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Peer Pressure

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Shelby fiddled with the bracelets lining her wrist. She was wearing five, which was good. Five good days in a row, her record. The tightly pulled yarn began to wear thin, but she kept running her fingers under them; her nervous habit.

She walked with long strides up to the front of the room. Shelby was too nervous to look around; even slightly turning her head she feared fainting. 21 pairs of greedy eyes stared up at her, with devilish smirks held high on their faces, just anticipating her first of many slip ups.

She stood at the front and took a deep breath, gripping the sides of the podium until her hands ached. She opened her mouth, but the words stuck to the back of her throat. Oh god, come on, she begged, this isn't fair, just let me get this over with! She looked down and lightly shook her head. A wave of raven hair tumbled down from behind her ear, shielding her partially from her demonic audience.

'Shelby, is everything alright?' Her teacher asked. Shelby could just about read her teacher's mind at the expression she gave her. I bet she wants me to fail to, Shelby thought, I know she wants me to. Shelby gave a weak smile, and took another deep breath.

'Yeah, Shelby, is everything ok?' Cassidy smirked, clutching her new purse to her chest. She had made fun of it the first day Cassidy brought it to school. It was so ugly, but apparently it was 'all the rage'. Shelby mentally shot a death glare at her. I'll get her later. For now, just finish. Come on'

Shelby looked straight ahead, and began her speech. One word stuttered out, then two. Eventually, a near coherent sentence came out. The class of mocking faces looked around at each other. Why are they looking at me like that? Is something wrong with me? Am I doing something wrong? Shelby began to panic. Her head grew light and a cold, clammy sweat took her shaking hands.

'Shelby, why don't you just sit down?' her teacher asked. Shelby shook her head.

Lights grew brighter as the room danced in front of her eyes. She could barely breathe, but the words were still coming out of her mouth. What am I saying? She screamed inside, That's not me! Her jacketed hands covered her face trying to block everything out. Her heart pounded inside of her, echoing with deafening screams through her ears.

Shadows began to cover her as she tried to turn away.

'Shelby! Shelby!' she heard them mocking her. 'Shelby! Shelby!' they screamed like hell-sent bells.

'Go away!!' she screamed, flailing out. Everything was spinning around her now, she sat hyperventilating, staring at the scene. People were staring at her, and then, she was falling.

She woke up on a stiff bed. Thin blankets covered her bruised body and it hurt to move. Light filtered in through the curtains which hurt her eyes. Where am I? she thought. She looked around the room. 4 white walls, tiny table, uncomfortable chairs, broken TV. She closed her eyes and breathed out. Hospital, she thought.

A tall woman with thin black hair walked in. She walked with quick, small steps. Like a pixie almost. Dark circles outlined her big, muddy eyes. She looked like she was lost almost, the way she stared at everything in the room like a foreign object. But just like Shelby, she knew this room all too well.

'Hey Mom,' Shelby said, her voice rough and scratchy. Her mom looked up. She didn't bother making an attempt to smile.

'You knew you couldn't go up there,' she said, not even looking up, 'But you did it anyway. You know you can't go in front of people. You know you just can't!' she said, her voice gradually growing louder.

'I- I thought I could do it this time, Mom-' Shelby began

'Well, Shelby, I think it was obvious you didn't! When did you think you could do it Shelby? When you were howling in terror or when your skull crashed against the tile floor! Tell me!' She towered over Shelby with the appearance of an assassin, dressed in all black and ready to take somebody out with the drop of a hat.

Shelby bit back the tears trying to escape her eyes. She knew her Mom would have screamed at her, but not this bad.

'Shelby, every time you fight this, you end up getting hurt! You could have gotten a concussion and died if you had fallen right! Is that what you want? To just die? You wanna give up? You're just like your father, quitting when things get rough.'

Shelby looked up at her angrily. I'm not my father, the mere thought of that caused a bitter taste to rise in her throat.

'Answer me Shelby! Is that what you are trying to do, yes or no?'

'No!!' Shelby screamed out. Her mom crossed her arms and pursed her lips. She stared intently at Shelby, her brows furrowed and her fingers itching into her arm.

'The doctors want you to start taking your medication. I had to tell them you haven't been taking it.' Her mom said softly, but not at all gently.

Shelby raised an eyebrow. 'I'm still not going to take it.' She said plain and simple.

'I figured.' She said, pulling a tube out of her purse and shaking it in front of Shelby.

'But I am.' She smirked. Shelby sat up and frowned. A thousand thoughts ran through her head in a spectrum of emotions. How dare she! She could kill herself with those, yet she screams at me! God, I hate her! Shelby angrily thought.

Before she could say anything, her mom had walked out of the room. She slumped back onto the lumpy pillows that pressed against her back, and a new thought ran through her head. You know, I wonder what it would be like to be normal.





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