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Author's note: Critique welcome!
School and summer camp: a normal fact of life for plenty of fifteen year old girls. No matter what else is wrong or different with me, those experiences make me at least relatively normal, right?
In fact, ‘normal’ is my polar opposite. Look up ‘abnormal’ in the dictionary and you’ll find quite a few pictures of me. My summer camp just happens to be Camp Half-Blood, home of the demi-gods. (A demigod is a child of one Greek gods or goddesses). School is pretty out of the ordinary for me as well – Hogwarts. If I have to explain what Hogwarts is to you, then you might as well live on Mars (a planet named appropriately after a cousin on my dad’s side).
You see, my mom is a witch; no, I’m not just saying that because she’s evil or maleficent. She actually is a real witch, with a wand, broom, and everything; in fact, she is currently a Hogwarts potions professor. My daddy is Zeus. Yes, you heard right. Zeus, king of the gods. With the two of them as parents, I never stood a chance with normality.
Seriously. If I really had to have a god for a parent, couldn’t they have been someone like Dionysus? Nobody ever hears about that guy. Ever.
Anyways, demi-gods spend the summer at Camp Half-Blood. Young witches and wizards study at Hogwarts.
As for me, I got the worst of both worlds. At Camp Half-Blood I am the half-blood wizard freak with the 'magic fairy wand'. At Hogwarts (Hufflepuff house to be exact), I am the half-blood god freak who can control the wind. Even my genetics contradict themselves; a pure half-blood.
Oh yeah, and I did I forget to mention that my oblivious parents are sending me to North Shore public high school for my sophomore year?
Wish me luck. I'll need it.
The name is Peyton, by the way. Peyton of Olympus, daughter of Zeus and half witch. That is all I am and that is all I will ever be.
Last year during spring break, I visited my Uncle Hades and my aunt, or cousin, Persephone. The entire Greek mythology family is entirely inbred, by the way. Also, they lived in the Land of the Dead – the Underworld.
Let me tell you, I had no idea what Hell was like until I entered a real high school cafeteria for the first time. Or as I like to call it, Land of the Walking Dead.
Before North Shore, I thought lunch was just for eating. Of course, I obviously expected everyone to talk amongst their friends, but this is way more extreme than that. In fact, some of these girls weren’t even eating at all! Most of them were thinner than me, but I wasn’t self-conscious about that. I had more important worries than a pound or two.
Everyone was separated into distinct social groups. As I understand it, they are better known as ‘cliques’ – all of the jocks sat together, the artists sat together, and the band geeks sat together. Even the Asians sat together, divided into two additional groups: nerdy and cool.
I wondered what would happen if there was a ‘cool’ person, who earned good grades in addition to being gorgeous and popular. How does one determine where they fit in? On a more urgent note, how could I possibly expect to fit in any group at all within a school of less than a thousand other teens, especially if there wasn’t a soul like me in existence?
I wandered around aimlessly for a few minutes, lost in the hectic jungle of a room until I finally found a table.
"Sit down," a blonde girl with two friends at either side beckoned in my direction. I scanned the cafeteria, not sure she was speaking to me. "Seriously, sit down."
I sat, still not sure which clique this was. I quickly learned they were the ‘popular’ group. Was that a good thing?
"Why don't I know you?” she asked, a curious expression pasted onto her flawless face.
“My name is Peyton Olympus, I'm new. I used to go to boarding school in England." True enough.
"I lived at the school in a-"
"No, I know what boarding school is, I'm not retarded. But you've seriously never been to a public school before?"
"Shut up. Shut up, shut up."
"I didn't say anything."
"But you're, like, really pretty."
I never really thought about it, but I guess I am kind of pretty. I may not be quite as skinny and blonde as picture perfect Regina, but I have long, soft ebony hair cascading down my back and delicate facial features. My eyes are emeralds. Literally, but that’s another story for another day. Back to Regina...
"Thanks," I blushed, flattered.
She immediately countered, "So you agree?"
"You think you're really pretty."
"Oh! No, that's not what I meant at all-"
"Oh my god, I love your necklace! Where did you get it?"
