Masks

the names each person gives us are masks to hide our true faces

It was an average Tuesday morning. The bus pulled up right on time at 6:50 A.M. I slid into the fifth seat on the left row behind Ridiculously Happy Couple. Happy Couple were leaning on each other and making out.

I was proud of myself because today I had gotten up early enough to do my hair, dropping Weird Ponytail Girl and becoming Average Brunette.

A decently sized crowd of people crammed on at the next stop. We rumbled and screeched down the roads, collecting students like dirty laundry or spare change on the street. At the last stop, Skull Hat and some Random Kid got on. Skull Hat always looked slightly manic: skull covered hat jammed over his ears protecting a mass of greasy curls, large eyes, and huge round glasses.

The bus unloaded students like a dandelion puff blowing away seeds. The overly friendly bus driver made a point of saying "Have a nice day!" to everybody. I shuffled to my locker, opened it by muscle memory, and pulled out the books I would need by barely looking at them. Trudging upstairs, I slid out a cushy red chair at the library and willed myself not to fall asleep so I could finish the last of my math homework before school started. I scraped out the last few problems just as the bell for first period rang.

Not Really Emo Girl and Short Chick were already in their seats. Mrs. Inconsistencies droned about pronouns and thesis statements. Quiet Long-haired Dude didn't say a word for the entire lesson. I wondered if he could see through his curtain of hair. What was he hiding from?

Biomedical Sciences passed by in a blur of science and biomedical. Preppy Swimmer and Asian Student were as focused on the task as ever. By the time Biology came around, I was exhausted and starving. It seemed I had been at school for hours. Smart Mouth Class Clown was making smart remarks, while Assistant Clowns 1 and 2 egged him on. I found my place next to Typical Jock and Prep Barbie #37.

I ignored Ms. Math during Geometry and watched the clock until lunch. Who really cared about sines and cosines anyway? After the bell rang I waited for Fantasy Geek and Hyper Chick and we walked down to the lunchroom together.

Hyper Chick had brought a lunch, so she immediately began simultaneously eating lunch and talking to her camera about nothing in particular. She was determined to be a YouTube star. I guess the Internet can give anyone their fifteen minutes of fame.

Redhead Hat Boy was ignoring everyone and listening to his iPod. Math Nerd took his accustomed place next to Fantasy Geek and began an unintelligible conversation which most likely involved wizards.

I realized then just how alone I was.

Desperate to rejoin society, I butted into everyone's conversations, trying to dispel the sense that I was wrong about something.

The rest of the day passed in odd increments. Individual minutes of a class could seem like hours, but by the end of the day I often felt that I had just arrived.

In the last period of the day, the class was given a few minutes of free time to socialize. I wad once again isolated in a sea of close-knit friend groups. Pretty Soccer Chick and Athletic Girl began a conversation about soccer, unsurprisingly.

"The team has too many offensive players, so Coach put me on defense. Now I don't know what I should do when the offender comes towards me! Should I try some confusing footwork, or hang back until they come towards the goal?" asked Athletic Girl of her friend.

"Well, when I played defense, I usually approached them at high speed, which caused them to panic and lose control of the ball," I put in.

Pretty Soccer Chick looked incredulous. "You know about soccer?" she asked in bewilderment.

"Well, yeah, I played for a couple of years, but I missed tryouts this year."

"But… you're Just A Nerd!"