I am happy with how this turned out. I was absolutely listening to “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys on repeat to help channel high school me. I don’t want to go in and “Donna-smash” (like Hulk-smash) every scene, either, now that I have realized the need to add more raw emotion. I feel like this scene works. What do you think?
What’s Wrong With Your Sister?
The hallway lights seemed brighter than usual against my eyes and the slams of lockers and rustling of the students rang in my ears as I shuffled to my locker. I overheard someone singing “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys and I suddenly found it easier to continue through the noise.
I let the song run through my mind, pushing out the reality around me, thinking of how amazing it would be to meet them. Lost in the daydream, I swapped out the History book I had taken home for homework for Math, English, and Science. My trusty, navy blue Jansport book bag strained at the seams as I smashed my binder back with the books.
“I never wanna hear you say,” I sang softly as I closed the locker.
I turned to see Thomas, a Junior, leaning against the lockers, staring at me. Given how small each highschool class of the Academy was, it wasn’t as rare or filled with all the hyped-up emotions as I’d seen in movies portraying public schools for an older student to know or talk to a younger one. I almost felt claustrophobic watching scenes where the young protagonist walks through jam-packed hallways only to be suddenly slammed into the locker by a Senior.
Thomas was about as unruly as he could get in the Academy without actually causing any real trouble. His hair always in need of a cut, his shirts always in need of being tucked in, his grades always just skimming by, yet he was kind and likeable. It was as though he found a way to be just enough of a rebel to feel some sort of control without truly overstepping.
Admittedly, it was odd that he would seek me out personally. I wracked my brain as I stared back at him for any memory of us interacting, wondering what would have brought him here.
“Hey,” he said with a thrust upwards of his chin. His dark green polo shirt was halfway tucked into his rumpled khaki pants. Half of his collar was popped, too, which made me bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing.
“Hi?” I asked more than replied.
He didn’t seem to pick up on my confusion. “What’s wrong with your sister?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, looking around for Emma. “Did something happen?”
Thomas cocked his head and also looked around the halls before looking back at me. “Like what?”
“I don’t know. Did you see her fall? Is she in the nurse’s office?”
Thomas narrowed his eyes in confusion. “Does she fall a lot now?”
Panic began to rise, and I stepped away from him to head to the nurse’s office. “Thomas, did you see something happen? Why are you asking me this?”
Thomas scratched his head. “I didn’t see anything happen.”
Frustration damped the panic, but I felt my ears grow hot. “Thomas,” I said slowly and firmly, “Why are you asking me what is wrong with my sister? Also,” I added in an afterthought, “Which one?”
“Oh, your twin. So cool that you guys are twins. That must be so, like, fun to confuse teachers and stuff.”
I blinked at him. “We aren’t identical.”
“Oh yeah. Right. ‘Cause, if you were, you’d be blind, too, right?”
Then I understood.
For a brief moment that morning I had been able to let go of what had made my senses feel so raw. For a small space in time I was just a normal girl daydreaming about meeting celebrities. I felt my fists ball up.
“She’s not blind,” I say through gritted teeth.
“Right, yeah, but like. She can’t see? So, like, how does that work?”
The five-minute warning bell made me jump.
Rage welled up as the noise in the hall climbed higher as students slammed their lockers and spoke louder over each other.
“She’s losing her central vision,” I managed to say as I took another purposeful step away from him.
I closed my eyes and breathed out a sigh as he swiveled around and fell into step next to me.
“Man that sucks. So, like, she’s going blind?”
“She’s legally blind. Which means she can’t drive and do things that require excellent vision. But she’s not blind.”
My backpack suddenly felt heavier than normal. I couldn’t take deep, filling breaths.
“So, like, what’s wrong with her, then, if she isn’t, like, blind or going blind?”
I couldn’t tell if he was messing with me or not. Fortunately, my classroom was a few more steps away.
“I gotta get to class. You know Rachel has the same thing, right?”
Thomas stopped with me outside the classroom door, eyes wide and mouth open. “Oh yeah, for real?”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Angie raise her eyebrow at me as she shuffled into the classroom.
“For real,” I said, “I’m sure she’ll answer your questions. I gotta go.”
“Thomas, fix your shirt,” Mr. Grayson, the Physical Education teacher, called as he passed.
“Will do, Mr. G,” Thomas responded. He turned on his heel and walked off without another word to me.
I heard a faint, “It’s Mr. Grayson,” as I made my way into the classroom.
As I expected, Angie leaned forward in her desk with her eyes sparkling and eyebrows raised. “Soooo,” she drawed, “What was that all about?”
I shrugged one shoulder. “He wanted to know what was wrong with Emma.”
Angie’s expression softened and her raised eyebrows drew down into a furrow. “Oh.”
I shrugged again, not knowing how else to respond. “He didn’t know Rachel had it.”
Angie snorted. “There is just so much that boy does not know.”
It was enough to make me smile in response as the bell rang.