This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment, the online community writing site for young readers and writers.
By Marjorie Storms
"What are you getting, Bree?" Shannon asks as she picks up a flakey salad from the from the lunch line. I look into my pocket even though I know the outcome; thirty-eight cents and a mint.
"Um, I'm on a diet, Shan," I lie reluctantly, eyeing a ham and cheese sandwich.
"Oh, you are such a good girl. I should too but I am just so hungry!" Shannon pouts as she holds her flat stomach unhappily and then grabs a bottle of water. Me too, I think sourly.
"Move, please. Oh, Stephie, I love it when you smile! Your overbite reminds me of my bulldog!" Shannon smiles sweetly as she pushes through Joanna and Stephanie to the front of the line. The startled look on Stephanie's face hurts me a little, the way she covers her mouth with her hand makes a pang on my insides. Defending the poor girl would mean treason; death by social status.
Shannon pulls out her shiny credit card to pay for her lunch while my stomach gurgles. If I asked her to pay for my lunch could turn deadly. It would be like giving your neck to a hungry bear. I regret spending my lunch money on the light pink shirt I'm wearing today. I finger the lace at the bottom of the shirt absent-mindedly, my mouth watering as we turn to walk to our seats. Chelsea is sitting there, puckering her lips for her makeup.
"Ohmigosh, Bree, Shanny, you will not believe this!" She shrieks as she sees us. I sit down, looking at her but hardly paying attention to her. She was the one that said that I must get this stupid shirt.
"Breeee! You look sooo good!" Chelsea admires as I twirl in circles in front of the mirror.
"Thanks, girl!" I say, smiling as the soft fabric caresses my body and hangs off my shoulder.
"You must get it! It was made for you!" Chelsea smiles, holding the heap of clothing she is getting.
The happiness seeps from my face as I look down at the floor, "Oh, I don't know. It's too expensive."
"What? Oh, Bree, come on! I can not see you in that flowery shirt one more time." Chelsea drones. She flicks open her cell phone as she continues, "I was thinking I should take Becky to the shore this summer. You know, to spend time with her."
This may be undetected by one outside of the Perfect Bubble, but there are rules and guidelines to heed to. Someone rebellious to the monarchy could be subject of being exhiled from the bubble. I was pushing a boundary, denying someone higher on the ladder than me. Chelsea's pursed and pampered lips are quite similar to a lion baring their teeth.
So I bought it.
It's all her fault.
Or is it?
"So I was talking to Angelica -- such a whore you will not believe what she was trying to pull off -- told me that Toni told her that Melina told her that Shaun Pierce is going to ask Bree out!" She gushes, swinging her mascara wand around frantically as she speaks. They all laugh hysterically which I am forced to laugh along with.
I unknowingly find Shaun in the clusters of high school kids around me, finding his white-gold hair like a lighthouse in the dark. He laughs at a joke or a comment, baring his brace-filled smile playfully. His hands are covered in pastel paints, making my heart flutter. He paints and works at the school's plays. He wears all black to hide himself backstage during the school's musical being held now. However, nothing could disguise his head shaggy with white hair, his sweet laugh, his demanding eyes.
"What a joke!" Shannon laughs as she chomps on a piece of lettuce.
"I dunno," I breathe, staring as Shaun shook his friend's hand, smiling at him. I wish he would smile at me --
"What?!" Chelsea asks, her mouth agape.
"What?" I ask, realizing my mistake.
"You like that loser?" Shannon asks, bewildered.
"Who?" I ask wearily. He was a big no-no in our world. Shaun participates in school, strives for good grades, and when he gets a girl, he sticks with her. He isn't sex-hungry like Shannon's boy nor is he a cheating and mean like Chelsea's pig.
"You like Shaun Pierce?" Chelsea says carefully, analyzing me through judging eyes.
"Well, um, no. No. I don't." I stutter. Chelsea narrows her eyes, and nods indignantly. She begins speaking again to Shannon excitedly, imploring about a Vera Wang scent. Chelsea is fine now that I had bowed to her power and might one again. I had fallen back into line, collapsed to full submission.
Where have I gone? Where was the real me?
It surely was not in the Perfect Bubble.