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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2046137
A thirteen year old is the odd one out and feels unloved
Troy, Michigan.
22nd June 2015

How stupid to be pouring out confidences, when there's no one to listen. But, what can I do?

Nobody loves me, nobody.

Wait, that sounds as if I have a lover who is a nobody.

Well, cut out the drama, all I mean is that in my loving family there's very little of that love being doled out in my direction. I am tired of being the bad child, just because I am not as good as the better ones.

I don't know much about Pru, she's more than ten years my senior and moved out of the house when I was barely six. But to hear the parents talk you'd think she was potty-trained from birth and spouting nursery rhymes before cutting her teeth. They must have been psychic when naming her. Now nearing the end of her medical studies and likely to be in the top three academically, she combines that with captaining the University tennis team.

But, at least she's not in my face, even if she is held up as the Holy Grail, on the Quest to Being a Perfect Child!

It's Stupendous Stephen who gives me that electric flash of irritation, like the teeth-jarring jolt when you bite into a too-frozen chunk of ice cream. I wouldn't have liked him even if he wasn't this constant mote in my eye, even if he wasn't my brother, not for all his popularity in school. I like the middlers best, normal people, who are people nevertheless.

Those dreamy eyes and that sweep of eyelashes which would look good on Scarlett Johanssen - they send his class girls into a mooning fit. I wonder he's pitched as perfect a score there as he's done on the baseball field - he's had two team scouts already after him.

He's not going to turn pro though - he is going to get his degree first, as Dad loses no opportunity to boast to every new acquaintance, 'he has his head screwed on right, after all, he'll take over the business from me.'

And yes, he's been another perfect child, no colic for this marvel, not even one red spot of any childhood illness, no temper tantrums; this kid was terrific when two.

You'd think having one perfect daughter and one perfect son would have been enough for any family, but nooooooooo .... mine had tried their luck again, and this time the Evil Fairy had decided to come along. No nonsense about dying or being cursed to be an ogress, no, she said that I would be ordinary.

Plain. Ordinary. That's a curse in a family with knockout looks and all round over-achievement. That, combined with the stupid name they chose: Angelina, was enough to doom me to nothingness. I fear to tread where angels flutter by.

I have wound my dead straight hair around my fingers until the fingers turn blue and throb with pain, but not a hint of curl has ever resulted. I now wear it in a pixie cut, just so I shan't have to be told to 'do something with it' as it flies around my shoulders in an untidy cascade.

Black hair, brown eyes so dark as to be nearly black too, they just cannot compete with brunette swirls and toffee-gold eyes, or a rich chestnut crop and amber eyes. If you can tolerate the angst that gives rise to mixed metaphor - there might one day, be a swan, arising from this pile of ashes, but right now, Pudgy and Shrimp are natural nicknames.

I'd mind it less, if they had ever held up some redeeming feature for praise, my teeth are even, when I try out a tentative smile in the mirror, it looks fine to me. But, there's little enough occasion for my smile to appear; and they'd play fourth fiddle to Steve's dimples.

Or my feet: small, with high arches and delicate ankles - in the Victorian era one could have married on the strength of 'well turned ankles'. But, alas, today, there's more call for other obvious assets, those that scream femme fatale. I don't qualify even for femme.

It's not as though I have no friends, after all there's little room in the middle, unlike the rarefied zenith, so many of us jostle there in one conglomerate muddle of indistinctness. We have to band together and we find similar interests to form smaller groups in there. It might be rejects from the school band, who like music enough to trade discs or pen-drives with playlists, or maybe Drama Hopefuls who are told they are hopeless, but enjoy acting things out amongst themselves.

Or, it could be dabblers in art and words, like myself, on the fringe of being good, who can exchange views on their attempts in that direction. So, I journal and do these little cartoon panels, all of them feature in it, from Wonderboy and Pluperfect Pru to MaaKali (that's based on an Indian deity who is multi-armed, needs sacrifices to be appeased and who deals out heavy punishment, fits Mom to a T) and Dangerous Dandy (Dad, a dapper and natty dresser, always) - whose weapons are a laser pointer and a universal remote control.

I have a best friend, he too is afflicted with a difficult name - Santino, and lord knows he is no saint. He is the only child of a Latino family, and all his uncles and aunts, he says he has thirteen in all, have four kids or more - talk of heirs and spares. All the hopes of his parents rest on this one pair of thin shoulders; he'll need to get a Nobel Prize and a Purple Heart to top the collective bragging of his extended family.

It was he who suggested I answer only to Lina. He too had modified his name to suit his personality better.

