( 1 ) A Traumatic Experience
Goosebumps were all over my body. The hair on my skin stood motionless. My hands were shaking so much as a tremor of fear ran through my body like current, following the pounding sensation in my heart. My stiff hands clenched trying to suppress the throbbing pain that was starting in my chest. I felt the tensed atmosphere even though all I could see was the inside of my eyelids; just nothing but pitch black with slightly lighter shades at the corners because of the bright spotlights that were shining on me. I had everyone's eyes on me—I could feel it—waiting for me to do something, say something, anything. I just couldn't. All I could feel was pain, swarming in chest and waiting for me to just explode into pieces. I breathed in deep, increasingly, not breathing out, to the point where I could just die right at that very spot. While I gagged for breath, people were whispering in each other's ears, wondering what was happening. Dropping to my knees, my hands gripped around the fret board of my guitar for support. I heard the footsteps of someone running, towards me, but before I knew it I was down on the floor.
That was when I realized I passed out.
"Wow, 'School Talent Show: Girl passed out on stage'. Interesting..." She trailed, looking down at the school newspaper that was handed out to all students every Monday to update us on the school's latest buzz. "Care to explain how this girl in the picture looks exactly like you?" Claire gave me a skeptical look, raising her well-defined eyebrows.
I showed her a look of confusion, my eyebrows slowly connected while I felt my skin being pulled and overlapped as wrinkles started appearing between my brows. " What do you mean? That girl is lying there with her face flat on the floor. That could be anyone," I shrugged it off, trying to hide my nervousness.
"Not when I've been to your house too many times before, Lace. I know what your guitar looks like and that's definitely yours," she pointed, shoving the paper in my face.
" Can we please not talk about this?" I groaned, hiding my face in my locker as students walked by us in the hallway.
"Nuh-uh," she shook her head in disagreement. "Not until you tell me what happened back then. You ran home without even telling me! Now stop hiding your face in there, you little coward! Everyone already knows that it's you so there's no point in covering your face," I felt a strong tug on my shirt. Too strong that it made me fall backwards and onto the hard floor, in time to bump into the infamous cheerleaders that everyone seemed to admire so much.
"Oh look, it's pass-out girl," The pony-tailed blonde smirked at me with her sharp and pointed horns showing. "For a weirdo, you sure do like to kiss floors. Maybe it's time to you moved on to something better. How about my feet?" Yet another sarcastic comment left her lips as she stared down at me with her arms crossed. She lifted up one foot to my face, swaying it a little in contentment. I heard suppressed giggles and snickers from the group behind the she-devil.
"How about you back off of her and piss off? You probably have something better to do, like maybe stuffing up your bra?" Claire came into the picture, swatting the Prada heel that was attached to her foot away from me.
"Ugh.. You're not even worth talking to," she glowered at my best friend, then rolled her eyes like how she'd usually do when she ran out of comebacks. The Populars turned and walked on as if they were celebrities on the red carpet.
"I still don't get why they're supposedly, the 'Populars'. It was just one teen pageant show that she managed to win after sabotaging everyone else's performances! Now she's the Queen of WestWood High? Something must be wrong with this school..." She growled silently, folding her arms across her chest as she grimaced at Priscilla's minions, who seemed to only have a single life goal. That is to serve Priscilla and worship the ground she walks on. The sad part is— I'm not even kidding, to be honest.
"Well, she wouldn't have won if you hadn't dropped out. I mean, you obviously did better than her in every single category even after she sabotaged your equipment," I sighed heavily as I lifted my butt off the ground, dusting myself up.
"Don't start with me, Lace. You know how I feel about those stupid pageants— all they do is send wrong messages to teenage girls that appearances are what defines you and your value to the world," She rolled her eyes in annoyance and scoffed. "And don't even try to change the subject because I know you too well," She smirked, turning her eyes on me.
"Well, I couldn't help but try," I shrugged, closing my locker shut; only to find a face popping out of nowhere. "Ahhh!" I jumped backwards, almost falling off balance.
"God, Ian, would you stop that already?" I groaned, rubbing my temples and wondered if his life purpose was to send me into cardiac arrest.
"I've done this too many times to count and your reaction gets better and better every time, it's priceless! Why should I stop now?" He chortled, pulling his head back.
I harshly glared at him and put a finger against his chest, adding pressure to make sure that it hurt a little. "Don't you have somewhere else to go or something else to do instead of picking on me every single day?" I applied more pressure to every word, emphasizing on the last three. "Priscilla just passed by us and she's probably in the cafeteria by now with guys kissing her feet as usual. You should join your girlfriend and make yourself useful for once," I said, almost to the point where I sounded like I was growling.
He raised his hands over his head in surrender, lifting his arms to reveal muscular bumps under that school varsity jacket. "Hey now, I come in peace—" I cut him off before he could even continue.
"So I suggest you go now before you leave in pieces—"
"C'mon Lace, you know you love me," He grinned, leaning in closer which made me pull my head backwards in disgust.
"Ew, no! Why is it that your ego gets bigger every time you're here? Isn't there a limit to how big anyone's ego can be?" I scrunched my nose in utter repugnance, shaking my head.
"Okay, before I puke out buckets, I'm afraid I'm going to have to interrupt your lovely conversation," Claire yanked on the hem of my shirt, dragging me all the way to the cafeteria. As much as I hated that she could've possibly ruined the elasticity of my shirt, I was far more relieved about escaping from Ian.
" Thank you for that," I laughed softly, remembering how Ian looked when we were throwing a full bowl of insults straight at him, and to add, we abandoned him friendless.
"Remind me again why the school's popular jock—or should I say jerk— had to be your neighbour?" Claire groaned silently while grabbing a few drinks and today's only appetizing meal for the day, 'Spaghetti and Meatballs'.
"Don't ask me. Ask God. He was the one left in charge of fate," I pulled out a terrible joke, stealing extra apples from the counter.
" Now spill," Just as we laid down our trays on the cafeteria table, she spoke fast, definitely not wasting any time.
" You're not going to stop, aren't you?" I sighed, looking down at my now, single meatball after putting the other pair in my mouth.
"Nope," She answered, popping the 'p' in emphasis. "I think you know me well enough to know who'd win in this conversation," She grinned, ripping the plastic wrapped sandwich open. She always liked bringing extra food with her whenever she gets hungry. Let's just say the food in the cafeteria isn't enough for her.
"Okay, okay fine..." Finally admitting defeat, I pursed my lips, thinking of a word to begin with. "I guess I just got nervous...and..." I trailed, biting down the urge to groan out.
"And you passed out? To the point where you passed out?" She asked, not understanding me. "When are you gonna get over your whole stage fright thing? You're a great singer. You could silence them all with your voice!" Clenching her fist in the air, she exclaimed, sounding somewhat barbaric in a way.
"I don't know—I just, I couldn't move... I was shaking so hard. I couldn't even swallow my own spit—"
"Ew. Don't tell me that!" It was now her turn to scrunch her nose in revulsion.
I managed to let out a half-suppressed laughter. "It's just... I couldn't do it, Claire. I felt like I couldn't breathe, you know?" I stared down at my plate, rubbing my forehead slightly.
"I understand, Lace, I really do. But, you should really learn to get over that fear of yours. You've got a voice everyone would want to hear. It'd be a waste if you didn't show them what you can really do," My best friend gave me a small smile before devouring her food almost instantly, ruining the moment.
"Someday I will. But not now... Right now, I never want to get up on that stage again..." I sighed, trying to bite down the sick feeling that formed in the pit of my stomach.