, as if I would break down if he talked too fast.
I nodded without looking at him, pretending to concentrate on my graph paper. I was really relishing the small-albeit shallow- amount of concern he was showing. It was something I wouldn’t mind getting used to.
He studied my profile, considering it, his curly black hair bouncing slightly as he turned away. I sighed quietly.
After another half and hour of him with his back to me, chatting away with Megan Holiday, mercifully, the bell rang. I shoved everything into the single, unorganized folder I used and rushed out of the room, more depressed than I had a right to be.
He didn’t even try to catch up with me. I shook my head, wondering why I had expected anything else.
We’d been friends since seventh grade, when I had been the friendless loser with a bad fashion sense and he’d been the basketball freak. It was mostly just me and him, playing change or one-on-one for the first year. Over the summer before eighth grade we’d both changed- I got contacts, took better care of my hair and body, and gotten new clothes, and he had grown his hair out. We’d been through a lot, me and him. There were many inside jokes and memories that we shared, plus the fact that he told me pretty much everything, this because I was the most loyal and I could keep a secret. I began liking him in the beginning of eighth grade, and a year later, I still hadn’t gotten over him. For some reason, I couldn’t. I wish I would have moved on, began liking someone else, but I suppose you can’t control your heart.
After trading my geometry book for my Spanish one at my locker, I headed to Spanish class. I was one of the first ones there, since I didn’t feel the need to socialize between classes. Sitting at my seat at the back of the classroom, I had nothing to distract me from my depression. And as soon as I began to get depressed, I began to feel guilty, as always.
I mean, it’s not like I should have a reason to be depressed; I live with both my biological parents and I’m fairly well-off, millions of kids had it worse than me. I have no reason at all to be depressed. Not on the outside, at least.
When most teens get depressed, it’s usually because of problems at home or bad grades. With me, it’s always been because I’m so solitary. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends, but sometimes it seems that I’m even more alone when I’m in a group. I don’t like to talk about my inner-most feelings, not to anyone, so part of my depression is probably because I keep things so bottled up. Another factor is my low self esteem from childhood mental bullying by other kids. I was also a gullible fool.
Kayla sat down next to me, none too lightly. She rifled through her pencil bag until she pulled out her Nintendo DS, much to my annoyance. If she thought I was going to help her with her final, as in let her cheat, she had another thing coming. It was the week before finals, and everyone’s nerves were running high, especially mine. I got a lot of pressure from being smart, and at the same time being a procrastinator. They aren’t two things that should be mixed. They create problems enough on their own.
As more people began filing in, I sighed and turned my attention back to Spanish. We had a practice final tomorrow, and I needed all the studying I could get. Or not. I have a 104 percent in this class. Taking out my only notebook, with the nice little edges that you can tear, I used the equation my friend Mia had taught me. .8 x (current percent in class) + .2 x (grade on final)= Final grade
The final was twenty percent of our grade, so quickly calculating, I realized that I didn’t even have to take the final to pass the class with an A. Interestingly enough, I hated this class. No, correction, I despised this class. For starters, the teacher was French; ironic or what? He talked too fast in his weird little French/Spanish accent, and then he started babbling off in a random language. And then he would say “write it down”, we’d look at each other confused, he’d babble some more, and say “I’m not explaining it again. It’s due next week,” and then yap about his grandma or something. It was very hard to keep up.
He wasn’t fat, pudgy was a more correct word, and he had big eyes that sort of stuck out of his small, apple-shaped head. When he was teaching us something, he would have us all stand up, for “kinesthetic remembrance”, and he would proceed to walk around the classroom like the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” with one eye closed, cackling. He would have been a good “Mad Eye Moody” for the Harry Potter films, minus the French accent, though. No joke. The guy seriously scared me.
Finally, the bell rang, causing everyone to scoot their butts off their friend’s desks and sit down where they’re assigned. I put my Spanish notebook away.
As soon as he started talking, I knew it was going to be a long class. Maybe I could make it more interesting. I shuffled through my pile of things until I found my journal. It wasn’t my Second Life, but it was good enough. Flipping it open to the next blank page, I began to write.
