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Vulnerable

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The girl stares at me. “What?” She shakes her head and runs off, back to her friends. I am glad they find my...problem…so interesting. I can see her whispering now, surrounded by her groupies.
I walk to my locker, my shoes scuffed and dirty, my face gaunt and my eyes circled. I may look horrible but my chin is still obstinate, proud. This Cookie isn’t gonna crumble. No matter how tough things get.
I open my locker and when I close it I see a face behind it. I almost yelp in surprise, but I hold it in. I’m good at holding things in. When I see who it is, I sigh. “Stevie, what do you want? I have nothing more to say to you.” She looks back at me and her dark eyes with unshed tears.
“Marie, please…we need to talk, I have to explain. I know you think I acted badly...b-but it was because I thought they should know…”
I snap.
“Stevie, it was my decision, in case you haven’t noticed. I told you because I thought you could keep it. I don’t need this. How dare you try and make my decision for me? Blurting it out in front of everyone. That’s it. I’m through.” I slam the locker door and walk away.
Groups part to let me through, old friends stare at me with pity, some call out to me. Some of my old enemies call out to me. I ignore all of them. All I wanted was a normal life for the next couple of months.
I hear footsteps behind me and I sigh again, I don’t need this. It’s Stevie again. “Marie...wait. I’m sorry. Please...please give me another chance. We can’t end like this.” My façade starts to crumble, my mask breaking down. My walls are leaving me alone and vulnerable. I nod my head quickly before they are gone completely.
She hugs me softly, like I’m breakable, delicate. Which I am. I run away from her, from them all, stumbling into a Disabled toilet. I sit on the cistern and cry, tears running past my nose and plopping onto the floor. My nose runs freely: it no longer has little hairs that help stem the flow. I take a deep breath and look up into the mirror opposite.
I unwind the coloured scarf from my head and have a look at myself, at the lack of hair anywhere. I feel naked, exposed. I drop my head again. And then I look up with burning eyes into my reflection.
“I have cancer and I am going to die.”



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