May 24, 2008
By Lissa Martinez, St. Louis Park, MN

The airless room seemed to condense the further Bella’s tiny feet stumbled into the overpopulated room. Although her head was spinning faster than it was pulsing, she managed to direct herself to a lonely, vanilla stained wall. The noise and distraction around her made her small figure tremble in the bass of the heavy rap music. The speed and persistent use of rhymes mushed together with the airy conversations creating an effect that stifled the room of silence. The array of colors danced before her musky green eyes in constant change, as though a kaleidoscope had been permanently inserted into her iris. Her eyes shrunk in their sockets, cowering away from what it was Bella wished she could escape from.
“Colin?” Bella’s week body murmured her lost friend’s name.
The heavy scent of something sour, old, and musky filled her lungs and produced a heavy, forceful cough. Bella’s small figure hunched over painfully in desperation to inhale any amount of oxygen, yet all she got was the stale scented air. Her brown hair clouded her face and hid her from the elements that made her so sick.
Home. The dazed, musky, unfiltered environment of the party made Bella crave home, the one place she so desperately tried to leave just hours before. Home. Her eyes watered at the thought, making it nearly impossible to see, much less hear with the whirring and throbbing that was taking place inside her head. She envisioned herself not leaving her upscale house and not slamming the door in her mother’s face. Not getting into Colin’s car and not speeding down the highway with a ferocity that sent exhilaration down every limb in her body. Not arriving at this place covered in scum and secrets.
Bella blinked hard, hoping to recover her damaged soul. Regaining strength, she picked up her heavy foot, slightly bruised with no protection from a flimsy flip-flop. Crushing red and blue party cups and squashing crumbs into the aged, crusty emerald carpet, she followed the wall to the front door, which was being guarded by an oblivious couple sloppily showing their drunken affection. Without having a chance ponder a solution to be set free, a warm hand rested itself on Bella’s frail arm. In terror, she collapsed her shoulders in, trying to free the weight from her shaky limb. She barely let out a whimper. It arose from her figure so silently, not a bit audible.
“Bella?” The strong, warm voice broke through the gloom and destructiveness of the room.
Cowering, Bella turned around, keeping her head cocked awkwardly to the side, her tired eyes as slits, and she braced herself for whoever was requesting her attention. As her eyes adjusted and were freed from the grainy blinds of hair by the same warm hand, she saw a familiar man, strong and tall standing above her. Although he was not Colin, his demeanor echoed that of a familiar face. Without another word being spoken, the man extended a hand and Bella took it without caution, as easily as a child would reach for a beloved stuffed bear. He glided out the door, separating the two drunken lovers and eased Bella out of the house, off of the crud covered driveway and into the safety of a warm, idling car.
Home. The thought was almost foreign to Bella, as if it was some far off place she wasn’t yet acquainted with. Her gentlemen’s eyes met with her own and in that instant Bella felt relief, certainty she’d be home.

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