Weeping Willow

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Chapter Three - More Than This

For some reason the walk to school seemed more hopeful. I wasn’t sure why, nothing was really all that different. So what if I’d made a quasi friend on the internet… maybe I was getting ahead of myself.

Still, it was a shocker even to me, that as I walked up the steps into school I managed a smile. Today the girls gossiping about the upcoming party didn’t even filter through my ears. None of that other stuff mattered, and for once I was kind of happy not to dwell on why that was, so I walked, in my semi happy haze down the corridor, until I stopped at my locker.

As I turned the combination I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched. And the weird happiness kind of melted away. I stopped and looked around but just like every other morning, not including yesterday… I was invisible. Frowning I looked back at my locker and finished the combination. As soon as the lock was off however, the door sprung open and after a loud bang I was covered in bright blue paint. There in the middle of the corridor surrounded by people who were meant to be my peers I looked like a freaking smurf…. Completely and utterly visible.

“Stay away from my boyfriend dog.” Tiffany called out from the stairs above me. I forced myself not to look, knowing that Kalen’s girlfriend was on the stairwell. She’s done this, out of some misguided idea I was any kind of a threat. I swallowed hard and closed my eyes. Ignoring the loud laughter that began to surround me.

“Willow… Are you alright?” Kalen’s voice cut through the noise. I tensed up as he placed his hand on my paint covered shoulder.

“Leave me alone.” I yelled, shrugging his hand away.

I ran down the corridor until I made it to the girls bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror and tried not to cry as I surveyed the damage. As I wiped my face furiously with paper towels I sighed with relief. The bright blue paint hadn’t stained my skin, but my clothes were a write off. I slid down the wall of the bathroom and sat on the floor. Unable to hold it back any longer thick tears left my eyes and rolled down my cheeks before I could stop them. I sat there on the floor crying like the pathetic person I was until I heard the door open, clambering to my feet as quickly as I could I shuffled into a stall and closed the door behind me. I was going to have to hide out here until the bell rang, until I could figure out what to do.

As soon as it sounded, the noise outside the bathroom stall and in the corridor began to quieten. I waited until it was silent before I left. The janitor was already at my locker when I arrived back to check the final result. My books were luckily okay, the paint bomb had only covered me it seemed.

“Miss Hartford.” A stern voice sounded from behind me. I turned on my heel, and found myself face to face with the principal, Mrs Oak. One look at me and her eyes softened.

“Please, come to my office.” She murmured.

I nodded and followed her down the corridor toward the administration block. She paused at the reception desk and whispered something about spare clothing before walking to her office door. She opened it and ushered me in with an empathetic smile.

“Do you know who did this?”

I shook my head, even though I had a pretty good idea. Tiffany had been waiting and watching, ready to pounce. I could still hear her shrill voice in the back of my head. But outing her meant bringing more focus on to myself and all I wanted was to be invisible again.

“If you find out, please let me know. They should face consequences.” She paused and looked up at her door before nodding at whomever stood there. The door opened and Mrs Regent the receptionist placed folded clothing on the table beside me. Mrs Oak nodded again and Mrs Regent left. “Take first period off, get into some clean clothing and try not to worry.”

“Thank you.” I whispered, thankful for the clean clothing.

“Miss Hartford, you are a great student, destined for great things, I hope you don’t let this bring you down.”

I smiled and shook my head. “Don’t worry. It won’t.” I said, unsure if I was telling the truth or not. I stood up and took the bag. I changed in the bathroom and dumped my old ruined clothes in the trash. Once I was done I went to the library and logged into the chat system. I was online all of about two seconds before a chat box popped up.

G - Hey.

It took me a second to realise it was him, Guillotine.

Solitaire - You shortened your name.

G - Yep. So slacking off first period huh.

I frowned, and wondered whether or not I should tell him. I was about to type a response, an explanation before I realized that I’d be outing myself. For a split second I hadn’t been invisible. I had been as blue as a smurf. Maybe he was one of them. I didn’t want to risk ruining… whatever this was.

Solitaire - Long story. Could say the same about you.

G - Free Period. Figured I’d start that stupid end of year essay.

I smiled, so I wasn’t the only one having it trouble with it. I changed my name and typed a response.

S - Don’t even get me started on that.

G - Copycat? ;)

S - imitation is a form of flattery Mr. G. You should feel honored.

G - I do. So anyway… Did you think about what I asked last night?

S - You were serious about that?

G - Deadly.

S - Well in that case. I’d better say yes.

G - Thank god.

S - Ha ha.

G - I’m serious. I feel like I’ve been wasting my life. Treating it as though its infinite. Focusing on the things that don’t matter, forgetting about the things that do. I need you W.

I tilted my head and stared at the text on the screen in front of me. He had described at least 90% of the school population. After all, day after day I heard kids talking about underage drinking and partying… it was a rare occurrence to hear kids talking about studying for the upcoming exams. The difference here was that G knew it. He was self aware, and he wanted change.

S - Maybe you’re not a lost cause after all.

G - I hope not. Hey, I better go. I’m in the computer block and the teacher is walking around making sure we’re using the computers for study. Are you in here too?

S - No. Anyway, have fun with the essay. Talk after school.

G - Bye S. :)

G signed out and I stared at our conversation, confused by the butterflies in my stomach. They weren’t caused by romantic feelings, I barely knew the guy after all… no, these were feelings of blossoming friendship, something I had been missing. I smiled and closed the chat box.

I fumbled my way through the rest of the day, luckily due to the change of clothes and lack of blue paint on my body, everyone else seemed to forget I’d been the subject of a stupid prank that morning. That, or they were all too busy whispering behind my back.

