A Stranger to Myself

"I feel like I don't even know myself. And if I don't know myself, how can anyone else ever know me?" Autumn has always felt alone, like an outcast. But when a girl comes into her life and reveals things about Autumn she never would have known otherwise, can Autumn learn to accept her differences she's so used to hating?


6. Who Am I?

Carmen stuck more to my side during school the next day and I wasn't sure how to feel about it. I was getting a lot of looks, on account of someone as beautiful as Carmen acting and seeming like my friend. Anyone else probably would have felt honored and happy that she was accompanying them. But it just stressed me out.


The girls at school already knew that I was trying to fit in. They already knew just how insecure I was and just how unsure I was about practically every aspect regarding myself. If they saw some girl like this with me, and they saw how gorgeous she was, they would get jealous of her and in turn jealous of me. Then their insults would just get worse, they would just get harder to block out and harder not to dwell on.


It was inevitable that they would notice. I just didn't want them to.


And I didn't expect Carmen to react the way she did.


My last class ended and I left in a hurry, hoping to lose Carmen in the crowd of people. But it didn't work. She found me and grabbed onto my arm gently. I forced myself to give her a very slight smile, which she returned with an ear-to-ear grin.


"If you want to get away from me you can just say so," She jokingly said. I wasn't sure just how much of that was a joke. Which worried me. I didn't want to hurt her feelings.


"I don't want to be late. The teacher has it in for me." That was a bit of a lie.


"Well if we're late, you can blame it on me. How about that?" She linked her arm with mine again. Maybe she legitimately couldn't tell how uncomfortable I was. Or maybe she was in denial.


"That's not necessary..." I mumbled, trailing off when I spotted an all-too-familiar trio of girls hovering at a cluster of lockers nearby. I walked faster. So fast that Carmen's grip on me was lost.


"Hey, hold up speedy!" She caught up to me and latched onto my arm again. It drew unwanted attention.


"Oh look, it's the wannabe." Jessica said. I cringed at the hated nickname. It was spoken with such spite every time.


I tried to keep walking but Carmen held me to the spot. Was she trying to turn my life upside down?


"What, you have a lackey now?" Aubrey asked, gesturing to Carmen. I refused to look at them.


"No." I spoke through clenched teeth.


"So what is she then?" Jessica asked.


"Your girlfriend?" Aubrey asked before a mocking laugh.


That remark hit me especially hard. Just because of how accurate it almost was. I felt myself on the verge of tears .


"I didn't know you were a dyke and a wannabe. A double dosage seems a bit overkill, huh?" Jessica said.


"Jesus I didn't know that our town had gays in it. We should tell our parents so they can eradicate this before it spreads." Gretchen said. Her dad was rich. All of their parents were, actually. And from what I knew, they were equally, if not more cruel.


Carmen scoffed, "Oh yeah, because it's totally contagious."


Jessica laughed, "Oh don't act like you're a lesbo too. You're too pretty." I felt her eyes move to me even when I couldn't see them, "And she's just ugly enough to pass for one."


Having had enough, I forced myself to walk forward, away from them, ignoring my class and heading towards the bathrooms. I could hear Carmen yelling at them over my shoulder but I just needed to get away.


Even though the bathroom was far from private it was a better place to stop yourself from crying than the hall was.


Carmen followed me, obviously. I looked into the mirror above the sink and wiped at my eyes desperately, as if trying to push the tears back into them with my fingers.


"Autumn, you don't have to take that from them--" She started to say.


"--I don't need you to defend me Carmen."


There was a pause, "...I'm just trying to help."


"I've been fine without your help for years."


"But you don't have to put up with this."


"You say that like I want it to happen."


"Stand up to them."


"I'm not brave enough for that." I felt tears rolling down my cheeks too fast for me to stop them. I turned to face her, "Can't you tell?"


Carmen looked so saddened by what I was saying, "No. No I can't."


"Then you're blind." I stormed past her, jostling her unintentionally with my arm. I walked home after that. Left school. Skipped class. Dad was at work. My sister was at school. Nobody noticed.


I walked into my bathroom. And I stared into the mirror. And I looked at my reflection. And I started sobbing.


Who am I?






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