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Author's note: This started out as a short story for school and I decided to edit and expand it.
12 Years Earlier
“No! No! No! I won’t! I won’t!” Cassie screamed as her mother lifted her out of the car, carefully avoiding her daughter’s swinging fists.
Her mom soothingly rubbed her back but it did nothing to help.
“Shh, shh. It’s alright. You just need to get through this one day and everything will be okay.” Her mom calmly said.
“I wanna stay home with you!” Cassie whimpered.
Her mom placed her down on the ground but kept a firm grip on her arms so she couldn’t sprint back to the car. Cassie could feel the tears stream down her cheeks and watched as they dropped onto her shiny new pair of red flats. Despite the overwhelming anguish she felt, she couldn’t help but admire the glitter. Glitter always made her happier.
Her mom kneeled down in front of her and lifted her head up by her chin. She carefully wiped away the tears with the corner of her shirt.
“You’ll love kindergarten. You loved pre-school didn’t you? You’ll make new friends and learn a bunch of new things, okay?”
Cassie sniffed and shrugged. Her mom softly smiled. She smoothed the wrinkles in the bright yellow dress Cassie was wearing and fixed the red bow in her hair.
“There. You look beautiful. Are you ready to go now?” Her mom asked.
Cassie reluctantly nodded. Her mom stood up and grabbed Cassie’s hand. They slowly made their way to school, not saying anything. Soon, they were in the classroom watching as many other children Cassie’s age zoomed around, laughing and squealing.
Cassie’s mom nudged her closer to everyone. “Look. Don’t they all seem nice? Why don’t you go say hi?”
Cassie didn’t want to. They were all too loud to her. Their screams hurt her ears and she would much rather go home with her mom and play games with her. But she couldn’t. Her mom had said so. Instead, Cassie turned back around and wrapped her arms around her mom. She quickly felt the warmth of her mother’s embrace.
Cassie let go and went and sat down at a table close by that was empty. Her mom pointed to the other kids but Cassie shook her head and folded her arms. Her mom took a step towards Cassie but then an older lady in a pink dress stopped her. They spoke for a few moments before her mom turned to Cassie. She waved and smiled at her. Cassie waved back but felt her own smile wobble. Before she knew it, her mom had disappeared out the door.
Cassie sat quietly for a few minutes, staring at the table. Eventually she picked up a crayon in front of and began to draw on the blank pieces of paper that were also on the table. She soon forgot the noise and bustling around her and was swept into the world of art. Suddenly, she felt rather than saw someone plop into the chair next her. She lifted her head to see a small girl in braids smiling at her.
“Hi!” The girl said.
“Hi.” Cassie softly said back.
“Are you coloring?” The girl asked.
Cassie nodded. “Yes. I look to draw.”
“My name is Maisy. Which rhymes with Daisy. Which is a flower.” The girl proudly exclaimed.
Cassie felt a smile begin to form. “My name is Cassie.”
Maisy wrinkled her nose. “What’s a Cassie?”
Cassie shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Maisy nodded. “Okay. Are you sad? You looked sad?”
“My mom left.” Cassie explained.
Maisy scrunched up her face in confusion. “So did mine. But I’m not sad. She’s always gone.”
Cassie tilted her head. “Why?”
“She works!” Maisy said, grinning.
Cassie didn’t really understand but she nodded anyway. Maisy sat beside her the rest of the day and the days that followed. She never left.
The lunch room was crowded but Cassie and Maisy had managed to find a table that wasn’t teeming with other kids. They sat across from each other, picking apart each other’s lunches. They giggled over cute boys and discussed new movies and songs. Cassie was absentmindedly doodling in a notebook that was already full of sketches.
“I can’t believe you haven’t heard about it! It’s so cool!” Maisy gushed over a song she had recently heard on the radio.
“I’ll look it up. I promise.” Cassie told her solemnly, without looking up from the page. She was currently drawing the apple on her tray, nothing special but she enjoyed it.
That wasn’t enough for Maisy. “Do it right when you get home!”
Cassie hesitated. “I don’t know if I can. I still haven’t finished my history report.”
Maisy groaned but amusement sparkled in her eyes. “That’s due tomorrow!”
“I know, I know. But I’ll get it finished in time.”
Maisy grinned and rolled her eyes. “When have I heard that before?”
It was true. Cassie was always leaving school assignments to the last minute. She wouldn’t know what she would do if she didn’t have Maisy to help her with them. She was lucky her friend was so willing to.
“I know! But, oh my gosh, you should have seen it. The sunset last night was awesome! And Mom had just gotten me new paints and well, I couldn’t just not paint it.” Cassie explained.
Maisy shook her head. “And the night before it was the way the grass looked in the light, and then the house across the street and so on.”
Cassie shrugged. “What can I say? You really should’ve have seen it.”
Maisy laughed. “Bring the picture to school tomorrow. Since I didn’t see the sunset last night I want a look at it now.”
Cassie nodded and they fell into a comfortable silence.
“Hey, are you going to the Family Picnic this Saturday?” Cassie suddenly asked.
Every school year the school put together a picnic for all the students and their families. There would be games, races and raffles. It was one of Cassie’s favorite activities of the year; aside from the art fair the school provided.
Maisy’s smile dropped and Cassie wished she could take back her question.
“No, probably not. Dad’s got a conference he’s going to in California and Mom said she had some cases she wanted to go over during the weekend.” Maisy told her.
