There is always pain in life. It seems as if life isn’t worth living if there isn’t pain involved. To grow is to know pain. To love is to know pain. To learn is to know pain. Children are cruel. They poke fun at anything they can notice that is different about another. They migrate into groups of the haves and the have nots, but on the outskirts of those groups are the undesirables. The ones that don’t fit into any mold offered to them.
Dreams are worth having. As long as they remain hidden. In the open they are cannon fodder to those less colorful. Stars are the light by which we live out what we hide with shame in daylight. Pretend that you don’t notice. Guard your heart from the careless who seek to wound you with their self-loathing. Convince yourself you don’t feel your heart break when they tell you to go away.
You walk into an already full classroom, full of students chatting away. Everyone seems to know each other. Everyone but you, that is. You take a seat, not exactly in the back but not in the front of the room either. You settle into a seat to the rear of center and just a bit off to the side. Noticeable enough that the teacher won’t seek you out and call on you constantly, but not in the “notice me” seat either. A few people look up at you and you swear you can see their judgment written across their faces. The desk is small and has no padding. You shift uncomfortably. You feel the whole room staring at you, searing into your soul. Why are you here? What makes you think you are good enough to be one of them? Your heart pounds in your chest and your stomach begins to churn. You think about just picking up your stuff and walking out. You’ll never fit in here.
The blonde girl talks to you every day. She is quiet and a little awkward, but very sweet. The other girls look at you like you’re nothing but a piece of gum on the bottom of their name brand shoes. You decide to ignore them. Still your heart breaks a bit and you feel ashamed when they laugh at you. You can’t help that your hair is the color of a shiny new penny, or that you try to be everyone’s friend. But still you feel like it’s somehow your fault and that you are constantly doing something wrong. The trio plan sleepovers for all the girls, except you, always making sure they talk about it so you can hear. You smile when people can see, but alone, you retreat to a world of books and music where you can get lost in the comfort of invisibility, and cry yourself to sleep at night.
The lights are bright and slightly obscure the faces in the crowd. You feel the tension of your corset against your inflating lungs. The lights dim and the music begins, soft and low. The orange glow of the gelled spotlight shines on your face, making the rest of the world disappear. You can’t see the trio of snobs anymore, sitting in the middle of the sixth row, whispering to each other when you stepped on stage. Their eyes burning into you, they wait for you to prove you aren’t as good as they are. Your heart is in your throat, your stomach churns. Just breathe.
In secret, you have trained for this. You couldn’t get any worse, they said and agreed to let you learn. The notes come out of you easily. Every high note soars into the rafters, dancing there for a minute. Your hands stop shaking, you close your eyes and let the music wrap around you like a security blanket. You are no longer the plain girl on the side of the room that no one wants to include. Your aria ends, the lights brighten and the theater stands to cheer. A smile stretches across your face, you bend your head in a gentle bow. You are home, you are seen and heard. Your eyes scan the crowd for familiar faces. You see the trio, sitting in their seats, not a single word to say.
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