Raised By Starlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by hullabaloo22

Julianna Jingle, snarky and spunky adolescent, hides a dark secret, one that might just lead to her end.

If the apocalypse happens tomorrow, I’ll be the first to survive. Seriously, if you saw all the crazy-awful things I lived through, you’d agree. I’m a fighter.

I squeeze my thick hips in beside Ashley and Deedra, my glam squad. Course they

only like me cause I’m silly. I’m the kind of jokey-chick they can have fun with and they’re the kind of diva-donnas I can pretend with. They giggle at each other while they grab tester lotions from the middle shelf. Completely ridiculous, their giggling reminds me of two drunks staggering around a Christmas Tree. A great example considering all of the Christmas decorations around us. Not to mention the lights.

Glaring from above, they flicker in my line of vision/ Sheesh, Lotion City sure wants to blind me with their bloody bulbs. They should really rethink their lighting situation. It’s a true downer. I pinch one eye shut as I read the bottle and roll it over in my palm.

Tahitian Breeze, a signature collection. Signature, huh? Sounds special. I take a whiff. Nice. Better than that last burnt licorice lotion. Coconuts with a hint of piña colada, hit my nose. Not that I know my alcoholic beverages or piña coladas for that matter. Never had one. I like to act like I drink. It makes me feel Gucci, same as my mildly popular glam squad. I need to be Guccier. Much easier than being who I really am. 

I raise my bottle in a toast to them. “Someday I’m going to Taheesha.” I blurt out.

“You actually said that, didn’t you? Ta-hee-sha!” Ashley drags my word out. She bends over, snort-giggling her skinny bum off. 

“You’re awesomesauce, Julez.” Deedra laughs so hard I think she might fall to the floor, and spill the entire contents of that body spray she’s shaking around in her flailing hand. That would be even funnier. I imagine pink spray flying out. Raspberry Bliss everywhere, especially on that ugly Christmas display behind us.

I join in their hilarity. Happy with myself as I totally meant to say Taheesha. I needed a good laugh. Laughing pushes all the crap out so you don’t have to feel it.

“Let’s go.” Ashley leads Deedra and me toward the store exit.

Hideous garland, strung with winking lights, lines the mall walls. Big gold stars hang from the ceiling. One of them rotates slowly, then seems to expand. I’m likely seeing things. Likely reacting to Chestnuts on an open fire, floating through the air. A holiday song yes, and a melancholy dagger for me. It stabs and squeezes the hollow ache inside me. I might go into cardiac arrest, right here beside this green bench. The entire mall be-jangled with those idyllic decorations reminds me of what I don’t have. What I crave every day. I inhale deeply, keeping up with my glam squad, my smile so pasted to my lips it must be permanent by now.

I sling my backpack higher over my shoulder, careful not to shake its contents. My alternate plan. I carry it everywhere in constant terror that I might have to enact it and blow up my entire existence. Unless I don’t have to. In which case, I’ll bide my time and twiddle my thumbs. Cause that’s what I do. Wait for my life to change while I play a role, fabulously I admit. I mask my true identity from everyone including myself. No reason to resurrect her, she’s practically dead anyway.

A woman pushes a stroller beside us. I peek at her toddler who’s wiggling against the seat belt. He munches on some crackers, eyeing me while crumbs dust onto his overalls. I can’t take my attention off him, off his mother who pauses to check on him.

“I love you, precious angel.” She presses a kiss to his cheek, doting on his every expression. He grins a toothy grin, an authentic grin, a grin I’ve always wished to wear. The beauty of it all scratches at the gaping hole in my heart, hindering me from realizing how close I am to them. My foot catches on one of the stroller wheels. I stumble forward and fall face down. 

“Julez.” Deedra races for me. The woman reaches me first.

“Here let me.” She offers her hand.

I grasp it. It’s soft and warm, mothering, caring, a touch I long for in a soul-wrenching way. Her fingers leave me faster than I can respond. Faster than I can bolt after. She is walking away. And I’m standing there with my arms outstretched.

Please! Stay.

I want to bawl and pound my fists on the ground. Do something big to bring her back, to make her hold me in her arms and rock me while she sings a lullaby. Sounds messed up. I know. Especially for a fifteen-year old girl. Don’t judge. You have no right, no clue, no idea what I’ve endured.