That was my Camp Half-Blood end of summer necklace!
"Camp," I replied simply.
True enough, right?
It was a long day at North Shore. Everything was so different! My favorite classes were English and U.S. History. Who knew that humans had their own stories to tell?
"Mom! Where's Pegasus?" Dad gave me my beloved winged horse when I was five - as soon as I was old enough to feel lonely.
"I thought he was sleeping in the broom cupboard! Check the cauldrons, maybe he's playing there again."
Sure enough, there he was, splashing in a fresh brew of Liquid Lucks. "Come here, silly horsey." I cooed playfully, cuddled him in my lap before logging onto my email.
I had two new emails! I know, it’s pathetic, but this got me unusually enthusiastic. One is a forward about a sale at Flourish and Blotts. I skipped that one. The second is from Regina. 'The Rules of Being Plastic'.
I stared at the screen in astonishment after reading the title. Does this mean I’m officially plastic now? I did a little happy dance in my seat. Pegasus trotted around merrily, picking up on my euphoric vibe.
Inspired, I meticulously read each rule. Trust me on this; rules were not something the Plastics were short of. A majority of these rules seem utterly ridiculous, and they all had to do with fashion and outer appearance. I still don’t understand how being pretty makes the Plastics more popular than everyone else. After all, beauty is just one of many qualities, right?
'You can only wear a ponytail once a week.'
I don't understand where they came up with this rule, but whatever.
'On Wednesday, we wear pink.'
I'll have to ask Mom if she still has that cerise cardigan I wore to the Yule Ball.
To fit in with Regina George and the Plastics, I would do absolutely anything.
His name was Anthony Zusak. He sat in front of me in seventh period Chemistry II Honors. He had skin that was pale as sheet and eyes of gold. For a heartbeat I almost wondered if he was a long lost son of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, but I knew he wasn't.
Who was Anthony Zusak, and why did he remind me of...me?
I didn't know why, but he definitely paid attention to me as well. Sometimes he even attempted to start a conversation, but neither of us had much to say.
Eventually, I got it. You might have already guessed by now. If you have, you’re quicker than I was. Anthony was a vampire.
Not the traditional Dracula kind of vampire. Think Stephenie Meyer. Although I suppose that’s what everyone thinks of vampires these days.
Then, finally, after weeks of prolonged waiting and wanting, Anthony Zusak asked me, Peyton of Olympus, to go to the Homecoming Dance with him. Me! With him!
Of course, I said yes.
Darkness and blood.
Those were my first thoughts as I saw my crimson homecoming dress the day of the dance. A dark satin sash tied around my waist tied the whole outfit together perfectly, literally and figuratively.
‘Darkness and blood,’ they seemed to scream into the mirror. If only clothes could speak!
I fastened my midnight hued pearls around my neck. In my ensemble of red and black, it was official: I looked like a vampire.
My mom just barely managed to snap a few decent pictures of me with Anthony before the two of us headed off to Regina's pre-party. Regina, Karen, Gretchen, and their boyfriends would all meet at Regina's house before driving to homecoming in her boyfriend’s car. Aaron was a junior, so he had his permit, not his license. We would have to be cautious nobody caught us driving without a licensed driver. Hey, for the Plastics, anything is worth it!
The Plastics looked breathtaking. Regina was wearing a Cinderella-style azure dress with a miniature silver tiara. Karen looks a little slutty in her tiny little dress, but the faded cherry color really works with her beach tan. Gretchen’s lengthy black gown makes her look taller and more graceful than she actually is. She even paired it with the perfect hoop earrings. Gorgeous!
"Peyton," I jump at the sound of Regina's intimidating voice.
"Hey, Regina. What's up?"
"Did you know that you were voted homecoming queen?"
"Oh my gods!” Oops! Would Regina notice my slip in speech? I improvised and tried to act as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. “I mean, are you kidding? That is so fetch!” I heard Gretchen say that earlier, so it was cool, right?
She looked slightly confused, but carried on.
"Well, that's why we wanted to be friends with you. Because you were pretty, I mean."
