I stand just inches away from my next class, but I’m paralyzed, even my mind as it is blank. The roots in the floor wrap around my ankles, pulling me tight. I take a deep breath and turn around, breaking away from their grip, now heading towards the opposite direction.
I hear my math teacher’s voice echoing through the halls, “Copper, where are you going, class is starting?” The words seep into my brain as I know that I have been caught.
I close my eyes briefly, sigh, and pivot back around, “Um… the bathroom.”
He crosses his arms with impatience and nods his head, “Okay, hurry up.” He heads back into the classroom, not looking back.
My feet have other plans; they take me to the link where there are no classrooms, just a hall. It’s easier to “disappear” there. I set a pencil between the door and frame, leaving a crack. The chilled air flows through my body like waves in the ocean. My cherry red hair covers my face as I look down, watching every step being taken. I scuff my furry black rimmed boots across the pavement, kicking the pebbles of broken up parking lot. I suddenly find myself on the track around the football field. I bury my hands over my sleeves and just start to walk, just start to think.
How do I fix things? Why did this happen?
I make it around the track five times and rest on the frigid bleacher bench. Bats swirl above my head, acting like eagles searching for their prey. I try and swat them away and they dissolve into the air, leaving a baby blue sky, cloudless.
I decide to find my way back to “prison.” I arrive only to find that the open space I had left was now closed.
I turn around only to see that the principal is standing right behind me. My heart almost stops as I am aware that he is there.
He waves his hand towards him, “Come on, we’re going down to my office to talk.”
Mr. Parker looks back at me, “So, what brings you outside?”
What brings me outside!? What brings you outside!?
I cross my arms and look away from him. The wind sends chills up my spine and anger to my face.
Mr. Parker sighs, “The reason I came to look for you, was because Mr. Clark was worried and called down.”
A tear forms in my eye, “I just needed some fresh air.”
Mr. Parker doesn’t say another word until we reach his office. The secretaries stare at me like I’m a criminal as we walk past.
He opens the door, “Have a seat.”
I take a seat closest to the door just in case I feel the need to walk out of this conversation.
Mr. Parker sits down behind his desk, “Is everything okay with you? Anything going on that someone should know about?
I glance at him and then my sight drifts to the window. I watch as shadows dance in the wind, “Why do you ask such a thing?”
He forms a fist to rest his face on, his elbow on the desk, “It appears that you have been skipping class a lot.”
I can feel the heat rise in my face as I stare directly into his black pupils, “And?”
He raises an eyebrow, “And, you have missed class quite often.”
I shove my hands under my legs, “I don’t want to talk about it. Can I leave now?”
Mr. Parker taps his finger on his lips, “If you are going to go where you are supposed to be I guess. Where are you headed?”
I read the time on the clock hanging above the door, “Lunch.”
He nods his head, “Alright, I better not catch you out of class again today, okay?”
I stand up and leave the room without saying a word, closing the door behind me. Students fill the hall as they “herd” down to the cafeteria.
I jump as I feel someone’s hand on my shoulder.
Avery laughs, “Did I scare you?”
I laugh a fake laugh, “Yeah, just a bit.”
She almost drops her books, “Hey, are you going through the lunch line?”
I shake my head, “No.”
She gives me a desperate look, “Will you please take my books for me then and find us a table.”
I nod, “Yeah, sure.”
Avery piles her books on mine, and I can feel the weight almost pushing me through the floor. I look around the cafeteria, seeing that there is only one table in the back that isn’t taken yet. I take a seat and stuff my nose into a book that I had been reading, but I cover it with a textbook to look like I’m doing homework. Avery walks over to the table and takes a seat; her tray is filled with cheese pizza, fruit cocktail, a piece of red velvet cake, and a carton of chocolate milk.
She points to the cake with her fork, “This is so awesome. You should try some. They made it special, just for today.”
I shake my head, “No, I’m fine.”
Avery shoves her fork that is mounded with cake into my face. I smack the fork out of her hand, and it clanks against the floor, “No!”
Avery looks surprised and the tables surrounding us turn towards the noise. I run out of the cafeteria into the private bathroom the music wing has as tears stream down my face. I lock the door behind me as my lungs feel heavy. I rush to the sink and grab a firm hold on both sides. My reflection smiles at me, but I don’t smile back.
My honey colored eyes are like islands surrounded with a sea of mascara and eye liner. I slide my back down the wall for support as I fall to the floor. I roll up my sleeves, running my fingers gently up and down my arms. I reach for one of my earrings in which I recently had my second holes pierced because those would be the sharpest object I could use at this moment. My ear stings as I take my earring out. The tip of my index finger taps the stud for sharpness; the point is very fine. I tease myself with it, lightly touching my skin. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I pause and press the earring into my vanilla skin, leaving beads of red at the surface. I drag it across several more times, my skin parting. I bow my head in relief. Someone knocks on the door, and I quickly snap out of my trance and look towards the sound. I realize my arm is covered in blood, so I take a long sheet of paper towel to absorb some of my mess. The paper is rough and scratchy. I apply pressure to reduce the speed of bleeding. The person knocks again while I say nothing. I look in the mirror to make sure I look alright, roll my sleeves down, and casually walk out like nothing happened.
What have I done?
Lunch is over and everyone is heading to class. Avery finds me standing off to the side.
She has a concerned look on her face, “Where did you go? Are you alright?”
My depressed face lies as I nod, “Yeah.”
Avery puts her hand on her hip, “Well I don’t think you are alright. I’ve been noticing that you’ve been different. You haven’t been yourself in a while.”
My shoulders rise and fall, “I’m fine.”
She starts walking, “Okay.”
I follow behind her, walking to my next class.
My eyebrows almost touch each other as they meet in the middle, “I thought you had biology?”
Avery nods, “Yeah, I do, but I wanted to walk you to your class.”
I gulp, “How come? We rarely walk each other to class unless it’s on the way to one of ours or if one of us has something that we want to talk about."
She sighs, “Copper, I’ve been thinking a lot about how you’ve been acting these past couple of weeks and came to a conclusion, but I don’t know if it’s right.”
I hold my breath, “And what’s that?”
She whispers in my ear, “I think you have an eating disorder.”
We look at each other straight in the eyes as it feels like a volcano erupted throughout my entire body.
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