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Wishing in the Woods
Author's note: My grandmother's quote, "If we were all the same, life would be boring." truly inspired me.
Lonely. The one thing no one wants to be. Why do I have to deal with this torturous feeling of abandonment? I ask myself this question every day, with no answer.
As I buy my mundane lunch of chicken nuggets and milk, I go sit at a corner table by myself. No one dares to offer me a seat. Absolutely no one “cool” wants to be seen with the red-headed freak, me. Solemnly I, Ella Safire, devour my lunch. It is not that I am hungry, just melancholy. Of course I do not show it. Keeping a straight face is a key factor in the tenth grade. When people see your emotions, they can use them against you. Now, this might not be the case with all schools, but it is most definitely with mine. Every time I attempt to meet new friends, they laugh and walk away. I try to keep a positive attitude, but getting rejected is never easy. My guidance counselor and mom endeavor to help, but it does not work. Therefore, they do not feel it is their fault; I keep a pleasant face on and hope for the best. Although, it is always the worst no matter what.
“Hello honey how was your day at school?” mom asks inquisitively. She looks at me expectantly when the day’s events start to come into reality. I want her to find a way to cure my shattered life.
I cave and admit, “Not great at all. Why does everybody reject me?” hysteria creeps into my voice. Her eyes are fixated on me as she carefully contemplates an answer.
“Oh, Ella,” she sighs. Her pity for me is obvious as she explains, “I know it is frustrating to try to fit in, but you just need to be yourself! Remember, if we were all the same…,” my mother trails off.
“Life would be boring.” I hesitantly finish my grandmother’s quote. This is what she has been saying to me since I could understand the human language. It has been repeated to me one million times. Or at least, that is how many times I feel she has said this to me. The quote has been permanently engraved into my mind. I do not think I will ever be able to forget it.
“Well, I am sorry to hear about your rough day at school,” she sincerely states. “We all have a sour one once in awhile.” She evidently does not understand the depth and severity of my problem.
I have a sour day every day, I think to myself. I have to get away. “I will be in the woods. I need some tome to sort things out.” These people do not comprehend anything about me!
“Okay! Be home by dinnertime!” My mom yells as I dart out the door as quick as my legs will carry me. The woodland area lies in my very own backyard so it is quite accessible.
In the dense forest, everything seems whole again, more peaceful. As I look around, I see drops of condensation forming on the foliage. The glorious scent of pine engulfs me as I descend further into the woods. The clouds look especially grey today, as if they are also feeling depressed. I enter my special meadow where I sit silently and ponder my life. The luscious grass glistens with dew from the humid air. Finally, my eyes wander to the dead center of the meadow.
The wishing well had moss growing from all possible facets. I walk to the hundred year old well clutching my shiny copper penny. “I wish…I wish I had someone who accepted me for me,” I pleaded. I stand there listening to my echo until I hear a sudden clamor erupt from behind me.
CRRRRRAAAAAAAACCCCK! I swiftly twirl around to find a young girl peering at me inquiringly from behind a tree. How long she has been watching, I wonder. Before I actually have time to think of an answer, she bursts into conversation.
“Hello! My name is Janet. I saw you here and decided to come and see who you are. Sorry if I frightened you. I did not mean to break a stick.” She seems polite by the way she introduces herself and apologizes.
This is certainly a queer occurrence of events. “Uh…it is okay. My name is Ella, Ella Safire. I am sixteen years old. What about you?” She looks to be about my age, but I am genuinely curious to find out.
“My full name is Janet Snowbound, and I am sixteen as well. Actually, I believe we go to the same school!” Now that she mentions it, her name does seem faintly familiar. Janet just moved here. Or at least, I think she did. We went on in this manner for at least an hour and a half! Janet explains to me that she moved to Auburn Hills, Michigan because her mom is a naturalist. That is how she is so familiar with the forest. Where she came from, Wyoming, there are an abundance of forests she tells me. She had to come to the woods to see the wildlife for herself. She flips her honey golden hair like a lion would his mane. When she heard me in the meadow, she chose to investigate. Finally, it is six o’clock, and I have to head home. Before I go, I get her phone number for future reference. I say goodbye to Janet and walk home.
