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?