That's all? I was a bit disappointed that she didn’t appreciate any of my other qualities, but beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, as long as Regina likes me, it’s enough. I'm Plastic!
"But Gretchen told me that Karen heard from Dawn that Trang Pak and her friends nominated you as a joke. A joke! You're pretty Peyton, but you're not like us."
Please, I sent up a quick prayer to the gods. This cannot be happening.
"So after today..."
No! Please, no! Zeus, help me!
“You’re out of the Plastics.”
The rest of my special evening was a blur. I could barely hold back tears as I danced with Anthony. Eventually he gave up on trying to have a good time and led me outside to the school courtyard.
"What's wrong?" he prompted, despite the fact that I poured out everything to him as soon as we escaped the Plastics.
I stared at him in disbelief.
"What do you mean 'What's wrong?' I got kicked out of the Plastics?" How could he not understand my despair of being the outsider of yet another group?
"Yeah, I heard you the first time. So?"
"What do you mean ‘so’?” They rejected me!
"They don’t even know you!”
“Yes they do!” I lied.
He took a deep breath, exasperated, and tried again. “Peyton. You are amazing. You are one in a million. No, you are one of a kind. You know that! Why do you need Regina George?"
I sighed. How many teenage girls got to hear those words and know they were really, honestly true? He meant it. Still, I pondered his question.
I considered this. I wanted to be like Regina George because, well... because she had long pretty blonde hair and weighed at least thirty pounds less than me. She had more than enough money to buy every designer outfit she pointed at. Her friends practically worshipped the ground she walked on, and everyone in school told her she was beautiful every single day. I wanted to be like her because she had everything I had always dreamed of, and I was naïve enough to think she would give some of that fantasy to me.
"I want to be like her!"
"You want to be like Regina George?" He sounded taken aback.
How could he not understand?
I wish I could explain it better. "I want to be popular. Pretty."
He looked as if he was in excruciating pain at this point, but he simply nodded. "I see. And what would you do to be pretty?"
"Anything," I answered passionately.
"Anything," his voice was now a low, irritated snarl. I could tell he was frustrated, but I honestly could not care any less at this point. Why should I let him judge my fantasies?
"To be pretty," I had to prove my point. "To be pretty, I would die."
This was not a lie or an extension of the truth. If I am not pretty, why should I live?
“Okay,” he agreed as if I were consenting to some type of arrangement, though I could not imagine what he had in mind.
Then, he grazed his ice cold fingers against my neck, and stroked. Swift as the wind, he swept my dark locks out of his way. My head tilted to the left, and he lowered his face against my own. For a split second, our lips gently brushed together.
The last thing I felt was his jaw clenching together, my throat in between.
I woke up to a dark room in an unfamiliar house. Where was I?
Oh. Last night. Now I remember everything that happened. I expected a tear to stream down my cheek, but my face was dry as a desert and hard as stone. I dragged myself out of bed and lingered toward the mirror. I didn’t want to look. Okay, Peyton, deep breath, I reassured myself. I exhaled anxiously. You can do this.
Before I knew it, I was facing a stranger in the mirror.
My reflection grimaced back at me. The dress was the same as before. Other than that, I failed to recognize any similarity at all, no matter how long I searched through the unfamiliar, perfectly sculpted face. Locks of jet black keratin draped to past her feet the floor, a face paler than the moon hiding behind a curtain of shadowy hair, and eyes of blood seeping through the former emerald irises.
She was a vampire.
She was not me. She was beautiful, perfect, and all of my dreams come true, but she was not me. She was a stranger, and I never wanted her!
I just wanted to be me.
I’m sorry it took me so long, I apologized to myself sorrowfully. I’m sorry, Peyton. I’m sorry that you never, in fifteen years of life, ever got a chance to figure out who you really are.
It may have taken me a while, but I finally knew. Never take yourself for granted. Be who you are while you still have the time to be them, before you turn into someone else.
Darkness and blood.
I was not startled by this reoccurrence. Except this time, it was my bloodshot eyes that seemed to holler, forever trapped in the depths of the wicked mirror.