Excerpt/Preview/Prologue - Enthusiastic::

I walked in the door of the detached portable and was instantaneously ridiculed. For what? Being happy, spirited, and enthusiastic? I took my seat at the same time as so many others, but why did I feel so alone, so out of the blue? My heart itself quivered as I sat down slowly in front of, beside, around my mockers. A simple thing I said or did set them off, as usual. Not even an unreasonable comment. Honest.

Again, that same one, the one who had hurled the same insults at me for the past five years, whispered undermining thoughts in my ear like the devil. Not at all saying he was the devil, he had a soul, felt something when I retaliated, was taken aback when rebuked. But in this moment, as he made me look as a fool in front of the people I barely knew, who barely knew me, I couldn't help hating him.

They laughed along with him. Again, I was at a loss for a good reason why they did this.

Judgment, it surrounded me, and I was helpless. But tears, anger, and frustration- those things would only egg them on. So I kept my mouth shut, containing the typical, dramatic freshman outburst any upper-classman would expect. I was not about to be the typical teenage girl. I could handle myself. I would not break right away, like they wanted. I waited… I waited until the main ruckus had subsided and only the occasional jab remained. I raised my hand and was excused from the class. I stood up straight, composed on the outside.

I stepped out the door, the cold wind always piercing, but better than their icy stairs. I kept myself from running to the bathroom, for fear of them seeing me. Instead, I walked quietly passed the open windows of the other classrooms. With my head down, I tried to control my hasty speed as my eyes began to sting. Rushing, my breath came in gasps and I forced away the "ugly cry" that I was so terrified of. No one had seen me cry like that, or anything like it, since elementary school, and I was not going to let it happen now. But, sincerely, crying now was the only escape.

Why, suddenly, I had no one. No one to listen to me. I had been a fool in the first place to believe that he, or she, or them had any concern for pathetic little me. And as I stared at my blushing reflection, I lost more and more hope that I would ever find another friend like that again. God was my only confidant now. No one else really cared. They already thought I had the perfect life. That I was perfect enough without their help.

My face was blotchy, and every now and then, through blurry vision, I caught a glimpse of the pitiful thing that was me. The tears had never been as evident as they were when they caught the corners of my red eyes and slid down my cheeks. I blinked a salty drop back once and it fell directly to the ground with an echoing plop. I stared, vacantly, no emotion now, just tears. I realized that if I weren't me, and I saw me, I wouldn't feel very much empathy either. I was a mess. A train wreck. I was lost in an unfamiliar place with no one there as my guide. I was alone.

I was too full inside, with emotion and with words that no one would listen to. And yet I was also empty, uncaring, I could die.

The longer I watched myself the more revulsion rose up inside my stomach. I swallowed that lump, classically, rising in my throat. I wanted to slap something. Myself, mostly. Maybe they were all right in the present, and the past had been wrong. I couldn't look at myself any longer. I wiped my face with both hands- clammy. My mouth quivered as I thought more, so I stopped thinking and opened the door from the bathroom to the hallway. I wondered how much class time was left, if I could stay a little longer. But no, if I didn't return soon, they would have another reason to tease, to humiliate.

"Hey." The voice said, audibly smiling. "Marie." It was all the way down the hall and still, it caught my attention. I looked up to see Ross, a reliable friend, the senior in my last period class. He was tall, much taller than I. We had grown rather close over the last semester; he seemed to be the friendly type- you know- protective.

I struggled to reply, say hello, and act like nothing was wrong. He had been there for me a time or two, and I could hide tears, but I couldn't change my face from the "been crying" phase.

"How are you?" He asked this now, and every day before now. I was trying to remember a time that phrase had ever held meaning. Maybe today. Something in his lively voice though, was missing. This wasn't the same fun guy in my favorite class.

The thoughts again rolled in my head. You're stupid… worthless… unimportant. And I couldn't disagree. So I put my head in my hands and cried, and Ross did the one thing I had needed someone to do, he wrapped his arms around me and said: It's gonna be okay. It's gonna be okay. It's all gonna be okay.

I was torn. My heart- broken. Ross was, right now, filling the emptiness my brother left behind. I was an orphan, metaphorically anyway. Lost, and for all I knew Ross didn't really care. But he was taking me in, physically, maybe emotionally, doubtingly forever. He was my brother now, he had obviously treated me like a sister anyway, since we had met: threatening to break my arm, hugging me, violently messing up my hair. But was I to him. He had bigger, tougher problems to conquer than helping me with my own. College, for one.

I felt vulnerable, almost worse than before. But as I said, he was friendly, open, and not the typical rough-tough-cool senior. I cried harder into his shoulder but I don't think he cared too much that I could possibly get makeup on his jacket. I felt fooled, tricked, guilty that I was replacing my brother like this. But he wasn't here, and Ross. I was selfish, after all, that I wanted someone there for me at all times.

But all I knew was I needed a real friend, and when my cries became softer, he said, like he was reading my mind. Don't be stupid and compromise your morals. A good friend will come. I've been in your position before. And he was crying with me.