“Way to be clumsy.” Ashley tosses her hand up.

“Um, yeah. Clumsy is ‘da bomb.” I dance on one foot and spin around until everyone including me is laughing. “I’m the belle of the ball.”

“You certainly are.” Deedra joins me in a twirl, two ballerinas pirouetting to Jingle Bells. 

Oh, what fun comedy is when you feel like freaking crap. Oh, jingle hells, jingle hells — I want to bellow with the music blaring around us.

“I can’t even.” Ashley laugh-chokes on her saliva.

Deedra and I finally stop spinning. She catches her breath and we both grab for my backpack at the same time. I snatch it up. She squints at me as if I’ve swallowed a frog whole and am crunching it up with my teeth bared.

“Girlies. Over there.” Ashely whispers, “Studs.” She gestures to three boys from our sophomore class. I try to remember their names. Bruno, Jack, Larry, Freddie... Hmmm, I can’t recall. No wonder with more than two thousand kids in our high school. That’s the last thing I want to think about right now. High school. Bullies. Embarrassment prickles the tip of my tongue.

I find myself drooling over their jacked torsos as they saunter down the hall. One of them, with longish curls, I stare at for quite a while until my face burns. Hot like the belly of a tiger. He doesn’t waste his gaze on me. He checks out Ashley instead. Who wouldn’t? She’s gorgeous. Perfect size six, shiny blonde hair and always the height of fashion with her candy-cane stripped leggings, her lime green sweater and her knee-hi boots. What she’s lacking in brains, she definitely compensates with looks.

Her phone buzzes. Phew, a distraction.

Ashley pulls her phone out and taps it. “OMG, Ed Sheeran.” She jumps up and down. “He reposted my tweet!”

Deedra hovers over Ashley as they grope her phone. “It’s because you bought the meet and greet to his concert.”

Right. The concert they invited me to. The one I still want to go to but can’t. Money isn’t the only reason although that’s the excuse I gave them. A shred of guilt doused in grief spirals inside me.

I reposition my shoulder strap but lose my grip. The pack flies down to my wrist and jostles so badly that it dislodges its contents. Familiar rattling clatters from inside like dozens of marbles clanking together.

Ashley side-glances me. “Tell me you have Skittles in there. I could use some right about now.”

“You and me both.” I feign a yawn as we near the children’s play area. I purposely bump into one of those kiddie rides that resembles a Trekkie Spaceship. It erupts with sirens and droning orders.

“Captain, get to your command!” I mimic the words in a parrot voice.

Ashley and Deedra bend in another laughing fit.

“Such a clown, Julez.” Ashley says.

“Come on. Starbucks is calling my name.” Deedra skips to the food court ahead, her brown ponytail bobbing up and down. 

“Gross. You know they’re toxic.” Ashley says.

Deedra rolls her eyes. I almost do too. How shallow can this conversation get? Sure, I’m a mocha hold the whip chick. Hot or cold. Either way I don’t need to announce it to the twelve hipsters lined up with us. Or brag to the barista about my nonsensical drink as if it means anything to her. Because none of this world around me means anything. Not a bit of it.

Ashley approaches the counter. “Grande soy skinny latte.”

Skinny, huh? Stick-thin Ashely needs skinny. No, I need skinny. I glance at my mocha, all four-hundred-sixty calories ready to plump up my thunder-thighs and rip the seams of my size twelve jeans. Or balloon my fluffy muffin-top until it punches out the Rudolph nose blinking on my sweater. I almost consider changing my drink choice. That’s a girl’s prerogative, right? To give the barista a run for her measly pay-check. Alas, I’m a kind-hearted soul. Not one mean bone in my body. Well, maybe one. But, I can’t relinquish my chocolate therapy. It’s my spoonful of sugar to make my medicinal life pallet-able enough to go down.

I hold my head and mocha high, while I wander round the lingering hipsters. A few snicker at my Rudolph sweater. 

I snicker along with them. “Bet you want one.” I say to a middle-aged lady with a patch over her left eye. 

She crinkles her nose at me as if disgusted. I smile at her innocently.

Deedra steps behind me and pokes me in the rib. I jerk forward.

“Don’t listen to her.” Deedra takes me by the arm. “She gets a little lost sometimes.”

Ashely flanks my other side and hisses in my ear. “Play it low key, kay. Studs are back.” She squeals quietly. “One’s scoping you out.”

