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Escaping from Reality
With a hiss and a clank, those filthy doors shut tight behind me. Turning just as bus pulled away, I watched with tears in my eyes as the bright yellow bus grew smaller and smaller before finally vanishing into the city. Sniffling, I sat quietly on the icy bench.
I was in fourth grade at the time, and my schedule was pretty straightforward. I woke up in the morning at the babysitters. My mother, who worked all through the night as a security guard, picked me up after her shift and took me home; I’d stay there for about an hour before the school bus came. After school, I was dropped off in the city. My babysitter would be sitting on the bench waiting to walk me back through the towering buildings and filthy, crowded streets to her house. Then I’d do my homework, call my brother, and go to bed.
Today, however, was not my lucky day. I had been humiliated in class by my own teacher, patronized by an older classmate, and bullied by countless others during gym. Hell, I couldn’t even afford to buy lunch. And now I was all alone in the bad part of a giant city, my short uniform skirt providing absolutely no protection from the cold.
The clacking of my teeth was drowned in the noise that surrounded me. People yelling, horns honking, sirens going off, motorcycles revving: it’s really no wonder that no one noticed the little girl crying all alone at the bus stop.
In the end, my fear of freezing to death was stronger than that of getting lost. I picked up my backpack, weighed down with at least five textbooks, and tried to brush away my tears. My father had told me that looking weak was one good way to get yourself kidnapped. Tears looked pretty freaking weak to me, and I certainly didn’t want some creep even looking at me funny. So with my brave-face on, I marched through the city, silent except for an occasional sniffle and stomach growl.
As tall as I was for my age, adults were still very much taller. Frequently I caught myself looking up at them in awe. 'This must be how hobbits feel', I had thought to myself. 'No, I’m too tall to be a hobbit. Dwarf maybe? … do female dwarves even exist? I wonder if they have beards. Wait; maybe I could be half hobbit, half human! …Nah, that’s sounds really stupid; why would I even THINK that?'
As usual, my mind was drifting away into the little Tolkien inspired fantasy world that was my escape from my life and worries. You know, that imaginary world were I was a wizard taming dragons, or a knight rescuing princesses. I was probably scrunching up my brow and muttering softly to myself, making weird facial expressions as I thought up new ideas and chided myself for stupid ones. I still tend to do this when in deep thought; it’s pretty embarrassing to get caught talking to yourself in public.
It was a miracle that, as unfocused as I was, I ended up smack dab on the babysitter’s street. Still in my own world, my feet instinctively lead me into the house. It wasn’t until I dropped my bulky bag on the ground did I manage to “wake up”.
In the living room, my babysitter sat there in her pajamas. The smell of hot soup and coffee wafted around the room, reminding my stomach that it was completely empty. Just looking at her in her warm, fuzzy slippers and fleece pajama bottoms watching “Judge Brown” while I froze to death outside was completely infuriating.
“Well, where have YOU been?!” I snarled, cheeks flushing red with rage. She raised an eyebrow in surprise; any aggressiveness from me was completely out of character. Even in my fantasy world I was pretty passive.
“Ah was JUST on mah get yeh, ya see?” She pointed to her shoes by the couch defensively. Clearly expected to believe this stupidity, I merely shook my head in disbelief, sat on the floor, and pulled out my homework. She grunted in satisfaction and resumed eating.
From her perspective, it’s safe to assume that I probably looked like a fussy little girl, focusing and working hard on her social studies homework.
From my perspective, however, I was a fussy little wizard, focusing and working hard on finding a spell to turn a certain troll into a rat.