"Hey, where did you get your nose job?"

"How did you get so white? How much did you pay for it?"

Crap. I'm at school again. And instead of hearing people's good morning greetings, I got questions like that. Such a waste. What a prestigious school to be filled with judgmental and crappy students. I walked past through those people asking nonsense and tried my best to ignore them. I had to keep it in. It's useless anyway; it wouldn't be worth it to bruise my knuckles over some stupid airheads. Two weeks ago, I was very successful in keeping low profile. But now, the whole student body knows my existence. And it is not a good one. That day from two weeks ago? That was by far the worst day of my life…ever.

….2 weeks ago…

I let the hot shower warm my chilly bones. I was drawing hearts of different sizes on the steam-covered glass door and before I knew it, it was another morning again. Two months ago, I would already have been eating breakfast cooked by Granny at this time of the day. But since I'm now living "somewhat" independently, things have changed and I have developed a bad habit of pressing the snooze button about 5 times before finally getting off bed. Moving out of my grandparents' house was my choice because I thought it would be nice to finish high school in the Metro where everything is fast-paced. Compared to how relaxed the ambiance is at countryside, I had to adjust with how nocturnal it is here. It's good though. My mind had been a lot busier. I got less time to focus on my insecurities and I've been doing pretty great in trying not to focus on the physical 85% of the time. Well, you couldn't blame a bullied kid for being fat. It was not a nice memory to think about how the other kids used to laugh at me for having more flesh than everybody else. It was my grandmother who raised and took care of me. And when I said, "took care", she really did take care of me and fed me with her scrumptious dishes. After all, I am her only grandchild. My parents died in an accident when I was still a baby and Dad was their only son. Crying because of other kids' harsh words, I started running to lose the unwanted pounds but later found my love for it. When I run, it feels like nothing else matters but the speed of my heartbeat and the cold wind brushing my face. It's that time when complete silence isn't deafening. The horror still lingers, though. And I thought being in this new place was my chance. To become a stronger version of myself.

"Brriiii!" a shrieking voice came from outside the bathroom. I slipped my finger and a heart I was drawing ended up looking like a spear. Oh shit, Carla.

"Hurry up or we're going to be late for class!" she added.

"Coming!" I answered as I hurriedly turned off the shower and dried myself up. After 8 minutes or so, I'm all dressed. It's Wednesday so we can just wear casual clothes to class. My usual get up: a pair of black leggings, a white tank top, an oversized denim jacket, and my overused Keds. Patted on a slight cheek tint and I was set. I'm always pale. I stepped out of the bathroom and found Carla eating at the dining table.

"Toast? Banana? Coffee?" she asked, raising her eyebrows. But I only smiled and grabbed a cup of coffee.

"How can you properly function in the morning if you'd only fill your tummy with caffeine?" she sighed, biting into her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I let out a little laugh, a sleepy laugh, "You know how I am not a morning person right?" I'm never a morning person

"That's what I don't get. You're a runner and most runners run at dawn..not at dusk! Your kinda weird, Bri" Carla laughs. Right, I usually run at night whenever I want to clear my mind. I run around the school campus. It doesn't scare me. Our university has a tight security and not everyone can just come in. After all, they have a mandated rule on living in the school dorms for the students.

I just smiled at her. Didn't bother answering her question. Carla's also the same age as me and she's the kind of person I needed the most to be with. She's very positive and happy most of the time. For the past 2 months I've been with her, never had I seen her with her spirits down. We became friends instantly and she was the one who introduced me to the others and to different places when I was still new in town. Unlike me, she grew up here in the city so she has this certain level of confidence that I have yet to achieve. She even sometimes acts like a big sister to me. She'd always tell me that she had always wanted to have a little sister since she's the youngest child and has two older brothers. That must be the reason.

I wandered my eyes around our dorm room (I would actually call it a suite) as I sipped on my freshly brewed cappuccino. It's still surreal for me. It was like a hotel. White curtains that reach the floor. White walls. High ceiling. Two queen-sized beds covered with soft pink sheets and fluffy multi-colored pillows. Under our beds was a carpeted floor area. The wall lights can be changed from white to soft yellow. Then there's the mighty couch where I could forever sit on. No TV, though. It isn't allowed inside the rooms. TVs are in the recreational area. I could live in this place forever. After all, our fees are unbelievably high…almost unreasonable. I'm so lucky to have grandparents that have a fortune. How greedy, Bri. Anyway, the coffee was useless. I dragged myself to school with the very enthusiastic Carla by my side. I was still half asleep.

It's super early and I came across a weird sight. There was a crowd of students piling in front of the bulletin boards. I heard a mix of laughter, whispers, gasps, and blurred conversations. Out of curiosity, I also wanted to see what the commotion is all about but Carla was in a hurry to finish a forgotten homework so she went ahead first. I made my way into the sea of people, shielding my body from elbows on both sides. Then my jaw dropped. How is this possible? How could anybody do this? I saw a picture of myself. Not just any picture, but a picture of me in my freshman year. There I was…about 40 pounds overweight, tan—almost black, braces, and my hair in braided pigtails. I was smiling so big that it almost looked scary. God, who would do this?! And where did he or she get this photo?! I only have 1 copy of this photo…in my wallet. Which apparently is missing. Its only purpose was to keep me inspired and motivated to not look like that ever again…not to become a public item! But how?! Then there was silence. Until everyone turned their heads toward me. Crap. I'm wearing the same necklace the fat girl was wearing on the photo.

"Bri? Is that you?!" A girl from History class asked…a bit too loud.

I was frozen. I couldn't even make one step. I felt cold sweats running down my temple. I answered her with just a blank look.

"It is her! See that necklace? She's wearing it now!" Another girl shouted. Oh c'mon. Then more questions followed. It was a blur.

"You got liposuction?" , "Who's you doctor?", "How much did you spend?"

I stood still. I heard my heartbeat through my ears. This was the first time I wanted the ground to swallow me up so bad. My hands were knuckled up, ready to punch just anybody. I felt a painful lump forming in my throat. I wanted to scream but at the same time, I didn't want to, then I took and deep breath and closed my eyes…

"YES THAT'S ME! IT WAS FROM 3 YEARS AGO! SO? COULDN'T ANYONE GET THINNER BY GOOD' OL RUNNING?! I DIDN'T GO THROUGH UNDER THE KNIFE FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! YUG JUDGMENTAL SUCKERS!" God where did that come from? Holy crap. My heart was beating too fast. I was really angry. I wanted to cry but the adrenaline was kicking really high.

Then I started hearing laughter.

"WHO WOULD-" A splash of iced coffee on the face stopped me from finishing my sentence.

"Nobody asked you to speak up, Artificial Woman!" a girl holding an empty plastic cup snorted. Then it was followed with more laughter. I really wanted to cry but all I was able to manage was a glare. But before I could speak another word, I heard a familiar voice from behind me. "Stop messing around." And quickly, someone grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the shame pit hole. It felt like my feet were moving on its own. The grip was too tight that it felt like my arm was about to fall off my shoulder.


Then I got my arm back again. Since I was literally dragged away, I wasn't able to see who it was. I looked up. It was a surprise that it left me blinking.

"God, it's so early and you are making a lot of noise already. How annoying." What? So he dragged me away from that place because I was being noisy? Great, I thought it was because he wanted to save me. And he walked away. I wanted to tell him exactly what my mind was blabbering about but I kept silent. He left me outside the nearest ladies' bathroom, dumbfounded and clearly unattached to the real world. That was when things got a bit crazier. And when I started to unconsciously pay more attention to him.

End of flashback…