Really? I peer above the bridge of my nose and spy the boy I saw earlier. He stands on the other side of the food court, a Big Mac in one hand, fries in the other. His brown curls sway over his broad shoulders as he steps from the line and joins two other boys. His green eyes meet mine in a long, pensive, weirdly unnerving moment. My face warms. My mind races when his friends glance at me. One widens his mouth in a sly grin as if he knows me. Well, maybe he does. I can’t remember which one he is. He’s certainly familiar enough. I lower my gaze to the floor, my breath shallow. Mall custodians must have waxed the tiles cause they shine like a new dime. I can spot my reflection and the redness in my freckled cheeks.

Deedra elbows my shoulder. “You’re totally in their radar, Julez.”

Ashley squeals again.

My belly flutters in time with the vibrations coming from my back pocket. My phone.

I retrieve it and slide the screen up. I gasp. A picture of me in my reindeer sweater fills my open Snapchat. Someone posted it. Who? 

I read the comment:

Meet Santa’s new helper, Fugly Jumbo Julez. Get JJ laid and you’ll get paid. Fifty bucks a pop.”

My chin quivers. I glimpse across the court at the boys. They chuckle, point at me and pat each other on the back. One slaps his knee. I want to jump out of my skin, dart away and never return. A foolish choice for sure, since they’d likely add wimp to my fugly JJ reputation.

I chug down my mocha and belch as loud as I can. It echoes across the room. The boys chuckle harder.

“Go home, fugly. You’re grenade ass stinks over here.” One of them shouts.

The others clap their hands and chant. “Fugly, fugly, fugly.”

My insides clench, their insults harsher than a knife to my gut. Their word home and the Home for the holidays song, echoing over the speakers, aches more. 

I laugh it off. Even though my belly twists into a knot so big that barf lodges in my throat.

Deedra shakes her head. “They’re savages.”

Course she’s right. Too bad I can’t reason with my nauseated stomach.

Deedra motions us away from the food court. I follow my glam squad into the main mall and past Santa’s workshop. A crowd of kids wriggle forward, giddy ping-pong balls all behind a gold rope, anxiously awaiting the big guy. His chair resembles a pimp’s throne, purple and pocked with pink rhinestones. His elf, a tall, gangly man, with a bony finger invites the next kid in. A toddler girl, wearing a glittery red dress, waddles forward and takes a seat next to Santa. She tugs at his beard. It falls a bit and reveals the man’s half-shaven face.

He nervously repositions his beard and whispers in the toddler’s ear. She plugs her nose.

“Wager anything he’s drunk as a skunk.” I nudge Deedra. She nods, giggling at him. “Wouldn’t even pass a breathalyzer test if cops cuffed him. Bad Santa, you got nothing on that salty sus.”

“Nice one.” Deedra hi-fives me.

Deedra and I tap hips together. We trail after Ashley, while we window-shop bras at Victoria’s Secret and reindeer stamped leggings at Forever Twenty-One. 

I scarcely hear, “Yoo-hoo,” behind us.

“Ashley, honey.” Mrs. Flinder’s voice travels from the Von Maur beside us. She traipses forward with six bags so full her fingers seem strained from all the weight. “Time to leave. Hope you had fun with your friends.”

“We have to go? Now?” Ashley plants her hands on her hips. “We just got here.”

“Lots of stuff to do before relatives arrive tomorrow. Cleaning, cooking, wrapping presents. Could use your help.” Mrs. Flinders raises her brow. “Spend time with your friends after Christmas.”

“Mom. Really. It’s all about you isn’t it. I never get to do anything.”

I bite my tongue as Ashley rattles on. Burns me that she can’t appreciate her blessed life. Her comfortable suburban house, two loving parents, three close-knit siblings, home-cooked meals galore, huge extended family. The works. What I wouldn’t give for one of her beautiful treasures. And yet she slouches there whining her stupid mouth off. I want to rip off her hot-pink lips. Course I don’t. I laugh at her instead. 

She throws me a glare. “Stop laughing.”

“Oh Ashley,” Mrs Flinders says. “Don’t make a scene. You’ll embarrass yourself.”

Deedra squares Ashley’s arms. “My parents will be here in a few anyway.”

