Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Astonishment (02/02/12)
- TITLE: Undeniable Outrage
By Rachel Burkum
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Her gaze had always been a veritable porthole to her soul, revealing facts which most would prefer ignore. Anyone who had ever watched her or listened to her speak would have more than an inkling of what her past and present were like. But most chose the bliss of blind ignorance. And those were the ones who wouldn't understand the look in her eye now. But I did. And it scared me.
I hadn't been Hannah's friend very long. We'd been attending the same school for years, but she'd always been the type to fade into the shadows. I honestly hadn't noticed her until we were sophomores in high school - a fact of which I was later ashamed.
It only required a few lunches of sitting together to figure out Hannah wasn't all she seemed. Though liking to hide, she had a great sense of humor and was very creative. But there was something else. Something deeper. Something unsaid.
I only noticed when she and I were alone. There was a darkness behind her eyes - almost a foreboding. When she laughed, my ears believed her. My heart didn't. When she smiled, my sight believed her. My soul didn't. I never asked, yet somehow I knew.
Her biggest fear wasn't a low position on the social totem pole like everybody else's - it was taking home a grade lower than an A. To her, failure ranked next to murder. There were times I questioned if she felt her life was worth more than the earthworms dug for fishing. It was never in what she said - only in her empty stare. An emptiness no one else seemed to notice. Or did they? The courage to ask tough questions never showed itself. The bravery to show compassion never appeared.
But what I saw on Hannah's face now wasn't darkness. It was a mixture of shock and pure joy - something I'd never seen in her before. And it was one of the most frightening things I'd ever experienced.
"So how 'bout it?" Jason had her backed up against her locker, his muscular arm a barrier between her and our next class.
Hannah's eyes were fastened to the his, her cheeks matching the crimson sweater she wore. "Really?"
"Well, sure. A chick as hot as you? I can't go to the party alone."
Jason was a senior. A popular senior. He was the most gorgeous guy in school. And he also had the biggest reputation for things of which a conservative girl wouldn't dare speak. I fiddled with my next-door locker, pretending the latch was stuck so I could keep watch on the scene.
Hannah nodded numbly. "Okay. I'll...I'll see you after school?"
Jason flashed her an irresistible grin. "Right." Only after he'd given her chin a teasing tap with his finger did he release her.
I was afraid. Whatever party Jason would go to was not somewhere I felt comfortable sending my friend. "Don't go," I whispered hoarsely.
"Are you nuts?" Hannah's eyes were still wide as she accompanied me to class. "He asked me! Me, of all people!"
After school that day, I watched helplessly as she got into Jason's car. I'd tried multiple times to stop her, but it was no use. Nothing could battle that look of happiness. That look of wonder. She’d been so utterly amazed that any boy, let alone Jason, would take any interest in her, that she was willing to do anything.
As I walked home, my fists remained clenched, anger eating away at my soul. Deprived. Put down. Never encouraged. Unloved. Those were words I would use to describe Hannah. I'd never witnessed her home life. But I didn't have to. I knew. The look in her eye when Jason asked her to the party said it all. No one had ever told her she was important. Pretty. Intelligent. Funny. And now it was too late. It was an undeniable outrage. I could only pray that she would return from the party bearing the same innocence with which she'd left. But it would take a miracle.
It shouldn't have been surprising. The look in her eye, that is.
*The plot and characters in this story are fictitious.
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