I push forward, but the thing behind closes the distance: fear personified, illusion turned true. It pulls me down, and I fight back as hard as I can, but it is simply too strong. I start to sink. Laughter turn into gasps. I try to scream, but only half-hearted bubbles rise to the surface.
It was just like last time: a croak, possibly another fall, maybe a stream of tears to follow. Her father’s eyes were half-open, and his lips slightly apart. Isabella couldn’t bear to look at him. She did what she was told to do. So now what? What about later? What if the illness overtook him once and for all?
It was rather because it reminded her of the girl that abandoned her friend when she most needed her, the girl that left behind a trail of pain, anger, and hate behind her. That’s the Marie Sauer everyone said she was, at least.
She met him last week when he had an empty seat next to him then. He always had an empty seat next to him. Sahar had no idea how he managed that. Some people were magnets, she supposed, in a world full of magnets.
But something happened. I found myself a friend. That weird kid who stutters when she gets nervous, who gets called insensitive for reasons she can’t help herself, she found herself a friend. My friend was the first person I had a conversation with other than hello and what is your next class.
But I can’t pretend to know her because I don’t, not even after all those years. So intimidation gets the best of me. I’m not her. I have no friends other than Cadence, if I can even call her that now. I’m vulnerable. I know I am in no position to challenge anyone. She has nothing to lose, but I do.
Parties. I have no business to do with parties. They’re too loud, too populated, too everything. House parties? They’re the worst. A sensible version of me would’ve declared ”no” in her best friend’s face, left her to be happy with her handsome boyfriend, and called it a day. But no, such version of me does not exist, and I know that too well.
I cross my arms and wait. Five minutes. Ten. Before we know it, we’re both crying. Me because I don’t want her here, to take the good out of the equation. Her because she is delusional and wants something from me that she had lost for herself a long, long time ago.
Wilma knew next to nothing about fashion or business, first of all. But she stayed because she had an obligation. Not because she would be betraying her grandmother if she didn’t. The store was a shell of her grandmother’s existence. To close it would be removing her from her self-designed history book.
Hassan unconsciously reached for the hem of his uniform, which was blue and had yellow smiley faces plastered all over it. It was painful to look at, more so to have it on. He tugged at it desperately. Apparently, getting to wear the right size was not the kind of privilege an average employee got to have.