“I’ve got to go too,” I add. Not that anyone is expecting me. My mom doesn’t give a rat’s bum where I am as long as I clean her perfectly tidy apartment with her perfectly jerkish third husband, the new love of her life. Why would I matter? They can buy twelve others just like me.

My phone vibrates in my back pocket. I pull it out and spot a text from my aunt.

Your dad’s been released. Grandma signed him out and the psyche ward gave him his papers. We don’t know where he’s headed.”

I frantically search my surroundings — each store entrance, the Santa workshop far behind us, the Christmas tree glimmering in front of the food court. He could be anywhere, lurking in the cinnamon spice air or in the hideous garland. My pulse doubles until I swear I might faint. Any second he could swoop down and do what he did to me the last time he came for me. I won’t let that happen. 

I wrestle my coat and hat out of my backpack and throw them on me. Don’t bother zipping up, I bolt for the nearest exit.

“Julez!” Footsteps patter behind me. “Wait up.”

“Can’t. See ya later,” I toss over my shoulder and shove the door open.

The sun sets in the distance. Brilliant oranges and reds beam through gray clouds. Made more magnificent by the white flakes twirling and scattering around me. I plow through the ankle-high mush and hurry through the parking lot to the bike rack, my bike covered in snow. I dust it off as best I can, then examine it. Tires look a bit flat, clearly from the low pressure. Icicles lace the brakes. I kick some off, hoping the brakes don’t freeze up. They’ll have to do. I have little choice but to bike. My mom and step-dad barely acknowledge my existence. Much less buy me a bike helmet or give me a lift. They claim they’re too busy with work or errands or whatever else they pull out of their butts as an excuse to help me. And I refuse to bug my friends, cause they know nothing about my awful home-life. I need to keep it that way. Otherwise, I’ll definitely get the boot from my glam squad. Then I’ll have no one. 

My heart pumps crazier than those Canadian geese flapping into the bleeding horizon. I mount my bike and steer away from the Crossgates Mall. Best mall in Albany, New York according to my classmates. Worst for my low social status. Money and name-brands mean everything to those snobs. Dollars and diamonds and designer clothes, nothing but bits of fabric and paper and rock that fade as quickly as life. I roll in the direction of traffic. Only six miles, a dozen turns, main roads for the most part but a difficult path in light of the accumulating snow and my gloveless hands.

Frostbite might set in. Or worse, my dad might be driving around, searching for me. My spine chills at that last thought. I gulp down my anxiety and push the pedals quicker. Too quickly. My tires won’t grip. I slide sideways. Panic sets in when I spot the intersection ahead. The light turns red. I’m still sliding. I pound the breaks down.

Oh no! I snake into oncoming traffic. Cars zoom around me. A few honk. One screeches to a halt inches from me. Another gives me the finger.

Dudes, not my fault. Trying the best I can under this storm and under all this road rage. Honestly, who’s the adult and who’s the child. Least I clear the intersection unscathed. Lucky me. Or unlucky if you consider I still have to go home. I pause in the bike lane and glance behind me. Two trucks have bumped each other. Fender bender, no biggie.

I yell, “Sorry,” back at them. A man climbs out and shakes his fist at me.

Yikes. He’s dashing toward me. I whirl myself around and speed up enough that I can’t hear him anymore. The snow slows. Clumps of my auburn hair lash my ears. I pause to stuff the crystalized strands beneath my hat, then continue. Darkness spills around me thicker than black paint, scary and treacherous. Lit only by Christmas lights adorning the houses I bike past.

A creeptastic snowman with a maniacal smirk sways in someone’s lawn. Next to it, a street lamp casts shadows of the snowman on the road. Its branch-like arms mirror claws. Opening and closing, they grow nastier the nearer I come to them. This evil snowman seems it won’t cease until it seizes me in its clutches. I exhale stiffly. My breath puffs out hazy ghosts with wide, screeching mouths. The frigid air burns my fingers. I wonder at what point I will lose circulation. Lose all feeling to my digits. Lose my energy, konk out in the streets, and revive in the hospital with quadruple amputations.

My dread darts to the full moon once I notice the top of a hill ahead. It’s icy. I can’t see the bottom. I can’t stop. I skid downward. My back tire fish-tails under me. My front tire hits a snow bank. I fly into the air, screaming and summersaulting twice. I thud to the ground. Everything goes blank.


