Imaginary This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

          It started when I was five years old. Well, that’s when it became noticeable. Every baby cries for no apparent reason. But a five year old….I’d be in my kindergarten classroom, coloring pictures like the rest of the kids, but I wasn’t like the other kids.
          They were all smiling and drawing rainbows and puppies and sunshine but I would always cry. Every time I drew. I was crying. Nobody knew why. They didn’t dare ask me either. Hell, nobody even picked on me. They were all too shocked by what I was drawing. Always, there would be blood, gore, death...things most kindergartners don’t draw so vividly.
          Nobody understood what was wrong with me. My parents didn't abuse me. They were on the contrary very worried. They took me into doctor after doctor and none of them knew what was wrong. There was no sign of brain damage, or a chemical imbalance, or anything, that showed me out to be schizophrenic or straight up insane. So I was just the weird little crying girl. To them, anyways…
          As I grew up, I was able to quit crying so often. It’s still there, but I’ve learned to control my emotions better, which isn’t easy. I kept them hidden from everybody, even my own mother and father. I don’t even feel human, sometimes. But that’s better than feeling everything else.
          My imagination is...it’s a dark place. Obviously, if one were to look at my drawings. Art has always been my escape...attempt. I cry when my mind gets too terrifying to handle. The images will become so real, if I don’t try and get them out they’ll stay there. I’m literally afraid of what’s inside of my head. Which really makes you want to die sometimes.
          I don't have any friends. I mean I don’t exactly try, but I can’t. Anytime I get close to someone I imagine things happening to them, very bad things...I can’t handle that. It’s like a nightmare, but I’m already awake so there’s nothing to do but basically shut myself down. I still go to school and everything. I don’t talk to anyone, though. I manage to just stay emotionless; makes things easier for everybody.
          I haven’t completely broken down in three months or so. Sometimes it’s hard to control at night, since it’s dark. That’s a whole other level of terrifying that my mind goes to. But the last time I had an actual break down was on my sixteenth birthday. It was just my parents and I, sitting around the table, getting ready to eat the cake. They were singing, and I was staring at the candles, and the next thing I knew my parents were screaming in agony. They were on fire. Begging me for help. I was too paralyzed to do or say anything. Of course, in the reality of it all, I was actually just curled up under the table, crying. It seems I shut down after I break. It’s hell.
          As I said, that was three months ago. I’ve held my ground since then. I don’t really remember how to feel. This is the longest in my life I’ve been without having an episode. The migraines, though...I get migraines a lot. That’s what it feels like, anyways. I could very well be imagining that. I don’t even know. I wish I could feel though...but...that would escalate quickly.

 

          I lie in bed, dreading how the rest of the of the day will turn out. I always do. Everyday is a risk of losing my mind. Although not literally; I’d gladly lose this mind. But school isn’t a safe place for me. There’s far too much that could get my imagination going. Too many people to shut out. It’s just too much. I’m usually good up until my fourth period history class. There’s too many events that I have to resist imagining.
          Last week, Mr. Turner caught me off guard and asked me how Julius Caesar died. I wasn’t paying attention (I never do), but as soon as he asked I started imagining the guy dying a thousand different ways, all in the span of fifteen seconds or so. Then he scolded me for not paying attention, told me how he died, and then I was left to imagine that. It wasn’t terrible. Not enough to break me, but it’s still a rather disturbing thing to imagine all day.
So after fourth period I start to lose my grip. By the time I get home, I’m able to stay in my room and put my walls back up. Kind of like putting a band aid on a cut. School just rips off that band aid and picks at the scab until it starts to bleed.
          Home is the closest to a sanctuary I get. My parents tend to leave me to myself. They know how I can get around people. I doubt it’s easy, your only daughter shutting you out of her life. I’d help it if I could, but...I can’t. I can’t feel guilty about it. I can’t feel love towards them. Everytime I try, something bad always happens...in my imagination. Luckily they understand that, but still…
         

