My alarm clock chimed attempting to plunge me back into reality. I balled my hands into fists and shut my eyes tighter, willing away the sound. Against all odds today was finally here.
My alarm continued to screech, definitely rooting for my downfall.
I paced my balled fists on my ears and rolled away from the sound right onto the ground.
“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!”
I reached out with the hand that wasn’t paralyzed in pain, in search of the cause of my current predicament and slammed it down. With a huff I finally let go of the covers, the new school session has started and so has my falling spree. One would think that I’d learn my lesson after the first few times but I never did and at this rate, I never will. Most people, they got off the bed in the morning but for me I fell off. Every. Single. Time. Like clockwork, it was part and parcel of my morning routine. I huffed at mu clumsiness and took several deep breaths, counting to ten before I slowly pick myself off the floor into a kneeling position, careful not to hurt my left hand that was limp with pain. I placed my right hand on my throbbing chest. I look at towards the window where the angry sun rays have managed to peak through. The white of the curtains seemed to be screaming against the blue of the walls as they swayed from side to side. I’d like to be a curtain, or the walls or the window. I’ll give anything not to return to that den of torturers. I closed my eyes, wishing the pain away for the thousand and oneth time. I reopened them to swaying white curtains and immediately shut them again, this time clasping my hands in unison. Maybe if the universe saw that I was desperate enough, she’d do me a favor by cutting me some slack. My wishes were cut short by Zoe’s yell.
“Mira, I swear if you’re still asleep I’ll drench you and your beddings in freezing water” she yelled from somewhere in the house. With a heavy eye roll I crawled over to the door, still nursing the pain that shot through my entire left arm. I opened my door and stuck my head outside, mumbling a “I’m not feeling too well Zoe, go on without me” in my best impression of what a sick person should sound like. She didn’t buy it.
“Liar! meet you at the car park in twenty” Zoe shot back, clearly not buying my bullshit. I closed the door and slid down dramatically, my butt hitting the floor with a thud. The music videos were wrong, there’s nothing satisfying about this gesture. Just pure unadulterated pain. I limped away to the mirror I kept facing backwards all summer, crossing my fingers in hope that at least one of my wishes were granted. The image staring back at me cemented my theory. God? The universe? Nonsense. No one answers prayers around here. I took a closer look at my reflection.
“Has my nose grown bigger?” I asked no one in particular. The same features I’d had since infancy stared back at me. I huffed and my larger than life lips sneered back at me, I blinked and eyes that earned me the nickname permanent sleepwalker glowered back at me. I ran gangly hands through my thin strands of brown hair, my hands coming to a halt on the bald spot that refused to cover after last year’s gum incidence. I immediately shut my eyes, desperate not to relive the torture. When I was sure the memories had sailed away, I dropped my hands back to my sides and willed my legs to take me to the bathroom, it’s going to be a long year.
“Mira, I swear if I’m tardy on the first day, I’m blaming it on you and making you drive me everywhere” Zoe began to blow the horn but stopped when she spotted me.
“Well someone looks happy to go back to school”
“I’m elated” I say in my weakest voice, throwing in a thumbs up for good measure.
“Mhmm. You look overjoyed sister” Zoe retorted, clearly humoring me.
I watched Zoe nod her head along to Harry singing “in this world, it’s just us” her flowing red hair bobbing along with her. Life had been kind to Zoe. She’d inherited the good genes of my parents and left me the crap DNA to sort through. At fifteen, her body had tell-tale signs of a curvy woman and she adorned the facial features of her mother to go with it. Her mother because we couldn’t possibly be related. While they –my parents and Zoe-- looked like supermodels, I looked like the resident cleaner. Judging from the long awkward looks her mother frequently gave me and the shake of head that came after, I always knew something was wrong. It wasn’t until I was fourteen and some had yelled at me to “get my own family and stop freeloading” that I figured it out. I saw reason with the stranger and decided to get a DNA test done asap. Asap meaning as soon as I gathered the money and the materials needed. So far, I had just Zoe’s hair to work with. “Earth to Mira” I heard Zoe say above Taylor’s “say you’ll remember me, standing in a white dress, staring at the sunset”
“You’ve been gone for so long and your skirt’s pleading for mercy” I looked down at my skirt confused and noticed the habit I frequent whenever I got nervous; I’d been absentmindedly scrubbing away at it.
