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“I don’t need to see a therapist mom!” I shouted angrily, running up the stairs.
“But I’m worried about you Camilla!” she yelled in response, her voice cracking.
“Well,” I thought to myself, I “have officially won the award for the worst daughter in the world. All she is trying to do is help.”
I quickly scurried down the stairs, to where my mom sat, her head in her hands, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. I put my arm around her, and sat with her until she finally looked up at my face, seeing that I was noticeably upset as well.
“I’m sorry honey” she said slowly, brushing the hair out of my face. “I know I am being too protective, but I think it’s gotten worse, and I just don’t want you to live like this forever.”
“I know mom” I say soothingly “but I will grow out of it someday, it is just going to take some time.”
“Okay sweetie” she said in that I-know-I-am-right-but-I-will-let-you-off-easy-this-time kind of voice. “All I am asking is that you try to face your fears.”
I gave my mom a consoling kiss on the cheek, and ran upstairs to my room. I had some homework to finish and a book to read, but I really just wasn’t in the mood. I just sat on my bed and closed my eyes, cranking my iPod up to full blast. I tuned to a pick-me-up song that I kept on a special playlist called “encouraging songs”. Every once and a while, I just needed a little more energy, and after the short, but brutal battle with my mom, today was turning out to be a low energy day, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
The next day, everything was back to being normal. My mom showed no signs of anger from the night before, and even put some extra sugar in my cereal saying that “I looked really tired” so she decided to give me “a little boost of excitement.” I didn’t want to tell her, but I was indeed tired, because I was kept awake at night by this nagging nightmare. Because of course if I told her that, she would know what the nightmare was about. And then I would have to admit to it, and she would bring up the topic of a therapist, and then we would get in a big blowup fight like we did last night, and frankly I just didn’t want that to happen. So, I just kept my mouth shut and nodded my head, while eating my new and improved cereal.
At Mooncast High School, the mornings are a very crucial time in the daily life of students. When you walk in, everything looks like it would at any other public facility, with people just crowded around tables, talking and laughing. But what people outside of the school don’t see is the amount of planning this scene takes. You see, you can’t just sit at any table. You can’t sit at the 4th table to the left because all of the germ-a-phoebes sit there. You can’t sit on the 8, 9, or 10th tables from the back because that is where the entire freshman class sits. You can’t sit at the 2nd table form the left because the drama club sits there. On the first week of school, everybody basically worked out the seating chart for the rest of the year. Being a junior this year, I got moved closer to the popular table (a very prestigious thing) and now sit 2 tables away from them, with my group of friends.
So, it was a complete and total surprise when one of the “popular” kids (a.k.a seniors) called my name from across the commons. At first, I just ignored it, because I thought I was just imagining myself finally being recognized by those kids (how pathetic). But then, one of my friends sitting with me whispered excitedly
“Camilla, the seniors are calling your name!”
It was true, I wasn’t just envisioning it. Quickly, my best friend Isabel prepped me- she fixed my hair, checked my teeth to make sure there weren’t any “foreign substances” stuck in my braces. With a final approving nod, I slowly stood up, pushing in my chair. I didn’t make eye contact with the “populars” just yet, in case they were just calling me over to make fun of me. But, if I didn’t look up soon, I would probably run into something or someone. I held my breath and cautiously raised my head, glaring straight at Rachel Fortman.
For those of you who don’t go to Mooncast High, you probably don’t know exactly why this meeting with Rachel Fortman was so dramatic for a person like me. Rachel Fortman is practically an icon at our school. Her mom is the principal of the school (should I say any more?) She is probably the most popular kid at our school. And, she dates the quarterback of the Mooncast High School football team. Yeah, she is the typical “popular” girl. So, when she was motioning me to come closer with her newly moisturized hands, I was in a state of awe. I timidly walked closer to her trying not to show my nervousness. Now, I was only 2 yards away from her. I thought I was going to throw up (which would be really bad, because it would totally ruin my reputation.)
“Hey” she said nonchalantly, acting as is this was no big deal (which it obviously was.)
“Hi” I said, quietly, trying to stop my hands from sweating.
“Well, a lot of us are going to this haunted house on Halloween, and I was wondering if you wanted to come along.”
“Sure” I said barely even able to get the words out of my mouth.
“Great, well we are going to meet here at the school parking lot on Halloween, and I am going to drive us all in my mom’s suburban. See you there!”
“Okay!” I said, my voice squeaking like it always does when I get excited.
I turned around, trying not to be too bouncy after all of my excitement. I watched carefully around me to avoid any lurking danger (kids playing tag or walking with food for breakfast.) I couldn’t do anything embarrassing, or they would for sure stand me up at the haunted house. I carefully strolled over to my friends who had already heard the whole thing. They were so surprised, I am pretty sure my friend Beth’s chin actually touched the floor. So as you can imagine, when I got back to the table there was a pretty large celebration.
“OMG!” Janna whispered under her breath, not wanting the popular kids to read her lips.
“That is so cool!” Amy said in a hushed tone, her grin definitely from ear to ear.
“Can you believe this is happening?!” I said in a low, hushed tone.
As I said this, I noticed my best friend Isabel. She was sitting a couple seats down from me, but I hadn’t heard a word from her this whole entire time. Now, let me back up for a second. Isabel Morris is not exactly a timid type of person. I knew my Isabel, and this was definitely not her usual behavior. Something was wrong.