I step into a graveyard where hoards of people swarm. They gather around me. Around a woman who’s being carried by four men. Her face completely blue, spiderweb veins span over her brow, over a black hole in the side of her head. She must be dead.

“Sinner! Sinner! Sinner!” The crowd jeers at the woman. They spit at her. They throw ice balls at her. 

I shout at them. “No! She doesn’t deserve it.”

They don’t listen. Not a one of them.

A man stalks toward me, hidden beneath a cloak. He lifts his hood.

I shriek. Dad! His black hair, his mustache, his angry eyes stare straight into mine. He grabs me, punches me in the chin and shakes me until I weep. Until I fear I might shatter into a million pieces.


I gasp to my senses. A lady bends over me.

“You had a pretty bad fall,” she says.

I blink and attempt rising. My arm hurts too much. My head kills. I think my shoulder might be out of its socket. 

“Can I drive you home?”

Home? Absolutely not. That’s not a home. That’s a prison.

Take me home with you. I want to say. I can’t speak.

A boy walks up next to the lady. I know him, the boy with the brown curls, the one from the mall.

“That’s JJ. Here let me check her backpack,” he says.

Don’t touch it. My lips refuse to move.

He riffles through my pack and retrieves my wallet. “Her ID lists her address. Not too far from here.” He strides toward us with my pack on his shoulder. “I’ll help you bring her to our van.”

They lift me. I whimper and hobble along while they hold me up, guiding me to the front seat. I sit. They plop my pack between my feet while I watch blood seeping through holes in my jean-covered knees. While, a cut stings on my forehead, I can’t get my mouth to work. Can’t tell them I don’t want to go home. I’m too exhausted to protest.

They’re already driving away with me. I fade in and out of sleep, to the hum of the engine and the murmur of chatting. 

Minutes spin slower than a dying clock. We must have reached my house by now. I can’t tell. My eyes keep flittering shut. The engine keeps humming. Until the car stops.

A door slams in the distance. Cold air rushes over my body. I shiver. Someone is lugging me out. Biceps stiff against me, whose I’m not sure. The boy’s perhaps. I nestle my head against his chest. He pauses for a long second then continues walking.

“Julianna. My baby.” I hear my mother’s shrill voice. “We’ve been worried sick about you.”

Worried? Really? I must be hallucinating. She would never say worried and my name in the same sentence.

“Yeah. Thanks for bringing her.” My step-dad says in a nice tone I’ve never heard him use.

The boy lowers me to our couch. I open my eyes in time to see him exit our house.

Please. Stay. You don’t have a clue what will happen to me. My words constrict in my throat. I stare out the window, crushed when the headlights of their van disappear. I’m left panicked and wheezing.

“Look at you.” My step-dad sneers. “Stupid girl, can’t ride a bike. We spent a fortune on that thing. How we gonna get it now. Huh?”

My mother snubs her nose up behind him nodding with her flat smile.

“Ungrateful and useless.” He swings his hand at me and strikes my side. I recoil in a ball. “If you weren’t already hurt, I’d thrash you more.” He stomps away. Mother does nothing. As usual. For all I know I could have a concussion or broken bones or a dislocated shoulder.

She departs without a word. Without as much as a goodbye. My chest explodes with agony. Everything from the day swarms in my brain. The bullying, the text from my aunt, the threat of my dad, the bike accident, the injuries, the rage my parents inflicted on me, it all leaves me completely raw. My cracked heart crumbles in its cage. I can’t take it anymore. I fold my knees to my chest and weep. This is the way it ends. The way I end. 

I yank my bottle of Advil from my backpack and pour all forty-eight of them into my palm.

One gulp. Two at most. That’s what it will take to embrace death, such a welcome friend. My spirit will soar and peace will finally fill me. Will finally free me! 

And yet a nagging thought enters my mind. What if? What if my life could change? Less than three years of high school, that’s all I have left. It doesn’t even have to be here. I can pave a new way for myself somewhere else. Perhaps. I fling the pills on the floor.

I remain on the couch, trembling and crying myself into a fitful slumber.

Wind wakes me, howling and rattling the window. Hours must have gone by, feels like days though. I rub my eyes. Sun peeks through the glass pane and hits my nose. I remember it’s Christmas break. None of my teachers will miss me. Nor will my vicious classmates. Ashley and Deedra will be too busy with their families to seek me out. My mom and step-dad will be glad to get rid of me. My dad will be close by. I can’t be here. There’s a bus station, a mile away. I think I can make it.

