Contest Entry 5

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As I stood in front of my mirror, I sighed. Everyone else here would never know, never know that the way things were in this town were wrong. It was all wrong, a warp version of reality, and I was the only one who realized it. I stared at myself, my appearance changed by the mirror. I appeared as a walking nerd stereotype, with straight brown hair and teeth that didn’t need braces, but were confined to them anyway. I wore thick framed glasses even though I had perfect vision, and I held a multitude of novels in my hand that would remain unread. In this town, I was the cliché nerdy girl everyone picked on, and nobody ever saw my true appearance.

And then there was Lucia. Your typical emo/goth, she wore all black, her mother was deceased and her father was an abusive drunk, who hit her with belts and beer bottles. She was suicidal, and carried a bottle of antidepressants around school. I didn’t blame her though, as she knew no different. To her, this was her role to play, she was the emo character in the book of life.

Ah, and let’s not forget Anna. Blonde, stuck up, and dating the quarterback. Her cheerleading uniform is always found tightly tugging her slim figure. Starbucks made up most of her diet, as dis various salads. But this was only the type of person the others want us-and her-to believe she is. In reality, she is a thick girl with unruly red curls, who would rather like going out and doing acts of citizenship.

I remember when I first saw through the shield. My parents had just gotten a divorce, and I was devastated. I remember looking into my mirror and seeing her. The girl with pastel blue curls, wearing a band tee and converse sneakers, clutching no books, headphones in. It took me a few moments before I realized the girl was me, or at least who I was before I came here. My emotions tore through the filter like it was wallpaper.

So now I go around, surrounded by peer pressure to just let things be. But occasionally, I get glances of people before the filter. Unfeeling Jocks become soft animal lovers, nice guys become bad boys. We are characters in a cliché, and it’s being hidden behind the filter.

I wonder what would happen if the others found out I could see through their disguise. They would kill me. It was either that, or erase my memory of the girl I saw in the mirror, and the first was the most efficient way. There was no compromising with them: the others got what they wanted, whether by force or by negotiation, they got what they wanted.

And then there were the headphones. Everyone had a pair in, at least their true selves did. Was it hypnosis? Something else? I had no clue, but I was going to find out.

As I walked through the seemingly endless halls of North View High, I passed many people who weren’t even relevant. The so called band geeks and nerds, and a few populars. Side characters. Placeholders in this false community.

Sometimes I was confused as to whether or not I was a side character. I didn’t seem important, but why would a side character be able to see through the filter?

School passed quickly, as usual. And as usual, nobody questioned it. But that’s not how time worked. Time was supposed to move slowly, and make sense. You don’t just come into school one minute and then exit the next.

But the, as I exited the school, something strange happened. I was pulled behind a dumpster with great force, almost hitting my skull against the metal box. I glared at the shadowy figure in front of me.

“Next time you do that, don’t almost kill me, okay?” I said, brushing the dust off of my shirt.

“My apologies. I just..it’s urgent.” he said, a light accent brushing his words.

“You have an accent.” I commented.

“Yes, it’s Irish. Why did you point that out?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just, nobody else here has an accent.”

I could have been wrong, but I was sure the figure smirked. “You are suspicious of this place, yes?”

“Well, yeah?” I replied, nodding. “I mean, anyone with eyes and a brain can see that this place is weird.”

The man nodded. “What is your name?”

“Jess.”

“Jess. I’ve been looking for you.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Who are you?”

“Brandon. I am an agent for the Resistance.”

“Resistance?”

He nodded. “Yes. You are correct about this world. It is not real. Computer simulation, yes. Real, certainly not. We were invaded, about three months ago. They took a third of the population and put them in here. Not sure why. I was sent to find you.”

I stared at him in disbelief. “Why me?”

“Because you are special. You can see through the filter. You catch glimpses of reality every now and then. The resistance believes that, with time, you will be able to manipulate it.”

I put my hands on my hip. “And why is that important.”

“You ask many questions, Jess.” Brandon commented. “This is good. I means you could help the people here escape.

“Yeah, but why me? I’m not strong or intelligent or anything,” I replied, looking down at my average figure.

Brandon smiled, “That is where you are wrong. I am not supposed to tell you this, but I believe it may help if you know.”

I raised an eyebrow, “Know what?”

“That in reality, you are in all honors classes, and you are only one level away from being a black belt in your karate class.”

“Really?” I asked, unable to believe I was an ounce of anything important.

Brandon nodded. “Of course. Now, I must leave. This projection only lasts a certain number of minutes. I’ll be back. Good luck, Jessica Hampton.”