Torn Petals

I walk past her, sitting on the school's front steps, and sometimes I don't even recognise her. Her hair is dark mahogany, dull blond roots showing through, her once light blue eyes shadowed to a stormy grey and her clothes are unattractive, baggy and ripped.

She sits sprawled across the steps, headphones blocking the world and a cigarette resting in her fingers. Every morning, without fail, she's there, smoking and scowling, usually stoned or pissed, sometimes both. Every now and then she looks at me, and I smile slightly, but her eyes are glazed and cloudy, the only emotion to be read in them the weed she gets from her guy downtown. She usually gets sent home around midday, when the teachers figure out that she isn't sobering up.

She wasn't always like this. She used to be different; pure, kind of, and... clean. Like those floors, white tiles stretching and not a smudge of dirt on them. She used to have pale blonde hair reaching down to the middle of her back, big, light blue eyes, and pastel clothes. I sort of went through this stage, of matching an object to every one I met, and the minute I saw her, I knew what she was: she was a daisy, one of those big, wild ones; long, pure green stalk, flawless, snowy white petals and a golden centre.

I remember the day all that changed. It was all so sudden; one day a little rich girl was sitting in the seat two rows behind me, the next a stoned, aged loser. She walked into second period late, headphones on and glaring as the entire class descended into whispers. It looked she'd gone home and just... hacked at herself, torn away everything she was and rebuilt it as carelessly as possible.

Her hair was badly dyed, blond streaks still showing through underneath the newly dark strands, and unevenly sliced off to shoulder length. Her eyes were ringed with eyeliner, the rest of her face bare and vulnerable. She was wearing a pair of baggy black jeans, one of the pockets ripped off and the ends already torn, and a dark t-shirt completely covered her top half, concealing her curves.

As she dropped into her seat, no one mentioned the dried tear tracks staining her face.

I don't know what happened to her; no one does. They rumour whisper that her parents died, or that her sister killed herself. They murmur hush that she went insane, that she just snapped and her mind stopped working.

And when their minds turn to her more seriously, they remind each other of the night she ran from Luke's party, skirt missing and top ripped down the middle. Their mouths shut, but their minds scream; scream that she was raped, used once and then destroyed.

And she's never been the same again. When I look at her now, squinting on those school steps as smoke curls from her mouth, I remember the daisy I pictured. Now it lies in my mind, stalk bent and crushed into the grass. Now when I see her, one thought fills me:

She looks like someone tore the petals off of her.