It’s the first day at a new school. A part of me is excited, but the other part knows the truth.
It’s always the same story when I start at a new school. Most kids are excited because a new person is a nice change of pace to what they’re used to. In my case, their excitement dies down as soon as they see me.
At first, they don’t notice anything wrong, but it doesn’t take long to realize there was something, well, off. Once they see, it’s always the perfect ones who lead the pack.
“What’s wrong with your face?! Why does your lip look so weird??” One of the kids asked. She had beautiful blonde hair, flawless skin, and bright blue eyes. How can someone look so perfect at 15 years old?
“Now, Rebecca, it’s not nice to make fun of someone for something they can’t control. Everyone is born differently; we need to accept them for who they are on the inside, not what they look like on the outside.” That was a beautiful thing to say, teacher, but teenagers don’t give a fuck.
“Whatever. He’s ugly.” Rebecca responded with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
Rebecca. What makes you so perfect?
It was the start I anticipated for my first day at a new school. Whenever mom and dad tell me this time will be different, I can hear the hesitation in their voice. They don’t know what it feels like to be made fun of for something you can’t control, something you were born with.
By the time lunch rolled around, I had lost track of how often someone had pointed out my deformity to me. It was like they thought I had no idea it was there. Like I wasn’t living with seeing it every time I looked in the mirror. The lunchroom was packed. All the tables were separated into their groups or “cliques.” Only one table was empty, and it sat right next to the trashcan. Wonderful.
I’m garbage, so I might as well sit by it.
As soon as I was settled, a girl was standing by the table.
“Can I sit with you?”
At first, when I saw her, I didn’t notice the scar. But after she asked if she could join me, I could see that it covered more than half her face. She was also deformed.
“Uh, um, yeah, s-s-s-sure.” Did I just stutter? What the fuck is wrong with me? That scar. It looked like, however she got it, it was excruciating. But there was something in her eyes that was captivating. I wanted to know everything about her.
“My name is Adalyn; you must be Noah.”
“Uh, yes. I am Noah. Nice to meet you, Adalyn.” Her name matched her beauty. How could someone with such a horrible defect on their face, still be so beautiful?
“I’m just going to break the ice and address the elephant in the room. We both have deformities on our faces. You were born with yours; mine was because of a freak accident. Let’s just say, my mom was a pyromaniac and sometimes lost control of her little, uh, projects. Most of the kids here only want to be my friend because they think I fell in a vat of chemicals and have some weird powers now. Others are too afraid to approach me for whatever their reasons are.
When they see you, its obvious they think you look funny. Like you are a troll or something. What I see is a boy being defined by his appearance instead of his character. For me? I just wanted a close up to your face.” She paused for a moment. “I hope you know I’m joking.”
“Oh, haha. Ok, so, why are you over here then?”
“Because I know what it’s like not to be seen for who you are, but for what you look like. Because I wish I had someone there for me when I was trying to adjust to a new school. Because I want to be your friend and get to know you better.”
All I could do was stare at her. No one has ever wanted to get to know me better. Her interest made her more beautiful.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t worry about it. Let’s just eat lunch, and I’ll help you through the rest of today. You will get through this. Things will get better, I promise.”
“Thank you, Adalyn. Thank you.” Adalyn and I spent the rest of lunch laughing. I have never laughed so hard in my whole life. I don’t know how I would have made it throughout the rest of the day.
The first week at my new school was the best week I have ever had. Adalyn came over to help me catch up on homework a couple of times. Over the weekend, she spent time with my family and me while we settled into our new house. This was the start of a fantastic friendship.
“Bye, everyone! See you tomorrow at school, Noah!”
As we waved goodbye, Adalyn drove off with her dad. Since the accident with her mother, it has just been the two of them. She told me she and her dad were close, and I was glad for that. I could tell she was strong, but even strong people need a shoulder to cry on. I hoped to be her shoulder if she ever needed one in school.
As the weeks went by, Adalyn and I grew close. Close enough that eventually, I asked her to be my girlfriend. Words cannot begin to describe what I felt the day she agreed. Ever since, life in school hasn’t been so bad.
“Hey, handsome! You excited for the movie tonight?”
“Hell yeah! I can’t believe our parents are letting us go.”
“Duh, they’re letting us go. Your mom and dad want to see the movie too, so they’re going to be in the theater with us.”
“You’re right, but I’m still glad I get to spend more time with you. You’ve made life so much easier. I didn’t think that was possible.”
I don’t care that my parents will be there. The more time Adalyn and I have together, the better. They promised they would make it seem like they weren’t there. Drop us off out front, get in the theater first so we could walk in together like we were alone. It was going to be the best night of my life.
“Ok, kids, we’ll meet you inside. Remember, get your snacks and go straight to the theater. We’ll be in the back so we can keep our eyes on you.” My mom laughed and rolled the window up. I waited until they pulled around the corner before I grabbed Adalyn’s hand. They don’t care, but I’m still embarrassed to do that in front of them.
“You know they don’t care if we hold hands, Noah.”
“I know, but I don’t like how they get all weird when we hold hands.”
“Haha, I get it. As long as it’s not because you’re ashamed of me.”
“Never. I would never be ashamed of you. You’re beautiful, inside and out.”
She stole a quick kiss after that comment. We’ve already kissed a few times, but it still makes me blush when she plants one on my cheek. Her lips are soft, and she smelled like flowers. Made my heart stop every time.
“Hey, look! It’s Freak 1 and Freak 2. Aw, what a sight only mothers would love!”
“Ignore them, Noah. They’re not worth our time. Let’s just get our tickets and snacks and go inside.”
“Yeah, just ignore us, Noah. Listen to your witch girlfriend!”
“What did you just call me?” Adalyn spoke with such authority. I have never heard her sound so angry. She walked over to them and stared them down. All they did was stand there and laugh at her.
“You heard me. That’s why your face is burned, right? You escaped being burned at the stake.”
Everything happened so fast. One minute, the kids who were making fun of us were laughing. I swore I just blinked once, and when I opened my eyes, Adalyn was throwing punches every which way – sometimes hitting her target, stumbling over after missing. The boys kept laughing and started shoving her away from them.
None of them stopped swinging punches and shoving each other. I started to make my way over to help Adalyn when it happened.
The ringleader shoved her so hard that she fell into the street right as a truck flew by. It didn’t matter how fast I ran, by the time I reached her, it was too late. Her body was flung so far and so hard, she was dead on impact.
My body was frozen.
My mind was frozen.
Suddenly, it went black.
To be continued…
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