My sore legs protest once I stagger to my feet. I wince with my first step and wonder if I should rest more. And tempt my dad to capture me or give my mom and step-dad more reason to abuse me? Nope. Sleep can wait. Escape can’t.

The forty dollars in my pack isn’t going to get me far. I’ll need more. I search for my mother’s purse. I search beside the couch, on the tv stand, on the dining room table, in the kitchen. Found it on a counter pilled with dirty plates ten high. I unzip her purse as quietly as possible since my parents are still sleeping. Can’t chance rousing them. Or I’ll have heck to pay. I remove my mother’s wallet, unclasp it and grab four fifty-dollar bills. That should buy me a rather long-bus ride to my new city. Wherever that is.

I exit the house and hoof it as best as my legs can manage. It’s slow going at first especially over the patches of ice-covered sidewalk. Soon my pace picks up. My muscles loosen and I get acquainted with the soreness.

Not with the frigid cold. So cold! Colder than last night. Even if it’s barely morning the trees, on either side of the cement, brighten under the rays of sunshine like headlights are beaming on them. I look over shoulder. Not a car in sight. I turn around, unsettled by more headlights hitting the icicle covered trees. I look over my shoulder again.

A car pulls into sight over a mile behind me. Look familiar. Looks like…

Oh my God! Dad’s car.

I whip forward, sprinting like hell. Praying he won’t see me. Praying I don’t slip on this wickedly slick sidewalk, I spy the bus station. Ahead, it’s sign, Grey Hound, sits in big letters on the cement building where outside its main entrance ten maybe twelve people stand in a line.

Please, be open. I’m screwed if I go home, screwed if I stay when my dad’s car is literally a fifty yards away. Away from here, is where I need to go. Maybe to that café on the other side of the street. It’s lights are on so I could hide there. I jump onto the pavement but soon as I take two steps a whoosh of wind smacks me. A car honks after. Dad!

I glance left. Through the frosty windshield, his black eyes penetrate me like they did in that nightmare. I back away, chills spreading over my neck.

He yanks his door open. “Get in.”

Shit! I turn. I run.

He drives after. Onto the sidewalk, his engine revving, he slams into me. I fly forward, the tire crunching over my thigh. I screech, trying to roll over. My hip screams, my breaths shallow in my chest as feet pound on the pavement and people shout, talking hysterically, words I can’t discern. I black out. 

For seconds. Maybe minutes later, I blink, flinching when sirens nee-ner in the distance. Where’s my dad? Is he still here? He’s gonna kill me. Mom’s gonn kill me. My step-dad’s gonna kill me, if I don’t somehow get out of here. I arch myself up on my elbows. Pain harsher than claws on flesh shoots to my bones. I wail.

Tears pooling in my eyes, distort the snowy pavement where a snowflake lays. It glistens like a star when a sunbeam hits it. When it travels up from the ground, it grows bigger, brighter, breathtaking. An overpowering light transforms my surroundings into white nothingness. I feel myself being lifted into the air. Being twirled round and round. I gaze into the face of a glorious angel. She floats before me, her shimmery essence the size of two ivory stallions.

“Julianna, my child.” She spreads her wings and cups my chin in her hands. My skin warms under her gentle fingers. “I’ve seen your suffering. Heard your saddest moments. Listened to your deepest anguish. You’re not alone. You never were. I cherish you, my daughter. Take hold of my love. Let it guide you as you make your way. Your future will bring you much joy. I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes. Watched you marry, birth a beautiful child and create masterpieces in your profession. Don’t lose hope. You can go wherever you wish. Safe under my wings. I will be here for you to lean on. To take refuge in. To gain inspiration from. You are much stronger than you could ever imagine.” 

She hugs me. Her presence radiates into me, a cup pouring sweet milk into my soul. My heart reconnects itself one piece at time until it drums in my chest, until my bones and flesh rejoin, until my body heals inside and out. I lift my head once more to her and agree.

Even if the apocalypse happens tomorrow, I will survive. I’m a fighter.

I choose life.