          After all of this thinking, I decide to get up, get dressed, get the day over with. I just pull on a snug pair of black jeans and throw on one of my many band tees. They’re both rather small sizes. I’m very skinny. I look in the mirror; my face looks a pale, almost sickly flush. My eyes shine a cool blue. That’s the only thing I tend to like about myself. That and my hair. It’s long, sleek, black. Those are the only features that put me anywhere near being “attractive”. I don’t even like my name…Rayne...it’s just...I’m not sure. I tend to hate anything about myself, because...it’s me. That’s in my mind, anyways. It doesn’t really matter though, how attractive I am or am not. I’d just end up pushing anyone away.
          That’s another thing I tend to think about a lot. It gets lonely without anyone to talk to. I want to, I really do. I want to have friends, and a special relationship with a special person. But I’m afraid to get attached to anybody. I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want to question what part of us was real or just another literal figment of my imagination. I guess...I’ll just have to wait and see. Maybe in another ten years I’ll be able to completely control my mind or something.
          I snap back to reality, realizing I’m still staring at the mirror, looking into my shining eyes. I zone out a lot when I get into my thoughts. I have ten minutes left to walk to school. I peer outside my window; the clouds hang heavy, threatening to pour down rain at any minute. With a sigh, I grab my jacket, tell my parents I’m leaving, and head to school. I wish I had somebody to walk with.

 

          The bell rings, signaling the end of fifth period and the beginning of lunch. My fifth period is  just a study hall, so I usually sit in the back of the room drawing in a notebook or on a scrap piece of paper; basically whatever I can. Sometimes paper gets boring, so I start to draw on my hand and up my arm. I might want to be a tattoo artist someday, but...I don’t know. Life could have different plans for me.                                                                                                       I shoulder my heavy bookbag and head to the corner I usually sit in for lunch. It’s not as vulnerable as the cafeteria, and it’s not directly in the hallway. It’s in the stairwell to the second floor. I don’t notice anybody there, and nobody notices me, so...it works out.                                                                             Suddenly I feel something hit my shoulder, and then she gasps.                           “I’m so sorry, I should’ve watched where I was going! Are you alright?”               Still in shock that someone actually said a word to me, I turn around to look at her. Her eyes were green, the brightest, prettiest green I had ever seen. Her hair was short; it didn’t reach past her chin. It had been dyed a dark purple, and it showed signs of fading.  Her bangs swept just above her brow. A black ring curled through her bottom lip. She had a definite alternative vibe about her, kinda punkish, grungy, something, but it felt like it was uniquely her, not your typical alt kid. She was cute, she really was.                                                          "Hey, are you okay?” she asked. She sounded worried. Her voice held a comforting melody, one that could sing you to sleep. Trying to process everything, I attempt to smile; a weak attempt, but an attempt nonetheless.                   “Yeah, I’m...I’m okay. I’m sorry,” I felt kind of bad. It wasn’t her fault at all. “It wasn’t your fault, I wasn’t paying attention.” I let out an awkward little chuckle, then wishing I hadn’t; I sounded so emotionless, like I just didn’t care. But she didn’t seem to notice. She smiled.                                                                              “It’s okay. Stuff happens. It’s just one of those days, huh?” I couldn’t believe how genuine she sounded. It was like a dream. If only she knew it was one of those days everyday for me.                                                                                           "Yeah, I guess so,” another fake chuckle. I can’t stand myself. But another thing hit me. “Hey uh...I haven’t seen you around lately. Are you new?                  She laughed, a gentle breezy laugh. “Yeah, I just started today. I’m Jade.” She smiled, such a beautiful and friendly smile. It made me feel...something.                                                                                                                            "I’m Rayne,” I said quietly. But I tried my best to smile back. She could tell, and she smiled even bigger.                                                                                                  “Well I’ll see you around,Rayne. It was nice to meet you!" She waved and turned around, about to walk away. But before I fully comprehended what I was doing, I was talking to her again.                                                                                      “Hey wait!” I surprised myself with how loud I managed to say that, and felt myself blush as she turned around. "Would you...I mean do you...I….” I kept stumbling over the words, and I felt myself flare up even more. She didn’t seem to mind, though. She kept listening, a patient and caring look on her face. Finally, I got it out. “Do you want to come eat lunch with me?"                                     Her face was practically glowing. “I’d love to, actually. Thanks!"                           I felt myself smiling now, and...it felt real. I think...I was feeling happiness. Happiness because of Jade, and how much she seemed to care. It’s crazy how much I could feel so suddenly from this one girl, a stranger. But I broke into a grin.                                                                                                                            "Let’s go then!” I laughed, and we started walking towards my little hideout. She followed with that pretty smile of hers.






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