Gripping the Mist

~ For the Replica Competition.

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2. Ember

 "Esther!" A voice calls down the nearly abandoned hallways. I jump. It was almost sad to see how surprised I was to here someone call me by my first name. How rare it had become. But it struck my curiosity. Who could this be? 

 I turn quickly, fixing the girl in my amber glare. "Yes?" I ask skeptically, realizing that I didn't know her.

 "Did you drop this?" The girl asked shyly, stepping forward with a pen grasped in her hand. I notice that it was mine.

 "Yeah," I say quickly as I take it from her. "Thanks."

 Great, now I was late for social studies. How I wished I didn't have to go. It was my least favourite subject and I didn't think I could stay awake through the entire lecture. I had had the worst sleep the night before. A strange dream woke me up in the middle of the night and I could not fall back asleep. I didn't think much of it, quickly forgetting the dream after I got up to grab some water.

 I slipped into the classroom just as the bell went and took the first seat I saw, not putting any thought into finding a seat next to someone I knew. At this point, I didn't care. As soon as I place my binder and textbook on my desk, I look up to see today's topic written on the white board: The first Apollo landing. Sounded interesting enough.

 It had been twenty minutes into the class and I couldn't find myself to listen to the monotone voice of my teacher that dragged on. I was now braiding a loose strand of my hair that I purposely pulled form my messy bun. The minutes ticked by on the clock on the wall next to me. I felt my mind slipping away until- "Ember!" A voice harshly whispered my nickname into my ear. I actually preferred my nickname over my real name. It was so odd and unusual and everybody thought so too. All it took was one person to notice my hazel eyes that were flecked with shades of orange and red to say that they resembled glowing embers. Perfect excuse for a name to substitute Esther. At first only my close friends called me this, but too many people knew who I was and the name spread like a wild fire. Even teachers sometimes referred to me with this name. I looked over at who it was that had just blurted this name at me and realized that he was another person that I didn't exactly know. A boy I knew as Phillip, a year older than me in grade twelve.

 "What?" I asked, a little annoyed at how rudely he had spoken to me.

 "What the hell are you wearing?" He said with a laugh that could be heard by the two people ahead of us, who turned and looked to see what was going on. Thankfully, the teachers voice drowned it out for the rest of the class. I ignored Phillip's insult. I was dressed a little- slobbish- you might say. I was wearing jogging pants, a baggy T-shirt with a pair of flip flops. But I was too tired this morning to care what I wore. Though I ignored Phillip's gaze, pretending that I was interested in hearing the launch dates of each Apollo mission being listed by our teacher, he kept talking.

 "I thought preps like you were supposed to dress nicer," He whispered in my ear. Still I ignored. "You don't want to disappoint all the boys that are lusting after you all the time." I clamped my tongue between my teeth to prevent me from swearing at him. In my hands, I played with the pen the unknown girl had retrieved for me to stop from them from slapping him. But when I suddenly felt his hand on my leg I couldn't stop myself.

 "Get your hands off me," I spoke bitterly through my teeth. But he didn't. Instead, he kept going with the rude comments, each word he spoke, his hand became tighter on my thigh.

 "I'm surprised you haven't earned the title, slut yet...Ember," He nearly growled my name.

 "Get away from me, now," I said, my voice unsteady as I prompted myself not to yell. But my voice wasn't particularly quiet either. I noticed several students around me noticing our voices. 

 "You've slept with half the boys in this school, what's one more?" He whispered. I felt his hand sliding up my leg, so I stopped him right there.

 "Stop!" I screamed, standing from my chair. The whole class fell dead silent. Each and every one of them turned their eyes up at me, looking at me as if I were crazy. Even Phillip, who was suddenly playing innocent. I gave him the coldest look I could before I turned and stormed out of the class, having no regard for my things that I left behind on my desk. I just wanted to get out.

 I stormed down the hall, tears leaking form my eyes. I couldn't help it. I had never been called a slut before. And I knew that it wasn't true. But at this point, it didn't matter. A boy like Phillip spreading the lie among his grade twelve friends, the whole school would know by Monday. There was nothing I could do about it.

 I knew that there were many titles that I dragged along with me through the halls of this High school. Most of them I didn't know about. And at this moment, I knew that most of them were bad. Rumors, the words being twisted before passes on until they were complete lies. I never wanted any of this. I didn't want attention from everyone in the school. I just wanted to stay in my group of friends; get my education, and hopefully leave with good grades. Popularity was a trap that I had no awareness of. From the second I came to this school as a grade nine, every person I passed by looked me up and down and decided whether or not they liked me just by my physical figure. That wasn't fair. It wasn't fair because the title transformed me before I could notice it.

 I didn't want to be known as just a pretty face. But I let it happen. The makeup that I masked my flaws with everyday must have sunk through onto my brain, and I became like everyone else. I did just as I they did to me. I decided on the people I wanted to surround myself with fully on looks. What this resulted in was heart break, abandonment and loneliness. I slowly began pushing away those who truly meant something to me. Those who weren't like me on the outside I treated like trash. Even when they gave me everything friendship could offer, my mascara must had sealed my eyes shut and I couldn't see it. I only had one close friend that I feared was growing apart from me. All I wanted right now was someone like me on the inside. Someone to understand me. But who could possibly be as messed up as I was?

 I slammed my locker door shut after only retrieving my phone and house key. There was still an hour left in school that I had no desire left to finish. I would send my mom a text saying that I was coming home, but I would not answer here reply. I knew it would be littered with questions that I did not want to answer. I just wanted to go home. To be alone.

 I strode down the hall as fast as I could, keeping my gaze straight ahead so I wouldn't peer into any classes as I passed. I didn't think that I could look at anybody right now. I shoved the front door to the school open and made my way down the sidewalk, pulling the tie from my bun to let my long, blond hair fall down to my waist freely.

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