Submitted: January 21, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Joy Shaw. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



What a great story, Joy. You've got the masks, the pretend, the 'make-a-joke-of -yourself; the bullies, humiliation; the anger, the abuse and the desperation, but end with at least a chance of hope.
The dialogue was excellent. The use of lots of short snappy sentences give it a really authentic feel. Excellent work!

Mon, January 22nd, 2018 9:27pm


Thank you!!! I appreciate your kind comments.

Mon, January 22nd, 2018 1:37pm

Oleg Roschin

What a great story this is. It's hard to pack an emotional punch while retaining clarity of writing and not descending into mushy melodrama. The story is so powerful and emotionally engaging, yet it has wit and and an incredible sense of determination in the writing, the sentences are so perfectly measured, composed, and delivered, that it almost feels rhythmical, like poetry and prose. Very strong writing, you have your own distinctive voice, a strong personality. Wonderful work!

Tue, January 23rd, 2018 7:06am


Thank you! Appreciate your comments. May you be inspired.

Tue, January 23rd, 2018 3:31am

Sean Terrence Best

Health, love, compassion, understanding, regeneration - your story embodies these critical elements of modern human awakening, Joy Shaw. You speak a language of starlight to provide your readers, via secret code, with a map showing the treasured route to liberation of the mind. Yours is a revolutionary voice in an age when the communal psyche of Earth is prepared to embrace intelligent independent creative change. You are the guardian angel, Joy! Thank you for cradling us in your protective wings of enlightenment!

Fri, February 2nd, 2018 1:27am


Thank you! What a delightful review.

Thu, February 1st, 2018 5:44pm

Jim Green

Wow. I mean....wow. I read this and was totally pulled in and I felt her pain and anguish and how brave she is through it all. This is incredibly well written. You paint such wonderful insightful images and I'm just....wow. Laughs. I give this tale two thumbs up. Way up. I especially love after all the torment, the personal insults and everything else there is hope. She will survive because she is a fighter. I love how you pull it all in in the end and it comes full circle with the beginning. Well done. Bravo my very talented friend. I not only hit the "like" button but also the "shelfit" as well. Keep writing. Something tells me there is a little bit of you in Julianna and a lot of Julianna in you.

Sat, February 10th, 2018 3:37am


Thank you, Jim! There’s a little bit of Julianna in all of us. Some more than others. For me, it was either fight or die. I chose the latter. I couldn’t be happier.

Fri, February 9th, 2018 8:13pm

Joy Shaw

Lol, Jim. I’m no ghost. I didn’t choose death. Meant a little part of me died. I rebirthed myself, created a beautiful life for myself. Call it divine intervention, my guardian angel, sprung a well of hope within me. Now I have the amazing opportunity to spread blessings of hope to others.

Sat, February 10th, 2018 12:57pm

Criss Sole

I truly enjoyed reading this. I am all too familiar with the heartache the protagonist feels. But it is true, there is always hope. She was a true inspiration. Very strong character. I loved this story.

Tue, February 13th, 2018 8:36am

Sue Harris

Wow, Joy, this is brilliant. It grabbed and kept me riveted... the pretence, the glam pack, the mockery, the misery, the torment. Your writing is absolutely stunning, as a reader it provoked such emotion in me, I felt her pain, her hopelessness, her inadequacy and her terror. You are so, so talented. To say I loved it is an understatement. Congratulations... just awesome!

Tue, February 13th, 2018 6:52pm


Thank you for reading!!!

Tue, February 13th, 2018 12:24pm

Miss Midnight

Well, to say this story punched me in the gut would not be a lie.
Powerful, sad, humiliation, anger, fear, my goodness, you have it all. And how neatly wrapped in your MC. My heart constricted as I got to know Julianna. Even with everything that's happening to her, she still fights back, unsatisfied with how things are. When the studs posted that horrible comment, my cried for her. How awful and grrrrrr.
Throughout I felt my palms sweat, my thoughts buzzing as I read further. What's going on, what's happening? Then that ending. Hope, it may seem fragile, but it's stronger than a diamond. An excellent way to end the chapter.

Sat, February 24th, 2018 6:40pm


Awww! Thank you! Beautiful review. Take a look at my other story, Pussy Reaper’s Revenge. And please stay tuned for more short stores like this. They are part of my anthology — Brave Tales, Brave Girls.

Sat, February 24th, 2018 12:33pm

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