“I am going to go to the bathroom real quick.” I said nonchalantly.
As I walked towards the end of the table, I nudged Isabel’s back, and gave her a low-key motion to come with me. She got the clue. As soon as I had reached the bathroom (she couldn’t follow me, or our friends would be suspicious) she silently pushed in her chair and frolicked to the girl’s bathroom where I was waiting for her.
“Okay” I said. “Spill”
“What?” she said, acting oblivious.
“You know exactly what I am talking about.” I said in a no-nonsense tone of voice.
“No” she said, her cheeks reddening “I really don’t.”
I could tell that she knew what was happening (she never was a very good liar.)
“Why aren’t you happy that I was invited to that haunted house?” I said, pouting.
“I am. It’s just…” she looked around, not wanting to finish her thought.
“Just what” I said, getting a little impatient with her.
“Well, you know” she said slowly, dragging out each syllable of the words “what if there are… clowns?”
My heart dropped. I had completely forgotten about that. In all of my excitement, that thought never even crossed my mind.
“I forgot about that,” I said quietly, looking at the floor.
“Don’t worry” she said, immediately pepping up, “you don’t have to go. Just say you can’t because…” she tried to think of any logical excuse, but this was just not the sort of thing you simply blow off.
“Great.” I said aloud. “Now my reputation is ruined. My one chance to hand with the populars and now it’s ruined because of my stupid fear. Just my luck.”
“I know, I know” Isabel said soothingly, giving me a hug.
I sighed. I knew that I wasn’t just going to suddenly get over my fear of clowns. But, I was not about to let this opportunity slip by. I was just going to have to toughen up.
“I’m going.” I said, a sly smile coming across my face.
“What is that supposed to mean?” she said, a suspicious look on her face.
“You heard me; I am just going to have to face my fear, like my mom said.” I said, getting a strange wave of confidence.
“Cam, you know you can’t….”
“I’m going.” I said, cutting off her thought. I turned around and opened the door, with a sense of poise as I strutted back to the table.
“I can do this” I thought to myself, repeating it over and over in my head. The long ride in the suburban was giving me a chance to calm myself, so that I would be prepared for the upcoming event. I was crammed in against a window, the music blaring, and kids acting obnoxious all around me. Normally, I would have been utterly appalled. But surprisingly, I was actually okay with it. So this was what it was like to be cool, I thought. When was arrived at the haunted house, it looked pretty frightening. There were spider webs draped everywhere, strobe lights flashing, making your eyes water. There was an occasional eyeball or two rolling around on the ground, and a couple of skeletons on display. But thankfully, there were no visible clowns, which relieved me. We all hopped out of the car, meeting in a huddle.
“This is going to be so tight!” Rob, the quarterback of the football team (and Rachel’s boyfriend) yelled loudly.
“Well what are we waiting for?” Rachel’s best friend Jessica screamed, and off we went.
Inside, it was a little spookier that I had previously envisioned. The lights would flicker about once every minute, but besides that, it was pitch black. The only was you could see where you were going was by holding your hands out in front of you, and feeling around the walls for any sharp turns. There were high pitched screams, and scary sound effects blaring in your ears, mysterious hands touching your shoulder, and an occasional spider dropping from the ceiling. Whenever the lights flickered, you could see horrid images of vampires, dead people, mummy’s, and ghosts all around you. I was getting freaked out, but made sure I never screamed, because then I would most likely get mocked by the popular kids for the rest of my high-school life. I was cautiously walking with my hands held out on front of me in the one hallway with Rachel and Jessica in front of me, when I felt something touch my hand. I gasped. The lights flickered, and I could see the image of what I had just felt. It was a clown. My very hand was grasping the bright red nose of it. I pulled it away quickly, trying to catch my breath. I stood there for a moment, as my heart began to beat again.
Frantically, I searched around me in the utter darkness of this nightmare-like place. I was hoping to see a sudden blinking sign that proclaimed “EXIT” or even “RESTROOMS”. But of course not. There couldn’t be one…that would be way to easy. So I dragged my shivering mess of a body through the other parts of haunted house. I stuck my arms out if front of me reluctantly, and I think I remember closing my eyes (I couldn’t really tell- it was equally dark either way.) I just kept repeating my new mantra in my head “you can do this, stay calm” like I was trying to memorize vocabulary.
Even though that mantra was now drilled into my brain, I was still scared out of my once innocent mind. I could tell we were nearing the end, because I could hear some relieved-sounding gasps, and disturbingly, even the sound of vomit. I hadn’t even completed the rest of the haunted house, but I thought I was just about to hear that sound again, only this time coming from my mouth. Finally I began to see the light at the end of the “dark hallway of doom” as some of the actors liked to call it. When we finally got out, I sucked up all of the fresh air like a balloon. A really big balloon. I had a new mantra “don’t vomit, wait until you get home.” This was a very difficult task.
When they dropped me off at my house, the color was just starting to return to my face.
“Thanks” I said timidly, rushing out of the car.
My mom was standing at the front door, waving at all of my “friends” as she called them. I didn’t even mention how much she was embarrassing me. I was too busy rushing too my room. As I passed my mom, she asked me the typical mom questions. Before she had even finished getting the words out of her mouth, I answered blandly.
“I had fun, I am just really tired.”
Both of these statements were complete lies. I was sure I was going to be able to sleep that night. Not even a chance.