I’m standing on top of the table in the cafeteria. It’s not just any table; it’s the popular table, my table. Well, it used to be. At the moment I’m telling off my soon to be ex-best friend because she has this horrible whiny voice that won’t stop teasing the “No-lifers” of our school. That’s what her group calls them, this so-called “friend” of mine. Basically anyone who is not sitting within ten feet of my beautifully sandaled feet is a No-lifer. Anyone within the ten feet is considered a Lifer, a popular one.
Anyways, I’ll get back to my point. I’m on top of this table, for whatever reason, about to curse out some girl that I have never even attempted to talk back to in my life. Yet, I have wished this would happen so many times. I’m not sure why I have suddenly come to the conclusion that an outburst is the only thing that will solve this problem, but I finally have.
Everyone is staring at me as if I’m a leech, a No-lifer, and a freak. This doesn’t surprise me because that’s my problem in the first place. Everyone has been looking at me like I have three heads lately. They’ve all, even my friends, been talking about me like all three of my heads were never attached to ears. They act as though I can’t hear them, as though I can’t see.
Even now Melanie’s smirking face is making my stomach twist and knot. I want to punch her instead of yelling at her but I know I don’t have the guts to do that much. I’m barely standing on these wobbling legs as it is. In a split second I find that my brain is finally getting tired of everyone staring at me. I’m tired of my feet wobbling. So I begin to open my mouth. I’m not quite sure what will come out, but I’m about to do something I have never dreamed possible.
Sigh. A slight nudge on my shoulder makes me realize it was all too good to be true. As my eyes refocus on reality I realize that I’m still sitting. At least I’m not being bumped and jolted around like normal. The group seems a bit less than rowdy today. I’m not sure what’s going on.
As I zone in on the conversation that Melanie and Samantha are having on my right, I realize that there’s a new kid in school. They’re talking about him as though he is a parasite. Whoever this poor guy is, he’s definitely a class A No-lifer in their eyes. Funny, I didn’t even notice there was anyone new today and the day’s half over already. Thank God for that fact.
It seems as if life cannot get any harder for me right now. It’s been this way for the past few months. Though Melanie and I sit loyally beside each other every day at lunch, walk to classes together, and do homework in the same group things have totally changed. I’m not sure if her attitude has gotten worse or if I’ve simply become tired of this way of life. So many times I dream of walking away, pretending this is not my table, not my group of friends, not my life. Then in the next minute I’m realizing that Melanie and the rest of my friends are all I know. They’re all I’ve ever really known.
It started back in second grade when I met Samantha. She and I became close instantly. With her she brought into my life a huge new group of friends. Her cousin’s dad and her parents were always important in our town. Children and their parents easily flocked to the two “heads” of our group. It’s always been that way, and for whatever reason no one has ever questioned the ranking order of our class’ students.
Again I’m pulled back from my mind. “So Hilary, what’s your problem today? You’ve been so off lately that it’s not even funny,” asks Melanie now that she seems to have realized I am still sitting beside her. At the instant she asks, everyone’s heads turn. Every person at the table turns to stare at me. The entire lunchroom seems quieter now and the only thing I can hear is my heart. It feels like it’s trying to beat out of my chest.
“Not much, why do you ask?” I am finally able to reply.
“You just are acting so weird,” she replies with a smirk on her face.
“Weird how? I don’t understand…”
“Well it seems to me, and the rest of us here, that you have a little secret to share. So why don’t you tell everyone? Tell them about your secret, your new crush.”
“I’m not quite sure I know what you’re talking about,” I say as my voice trails off thoughtfully.
“We know that you and Brandon are ‘together’. You might as well tell everyone that you are madly in love with the school’s new No-lifer.”
As soon as the words are out of her mouth everyone at the entire table starts to crack up laughing. I, on the other hand, am totally confused. My cheeks begin to heat as my heart races faster and faster. I know everyone is looking at me but I don’t see any of them. I’m staring at my feet instead, hoping that I lost myself in my daydreams again. Too bad I know I’m in reality this time. None of my daydreams ever turn out like this. The only similarity between now and my dreams is the fact that someone is standing up and shouting.
As I glance up, I see Melanie standing there shouting to get the entire grade’s attention. It doesn’t take long for her to accomplish. Sooner than I ever thought possible everyone’s eyes are on our table, on Melanie standing there laughing, and on her trusty sidekick Samantha. “I just wanted you all to know, that new boy Brandon is now one of the luckiest men in the world. He seems to be lucky enough to have snagged our very own, newly ranked No-lifer, Hilary.”
If the entire lunchroom wasn’t quiet before, they are now. Had my cheeks been able to get any redder, they would have right at that instant. I’m not sure what led her to think these horrible things, but my feet are quickly becoming my best friends, and my worst. As I stand up, I almost lose my balance from the dizzy feeling my head is giving me. I can’t seem to walk straight. At the same time, staring at my feet allows me to almost forget that everyone is staring at me.
Where are all of the teachers? What is happening? Why me? My brain simply won’t stop running in circles, and I feel like I’m on the verge of puking. As I race for the bathroom, I bump into someone. I don’t even look to see who it is. Instead of mumbling sorry, I grab my mouth, my stomach- and I race as fast as I can to the door on my left.
I’ll save you from the gory details of what happened next, but before I realize it, I’m curled up on the lid of the large handicap toilet. No one ever uses this one; as long as I keep my feet off the ground no one should notice me for a few hours. That’s all I have to last, I tell myself, just a few more hours.
How my life turned out this way, how I am finding myself alone, sick, and ready to die, I’m not sure. But that’s where I am and I can’t seem to find any way out of it. As my anxiety starts to take control of my body, I begin to shake. My breathing quickens and my oxygen intake slows. I place my hands over my head as I start to suffocate. I absolutely hate stupid anxiety attacks but I’ve had them since before I can even remember. I’ll make it through this one just like the rest of them… I hope.