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So much screaming.
I start awake, panting. My skin is wet, so wet that it sticks to my thin blankets in a cold sweat. I pant even more. I can’t take it anymore… Every night… These dreams. I feel the rising in my throat even before I see it. Leaning over my bed, the rotten taste wells up in my throat before it explodes.
I keep panting, the sickening taste of it still in my mouth. I can’t hold it in any longer:
Jenna comes before mom does. She leans in the room, her black hair awry, then seeing the gooish mess, calls my mom. “IT HAPPENED AGAIN!” she hollered. My mom appeared beside her, hugging her robes close to her body. Muttering a few curse words, she set to work, taking the bucket and washing it in my bathroom sink, then cleaning the edges of the sink tenderly.
Jenna stands warily by the door, peering in, trying not to get within 20 feet of me. “What was the dream this time?”
I open my mouth to answer, but mom cuts me off, “Jenna, honey, Mandy isn’t feeling well. Why don’t you go back to bed?”
Jenna scrunched her eyebrows together. “But I’m not-” she looked at me, ashen faced and sweaty, then changed her mind “-Ever going to pass up a chance to sleep! I’ll go right now!” She rushed away, and I could hear her hurried footsteps as she ran for the safety of her room.
“Honey… Are you okay?”
I turned to mom. No, I wanted to say, I’m not okay at all! But I couldn’t bring myself to say that. “Yeah. I just… Have to sleep.”
“Do you think you can go to school tomorrow? Because you have no fever.”
I few images flashed through my mind: Giana in Gucci laughing at me, Anna smirking from behind; a bespectacled girl smiling and holding out her hand; and a terrifying scream. “Yeah,” I answered, trying to brush it off. “Yeah, I can.”
She leaves, and turns the light off as she goes. I don’t want her to leave; I don’t want her to leave me in the dark. I don’t want to see the dreams again.
I didn’t sleep at all, and I intended to regain some of that sleep during Algebra. However, the teacher caught me, and since he thought he was a riot, he started to make comments like, “Awww… She’s sooo cute when she sleeps! Almost as a cute as a pig!” One of the kids in my class chirped in, “She is a pig!” Everyone laughed at that, so I had to force a smile.
What a riot.
I was leaving class, when I “bumped into” Giana, and she “accidently” pushed my binder down, so papers fluttered everywhere, like a snowstorm. Out of habit, I screamed a word I was supposed to, so my teacher assigned me lunch detention.
Giana walked out with Anna, laughing.
The rest of my day went downhill from there: my science teacher decided to talk about bullying, and the whole time she was looking at me with an apologetic stare; my English teacher paired me up with Jack the Jock for the upcoming report on The Scarlet Letter, so now I’m doing the whole thing myself; and in Social Studies, I met the new girl.
I didn’t see her at first; she was short and had cropped brown hair and glasses. Somehow, she reminded me of an anime girl that Jenna would draw. She seemed to blend into the shadows, so I nearly missed her.
The teacher was listing off partners for a new unit on Ancient Cultures. “Amanda and Erin,” she announced finally. I turned around. I had never seen anyone named Erin in our school. I had never heard of someone named Erin in our school.
“Hi!” A voice greeted. I turned around, to find her there, the girl with brown hair plaited down her back and brown eyes the color of chocolate. She was was wearing thick-rimmed, dark black glasses and was wearing a short brown dress and moccasins. “I’m Erin! You’re Amanda, right?!” She looked exactly like the girl I had seen that morning; the one in the vision.
I nodded. She was too peppy for me to respond in words. “I absolutely love Ancient Cultures! Greece is particularly interesting! Their gods are so cool!” she proceeded, not noticing my reluctance, “I absolutely can’t believe what life must’ve been like in Ancient Greece! Egypt, however…” She noticed me staring, with my mouth hanging open. I had never seen someone in our school ever be so happy and talkative.
“Oh, looks like the two misfits found their soulmates!” Someone behind me snickered. I turned around, to find myself nose-to-nose job with Giana. “In case you don’t know each other, I’ll introduce you,” she continued. “Freakshow, this is Nerd, Nerd, this is Freakshow.” She leaned over to Erin and whispered in her ear, loud enough for me to hear, “Watch out; she’s crazy.” Then she smiled at me with bleached-so-white-they’re-blue teeth and waved her hand, so that the bracelets up and down her arm jangled. Anna laughed behind her. Then, they sashayed off, to join their partners, probably someone on the football or soccer team.
Erin watched Giana’s blond hair disappear among the crowd of students, then turned to me. “Crazy?” she asked.
“Nerd?” I retorted.
She blushed, then turned away, and soon got lost in the crowd of students.
I watched her go. One more person scared of me. One more person who hates my guts. I probably would hate myself, too, if I met myself. That’s when I heard it: The scream.
The one I had heard in my dream.
The one screaming the word I could never get out of my head; the one word that made me feel sick to my stomach whenever I heard it. I couldn’t escape it. It was me.
Giana called me Freakshow. Anna called me Psycho and Loser. I wasn’t either of those. I wish I was. I was something else, completely.