She wasn’t normal. In fact, she could almost be described as abnormal. Everyone else just thought Paris was a normal girl, walking through the long hallways of the school, going to class like everybody else. But to her friends, if they could be called that, there was something different about her. She had a pale face and dark, intense eyes. Her hair was light blonde, almost white, falling past her shoulders in mildly untidy waves. She would have been striking if her face had not had such a strange, unworldly look to it. At first, no one thought much about it. After all, everyone was a little different in their own way. It was not until her outburst that day in class.
It happened right in the middle of the English teacher’s lecture; several of the high schoolers were asleep, and the rest were slouched in their chairs, staring blankly at the walls. A sudden cry made them all jump, and the teacher paused with a puzzled expression on his face.
It started out as a soft “no,” and then grew in volume until it was a scream, shattering the shocked silence of the room. “No! No!” Paris stood up abruptly, and her desk tipped to the side. “You already destroyed her; you can’t have me too!”
The English teacher stepped quietly around the desk and approached the wildly staring girl, hoping to console her. Her gaze snapped to him, and she shouted madly at him, pointing at him, and then shielding her head with her arms as if he were about to strike her. By now, the dumbness had left the students, and the class was in an uproar. Jill, a kindhearted senior who was often seen with Paris, ran to find the school psychiatrist.
All in a breathless rush, she gasped out what had happened in the classroom. She seemed to blame herself for not telling anyone else before. She’d noticed there was something not quite right about Paris, but she hadn’t wanted to gossip. “She would listen when you talked to her,” Jill said, “and she’d laugh when you’d say something funny, but she’d seem to stare right through you, like she didn’t see you. She’d often sit in a corner and talk to herself when she thought nobody was looking.”
The psychiatrist asked when Jill had started noticing this.
“Right when I met her,” she responded. “A little over half a year ago. I didn’t really know much about her—I still don’t—but she seemed like she needed a friend.”
If Paris did need a friend, she didn’t know it. She had been slipping away into a world that she had created for herself. Reality was growing darker and darker, but her alternate life was no different; it was filled with shadows and mist, and her view was obscured as she recoiled within herself. Now, when she saw the man whom she called father, she was no longer able to keep the bitter words from spilling from her mouth. She would fly at him, releasing all her anger over the abuse and brutal murder of her mother and younger brother.
Her father kept her because she was beautiful. He would whisper in her ear that she was too beautiful for her own good, and he was only protecting her. When she cried, he would strike her across the face, and later threaten her, telling her that if she let loose to anyone, the consequences would be beyond her imagination. So Paris learned not to cry. She learned not to confide in anybody, to keep to herself. She fabricated her own fantasy around herself, shutting out the world.
So it was that on the afternoon of the day when the uproar had been caused in English class, Jill and a few of Paris’s friends gathered together a number of students, and they went looking for her. They found her sitting by a small pond in the middle of a low field about a mile from her house. Her knees were pulled up to her chin; her arms were wrapped around her legs. She was rocking slowly back and forth, talking to somebody or something.
A large mud-green bullfrog was sitting on a rock by the girl, looking at her with bulbous eyes. She was murmuring to it softly: “Shh, don’t let him know we’re here. It’s just our little secret.” She giggled and raised her chin up into the air. “I am the queen,” she said. “I am beautiful.” She gazed up at the sky for a few moments before she looked abruptly down at the bullfrog. “Don’t you think I’m beautiful?” she asked, peering down at her reflection in the shallow water.
She sat upright and turned suddenly at the sound of approaching footsteps. Her face brightened. “Ah, here are my subjects. They have come to pay me homage.” She smiled widely, a beautiful smile, but it was marred by the madness in it, the wildness in her eyes.
As the group of students came nearer, the frog leapt off its rock and landed heavily in the pond with a dull splash. Paris looked slowly up at the faces above her. “You have frightened him away!” she cried. “He was quite content to sit there and listen to my stories. Now you have ruined our party.” The smile on her faced morphed into a scowl, and she pointed regally to the pond. “Every last one of you. Now.”
Jill stepped forward and began to say something, but she was halted by Paris, who stuck her nose in the air and turned away.
“My subjects are not to talk to me while I am at my party,” she said imperially.
“Oh, Paris, please listen—” began Jill again, and laid her hand on the thin pale arm.
But at the contact, Paris started, wrenching herself away with a cry. “No! Leave me! My revenge is not on you; you are not my enemies. Go now while you still can!”
They hesitated, puzzled and unsure of what to do. Jill made one last desperate effort. “You have friends, Paris, friends. We’re here for you. We can help you.”
“No, no! No help. Leave me! He is coming! Save yourselves! I am too weak to run…run….” She drew up her knees again and wrapped her arms around her legs, rocking slowly to and fro.
And so they left her, mumbling in her delirious insanity, lost to reality. They left her sitting by the pond beneath an overcast sky, with only a bullfrog for company. They left her oblivious to the warbling trills of birds overhead and the soft breezes of early spring. They left her because she would not have it any other way.
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