The Bravery Inside

Submitted into Contest #94 in response to: Start your story with someone accepting a dare.... view prompt

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Coming of Age High School Creative Nonfiction

"Go now, Jenny." Katherine said, she nudged me forward. "Remember, it was a dare, you've got to do it. And even if it doesn’t go over well, we’ll still be by your side. Or over here."

Kendra nodded and held up her notepad: Just do it. Okay, so... Kendra is mute, or just chooses not to speak. If she chooses not to speak, that’s actually smart, because then her words can’t come back to bite her in the butt. And somehow, she's still my best friend. Or one of my best friends, at least.

I gave an exasperated sigh but trudged forward across the cafeteria. I didn't want to talk to him, but I didn't want my friends to think I was a wimp, either. This was how most of my life was: stuck in the middle, too scared to not do it, but not having enough guts to do it.

That was the one thing in the world I hated the most. Well, besides the high school drama and everything. Whew, no way I wanted to get caught up in that monstrosity.

I balled my fists and looked up at him. Perfect hair. Perfect eyes. Perfect everything. At least that's what everyone in the school thought.

Noah Monroe. He was the school jock. He'd come to the school at the beginning of the second quarter and had all the girls in the school falling head over heels for him. The boys all followed him around like lost puppies.

Well not this girl.

To me, he was just some overcompensated jerk that was the same as the next kid. His circle of friends around him laughed at a joke he'd just made. He stuck a hand up and shushed them.

I gritted my teeth as he left the circle and walked to me. "Hey, Jenny-"

"Whatever you want, Noah, I can't give you." I said without making eye contact.

He looked slightly offended that the one girl he liked most in the school wasn't like all the other lost puppies in the school. "I just wanted to see if you wanted to go to my family's mansion for our New Year's party with me."

"Noah, I would rather go out with John more then some overcompensated jerk." I said, louder then I meant to. The whole lunch room grew suddenly quiet.

"Well... fine." Noah said. I could tell he was thinking: if I go out with someone else, maybe she'll be jealous and plead with me to accept her. Huh, classic boys, always trying to get the better of us girls.

That’s my motto: If you let the world get the better of you, then you’ll achieve nothing.

Well, Noah, I wasn't one of those ditzy girls who fell into the way of a boy just to go out with him.

I mean, it was disgusting! Throwing yourself in front of someone hoping they'll love you more. I hated it. If there were one thing I loathed most about the world, it would be how people played dumb to get others to like them. Oh, what the world was.

Feeling more and more uncomfortable, I dashed out of the cafeteria and ran into the bathrooms. I locked the door to one of the stalls and leaned against the wall, crying.

I had embarrassed myself tons when I was in school, but this was the worst yet.

The door opened and two pairs of feet shuffled in. "Jenny?"

"I'm here." I sobbed. I opened the stall door and Katherine and Kendra flung their arms around me. "Oh, that was so embarrassing!" I wailed.

“Yeah, we get it.” Katherine said. “If you want to back out of the dare, now, then feel free to.”

And that was when I decided that even if I died of embarrassment, this was a dare. And there was no backing-outsies with dares.

“No, I’m going to do it.” I said. I looked in the mirror and saw black streaks running from my eyes to me chin. “And Kendra, now’s the time for you to do a little of your magic.”

Kendra pressed her lips together and nodded. She reached into her purse and grasped her makeup bag.

Katherine and Kendra spent the next few minutes fixing my hair and doing my makeup. “There, now you’re ready.” Katherine said confidently. She beamed down at me.

I turned and looked in the mirror. I could hardly even believe the girl staring back at me was me. I now had pink eyeshadow, eyeliner, and the amount of blush on my cheeks was unbelievable. Honestly, I thought I looked like a movie star. I mean, I’d never expected to look beautiful and be anything but classic, boring Jenny.

I flung my arms around Kendra. “Okay, this is so amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

When I released her, Katherine asked, “Okay, are you ready?”

“Yeah.” I sighed and nodded, for once feeling the guts Mom had always said I had. “I am.” 

Together we walked out of the bathroom and met Peter, the boy I had fallen in love with on the first day of school. He had messy blonde hair, blue eyes, and was one of the school’s computer geeks. In short, he was absolutely, positively A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

“Hey, Peter.” I said to him. He turned around and his face turned into a grin.

“Well, if it isn’t Jenny Lunt!” He said. “By the way, you look great.”

I blushed. “Thanks.” My eyes went down to the floor. “So, I really, really need to tell you something. I-”

“No, no.” He said. “Let me go first: So, I like you, like, like you, like you. A lot.”

“Oh,” I said. “Well, I really like you, too. Sssssssoooooo… you wanna go to my family’s New Year party with me?”

His face lit up. “Sure!” He exclaimed. “There’ll be ice cream, right?”

“Obviously.” I said. “I mean, what’s a party without ice cream?”

We both broke into laughter. Apparently I would get my prince. Or at least, I hoped so.

For once, I'd actually harnessed the bravery I had inside.

May 20, 2021 01:00

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