Chapter 4:

Chapter 1 - Part 4: Façade

I’ll Wait For You At The Train Station

Afterschool, some of the students headed to the destination that they had planned to go to. I stood up and headed to the exit, and then someone called me.Bookmark here

"Hey there…"Bookmark here

I searched for the source of that voice and found three girls having a good fashion sense. I couldn't understand why they called me so I dropped my gaze.Bookmark here

"You're new in this town, right?"Bookmark here

One of them asked. I answered by nodding.Bookmark here

"Care to join with us?" I lifted my head to see the girl smiling. I couldn't tell why these girls approached someone as gruesome as me. One of them held my hand and dragged me out of the room. Being forced to join the group, I couldn't relate to what they were talking about. For sure they'd find me as boring, then leave me alone the next day.Bookmark here

At that moment, I remembered what my mother requested:Bookmark here

// I'll approve your request, but promise us that you'll change. Every now and then, we see you sad and depressed. But once we ask what's the problem, you won't tell us. Hey, be strong, okay? //Bookmark here

I was an outcast, but today I felt like I belonged to the group. I must do my best to change, and this was the once in a lifetime chance that had given to me. I mustn't let this go to waste. Speak. I must speak.Bookmark here

Before opening my mouth, one of the girls butted in announcing: "We're here."Bookmark here

I observed myself in front of the karaoke booth. I was invited to sing, that's too bad for a tone-deaf like me. I have never sung in front of everyone and neither I was planning to. But if I refuse, I'd ruin everyone else's mood. After some formalities with the staffs and operators, they started to order for food.Bookmark here

"Hey, what do you want? Chose any, I'll put it on my tab." The other girl smiled at me while holding her wallet.Bookmark here

I shook my head twice and stammered.Bookmark here

"Y-you don't n-need to." I couldn't believe how nice they were to put up with that. I was just dragging down the fun.Bookmark here

Soon, they selected songs and went to me along with a query.Bookmark here

"What song are you gonna sing?"Bookmark here

"U-uhhmm, I don't know how to sing."Bookmark here

For some reason, I felt off. Before, I got envious that normal people have fun to these places, but now I could sense that someone like me doesn't belong here. From the moment they stepped in, I started to find them as a nuisance. And now that they were forcing me to pick a song, I was irritated inside. I was aware that I was the one with a problem, but I just couldn't find a way or a solution to adapt to the environment of normal people. If a tone-deaf like me sing, I'd just get laughed at. That doesn't make any difference with how I played the jester on elementary.Bookmark here

What will I do?Bookmark here

If I don't change myself, I would be exiled from the class again. Most importantly, my bully from grade school was here, that was why I must exert double effort to get along with a group. Saying that in my thoughts, I wavered. This was easier said than done. I don't know how to socialize, not even doing a simple welcome. Being with someone who was in the opposite wavelength as I was too outwearing. I don't know anything about fashion or even popular songs these days. I stopped caring about everything since I was bullied, so I don't have any specific interest. Bookmark here

Doesn't that mean… I belong to no one? A person who has no interest was boring, empty, and meaningless. I don't even deserve to breathe maybe? I'd just consume the fresh air of this town and exhale it to nothingness. I was nothing but a parasite who benefits while destroying my host which was the world itself.Bookmark here

"Hey there…"Bookmark here

One of them tapped me on the shoulder, returning me from my daydream.Bookmark here

"…"Bookmark here

"So, you're not gonna sing? That's boring."Bookmark here

I couldn't tell why, but I had an intuition that I was becoming a hindrance to them. They sang all together, laughed at each other, eat, drink, sing, laugh. Meanwhile, I sat at the corner and kept my mouth shut. Every now and then, I do pick up my phone to view my Twitter newsfeed, besides that, I have nothing else to do. Their fun continued to the point that I felt like I never existed. Soon, they were satisfied and went out of the room. At first, I thought that I had just imagined it, but when they'd bid each farewell, I was ignored by the group. This was the outcome. After they dispersed I sighed and told myself:Bookmark here

This is what you get for not interacting with others.Bookmark here

Dear mother. Today, I failed again to join into the class' harmony. If there's a god for socializing, I'd also like to apologize for wasting the chance you have provided me. I gazed at the boundless sky and thought:Bookmark here

What's gonna happen tomorrow?Bookmark here

I returned and calmly said, "I'm home."Bookmark here

Although I said that, I could tell that no one else would answer a simple "welcome back". My parents were out. My father was on his work, my mother on the other hand just started working at the convenience store that I previously mentioned. I guessed that was better that way. If someone was home, they'd question me why I retained my old looks. Explaining was bothersome, so I must be grateful that no one was around. I headed straight to my room and changed to casual clothes. I glanced at the mirror to keep on contemplating how my life continues along with the endless misfortunes.Bookmark here