Sunny and I, we do a joint cartoon now. I have been expanding on them with input from him, he's great at the dialogues and I do the entire pen and ink stuff. We've got the Principal in there, he's a mob boss called El Monstruo, the staff stray in and out, and we even have some of our classmates immortalized. The typical ones: beautiful CuBe, (pronounced Qu-bee, as she snootily informs us when she first appears), the bully pack - Extractor, Detractor, and Neg-o-dent (he's a carping complaining guy with bad teeth and an attitude that matches) - oh, it's been such catharsis.

At least here, in these doodles and scribbles, we're able to star, Mano Ordo and Sheila Playn, we have adventures where we outwit these so called powerful creatures, with nothing more than commonsense.

Well, pride goes before a fall, all right. We have been getting pretty cocky lately and had bound about 25-35 panels, made a storyline of sorts - like a comic book, signed with our real names at the bottom.

That's not the bad part, not yet.

It's our habit to hide it at the bottom of either of our backpacks and take it out at recess and snigger as the real life characters live up to the reputations we have given them. Just to hear Neville whining about some test he should have aced but the moron teaching is biased against him and to glance at the panel where Neg-o-dent's griping about how he could have defeated the latest monster if only he had access to modern gadgetry like the privileged Wonder Boy does - oh, it gives one such a delicious thrill.

Yesterday, though, we had an unrehearsed evacuation drill, we have one around 2 or 3 times every term. The first rule is: Drop whatever you are doing.

We were in Science Lab, with Hexapod - Insect Woman. Well, that's what we call our teacher, because she wears these outsize round glasses, with thick lenses that give her the look of a giant mantis. What with the magnified orbs and the myriad holders and extensible arms she always uses to handle test tubes and glass ware, we just can't resist the allusion.

She is one of the good guys though; one cannot have all villainous characters, can we? Hexa gives valuable Intel after reconnaissance sweeps.

Back to my relation - the bweep-bweep-bweep of the alarm designating the drill was backed up by an exhortation from Hexa, "Children, be quick, but no pushing and shoving, mind. Form an orderly line, move to the stairs beyond the Library and make your way to the East refuge area.'

We had the routine down pat, happy to have some break from the information overload that is education, Sunny and I flung back our chairs and were more or less the first out of class.

Yeah, the rear exit is closer to the stairs; the scholars, studs and belles bag seats at the front. The really backward huddle in the middle, as the teachers call them forward if they try to hide at the back and we middle-of-the-roadies sit at the back.

It was pleasant enough to stand in the warmth, a faint breeze tickling the back of my neck, waiting for the shrill sound of the all-clear signal. We had fifteen minutes in the sun, our dose of Vitamin D for the day.

When it was over, we all rushed back to the Lab for our bags and paraphernalia, racing to the next class. Here's the tragedy: When break came, neither of us could find the comic in our packs. Nary one dog's-ear to be seen.

Today we had Lab in the last period and we knew we were in trouble. Hexa's eyes had this glitter, her gaze impaled us however much we twisted and wriggled in our seats, slouching this way and that to avoid being in the line of sight.

The demonstration was winding to an end, we were finishing journal entries when Hexa announced, "Angelina Croft, Santino Chavez, please stay back, I want to talk to you.

Sissy, a shoo-in for Miss-Ann-Arbor-in-the-future, had a smirk on her face as she heard this. She was happy to see anyone get in trouble; like the mafia hood said - it was nothing personal. I gave her a brilliant smile, as though we were to be singled out for some honor rather then be read some version of the riot act; it was enough to make her smile waver into an uncertain grimace.

Why can't someone, just once, be on our side? Charlie, our class dunce, gets sympathetic smiles from her. Not that he should not, but why are we pariahs?

It went from bad, to really bad, in two shakes of a test-tube. Apparently Hexa had found our comic, fallen, near the rear door, yesterday.

She held it up, other than the crinkles and dog-ears, it now had some dusty footprints across the front, it sure looked reprehensible.

"I presume this work is yours?"

She was a shade of reddish-purple.

"Hrrrgh!" She was choking.

Dear God, Hexa, please don't die of indignation!

But she was whipping off those glasses to wipe away tears from her eyes, she was ... yes, she was smiling!

"Children, this is dynamite. I had so much fun reading it ... but...."

Of course, there had to be a but ... like - but you're suspended for two weeks.

"Absolute caricatures are safer when you're famous, stick to one or two traits of similarity for now. You two have a real talent, take current affairs, tie it into school happenings and I can guarantee you publication in the town newspaper."

Sunny and I must have stammered out some response, for she kept us in for another few minutes and suggested a few politically correct variations, no point rubbing when ribbing, whether in school or at home.

She had one last bit of advice.

"Use pseudonyms of course."

Of course!

And I know that although this changes nothing in real life, at least my alter ego is loved.

That's enough, for now.

Word count: 1991

Written for:

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