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“No, damn it, it’s GUSTAR, not GASTON! AAARGH!” Pierre (the teacher’s first name) screamed at the Cowboy, the kid who had such awful pronunciation the F students were disgraced. The Duck (a.ka. Kayla Duckworth), wearing her pink sweat suit with the mysterious brown stain on the butt, sits in the back row playing, as usual, her Nintendo DS, except it wasn’t on. Yeah, she’s that stupid.
Mason Harrison is quietly attempting to slip out on Pierre’s long, angry, French-accented lecture, along with his EXTREMELY loyal friend, Valencia George. Liz Sollom, or Zazu, according to Pierre, turns to leave with them.
But as Mason tried the door, it was locked. Val emits a tiny scream, not only because they couldn’t get out, but also because water was beginning to seep through the space under the door.
“Pierre, the room is going to flood!” Screams the Always-Eager-To-Get-Into-The-Teacher’s-Pants- Jerry Stevens.
But Pierre, who was totally oblivious to everything around him, ignored him and continued his lecture that no one could understand.
The water was now up to their ankles.
“We won’t be able to breath!” exclaimed sensible Emily Fabin.
Val’s brain was computing at one-hundred miles an hour. What, at the rate the water was flooding in, it would only take about five minutes for the room to be totally full. What were they going to do?
And then, out of the blue, the usually completely silent Craig Thomas rips of his shirt and pants, revealing a jump suit of tight, bright blue, water-proof fabric. “I am,” -dramatic pause- “SCUBA MAN!”
The water was now up to everyone’s knees. The class was chaotic. Or, that is, everyone except two people- The Duck, who was still tapping away at the blank screen, and Pierre, who was still rattling off stupidly.
‘Scuba Man’ began to pass out air tanks and scuba-masks, seemingly out of thin air. Everyone scrambled to put theirs on.
Since he couldn’t cheat putting on his mask, Graham Franklin put his on backwards, until someone felt sorry for him and put it on for him.
Some of the better students attempted to put a mask on Pierre, but he wouldn’t shut up so they just left him. No one even bothered with The Duck, who was now trying to blow a bubble while chewing on a piece of paper.
As the room continued to fill, everyone managed to stay remotely calm. Pierre and The Duck were soon drowned. About five minutes before the bell rang and everyone was losing hope (and air), someone came through a concealed passageway behind a tall cabinet the late Pierre called the ‘choky’ (from Matilda, remember?). It was high school basketball superstar Thane Patent, wearing a bright pink bikini! Everyone was mortified by his appearance, but they were too happy about escaping to care.
Well, that certainly wasted nearly thirty five minutes. Only nine minutes left. THANK GOD.
We’re watching a movie for extra credit; we have to write some questions or something… I wasn’t really paying attention. Not that it matters.
As the movie on some Mayan civilization drones on, Jerry Stevens walks across the room to talk to someone. Mr. Violette is sitting at his desk, back to us, on the computer, probably looking at French porn or something. He doesn’t notice anything. Right as Jerry sits down, Violette turns around, scans the room for trouble, doesn’t find any, and turns back to his French porn.
The bell. Finally. I scoop up my stuff and wait for Mason to do the same. I open my journal to my story and give it to him. He’s used to me writing things to make class more interesting, and he’s always eager to read them.
He walked with me to my locker, laughing, as he read. I’m glad he enjoyed it. It’s times like this that make me happy we’re friends. He handed me my journal. “Nice,” he said, grinning. Then he turned and left.
I smiled a little to myself as I opened my bottom locker. The two girls with lockers next to me squeezed in with me, all of us straining to get out of the way before the people with lockers above us get there. Anna, on my left, and Olivia on my right, got out in time. But my locker was horribly disorganized. Things kept falling out. I growled in annoyance. Johnny, the boy with the locker above mine, reached over me and began to put in his combination.
“Sorry,” I muttered. I grabbed the last of my things and stuffed everything else back into the locker. I could clean it tomorrow morning, I decided.