A Mask


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
Yesterday didn’t work out so well for me in prompt-land.  I failed a bit at the timing of it all, which is unfortunate, but it got me to write anyways, which is always a plus.  This week on Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood challenge, the prompt was to use an antagonist.  So I’m introducing a character, one who must definitely have been encountered before, but who hasn’t been mentioned before in any of the pieces of the story I’ve written before.  She must have existed in this story, though – she’s in every high school.

In the name of clarifying storylines, I’ve got a new tab up top for stories.  If you’re just starting to read this (or just very confused at the pieces you’ve read so far), that tab is the ideal location in which to find all the pieces of this story in order of how they ought to be read, as opposed to the order in which I wrote them.  This prompt response is in the “The Necessary” storyline, right after “So Blue“.

Head over to Write on Edge to submit your own responses, and to read the other ones.  Click on the image below to see more from the artist who did it.

I felt an immense sense of relief at being on speaking terms again.  We linked arms and headed towards second period, having missed the entire first with catching up and apologies and waiting for my face to stop being splotchy and terrible from crying.

I peered in through the door at the class still in session and joined Joanna on the floor nearby.

How sweet, the Lezbos have kissed and made up.”

God, I hate her.

Jessica smirked down at us, one hip jutted forward in her designer jeans, perfectly manicured fingers hooked in the belt loops.  Her cronies did their best to match her pose, smug in their safety behind the firing line.

Joanna, as always, remained serene.  “Sorry, Jess, I know you were hoping to be my rebound.”

I was proud of Joanna and jealous at the same time.  I wish I was as confident.

“Whatevs, freak.”  She dismissed Joanna with a roll of her eyes and cocked her head at me.  “Trying red, yonkers?”  She casually pushed a strand of her own deep auburn hair behind her ear.  “I’d suggest that you try something less… fire engine… but I really don’t think any hair colour will help to make you look like anything more than a hayseed.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery, though, so, thanks, I guess.”

I blushed, my hand going up as though to cover the bright colour.

Jessica snorted derisively and exchanged a satisfied look with her entourage.

She’s such a bully.  I wished desperately that I could call her on it.

I thought back to the tree woman, her confidence a force of nature, her personality bludgeoning even Joanna into submission.  Vibrant and warlike, her entire tree fighting to protect a single leaf.  And I stood up.

“Hey, Jess – your roots are showing.  I would give you my hairdresser’s name, but she doesn’t deal with homophobes.”

It was her turn to redden, but hers was anger.  She snarled, perfect white teeth clenched, “I do not dye my hair.”

It was my turn to roll my eyes and smirk.  Inside I quaked.  I hoped desperately to cling to this fragile mask long enough to get out of Jessica’s way.

“Interesting, you think your big dye secret is the important one to protect.  You try to make me feel bad for being myself and for expressing myself, and you call me gay like it’s a bad thing.”  I stepped forward, she retreated.  “Considering how many people go to this school, I’m betting at least a few are gay.  I’m tired of hearing your nastiness, and I’m sure they are, too.”

Her minions avoided eye contact with her as she scanned the crowd for a teammate.

“Alright, let’s break up this social circle and get to learning.”

The spell was broken, Mr. Sherbrooke at the door of his room, gesturing us in.

I could feel the strength draining out of me, my hands shaking at my sides.  Jessica’s hate-filled glare singeing my back.

Was it worth it?

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22 Comments

  1. What a bitch! I would change ‘teammate’ to ‘backup’ though, considering you used the word ‘minion’…
    Also, don’t you hate that a great deal of what you can/could say to a bully to let them know that they’re being a bully can backfire? Simply saying it outright would be ‘childish’ you can’t exactly say that no one agrees/likes them/whatever because, as a bully, they will make sure they have back up for that..
    But all that aside, I want to slap this girl! Also give a hug to your MC…

    • ooh, backup. That’s a good point.
      and yup, even when you do think of something to say to the bully, you don’t always have the courage to say it to them, and if you do, it might not work out. This time, it did, though 🙂

      • That’s the problem, because bullies always seem to have a posse of minions who will back up everything they say, except on odd occasions (as you showed here) 😦
        One other thing, if you are going to have a particular ‘bad guy’, is always best to have them be remotely likeable, or understandable. I can see you going many ways with this bully character, and while I don’t want to like her in the least, speaking in character development and whatnot, something redeeming or reasonable should probably be there.
        That’s one issue I have with a lot of Peanut’s stories, she has the villain, but doesn’t explain why they are the way they are, or they are too flat and easily identified…
        Perhaps that’s why I like Moriarty so much 😀

        • *glances around in mysterious manner* her character will be expanded on, you’ll see…
          After all – every bully has some kind of issue, don’t they? 😀

  2. I hated when my kids went to Jr and Sr high school, so much drama, It seemed the bullies weren’t girls when I went to school. But we all wish we could come up with something good, when folks are spewing venom.

    • I found most of the nastier people at elementary and highschool were girls. It might be because my classes in elementary school had 5 guys (out of 30), or I just met a lot of girls who thought the best way to feel better about themselves was to put everyone else down.
      I always think of the things I should have said after the moment is gone – usually as I try to go to sleep that night, wishing I could replay that scene, without ending up the ‘loser’ of the battle of words.

  3. Lance

     /  March 16, 2012

    I have a 16-year-old daughter who rocks her cheerleading team. I know this feeling, and this atmosphere.

    Anyway, I loved the dialogue. You made me care and you made me wish there were 500 more words. Good work.

    • Hopefully she doesn’t run into the nastiness too much, though if she does, I’m sure she’s good at protecting herself.
      Thank you! I’m glad the characters are real enough to take an interest in.

  4. Great YA subject matter! Much needed. The dialogue flowed and kept me reading effortlessly. Great job!

  5. I think you did a good job on this one.

  6. Kids can be so mean! Brings back memories of being picked on. The dialogue was believable and I enjoyed reading it.

    • They really can. Never once have I thought, “I wish I was back in highschool/elementary school”… it is nice to be out of that particular arena.
      thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Hi, I agree with Denise above. Effortless and flowing read. It stands on its own, no prompt needed. I liked the way you were able to flush out so many characters in this brief scene.

    • thanks. Those newer characters will likely show up again (though possibly in ‘earlier’ scenes to build the bully into the terror she ought to be.)

  8. As usual, you capture it perfectly. God how I hate bullies, but the best way to combat them is to stand up to them. Your character did it perfectly.

    It is going to be a great book!

  9. I’m pretty sure there is no amount of money that could convince me to go back to that time……. even though this was not my experience, I still hated it. Nice piece, though. Some of those mean girls never actually grown up……..

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