There were the usual rumors flying about the first day of ninth grade- who dated who over the summer, who went on vacation to the Caribbean, who had lost the big V- but as I trudged down the locker-lined corridors, the giggling stopped and was replaced with whispers. Eyes followed me, but no one dared speak.
It was after third hour that the inevitable occurred. Someone tapped me, rather harshly, on the shoulder. It was one of the "perfect" girls, adored by all, angelic in every sense to her wannabes. I had plenty of reasons accumulated through my school career to loathe her.
"So," she said, trying hard not to smirk, "where's that one girl you always follow around?"
I couldn't bear to look into her face. "Elsewhere," was all I could mumble.
"Like, as in, dead?"
I briefly calculated if I were strong enough to slam her into the wall forcibly enough to cause, at the very least, bruising, but the odds were definitely stacked against me. By this time, a mob of all the prissy people had began to develop. Oooh look, let's watch the obviously grieving person get picked on.
And so I bolted. I ran out of the building, clear past the security officer who didn't notice, and I didn't stop until I was off of school grounds, past the groups of smokers skipping class. I didn't stop until I was out of breath and my sides ached. And then I sat down on the curbside and wept. Through it all, the mean girl's face loomed, a smile of sadistic delight on her face. Somehow, I knew she was thinking, One down, one more to go.