The Key Within Me

Submitted into Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about transformation.... view prompt

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General

I hate being shy. 

I hate when people treat you differently because they realize you're shy. 

I wish I could pick up the courage to change myself. Better yet, someone could hand me a slab of courage and bam, I’d be courageous enough to change myself for the better. 

My mother always says, “Oh, Charlotte, you look so pretty,“ and “Oh, Charlotte, I bet everyone wants to talk to you at school.” My father always says, “Darling, you need to get over your fears,” and “Darling, learn to speak louder.”

But my parents don't realize. 

They don’t realize that things for me aren’t how things were for them. 

When my mother was my age, she was the queen of seventh grade. Everyone loved her, she had a fiery spirit, and she was the girl every other girl wanted to be. When my father was my age, he was the most athletic and charming boy in his class. All the boys were jealous of him and they considered my mom the luckiest girl to be with him. 

But their past is not my present. 

I try to be fiery, I try to be likeable, I try to be charming, I try everything there possibly could be to try. But the results are the same, lonely results every time. 

“You're a Crawfield?” a brown-haired boy in my class asked once. 

“Yeah,” I muttered quietly, confused at first by what he meant. 

“Oh. Well, I just wondered because—um—I just—“ he cut himself off with a guilty look before he could make it worse. But I already knew what he meant. He meant that both my parents were known people in the community, both outgoing and part of the group. 

And then they had me—their shy daughter that takes forever to warm up to people and is only known in the community because of her parents and hardly talks. 

“It’s okay,” I nodded. I wanted to say more, I wanted to tell him that I forgave him, he made me laugh, and I wanted to be his friend—after all, he was the only kid that persistently tried talking to me. 

But I couldn’t. My courage was diminished. 


I sat with my back against the weeping willow’s trunk, staring out over the hill onto the pond where my grandpa and I go fishing in the summer. 

There was something about sitting by this tree on a nice day. Something that was peaceful and calming and a place where you could think about things without being bothered. Being surrounded by chirping birds, buzzing bees, ruffling leaves, the sweet smell of dirt, the nice shade of a tree. 

This was my happy place. 

I enjoy thinking. Imagining, too. My imagination is a place that I can create scenes where everything is perfect. 

Where I’m perfect. 

Where I can go into a public setting, everyone loves me, everyone wants to be me, and everyone is just waiting to have a moment with me. Then I like to think about the things people don't see in me. This normally ends in tears and pity for myself, but it's an interesting thing to think about. 

It's a heartbreaking thing to see when people don't notice the eagerness to have a conversation in my green eyes. When they don’t notice the life that left my thin body when they treat me differently.

I want to change, I really do, but it's hard to speak when your heart is beating out of your chest. When your legs feel like noodles. When your stomach is twisted in knots. When your body tenses. 

I try to have the fiery spirit my mother had, the charm my father had, the freedom they both seemed to have. The only thing keeping me back is the chains of timidity—they weigh me down and leave me alone, only allowing me to think and pity over myself. 

Maybe, just maybe, I could set myself free. 

Maybe I could find the key to these chains wrapped around me and set my fighting spirit free. 

Maybe the key to these wrapped chains was a change of mind. 

So I sat against that tree, a smile spreading across the corners of my mouth. My smile shone and my face brightened and my chestnut hair seemed as beautiful as ever. 

I was going to change. I was going to have a change of mind, and I was going to show people I was no longer the shy girl in the corner. 

Hearing the crumple of gravel under tires near, I stood and turned to see the mailman coming to the mailbox a few yards away from me. He came within a few minutes and stepped out of his tiny, stuffed vehicle. 

He nodded at me, knowing I would only stare and not say anything. 

“Good morning, Mr. Fields,” I said brightly with a small hint of an anxious feeling. My knees felt wobbly and my stomach felt like I just got punched in the gut, but I pushed through. 

Shocked, the young mailman replied with a delighted smile, “Good morning, Charlotte! How’s the day treating you so far?” 

“Just fine, you?” 

“Not too bad,” he seemed like the happiest man talking to me. “I better get on delivering these packages—there’s quite a lot left. Talk tomorrow?” 

He wanted to talk to me again! He actually wanted to be in my company! The eagerness returned to my eyes and life jumped into my body. 

“Very well, then,” I said with a bright smile. Just as he was about to leave, I called over, “Oh, Mr. Fields!” 

“Yes?” 

“You can call me Char—just as a nickname.” I wanted to go by a nickname to make myself feel like a new me. 

The man smiled. “You’ve made quite a change, young lady. Until tomorrow!” 

I smiled bigger than I had in...well, ever. 

I felt so great about myself, I continued it the next day at school. 

“Hey, Peter,” I said quietly to the brown-haired boy after class. He didn’t hear me at first, so I said it again, louder this time, clutching my folders close to my beating chest. 

Peter looked over his shoulder at me with his sweet russet brown eyes. “Hey,” he said with a smile. 

“How was your day?” I asked, blanking out on what to say next. I kept up my smile, but inside I wanted to smack my head against my folders. 

“Not bad,” Peter replied with a shrug. “Mr. Jones was pretty boring in the last hour, though,” he laughed. 

I felt my face flush from excitement. “Yeah,” I agreed. 

Peter looked at me again. “I know you have more to say.” 

Confusion spread across my face. How could he know? 

“I can see it in your eyes. All shy people normally have more to say,” he put his arm around my shoulder. “And besides, friends should share how they feel, right?” 

My body felt light as a whisper. I stuttered, “We—we’re friends?” 

Peter looked surprised, “Well, of course! I talk to you all the time and you’ve obviously made some major improvements, saying that we’re having an actual conversation—no offense.” 

“Thank you,” I exhaled, side-hugging Peter tightly. He hugged me back and I couldn’t have felt happier. 

This was my new beginning. Things were going to change. 

I was going to change. 

May 27, 2020 02:44

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4 comments

Corey Melin
03:01 Jun 07, 2020

I enjoyed the story, having known how it was to be like Charlotte. Keep up the writing.

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Caitlyn Ash
14:54 Jun 08, 2020

Thank you very much! It was interesting to write because Charlotte was like me in some ways.

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Elliott Laurence
23:39 May 31, 2020

Good read.

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Caitlyn Ash
01:18 Jun 02, 2020

Thank you!

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