Dinner is exceptionally loud at my house because my thirteen-year-old sister, Violet, had cheerleading tryouts earlier that day. Cheerleading is all I ever hear about from her! The home-made pizza smells wonderful with the melted cheese and creamy tomato sauce. My mom is unsurpassed at making pizza. Violet is a silky brunette with midnight blue eyes that queerly turn purple when she gets excited! She is certainly unique, but in a “cool” way. Unlike me! I truly feel our parents favor her over me by far.
No one cared enough to ask me what I did in the woods. They would much rather hear about how many flips flawless Violet aced at tryouts. She is like a zany acrobat who escaped from the circus, here to torture me. I blankly stare at my fanatical sister. How are we related? No idea.
When dinner finally ends, and we begin to disperse, I go to get ready for bed. I am over taken by the nastiest disease imaginable, jealously. Why does Violet have to be so perfect? Sometimes I wish we could switch some if our characteristics so that we could even out our personalities. Maybe then my parents would appreciate both of us equally. I think I will survive as long as something is done soon.
On the next day, Saturday, I creep out of my bed to come to the conclusion that no one else is home. My mother was nice enough to leave a sloppily written note about the breakfast in the fridge. Of course my parents decided to go to Violet’s cheer game instead of being with me. Now there is more time to be by myself. Though, I had plenty of time away yesterday.
After dressing for the day in my worn LIVE LAUGH LOVE T-shirt, I heated pancakes. The exquisite aroma from the chocolate chip pancakes makes my mouth start to water. The yearning is intense, but it suddenly vanishes by the first bite. When I finish, I get my cell phone where I find the number of Janet Snowbound, my possible new friend.
“Pick up! Pick up!” I mumble aloud to myself. My hands gradually start feeling extremely sweaty as I wait for someone to answer the phone. Finally, I hear a familiar voice.
“Hello, this is Janet speaking. Who is this please?”
“Hi Janet, it is Ella Safire. I was wondering if you want to meet me in the woods again.” I clutch the phone anxiously for a response.
“Sure! I would love to! Pick a time.”
Ten minutes later, we met at the well. Since we still do not know much about each other, we have much to converse about. I tell her how I love old T-shirts from past vacations and events. Also about my sister and what my parents thought of her. Janet looks at me with those piercing green eyes and listens. It feels awesome to talk to someone.
She came to the decision that maybe Violet does not know the way I feel about her. I contemplate that idea and conclude that she is probably right! My sister is never observant and I am always stoic. Maybe Violet will understand once I talk with her.
Later in the conversation, Janet shares her life story with me. She has an older sister that sounds pleasant the way Janet described her. I also find out that Janet’s favorite color is green like the fresh spring grass. That is when my cell phone starts to ring.
“It is your sister! Violet,” my mother begins to choke and sob, “She fell during a flip and is injured! Dad will be there in less than ten minutes to take you to the hospital.” The phone drops out of my hand. I stand in the meadow barely able to stand upright. Janet picks up the phone and explains to my mom that I must be in shock. She gently tugs at my sleeve to guide me back to my house. I numbly follow her into my dad’s car.
At the hospital, all I can think about is seeing my sister. Violet, where are you! The nurse says she is in room thirty-three. I sprint there and cautiously open the door. There she is, in the bed, looking extremely pallid. Miscellaneous wires are attached to her as she gives me a faint smile. I reach to my face to find tears rolling down in plump drops. The salty tang of ocean water gradually falls to my mouth.
“I’m so glad you came! I managed to break my left leg and severely scrape my hands.” I was overjoyed to have her alive and generally well. I give her a hug and tell her how thrilled I am to see her. She winces, and I let go as I realize how unbelievably fragile Violet looks.
Janet is able to meet my sister and even gives her a get-well-soon hug! They are both enthusiastic people, so they got along well. My parents also took a liking to my new friend. They have never met one of my friends before because I never actually had one until yesterday!
Janet Snowbound is comforting as we sit in the hospital together. She tells me that now would be a golden opportunity to confess my feelings to my sister and parents. I am a bit anxious, but I know she is right.