"Tomorrow and the day after, and the next into that… would stay the same. A broken and hopeless life that I have, is something that cannot be fixed."Bookmark here

The next day, I have witnessed something horrible. I happened to pass behind the school building headed to the restroom when I heard a girl's voice. The voice was from one of the girls who invited me to the karaoke yesterday.Bookmark here

"Get up there… bitch!"Bookmark here

Afterward, I heard the other two laughing.Bookmark here

"Fufufu…"Bookmark here

Little by little, I tried my best to hide while witnessing the scene. It brought me a shock to see the person who bullied me being stepped in the head by one of them. She lied down on the grass. Helpless, all that she could do was to her grit her teeth and clench her fists.Bookmark here

"You're the one who made a mess on the first day, I thought you're a delinquent so we took the initiative. Too bad, you're all alone."Bookmark here

I never expected this. I breathe heavily upon thinking that I went with people who could maintain a perfect pleasing mask. The three of them were the new bad guys. I couldn't imagine that on the second day, they already went to this level of abuse. I glanced over my smartphone and searched for the name of this school if there were any reported cases of bullying, and what stumbled upon me was very disturbing. There were reported at least four cases of suicide of the students here. Based on the investigation, they were all bullied in the class. One of them even killed herself from the rooftop of this old school building. Bookmark here

That news horrified me to the utmost sense that my tears shed. Wiping the tears with my hands, I ran away. For sure, I'd be the next victim. I annoyed them much yesterday that they'd reward me with a violent comeback. Would it be better to be absent and just lock myself inside the restroom until the classes end? How about my things? I left them in the room. If I don't attend, they'd suspect that I ran away, thus took my bag along with them. For now, maybe the best action was to return and pretend that I didn't know their true nature.Bookmark here

How about I get along with them? Even my classmates before did that strategy to divert the bullies' attention and remove them from the list of ‘victims'. I grinned to myself like crazy. Like I could do something like that. I couldn't even hold a conversation with them yesterday, so it was impossible to think that I could pretend to be friends. I stopped and turned around. Having decided, I returned to my room and took a seat. Bookmark here

After a while, the three came with their endless chattering. I get a hold of my phone to press my focus to my Twitter. It might be a rude habit of me to ignore their presence, I thought that they'd come over but they didn't. For now, I was experiencing a "non-existent" treatment. I accidentally glanced at one of the girls as I caught her glaring at me. I returned my gaze to my phone as my hands shivered.Bookmark here

I'm next. That was the signal. The bullies would always find the most helpless person in the class, and the perfect candidates were me and the bully from grade school.Bookmark here

Speaking of the devil. That girl entered the room like nothing happened. She had a mild bruise on the side of her forehead, but she managed to hide it with her hair that was arranged in a different style. She headed straight to her seat and didn't even looked at the three girls. Then, she automatically gazed at me -probably at my seat- and realized that I was there. The simple stare turned into a scowl. Perhaps now, she could feel how it hurts. Who knows, maybe a month after her continuous suffering, she'd apologize to me for hurting her. Thus, that'd be the start of our friendship.Bookmark here

I hid a grin while thinking that the thought was too far-fetched to be realized. Afterschool, I was the first to walk out of the room until I heard one of the three girls calling me with the filthy name.Bookmark here

"Hey Plague Girl!"Bookmark here

It was followed with a peal of slight laughter.Bookmark here

Aware that I would be the next victim, I hurried my steps away from them. With that, they noticed my sudden escape and followed suit.Bookmark here

I ran fast! I didn't plan to run, but my instinct told me to do so. Even in the world of animals, the prey has the urgency of escaping if it sensed a predator. If I was a land animal, I'd be a zebra being chased by a pack of lions. If in water, I'd be a squid tailed by toothed whales. Like how zebras and squids avoided from being consumed, I must also find a way to distract them. Zebras rely upon the crowds to confuse the lions, while the squid sprays ink and swims to the opposite direction. Following that in my train of thoughts, I headed to the crowd of students. I tied my hair in haste and walked calmly to the opposite direction where they'd assume I'd go. For the meantime, I went to the school library. Since I was running away, they'd think that I would go straight to the school gate. With their judgment being wrong, I'd disappear to them like thin air. For sure they'd get sick of looking for me and decide to go home.Bookmark here

While standing in front of the bookshelves, I heaved a long sigh of relief. Now that I've given it a second thought, didn't I spilled oil to the fire with how my actions turned out?Bookmark here

