From Popular to Freak

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“Are you alright?” Maddie asked.

“Just cramps. That time of the month. I’ll be out in a minute,” I replied and headed into one of the bathroom stalls.

“See you in class, Nicole.”

“Yeah, see you guys. I hope you feel better Julianne,”

Nicole said as she left the bathroom.

“Thanks,” I called from behind the bathroom stall door.

“Hey, Julianne, I have some Pamprin if you want,” Maddie offered.

“Oh, I have some too. Thank you, though.”

“Sure,” Maddie said.

I hung my purse on the hook on back of the door and unzipped my purse. I fished out a bottle of pills. I held it in my hand and stared at the label for a moment.Prescribed to Julianne Steele. Take one tablet twice a day for anxiety. No one except my parents knew that I had severe anxiety. I hadn’t even told Luke, and I had known him for almost a year and a half.

I took out the tiny bottle of Evian from the bottom of my purse and swallowed two pills. Two wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t like I was addicted or anything. I stuffed the pill bottle back into my purse, underneath my brush, makeup, and phone. I took a deep breath, flushed the toilet and came out of the stall.

“Sorry I took so long. Let me just wash my hands.” I soaped and rinsed my hands then wiped them with a rough paper towel.

As we walked out of the restroom, and to the area that encircled the dance floor, a girl bumped into me and I dropped my purse. I had forgotten to zip it and now everything lay scattered on the ground. As I knelt on the hard floor and started to pick up the mess, the girl apologized and she and Maddie started to help me gather up everything. Small, white pills dotted the ground.

When I looked up, I saw Luke and Brandon headed our way. I felt cold horror as I glanced back down and watched the pill bottle roll too far away for me to grab it.

What would people think of me now? Would my reputation be ruined? What if no one understood that I had severe anxiety? Would they just assume I was a druggie? Would they think I was a fake? A liar?

No! I wasn’t a druggie. I tried to block out the thought of being judged.

I thought back to this morning at the pharmacy. I always dreaded picking up my refill and there was always a line. Usually, my mother picked it up or I used the drive-through window.

This morning I was home alone without a car, so I walked the four blocks to the drugstore. I took my place in line behind an older lady. I watched her feet shuffle up to the counter. She was wearing pink bunny slippers. Who wears slippers in public?

I tried to imagine myself thirty years from now, going out in public and looking odd. My hair was in a sloppy ponytail and I wore strange clothes.

This version of myself pushed her shopping basket down the aisles, tossing in frozen dinners, soda, and maybe wine. Oh, and bread. The good bread, the still warm bread wrapped in paper, not the kind wrapped in plastic that sits on the shelf.

As I pushed my basket into a checkout line, a fashionable teenage girl was looking at my feet.

I looked down and saw my fuzzy, polar bear slippers.

Stop staring at me. I’m not a freak, I thought.

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