Mr. and Mrs. Snowbound come to pick Janet up so they can meet my parents. They look extremely similar to their daughter. My mom and dad thank Janet’s parents for coming to pick her up. They also appreciate how they let her accompany me to the hospital. Janet’s parents say it was no problem and they are glad to meet my parents. They convey the impression of liking each other’s company.
It was time for me to say goodbye to Janet. “Well, I’ll see you at school tomorrow!”
She gave me a swift hug as she whispered, “Good luck with your confessions.” After that, she left me to have conversation with my family. My course of action was to start with my sister.
“Ummm…Violet? Can I have a word with you?” My nerves feel like high voltage wires zinging through my body.
“Of course! Have a seat!” I know she is beginning to feel better because my sister has more keenness.
I explain that I feel as if she receives all of the attention at home and that she never acknowledges me. Also, how mom and dad love her more than they love me. When I finish, I hold my breath waiting for her to respond.
“Ella, I am so sorry. Before you told me this, I never even noticed. Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?!”
“I thought you…,” I trailed off. At that point, I was in complete shock. “I thought you did not actually care about me. Almost as if you did it on purpose,” I answer, still in shock.
“Oh Ella! I would never do that to you! I just always have so much to say…”
I gently hug her and say, “I completely forgive you. I am grateful for having you as my sister.” Now, it is my parent’s turn.
“Mom, dad. We need to talk.”
We sit down and I enlighten them on how I feel. I tell them that since I am unlike Violet; they love her more than me. I provide an example; the way they go to her cheerleading games without me. Also, how they always let Violet talk about her day at dinner. I feel as suffocated as a butterfly trapped in a jar.
My mom interjects, “Honey! We love both of you equally! We do not take you to Violet’s games because we feel that you have no interest. Also, you love to sleep in!” My mom stops. I can tell that she is hurt. Come on mom! I just have to tell you how I feel!
Now it is my dad’s turn. “Ella, we love you so much. She gets to talk at dinner because you never have anything to say. We are sorry you feel this way.” That is right! They did not notice because I am stoic! We all hug, and everyone feels a great deal better. My parents and I go to go join my sister Violet. After a quick lesson in the proper use of crutches; we sign out and leave the hospital.
Sunday goes by swiftly for some reason. Maybe it is because I accomplished my goal yesterday. We visit the doctor and he says that Violet will be fine. Then we eat ravioli for dinner, my favorite! The overwhelming scent of freshly made marinara sauce makes my stomach start to grumble. For once I actually feel accepted. I laugh and talk, not having to hide my feelings! My family and I really cherish that day.
On Monday, I get ready for school and walk to Janet’s house. If you go through the woods, it only takes about three minutes. Mrs. Snowbound drops us off and we strut into the building. Janet and I get many looks from surprise to disgust. I feel like a bug under a microscope. I tell Janet I will see her at lunch and head for my locker.
My classes are the same as always. It is my peers that gaze at me strangely. I decide to overlook them and peruse my work.
After math, I race to my locker, get my lunch money, and find Janet. Her friends, Amy and Kerry, are also present. They appear to approve of me so I am glad. That is, until we run into some trouble.
My heart starts to beat ten times louder as I see who is before us. “Why are you talking to Ella? You all know she is a loser,” Tiffany sneers. She is a nasty spoiled girl who thinks she is number one. Why can’t you just leave me alone?
“Actually, I think you are the one that is the loser here. Don’t you dare talk about my friend like that again,” Janet counters. Never before have I seen Janet become so hostile. Tiffany does not know how to come back at that, so she awkwardly traipses away. I go over to Janet and thank her. She says it is no problem and that she knows I would reciprocate. At lunch, we sit and converse. No one tries to bully me because of what happened with Tiffany.
When school ends, my mom comes to pick up Janet and me. I ask if Amy and Kerry can also come over, and she says yes. Wow, life can change so much over a short period of time! We hop in the car and drive to my house.
There the four of us have a great deal of fun. Once we finish with our homework, we chat about everything and anything. All of them truly accept me for me, Violet and my parents finally understand me, and Tiffany has stopped being a bully. It turns out that my mother was actually right! If we were all the same, life would be boring.