I hadn’t forgotten though, and it was like the paint had seeped into my bloodstream, forever marking me on the inside, leaving the scars of cruel teenagedom in their wake. I had almost made it through high school unscathed… invisible, but relatively unhurt by others actions. Almost, but not quite.

I walked into music, and all eyes were on me. No one had forgotten, they all knew. My eyes traced the room and stopped on Kalen Adams. He looked at me with sympathetic blue eyes, but I just scowled. His girlfriend had pranked me because of him. Because he had attempted to break the self imposed hierarchy. I looked away and took my seat on the other side of the room.

Mrs Cleaver walked into the room and smiled at us, she paused as her eyes reached me. I wanted to sink into a hole and have it close up after me. I didn’t want to be the subject of pity. I never had. But it seemed news of the prank hadn’t just circulated through the student body… the teachers had been talking too. I diverted my eyes away, desperate to be invisible again.

“Right, class today we will be working on lyrics. Now I don’t expect miracles. Some of you clearly are not wordsmiths, but as musicians, you should want to test your craft. I have some ideas here if you need a prompt, but see what you can come up with.”

I sighed with relief, thankful that today’s exercise wasn’t partnered and pulled out my music book. I stared at it for the longest time, and frowned hard at the blank page, my mind was a clear as it was.

“Channel your hurt, filter it onto the page. It’s healing.” Mrs cleaver murmured as she walked passed me, placing a hand on my shoulder.

Channeling my hurt meant accepting I was hurting. It meant facing every hard thing in my life, and I wasn’t sure I had the strength to do that. I was about to give up when an unwelcome, uninvited boy came and sat beside me.

“I’m sorry about what Tiffany and her friends did.” He said softly.

“Yeah, me too.” I replied. “Look, if you don’t mind. I want to focus on my work.”

“Yeah. Of course.”

Except Kalen didn’t move back across the room. He stayed there, next to me. I wanted to scream at him to go away but I couldn’t. I couldn’t escape.

I closed my eyes and tried to escape in my mind, but it was futile. Instead I mustered every ounce of strength I had, and began to write.

One day, I’ll get out of here.

Far away from here.

And I won’t have to ever look back

One day, I’ll have a different life

Far from pain and strife

And I won’t have to lie and pretend

I’m just a ghost, lost in reality

Don’t want you to see

How much I really need to be

More than this

More than a whisper in the breeze

More than this

More than the nothing that I see

One day, I’ll finally be free

Far from this misery

And I won’t have to hold it inside

One day, you’ll be missing me

And what we could have been

But I’ll be to busy living my life

But right now,

I’m just a ghost, lost in reality

Don’t want you to see

How much I really need to be

More than this

More than a whisper in the breeze

More than this

More than the nothing that I see

The bell sounded, breaking me from my concentration. I looked down at the mess of words on the paper in front of me. Mrs Cleaver was right. It was healing, but it was me on a page, my innermost thoughts brought to life and shoved under a spotlight. I ripped the page from my book and screwed it up.

“Don’t forget about the end of year Talent Show. Next class we will be talking about what we plan to do, and starting to work on our pieces.” Mrs Cleaver paused, and I looked up at her. “If you choose to perform that is.”

There was no way in hell I was going to perform. News had clearly circulated of Kalen and I singing in the classroom the day before… and that had resulted in my locker being booby trapped and me being covered in paint. I stood up and walked from the room, dropping the piece of paper into the trash as I left.

As quickly as I could I left the school grounds. I found myself wanting to get home, a strange notion indeed, considering I usually wanted to be as far away from the place as I could get. But talking with G had opened up a new window, and although in reality I was only his tutor I almost felt like I had a friend.

Thankfully Dad was still at work when I got home. I could smell dinner cooking in the kitchen as soon as I opened the door. Mom was trying to keep him happy, by being the perfect housewife, even though he’d probably be home after happy hour, drunk and abusive. I opened the door and poked my head around.

“Hi Mom.” I murmured.

“Willow.” She replied. “How was school?”

I wanted to tell her the truth, explain in detail how my day had been. She had her own troubles though, and she didn’t need mine. I smiled and lied far too easily. “It’s was great Mom. I uh, have a student to tutor, so I’d better get to it.”

Mom nodded and looked over at me, her blue eyes were as dull as her once fiery red hair. The strain of an unhappy marriage had taken its toll on her, and while she was a beautiful woman… her smile was lost.

“Okay Darling.” She whispered.

I closed the door behind me and sighed. I struggled to remember I time when I didn’t feel disconnected to my parents. Even when Stefanie had been around, my parents had fought. Only then I had somewhere to disappear too. Of course stef’s parents had told me I was welcome anytime. I figured it was and etiquette thing, I never could bring myself to do it. I walked to the stairs and scaled them like I had a thousand times. They creaked beneath my feet, our home was old and in need of TLC, maybe that’s why dad was hardly ever here. His once perfect and beautiful world had faded. His resentment always seemed to be based around superficial reasons.

I walked into my bedroom door and closed it behind me. I sat down at my desk and opened the laptop. Today was definitely worthy of a diary entry.

Dear Stef

Where to start? Let’s go chronologically.

I was kind of happy this morning. I know… Shocker. But that was quickly snuffed out by Tiffany and her stupid friends setting up a paint bomb in my locker. I suppose you always said blue was my colour….

Anyway, I kind of chatted with Guillotine in the free period Mrs O gave me to recover. He made me feel better somehow without ever knowing anything was wrong with me… like you used to.

We also had to write lyrics in music today. I thought it was going to be difficult, but with Kalen’s guilt by association looming over him, he suffocated me with his presence and suddenly venting my life’s frustrations out on paper became really easy.

That brings me to now. G is going to message any time soon and I guess we’re going to work on his grades. Kind of thankful that I have something to distract me from the inevitable drunken shouting due once happy hour ends.

I miss you Stef

Talk soon, Willow.

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