A Perceived Life

Submitted into Contest #161 in response to: Write about a character who lives a seemingly charmed life.... view prompt

8 comments

Fiction High School Teens & Young Adult

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

As she walks down the school hallway, people can't help but stare. She walks next to her friends, but still smiles and says hello to others. They feel validation from her and they can't help but think that by knowing her, they become more seen. She is kind, popular, intelligent. Her beauty is compelling, drawing the gazes of others towards her like a magnet. Some people look at her with a burning jealousy, however most look at her in complete admiration. They ask themselves, "How can I become just like that girl?" 

The morning school bell rings and she makes it to class at just the right time. She sits in the perfect seat, not too close to the front, however not in the very back where she can't see the board. She is surrounded by her friends, chatting and laughing. The teacher returns her essay back and the girl receives an A. She flaunts it to no one, quickly putting the essay in her folder. Her friend is embarrassed about receiving a C, so the girl comforts her by claiming she received a C as well. 

She glides down the hallway towards the lunchroom where she sits in the center of the cafeteria with her friends. She didn't bring lunch today. Her friends express their curiosities, asking her why she doesn't have food. They thought she might be on a new dieting technique that helps keep her healthy. The girl shrugs her shoulders, smiling, claiming she didn't have time to pack a lunch this morning and doesn't feel hungry anyways. Her friends believe her.

Last period comes and the girl asks to use the restroom during class. She is granted permission and walks to the restroom. When she enters, she begins to hear a soft sound. She stops and listens, realizing what she is hearing is crying. A crying that sounds of swallowing and gasping for air. A crying that sounds of emotional pain, coming from the farthest stall. The girl walks slowly forward and brushes her knuckles against the stall door, giving a soft knock.

"Are you okay?" she asks.

She knows the girl is trying to calm herself down and appear like everything is fine.

"I'm fine," the girl responds. The girl opens the stall door, smoothing her tears away. Her eyes are red-rimmed and her face is blotchy. The girl puts on a fake smile and walks out of the stall.

She watches this sad girl start to wash her hands and walks over to her, putting a hand delicately on her shoulder.

"What's wrong?" she asks with genuine curiosity and sympathy.

The sad girl's lip starts to quiver and she rests her hands on the counter, looking downward with tear-filled eyes.

"I was texting back and forth with my mom and I just found out my parents are getting a divorce. I mean, I kind of had a feeling, but she officially confirmed it," the sad girl whispers, almost to herself.

"They are always arguing about my decisions and what is best for me. I can't help but think that if I wasn't born, they would still be living a happy life," the sad girl admits. Tears are running down the girl's face and she ferociously wipes the never ending droplets away.

"I'm so sorry," she responds to the tear-filled girl, "but, it's not your fault. Sometimes people fall out of love. Parents argue about many things and they may argue about you because they love you and want what's best for you. You are probably the best thing that has ever happened to them. So, you should never feel ashamed that you are in their lives." She then reaches into her bag and gives the sad girl a tissue.

The sad girl sniffs, and dabs the tissue to her face. Her tears begin to slow. She takes a deep breath and shakily lets it out.

"Thank you," the sad girl says. "You don't know how much I needed to hear that." The sad girl offers her a genuine smile, wondering how a teenage girl can have so much compassion for a stranger.

As the two strangers depart, the girl realizes that it is about the end of the day. The 2:00 bell rings and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. They can finally go home to relax in comfort and security. The girl walks to the buses with her school friends and they all depart onto their rides home. Her friends drive to school and offer her a ride home every day. However, the girl always refuses, claiming she doesn't want them to go out of their way since her house is far away. Her friends shrug, believing her of course.

The girl takes the bus ride home, leaning her head against the glass window. This is her least favorite part of the day. The bus ride home. It's the time that she is forced to think about returning to her house.

The bus soon rolls to a stop next to her house. The girl thanks the bus driver, as she does every day, and steps off the bus. She sullenly walks onto the dead, yellow grass and pulls out a rusted metal key to unlock her house door. She looks to her right and hears her neighbors shouting at one another from inside their house. She looks to her left, watching the two dogs laying on the ground, not able to move far because of their leashes being tied to the fence. The owner is nowhere to be seen, as usual.

She enters her house, not bothering to tell her mother that she is home. She wouldn't care anyways. The walls peel of crusty yellow paint and trash litters the house. She sees her mother from the entryway, sprawled on the couch and snoring, her hair a tangled mess and her clothes reeking of beer. Bottles of alcohol surround her mother, some beer cans, wrinkled and crushed on the floor. Broken glass lay next to her and a bottle of vodka is clutched tightly by her hand, instinctively protecting it, even when she sleeps. She walks across the dirty floor and carefully steps around the broken glass. When her dad passed away, everything took a turn. The compassion and kindness in her mother's heart was swallowed up by the never ending pain and grief. The girl knows her mother's heart is too deep in darkness to be pulled back into the light.

The girl goes into the small kitchen, and opens her fridge to look for a snack. She doesn't know why she opens it. She knows nothing will be in it besides beer cans and a stale bag of bread. She closes it and opens the squeaky cabinets to find the dog food she barely could afford. She grabs it and walks over to her neighbor's house. She bends down and pours the dog food on the ground in front of each dog. She has never seen the owner feed them, so she decided to help the dogs out.

After feeding the dogs, the girl walks the 15 steps back to her house and immediately leaves to attend her job. She works at McDonald's for five hours after school, earning minimum wage so she can support herself. She walks to her job and starts her work, the hours blurring, one after the other. The hours at her job go by like the snap of a finger because she enjoys work more than she enjoys being at home. After those five hours, she is exhausted, but walks home all of the same. She is used to the exhaustion by now. When she pulls out her key and goes into the house, she finds her mother on the same beat-up couch, except in a slightly different position. Their old TV is now on but her mother is asleep, as she always is. The girl walks in the house, finds the remote, and turns off the TV. An old pilled blanket is sprawled across the floor and she picks it up and places it over her snoring mother. She clicks off the singular lamp and trudges to her room.

After spending the rest of the evening completing her homework and studying, she finally climbs into her bed, but feels no relief. No comfort. She knows that she is going to have to repeat this day tomorrow. Her life is a cycle that she can't break. She will wake up, put on a fake smile at school, and others will wish they were her. They will admire her perceived life and think to themselves how she has everything a person could ask for. And the girl lets them believe that notion. She lets them believe it because her reality is too hard to face. She likes the idea that she can be a different person and live a charmed life at school. But sometimes, every once in a while, she wishes that someone would realize that her life isn't so perfect.

September 01, 2022 23:24

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8 comments

Cadence Rager
00:54 Nov 23, 2022

L O V E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Lucy Starr
17:09 Nov 26, 2022

thank you!! :)

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Tommy Goround
12:05 Sep 05, 2022

Bravo

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Lucy Starr
14:56 Sep 05, 2022

thanks!!

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Oaz Wood
23:55 Sep 04, 2022

dang this is sad! but its a good sad

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Lucy Starr
02:52 Sep 05, 2022

Haha thank you!! :)

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Kayla Mishri
23:15 Sep 04, 2022

This is really well written! Good luck :)

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Lucy Starr
02:53 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you!! :)

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