Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Gossip/Rumors (either or both) (10/28/10)
TITLE: Deafening Whispers
By Julie Buter
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She walked into the cavernous room, her hearing shut to the offending noise by the music blaring through the buds in her ears and her eyes focused on one thing only – the floor. Except for that one second when necessity called for looking up to find an empty seat. At an empty table. In the farthest corner away from them. Counting the floor tiles until her empty chair at her empty table came into her sight-line, she once again felt it. Felt them. The eyes. The accusing, look-at-her-she’s-such-a-freak stares from across the room.
It didn’t matter how deep she tried to hide into herself, into the room and the furniture, they always found her. She didn’t need to look up to know that they were looking at her, talking about her. They always did. It was their amusement every lunch period. Not that she cared. What did it matter to her if they thought she was from a different planet? Who were they to judge, anyway? If they only knew what she had to go home to every day maybe they’d treat her differently. Or maybe they’d just whisper all the louder.
Did they ever have to wipe up their mother’s vomit so she wouldn’t suffocate in it before she got sober again? Or lie to their brother’s boss because he was missing and no, she didn’t know when he’d be home? They could wear their cute tops and short shorts without having to try and cover up the bruises left by another one of their mother’s boyfriends. But they didn’t care what her life was like. They only cared about spreading the awful rumors and lies about who she is, or rather who they think she is.
Maybe one day she’ll let them know what their stares, their lies, do to her. Maybe she’ll even show everyone her scars. Get their sympathy. Make them feel sorry for the way they’ve treated her. Or maybe she’ll really get them. She’ll just die. Then they’d have to feel bad, right? They’d have to take back their lies. Yea, maybe that’s what she’d do. It’d be pretty easy, really, with all those pill bottles her mother leaves lying around. She could do it tonight. She will do it tonight. There, that was decided.
She took a bite of her lunch. Sure, she’d love to have a tray full of pizza and soda and chips like everyone else, but her mother had spent her paycheck on vodka before she even got paid. At least she’d managed to find an apple someone left on the window ledge in the back of the science room for today’s lunch. It was better than nothing.
As she took another bite, she felt more than heard someone next to her. She studied intently the apple in her hands trying to keep her eyes from straying upward and into the eyes of whoever was there to mock her. Through the screeching in her ear buds she was sure she heard someone say her name. Her name? Someone actually knew her name? She took a breath and peeked over her apple to catch a glimpse of who knew her name. Her eyes met a pair of soft, peaceful, brown eyes. Below the eyes that seemed to penetrate her own, she found a pair of lips turned into a smile. A genuine smile. Not a smirk or a sneer, but a real smile.
“Hi,” the lips said. She removed the bud from her right ear, the ear nearest the voice, to better make out what was said. “There’s a party at my church tonight, and I was just wondering if you’d like to go with me? If you’re not busy, that is.”
“Me?” she asked, quietly enough that the soft eyes and smile had to lean in closer to hear, almost touching shoulders.
“Yes. If you don’t have anything else to do tonight, that is.” The smile widened. She didn’t know a smile could be that wide. Or that white.
“No, nothing at all.” She lied. Well, really it wasn’t a lie because she hadn’t actually committed to what she was going to do tonight. And that type of a commitment could wait. For a very long time.
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