“Anyways, we’re almost at school, you okay?”
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”
Zoe cast a sideway glance at me, her eyes pointedly moving from my face to where my hands gripped my skirt, her lips pursed.
“We’re almost at school” she said, eyes on the road. The oxygen in the car seemed to diminish with her words and I found myself gasping for air. I could already hear the teasing laughter and the snide remarks as I strode through the corridors. Zoe kept shooting me worried glances from her place in the driver’s seat. Zoe -bless her heart- was a sweetheart and it’ll break her to find out about the bullying I’d been enduring at school so I never talked about it to her.
“You can talk to me about it Mira, there’s no need to feel embarrassed”
I swung my head in her direction “What are you talking about?”
“I’m not dumb Mira, I know you’re being bullied”
“it’d be more surprising if I didn’t know” she sighed
“I crossed my hand above my chest and turned away from her “I don’t know what you’re talking about”
“You can talk to me about these things Mira” Zoe’s voice had gone soft.
“I’m not just here for the good times” she said as she turned into the driveway.
She parked and adjusted in her seat to face me while I curled back in mine, trying to disappear.
“We’re sisters and I’m not trying to make this about me but I was hurt when I found out you were suffering and I had no clue about it.
“How’d you find out” I whispered, eyes burning a hole in the ground.
“That’s not the issue here Mira, we need to report this”
“We need to do something about this”
I chuckled- a bitter sound at the back of my throat.
“There’s nothing that can be done Zoe, I just have to deal with it”
She squeezed her face, clearly not understanding why things had to be this way.
“We can tell a teacher or something, this isn’t fair”
I looked at her for the first time since the beginning of this conversation.
“Life isn’t fair Zoe, at least not when you look like me”
Zoe scrunched her eyebrows in confusion, “what’s wrong with the way you look?”
“You look just fine to me”
My lips stretched into a sad smile, of course she didn’t understand.
“Just let it go Zoe”
“Hey” Zoe called out, sobriety in her voice.
I raised my eyes to her face expectant.
“You don’t deserve this, not any of it” she continued, taking my silence as an indication to do so.
“Keep in mind that their behavior is only a reflection of who they are, they’re probably miserable people who want others to feel the way they do and I’m sorry you have to go through all of this but it’s the last year.”
“You’ve grown up so well” I teased but she wasn’t having it.
“Straighten your spine and don’t let them walk all over you”
“Easier said than done” I muttered.
“I’m trying here, don’t go Alessia Cara on me” Zoe said lightheartedly. I just blinked my eyes at her.
“I really wish I could help” Zoe said in a more serious tone.
“And I’m immensely grateful”
I really was but there’s really nothing we could do. I’ll just have to ignore what I can and endure the rest like I’ve always done.
“Promise you’ll talk to a teacher the next time something comes up”
“I promise” I said, knowing fully well that I would do no such thing and Zoe knew it too but she didn’t address it, instead she said “come, I’ll walk you to class” and when I pulled a face at her she said “come on, it’s the least I could do”.
“Thanks but no thanks babysitter” I scoffed but I was smiling.
“I insist” Zoe said as she grabbed her things out the car.
“fine” I said.
I got out of the car with my sweaty palms and queasy stomach, Zoe’s pep talk had rallied me up a little. Perhaps I should have told her when this all started.
“My locker is this-”
And just like that Zoe was gone, swept away in the arms of young love. I’d met Zoe’s boyfriend just once so I couldn’t say if he was a good or bad kid. All I knew was that he came from old money and seemed to make Zoe happy.
Apparently that happiness was why I currently stood in the middle of the parking lot, deprived of a few more minutes of the ease that came with Zoe’s presence. I took in several breaths and ascended towards the brown two storey building that held the worst memories of my life.
The usually large and airy hallways seemed cramped and suffocating because of the people moving all at once.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…” I counted my steps, keeping my eyes glued to the ground. I continued this way until someone behind me muttered a rushed excuse me, causing me to stray off course and raise my head. I quickly realized my mistake when I spotted Elyon but I was too late, he’d seen me and the impish grin slowly spreading across his face indicated that I was in for an eventful school year.