Cassie didn’t say anything. She should have expected that. It seemed like Maisy’s parents were always gone or working.
“Why don’t you go with us? Mom and Dad won’t care. You know they think of as a daughter.” Cassie teased, hoping to lighten the mood.
Maisy smiled. “Sure. I’ll ask. But I bet I could just go and Mom wouldn’t even notice.”
Cassie grinned back before changing the subject. “Hey, did you do the math lesson last night? Because I have a few questions…”
Maisy laughed. “C’mon. I’ll go get it and let you copy.”
They both exited the lunch room together.
Maisy sat on the hard bleachers in the gym and watched the volleyball game in front of her. She was the only one not playing. The teams had been picked and because there were too many girls, one always got left out until it was time to switch. Maisy was always the one waiting. And it wasn’t just because she was terrible at sports.
She kept a smile pasted on her face, not wanting any one’s pity. She knew that whenever she could, Cassie would send over a concerning look that quickly transformed into a comforting smile. Maisy couldn’t help but wince whenever she did that. It was bad enough that others felt bad for her, but when her own best friend did she knew she was in trouble.
Maisy fidgeted uncomfortably. This was driving her crazy. She hated gym class just for this reason. She was always picked last and she knew it was because no one liked her. Cassie had always tried to comfort her.
“They’re idiots. And it’s probably just chance. Everyone picks their friends. You know that.” She had said, but it didn’t help.
How could it when Cassie had no idea how she felt or what she was going through? Cassie was never picked last. In fact, she was always one of the first picked. Despite, Cassie and Maisy really being each other’s only friends everyone liked Cassie. She was beautiful, and naturally so. Her auburn hair flowed around her and her dark eyes always drew people in. Standing next to her, Maisy was plain.
Maisy tried not to be bitter, but sometimes she couldn’t help it. Cassie had it all. She was beautiful, smart and had a great family. Her parents never worked all the time and never ignored her. No, she never had to make dinner by herself and then eat alone. She always had someone to turn to for homework, questions or problems.
It wasn’t just that, either. Cassie might be struggling in school, but it didn’t bother her. It wasn’t that she wasn’t smart. She got distracted by her art and she didn’t mind. Not when she had Maisy to lean on. Yeah, Maisy was smart, but that was basically it. Then there was Cassie who was so talented at art that she didn’t care about school work and was always relying on Maisy to help her. Instead of doing homework, she was sketching or painting or who knew what. Maisy was starting to get sick of it. Especially when everyone would gush over Cassie at art shows.
“Beautiful! This is wonderful!” Everyone would exclaim.
Just for once, Maisy wanted to be looked at like she was beautiful. She wanted people to pick her first, wanted people to want to be around her all the time.
Sometimes, Maisy thought and dreamed about being one of the popular girls, like Makenna and her group. Maisy never told Cassie about this; she wouldn’t have understood. Makenna was cruel and Cassie couldn’t stand her.
And yet, Maisy knew that if she could just be a friend of Makenna then people would start to look at her as if she was somebody, not the nobody she was now.
Maisy sighed and turned her attention back to the game, just in time. She watched as Cassie spiked the ball over the net with such force that everyone dived out of the way, except Makenna who had been filing her nails. Maisy watched with her mouth gaped open in horror as the ball sailed towards Makenna.
“Watch out!” She screamed, but she was too late. The ball hit Makenna right in the face as she looked up.
The whole class gasped as Makenna crumpled to the ground before they surrounded her. Maisy stayed where she was, though.
“Are you okay?” The teacher asked as she helped Makenna up.
“She did that on purpose!” Makenna wailed.
Maisy watched as Cassie gasped, ready to defend herself, but no one turned to her. Instead, the teacher told Makenna to go sit out. This meant that Maisy could play now.
Makenna wobbled over to the bleachers, a red spot blotched across her forehead where the ball had made contact. Maisy hesitantly stood up as Makenna sat down.
“Are you okay?” She quietly asked.
Makenna glared up at her as if noticing her for the first time. “I’m fine. But I swear, that witch did that on purpose.”
Maisy opened her mouth to negate her comment but nothing came out. Instead she stood there awkwardly.
Makenna huffed. “I bet I’m going to have a bruise. She’s ruined everything. Do you know how much make-up it will take to cover it up?”
“A lot?” Maisy meekly asked.
“Of course it will be a lot! Gosh, I hate putting on make-up. It’s so freaking hard!” Makenna exclaimed, obviously frustrated.
“I-I know how. I watch make-up tutorials all the time.” Maisy said without thinking.
Yet it was true. She really did watch them all of the time. She practiced on herself when she was alone, too afraid to actually wear the make-up in public. She would have offered to practice on Cassie, but Cassie didn’t need any make-up. She was already gorgeous without it.
Makenna looked up at her suspiciously. “Seriously? Are you good?”
Maisy quickly nodded.
“Hey, Maisy! Are you going to come play?” Cassie suddenly yelled.
Maisy turned around and mouthed, “Yeah, one sec.”
Cassie shrugged and turned back to the game. Maisy turned her attention back to Makenna.
“So what do you say?” Maisy asked.
Makenna shrugged, her attention again turned back to her nails. “I guess we could try.”
Maisy tried to control the grin spreading across her face. Finally. Someone needed her. Someone who could make other people like her and possibly need her. This was what she had been craving. What she wanted more than anything else. Her dreams were coming true.