I'm dead… that's for sure.Bookmark here

As a matter of fact, what I did was a direct insult towards them. They'd be burning with hate now. I scratched my hair and yelled in my inner thoughts:Bookmark here

I don't have to keep worrying about that, with what'll happen tomorrow… I'll accept it!Bookmark here

Forget about that for now, because I just discovered a great place. The library…Bookmark here

Why is it that all this time, I didn't know how amazing this place is?Bookmark here

From my field of vision, I see plenty of books and a few students reading all by themselves. The library was the sanctuary for loners. Since you could read the "Keep Quiet" sign in every corner of the room, it was no doubt a peaceful place. If I always stayed here after school, would I be all right? For now, let's look for a book to read. To be honest, I was not interested in reading, and because I have no interest, I don't know what to grab on the shelf. If any book was fine, then I'd took a random one. Bookmark here

The book that I get a hold of was a novel. It was a classic foreign book of the author named Lewis Carrol -Alice in Wonderland [1]. I gave it a read and I was absorbed by the story. Alice -the main protagonist- fell to a hole after chasing a rabbit. After that, she was transferred to wonderland. Right there, her surreal adventure began. From becoming big to small, meeting a smiling cat, a smoking caterpillar, and a strange queen, she was free to do all that she could in that world. Anything could happen in wonderland, sometimes I wished this world was like that too. A place filled with plenty of possibilities was something that my heart fully desired. I wished to be free. Bookmark here

Today, I was nothing but a prisoner locked in my small wonderland which was the library. Once I get out of this place, the darkness would engulf me again. Rubbing my eyes that was not used to reading, I found myself tired and took a break, but when I looked outside I realized that it was getting dark. Also, most of the students inside the library were tidying up their things. It was closing time, I've got to prepare too. I returned the book to the shelf and picked up my bag. Before going out, the representative of the library -which was also a student- smiled at me. I was frustrated with myself that I couldn't return the favor.Bookmark here

I reached my destination safe and sound. Even at this late night, my parents were still not home. On the table of the dining room, I always find a prepared meal for dinner which left a note "Heat it first before you eat". This had been my daily life. Although my dinner was like this, I was still grateful to my mother by having a home-cooked food than those that we get from convenience stores. After heating, I ate it with all gratitude. I took a bath hereafter and went to bed. Closing my eyes, I imagined how tough my third day could be. I vision the faces of the three girls one by one. The leader, which was in the middle was the scariest, while the other two alongside her were having the same aura, although I could tell that they were just followers who abide the order.Bookmark here

When I was awake, I hesitated to get up upon being certain that this day would be a wrenching pain. It was unlikely to still go to school knowing that I would just be bullied. I knew all along that I would be hurt once I entered their premises, so if I still do, that would mean I was one hell of a creepy masochist. For god's sake, I don't want myself to be called a "Plague girl" but I ended up conducting a self-analysis of being creepy. Despite gathering those negative thoughts all around me, I still get up and looked myself at the mirror.Bookmark here

I will still go, if I don't… my parents would suspect.Bookmark here

For the first time I thought, why would I not want them to know about my problems? For sure my entire years on middle school would be terrible, so I must ask for their help if I wanted to survive, just like how I did my best to choose a school. When the sudden urge breakthrough me, I see my parents to my imaginary vision. Before, I often see them sad and worried about me. Both of them were good in nature. I neither see them having a fight in the family household nor outside the general public. They get along with their neighbors so well and always have a pleasing face in front of their customers. I thought that they were excellent when it comes to hiding their true feelings. But after we came here to know that I changed, they had been more enthusiastic about their work lately. Bookmark here

I find their happiness as my source of joy too. I knew, that once I confessed the truth, their good life would be devastated. I'd see them cry while apologizing for not giving much attention to me. I'd watch their madness while confronting the bullies and their parents. I'd observe them not able to maintain a pleasing face to their customers because of anxiety. I've heard of a saying before, "Pretty words aren't always true, but true words aren't always pretty". My confession would spread forth misfortune to this family. I deserve the title "Plague girl" for that reason. And so, I arrived at the conclusion that I'd keep my struggle a secret to them. It was okay to lie. After all, white lies were considered different, it has the intention of keeping a secret for good reason. Bookmark here

I put my school uniform on and maintained my fashion statement as of the first day. Whenever I head to school, I go with this disguise to delight my parents about my progressive status in life. Every time I go down the stairs headed to the dining area where we see each other, I sensed a heartwarming feeling, to the point that I developed pangs of remorse for delivering acts that deviated from the truth.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Bookmark here

[1] Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.
Bookmark here

Gerry Hines
You can resume reading from this paragraph.